December 10th, 2007


The Old Man Looks A Little Agitated - A Championship Performance

I jetted over to The Black Sheep yesterday a couple hours before gametime after grabbing some White Castle and walking the width of Manhattan because there was nothing for me to do in my apartment. I had the unfortunate pleasure to be sitting at a crowded bar right in front of the beer taps, meaning that my favorite bartender had an obstructed view of my empty beer glass on occasion, but she did her best anyway. That seat, however, allowed me to sit two stools over from My Destiny.

The Old Man (I didn't catch his name, so he's called The Old Man) looked to be slightly taller than six feet, slender, gray hair, in his 50s or 60s, with a very grandfatherly look about him. Apparently, he's somewhat of a regular himself as my favorite bartender knew right away to tell him which TV would show the Arizona Cardinals game. I smirked at this knowledge: the conflict, mine enemy has a face.

We exchanged pre-game pleasantries as only two men transplanted to New York could and I was left with the impression that he'd be an OK guy to watch a game with; then the game started. And boy did he start getting fired up! Only, you know, the Seahawks scored on their first four possessions (including 3 TDs to 3 different wide receivers) in staking a 24-0 lead, so pretty much the only thing The Old Man could get fired up about was how fat Mike Holmgren is. I believe insults such as "tubby" and "fatso" were bandied about. Did I mention he kind of sounded like Jimmy Stewart from 'It's A Wonderful Life'? Oh yes, yes indeed. When you think about The Old Man from here on out, think about Jimmy Stewart with gray hair, it'll help with the rest of the story.

So, halftime rolls around, and I'm taking everything he says with a chuckle, not really bothering to fire back insults of my own since the score said it all: 27-7. Midway through the second quarter, another guy from Seattle stumbled in and sat in between me and the Old Man, so I had a good time talking with him until his buddy came in a little later. During Intermission, I was on the phone most of the time, spilling over into the third quarter; when I finally returned my undivided attention to the game at hand, Arizona was mounting a minimal comeback to make things interesting. And I was sufficiently intoxicated enough to instigate my unique brand of verbal assault upon The Old Man, who'd had his fair share of Bud Lights up to this point himself.

I'm going to put quotes around the following set of dialogue knowing full well it won't be 100% accurate; but I BELIEVE it all started with him complaining about our offensive line holding one of their defenders and the ref not throwing a flag. Once I realized no flag would be forthcoming, despite The Old Man's complaints, I mockingly called out (while still staring at the TV screen), "No flag!"

He turned to me, eyes half open, and said, "Are you making fun of me?"

I turned to him, shit-eating grin on my face, stifling laughter, and said, "Yep!"

He turned to the screen and said, "That could be dangerous."

I turned back to the screen too and said as formally as I could, "I fear no man from Arizona!"

He turned to me once more and said, "That could also be dangerous."

I just laughed at that and we continued watching the game in silence. Arizona made it interesting, pulling to within 13 and recovering a surprise onside kick, but on the very next play, Marcus Trufant picked off a pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald and from then on the game ceased to be in doubt as the rout was on. I made a few heckling comments, but nothing too brazen; nevertheless, my cheering was loud and obnoxious on every big play.

So, the end of the game rolls around, I order a celebratory beer and The Old Man has about half a Bud Light that he's stewing over. As he went to the bathroom, one of my fellow Seahawks fans remarked, "The old man looks agitated," and we all had a laugh. Then he came back to his beer, stood next to his stool, and proceeded to STARE ME DOWN for one solid minute.

It was one of those cases where I didn't REALLY want to say anything or antagonize The Old Man further, because honestly, when you get to be that long in the tooth, you're ready to throw down at a moment's notice, no matter how strapping the younger opponent may be. So, I didn't say anything. In fact, I didn't even look at him except for the one time, because I kinda THOUGHT he was staring me down, seeing him out of the corner of my eye, so I glanced his way, confirmed that he was indeed giving me the ol' evil eye, and then looked away again, though always keeping him right there in my peripheral vision just in case he decided to leap at me, gnashing his false teeth or something. All the while, I'm just sitting there chuckling to myself, because I can't get over the fact that I'm one wrong move away from Taking This Outside.

Who wins when you fight an old man? Besides the entertained spectators, that is? I didn't want to make a scene in what's looking like my penultimate trip to The Black Sheep. So, I sat there, nursed my beer, waited for The Old Man to leave - going so far as to confirm with my Seahawks buddies if he did indeed go - got my picture taken with my favorite bartender, then ran down the street to wolf down some ribs and fries at this place I've always wanted to try. My fingers are dripping with sauce just thinking about those tasty delights.

Other 'Hawks Notes:

Three more sacks for Kerney (league leader now with 13.5); three more picks for Trufant (2nd in league with 7); five picks for Kurt Warner (big bumbling moron); four touchdowns for Hasselbeck (team savior); four consecutive divisional championships (9-4 record, third in the NFC); and three more games against three more teams who wouldn't know their way around a football field if you gave them directions. Two more East Coast games though (the last one may not matter if Green Bay doesn't start hitting some hard times), so we'll see.

