Ketchup With Us #39 – Four For 4/4

Ms Mel and ODNT Want a linkup, new or old. Maybe there was some awesomeness that went unaccoladed – now’s your chance! Ketchup With Us

I used this chance to revisit a fun thing I do. Four things on the Fourth day of the Fourth Month.

Also I decided to do it in 10 minutes and so each one got the fair shot of rambling, each bit was 2 minutes 30 seconds.

Mr G I will let you know about burgers soon. I have already met with other ‘online friends’- a term that was dubious back in the 90’s but is absolutely acceptable these days. Still I carry a whisper of that doubt, as I guess people see that I get along with so many people in the real world that it is still somehow different. Let me tell you there are people in your own company that you have worked with for years and never met. One professor who starts after I leave for example. We could have stood next to each other at an event and never knew it, when I met him, I realized…that wasn’t true. Anyway, so there are plenty of burger places and apparently a bar hidden upstairs from a five guys. I think though we’ll be going for ostrich burgers and a Guinness. My ending point being that I traveled to other cities to see some friends now time to make a day for the ones right here. Also you others need to come see us.

So I went to Chicago and Dallas and they were both great. I am exhausted and there is too much laundry waiting to be done, but I am glad I did it at this time. It leaves me open for more travels (that is after the next fiscal year rolls over and or after my tax refund comes back in). I got into the restaurants I wanted. I ate well, rested better, and saw the museums. Two things that I rate a city by, and glad to say that both cities passed. Dallas streets have few people and less litter. I spend way too much on souvenirs. I didn’t spend a lot on coffee, and I got some damn good deals on rooms that were right in the middle of town. One more US destination and then I look overseas. In the meantime my passport application sits in my bag, un-mailed. This weekend. I promise.

When I was younger I was apparently cute or precocious enough for my parents to see if I wanted to try out modeling/acting. I landed a few tiny things like textbooks, none of which I read or to my knowledge learned were defaced with devil beards and horns, until I landed an interview with some lady for a movie. “Why do you want to do this?” she asked. “Because my mom wanted me to.” She laughed and I made a good impression. Apparently also I made the short list for a movie about two boys who suddenly grew older and had to deal with this new situation. The script was changed, the movie was Big, and the woman who interviewed me was Penny Marshall. She never gave me a callback. Ah, well at least I am not on any terrible reality shows or dating late 80’s playboy models. And hey I got a paycheck. That’ll do.

So I now have one week until my windows XP machine is somehow no longer worthy of upgrades by Microsoft. I will be simply disconnecting it from the internet and using it for offline activities like games and writing, as I am sure that there will be a field day on XP machines. Well why not just upgrade they say? Well because in buying the upgrade to 7 or 8 and having to upgrade the hardware which is outdated, I will have to spend more than if I bought a new system. So why not just buy a new system, Good idea. I’ll switch to mac like everyone else is doing these days. So, well played Microsoft. Its days like this that I wonder why I got rid of my commodore 64 in the first place. THAT had Zak McKraken on it- which was the best game ever (shout out?). And dot matrix printers only less noisy than modems would be in later years.

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Filed under Ketchup With Us, Life, Lists, Travel, Writing Challenges

The Vault – Leaving It To The Experts

Note: this is part of a series of posts first written in my previous blog, now shut down.
(Original posting titled “Redefining My Status” – written 8/25/2011)

I did what I did, but would never do it again. This is why sometimes I dread dealing with the humans.

So I am heading to the grocery store one Sunday morning, which used to play 80′s music all the time and now sucks for many reasons (the store, not Sunday mornings), most of which are the fact that they don’t play 80′s music any more. But that helps.

There are a lot of old people around the co-op/apartment complexes I live usually, so an oldster sighting is not not common. There was one in particular shuffling by, but this was different. She was calling out “help! Help! Somebody please help me,” while holding her arms out in front of her as though her cane or walker was missing, and she was a step from falling. So me being part Superman, man of steel (I have some tight glutes) and because that void of the other part of me doesn’t want to be stagmatized with the status of “That dick who walked past an old lady who was crying out for help” by anyone who might be watching from their car or spy satellite, I detour my way to the path she is heading down.

As I caught up to her, I asked if she needed any help. She turned, grabbed my arm, and relayed her situation; she had to get to the building, which was about 30 feet away. Seeing as she was standing out there in the hot sun, I offer to walk her to the front door. She confesses to me that she’s old, and I appreciate the recon info – a passing thought wondered how many Bothans died getting that data. She’s rushing along and I tell her to take her time, and that we would walk up the ramp. She protested this, and proceeded to tell me that no, she needed to go to the corner, to catch a taxi/bus. I have the sudden creeping feeling this is not going to end well, as the bus stop is several blocks away and I pray to Jor-El that she meant an Access a Ride.

