Friday, February 29, 2008

Top 5 Records - Life

43 years ago tomorrow my mother pushed me out into this world. I don't know much about March 1st, 1965. Legend has it that on the evening of February 28th "Ma" was eating beans and hot dogs, while watching a documentary about JFK with the same title as his book, "Profiles in Courage". She had some rumblings in her tummy which she thought at first was the beans and dogs, doing what beans and dogs usually do, but soon enough realized that it was me.

I had my mid-life crisis a few years back. One could argue that due to my precarious genetic makeup (both sides of my family are chock full o' unhealthy folks) that mid-life for me was at about 27 years. I held off on my mid-life crisis until I was about 35, after the death of my mother. I went through a period of introspection and self centeredness that is necessary to make sense of this thing that we know as "life". Purpose, meaning and all of that shit. A mid-life crisis is like a economic recession, you don't realize that you had one until its over. Mine is over and done with. I feel good about the path I've chosen and am looking forward to what life has to bring.

Birthdays have never been a milestone or benchmark for me. I've never set deadlines for my personal achievements or goals, so to me birthdays are more for the parents than they are for the person with the birthday. For some reason this year I have been perserverating about March 1st. Whether it be the long, snowy winter or a reaction to my mid-life crisis I have had a newly developed maudlin sentimentality for my birth date. I have thought about how my life and birth has/had affected those that were there. I have pondered my existence.

Appropriately, in celebration of my birthday I present you with my Top 5 songs about life. Whether it be how to live life, the meaning of life or just plain bitching about the human condition these songs were the first that jumped out. As in previous Top 5 posts (here and here) these are my personal opinions and feel free to share others you may think relevant. In no particular order, here they are, my Top 5 Songs About Life:

Click on the song titles for links to the full lyrics.

Secret O’ Life - James Taylor

I have to admit this is my favorite because its message is so simple and so true. We have no control over things like the "planets spinning through space" so concentrate on the things you can, love and happiness.

"The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time
Any fool can do it
There aint nothing to it
Nobody knows how we got to
The top of the hill
But since were on our way down
We might as well enjoy the ride"

Two Step - Dave Matthews Band

"Celebrate we will
Because life is short but sweet for certain
Were climbing two by two
To be sure these days continue,
These things we cannot change"

Find someone to love and hold on for the ride.

Drive - Incubus

Whether it be a teenager unable to find direction or a man in mid-life crisis feeling like he's lost all control, this song about self-determination is an appropriate anthem.

"Sometimes, I feel the fear of,
uncertainty stinging clear.
And I can't help but ask
myself how much I'll let the fear
take the wheel and steer.

It's driven me before, and it seems to a faint,
haunting mass appeal.
But lately I, am beginning to find that I,
should be the one behind the wheel

Times Like These - Jack Johnson

I just like that this song nonchalantly laughs in the face of inevitability.

"In times like these
in times like those
what will be will be
and so it goes
and it always goes on and on
and on and on it goes"

No Such Thing - John Mayer

"They love to tell you stay inside the lines
But somethings better on the other side"

If you can get past the fact that John Mayer was banging Jessica Simpson amongst many other beautiful women and with his pop sensibilities should be the last person to preach about non conformity, his message in this song rings sincere. Don't run with the crowd or do what your parents expect. Learn how to play guitar and bang hot chicks.

Immediately upon contemplating a Top 5 about LIFE I thought of "In My Life" by the Fab Four or "Life's Been Good" by Joe Walsh, but felt that they were too obvious ("Dust In The Wind", Kansas, can you say hackneyed). I tried to come up with things relevant to ME.

Because its all about ME.

