Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Party Fun Times

My oldest daughter turned seven on Sunday. She had two parties on the weekend - one with her family and one with her friends. The family party was Saturday, and it was fairly painless for once. My wife's sister (and her husband) weren't there, and her older brother's kids weren't there. One of her aunts wasn't there, either - apparently her dog got sick or something. Since only half the fam was there (and the ones in attendance weren't being overly annoying) I actually spend a decent amount of time with them. I also called my mom and got my nap in because they are still the in-laws after all.

My in-laws had apparently ordered a pizza, but it was gone before we got there. There were tuna subs and cold cut trio subs waiting for us though. And bottles of Coke that expired in July 2015. (D's parents always have expired food lying around.) 

When we first arrived, my mother-in-law handed out small gifts from her trip to Chicago.  D got a pin from the Hard Rock Cafe, which was obviously different from the one I got her when I went to Chicago 12 years ago. She forgot to buy her other daughter a shot glass. She didn't get anything for me - and I wasn't expecting anything, but I immediately kicked myself for not requesting Cubs World Series swag.

Daughter got way too many birthday gifts, and the girls ate way too much dessert. Sunday was the party at The Little Gym, where my girls have been going since my oldest was two. She stopped going over a year ago, and the gym we took them to moved from the next town over to the town where I work, about 20 minutes away. She had never been to this one; it just opened about a month ago.

My wife had accumulated years worth of rewards points - a program the gym stopped some time ago. One of the girls that runs the place has known us forever, and she made sure the staff honored our points. That pretty much paid for the party, except pizza and tips.

Sixteen of her closest friends showed up. One of them - a rambunctious little thing (and the star of our arch-rival red team) burst through the gym doors at 3:58pm even though she had been asked to wait until 4. All the other girls followed closely, and the instructors had to scramble to catch up. 

My four year old never gets invited to the big girl parties. Now that she was finally able to join in the fun, she was too scared. She only went inside the gym if mommy or daddy went with her. She didn't participate in the group activities and spent most of the 'play hour' in the lobby with her grandpa, occasionally stealing mouthfuls of popcorn from the party room.

After the party was well underway, my wife began to suss out who hadn't showed. Her two best friends didn't show, and neither did the girl who lives on our street. She did show up, a half hour late, with her father. The girl's parents are divorced and my wife gets a bad vibe from him. He didn't really saying except hello (to me). His daughter ran right in the gym, almost collided with my daughter, and didn't even say hello (to her). Not really sure what's going on with them. 

When play time ended it was time for pizza and cake. All of the moms gossiped in the lobby, away from the food. The three or four dads (not including Pop and I) ate pizza in the party room. One guy saw my Red Sox hat and introduced himself - with the same story he told me a month ago at another girl's birthday party. I was too polite to tell him we had met at the movie theater. 

We're everywhere. Even in Jersey.

I looked out into the hall and saw one mom eating pizza. I was about to tell wifey that the one mom who isn't 'watching her figure' is my new best friend. But apparently there were three moms who were eating. Out of about a dozen.

There were plenty of leftovers and bags of presents to take home. My seven year old had a blast opening all of the very generous gifts. We got a text message from one of the moms who didn't bring their daughter to our party. She was very sick, but had bought a gift and will bring it to school. The other girl had made last-minute plans for The Polar Express. No biggie, there were plenty of girls and plenty of gifts, and my daughter didn't seem to mind. 

Last night my wife gave her another present bag, but she did not seem grateful. An arts-and-crafts set and some clothes just aren't as much fun as Shopkins or Happy Places or whatever other toys she had opened the day before. I actually think she got gift fatigue - which she had better snap out of before we visit my family this coming weekend.

My mom has already planned to bake and decorate Christmas cookies with the girls. And my nephew will be so proud to know that my seven year old is now collecting Garbage Pail Kids - something we both did at that age. I bought her a box at Target and we opened it before her party. I even let her pick out a few originals from the 1980's which will arrive soon (you can read all about our GPK purchases on my collecting blog.) 

While I was looking up some of the sticker cards we got in her box, I learned that there was a special Oscars edition set released online - which included these Jennifer Lawrence stickers:

I'm not sure if I really, really want these or I don't want them at all - but the first one is sold out on the site I buy from (which is shown in the watermark.)

