Thursday, February 23, 2006

Going for the silver (and more)

Boy, the way the Winter Olympics are going for the U.S. team, you'd think they're being coached by Dr. Heimlich.

Today, Sasha Cohen apparently fell not once, but twice, with the figure skating gold on the line. Bode Miller, last I checked, is still oh-fer, and one of the X-Gamers hotdogged her way right out of first.

And let's not get into the hockey team. The only miracle this time around was that they won a game (against, I believe, that noted hockey power Whogivesafuckistan). Oof. That's going to leave a mark. When the best thing you can say about the U.S. performance is that the Canadians will be more upset that THEIR team imploded, well, they care more, too.

It's kind of sad. I like rooting for the underdog (a Japanese figure skating gold?!) and anybody in any sport where there's a real good chance of a NASCAR-esque disaster (bobsledding, luge, ski jumping, etc.). And well, the curling's just entertaining, even if it makes absolutely no sense and the players scream like Monica Seles while essentially bowling on ice.

But I'm a patriot, too, and I always want the Americans to do well. And I suppose they are, in a way, being tied for third in medals (and tied for third in golds) last I saw. But still, in most of the glamour events, that gagging noise you heard was an American favorite finishing somewhere below the success equivalent of the Mason-Dixon line.

Let's get one thing straight - I'm not talking about the "happy to be here" Americans, the ones who are second or third on the team and whose idea of winning is just getting off the plane and into uniform. I'm happy for them - that's a lesson I learned as a kid, when I knew somebody who knew somebody whose sister came in last in her Olympic event, or something. I said that had to suck, and my friend said, oh no, they were delighted, she was just happy to be IN the Olympics.

And now that adulthood has crunched the snot out of some of my childhood dreams of grandeur, I certainly understand that winning isn't everything - especially if the only way you're going to win is natural disaster or a whole lot of other people's failed drug tests.

So I'm happy for those people - the archetypal Jamaican bobsledders, as it were.

But if you're everywhere, like, say Bode Miller - whose face was on every magazine this side of GQ and Playgirl (and maybe it was there, too, I don't read either one, they just sounded like good examples)...

Where was I?

Oh yeah, Bode Miller. Who got all the attention and has won Jack and Shit. And doesn't seem to care, one way or the other. Not very inspiring, on the slopes or off.

Of course, the choke job of the year might go to the Italian figure skaters who just soap opera'd the hell out of each other. You know the ones. They came out of retirement to compete, and he dropped her at the end of the short program, killing their medal hopes. She actually stood on the ice GLARING at him. I mean, looks could kill, he'd be dead. They didn't look each other in the face until they were actually on the ice for the long program. I actually stayed up to watch to see if she's slit his throat with a skate blade. But they made up afterward. I wasn't sure whether to be happy for him, or just kind of disappointed she didn't go postal.

Not the most egregious disaster, but certainly the most entertaining.

This is going to be a two-themer today, so consider this a transition. I know, that whole switching gears thing usually results in anarchy, but I was surfing the ol' blogroll today and realized I was going to write an overlong comment on Aric's blog.

He wrote about how he got paid for an article he'd written for a major genre magazine, and it really made him feel like a "real" writer.

And I was thinking about how odd that was, considering he's written (and directed) two horror films.

But I guess it's because he considers himself a filmmaker, and that's part of the job, and this is more like journalism, and so it's something out of the realm of his "regular" gig.

And that got me thinking some more.

See, I'm the opposite. I'm a journalist for a living. I've worked for four newspapers, been published in all four, and freelance for two Web sites which, while they don't pay me, put my byline out there in front of a large audience. So does that make me a "real" writer? By Aric's definition, yes.

But to me, that's not a big deal - it happens all the time (not so much now that I'm an editor, but still...). It's part of my regular gig.

On the other hand, "Dead Hunt" really will make me feel like a "real" writer when it finally comes out. Because that's what I've always wanted to do, and never done, write creatively.

Part of it, I'm sure, is because my very expensive and handsomely framed degree is in creative writing (I framed it, like a doctor, but not to prove my credentials - to hang over my desk to remind myself that I should be writing something when I'm not). And I've never had any fiction/poetry/etc. published. Just newspaper articles. And while having your byline in a major regional - or even major metro - newspaper is nothing to sneeze at, like I said, it's part of the job.

The movie is something else entirely. Call it validation, of all the money my parents paid for that degree; call it vindication, against all the people who ripped my stuff to shreds in college and my own underachieving nature.

But I guess in the end, what makes you feel like a "real" writer is... whatever makes you feel like a "real" writer. Aric and I are just coming at it from opposite ends of the spectrum.

Of course, he's still ahead of me. He's got a check in hand.

Torino 2006 on NBC
Choking, in sports, Wikipedia-style
"What Makes a Real Writer?" by Susan Taylor Brown

I was thinking of changing the title of my blog to "Just a little munkee in a great big world," but I'd like to maintain some shred of dignity, or maturity, or some -ity. Plus, my pharmaceuticals are working. Or maybe that's part of the problem.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Catching up with...

I had a cassette when I was younger called "Catching Up With... Depeche Mode."

