Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dear Gregs

We're turning 30 today.  Well, I am.  You're all just memories I have of myself from years ago.   Anyway, I wouldn't be much of a writer if I didn't submit to some bitter self examination and really let myself have what-for on the page.  This should be a bit cheaper than my shocking but inevitable midlife crisis that is coming up over the horizon, so let's just get down to it.  Man, I hope I buy a crossbow.  That'd be an awesome midlife crisis.

4 year old Greg:

You need to learn how to dress yourself.  I don't care if it is the 1980's, Mom is going too far.  Blind people think you are dressed too loud.  And this cutoff  I guess it should at least prepare you for some of the disappointment you are in for.  Speaking of which, the Phillies are going to be awful for about the next twenty years.  You are going to move away soon, and you are going to be really upset because you like your room and don't want to leave it.  Your new room is going to be much bigger, and you will have plenty more room to play at the new house, so you better quit crying before I give you something to cry about.  Also, your "friend" Jimmy is going to hit you in the face with an apple at some point in the near future, so you should probably do something about that.  I suggest throwing sand in his eyes then taking your toys back, because he does steal all of your He-man toys, and you do nothing about it.   Oh, yeah, by the way, He-man's name is Prince Adam.  PRINCE ADAM.  Not Padadam.  Your childlike mispronunciation is not cute, and you are embarrassing us both.

10 year old Greg:

For a kid that plays soccer, basketball, baseball, and actually makes up games in the back yard, you would think you might be at least a little in shape.  "Husky" is not a flattering term.  That's like when they tell an ugly person they have a "great personality".  Maybe you need to put the bagels and candy down and try to drink some water instead of Sunny D.   Yes, they are making a movie version of the Addams Family, and no, you don't get the part of Pugsley, so there is no point for you to continue to be so puffy.  Also, you fall down too much.  Your nickname should be "Big Old Babyfaced Lead Head".  You trip walking on flat ground, and you've fallen off of about three docks while fishing.  It's almost like gravity is trying to take you out and is tired of being subtle.  I should let you know that we haven't become a professional baseball player yet.  Barring some Disney like twist, we probably never will.  Plus side though, they broadcast a couple of your All Star baseball little league games on the radio, and that still seems kind of awesome even today. Oh, and some bad news: the X Files starts to suck really bad, but by then you don't really care, so it all works out.

15 year old Greg:
Oh, good.  You found punk rock.  That makes you a special little snowflake.  So very unique and rebellious for a 15 year old middle class white kid to embrace punk music.  Little known fact, you don't have to talk about it so much, and there are other shirts to wear that don't have band logos on them.  Also, making your own punk shirts with iron on printer sheet is not punk.  It's something little kids do at birthday parties.  You also have not become a punk musician and you've sold most of your guitars.  .You try to dye your hair blue at some point, and it is just as stupid as it sounds. 

19 year old Greg:
I just don't even know where to start with you.  The campus center buffet is not a challenge for you to see how much you can eat before you just bypass getting the disease and simply become diabetes personified.  Also, it is 100% possible to just have a couple of beers and call it a night.  There is no reason to be drunk several nights a week.  Remember all that weight you lost playing baseball senior year of high school?  You gained it back in roughly six weeks of college by eating like a crack addicted manatee.  Just to get this out of the way, you still haven't become an actor.  Out of all of your life goals that you never saw through, this one could still happen.  It won't, but it could. And yes, you are losing your hair.  Get over it.

23 year old Greg:
Yeah, you did a smart thing getting a steady job after college.  It took several years before everyone else settled into their careers.  Of course, they went out and traveled, had relationships, worked fun jobs they didn't care too much about, and ended up settling into jobs that pay way more than you make.  So, there's that, but right now, you look really smart.  You went to Maine last summer, right?  You don't take another vacation that isn't to Atlantic City until a one day trip to Indiana, PA in 2009, then a one day trip to Niagara Falls in 2012.  We are not what they would call a "worldy" person.  But you've got some money in your pocket, so there's that.

Anyway, all of you Gregs, all that crap you did got us to here, to me.  So, you are to blame, and you are to praise.  Without giving too much away, I can let you in on a bit of how we are at 30.  You are going to figure out that you don't like drinking anymore, that you need to start exercising more.  To your shock, your knees feel much better when you aren't 70 pounds overweight.  Most of all, you figure out that you need to do little things that make you happy when you have free time, however small that amount of time is.  You start playing golf again.  You start a blog that some people seem to like, regardless of how odd you are sometimes. You also still freak out in public, so it's not all daffodils and lilies, but at least you are making an effort to be happy.