As I tell her that no taxi is around and that she would be better going home and calling them again, she gets agitated, refutes my illogical idea, and starts calling out for help again, but with me firmly in grip, making my status “Hoodlum/perhaps geriatric perv who (slowly) kidnaps old ladies”. Considering that people might actually be watching from their windows, which they do a lot of, I’m thinking of what aisle of the store I would be down already, listening to Ke$ha or something equally as dicksandpapering– and speaking of aisles, down this next path are benches! I suggest that we sit on the shaded benches and wait for this taxi, which she swears is here for her (the driver went into the building through the basement somehow and missed her).

She agrees, and my chances of being arrested for grannynapping are slightly reduced. I get her to the benches and reassure her that the taxi will be by soon. She feels better about this and so do I.

So I tell her that I have to go.

“You can’t leave me here! Help Help! Somebody help!”

So now I am “the dick who leaves old ladies on benches on hot days, even though I left her on a shady bench,” or better yet “guys who robs old ladies and then leaves them on a shady bench”. At this point, I’m willing to take that, since it’s at least a step up from “worthless son/daughter who doesn’t ensure that their elderly mother is properly attended, because that would be an expense and really they are just waiting for the parent to die so they can sell their house/condo/co-op”, which are a dime a dozen in this borough believe me. Fuckin’ believe me. Those people are in fact trumped by their very elders who are of the “I know you want the house and money and whatever else you think you deserve so I will stay alive just to spite you, you ungrateful bastard(s)”, which is why I kind of like the elderly around here, and come to their rescue when they stand around screaming for help.

Anyway…

So I look around and there are a few people around, incredibly, they are elderly as well. One of them is someone I recognize; “lady who walks around with an oxygen tank, and whose daughter smokes when taking walks with her mother, which would be really fucked up, except that the mother goes for her evening walks alone sometimes and hides behind parked buses/vans, unhooks the oxygen tank, and lights up a cigarette, so really big fucking deal.” Since I know her by this which practically makes us clan, I ask her in my suave, educated way “‘scuse me, do you know this lady? She needs help…or something.” The lady looks at me, and then to the woman and decides that she knew how to ask the questions, and the old lady seemed more relaxed. It’s a peer thing; maybe only a nurse would be the only type of person to know how to handle it.

So as they talk, the bubble is now around them and I, like a greased up ninja, slink away on my journey to the store.

To say that I would not approach a situation like this, I do not think that it should be criticized. There’s more to any deed than just being a good citizen; it’s about being capable of handling the situation – something I clearly could not do. While calling 911 or flagging down a police car might also seem heavy handed, I also clearly had no idea what the fuck to do with this lady. Being that it was the middle of the day, the bat signal would not have been effective either.

You know what they say – leave it to the superheros. I can imagine only the caped crusaders’ local 321 says that. Well, now I do too.

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Ketchup With Us #38 – Homeward Bound

Ms Mel and ODNT Are giving you 10 minutes to write something, anything. Ketchup With Us


I’m on my way to Chicago tomorrow morning, returning home Friday. I will post pictures and stories upon my return. Until then, I began to think about whatever travels we go on, we somehow seek home again.

____

What is home to you- Where the heart is? Where your hat is hung? The newly defined dwelling that love turns a house into?
For me it was an apartment building where I spent my formative years. 18 years to be exact, and we lived on the 18th floor. We had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a balcony. I would sit out there on summer afternoons and ‘plane spot’ – the route to one of the airports was along the way and I would read the rear wing design. Most were American Airlines, sometimes I would see something unique. Alaska Air had an Eskimo on it. I even went to the liberry once and found a book with an entire index of them. The Concord would roar by at 8 or 10 am on weekends, cutting through the air sharp as it looked.

I’ve moved several times since 1995; lived in a house for 3 years, then my parents bought a co-op. I would buy one nearby a couple years later, where I still live. Still in Brooklyn.
I am a vivid dreamer. Colors, words, sounds, the whole shebang. Emotions and tension as well. A vividly detailed dream can be over-stimulating even if it’s a good one, and for someone who watches horror/thrillers, played Quake almost exclusively for several years and used to listen to death metal all the time, you can imagine the types of dreams I had. Sometimes I had to get home – for safety, or pick up something, a home base…not sure. It could have been any of those reasons. It was, many times, run-down. Not always post apocalyptic. But something that fell into disuse and disrepair. Things did change when we were moving, criminal elements started to move in and we really were forced to get out asap. Not the terms we wanted. But still there was something that made me go there. Nowhere else. I would reach my floor and sometimes just reach the door but never got in. Never got to that balcony again. Never looked out my parents window at the NY skyline with the twin towers still standing.