Happy Birthday to ME!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Weekly Weigh In (Week 10)

In my grief and despair I forgot to do a weight update last week. Last week I had zero weight loss and this week I only lost a pound. I could have a million excuses from work deadlines to the Patriots reverting to the Patsies, but the only excuse is laziness. I averaged three days per week in the gym the last two weeks and my eating has been under control, but the intensity of my workouts and food choices have leaned more toward weight maintenance than weight loss. I anticipate with the world getting back to homeostasis, illnesses gone, Super Bowl a painful memory. Then I can get back into my routine and drop 20 more pounds in the next 5 weeks. Even if I get to within a few pounds of two bills by the Ides of March then I'll be close to "Speedo" shape (delete that thought from your memory banks immediately or you may face irreparable damage). I haven't seen or heard from Billy in a while. Maybe I'll just get a check in the mail.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Red Sox To The Rescue

Spring training is just days away and before you know it we will be watching the ring ceremony Opening Day at Fenway. Those thoughts alone buoyed my psyche a tad on Monday morning, the day after the Patriots debacle. Then that evening a call from the Red Sox talked me off the ledge and back to safety. Let me explain.

Two Saturdays ago I spent most of the day milling about my house doing housework, playing with the kids etc... My wife spent the month of January working OT, so she was gone each Saturday until 2 PM. The Red Sox internet sale started at 10 AM, so I logged in and checked my computer screen every few minutes between skating on my backyard rink, doing dishes and feeding the kids lunch, to see if I made it out of the "virtual waiting room" and on to the area were I could buy tickets. Around 3:30 PM I checked the computer and I was in the ticket buying area. I started browsing games and when I came across the first tickets I wanted to purchase I started the ticket buying process. I entered all the pertinent information and when the form was completed I hit enter. The screen went blank except for the Red Sox logo at the top of the screen and a few icons. I started to sweat, but didn't yell or scream. I clicked a few of the icons, but nothing changed. I manually went back to the last page, but instead of the last page it sent me back to the virtual waiting room.

I screamed.

My wife came running over and I excitedly attempted to explain what had just happened, but all that came out of my mouth was something akin to "pig Latin". I stormed around the room. I tried calling the Sox. Busy signal. I was losing my mind. Now granted, I was not sitting at the table watching the screen refresh for five hours, but I knew if it took me five hours to get a chance at tickets, it would probably be another five before I got another chance and there would be jack shit left. In my rage I fired off an angry email to the general contact email for my beloved Red Sox. I figured that it wouldn't accomplish squat except to make me feel temporarily better. The next time I had a chance to buy tickets was after 10 PM and there were no tickets left together; just singles or obstructed view. I went to bed hating the Sox.

Monday morning I received this email:


Thank you for your email and feedback regarding the sale the weekend of January 26. The loyalty and devotion we receive from Red Sox fans is astounding. We hope to provide you with the appreciation you deserve.

It is first important to understand that all systems were functioning properly allowing us to set another record for tickets sold over the weekend. When we think it cannot go any higher, demand for Red Sox tickets continues to climb. We have sold more tickets as of this date in 2008 than to date any previous season.

When purchasing tickets online, the system is designed to assure that once you have reached the buying process, you are able to complete your order without difficulty. The waiting room provides that buffer. By limiting the number of fans attempting to purchase tickets at any one time, fewer have trouble completing their order. For the most part, those efforts have been extremely successful.

All of that said, we understand that you were not as fortunate in your attempts to purchase tickets. For the past week, we have analyzed all purchases from the sale. In our efforts to thwart scalping, we have confiscated orders from those who exceeded the posted limits of 8 tickets per person. Additionally, we have been scouring the online secondary market and confiscated tickets from illegitimate resellers.

As a result of the difficulty you encountered and your having made us aware of it so quickly, we would like to provide you with the opportunity to purchase up to 8 tickets from those that have been confiscated. Please understand that availability is still limited, however the number of fans who experienced problems was also minimal.

To check availability and to purchase tickets please contact me directly, either via email or at the number below. Also, I look forward to more detailed information on what occurred during your attempts to purchase. Understanding exactly what you encountered will help us to resolve the problems in the future.

Thank you again for your feedback and continued support of Boston Red Sox baseball.

Andrew Dennen

Boston Red Sox

2007 World Series Champions

(617) 226-6368

I immediately called his number and left a message saying of course I would be interested and gave him some possible dates. Just to be safe I emailed him with the same info. I checked my computer every fifteen minutes for new email and stared at the phone as if it would help the process along. Monday evening at 4:30 the Red Sox called just as I was in the midst of reliving the Super Bowl nightmare by reading suicidal blog entries. I was able to get 8 tickets to three different games. I thanked him a dozen times and told him that the Red Sox just might have saved a life that night. I'm sure he thought I was a mental case and in my state of mind Monday he wasn't far off base.