It's actually been quite a while since I've seen any J-Law flicks. I still haven't seen Joy (too busy obsessing over the other Joy, perhaps?) but I will try to watch it sometime soon - before all of my TV shows come back from winter break.

I definitely want to see Passengers

Was I interested in the space-travel movie with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock? No.

Was I interested in the space-travel movie with Matt Damon? Nope.

Am I going to see the space-travel movie with Jennifer Lawrence? 

First chance I get. I'd pay $10 to watch that woman paint a house. 




Thursday, December 1, 2016

60! Let's see some son of a bitch try to top that one.

It's been raining buckets here all week. And of course I have to wait for the bus (which is always a half hour late) and then walk home in the rain for another half-hour after the bus ride. I was working on a star-themed playlist, but I think I might scrap it and go with songs about rain.

My soon-to-be seven year old is obsessed with a YouTuber named DanTDM. Y'all know about this guy? He's English (my wife swears he's Aussie) and he plays video games for a living. We started watching his videos when I got the girls into Minecraft (TDM stands for The Diamond Minecart) and now that my daughter can navigate YouTube on her own she's been watching his videos non-stop (until we stop her, of course.) This is how obsessed she is: yesterday I was with my four year old in the upstairs room when I saw that Dan did a video for the brand new NES Classic.


I told my wife this is the only thing I want for Christmas. A day later she looked into it and said "Yeah, good luck. They're sold out everywhere." Naturally, Dan got one gratis so he can review it on his channel. I wanted to show my daughter said video, so that she can see what I played when I was her age.

She would not come upstairs. She wouldn't even answer me. Know why? Because she was on her tablet watching a different Dan video.

I had an idea for a birthday surprise... I was going to message Dan and see if he'd do a quick video message to my daughter wishing her a happy birthday. So I searched for his contact info on Google. That's when I learned that he has over 13 million subscribers on YouTube. That's just a few more viewers than my favorite YouTuber.

You win this round, Daniel-san

YouTube subscribers:
Dan - 13,146,678
Taryn - 460,109

Twitter followers:

Dan - 797,000+
Taryn - 87,400+

Instagram followers:

Dan - 2,000,000+
Taryn - 66,400+

So, yeah...that birthday greeting? Not happening. 

I gave up trying to get my little one to come upstairs and watched Taryn's latest video instead. She needs all the views she can get 😸

Speaking of attractive women (and honestly, when am I not?) I have a little confession to make... don't judge, kay?

The receptionist at my law firm has been there forever, much longer than I've been there. She's not particularly pleasant but she's not nasty, either. She can be bossy, though (at one point a co-worker whispered to me "don't let her push you around.") Anywho... I've always known that she has a great figure.. and I've overheard her occasionally mention to co-workers that she exercises every day, eats crazy healthy, and all of that. She doesn't brag or anything (okay, she bragged once back when I was still fairly new there.)

Now..remember the new girl that I assumed had reported seeing "inappropriate images" on my computer? First of all, I no longer believe it was her. Second, I completely ignored her for about two weeks, until she got a call for me and we had to speak. And third, if I ever quit or get fired I might apologize to her for being cold - even though she'll think I'm weird.

Anyway, a short time ago New Girl complimented Receptionist Lady on her fashionable wardrobe. She said something like "I don't mean this the wrong way, but you don't dress like an older woman." Then she got all flustered, because Receptionist Lady isn't particularly warm and doesn't take compliments well. She just sort of shrugged and said "I know what you meant" and explained that she refuses to dress her age.

A week or two later, New Girl was hush-talking to my Work Mom about Receptionist Lady's svelte figure/health-nut regimen and I heard her say "It's awful. I mean it's great... but it's awful."

Cut to Wednesday morning.

Receptionist Lady needed help looking up some tax assessment info she couldn't find, so she came into my office ...wearing this figure-hugging smoking hot ruby red dress and black heels. And as she's explaining to me why she couldn't find the info on her own I'm doing this

I somehow manage to hold it together and find the info she needs. Then I go to her desk and explain how I found it. I gave it to her, she thanked me for my help, yada yada yada... I walked back to my office. And on my way I had this conversation in my head.

Hang out here for a while, I'll help you with anything you need.

The hell is wrong with you, boy? She's old enough to be your mom.

She is in fact a quarter-century my senior. A few months ago, I came in to the office and saw that her station was decorated with birthday signs, balloons, and streamers courtesy of Work Mom.