Since I haven't posted in a while, I figured it was a good theory.

What am I up to?

Well, first off, I wrote another column for, about the hiring of new Raiders coach Art Shell. Well, he's really the old Raiders coach. But he's one of my favorites.

Glory Days

I also read another book. This one's a short one, on an odd little battle of the Civil War that featured some folks from my home state of Pennsylvania, from Coal Country, not far from where I grew up. They built a mine - "hah! a mine!" - under Confederate trenches during the siege of Petersburg, Va., and BLEW IT UP. An interesting little book, and one of the few (yeah, there are about three on some battle you've never heard of - that's Civil War history for you) on this Yankee misadventure. Yeah, they blew up the battle, too.

Speaking of growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I've been (like everyone else) cracking jokes about Vice President Cheney shooting some poor schmuck while hunting last week. You know, what's the big deal about shooting somebody hunting? I'm from redneckville. We got the first day of hunting season off from school. I'm not kidding. Hey, I took the extra day on the end of Thanksgiving vacation. No complaints.

But really, every year, there's pictures of a dozen kids in the Sports section, holding up their first buck/doe/etc. And a picture on Page One of some kid holding up his first relative. Accidents happen.

But what really gets me is that when the dude he shot got out of the hospital, he APOLOGIZED to Cheney. Sorry, Mr. Veep, sir, I shouldn't have gotten my face in the way of your shot.


Look, if my best friend SHOT ME IN THE FACE, I'd kick the crap out of him. And we've been friends since we were 6 years old. I'd smack him upside the head.

And if the vice president of the United States shot me in the face, I wouldn't apologize. I'd tell him I expect to be Ambassador to Someplace Warm.

But hey, the guy only gave what, $3,000 to the campaign? Lucky he didn't give $1,000, or it might have been buckshot, not birdshot. (The difference between birdshot and buckshot, you ask? The difference between walking out of the hospital a few days later - heart attack and all - and a closed-casket funeral.)

So that's what I've been up to. Now we're caught up.

The Battle of the Crater
The Coal Region of Pennsylvania, including Columbia County
Dick Cheney
The CASH Hunting Accident Center
The Huffington Post, for the conspiracy theorists (two senior citizens, guns, booze, two women who aren't their wives...)
Texas hunter education

I might point out Centralia, my home county's part of Coal Country, home of the world's most impressive underground mine fire. It ate the town. I still remember calling the government for my local paper's FYI Guide to ask which of the half-dozen residents would be mayor this year. Centralia is apparently, something of a tourist attraction now, to be visited. We locals, on the other hand, drive through AS FAST AS WE CAN. I remember stories of people going outside to go to work and find the street had swallowed their car. I remember the little kid who went out back to play, and his older brother heard him screaming and rushed onto the back porch to find him dangling from a tree root over the Inferno after the back yard fell into the earth. They eventually eminent domain'ed the entire town. Except the stubborn holdouts who wouldn't move because they'd grown up there, their parents had grown up there, etc. That's Darwinism, folks. And certainly not intelligent design.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A writer who doesn't like to write?

Over the past few eons, Renaldo, Stewie and (sort of) Lesley all wrote about these moleskin/moleskine notebooks.

No, I don't know which is the correct spelling. No, I'm not mocking whichever one of my above blog-colleagues misspelled the darn thing. I've been editing too long to not realize there's all kinds of chaos when it comes to spelling, particularly if brand names are involved. You know, like Ping-Pong, the trade name for what most of us call, well, pingpong. The not-trade-name.

So whether it's moleskin or moleskine, or whatever, the point is, these three are into cool little notebooks used by famous people to write down famous things.

Which got me thinking.

Well, that and getting up way too early this morning due to various misunderstandings and obligations.

So before I take a nap, I find myself with something to write about.



Not handwriting, like penmanship, handwriting, like writing stuff down by hand. I've been scribbling notes all over a piece of paper this morning (see "obligations," above) and that brings me full circle to moleskin(e) notebooks, because I don't use a notebook (except to actually take notes, such as, say, when playing D&D, or Madden 2006, or if I'm at a presentation or class or something, or when covering something journalistically).

These guys clearly like to write things down in these special notebooks, emulating the great writers of yore.

I, a writer (or at least I fancy myself one), hate writing things down.

No, not true. It's not that I hate writing things down, it's that, when I write (such as now, or on my columns or reviews), I never physically write.

I type. I do all my drafts/notes/etc. on a computer. This one, in fact.

So if I had a moleskin(e) notebook - and believe me, reading my colleagues' blogs, the temptation is there to buy one - it would just be, well, a nice blank notebook.

I can only think of about four things I regularly write stuff down for, and the only thing I've recently bought any kind of notebook for is my D&D game - so I can track hit points, etc. - and I would never use such an impressive notebook on any of them. That's not sarcasm, that "impressive." I'm impressed by any fancy, literary-type thing. It's just that I would never use it. I have nothing to write in it - I would want to write my drafts, my notes, my poetry, etc.

But I type all that. In Word.

Why is this?

I think there are a couple of reasons.

