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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dumbass Alert

I just got done reading Tucker Max's "I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell," and I must tell you this is the world's biggest a-hole.

Don't get me wrong; I haven't read many books in a shorter period of time than this one. I laughed out loud plenty of times. He basically recalls the tales of his 20s that revolve around getting shitfaced drunk and fucking everything that walks. In most cases, one happened before the other. If you're a typical guy, and often times I am, and you like movies like Old School and Wedding Crashers, you'll laugh at this book, but you'll definitely think Max is a complete cock. Arrogant, immature, in love with himself -- and those are the nice things I'd say about him.

But I do admire his courage for having the balls to publish his outlandish tales of bacchanalia, and first-person accounts are what I prefer to read anyway. He's not a bad writer, but his subject matter got fairly repetitive.

Near the very end of the book, though, there was a part where he began to question how often girls might have gotten over on him the way he did so many times with seemingly every girl he slept with. That took me down my own memory lane, and here's the first thing I remembered:

The most serious relationship in my life began in 1999 and ended in 2002. Wanna hear about our first phone call?

I lived in Cincinnati at the time, and a co-worker named "Jane," who had a serious boyfriend, was driving down to Louisville, just 100 miles away, to fuck somebody else behind her boyfriend's back, and, bored on the way there, she called me and was trying to line something up with me the following week. Her own personal trifecta of harlotry.

She broke up with her boyfriend a short time later, we started dating immediately after and, in case you need an irony fix, we moved to Louisville together about a year later.

In looking back, I don't think Stevie Wonder would have missed that call. I'm a complete moron.


If you know me, you know I like to talk about lists, but I don't keep a great record of them. That's about to change.

Friends in Louisville like this one:

The John P. Wise Hollywood Hot Five

(I typically don't like to go third-person in a public venue, but I've got the day off tomorrow. I like to get crazy.)

  1. Charlize Theron
  2. Kate Beckinsale
  3. Thandi Newton
  4. Gabrielle Union
  5. Jennifer Garner

Who's In Your Top Five?


And here's another list for which I'll accept nominations. I'll take your submissions to my sponsors to make sure we can speak ill of certain people, and I'll update this list every so often:

Celebrity Plane Crash

  1. Chris Berman
  2. Carmen Electra
  3. Britney (but she can survive)
  4. Keanu Reeves

Click Here To Add To The Suggestion Box

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

An Incredible Life

Have you ever been so out of it that you catch yourself doing something inappropriate, but not until 15 minutes later?

Don't get me wrong, I've lasted longer than 15 minutes doing inappropriate things, but those were by choice and sometimes I've enjoyed the fruits or suffered the consequences of those transgressions.

I'm talking about small stuff, but still stuff you'd not readily admit to your friends.

One time wasn't so awful, like when I flew back from Hong Kong in 1990 and it took me 15 minutes before I realized I had the in-flight movie on the Chinese channel and I obviously didn't know what anyone was saying. That's just me being an idiot, but there was another occasion that would have led any other self-respecting adult to pay a visit to the nearest man station and willfully surrender my ID card.

I was driving home from work one time in Cincinnati a few years ago and the drive was only 10 minutes long. I had a typically frazzled day, so perhaps my brain was fried and I just wasn't as sharp as I normally am.

So when I got off the highway and realized I'd been listening to an NPR interview with Belinda Carlisle of all people, I actually exclaimed out loud something like, "What the fuck am I listening to?"

It gets worse.

Way worse.

In the 1.5 seconds it took for me to reach for the radio buttons, the host threw to one of BC's best old tunes, "I Get Weak." Yes, I listened to it in its entirety, including the last minute or so of it after I'd pulled up in front of my house. I just wasn't ready to leave the car and abandon a song that took me back to memories of Kim Sadowsky in Cleveland, my first girlfriend. Aaaahhhhh, the good old days.

What prompted this blog entry? I'll tell you what prompted this blog entry.

I got home from work about 45 minutes ago, set the bags down, plopped on the couch and turned on the TV. I watched "Weekend At Bernie's II" for a good 15 minutes or so.

I've got to think that the first movie in this series was so awful that at one point in my life -- probably not too far off the release of Belinda Carlisle's Greatest Hits tape -- I said out loud to someone that the movie was awful. What prompted its makers to think it was good enough to merit a sequel no one will ever know.

So there you have it. "I Get Weak" and "Weekend At Bernie's." What an incredible life I've lived.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Where's My Baton?

The Baton left yesterday for home, which is in Virginia. And tomorrow, she and her parents are flying out west to spend about 10 days in Oregon and California, visiting family and so forth.