When I hung up I felt differently then when I got on the phone. I felt like there was hope and light at the end of the tunnel. I could smell the sausage and peppers cooking out on Landsdowne Street. I could feel the peanut shells crunching under my feet as I was making my way to the beer line. I could hear Elton John singing softly "Someone Saved My Life Tonight". Thank you Red Sox, Thank you!!!

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Nation Of Patriots Haters

Congratulations New York Giants.

You don't need my "atta boy" to validate your victory; you deserve every kudo that comes your way. Not since the "pre-Brady Pats" have we seen a team so thoroughly manhandle the Patriots and smack them in the mouth as the Giants did in the desert last night. That said, I am disappointed and angry. I am disappointed that the Patriots couldn't finish the job. It’s like having a perfectly fine pregnancy for nine months and giving birth to a still born. All that work, all those hopes and dreams, for nothing. I am angry for reasons that have nothing to do with the game last night and the result of the game just makes my anger all the more bitter.

I started watching the pre-game shows around 10 AM yesterday. Of course the usual cast of characters on ESPN were weighing in on the game and doing their fair share of Patriots hating. Assumptions of guilt were being discussed, as fact, concerning "Spygate", taping by the Patriots of the Rams walk through before Super Bowl IIIVI and congressional inquiries by Senator Arlen Spector concerning the NFL's destruction of the spygate tapes. It appeared that no one was concerned about the game at hand and that many just wanted to put as much doubt in the public's mind about the legitimacy of the Patriots run, as to diminish their accomplishment when they ultimately won that evening. This Patriot hating went on into the Fox pre-game with a little less venom, as not to alienate viewers, but enough veiled references to the nation's distain for the Patriots, that I had to stop watching.

I was feeling good about the media coverage of the Patriots until Friday's press conference with Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner. He got barraged with spygate questions and did a poor job of deflecting them. Then disgruntled Eagles fan, Arlen Spector, senator from Pennsylvania, came out saying he wanted to meet with Goodell, Brady or anyone who could clarify just what was on those "spygate" tapes. As Saturday rolled on the media frenzy over the Patriots intensified. A former employee supposedly told someone at the Herald that the Pats taped the Rams walkthrough before Super Bowl 36 and the Patriots haters started trying to equate that alleged act with the rationale for the Pats beating the Rams. Hate, Hate, Hate right up until kick off.

The Patriots are in shock, but they will be back. When the shock wears off they are going to be pissed off. Family and friends will be giving them bits and pieces of what was being said and what the media's response was from Friday until kick off, while they were in their "bubble" of protection preparing for the game. The respect that was deserved and the deference usually given to a team in their position was non-existent.

The country hates the Patriots. Their coach appears conceited, their quarterback appears flawless, their organization appears monolithic. Fans will always hate on the team that has dominated for a long period of time because they want their team to be there, on top. Fans can hate and that’s OK because that’s the nature of the beast. The media is not supposed to hate. Never before has the media vilified a team that has accomplished so much with as much class and dignity. The other dynasty's have all received their coronation and kudos. The Patriots have received nothing but scrutiny and disrespect.

Randy will be back. So won't Brushci, Seau, Samuel. Maybe not Stallworth. Coaching staff will be intact. Remember in the movie "Stripes" the dude called "Psycho" (Don't call me Francis!) and his list. Guaranteed that when the smoke clears and the confetti is swept up the Patriots will start compiling their list and start knocking them off one by one.

Nobody circles the wagons like the New England Patriots. If you thought they were arrogant, aloof and unlikable this year, what until next year. 18-1, with a bigger chip on their shoulder and the seventh pick in the draft adds up to a lot of pain for the rest of the NFL.

Arlen Spector, Merril Hodge, Don Shula, Steve Young, Peyton Manning, Mercury Morris, Tom Jackson, Kurt Warner, Ladainian Tomlinson, Eric Mangini, Roger Goodell and all of the rest of the haters watch out, you're on the list. Who is number one on the list? We'll see next September.