This was one such sign:

Yeah. She's f*ckin sixty, guys.

Don't judge me.


Monday, November 28, 2016

My heart is like a stallion. They love it more when it's broken.

How was everyone's Thanksgiving? I hope you all enjoyed your meals, your family... or at least your four day weekend.

I'm thankful for all of the thoughtful and encouraging words you guys left on my last blog post. Jennifer, Mich, Stephen, Sammy, Janie, Mr. Shife...you are all greatly appreciated. I wanted to respond individually but this past week was a mess. 

I took Monday off but my wife had to work all day...so I watched the girls from 7am to 7pm. I got out early on Wednesday.. but my wife didn't. So I had no blogging time then, either. I got caught up in sports card-related Black Friday sales and didn't finish that until Saturday night. Sunday was going to be my blogging day...but the fam and I went to some winter festival thingy downtown, where they have Christmas things and free food and whatnot. We were there for two hours, and ended up at the in-laws until 8pm.

Next week isn't any better. My daughter's 7th birthday will be celebrated on Saturday (family party) and Sunday (friends party). And then the weekend after, I'm going to visit my family in CT for at least one day - and perhaps as many as three days. Here's hoping I can catch up on blogging by Friday afternoon :/

I haven't watched TV since the election. Okay, that's not entirely true. I watch if someone else has turned it on, but I have not turned on the TV myself in 3 weeks. Haven't read the newspaper, either. Full media blackout. I'm going back to not giving a shit about politics or world events like I did when I was a teenager.

This might decrease my day-to-day stress (I have been going to bed earlier) but it means that the only news I hear is whatever my in-laws decide to discuss... or if my wife has the news on in the background. I heard about Fidel Castro's death are we going to celebrate like that when our dictator dies? and I read that Hillary Clinton co-signed on Jill Stein's push to recount votes in key 'tipping point' states like Wisconsin. 

Lemme tell you why that's a terrible idea... with hockey analogies. 

In 1999, the Dallas Stars defeated the Buffalo Sabres and won the Stanley Cup. Stars star Brett Hull scored the winning goal. The players celebrated, the fans celebrated, handshakes and hardware were handed out. And while the triumphant Stars passed around Lord Stanley's Mug the dejected Sabres staggered to the locker room and got a look at the replay. Wait a sec...Hull's skate was in the crease. That goal shouldn't have counted!

Too late now. What are you going to do, take the Cup away from Dallas and order the players back onto the ice? You can't reverse the results of the election now, it would be more chaotic than the original clusterf*ck election of 2000.  

It's over. We lost. Did your ass get enough wings?

A much more likely scenario would be this: 

When a goal is scored (one that doesn't decide the Stanley Cup champion) the players celebrate and the fans cheer. The opposing team might call upon the referee to review it. Was the scorer's skate in the crease? Was the puck touched with a high stick? Was there goaltender interference? 

When there is no infraction, the referee announces his findings to the fans and declares a "good goal". Then the fans and players get to celebrate again. 

Do we really need to hear all the talking heads make sexist comments about the "sore losers"? Do we really want Donald Trump to be declared the winner twiceNo thanks.

A short time ago, I asked my wife if she would want to know about my new 'celebrity crush' or not... she didn't seem to mind, and told me I could just say that I like someone. I explained that "I didn't want you think I was crushing on some random blogger girl." 

So I told her about Taryn Southern. After a brief sidebar about how similar our names sound - and how often people are tempted to spell mine with an 'o' - she asked me what Taryn does. "Good question." I replied, as I can't quite explain it myself. Apparently Taryn has been asked that same question of herself, and here is how she answered it:
I always have a hard time explaining to people what I do, but it’s best summed up by a term John Green coined – I’m an “internetainerpreneur.”

She described herself by quoting John Green.

I frickin love this woman.

As for that 'random blogger crush' that I definitely don't have anymore... I checked her Instagram over the weekend, and saw that she is advertising her (company's) products there. Didn't check her Tumblr since she hasn't posted there in a while and I didn't have it pinned to my start page.

My first thought was it's about time.
My second thought was ...annnd we're done here.

I think I mentioned a while back that in order for me to successfully and completely get over a crush I need two things: a new crush (check) and an ending to the story of the previous crush. That could be an engagement announcement, a new job, or some other major life event. She's got a job and a boyfriend, and she's not sharing anything personal anymore. That's all I needed to know.