She returns to New York on Monday, July 10, and I told her it might be a good idea for us not to talk while she's away. Over Christmas last year, we spoke on the phone several times each day for about a month, and two weeks after she returned to Louisville, she tried to dump me. She didn't handle the long-distance thing too well, and the unexciting phone calls probably just became a nuisance to her.

So this time around, I made the suggestion for two reasons: 1) to avoid what happened over Christmas. Not that I think we're on the brink of a breakup, because we're not, but I'd hate for a repeat performance of a lengthy stretch away from each other with only burdensome phone calls. And 2) also because I think we've made the adjustment to living together, particularly in a small one-bedroom apartment. Her reward is a two-week stretch of not having to worry about the maintenance. Just go kick it with your family and don't think about us, I told her.

Her vacation comes at a good time, because there have been plenty of times where we've wanted to strangle each other in that apartment. And that wouldn't be good for me because of that whole probation thing.

Now I just need to quit taking naps when I come home from work so I can get a new round of goods posted on eBay and make some money. This will be one of several time-consuming projects I've got planned, so I might as well make this extra time count.

This is by far my worst blog entry ever. I sincerely apologize.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Just saw Al Gore's documentary tonight. If you prefer action movies, go jerk off to Jerry Bruckheimer (whose wife is a flake, btw). If you want to open your mind, watch "An Inconvenient Truth."

I'm not going to jump in the deep end of the pool before walking in, step by step, through the shallow end first. I admit I'm not very well schooled about global warming. So I'll need to refer to a contrary report before I form my own opinion.

Problem is, there are so few of them that it won't be easy. The few that are out there, however, mostly are the result of heavy-handed politicking. Don't know if you caught "60 Minutes" several months ago, when there was a report about a scientist whose credibility was trampled by the Bush administration because the scientist, James Hansen, wanted to communicate the truth about global warming, whereas the president wanted the American people to hear anything but. A White House staffer -- a politician far less qualified than Hansen in the field of science -- edited his report and the administration tried to keep the scientist quiet and damage his reputation, built on superior work over a period of more than 30 years.

This is another example of how the right-sided bully will run right over the conscientious left simply because of greed. The core problem is that the pursuit of oil -- the pursuit of money -- is placed above all else. I know this cliched complaint is tremendously tiresome; I really do. But even if you're like me and you know little about global warming, just do yourself one small, serious and important favor: Ask yourself why the government won't acknowledge the seriousness of global warming. Why won't the government concede one time that maybe it has overlooked something -- anything -- or that perhaps the Al Gores of the world do have good ideas and legitimate viewpoints? If nothing in life is perfect, how come you never hear President Bush admit a mistake, an oversight, an error in judgment, a bad decision? It must mean that everything is perfect here in the good 'ol USA.

It almost seems like there's some cultish, underground e-mail list that goes out to all the Republican subscribers, that might include a paragraph like this:

LINE OF THE WEEK: OK, people, ya know how the Democrats are really pushing this global warming thingy? From now on, let's just all say they're full of crap. Scientists and politicians on the left are all full of baloney, we'll tell 'em. Just deny that global warming even exists. Make them feel like they're crazy, like they're the only ones who see the elephant in this living room. And like a junkie alcoholic, deny, deny, deny. Got it?

FINAL NOTE: And who sent me that whoopee cushion after last month's newsletter? I got Cheney real good with that one. Thanks.

I fail to believe that the ruling party is the only party that has good ideas. So if the other side puts a note in the suggestion box and it continually gets brushed aside, how fit is our democracy? That so few people vote in America is bad enough, but to have those who do vote continue to march on the same line, touting the status quo as if our country is in good shape? Seriously, is it that big of a deal to acknowledge that our city, our country, our planet likely will endure tremendous harm in the very near future? I guess it is, but is ignoring this very real possibility make it go away?

The Republicans and their nifty little spin machine believe in being certain more than they believe in being right, so unfortunately, I don't expect anything to change anytime soon.

Actually, that's what the right is hoping we'll say, so we'll continue to perpetuate this defeatist cycle and not take action to change the circumstances. The right is OK that such a small percentage of those qualified to vote actually do so. It figures that a noteworthy increase in the number of voters means a change is so desperately needed. When voter turnout is low, it means we're OK with the status quo. Are you?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Readin' Books And Shit

I think in a recent post I might have mentioned that I buy a lot of books that I don't read. Several months ago, I finally bought Sun Tzu's "Art Of War." Perhaps on the third night here in New York, I started to read it in my apartment that was still in disarray from the move. Two pages in, I put it down in favor of the then-current edition of Sports Illustrated.

