Saturday, March 31, 2007

Odds but no ends

Just wanted to publish a bit of a retraction on my previous rants about the whole Big Bopper exhumation thing to determine if gunfire was involved in his demise.  I read an article in the paper the other day which stated that J.P. Richardson's family was going to have him exhumed anyway for to move his remains to a more fan-friendly location in the cemetery, plus add a statue in his honor.  His son—who was an infant when the Bopper died—also wanted some closure, and the opportunity was also there for the forensics expert to study the decomposition rate of the body and take x-rays at the same time, so they did so.  Evidently Bopper was well-preserved after 48 years in the ground, and his son got to literally see his father for the first time, so far be it for me to criticize that, thus I take back most of what I said before about the exhumation of The Big Bopper.  I still think all that gunfire mythology is a bunch of hooey, though!

You don’t suppose singer Don Ho has any female relatives named Ida, do you?  Or Heidi?  Or Talley?  Or Gung?

I love the promos VH-1 Classic is currently running for Shaw-Blades (AKA Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades of Damn Yankees and/or Styx and Night Ranger, respectively), and their current CD/tour, where they refer to them as "Rock visionaries".  Okay, "Crystal Ball" notwithstanding, I hardly consider Tommy Shaw, let alone Jack Blades, to be a visonary!  Don't get me wrong, I like
Styx, Night Ranger and Damn Yankees, and they’re both nice guys and decent singer/songwriters, but if they're such visionaries, then why is their new CD just a bunch of remakes of other people’s songs?  Not exactly groundbreaking or innovative stuff, here...

I should have included the following in my "20 Questions" post from a while back:
Woody on "Cheers" to Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers:  "So why'd you change your name from 'Righteous'?"

I've been meaning to relate the story of how I obtained my current computer monitor.  About eight months ago at work, our CT scanner kept crashing for some reason, and our crack (smoking) staff of bio-med technicians tried to blame this on one of the monitors—a flat-screen NEC plasma model.  Now, I'm hardly a computer expert, but even I know damn well that a monitor doesn't cause anything to crash, yet these fools were actually going to throw this thing in the dumpster!  I politely inquired if I could bring it home and see if it worked on my PC, and they said sure.  Thus, I made off with a perfectly good $800 computer monitor for absolutely nothing, and there ain't a damn thing wrong with it!  I haven't had the heart to tell those guys that my 'puter hasn't crashed once since I brought it home, either...

While I'm on the subject of my co-workers, I was trying to choke down my lunch the other day whilst two female co-workers were comparing notes on the manner in which their mothers had died!  Nothing wrong with that sort of bonding amongst co-workers, but not exactly the best topic of discussion at the lunch table…

"Long Live Rock"—THE WHO (1972) "Meanwhile, it’s getting laid at ten o’clock…"  I didn’t know what "getting laid" meant when I first heard this song, so I merely thought it was "getting late at ten o’clock."

Here are my Top 10 suggestions for Who tribute band names:

1) The Whom
2) The Whoever
3) The What
4) The How
5) Who Dat? (Cajun version)
6) Who's Yo Daddy? (Hip-Hop version)
7) The Whoosiers (Indiana version)
8) Who Farted?
9) Who's There?
10) Who's Left (oh wait, that's the current Who lineup!)

Great Moments in T-Shirt Making

This is the design for the championship t-shirts that NIT tournament officials doled out the other night...

Apparently, they used the same company that made this guy's shirt...

Friday, March 30, 2007

World's Most Annoying TV Characters of All-Time

Dispensing with the more obvious ones like Urkel, Eddie Haskell, Scrappy-Doo and the Great Gazoo, here’s a little rundown of TV characters who I’ve found irritating over the years (in no particular order):

Phyllis Lindstrom—"Mary Tyler Moore Show"  Flighty characters always get on my nerves, and Phyllis was the epitome of flighty-ness.  Why Mary and Rhoda didn’t just tell her to go get stuffed is beyond me.  And they even gave Phyllis her own show, too?  Oy!