That night I had a dream about her. She was either on a Big Brother type show, or taking social media sharing to the next level. There was a camera perched at the top of a long wooden staircase, and through that angle I watched as she sat cross-legged on the couch, reading a book. Then she got up and did a few of those exercises where you hit the floor in a push-up stance and then spring up to your feet as quick as you can. (What the heck are those called, anyway?) Then she paced around the room while eating an apple.

As I started to awaken and contemplate just what the heck that was all about.. I heard her voice in my head: You're not done with me yet.

Yes I am.


Sunday, November 20, 2016


It all started about a year and a half ago...when I first put on a VR headset I was in a really challenging place in my life..waking up feeling depressed or anxious most days..and I realized, when I put on the headset, it was the first time in months where I felt transported to a totally different world..where all of my negative thoughts had  melted away...


It always amazes me when someone who seems so perfect shares the same afflictions as someone as unremarkable as myself. She's intelligent and talented and stunningly beautiful...she gets to travel the world and make videos for a living...she has a thousand friends and a million followers. What could she be have been depressed about?

It's so easy to believe that everyone else has it easy, but we are only looking at a tiny sliver, a moment, in everyone's lives.

Point taken. But it still doesn't answer my question.

My last heartbreak, which happened as my “adult self” was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through. I had been positive that he was “the one,” that we would get married and have kids within the next five years. It’s a hard thing, to lose someone, but to also lose the happy future you imagined together. Coming out of that relationship made me question everything in my life. Despite the tremendous pain I felt after my last breakup, it’s inspired shifts in my life that previous breakups didn’t. I really re-assessed a lot of my choices and what makes me happy, and I think those changes will produce everlasting results. So yeah – hard to believe I’m even saying this, but I think some of the most painful stuff can also produce the most good.

...which explains the world travel and charity work and passion for virtual reality technology. Got it.


I've had the privilege of documenting some amazing stories...people like Shirley McClure, who is a 72 year-old who was finally able to see her lifelong dream of driving a professional race car come true. I traveled to Mott's Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, where I got to see how their child care specialists have pioneered the use of VR technology to improve the quality of life for kids with life-threatening illnesses. I've also taken my 360 headset into hospitals and senior homes and homeless shelters... and more recently I've been stopping by the neuroscience lab at universities like USC and UCLA to learn about how VR can positively impact depression, anxiety, PTSD...

Well, don't I feel like an asshole. She's thought of all these amazing, life-changing ways to use virtual reality technology; all I'd use it for is to transport myself into her world.


When you realize that your life is spiraling out of control, you can do two things: you can end it - or as MFFG often says, you can "choose life*".

*This often refers to being anti-abortion, but in her context it's about finding ways out of the darkness. 

How many times have you seen or heard or read inspirational stories about people who had reached a low point in life and felt lost, hurt, heartbroken? Addicts who chose the path to recovery and worked hard every day to stay clean and sober. Cubicle dwellers who broke free of the rat race and started their own small businesses doing something that inspired and fulfilled them. People with disordered eating habits who changed their diet and adopted a fit, healthy lifestyle that resulted in an improved physical and mental state, compliments from friends and family, and maybe even a new career as a personal trainer or nutritionist.

It happens all the time. Even if you're young and fit and attractive and not ensnared in addiction or a dead-end job... you can still hit rock bottom, and you can still find your way out. And maybe it's easier for them, to latch on to faith or fitness or future tech. Maybe because they have money or connections or a support system that encourages them. Maybe they can take risks in their lives because they don't have a spouse or children who depend on them for stability and that meager paycheck that's somehow enough to keep a roof over their head but not enough to afford a gym membership or a therapist. 

I have come to the conclusion (much too late, it seems) that I am in dire need of such a change. And I have discussed this many times with my wife. But either she doesn't get it or she cant help me, and trying to convey the urgency of my need is futile. I can fight her, but she'll always win. She can say "NO" a million times, and I'll have to back down. What am I going to do, divorce her? Who else would want me? 

And I couldn't possibly afford child support. Plus, I love my girls. I really do. They stress me out sometimes (because I'm already frazzled from work and my physical/mental health is in freefall) but I know that right now, today, I'm a better father to them than my father was to me. Admittedly a very low bar, but still...I have his genes. I could have easily repeated his destructive behaviors. I have a steady job (though it's only part-time), but I've never had ambition or a useful skill set. I am an addict, if not an alcoholic. I have anger issues, and the only reason why I'm able to control them is because I hit a kid with a hockey stick when I was 14 and nearly got arrested. Lesson learned. 