Big ups to Josh Scobey, just re-signed this week, got a big safety in the second half.

More ups to the WRs for their amazing catches.

Biggest ups of all to Hasselbeck who played probably his best game ever, dropping balls into spots like he was the real-life football equivalent of that movie Angels In The Outfield.

And some final ups to the defense as a whole for being blatant criminals out there, mobbin' up the joint with 10 combined sacks/interceptions.

Also, did anyone notice the little scuffle on the Seahawks sidelines between two white guys who weren't even suited up? What was that all about? They looked like an old man and a 'fraidy cat out there!

Compiling Your Very Own Christmas Compilation

There are various classes in Christmas music I think everyone needs to be aware of. In no particular order, you've got your:

Classic Traditionals
Classic Originals
Contemporary Originals (with sub-catagories)
--Quality Contemporary Originals
--So-bad-they're-awesome Contemporary Originals
--So-bad-you-want-to-kill-yourself Contemporary Originals
Contemporary Traditionals (with sub-catagories of both the Bad and Good variety)

It's not so easy to pinpoint the line between Classic and Contemporary, but I have a feeling it lies somewhere after Elvis and before the Temptations. Use that as a guide. Likewise, it's tough dividing Traditional and Original, because you gotta figure all traditionals were original once. My definition of Traditional goes beyond the Public Domain, though, so you'll just have to bear with me.

Leading the pack, of all the Christmas songs in all the lands, you've got the Tacoma native Bing Crosby with the number one selling song of all time, "White Christmas." You hear it every year, you know the words by heart, you probably even conjure up images of child abuse via sacks of oranges (doesn't leave a bruise, don'tcha know), White Christmas will endure long after the apocalypse. Others in the Classic Traditionals include anything by Deaner, Burl Ives, anything you'd hear on "Home Alone" and, in my house at least, anything you'd find on An Elvis Christmas.

The Classic Originals are a little harder to come by, what with all the fine lines you're walking, but I'd head right for the Charlie Brown Christmas album by Vince Guaraldi. Not all are originals, mind you, but they're all classic and all Grade-A 100% Yule. You've also got Elvis transcending, because if "Blue Christmas" isn't my favorite X-mas ditty, then I'm a monkey's bare-assed uncle.

Now, we get to my favorite catagory: Contemporary. Because EVERYBODY from 'NSync and the Dixie Chicks to Mariah Carey and Jewel think they're awesome enough to put out albums chock full of their own jazzy versions of the traditionals while also abusing our ears with their gawd-awful originals. Most fail ... well, most I've never bothered to listen to because the concept sounds so bad, but some succeed at least some of the time.

The Quality Contemporary Originals probably wouldn't be your cup of tea, but they're mine right down to the ground. 'Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis' by Tom Waits, 'Fairytale of New York' by the Pogues, various offerings from The Waitresses, Weird Al Yankovic, Slade, Run DMC, and The Sonics are all swell and awesome. Mostly because - at least in the case of the first two - they don't sound like what a Christmas song should. In the case of the latter, 'Christmas In Hollis' and 'Christmas Wrapping' are straight-out dope, yo.

In the So-Bad-They're-Awesome file, you'll find Queen Elton John sitting on the throne. Anyone who writes a song called 'Ho-Ho-Ho Who'd Be A Turkey On Christmas' is pretty much a guaranteed lock to find himself in this catagory. Every time I hear it, I cringe, because it's Elton, but I'll be damned if I don't listen to the whole thing and end up laughing at how stupid it is by the end. You're also going to want to look squarely at the Elmo & Patsy classic, 'Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer' because it may in fact be the most annoying song of all time, but go find me a kid under 12 who doesn't go nuts for this tune, I dare you. And if they don't, then that's a kid I don't want to have anything to do with.

Of the Killing Yourself Bad variety, I have nothing specific to offer, though if you give me some time and that Britney Spears Christmas album, I'm sure I'd be able to slap together something. And, of course, anything on the Mariah Carey album that ISN'T 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'. And anything on that Jewel album that was actually written by Jewel herself. Ruining my favorite songs by extending the notes extra long just so you can flaunt how much lung capacity you wield doesn't make for entertaining Christmas fare.

Out of the gate in the Contemporary Traditionals bracket, you've got The Temptations and The Beach Boys. Group harmonizers are generally a beautiful thing; but once you get to the Backstreet Boys and 'NSync, you're really staggering. Stick with the groups that have maintained a sense of longevity and you'll be fine. And you're usually OK if you buy anything before 1980 (with the advent and popularization of the synthesizer, anything goes, so tread lightly).