BeBe Glaser—"Frasier"  Didn’t you just want to kick her in the head every time she appeared on screen?  I love "Frasier", but there were an awful lot of inconsistencies on that show, one example being how Frasier always harped on maintaining his own principles and ethics, yet BeBe had none whatsoever.  There’s no way in hell Frasier would hire a sleazy, underhanded twit like BeBe to be his agent—he was a psychologist, and would have easily seen right through her right off the bat.

Claire Huxtable—"The Cosby Show"  I know they meant well on this show, but I got really tired of Claire’s preachiness, not to mention the way they made her out to be such a saint, as if she had all the answers and never did ANYTHING wrong.  Her constant arrogant stare of disapproval over everything Cliff and the kids did was quite irritating, too.  Good gravy, she’d get on Cliff every time he wanted something good to eat—and he was a freakin’ doctor, for crimeny’s sake!

ANY character played by Tony Danza  I don't need to elaborate, do I?

Maxwell Sheffield—"The Nanny"  I always hated that tight-assed snob with the crappy Brit accent and his faux-Ricky Ricardo "Miss Fine!!!" shtick.  And what a dumbass—it took this douche, what, six years to notice he had a hot babe living under his own roof?!?  Yes, I know Fran's voice was every bit as annoying as Yoko Ono's singing, but that’s what earplugs are for!

Diane Chambers—"Cheers"  There are two distinct camps of "Cheers" fans—one side prefers the early "Diane years" with Shelly Long, and the other prefers the "Rebecca years" with Kirstie Alley.  Count me in the latter group, because I couldn’t stand that pseudo-intellectual phony snob Diane.  Shelly Long is a decent actress, and very attractive too, but that character grated on me like a Zamfir record.  And that whole on-again/off-again love affair with Sam (or "Sahm" as she snobbily pronounced it) got old real fast, too.  Apart from Diane being the frequent target of Carla’s verbal skewer, I’ll take ol’ "Granite Panties" (Rebecca) any day over her.  I’ve heard from more than one source that Shelly Long was a royal pain in the ass to work with too.

J.J. Evans—"Good Times"  Looking back now, I can’t believe I actually thought "Kid Dynomite" was funny 30 years ago.  I guess that’s the difference of viewing things with 42-year-old eyes as opposed to 12-year-old ones.  I now see why John Amos and the late Esther Rolle complained so vehemently about the buffoonish nature of J.J.’s character.  I watch the show now just hoping James would fucking lay him out just once.  And J.J.’s constant bragging about his prowess with the opposite sex was so ludicrous—he was about as proficient with women as Anna Nicole Smith would have been as a contestant on "Jeopardy!".

Col. Flagg—"M*A*S*H" Okay, the over-zealous "intelligence" officer was funny the first couple times he appeared on the show, but it got really stupid after a while, and Flagg reached his nadir when he tried to dupe the far more intelligent Major Winchester and/or Col. Potter, as opposed to the ever-gullible Frank Burns.

Vic Ferrari—"Taxi"  Not only was it totally implausible for Latka Gravas to have an alter-ego who spoke English properly, it wasn’t funny, either!  Sorry if I’m too thick here, but I never "got" Andy Kaufman—his brand of humor just went right by me most of the time. Loved the Latka character—brilliant stuff, there—but beyond that, I thought Kaufman was just an arrogant smart-ass.

Elvin—"The Cosby Show"  Gonna have to side with the rank-and-file on the JumpTheShark website here—was this guy not just about the biggest wuss on TV?  Ain’t no way in hell a cutie like Saundra would fall for a dork like him anyway.

Dr. Zachary Smith—"Lost In Space"  "Oh, the pain!"  I take back what I just said above: here’s the biggest wuss in TV history!  Don’t mean to bash the late Jonathan Harris—he was brilliantly campy as Dr. Smith—but his act did get rather tiresome after a while, and you kept hoping the Robot would zap his ass a couple times, or maybe the Robinsons would take off in the Jupiter II without him, stranding him on some misbegotten planet with the talking carrots.  Smith actually made a more interesting character early on in the series when he was more sinister and out to sabotage the mission.  But, the "LIS" producers noticed how the high-camp on "Batman" was generating huge ratings over at ABC, thus a legend (of sorts) was born. "Never fear, Smith is here!"