I think I need lighter stuff this summer. I live in a small apartment with the Baton, I'm still adjusting to the new job and I'm trying to see the new city some. Once the Baton marches off to grad school and I have a little more down time to tackle something like "War," I'll get into it.

Consequently, I've since started to read two much lighter books the last two weeks. Frank Kelly Rich couldn't even get me to page 50 of his "The Modern Drunkard." It was quite boring and a failed attempt at being funny, much like most of these blog posts. Perhaps I'll keep it on the coffee table when I get one.

But Tucker Max has me locked in with "I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell." He's definitely writing for a specific audience, and to those readers I'm sure he's a hero. I did my fair share of misbehaving in college, but this guy makes me look like a choir boy.

Max shares anecdotes from his Duke Law School days, when he drank himself into blackouts and hooked up with a new co-ed seemingly every weekend. Certainly his womanizing would offend many readers, but I'm sure those people aren't buying the book in the first place.

If readers understand that he's not only a complete a-hole to women, that he's also an arrogant frat boy, some of his tales will make you laugh out loud. And I'll continue to give him the benefit of the doubt, as he hails from the great state of Kentucky, which I used to call home for about six years.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Breaking News

I'm beginning this entry at 2:03 p.m. It's about something that happened anywhere from 2:01 p.m. to 2:02 p.m.

As I was trying to figure out how I could spend my last hour of my third week on the new job doing as little as possible, I got a little itch in my nose. I tried to scratch it, and as I pulled my thumb and index finger away -- they met in kind of a pinching formation just underneath the right nostril -- I learned the painful way that there was a previously attached nose hair between the pinching thumb and finger. I continued to pull away, and I experienced an excruciating jolt in front of my co-workers, with whom I obviously don't know well enough to share this story.

It hurt like hell. And my eyes are still watering at 2:08 p.m.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Game 7 Drama

I didn't watch much of the Stanley Cup Finals, but did watch most of last night's Game 7 between Carolina and Edmonton. I have small connections to both teams, but was probably rooting for Edmonton more than eventual winner Carolina.

I covered two minor league hockey teams for a newspaper during the 1999-2000 season, and guys like Erik Cole and Craig Adams have since become grizzled veterans for the Hurricanes after they played for the Cincinnati Cyclones six years ago.

During that season, I got to become friends with Dave Semenko, a former winger with those great Oilers teams of the 1980s. He was a policeman who skated on Wayne Gretzky's line and at 6-4, 245 pounds, kept opposing teams honest. He scouts for Edmonton now, and we'll keep in touch a little bit. I've got a fairly decent story about him drinking all the red wine in my house, and I'll just leave it at that.

Game 7s in any sport often can be anti-climactic, but Monday's did not disappoint. When Carolina scored early in the game and again in the second period to make the game 2-0 on its home ice, I figured it was all over. But Edmonton hung tough and sliced its deficit in half with plenty of time left.

It was good hockey. Speed, precision passing, crisp skating, aggressive defense and admirable goaltending. For much of the first two periods, Carolina appeared to be the aggressor, but Craig MacTavish must have given quite a locker room speech before the third period because his Oilers came out and matched -- at times surpassed -- the 'Canes intensity.

And for a short spell, the game was so clean that there didn't seem to be one whistle between the 15-minute mark and the 11-minute mark in the final period. As those last minutes wound down, and the desperate visitors tried to mount a rally, Carolina, bolstered by a boisterous crowd, stepped up and played lockdown defense. And young goalie Cam Ward was equal to the moment.

Even with a brief two-man advantage, Edmonton couldn't get the tying goal. I was trying to explain strategy a little bit to Baton, who knows little about hockey but sincerely enjoyed watching last night's game. I told her that the NHL playoffs last for about two months, and the guys who make it this far are exhausted from beating the hell out of each other for seven games in this particular series. Known as a tough-guy sport, it reduces to tears some men who look on as sweaty, bearded gladiators take off their helmets and exchange handshakes and kind words at center ice in the moments afterward.

I remember getting a little choked up when either Dallas in 1999 or New Jersey the following year won the Stanley Cup with a goal in sudden-death overtime of Game 7. It gets no more dramatic than that in any sport.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Throwing In The Towel?

I hope this doesn't sound defeatist, but I just thought of something. And forgive me if you've already had this thought; I'm seldom the first to innovate.

Do we actually think there's going to be an end to terrorism? The threat of terrorism? Can you actually fathom the day where a U.S. president speaks on all the networks on a Monday night at 9 p.m., when more of his apathetic citizens would rather watch football or the Simpsons -- perhaps Bart will actually age by this time -- to deliver a message like this one below?

"My fellow Americans ... terrorism is officially over."