First, as you may have realized, I'm something of a stream-of-consciousness kind of writer. You here, my blog readers, see what I'm like basically off-the-cuff. (As opposed to my fiction, say, which goes through drafts and revisions.)

And frankly, I type a helluva lot faster than I write. And when I'm done, I can read my typing, even if there are typos galore.

My handwriting, especially when rushed is, to put it charitably, bad.

Heck, even as a journalist, I use a recorder (or type, in the office) rather than relying on my handwriting to take notes. That's right, I'd rather trust double-A batteries and cheap-ass technology than my own penmanship.

(Aside, the first "C" I ever got in school was in third-grade penmanship. One of only three Cs I got in my whole academic career.)

Second, well, wait, second was the handwriting quality.

Third, everything's on the computer. I can lose little slips of paper with stuff jotted on them. Sure, knock wood, I'm relying on my computer to avoid having problems (like the time I lost all my e-mail when Entourage crashed last year). But the point is, having it all here, where I can call it up, beats having to find it in my disorganized life.

Fourth, revisions. Like I said, I don't revise this blog. But I revise my other work - and it's easier to hit delete and cut-and-paste than it is to rewrite all kinds of stuff by hand. Especially when (a) your handwriting sucks; and (b) you think fast and write a lot slower.

Anyone who's ever seen anything hand-written I've revised could tell you, I've got stuff scribbled in between lines, I've got stuff in the margins, I've got stuff along the sides, upside down, crammed in wherever.

Not a pretty picture. Certainly not worthy of a moleskin notebook. Or even a moleskine one.

Modo & Modo, makers of Moleskine (!) notebooks
Moleskine, Wikipedia-style (note the reference to moleskin; this isn't clarifying for me)
Moleskin, Wikipedia-style

Nap time!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday to me!

I'm 31 today. I'm old. And slightly intoxicated.

We got snowed in today, so I'm spending the day doing laundry and conducting my long-awaited "Battlestar Galactica" marathon. I'm also drinking, well, maybe not heavily, but heavily enough. I finally drank my special Golden Monkey beer that Sari gave me and I've been saving. High alcohol content.

Munkee birfay! Yay!

So I just finished a graphic novel: "Batman: Year One," by Frank Miller. One of the GNs on which "Batman Begins" was based. Very good, if not up to the standard of "The Dark Knight Returns." Not sure what I'll read next.

Also, I ripped off this personality test from Stewie's blog and I took it. I love personality tests. Here are the results.

Well, back to my beer and Galactica. More later. No links, because, hey, it's my birthday, and I'm slightly intoxicated and lazy today. I'm allowed. Just Google "Battlestar Galactica." That's what I'd do.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ripping off another better idea

Stewie, it turns out, has another blog: Metro Reading, which basically covers what he reads on his daily commute.

If you know Stewie, you know he's both a book lover and a closet intellectual. And the blog's an interesting look at his more well-versed side.

It's a great idea, and I remarked to him that I'd love to do the same thing, but I felt it might insulting to just blatantly rip him off.

His response, which I probably should have expected, was to Just Do It.

But I'm not about to create a whole new blog - I have enough time mastering this one. What I AM going to do is start a reading update, kind of like my column updates and DVD reviews.

So I figured I'd start by listing the various things I've read since Christmas, complete with briefs reviews/recommendations. I hope it gives y'all a little insight into my eccentric reading patterns and interests.

I'm always skimming the intro for a book here or there, but generally speaking, I only concentrate on one or two books at a time - otherwise, they start mixing together, especially if they're similar genres. So this is focused on the books I'm really reading.

When Christmastime rolled around, I was in the midst of "Death's Door," by Michael Slade. Slade (who's really two authors, Jay and Rebecca Clarke) writes what amounts to a mixture of police procedural and horror thriller. This one took me a while to get through, but I loved it so much, I dropped $60 to buy every single Slade "Special X" book via Amazon's used-book hunting service. Canadian mounties battle a killer carving up beautiful women in this one, which I think is the 10th in the series. I've never read any of the others, but that didn't limit my enjoyment at all.

At Christmas (I know, I'm Jewish, point is...) I got several books. The one I dug into right away was "Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier's Life," about one of the Confederacy's stranger generals (yes, there's a bit of inbreeding involved back up the family tree a ways). Ewell, a surprisingly effective general who had the misfortune to fold on the world's largest stage - Gettysburg - was an interesting man who unlike many other Confederate leaders, survived the Civil War. A nice, thick book written by one of the Civil War-historian Pfanzes, and if you're into the Civil War, as I am, it's a terrific read, giving credit to a guy who didn't get all he deserved.

After that, I went for another dose of Civil War, taking advantage of a couple of train rides to read "Warrior in Gray: General Robert Rodes of Lee's Army." Another Civil War general who doesn't get all the attention he deserves, Rodes suffers from the fact that his widow - yeah, he's one of those young guns who didn't make it to 1866 - burned all of his papers and stuff. Rodes is best known for his sweeping charge at Chancellorsville, but like Ewell, he choked at Gettysburg and it cost him a measure of fame.