Cousin Oliver—"The Brady Bunch"; Jeremy—"Eight Is Enough"; Alex—"One Day At A Time"; Little Ricky—"The Partridge Family"; Seven—"Married…With Children"; Raul— "Chico & The Man"  I lump all these together because they’re examples of desperation on the part of established shows with child stars who outgrew their youthfulness and/or cuteness.  So what did they do?  Trot out some younger cousin, neighbor kid or adopted orphan to try to boost the ratings, and it almost NEVER worked!  These new characters almost always trashed the show’s original chemistry, and were more of a nuisance than anything else.  Only "M…WC" had sense enough to drop their kid like a hot potato—the rest of these shows, in most cases, went off the air within a year after the kid’s arrival.  Another example of this phenomenon (for different reasons) is Raul on "Chico & The Man".  That show should have ended the minute Freddie Prinze blew his brains out, but the producers disrespectfully brought in this cheeky little kid to replace him, and it was just plain wrong!  The only exception I can think of where this ploy actually worked was when Janet Jackson joined the cast of "Good Times" as Penny.

Mr. Furley—"Three’s Company"  Why did Jack Tripper have to worry about being outed for being gay with this fucker chasing him around wearing a pink scarf and a bad toupee?   Loved Don Knotts as Barney Fife, but he should have quit while he was ahead.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New Business/Old Business

Seems the family of Pat Tillman is dissatisfied with the results that were announced this week by the Bush Administration regarding the official investigation into his demise.  Hate to burst your bubble, folks, but they blew up their own poster boy—ain't no way in hell this administration will ever come clean about what really happened...

...if you live in Kansas City and want to watch CBS programming tomorrow night.  There's an 80% chance of severe thunderstorms, which means there's a 100% chance of a Katie Horner "stormgasm" on Channel 5 that will pre-empt whatever's on tomorrow night.  You might drive to Wichita and rent a hotel room to watch CBS shows, or just bag it altogether and rent a DVD...

"I Gotcha"--JOE TEX (1972) "I'll teach you to play with my affection." With just a minimum amount of imagination, "affection" easily morphs into "erection"!  And you know damn well ol' Joe sang it that way in concert a time or two...

As I type this, I'm watching that dreadful 1968 film The Monkees made called Head, and it's absolutely awful!  It was the brainchild of actor Jack Nicholson too. A ny chance we could retroactively rescind a couple of his Oscars for this hunk of junk?  Drugs are bad, mmm-kay?

"Why Can’t This Be Love?"—VAN HALEN (1986)  "Only time will tell if we stand the test of time…"  Another entry from the Department of Redundancy Department. Love Sammy Hagar to death, but I never have liked that song, for some reason.

"Let's Get Rocked"--DEF LEPPARD (1992) "Let's get the rock outta here!" Yes, I realize that "rock" is a euphemism for "fuck", but I still cringe every time I hear that line...

"Dance To The Music"--SLY & THE FAMILY STONE (1968) "You might like to hear my organ..."  Nope! Nope! Nope!  Homey don't play that!  Sorry Sly, but I don't want nothin' to do with your organ! (Okay, I'm being facetious...)

"Rock And Roll Soul"--GRAND FUNK RAILROAD (1974) "It's kinda funky like an old-time movie."  Hate to pick on these guys since they took enough abuse from the critics back in the day, but old-time movies are generally not "funky".  Pretty obvious they nicked this line from the Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe In Magic?""It makes you feel happy like an old-time movie."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Da Raidas!

Since I yap about them so much on here, why don't I just give a little shout out to the most underrated Rock 'N' Roll band of all-time, Paul Revere & The Raiders?  Long before Ted Nugent, long before Gene Simmons, long before Elton John even, there was my original Rock idol, the pony-tailed Mark Lindsay.  My earliest memories of being alive are of standing atop my toy box, rocking out to PR&TR with my plastic guitar (with the broken strings) at age 3, and dreaming of being Mark Lindsay.  Oddly enough, I can thank my old man's narrow-mindedness for my devotion to this wonderful band—he deemed The Beatles to be Communists because of Lennon's "We're bigger than Jesus" quote, yet he deemed the Raiders patriotic enough to be allowed in our house when the Fab Four weren't.  This coming from a man who rarely ever went to church himself, yet constantly bitched and griped about the people who ran our church, but I digress...  I discovered the magic of The Beatles in my own time, but the Raiders were MY group almost from Day One, and always will be.  They were certainly my first taste of Rock 'N' Roll, and I'd put their stuff up against the Monkees', Beach Boys' and Lovin' Spoonful's best stuff any day!  Don't even get me started on why these guys aren't in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame...