What president in his right mind would actually have the balls to tell his people such a ridiculous thing? It's a cute little thought, the end of terrorism, but it will never happen. Even if Americans do one day get a competent leader in the White House, such a bold proclamation is merely an invitation for terrorism to intensify.

And yet the Dick Cheneys of the world -- even New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- spent Monday saying the reason it's been nearly five years since the last major terrorist attack is because of some good defense on our end. That's something a college basketball coach says after a victory. But these soundbites were sincerely offered as reporters wanted to know more about a weekend story that circulated, suggesting that a terror cell had plans to unleash a deadly gas in New York's subway system, but those plans were stifled because of various security and defense enhancements at the local and federal levels.

I have no problem with folks patting themselves on their collective back. And even if such improvements have taken place to the degree that Cheney, Bloomberg and others claim, I don't expect to ever live again in a terror-free society. And if fear drives consumption, then the economy will improve as well until the public has spent all of its money and the people who own the tall buildings in the big cities have hoarded all the resources. And then we're no longer fearful of terrorists highjacking 747s, but of merely finding a meal to eat or a place to sleep.

So is it terrorism that will kill us? Or is it something equally terrifying -- the mix of greed and hate -- that will lead to a slower, albeit less bloody, but more painful death? Again, sorry to sound defeatist or alarmist. But to ignore the thought of a very real possibility would be irresponsible.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Pretty Nice Little Saturday

I came home from Burger King, saw my hacked up face in the mirror and could't help but laugh. I thought I'd write about it on this here blog, but the computer continues to screw around and it booted me off each time I tried to turn it on.

So I grabbed the camera and scooted up to 88th Street, where I found a neat church a few weeks ago that I wanted to shoot. On the way, an old friend named Troy called and I thought I'd mention this because you know how I said Miles' move to New York freed up a place for me in that Hyde Park house? Well, when I moved out of there, my dude Barry moved in, and then when Zane moved out, Barry's dude Troy moved in. And now Troy, likes Miles and I, lives up here in New York. That's the worst story I've ever told, but perhaps I'll be having some beers with Troy one of these days.

Anyway, the pictures didn't turn out too great, but I was reluctant to call it a day. It was a warm day and there was lots of energy on the streets. I kept walking around, and then I remembered I've been meaning to buy a couple of things for the apartment.

I got lost looking for Dean & Deluca -- the store, not the people -- and stumbled upon what later turned out to be a Dianetics office. Yep, that Dianetics. The sign said nothing about that whacko L. Ron Hubbard, just "Free Personality Test Inside." Always curious and paranoid, I figured I'd go waste an hour so someone could have a computer remind me why I don't like myself.

But the detour actually turned out to be worth it. I must admit, the workers and the, um, students I guess, were very friendly and the place had an overall very positive feel inside. I talked to some dude sitting in a sauna -- not naked -- who said he did a lot of drugs back in the day, and paid a handsome $1,400 or so in order to purify and detox every day for two or three hours for four to six weeks. It was weird; everyone wanted to tout what Dianetics had to offer, but I really had to dig to find out what the "donation fee" was.

I don't expect to join anytime soon, but I'm glad I stopped in. I needed another reminder of the areas where I'm deficient. Can anyone spare some Zoloft?

Paperback Champion


Those groans you kept hearing were coming from apartment 7S1. I haven't had a headache like this since my last girlfriend.

Baton helped things by fixing me a heaping serving of chocolate chip pancakes, despite a wretched hangover of her own. I guess I'll keep her around another week.

Yesterday, I'd walked past a salon, er, barber shop called Jack's, where they cut men's hair for $20, very cheap for the city. So I rolled down there this afternoon for a quick cut and midway through, a Russian cat named Arkaidy, who didn't speak much English, asked if I wanted what I'd never had before -- one of those old-style, hot shaves. I accepted the lovely invitation that went something like this: "Shave?"

His English got decidedly better when he rang me up. "Forty dollars," he barked, and I was only able to add $5 because I'm on such a budget. Next time I'll just get the silent haircut in half the time.

On the way back, not yet knowing there was dried blood all over my face from what looked like Arkaidy's first foray into the hot-shave procedure, I made several stops where other human beings had to talk to me -- the Sprint store, Circuit City, Burger King and a corner book sale. Fortunately, I'm in New York, where everybody looks weird.

Anyway, I bought four books on clearance for a total of $20. In the last several years, books have become like crack to me. I love being surrounded by them, and if I ever make some money in the news business, perhaps one day I'll own a house with a study, and can take most of them out of my storage locker still in Louisville. Unlike a junkie, however, I'm not reading many of these books, many of which are paperbacks.