Finally, since I'm such a nice guy, I'm going to end this with my Ultimate Work-In-Progress Christmas Songs Playlist (minus James Brown's Funky Christmas, as the jury is still out, one year later):

1. Beach Boys - Little Saint Nick
2. Bing Crosby - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
3. Bing Crosby (ft. David Bowie) - Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy
4. Bing Crosby - White Christmas
5. Bobby Helms - Jingle Bell Rock
6. Brenda Lee - Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
7. Burl Ives - A Holly Jolly Christmas
8. Burl Ives - Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
9. Burl Ives - Winter Wonderland
10. Dean Martin - Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
11. Elmo & Patsy - Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer
12. Elton John - Ho, Ho, Ho, Who'd Be A Turkey At Christmas
13. Elton John - Step Into Christmas
14. Elvis Presley - Blue Christmas
15. Elvis Presley - O Little Town Of Bethlehem
16. Elvis Presley - Silver Bells
17. Elvis Presley - The First Noel
18. Greg Lake - I Believe In Father Christmas
19. Jackson 5 - Frosty The Snowman
20. Jethro Tull - Ring Out Solstice Bells
21. John & Yoko And The Plastic Ono Band - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
22. Nat King Cole Trio - The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)
23. Norah Jones - Peace
24. Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmas Time
25. The Pogues (ft. Kirsty MacColl) - Fairytale of New York
26. The Ramones - Merry Christmas
27. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Deck The Halls
28. Run DMC - Christmas In Hollis
29. Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody
30. The Sonics - I Don't Believe In Christmas
31. The Sonics - The Village Idiot
32. South Park - Dreidel
33. South Park - Merry Fucking Christmas
34. South Park - Oh Holy Night
35. South Park - X-mas Bitch
36. Stevie Wonder - What Christmas Means To Me
37. The Temptations (1970) - Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
38. The Temptations (1980) - Silent Night
39. Frosty The Snowman (Theme Song)
40. You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch (Theme Song)
41. Tom Waits - Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis
42. The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping
43. Weird Al Yankovic - Christmas At Ground Zero
44. Weird Al Yankovic - The Night Santa Went Crazy
45. Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
followed by:
A Charlie Brown Christmas (16 songs)

If I find any new ones this year (that Jethro Tull perversely intrigues me and I don't know why), I'll amend accordingly. And yes, I was lazy when I did the playlist and did it all alphabetically, sue me. It's still an awesome mix you only want to hear once a year anyway.

Vodka In Training

I probably should've been keeping a proper account in midst, but I guess I can half-ass a recap just the same, as I burn off these final 33 minutes of my workday.

After waking up and Jingling All The Way through some mediocre and excellente filmworks at 7am on Saturday, I went out to visit with Jenny and Emily and The Donald, for they were getting a Christmas Tree and it's Shake N' Bake.

I've been thinking about this Saturday since the previous Tuesday or so when it was broached that I should help. That's what you do when you're on the Top Ramen diet, you fantasize about the upcoming Saturday when you can finally eat White Castle again. I had to be at their apartment at 1pm, walking distance from the nearest White Castle is approximately 15 minutes (20 if you walk slowly or stop for sit breaks). Time in transit fluctuates, but from my apartment to Ridgewood, it's approximately 60-70 minutes on average.

Only, instead of waiting 10 minutes to catch the R-Train, I waited 0 minutes and caught the G-Train (this means I didn't have to detour through Manhattan; the G runs straight into Brooklyn). And, instead of waiting 10 minutes to catch the L-Train, I waited 0 minutes. That means I made it from my apartment to the friendly confines of White Castle in exactly 30 minutes. So, by leaving my apartment at 11am, I successfully ended up requiring the destruction of a solid hour (because I hate being THAT guy who's super early; that's what great grandparents are for).

Got the food, got the tree, watched a Humphrey Bogart movie (his first major role, co-starring with Bette Davis in 1936) on Jenny's new computer, strung popcorn on some thread for the tree, badda bing badda boom, I was out of there at around 5pm.

With a full Saturday evening to myself, what is a boy to do? Didn't really feel much like going out or spending lotsa monies, so I grabbed a $13 bottle of vodka and decided to take some shots. Of course, getting BACK to my apartment took the normal 60-70 minutes, meaning I didn't officially start drinking until 6:15pm. I went and took a shot every half hour on the half hour until around 10pm or so when half the bottle was gone and I was fairly drowsy.

I give that experiment a C-. I know I got up early and everything, but that's no excuse to crash so far below midnight.

Other observations I observated:

Drinking vodka didn't leave me in a Watching Stuff mood. It left me in a Facebook-writing/music-listening mood.

There's a certain point with vodka where I'm completely unable to concentrate on anything for longer than 30 seconds; I reached that point about 90 minutes in. On the plus side, up until that point I did some quality story-revision work on this thing Jenny wants me to fix. I'd kinda like to be one of those writers who does quality work while intoxicated, but I don't think I'm there yet.

Still not able to take vodka without a chaser. Saturday night's chaser: iced tea. It passed the first test, I didn't go blind.

I don't want to be This Guy either, but I have to say in my defense that the aforementioned White Castle, and a scoop of chocolate ice cream right after, was the only food I consumed all day, and that happened a little before noon.

On the plus side, I didn't eat anything after drinking and I woke up the next morning feeling fine. Although, I bet the pre-bed aspirin helped a little ...

Next training session next weekend. In an effort to keep the control the same, I'm going to have to eat White Castle again, darn it all.