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Lindsay backstage after a concert in 2001, and he was every bit as cool as I imagined him to be—very gracious and accomodating in signing otto-graphs, and quite a nice man to speak to.  It's too bad Paul Revere himself doesn't revere the band's history more appropriately in his Branson nostalgia act, though.  Sadly, his current band of "Raiders" is more like a '60s music revue than a PR&TR show.  Sorry Paul, but I don't wanna hear "Mony, Mony" and "Heard It Through The Grapevine" at your show—I wanna hear Raiders songs!  And I'm talking about more than just a minute worth of "Kicks" and a minute worth of "Good Thing" too...

Still and all, these are the only Raiders I'll ever root for...

My PR&TR Top 5:
1) "Time After Time" (1969)  Little-known song whose backing track was also used in a Pontiac GTO TV ad.  It would make the Fuzz Guitar Hall of Fame (if there was one).
2) "The Great Airplane Strike" (1966)  One of the coolest fucking songs of all-time. Ironcially, it sounds even better in mono!  View it here.
3) "Hungry" (1966)  One of their biggest hits, featuring Drake Levin's underrated guitar work.  View it here.
4) "Let Me!" (1969)  A sadly forgotten hit from around the time of Woodstock.  It would also make the Fuzz Guitar Hall of Fame (if there was one).  View it here.
5) "Him Or Me-What's It Gonna Be?" (1967)  This one hit #5 in early '68—one of their most energetic songs.  View it here.

Just catching up...

I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge one young Reginald Kenneth Dwight's (aka Sir Elton John) 60th b-day yesterday.  Evidently, EJ celebrated it with 18,000 of his closest friends at his record 60th concert at New York's Madison Square Garden last night, and put on a three-hour show, to boot.  An amazing man, an amazing performer, and one helluva musician, the impact Elton has had on the soundtrack of my life is immeasurable.  It makes me no never mind that he's gay—hell, he can hump a water buffalo, for all I care—all I know is I enjoy his music, period!  A hearty "thank you" from me to that "cat named Hercules" for a brilliant musical career.

I read today that the Oakland Raiders hired Alabama State coach Charlie Coe to be their new receivers coach.  Seems only fitting, since Charlie Coe (the dude on the right in the red shirt in the pic here) was once the bassist for Paul Revere & The Raiders from 1967-69, and I couldn't help but notice the coincidence.  Let's just hope for his sake that those kicks don't "keep getting harder to find".  Ba-dum-bump!

"Jungle Boogie"—KOOL & THE GANG (1974) This one comes courtesy of a co-worker who used to sing this song all the time at work. Another co-worker asked him why he always sang it incorrectly--she thought the song was called "Jungle Bunny"...

Okay, Kansas—what happened?!?  You took my brilliant plan to have you losing to Roy Williams and UNC in the NCAA Tournament Finals and you made it fail—YOU BIG DUMMIES! Of course, it didn't help that UNC lost too.  Shit, unlike Missouri, UCLA didn't even need Tyus Edney to beat Kansas the other night.  So much for my Final Four—D'oh!

Just a couple other things from my weekend sabbatical...

—I paid another visit to the mighty Mall of America in Bloomington, which was built on the site of the old Metropolitan Stadium, where they marked the spot where home plate used to be (where Rod Carew always led off with a base hit against the Royals when they played up there).  They also marked the spot where slugger Harmon Killebrew knocked a 500-some-odd-foot homer into the left center field seats there.  Very cool stuff.  These MOA folks really have it dicked here too—an indoor amusement park surrounded by a mall that operates 364 days a year.  I'm in the wrong business racket...