RESTAURANT REVIEW: I ate lunch out today, which I've done the majority of the days I've been here. It was the first time I'd spent less than $10 on a meal. There's a charming little place on 86th between Lexington and 3rd that serves up a good cheeseburger and crispy fries. It's called Burger King.

On a serious note, I picked up the sausage-n-peppers with penne for lunch on Friday at a place called Le Gourmet at 68th and either 1st or 2nd. The menu has everything, and things are reasonably priced and made to order. Very busy, and understandably so.

Miles Drinkish

A couple of posts below, there's a reference to The Precinct, a fine steakhouse in Cincinnati where I used to work years ago. I made a couple of friendships with dudes who were buds with this one cat named Miles, who became one of my better friends for a few years in Cincinnati.

Anyway, he's lived up here for about five years now, married with -- not to -- twin boys and what not. The baton and I caught up with him last night and he was still as cool as he used to be. Sure enough, the beers went down easily and often like they did back in the day. I'm really taking a liking to Stella Artois.

We hung out at the Spring Lounge, which boasts anything but a lounge atmosphere -- neither the 1991 Radisson Inn type of lounge nor the big-city, comfy couch, $12-per-drink type of lounge. Lots of old wood and uncomfortable seating, but good company in the charming Soho neighborhood nonetheless.

Baton and I were operating on empty stomachs, so she bolted across the street to grab a few slices of pizza and brought them back. Regardless of where or how much I eat -- especially lately -- a visit to the men's room always is necessary almost the second I swallow my last bite.

Sure enough, I rolled over to the men's room and put a hurtin' on that toilet.

So it was good to see Miles, who, by the way, made my bedroom available when he moved to New York. His departure from Cincinnati allowed me to take over his room in a cool, two-bedroom crib in the Hyde Park neighborhood with old friend Zane back in 2000. This fact might become relevant in an upcoming post.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Line Of The Night

I hate to pat myself on the back, but I'm going to do it.

Ya know how young baton just finished school and is spending the summer with me up here in New York? Well, she doesn't have a job and, being in a new city, knows no one. So she's having a tough time figuring out how to spend her time. This lack of a schedule has made her very sluggish, and I'm not saying that in a critical way. I really do feel sorry for her being so bored, but I couldn't resist taking this jab in bed last night.

Jennifer: "I don't know why I'm so tired tonight."
Me: "Maybe it's because your nap was only two hours long today."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Straight Gangsta, John

That's a play on the line, "Straight Gangsta, Mack," from Digital Underground's best-known song, btw. And please forgive me using my name in third person.

Anyway, here's my brush-with-gang-life story:

I used to valet park cars for quite a while at a high-end steakhouse in Cincinnati. Valet parking cars "for quite a while" is akin to setting the minor league home run record, which I think is still held by Kevin Costner. Both dubious feats indeed. And if you're up on your "Working Stiff's Manifesto," Iain Levinson already said that restaurant slaps always are in between opportunities. "I'm just waiting tables before I get into law school," or maybe the same person will say sometime later, "I'm just waiting tables until I get my AARP card." You never hear anyone say, "I've got a plan for myself, and it hinges on my long-term employment as a waiter right here. Now hand me that A1 bottle, bitch." That's probably something that would be said by the one dude who had me start his car for him by blowing into that device that those with multiple DUI arrests are required to have in their cars. True story; he'd had enough DUIs but still couldn't say no to the sauce one night -- many nights -- after work.

OK, restaurant mini-rant is over. Back on track.

So I made some good friends and a nice chunk of change at The Precinct, and I have a handful of good stories to tell. One of them involves one of the restaurant's regulars, a Cornell grad who wasn't shy about talkin' his game quite a bit. But I didn't care because he took great care of me and was an overall friendly cat.

One week, however, was a little odd. JerseyGuy -- that's what we'll call him -- knew me well enough to know my schedule at the restaurant. He rolled up in his Jaguar one night, trophy wife in tow, and asked, "You're working again Thursday night, right?"

"Yeah, why, what's up?"

"Do you have a big duffel bag?" he asked.

"I sure do," not knowing if I really had one. It just sounded like a question I should say yes to, considering it was being asked by someone who liked to hand me money for a wide variety of reasons -- including standing, breathing, and sometimes sitting.

"Cool, I'll see ya here before you leave for the night, and you might want to talk to Rodriguez before then."

Rodriguez* was one of the higher-ranked guys who worked inside the restaurant, and while I enjoyed socializing with him, it hardly surprised me that he was behind what later turned out to be an authentic, gang-style heist.