Guess I never truly made it home again in those dreams, maybe the new ones became more real .

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Ketchup With Us #37: Re- Lenting

Ms Mel and ODNT want you to revisit another entry of yours. Ketchup With Us

This seems fitting to update.

in 2012, I wrote this first post on what I was going to do for Lent. I don’t think I actually decided on anything.

In 2013, I made a choice – I gave up ‘seconds’ in food. I was gaining a little weight, but more than that, I was gaining bad food habits; mainly taking more of something- another helping of rice, chips, cookies, meatballs and pasta, etc. I mean, seconds on veggies isn’t so bad, but that’s not what I was doing. So I made the rule – I can pile it on a plate, bowl, whatever, but that’s all I can have. At first, I took the liberties; a big bowl of pasta and 3 meatballs. The thing is that I don’t eat that at one quick sitting, so what was I actually doing? I hardly finished it, and when I did, there were no firsts on dessert! Gradually I realized that I was portioning out exactly what I thought I would be able to eat and not save for leftovers. As my portions and habits went back to normal, so did my weight (also my energy went back up a bit). Even on Easter Sunday and beyond, the one plateful rule was still in effect. Still is.

Now for this year, I am doing something different.

There is a lot of talk regarding the idea of ‘giving up’ something. Much like a new year’s resolution, everything sounds awesome, doable and a mark of your strong character & faith. So you give up chocolate or cursing.

And you last a day, then get Catholic guilt.

So now it is the emphasis of doing something GOOD each day. Good for you, society, your faith, or just your general well being.

I like that last bit. On that note, I had some unexpected news on Ash Wednesday that rattled me a bit.

(Side note – I got my ashes. Dude, check out the job the priest did!)
4sh3z

Ok back to that feeling. I’m giving up something. Doubts.

Doubt that I can lead others in a good direction. Doubt that despite my awesomeness*, (whatever) it (is) can and will happen. Doubt or second-guessing any/every decision I make. None of those fcuking things that keep me everyone up at 3am.

Already I feel this challenging me, and I bite it back and down. I’ll make it, maybe not perfectly, but I will emerge after 40 days having replaced doubt completely with something very different. Something better.

It might make it easier to look at it in comparison – chocolate would be waaaay harder than this.**

*notice that I have no doubts about that.

**Case in point – Double chocolate & cherry brownies.

dblch0ch33rOriginal Recipe found at Kary Osmond.

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Ketchup With Us #36b – Hi, Tee!

Ms Mel and ODNT are giving me another 10 minutes to write something, anything. Starting…now! Ketchup With Us

I guess this is a sequel to the other entry about T shirts. Or further evidence that I am a hoarder.

Well I found some boxes in my parent’s closet (well what was my closet when I lived there), and guess what? I found another stash of memories and yes they are t shirts. Band/music t shirts to be exact.

Through my college days and for a few years after I used to go to as many concerts as I could. My favorite bands (metal & industrial mainly) toured frequently and hey, it was a night out. I admit I couldn’t stand many aspects of it. Having to stand around waiting between bands, which venues did to boost beer sales or something like that. My favorite venue was Roseland, which has just shuttered its doors, since they had an 11pm curfew. Places like Irving Plaza have 1 am. Not that I wanted to end early (yes I did) but that it made bands go one right after one another when a lot of them were playing. So standing around with the 1-2 friends who actually liked the shows got boring.

People are another factor of course (aren’t they always?). Being squished, pushed, kicked and crushed by others wasn’t fun. I got to stand in the front row to see TOOL, and the forward push thankfully didn’t break my ribs. The crowd surfers were landing on me all night. I would go home, sticky with sweat (mostly my own, gah) and the stench of smoke, patchouli and weed on me (they allowed smoking in most venues back then). The shirts are faded now, and trying them on*, psht I look like the ‘rock and roll will never die’ guy hanging on to a memory. All I need is a mullet and white sneakers. *If I get a dozen likes on this, I’ll post a picture!

So will I keep these? Hell no, I bet some punk would love my broken in metal shirts. I see them at these trendy community flea markets sometimes – they are old enough to be ‘retro’. Somewhere I know I still have the ticket stubs.

One of the last big shows I went to was Ozzfest. Rainy weather, shitty crowd and the bands let me down with the level of their suckage. To culminate, a roadie took out his life’s frustration on me, leading to an ER visit.