From there, it was on to a much-anticipated book, "Seven Deadly Wonders," by Matthew Reilly. Reilly is one of my favorite fiction authors, if not my favorite, and three of his first four books probably rank in my Top 20 fiction favorites, including "Ice Station," "Contest" and "Temple." "Area 7," the sequel to "Ice Station," was also top-notch, but I was a bit disappointed by "Scarecrow," the third in the sequence. "Seven Deadly Wonders" is, like "Contest" and "Temple," a stand-alone, introducing the Australian adventurer Jack West Jr. (Reilly is Australian). Reilly's thing is nonstop, balls-to-the-wall action, and this one doesn't disappoint at all. Reilly is one of those guys who's aiming to top the previous book each time out, and this one is for my money the most exciting book he's done since "Ice Station" (his second, the first I read).

After that, I was still in the mood for some Civil War reading, so I moved on to "Carolina Cavalier: The Life and Mind of James Johnston Pettigrew." Pettigrew, another Confederate general, may have been one of the most intelligent and educated men to fight in the war, and this book spends a lot more time on his antebellum life than on his war career - which was short and ended badly at Falling Waters on the retreat from Gettysburg. Pettigrew, as characterized in the movie "Gettysburg" was on the wrong end of one of the film's funnier lines. Longstreet, preparing for Pickett's charge (which Pettigrew commanded half of) says he has heard Pettigrew wrote a book (he did, on Spain), and would like to read it. Pettigrew sends an aide for a copy, and Longstreet remarks, "I don't think I'll have time to read it TODAY."

I'm not actually done with this one, but I expect to finish it in the next day or so... I paused briefly to read another book:

"Walking Together Forever," the story of the "Broad Street Bullies" Flyers of the mid-'70s. OK, confession time: I bought this book as a gift for my best friend, a die-hard Flyers fan. While I was waiting to get together with him, I leafed through it - it's a series of chapters on the members of the title teams and what they've done with their lives since - and loved it so much, I eventually bought myself a second copy to read the entire thing. The Flyers have experienced a lot of tragedy - and a stunning amount of alcoholism - but the book does a great job showing how the championships united these varied players for life. It's a homer, written by the Flyers' play-by-play man, but it's a very nice portrait of a team that played before I was born. I'm only a half-hearted Flyers fan, but I really enjoyed the look at this infamous team - known more for its brawling than its winning, despite back-to-back Cup wins.

Not sure where I'll go after I finish the Pettigrew bio - I've been reading a lot of graphic novels lately - but I'll definitely try to keep you posted.

Michael Slade's site
Matthew Reilly's site

I love this whole picture thing! I should've figured it out ages ago.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Guaranteed neurosis

So after all my confusion about this mysterious "tagging," I got tagged. And it really is just like the game, it seems. Freak tagged me. And also tagged just about every other regular single blogger I know who might read this and who I might conceivably tag. This isn't starting well.

So what'd she tag me with?

Describing my perfect partner in eight requirements. This got me thinking.

And that's never a good thing.

Because, fundamentally, there's perfection, then there's reality. And then, of course, there's acceptability.

So let's set some ground rules before I describe my "perfect" partner. First off, I'm trying to be reasonable here - because after all, Keira Knightly could be a royal brat in real life, but I have no idea, just a sad little crush. Secondly, I'm not stating my minimums, but aspiring to something greater - and I feel guilty about that. I was in love once, and ladies, just because you don't fit the list doesn't mean I couldn't be in love with you. Third, OK, I understand I'm not perfect. A guy like me is going to have to compete for any woman who lives up to these standards. But it's a fantasy world. So I'm going to indulge myself. Fourth and final, remember, I'm trying to list the things I'd want in a woman who might actually exist here on Earth. And be MY perfect partner. Forever and ever.

That out of the way, here goes. These are not necessarily in order of importance, but more like the order I think them up. Oh, and keep in mind, I'll give what I get - I expect my girl would have a list of eight of her own, and I'd do my best to live up to it.

1. She should be able to put up with me. Look, I may not be as weird as it seems if you only know me from this blog, but at the very least I'm quirky. And I'm at least a little weird, if not a lot. I have a variety of interests, a series of nervous tics, a dreadful aversion to mornings and I snore like a chainsaw. She's got to be able to deal with them all without nagging me about them. I'm 30 years old. This is who I am. Yes, I can stop talking to my stuffed monkey in front of her. No, I will not stop playing Dungeons & Dragons with my friends. Yes, it's important to me to craft a well-rounded, interesting character for said game. No, I will not stop screaming at the TV while the Raiders are blowing another &#$#ing game. And so on. I promise, I'll try my best to be tolerant of her quirks, too.

2. She should be attractive to me. Yeah, it's shallow. But I'm not talking about Body By Goddess here. I'm saying she has to be attractive enough that a) I want her all the time; and b) I'm not embarassed to put her picture on my desk at work. Y'all know at least one co-worker whose spouse, in a desktop photo, is so freakin' ugly you feel sorry for the guy/girl for having to go home to that. Ideally for me, maybe a blonde, or an Asian. Nice breasts. Some curves, but not too fat. My theory, which may be a bad one, is that I'm probably a "6" or "6.5" if you like broad-shouldered Asians. So I figure I'm entitled to at least a "5." And I would be delighted with a "7." I don't really have a type, though Stephanie's coloring was vaguely reminiscent of Michelle's (pale skin, auburn hair, pretty face), they were built completely different. You get the point. Sexy is good. Great. Point is: I want to be able to look at her and see love, and lust, and everything in between.