Thursday rolled around, and at the end of my shift, I found myself pulling dozens of styrofoam packages -- each of which contained about six or eight nice, new watches -- out of several big, corrugated boxes, and stuffing them into my oversized duffel bag. As you can imagine, the instructions also called for me to leave the duffel bag in the trunk of JerseyGuy's Cadillac -- his third car was a Toyota Land Cruiser -- which was parked behind the restaurant near the basement door, and break down and dispose of the corrugated boxes.

For all this effort and the right to tell a story, I earned $100. And wanting to show JerseyGuy that I wasn't a restaurant lifer and was, indeed, between better opportunities, I showed him my creative side by telling him the dumpster down in the parking lot didn't seem safe, so I took the boxes to the one in my apartment complex parking lot.

"Oh, you do have my back, doncha Johnny?" he joked after pulling his cigar out of his mouth. Cha-ching. That was worth another $50. The dumpster decision was quite lucrative.

Now that I'm up in New York, I just wish I could find someone like JerseyGuy and run a few errands for him. In the meantime, you'll find me playing bocce out back behind Satriale's.

* (Rodriguez is a fictitious name based on a very real person. I always wanted to type a sentence like that!)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Cincinnati Sucks Up Here, Too

If you know me, and chances are you do because I don't think anyone else reads this drivel, then you know I'm not all that crazy about Cincinnati.

At a laundromat here in Manhattan Sunday, I saw a dude wearing a Skyline T-shirt. For those not familiar, Skyline is a Cincinnati original. Like Graeter's ice cream and Montgomery Inn ribs, Skyline is Cincinnati's very own brand of chili. It's pretty good.

As Jennifer and I left the laundry, I asked the guy if he was from Cincinnati. I figure we're 700 miles from there, perhaps he'd like it if someone from his hometown said hello. He said he was, indeed, from Cincinnati. Grew up in Sharonville, went to Princeton High School and even was a lifeguard at a pool in a nice neighborhood near where I lived -- Hyde Park and Mount Lookout.

As perhaps overly judgmental as I may seem in my criticisms of that city, I'm just as good at getting to know new people, asking them questions and letting them talk. I prefer to listen than to talk about myself. It works out perfectly when the other person talks about me! Just kidding. Unless you're paying a therapist, it's arrogant to talk too much about yourself to someone new, and I just don't have a lot of exciting shit to offer about myself anyway.

So I figured this might be a worthwhile conversation. Perhaps Jennifer and I will make a new friend to hang around with in a huge city where for the most part we've only socialized with each other.

And then I asked him what he's doing now up here in the big city.

"I'm an international businessman," he said with a straight face.

I don't speak many languages, but here's how that translated in my head: "Fucko likes himself a little bit. It's time for this conversation to end."

He was still mid-sentence when I just looked at his mediocre girlfriend, flashed a smile that, if she was smart, knew meant something like, "Your boyfriend's a cock," and said, "well, good talkin' to ya." Jennifer and I didn't even wait to hear his reply to that; we just turned and kept walking.

Two things here -- if you're arrogant enough to think it's cool to refer to your occupation in such a way, you're probably smart enough to know that I'd be curious why the fuck you're doing you're laundry at this shithole I was just leaving.

And b), would jokes about the International House of Pancakes be funny here? Should I have told him I'm a local newsperson? Or a national newsperson? Perhaps a regional newsperson?

(Just opened a can of Budweiser at 12:18 am..)

RESTAURANT REVIEW -- Jennifer and I we're walking home from taking pictures in Central Park when she suggested finding someplace to eat outside. It's been gloomy and wet most of the time we've been here so far, and Sunday was really the best day we've had weather wise.

So we dropped in on Mustang's, at 85th and 2nd. The night before, while walking home from Pita Grille (also very good) just down the street, I read the Mustang menu on the wall and it looked both tasty and affordable. I think I even said something like, "This is where we're going next time we eat out."

One thing I'm realizing is the liquid part of the bill is just as expensive as the food portion. The Traditional Cubano Sandwich was excellent (ham, pork, sweet pickle and some kind of cheese). This place was cheap to moderate, but we each ordered two drinks, and that was half the bill. Still, I'd recommend it to anyone, especially if you're looking to sit outside on a busy corner this summer.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Come To Think Of It . . .

Everyone has a story about Ecuador, right? Well, now that I just watched the Ecuadorians defeat a pesky squad from Poland in a World Cup opener for both teams, I remembered my Ecuador story. It's not great, but it's better than being the only slap in the conversation without a tale about such a fine country.

I lived with a cool cat named Tom for many years in Cincinnati. One of his dudes who had a weird last name just got out of a bad breakup and was looking for some companionship. Tom left for work, and when I was contemplating rolling down to the apartment complex pool, I looked out the window and saw Tom's boy Jeff already trying to claim some turf.