October 2001 I went to see TOOL again at Madison square garden this time. SEATS!, but everyone stood?! It was a sold out event but since 9/11 was fresh in minds, people couldn’t give away their tickets.

So I’m done with arena/stand around rock. Now I see my friends and other indie bands in the lower east side. I sit in tiny tables and rickety chairs, sip wine or cocktails, sometimes tea, say hello& thanks afterwards to the musicians, and enjoy it all without injury or strange smells.

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Filed under clothes, Life, Retro

Ketchup With Us #36 – Kitchen Up

Ms Mel and ODNT are giving you 10 minutes to write something, anything. Starting…now! Ketchup With Us

We all have talents. Writing, photography, drawing/painting, singing. Do we gravitate to what we are good at by trial and error, or do we go with the first thing that we get a sense of reward for?

One ‘talent’ I think it more of a necessity is cooking. What difference is there really between a gourmet chicken dinner and some spices simply sprinkled on and tossed into the oven? Comfort food is rarely difficult, but has the secret parts of preparation (not love…well ok BESIDES love, geez) that make it just right. Probably the reason why I refuse to eat Italian food at most locations.

My introduction to cooking started very young. I watched my parents cook while sitting in the kitchen area, as I wheeled small metal cars along the round white table. Typical Italian fare of course. As time went on I would be allowed to bread the cutlets, season the meat, I still recall handling the squishy ground beef for meatballs, or prepare the sides (usually instant from a box, or canned. Cranberry sauce a la Bart if you get the reference).

In my teenage years my parents were usually working later hours and so my sister and I were the ones who cooked for ourselves. We took the opportunity to mix and match dishes that only a teenage metabolism can appreciate – frozen pizzas and chicken strips, or everything deep fried at once! My passage into adulthood came when I found out Chef Boyardee was a real person who made more than Beefaroni. The innocence of childhood was gone.

In college I learned two things, first cookies. I gained a quick reputation of always having peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies in my backpack. A close friend advised that every woman’s weakness was peanut butter and chocolate. Back then I needed any edge, I had no swerve.

It was also the time that I would look at the way we had traditionally prepared everything and switched it up. There was resistance at first, but then scalloped potatoes do taste many, many times better when made fresh!

At this point, I rarely if ever buy cookies. I have a seafood bisque that soundly defeats any canned variety, and can make in 20 minutes with prep. In a pinch, a spoonful (or just a pinch) of curry can spice up anything, and a big handful of chocolate chips makes it sweeter.
dblch0ch33r
I admit this took slightly longer than 10 minutes with editing incomplete sentences, and finding that double chocolate & cherry brownie picture. 

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The Many Faces of Monopoly

Note: this is the first in a series of posts first written in my previous blog, now shut down.
(Original posting – 1/6/2003)

______________________________

“F*ck!”

That word echoed through the acoustics of the room as the small grey soldier sailed over my head. I was playing Risk with my cousins, and my weak inferior 4 armies stationed in Western Canada managed to hold off the much larger assault force from Asia (I was rolling sixes like the Devil himself!). It wasn’t meant to injure of course, and together with the angry/laughing face my cousin made when throwing the fit, was enough to have me laughing (at him, not with). On a more serious note though , it’s true; board games bring out the worst in people. Check out the look of no surprise on your face!

Another one of the games which I feel give deeper insight into the people playing it is Monopoly. Having played it throughout my life, including a few months ago when I and everyone else at the table got completely pwned by a 7 year old, I see that it brings out many different sides of a person no matter how we act during our daily lives – So I compiled these categories, none of which are pretty! Oh, and no, I won’t be serious about this. 

• The Stackers – the people who stack their money into one big pile, which they hold onto at all times. Pay attention to the colors of money rainbowed within the pile; when the stacker lands on your property and it’s a high price, you better believe it’s going to be a huge production as they sift through their bills. The stacker also stacks their property deeds, thereby insuring that every time someone lands on a property they even suspect think they have, you’ll hear ‘wait’ as they check to see if they have it, every single time.