3. We should have shared interests. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean we have to like the same things and do the same things together. But it would be nice to be able to do things together we both enjoy. For me, big ones would be sports and horror movies - I know they're not high on a lot of girls' lists, but they're things I love. A guy can only take so many long walks and visits to museums - I like those, too, but come on. You guys know me. Can you imagine a girl who hates sports, dating me? And I am not going to live my life with someone who resents my interests. (Guess that sort of makes this a corollary to #1.) I know people that's happened to, and it's not pretty. Again, I'm 30 years old, and I like what I like. What would be even better is if we really did share a lot of interests - I remember fondly playing SOM hockey with Steph, and watching movies with Michelle, and even road trips with my friend Sari, who I've never gone out with but have gone places with. I guess what I mean is she ought to be good company. Life is best when shared with someone else.

4. We should be able to communicate and/or compromise. Look, I'll give a little. I'll give a lot. But I've been in relationships where I'm the only one giving, and frankly, that burns me out, and frankly, that brings out the worst in me. I'm easy to get along with, mostly. As for communication, I'm honest, to a fault. I want honesty back. I'd rather be told my shirt's hideous and should be thrown away than have this become some kind of festering bit of anger. Plus, I like to talk, and I like to converse. I want to be able to talk to, and converse with, and ask questions of, whoever I'm with. Yes, at the risk of sounding riduculously feminine, I want to be able to snuggle up with someone at night and talk about my hopes and dreams, her hopes and dreams, OUR hopes and dreams.

5. She should be able to teach me things. By this, I don't mean math. I mean, I want someone who will help me grow as a person. It could be actually literally teaching me things, like cooking. Nothing too girly like knitting, please. But it could also be showing me a better way to live, a better way to think, a deeper connection, whatever. This doesn't mean she has to be a genius. She can be downright stupid - but I'm sure there are things I can learn from stupid people. I'm a bright, somewhat naive little munkee. I can be trained. But I like to be impressed. And not just by shiny, pretty things.

6. She must, must, must must, must be faithful. That's my one demand of any partner. Faithfulness. I got cheated on once. Maybe twice. It's not about pride, it's not about sex or power. It's about honesty and trust. I'm trusting, but once my trust is violated, I have a very difficult time building it back up. Maybe it's a flaw on my part. But I have NEVER cheated on a girl, and I NEVER will. (NEVER intend to? I usually never say never, but my honor is important to me.) I expect the same courtesy. I demand it.

7. She must not have a father who hates me or potentially could hate me. Been there. Done that. More than once. Maybe it's me. I don't care.

8. She should be independent. I am. I mean, it's great to spend as much time as you can with the person you love, but I don't want someone who demands I be around all the time. I need time to myself, I need time to go out with my other friends (I hope she gets along, or even comes along, but you know how it is, sometimes you just want a beer with the guys), I need a little independence. I'm fair about this - she's certainly entitled, too. But while I'm happy to make a woman my No. 1 priority in life, she can't insist on being my ONLY priority.

Oh, and 9. She should be able to drive. I've got bad luck with that.

Um, I guess I should tag someone now. Except I don't know anybody single who wasn't tagged already. So if you want to be tagged, post a comment and I'll tag you. Otherwise... it's Monkey or nothing.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

And you thought you were the only one!

Somedays, I think I can count the number of people who read this blog on one hand. Not that there's anything wrong with a single one of my "regular" readers - in fact, they're all pretty excellent people - and many fine bloggers in their own right.

But as a writer, I guess I harbor a secret, hidden desire for a larger audience. Who doesn't think of Wonkette, for instance, and say... "Now THAT is a major-league blogger!"

My own father reads Wonkette more often than he reads this, I suspect.

But every once in a while, someone randomly stumbles across the blog and joins in the fun, and that always warms my heart. The Patron Saint of Smart Mouths, for instance. Imagine, a religious icon, here!

And then, once in a while - or in this case, once - there's a real jaw-dropper.

Like when Stewie happened to be checking the e-mail for our Web site, DonkeyHat, which is probably the fourth-string e-mail for both of us (the Bret Engemann of e-mail, as it were...), and he called my attention to the first and only e-mail I've gotten at DonkeyHat.

And the first and only blog-related e-mail I've gotten from a complete stranger.

You know who it was from? An executive at Barber Foods!

They somehow found my first post about their delightful Chicken Cordon Bleu (and before my recent mention-in-passing of their tasty frozen yumminess).

And they agreed with me - that coupons are in order! OK, I wrote back a month after they wrote, but hey, they wrote nine months after I posted, so I'll be watching the mail!

That's right. I'll endorse your product, right here on this blog, in exchange for money and/or coupons! I've embraced my adopted homeland and the capitalism it stands for with open arms.