I can't move back home. My mom is elderly, and she will have to leave the house I grew up in soon - either due to eminent domain, or because she'll have to enter an elderly care facility. She's losing the ability to walk. Right now, she's able to get around on her own in short bursts. She wanted to go to an HRC rally, or an anti-Trump rally...but she cant stand/walk long enough. We went apple-picking last time I was in CT, and I had to help her up and down the small but steep hill to the orchard. Then, after a few minutes of watching her grandkids pick a hundred apples (we've still got two bushels full) my mom had to sit on the dirty, apple-stained ground because there were no benches.

I'm deathly afraid of getting old. I've never been in any real physical pain, never had a major illness or disease - or even a minor one. I guess you could say I've been lucky, but I know I'm way overdue for bad luck to happen (as in the Bundy Curse), and I tease fate by failing to address my issues. I recognize the warning signs - and dismiss them.

Andso I'm fascinated by the stories of people who can not only make a positive change in their own lives, but in the lives of others. It all seems like fiction to me, but it warms my heart regardless.

I can acknowledge that a certain someone has certain physical features that I find appealing (while tacitly admitting that an "average looking" person with the same qualities might not have found their way onto my radar) but I'm not writing thousands of words about a woman I've never met (and never will) simply because she's slender and sexy. That stuff just opens the door. What she does with those built-in advantages determines whether or not I want to stick around.

I can't afford a VR headset, but I can watch her videos. I can dream. I can transport myself to a totally different world, where all of my negative thoughts melt away... for a few seconds. 

And then... 

Fade to black.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

We'll be okay. Lisa Simpson will save us.

I had planned to do the A to Z blogging challenge in April, but not anymore. I had a dope theme picked out - animated shows. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Archer, Beavis and Butthead, Family Guy, Futurama, South Park, SpongeBob SquarePants... and of course The Simpsons.

It's been a rough week for me. The election results were disappointing, to say the very least. I could spill my own personal thoughts here but I really don't have the energy anymore. All say is this: Pennsylvania, you're dead to me. No more cheese steaks, no more Hershey bars. No more... whatever Pittsburgh does. And don't get me started on Wisconsin. Cheese head wearin' mother f...

Anyway, I promised I wasn't going to discuss the election - or the personal hell that my (wife's) family has put me through since last Tuesday. Don't want to talk about that. Too traumatic. Retail therapy ensued, though I won't get my goodies for another few days.

Sometimes I really dislike internet shopping. I prefer shopping in brick and mortar stores - especially around Christmas time - but they rarely have stuff I like. I have very specific and eclectic interests - not a gadget guy or a fashion guy or a handyman. I'm more of a 'buy an almond crunch pretzel and walk around the mall for an hour' guy.

The leaves are finally falling from the trees and there's a crisp chill in the air, especially at night. For as long as I can remember I've always loved that first sign of winter, the smell of hickory. Sweater weather. Hot chocolate, fresh baked bread, flannel pajamas... curling up on the couch with your sweetheart, falling asleep with a warm blanket (or a dog/cat) on your lap...

But those things are just fantasies for me. And so it's much harder to enjoy the simple pleasures of the changing seasons. The holidays are not pleasant, they are not enjoyable. They're six weeks of stress, financial and emotional. My brother makes a lobster pot every Christmas eve. I haven't had it in years. I'm stuck with the in-laws and their overcooked ham/turkey, artichoke crap, deviled eggs, and generic store brand soft drinks. (As an added bonus I get to hear regurgitated Fox News bullshirt about the "war on Christmas") Sigh... no wonder I spend so much time sleeping and dreaming.

Which reminds me... My (former) Favorite Girl resurfaced. She'd been suffering through some more health problems (poor thing) and apparenlty quit her job to become a sales rep for one of those Multilevel Marketing schemes recently discussed on John Oliver's show. I'm disappointed. That girl has sooo much potential, so many talents. I hope she doesn't regret this.
I've always wondered about her political leanings, because she never publicizes her thoughts (another reason why I <3 her) I know she's an Evangelical Christian, and four years ago - before I knew her - she said she disliked President Obama (-3 points) but once the 2012 election was over she was saddened by how politics makes friends and neighbors turn on each other so quickly and wished we could be more civil and understanding of those on the other side (+2 points). I think she also mentioned her parents are strict conservatives (-1 point) but that she's more center-right (+2 points.)