Maybe I'll get a letter from 50 year old Greg bitching about the way I am now.  He'll tell me that I never publish a book, and never become a "real" writer.  He'll find some way to put me down.  We'll see when we get there.  He's an old, bald, pain in the ass anyway.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dear Concert Goers

Over the weekend, I took a trip to my beloved Atlantic City with three of my compatriots.  We were unable to get one of my free rooms, due in part to an Adult Entertainment convention at the Taj Mahal, and also due, it was pretty much because of all of the porn stars.  Regardless, we were forced to stay in the nether regions of Galloway, just a hop, skip and fifteen consecutive red lights from the Marina district.  After eating dinner in the hotel, we decided to head to the Ego bar at the Taj Majal to have cigars and see the Almost Angels show.  We'd seen the show before and enjoyed...the articles. 
They were performing a very thought provoking article on the nature of man.  That and Pat Benitar's "Heartbreaker".

Knowing that the Taj parking structure would be even more chock full of perverts than usual, we decided to try parking next door at the Showboat.  Floor after floor we drove, only to find the only empty spots partially occupied with double parked cars.  Should the Atlantic City hospitals get an epidemic of people whose eyes mysteriously stated bleeding around 10PM on April 20, it simply means those crimson weepers are awful at parking, and that Sweet Lady Mugumbo has made my voodoo stronger.  Finally, I was able to park on the roof, after a short shouting match with a middle aged man trying to double park his Corvette in the last spot.

As we wandered the roof, trying to find the elevator access, we came across a group of twenty or so high schoolers drinking and screaming youthful idiotic words.  The oldest of which might have been in his third attempt at junior year, and the youngest of which was a girl that couldn't have been older the fourteen, who was holding a can of Miller Lite in both hands because the can was too big for her to hold in one.  Even I am not blindly angry enough to take on drunken Jersey youths on a rooftop, so I pushed through them and made may way to the elevator.  Once the elevator hit the casino floor, the doors opened to reveal a sea of teenaged douchebags.  Wifebeaters and backwards baseball caps were the fashion de rigueur for the guys.  For reasons I still don't understand, most of the girls were wearing what can only be described as "Slutty Hippie Chic".  They wore flowing shirts, beaded headbands, and shorts that really stretched the definition of the word "clothing".  And, but of course, they were all walking the way we were, towards the front of the casino, where the House of Blues lives.

My brave friends and I waded into the mess, and I struggled to imagine just what band could be playing at the HOB that would bring this lunacy down upon us.  As I walked and listened to the boys in front of me communicate using only grunts and the word "penis", I formulated the basis of this letter.  I also took out my phone, and not discreetly at all, took this picture.

I can't figure out where they all found hats with brims on the back.  I planned to ask them, but when my camera sound went off, the last bastion of testosterone in the black and white checkered shirt turned to glare, then realize he was looking at my chest, and slowly panned up to look at me.  He then turned to his friend in the white who said, "I think he just took a picture of us" in a tone that was less "How dare he!" and more "Please sir, don't make me eat any more garbage."  One of my friends, formerly in the Army, chose to interject, laughing at them and stating, "Yeah.  What are you going to do?  He is a giant."  They chose to look limply at the floor. 

By then, we had reached the House of Blues, and I saw on the marquee just what tantalizing act would bring such a high class of a crowd to block my entrance to the lovely Angels show.  This also brought me to the point of this letter: why, teenagers who were born no earlier than 1994, would you all be so deadset to go to a show for Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime?  Lead singer of Sublime Bradley Nowell killed himself when the oldest of you kids was 2.  The band was mourned only by the most cognizant of potheads when I was in college, and I rarely hear them played nowadays.  How is this tribute band the best thing available to you all on a Saturday night?  There were six other concerts going on in AC that night.  This was your best option?  And what is with the hippie dress, ladies?  I know that Sublime was known for their put upon "I'm so worry free" songs, but what was all of this nonsense? 

Mostly, I just want to know how many times that band had to play "Santeria" in order to complete a full set.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dear Home Improvement Warehouse

Thanks to my new approach at life called "Get Out of Your Recliner and Actually Do Something That Isn't Snacking", I've been working hard to get my vegetable garden together and to get my fruit trees ready for summer.  Between my inability to correctly judge how much of something I will need to complete a task, and the fact that I have a fetish involving red aprons, I've had to make many trips to your store.  Normally, this is not a problem, because it has been cold, and I could just slip in the garden center and slip right out.  Lately, it's gotten warmer, and more and more people have flooded the garden center.  This, as always, becomes a problem for me.  I have been initiated into a new club: The Fraternal Order Men in Lowes on a Sunday.