And in celebration of attracting my first bit of corporate attention, I'm posting my first-ever blog pic!

That's right: Mookie J. Monkey and I are ready and waiting to endorse your product!

This message brought to you by Barber Foods' Chicken Cordon Bleu, now available in convenient family six-packs! Chicken, ham and a tasty blend of cheeses for the whole family!

(Oh, and companies: I've added an e-mail to my profile. That way, you won't have to wait for me to meander through three other e-mail addresses. Mookie's ready and waiting! No vegetables, please.)

Bret Engemann, ex-Raider, and his adventures in Europe
The lighter side of endorsements
And the darker side

I was thinking that now that I've learned to post pictures, I could participate in Half-Nekkid Thursday, but I'm thinking I don't need to see that, and neither do y'all.

But there may yet be more pictures. If, now that I have my Foley-Belsaw Institute Model 200 Key Machine - a crucial tool for a growing field! - I can hang on to all 10 fingers. I cut my first key by code today - yes, it opened the lock! - and I've still got 'em, so so-far-so-good, eh? Almost done with the basic course! I'd finish tonight, but the damn machine's so loud I'm afraid I'll wake the neighbors.

Random Super Bowl prediction: I want the Steelers to win, but I think the Seahawks will. Seattle, 27-21. (And no, since the Raiders aren't in it, I don't really care - I'm basically going to enjoy the party I'm going to, and hope for a good game.)

I can't really lose as far as allegiance, though: I'm rooting for Pittsburgh, because I went to school out there and I admire the Yinzers' spirit (and it would be tough to root for an old AFC West foe in the Hawks), but Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (my prediction for MVP) is the son of ex-Raider tight end Don Hasselbeck, part of the Raiders' Super Bowl XVIII championship team.

Random Hasselbeck trivia: Don Hasselbeck, who blocked an XP in that Super Bowl, had two sons, Matt and Tim, who both went to Boston College to play quarterback and wound up in the NFL. And while Matt is getting all the attention this week at the Super Bowl, Tim may be less famous than his wife, Elisabeth, that crazy lil' conservative from "The View" and a former "Survivor" sweetheart.

(Yes, I've seen "The View." It's usually on at the car dealership when I take my baby in for service in the late morning. That's better than when the male equivalent was on - that was even creepier.)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Random stuff I found (stole)

So while I was moping around post-previous-post, I was reading Aric's blog and I found this.

I love surveys. So I'm a happy little munkee again.

Aric says: No, nobody "tagged" me. I've just been very busy. So here's the "4 questions" thing to buy myself some time. I don't understand this "tagging" bit. ("Tag, you're it"?)

But here are my answers, as found/stolen from the Blog No One Sees. Except me, Stewie, Freak and others.

Four Jobs You've Had In Your Life:
1. Journalist (reporter, sports)
2. Journalist (copy editor, news)
3. Journalist (copy editor, sports) (NOTE: I couldn't find a good link when I Googled "why being a sports copy editor sucks.")
4. Journalist (copy editor, business)

Four Movies You'd Watch Over and Over:
1. "Aliens"
2. "Star Wars"
3. "Jaws"
4. "Dave"

Four Places You Have Lived:
1. Bloomsburg, Pa.
2. Pittsburgh
3. The Lehigh Valley (A-B-E, Pa.)
4. Hillsborough, N.J.

Four TV Shows You Love to Watch:
1. "Battlestar Galactica"
2. "Food Network Challenge"
3. "Cold Case"
4. "inJustice"

Four Places You've Been On Vacation:
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
2. Tivoli amusement park, Denmark
3. The theatres of London, England
4. The walled city of St. Malo, France

Four Websites You Visit Daily:
3. The Digital Bits

Four of Your Favorite Foods:
1. Buffalo wings
2. Pizza
3. Barber Foods' Chicken Cordon Bleu
4. Steak, especially when it involves bacon and/or bleu cheese

Four Places You'd Rather Be Right Now:
1. In my bed
2. In the arms of a beautiful woman
3. On stage
4. At a hockey game

The fact that I repeated one of Aric's answers in the exact same spot is either complete coincidence or excellent taste in movies.

You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!

So after another round of semi-successful dating, I was giving some thought to updating my profile description, which is a sort of mix of "inspired," "ridiculous" and "resigned."

The thing is, I've noticed women SAY they want certain things in a guy, and fresh off being called "cute and funny" at a party last weekend - by someone I doubt I'll ever date - I was pondering just what I could say to make my profile more interesting.

The fundamental flaw in the strategy is, of course, it's not that I don't have much luck GETTING the dates. I get a fair amount for a not-drop-dead-gorgeous guy. It's getting past, say, the second date.

So maybe it's just me.

That said, I found myself pondering what women SAY they want. (It's not that I don't believe them. It's that I don't really understand women. So they could be lying.)

Women say they want (in no particular order):

1. Someone honest
2. Someone smart
3. Someone who will make them laugh
and frequently,
4. Someone who likes the outdoors

So three out of four ain't bad. I'm honest, to a fault. I'm smart, probably too smart for my own good. And I'm funny as hell, or at least I think so. The outdoors, the wildlife can have.