Can't imagine which candidate she supported in this election - and tbh I probably don't want to know. But she posted this the morning after the election:

It's soooo much harder to do that when surrounded by people who treat you with contempt and derision, but I admire anyone who has the ability to project such kindness. 

I need people like her in my life. Right now I only have Mom, and she's not going to be around much longer. What will become of me then?


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Golden State songs - my California playlist

In my last post here I mentioned that an inordinate number of people I care about live in California. I also promised you a playlist of songs about California, which I have been curating and listening to during those rare moments when I am a) not busy, not stressed, and not exhausted and b) when there is no World Series game on TV.

I initially had about fiftten California-themed tracks but narrowed it down to ten that I like. There are certainly more famous tunes I left off the list, like The Doors' "L.A. Woman", The Mamas and The Papas' "California Dreamin" or LL Cool J's "Goin' Back To Cali" .. but I just couldn't get into them. These are tracks I would blast out my car window if I ever took a road trip to the "best coast". Enjoy!

1. Phantom Planet - "California"

A song I never listened to from a show I never watched (The O.C.) Almost forgot how whiny and repetitive this song is; it's only on the list because it's a halfway decent opening track. I guess. (Useless fact: Bill Simmons once predicted that Olivia Wilde would be more famous than the show's lead actress: “I will bet anyone $100 that she’s a bigger star than Mischa Barton five years from now.” Someone pay the man.)

2. Everclear - "Santa Monica"

I had completely forgotten this song existed until I heard it on the radio last week. Shame on me. Everclear were one of my favorite bands in high school; I even saw them play a radio festival at a Six Flags back in '95.

3. Hole - "Malibu"

I am no fan of Courtney Love but this is one of a few Hole songs I enjoy - "Doll Parts", "Miss World", and their cover of "Gold Dust Woman" are the others.

4. Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Dani California"

The Chilis' love to write songs about the Golden State; "Under The Bridge" was a classic, "Califonication" was kinda meh... by the time this track dropped I had California fatigue and didn't really give it a chance. Now that I have, I'm enjoying it a lot more than "Californication."

5. Weezer - "Beverly Hills"

Weezer videos are the best. From "Buddy Holly" to "Perfect Situation" to this party at the Playboy mansion. Rivers sings that he's not cool enough for this scene, but the 'beautiful people' seem to be enjoying themselves.

6. 2Pac f/Dr. Dre - "California Love"

I'm not usually a fan of hip-hop tracks (especially 'gangsta rap') but this is a must-play for any trip to Cali. Bonus for the shout-outs to every frickin' California city you can think of at the end. (Useless fact: this has been parodied by Chris Rock and South Park.)

7. Best Coast - "California Nights"

Not sure where I first heard about Best Coast (music choice alternative channel maybe?) but I'm always open to discovering new female-fronted bands. This has a very ethereal, calming beat - which I'd definitely play while relaxing on a beach or exploring Big Sur.

8. Thirty Seconds To Mars - "City Of Angels"

30STM is an amzing, amazing band - if Jared Leto would drop the acting thing (which he is also really, really good at) and concentrate on music he/they could absolutely be The Biggest Band In The World. I'm not sure why I don't listen to them more, perhaps they are too 'epic' for me to handle on a  regular basis. (Useless fact: girls I crushed on in 7th grade constantly drooled over Jared back when he was on "My So-Called Life".. 20 years later, I think I understand why.)

9. My Chemical Romance "We Don't Need Another Song About California"

This is a bonus track off My Chem's final album Danger Days. I'm so mad that these Jersey rockers broke up - f*cking love this band. Fall Out Boy got back together and they're killing it. What's your excuse, MCR?  

10. The Beach Boys - "California Girls"

MCR might have the better closing track but no California playlist would be complete without The Beach Boys. "California Girls" would fit in pretty much anywhere on this mixtape - and yet it stands out as the only true California classic. Personally I don't wish they could all be California girls - I'm overwhelmed enough with two of them!

Have you ever been to California? Do you have a favorite California-themed song? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Halloween!


Monday, October 24, 2016

15 Minutes of Fame

I was in a melancholy mood this morning, trying to feel the things I love about Autumn while living in this weird headspace wherein I am far too aware of my failures and limitations to allow myself a dream escape. 