• The Tucker – The Tucker wants to tuck all of their money under the game board, making the board tilt up slightly. The reason behind this, is that the money now looks as though it is in a cash register, fulfilling the player’s dreams of working the check out at A&P. Whenever the tucker gets 50′s again (after running out) they insist in lifting the board to put their money in, thereby making houses and pieces landslide to the middle of the board so that everyone else has to fix them, including…

• The Weirdo – The weirdo can also be called The Control/Neat Freak, as the odd characteristics they display may overlap and/or vary in intensity. First, they insist on being the car, just so they can make the ‘vroooom’ sound every roll, and park their car in front of whatever property they land on, making the game more ‘realistic’. After all who travels around in an iron? Free Parking also makes sense for them and their car, and them only, and so they will mock the logic of you even being there as though some rip will occur in the time/space continuum. They will ‘fix’ the houses every roll, because the dice hitting the board with each roll moves the perfect alignment of their houses one microbe. Though a close relative to the aforementioned Tucker in the sense of exactness, they are in fact sworn enemies, and not only is it guaranteed that they will both be playing, but that the neat freak’s houses will be on the tucker’s side and be knocked over every 2 seconds as the tucker realigns his money, thereby riling up the Neat Freak, who will complain endlessly. Their properties and utilities are arranged perfectly and the money you owe is memorized and announced to you within a nanosecond of landing on the property, which gets really fucking annoying quickly.

• The Pain in the Ass – Sure as night follows day (and vice versa), there will be one completely obnoxious pain in the ass playing the game. What is the pain in the ass (henceforth known as PITA)’s modus operandi for being such a jerk anyway? Easy. They want to psyche you out, so that you make mistakes, lose all hope of winning and end up a Drifter. As fate will have it, the PITA will always wind up with the Boardwalk, Park Place about half the time and land on them enough times to put up hotels. The PITA will also offer to sell you his get out of jail free card for $49, as though it’s a bargain. Every time the PITA rolls the dice they will snap their fingers and/or yell “YEAH baby!”, as though that was exactly the number they wanted, even if it lands them on your property. Whenever someone draws ‘comes in second in a beauty contest’ the PITA will yell “Everyone else came in first!”, or “You were the only contestant!” (I admit to doing this, it is pretty funny!). No matter how much or how little rent you have to pay, the PITA will always ask you for the money in a very matter-of-factly voice with a hand outstretched, “$8 please!” They will offer to move your pieces for you when they know you will land on their expensive property, announcing each number with a gradual emphasis in shouting, then finally slamming your piece onto the property (usually Boardwalk with a hotel), laughing hysterically and knocking every house on the board askew (which adds to neat freak’s complaints of “oh, come ON!” to the cacophony).

You might think the PITA is unbreakable, but that is a common misconception. There’s one weakness the PITA has, and it must be exploited. It is of course, repercussion. Ask them for money in that same voice, move their pieces even as they refuse, remind them constantly of any properties that they may have mortgaged or any huge payments they have had to make, in short, dish it back, believe me they CAN’T take it! It may not seem to work at first, but gradually they will glare back at you, tell you to “shut up!”, and as you continue, they will try to pester you further, but you have at least equaled them, if not won!

• The Slum Lord – The slum lord (AKA the fake millionaire) owns the properties on the first side of the board, including hotels on Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues. They will cash in whatever money they have for higher denomination bills, so that eventually they have nothing but $500 bills and maybe a couple of $5′s to their name. God help you when you land on a property and they need to make change because you ran out of ‘ones’, or when they hand you a $500 bill for $12 rent.

• The Loser – No matter how many people play the round, there will be a loser, jinxed from the first roll when they land on ‘income tax’. This person ends up with a total of 3 properties, which they never land on. They will of course land on others’ properties religiously every time they go across the board. They are frequently in jail, and most of their money winds up in free parking, and is elected chairman of the board and has to pay every player $150. The loser will eventually give up and become The Drifter, where they liquidate all of their possessions and just roam around the board until they run out of money. If you play your cards right, you might be able to buy out the loser and take his properties, but the loser might also use the opportunity to hold ‘an auction’ which if voted in by other players, will allow them to milk you for up to double the price if someone absolutely needs to own Marvin Gardens (and there is always someone who does).

• The Cheaters – If there is a way to sneak, connive or just plain cheat one’s way into winning, or better yet, making YOU lose, they will find it, or make new ways as opportunities arise. First off, they will insist on being banker, which arouses instant suspicion. Seeing as being banker is a bit of a pain, especially when there are a lot of players, they get their way. They’ll toss the die off the table and as you retrieve it, you’ll look up and suddenly your hotels are downgraded to 2 houses, and everyone will swear it was that way.
Well I won’t trash cheaters too much here– you see, they rip EVERYONE off, even each other, which means from time to time, YOU will reap some benefits, such as houses passed to you in a bag of chips, or a $500 bill slipped to you (where else, but under the table!) It’s bribery of course, but they keep everyone in ‘hush houses’ and the games run with the air of mistrust throughout the duration.

So – which one are you?
And which piece must you always have?

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