But the thing is, near as I can tell, either all women want the same thing - which I know from dating several isn't true - or they're almost all lying.

Because face it, I wrote a profile on the damn site. I lied. Well, I didn't lie. I tried to put myself in the best light possible, and downplay my flaws, plus be diplomatic and generally avoid saying unpleasant things. I'm no salesman, but I figure that's a bad way to attract women, being a complete jackass. I could be wrong.

If I were really to tell the truth, would women want that kind of honesty? I don't think so. They say they want honesty, but I really do wonder.

The joke I always read is about Match's unfortunate request to list your "body type." This one was written by a guy, interpreting how women answer (Match's phraseology first). Note I DIDN'T WRITE THIS, I'm merely citing/paraphrasing it:

1. Athletic and Toned = Thin enough
2. Slender = Acceptable
3. About Average = A little chunky
4. A Few Extra Pounds = Fat
5. Curvy = Hey, round is a shape
6. Full-figured = Holy @"#&ing #$&#!

So back to the honesty part. I put "About Average." My doctor says I have A Few Extra Pounds, but be honest: Have you seen most guys these days? I'm not skinny, and I've got a bit of a beer gut. But I'm built broad and I carry it well. And I've actually been told that by women, so that's an outside opinion. I can see my wee-wee, and I can see my feet. That's better than most. I used to put "Athletic" on another site, because I am. But "toned" I'm definitely not. I don't have THOSE kind of six-pack abs. I have the kind your average ex-jock yelling from the cheap seats has. Abs COVERED BY six packs.

(Aside, Asian women, I've noticed, have a very different opinion of what constitutes a few extra pounds than white women. So round down.)

Now that I've explained that I'm stretching the truth, but no further than I'm stretching my boxer waistband, I ask again. Do women really want the truth? And does it really matter?

After all, if you think I'm ugly - and I've always figured I'm a "you've gotta like the type" kind of guy, maybe a 6-6.5, a 7 if you like the type - do you really care if I've got some love handles? No, you think I've got a lousy haircut, worse complexion and the makings of a second chin. But I put a recent picture up. With the same lousy haircut and bad complexion, etc. It's a good picture, not one of those bullshit too-close-out-of-focus-I'm-not-showing-my-body kind of deals. Look at my pictures on Match, you'll be able to spot me in a bar. We Asians all look alike, but not THAT much.

You want the truth? I'm fairly inept around women. I get nervous, I talk too much, I'll look at their chest if they show a lot of cleavage, I never know what to say, and I do a lousy job of hiding my feelings, good or bad. But that's not going to get me dates. Is it fair to hide that little bit of truth? Because some women have, in the past, found me quite charming. And I've got plenty of friends and co-workers who think I'm witty as hell. But really, who'd go on a date with a guy whose profile says "hey, I'd love to date you, just don't expect Mr. Smooth." One girl I went out with laughed like hell when I told her the way we were sitting at the movies, I wasn't going to be able to show her my move. Singular. (I did get to show it, with decent success. I still didn't get a second date. This is why I don't understand women.)

Other truths too ugly to tell: The site asks you for your ideal match. So I said I'd rather have someone I could talk with than someone who's all looks and no personality. (I mean, I said it a little smoother than that. Not much...) That's the truth. It's not that I have a low standard in beauty, it's that I find many different kinds of women attractive. I find that there are certain types, everyone knows they're hot, but I find many women attractive who aren't hot in the traditional sense. But fair's fair. If I think you're ugly as sin, I'm not sending you an e-mail because I don't want to date you. Really, I expect the same from others so I don't see anything wrong with this.

But I have one real turn-off. I find there's a line of overweight that ceases to be curvy and cuddly and starts becoming fat and unpleasant to look at. There. That's truth. How many of you are starting to prepare your nasty comment already? Look, as I've already stated on the record, I'm not exactly skin-and-bones. I'm a 5-9, 200+ pound guy. I don't think it's unfair that I don't want to sleep with a woman who's bigger than I am. And frankly, I found this out the hard way. No pun intended. I went out with someone, who shall remain nameless, and when we finally got nekkid, well, I wish she'd kept her clothes on. Sorry. It's true. I wonder if anyone's ever felt the same way about me. Maybe. I can live with that.

But who the hell says that? That's the kind of truth, much like the way Jack Nicholson guards Gitmo, that some people can't handle. Where's the line between tact and decency and honesty. If I opt for a Policy of Truth a la Depeche Mode, and say "no fat chicks" on my profile... well, that makes me an asshole, doesn't it? But does it make me more of an asshole to reject the overweight women who've contacted me and/or I've gone out on a date with (people lie, and pictures flatter, let's face it) and make up some other reason why I don't want to see them again?

I don't know. I already don't understand women. Maybe I don't understand life. I had this conversation with a girl I met on Match when I said I don't see why people don't hit the "reject" button on a communication - it's easy, it's free, and it's honest. If I don't want to date you from seeing your profile, I'll hit the little button that says "thanks but no thanks" because I figure it's only fair that you know one way or another. You contacted me, clearly you're interested.