At some point during the thirty minutes I have to myself (after I reluctantly awake but before I even more grudgingly get ready for work) a thought formed in my mind, as I scrolled through Go Pro Bro's Instagram while listening to "Life In Technicolor"...

I don't do Instagram. I don't do social media. Y'all know that. I lie to myself and say it's because I don't have a smart phone, when in reality it's because I have nothing interesting to share with the world. I don't go anywhere. I don't do anything. I don't know anyone. 

The picture at the top of this post was taken at least three years ago (you can tell it's not current because the trees are bare) and only about five minutes from my house. I haven't done any sightseeing since that time - just the necessary walk home from work three times a week. 

Walking used to be a thing I did to clear my head and relieve my stress. Now I just take naps. It's not that the great outdoors doesn't interest me anymore, it does... I guess. It's just that I've grown tired of the surrounding area and I can't get to anywhere interesting.

Go Pro Bro is a professional photographer. He takes pictures of some incredible natural wonders. 'Tis his job, after all. And for a moment at least (perhaps even two moments) I wasn't envious of his surfer boy looks or that gorgeous girlfriend of his...

I sat at my computer wondering what it's like to travel, to see the world, to have something to share with friends and strangers alike.

This is GPB's. I'll take it down in a day or two.

That feeling had started to creep in last week, when I peeked thru Taryn's Instagram. She's in Germany now. No idea why, but it seems like that girl has the perfect life. How does one make enough money in visual media to travel the world on a whim? I always say it pays to be attractive - but it also pays to be creative. And I am neither. 

My high school bff and I used to be baseball buddies. We'd talk for hours about every team, every player - even the CGI players on his baseball sim. For years we were inseparable - and because we had similar interests and similar builds, at least one guy thought we were brothers. Which led to me henceforth refer to him as my "Brother From Another Mother."

But last summer he moved to California without saying goodbye, just as our high school friend Nirvana John had done nearly 20 years earlier. Frickin' Cali, man. They've got my two favorite girls (three including Jennifer Lawrence) and my two best high school buds.

I feel a California playlist percolating in my head...maybe next post ;)

Anyway... every now and then, Wifey will report on what my friends are up to, since she follows them on Facebook. And my "Brother" travels a lot for ComicCons and whatnot. It's his life now. I'm not even sure if he likes baseball anymore.

My mom kinda laughs at a grown ass man in his early-to-mid 30's playing dress-up when he should be looking for a wife (or some such nonsense). But... he's famous. Seriously.

Google "McThor." Go ahead, I'll wait. 

Yep. That's him, being all famous and shit. He's even got a small role in the new Thor movie. Very, very small. Microscopic. But still... He's in the new Thor movie.

And he's not the only one of my (almost) famous friends...

My only remaining friend, my lifelong bff since we were ten years old, was in a band. 

Big deal, right? Lots of kids are in a band. And yeah, I went to a few of his shows when he was 15, playing in front of twenty of his closest friends at the local meeting halls.

Then a few years ago he joined an established band... and toured Europe... and recorded an album for a real record label. They're on Allmusic.com and everything. Check it.

Last time I saw him he lamented that he was falling behind in life, that he hadn't accomplished anything. His twin brother smacked some sense into him right quick. 

You were in a band. You played shows in f*cking Europe. You lived your dream. 

He's the very Swedish-looking bassist in the above video. And it's not like they were super-famous or anything, but still. He got to create something, and travel the world, and share his talents with thousands of people. He did indeed live his dream. For two years.

My two best friends - my only two friends - have had their fifteen minutes of fame. 

Shall I mention that my ex-gf published a Harry Potter companion and my college crush was in a Microsoft Windows commercial? (side note: I crushed on her when she was 20, she did that commercial seven years ago... and she just turned 30. my God, where does the time go?)

I really don't know that many people. Honest. I don't even follow people on social media. Just Taryn, really. And she's already famous - in a 21st century sort of way - so she doesn't count in this case, because I've never personally interacted with her. I don't even like leaving comments on her YouTube videos because I feel like I'm trying to impress her and grab her attention - and my fragile ego could not handle yet another failure.

Are you famous? Do you have any famous friends? Have you ever been on the news, or in the local newspaper? Ever performed in front of a crowd, or traveled the world to share your talent? Share your "fifteen minutes of fame" story in comments!