He talked to this gal for quite a while before coming back up to our place. He told me she was even cuter up close and was very cool to talk to. She was from Ecuador and staying with her brother for the summer.

Jeff left a short time later, allowing me a minute or two to dust off one of my history textbooks and read up on Ecuador. What a nation.

Anyway, Ecuador is where Mt. Chimborazo is, as well as a few other interesting things that, 10 years later, I cannot remember nor do I care to Google right now. I'm at work, ya know.

So I slithered down poolside, and Jeff was right, this girl was cute.

"Oh, you're from Ecuador? Wow. Chimborazo, eh? That's some mountain down there."

And it only took about 15 minutes of conversation before it dawned on me that she also might have been illegal.

So after she answered my age inquiry with a polite, "14," I didn't want to seem like my only motive was, well, I wanted to seem like there was no motive. So I talked to her for a few more minutes, made up that my girlfriend was coming over shortly and I'd better get going.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Cable Guy Or Party Guy?

One of Jennifer's girlfriends moved to Philadelphia about a week before we moved to New York, and she's coming up to visit some other friends this weekend. Thursday night, Jennifer asked if I'd want to go to a party on Friday that the friend knows about, and I said yes. But if you read the entry below, you know that Jennifer and I probably could use a night away from each other.

And earlier in the day Thursday, a brand-new leather couch was delivered just minutes after the cable and internet were installed.




I think I'm coming down with something. Stay tuned.

Want A Sip Of My Ice Cream?

So we've been here a full week, and Jennifer and I are fully on each other's nerves. Long gone are the care-free days of rooftop showers; we're ready to tear each other's throats out.

I don't know why, but my cluttery packrat ass just can't get anything done around the crib with her in the room. But since we're complete newbies to the town, it's not like sometime soon she'll say, "Oh, I'm going out with the girls tonight so you're on your own."

Jennifer's pretty logical and way more decisive than me when it comes to figuring out what to keep, file or throw away. And when you're a sentimental packrat who just moved to a tiny apartment in Manhattan, you'll have space problems. It's catching up to us.

But we're not without other problems. Of course, Juan the super -- let's just call him SuperJuan -- was supposed to come Monday or Tuesday to install a dead-bolt lock on the door. It's now just minutes before Friday, and we're still using a paper bag from the local wine shop to stuff the hole where the lock will go. Is anyone hiring engineers? I think I'm fairly qualified.

And another problem is that I noticed the refrigerator's contents weren't very cold several days ago, so I bumped the dial up to 6. The next day up to 7 and now we're all the way up to 9, the highest number available. The orange juice and milk are about as cold as you'd find such items to be after taking them out of a properly working fridge, then setting them out on the counter for about 40 minutes or so. Maybe 45.

The freezer isn't working well either, and when I joined Jennifer out on the fire escape as she smoked another cigarette, I had with me the pint of ice cream I'd bought earlier in the week. I got out to the fire escape, got comfy on my collapsable-bought at Target-perfect-for-white-trash-watching-fireworks-chair and opened the ice cream. I realized the spoon was hardly necessary.

"Want a sip of my ice cream?" I asked Jennifer, then without waiting for an answer, just chugged the hell out of that motherfucker.

Give Your Pole A Name

Sorry it's been a few days. I've been fairly busy at my new job and still trying to get settled in the new crib.

When I say "busy at my new job," that could be misleading, so let's clarify, shall we? The fact that I've been required to be somewhere other than where I'd rather be means that I've been quite busy. Quite frankly, somewhere where I'd rather be really adds up to anywhere other than work. Don't get me wrong; I like my career and I know that without it I'd be unable to live in this glorious shoebox, but wouldn't we all prefer to be on an island or at least the couch?

But back to busy; I hate to say it, but I just haven't been doing that much work at work. My offer letter a month ago included what read like a very official sentence, something like, "You must report to (such-n-such address) for orientation at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, June 5."

Well, guess who's turned in four solid days on the new job and is still waiting to be, um, orientated? Shoot, I'd be happy with my own computer. Before Thursday, all that was on my 1970s-style metal desk (think Glengarry Glen Ross) was a phone. But today I took in a black-n-white picture I took of Jennifer when we first started dating. For those of you ones of readers, you might not know that Jennifer was a baton twirler for her college marching band. I took this fairly cool picture of her performing last fall, just a few weeks after we'd met. I'm so cute.

So now there are two things on my desk. Perhaps Friday I'll take in a pencil or two, AND a dozen or so paper clips. After all, it is Friday. One should live it up.