The whole scene is a Tim Allen joke being performed with the dogged persistence of a community theater that thinks their audience actually cares.  Henpecked husbands slouching along as their wives jabber constantly behind them, rolling their eyes as they meet yours as if to say "Women, amiright?"  Kids in their church clothes running around, having dirt fights and riding bags of mulch like donkeys as their put upon parents try to find one minute to choose what type of marigold will compliment the house perfectly and kill the neighbors with jealousy.  Then, there's me, the single man who just wants a damned bag of compost.  I don't want to have to fight to find a cart.  I don't want to get hit in the leg by a kid swinging a lawn flamingo.  I shouldn't have to wait in a line of fifteen people all buying perennials. 

I think the problem might be in your advertising.  You have focused on letting everyone know what you are: a home improvement store endorsed by the venerable Gene Hackman.  What you need to focus on conveying is what you are NOT all about.

1) You are not a dating destination.  No one should be walking hand in hand through the gardening department.  There is nothing romantic about trays full of half dead gardenias, so why are couples strolling around the aisles as slow as they can, holding up us normal-speed to fast-speed people who don't want to spend all day surrounded by cretins babbling on about grass seed?

2) This is not a playground.  There are sharp things everywhere, and I saw a kid eat a plant today.  He leaned over and bit the leaf right off the plant, like hands were only meant for flipping off squares that don't eat foliage in stores.  I am, however, kind of partial to seeing kids trip and fall over loose pots or various debris as they run willy nilly.

3) Your employees are normal people.  The red vest does not give them super knowledge.  I was in your store picking out a new pear tree.  I happened to be wearing my Phillies warmup jacket at the time, and I felt a tap on my should.  Before I could even start turning around, the woman behind me let out a stream words so frantic and fast paced that Robin Williams would think she'd done too much speed.  The first ten seconds encompassed some thirty odd questions regarding the purchase, planting, maintenance, care, punishment, breeding, and best ways to serve a dwarf cherry tree.  Good for you if any average worker there knows that information, but all I could do was turn around, stare at the woman, look at my jacket, and say, "Those trees will murder everything and everyone you know and love.  Run.  Now" before picking up my pear tree and walking briskly away.

Hopefully, these suggestions are helpful to you.  Maybe they will help you better serve people.  Or, maybe you could have more than one lane open on a sunny Sunday afternoon so I don't have to miss two innings of a Phils game trying to pick up some trellis netting and Roundup.  I have cut people for less.  Cut them right out of my Christmas card list. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dear Youtube

I had big plans.  I was going to be productive.  I was going to write the post that was finally going to make my blog hit the big time.  Hyperbole and a Half?  More like half as good as me.  The Oatmeal?  A rank amateur compared to my wit and charisma.  All of the late night shows would want me on, and I would make Leno cry a river of unfunny, hacky, pun filled tears down his freak show chin when I turned him down to go on Kimmel instead.  Sandwiches would be named for me because of my fame, not just because I was able to eat six of them in under five minutes.  Men would want to be me, women would want to be with me, and Kiefer Sutherland would finally stop calling my cell in the middle of the night, quietly chuckling into his end of the line. Life would be grand, and I would be king.  Then, I found a new cute-woman-playing-a-ukulele video, and my kingdom crumbled around me in a haze of bright, happy Hawaiian sounding procrastination fury.

I don't tend to get off track very often.  I spent four days of my vacation last week turned over soil in my garden and doing yardwork when I could have been immersing myself in the wacky and charming goings-on in Cicely, Alaska via a marathon viewing of Northern Exposure.  That is some real dedication.  Yet when I am confronted with fulfilling my obligation to my loyal and spoiled readers, or watching a concert performance of Candlebox in a basement in 1994, I'll be singing along to "Left Behind" within minutes.  That is a bunch of stoner slackers from Seattle.  Make the video some attractive woman with a great voice and proficient guitar/ukulele talent like Julia Nunes, Hayley Legg, Danielle Ate The Sandwich, Lauren O'Connell, NajMeTender, or Kiersten Holine, and the battle was over before it began.  For all that is good and holy, Hayley Legg is Australian on top of it all off.  How can anything else compete?  And no one can blame this all on me be a lonely horny mess.  I watched this instead of writing a post:


 If those guys turn me on, I am going to have to re-evaluate ALOT of things in my life, not the least of which being that awkward night in Maine where I had to share a bed with Joinks Teabiscuit and I literally kicked him out of bed in my sleep.  

I can only imagine that if I had a weakness for videos of kittens doing cute things, or videos of idiots trying to jump off of roofs onto trampolines, I might forget to eat and die of starvation.  Luckily, there are only so any thousand videos of twenty-something women covering "Strangers" by The Kinks.  Eventually, I will have seen them all, and then I can sleep, eat, and go to work.