But almost no one ever responds to my little communiques. Match keeps a list of the people you've contacted (they call them "Connections," but they don't have to be two-way, so it's a little presumptuous/ridiculous. I just delete people when I see that they've been online more recently than I sent my Wink (the little communique) or e-mail or whatever - and haven't replied.

But I reply to everyone who Winks/e-mails/etc. The girl I was talking with said it's because women are non-confrontational and don't want to just reject someone out of concern for their feelings. But if that's true, it's better that I ignore a women I don't find appealing, out of risk of hurting her feelings, rather than simply stating, hey, you're not my type?

To me, that's kind of messed up. Oh, I forgot... Women also want (5.) Someone who doesn't play games.

The only games I play are tennis, Strat hockey, D&D and stuff made by EA Sports.

But the whole Match dance-of-death is a game, isn't it? I just want to find a girl, talk to her a little, go on a date and see if we like each other and are hot for each other, and take it from there. This other bullshit I just don't get.

I guess I'm fairly good at relationships (not so good at the end, but good at the meaty part) and just not very good at "dating." Every good relationship I've had I've kind of stumbled into.

Speaking of which, that's another bit of honesty that women really don't want.

I was in love once. That shows I'm capable of deep feelings, romance, commitment and other stuff women SAY they want.

But it's also something that's over, and that I may never recover from. Well, not that I'll never recover from, but that I've never been the same after. I guess I'm scarred. (Not a typo. I'm scared, too, but not right now.) Does someone dating me want to know that truth? Do they want to know that the stranger they're about to me is brimming with hope at the possibility of finding love, and at the same time broken somewhere inside and just hoping to find someone who can help him heal?

No. That's fucking psycho and scary. But I'm not psycho and scary, at least no more than I ever was. Honest.

Someone told me once you can't love someone else if you don't love yourself. I don't think that's true. I was in love, and I don't know that I loved myself. I didn't really have to: I loved HER. But I guess when she was gone, that didn't leave much left. But I've gotten older. I don't know if I love myself (not a euphemism) but I think I at least like myself. Most of the time.

Women say they want (6.) Loyalty. I'd fight to the death for someone I love. That sounds good in theory. Not so good in practice, like when you have to deal with certain Complete And Utter Shit almost-future-father-in-laws. Is that really what women want? Someone who'd actually kill for them?

(Hey, I'm not THAT psycho. I wouldn't kill just random people on the street. But I am old-fashioned, and believe me, if my Complete and Utter Shit almost-future-father-in-law actually LIVED in the 19th century instead of just thinking that way, I'd have 10-paces-turn-and-Aaron-Burr'd his ass, no question. I don't care what he thought of me. He insulted my mother so badly she wouldn't repeat what he said - saintly woman - and deliberately hurt the girl I loved, just because she loved me. That's not something to forgive or forget. Hell, the acting governor of New Jersey threatened to smack a DJ who insulted his wife - I'm not completely crazy. But in hindsight, when you've had to be physically restrained from a guy - TWICE - he's probably not going to be too thrilled to walk his little girl down the aisle to you. No matter how glad he might be to hand her off to Someone Else's Problem World.)

Maybe there's something wrong with me. But I'm on medication. I've been to therapy. (Again, not things I list in my profile.) It can't be that bad.

But I just can't figure out how to get through this Match-bullshit-salesmanship thing without feeling guilty, like I'm misrepresenting myself. To know me is to love me. Really. And I'll tell you anything you want to know.

But in the end, I suspect, it just comes down to looks. So why can't women say (7.) Someone's who's freakin' hot? Hey, I'm accepting of who I am. I don't write to the people whose date isn't Asian (you can eliminate people on the basis of race and/or religion, among other things - and I really don't have a problem with that). I also don't list "full-figured" under my list of Stuff I'm Looking For. Fair's fair.

So in the end, I left my profile alone. The girls who write back say it's different. Evidently, "different" is good. And I'm as honest as I can be without being a turn-off. I admit my flaws. Some of them. Or at least masked as quirks.

Beause, face it, I don't want to wake up one morning next to my wife of a dozen years and find out she thought I was Person A and I'm really Person B. DM says you'll regret that Policy of Truth. But I think I'd regret a Policy of Lies more.

Links: - hey, it gets me dates
What Women Want: Mel Gibson
• There'd be a link to some site about truth here, but they're just too scary

The thing I feel guiltiest about is feeling unloved. My parents love me with all their hearts. And I feel guilty that this is not enough. I don't understand why it's not. It's not their fault. That makes it mine, and that's why I feel guilty.

You want loving parents? My parents helped buy my ill-fated engagement ring. They paid for most of it, really.

And years later, after they'd sold the ring in NYC at a serious loss, they told me they knew we were never getting married. But I believed it, and they were willing to support that belief right up until it crumbled.

Bonus link: Why diamonds suck: note No. 3 about the resale value or lack thereof

(Something else you won't find in my profile: When I'm scared and depressed, as I am now after writing this post, I want to curl up under the covers and pretend I'm a tiny little munkee without a care in the world except whether I should spend my date swinging from my prehensile tail or just sit on my multicolored little butt and eat bananas. But no. I think I'll just play video games for a while.)