I guess there was one funny highlight about Thursday. I was doing some light training over the telephone with a gal who has my same job but in Los Angeles. She's been on the job a few weeks, so she was teaching me how to set up surveys. Remember, I work in online news. Anyway, surveys are often called polls. So she told me how to create it in the content management system, and then how to save it and post it. At one point during the instructions, she said, "Give your poll a name," a statement that my immature and rated-R ass interpreted as, "Give your pole a name." Who said the news business is boring?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mostly Soapy With A Chance Of Showers

The shower didn't work in the new apartment, and after a day and night that included driving, unloading and unpacking, getting clean was a major priority. But once the late-afternoon hours rolled around -- we'd been in NYC 24 hours and still no sign of sunshine -- the showers gave no signs of slowing down. So Jennifer had the bright idea of going out on the roof in our bathing suits, armed with a bottle of shampoo and my trusty bar of Irish Spring.

Sure enough, after five minutes on top of the building, I was indeed fresh and clean as a whistle. But I was also freezing my ass off, which made me thankful we kept our bathing suits on. The Costanza Shrinkage Syndrome was in full effect.

RESTAURANT REVIEW -- We were actually clean enough to venture out for dinner once again, and we hit this new French bistro on 88th and 2nd. I'd walked past it two weeks prior when I came up to look for an overpriced shoebox of an apartment, which reminds me that I need to get reimbursed for that $1,100 I spent on that trip.

Anyway, I was surprised I was able to remember where this restaurant (I think it's called La'dolce or something similar) was, but I'm glad I did. I fully recommend it. It draws a nice mix of young professionals up to savvy locals. Jennifer and I sat next to a nice couple in their 30s at the bar. Heather said she used to review restaurants, and coupled with her stylish shoes, I figured she was in the know regarding the restaurant scene. She said the joint had been open no more than two months, and had gotten splendid reviews.

Our potato appetizer at the bar was tasty, just like the vodka drinks we ordered. And the hanger steak I had was prepared to perfection. Friday marked the first time I tried marrow, and it likely will go down as the last time I try it.

Great atmosphere, good date music and very pleasant waitstaff. I'll go back again, but not until I get another couple of paychecks in the bank. $$$.

Thursday Recap -- Part Deux

What I feared about arriving in Manhattan actually did not come true. I'm a fairly equal mix of nervous, skeptical and generally clueless when it comes to major undertakings, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to park the big banana on my block about 90 minutes before the movers were scheduled to arrive to unpack my belongings.

Jennifer and I walked around a couple of blocks, then came back to meet the super so I could get the keys and step inside my new apartment.

A short time later, the movers arrived and told me it would be OK for me to move the truck to a spot right in front of my building -- as well as a fire hydrant -- as long as I stayed with the truck and kept a watchful eye on it. My initial reaction was one of skepticism. How can I keep an eye on the truck down here and an eye on my belongings that you're moving? It was a leap of faith, and I ended up tipping the guys 80 percent afterward on ignorant trust alone.

RESTAURANT REVIEW -- Remember an episode of NBC's The Office last fall, when Steve Carell told the camera he loves returning to New York City, the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps, then the shot went from tight to wide only he revealed his fave pizza joint was merely a Sbarro? Well, my introduction to city dining as a New York City resident was not unlike the Sbarro in that Mimi's certainly lacked the sexiness, but unlike the pizza branch, Mimi's Pizza And Restaurant actually served up some outstanding authentic Italian food. Not necessarily charming decor or waitstaff, but the Spaghetti with a red sausage sauce was delectable, especially when chased with a glass of the house Merlot. I wish I could remember the name of the dessert, but it was excellent as well. Great food, great price. On Lexington Avenue b/w 84th and 83rd.

On The Road Again -- Thursday, June 1

So I'm spending the first day on the new job updating my blog. Lemme tell ya, orientation is soooo intimidating.

I'm in New York and all, but let's rewind a few days so I can recap the rest of the move, as this is my first visit to an online computer in nearly a week.

My 16-foot Penske truck was packed practically full when we wheeled out of Cleveland at midnight Wednesday. The Associated Press says to refer to the day that's ending, not the day that's beginning, when you use the word midnight. So let's just say this, at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Jennifer and I pulled out of Cleveland and began a four-hour trek to lovely Lamar, Pennsylvania. It was wet out and we were both somewhat tired. Jennifer assured me she'd try to stay awake for the trip, and that effort ended not long after she hung up her cell phone after a call with her friend Tacia, who was drinking at a bar.

But Lamar is indeed lovely this time of year. The continental breakfast was divine. Two bowls of Froot Loops and a plain English Muffin was enough to get me ready for the road Thursday at about 10:30 a.m.