—A big Bronx Cheer to the Hard Rock Cafe in Minneapolis!  I was really looking forward to lunching there on Saturday afternoon, yet I wound up walking out after being seated and basically ignored.  They weren't all that busy at the time, but no less than three fairly unattractive waitresses passed by my table and didn't even look at me, so after well over five minutes of indifference from the HRC wait staff, I said fuck it and went next door to Hooters.  I often get ignored there too, but I figured at least there I'd have something to look at whilst being ignored!  I encounter this phenomenon a lot in my travels—why is it a single person gets treated like shit in restaurants so often?  It always pisses me off to watch the big party of four or more people next to me receiving the server's undivided attention, while they avoid me like a Ricky Martin CD.  Are they afraid I won't leave a good tip, just because I'm by myself?  Bullshit, I say!  After perusing the HRC menu, it's just as well—any place that has the nerve to charge 12 bucks for a fucking burger probably isn't worth my time anyway.  Oddly enough, I actually got GOOD service from Hooters for a change, this time...

—And finally, an urgent request to the state of Missouri:  FIX THE FUCKING ROADS!!!  I didn't even need the "Welcome To Missouri" sign to tell me where I was when I crossed the state line coming home—the road surface was a good enough clue.  Both I-35 and US 69 north of Kansas City are simply frightful.  Kiss my asphalt—is it any wonder our state is always ranked at the top of the Worst Roads rankings?!?

CSI: Clear Lake, IA

On the way home yesterday, I stopped by the famed Buddy Holly/Ritchie Valens/Big Bopper plane crash site, hoping to find bullet fragments, but it was too bloody muddy to trudge across this time.  I've been there twice before, though, and these photos are from my first visit to the site five years ago (when I had a lot more hair!).
I can't explain why I'm drawn to things like this, really, but I remember the first time I checked it out in 2002 how excited I felt walking across that field (not even sure if I was in the right place or not) until I came upon the the homemade monument that marks the spot where the plane came to rest.  It was also storming off to the north (over my left shoulder in the pic here), which kinda added to the excitement of the moment.  If there's such a thing as "sacred ground" in Rock 'N' Roll History, this is it.

If you'd like to make your own pilgrimage to the site, here's how to get there:  Take I-35 (north or south) to Exit 197 and go west on County Road B20 1.3 miles to County Road S28, aka Grouse Ave., and turn right.  Go north about 8/10 of a mile until the road begins to bend to the left—you'll come upon 310th Street on your immediate right.  Turn right there, and follow 310th Street (a gravel road) east about a quarter mile to Gull Avenue (another gravel road) and turn left.  Go north on Gull about half a mile until you see a cluster of grain silos on the left.  Stop when you come to the T intersection of 315th Street & Gull Avenue.  On the west side of Gull is a street sign post, and next to it is a telephone pole.  You can still see I-35 to the east from where you're standing.  Just to the right/north of the telephone pole is the end of a barbed-wire fence line.  Follow that fence line (on foot at this point) about a quarter-mile west to the monument—you can't miss it, unless you're in the wrong place. 

The owners of the farm—the Juhl family--don't mind if you trespass on their property, just be respectful and don't trash the place...

You have Xcel-ed, Young Grasshoppers!

I spent a glorious Saturday evening in St. Paul, Minnesota at "Insert-Corporate-Name-Here" Arena, better known as the Xcel Energy Center, which is by far the prettiest indoor arena I have ever seen.  I'd heard many good things about "The X" before I ever set foot in the place, but once I got inside, I was blown away by the sight lines, the amenities, and the overall atmosphere, in spite of the fact they charged me $38 (plus "convenience" charge) for a next-to-last row nosebleed seat.  This place is fucking gorgeous inside and out, and I was VERY impressed—if our new Sprint Center is anything like this joint, we're in for a real treat here in K.C. later this year...

It was also fun to be around people who actually gave a shit about hockey for a change.  The Minnesota Wild crowd was the polar opposite of the Des Moines crowd on Friday—enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and downright rabid.  Even the good people of St. Louis—where I attended a Blues game earlier this season—don't hold a candle to the Twin Cities' faithful.  To be fair, St. Louisans haven't had a lot to cheer about the last couple years, but the Minnesota folks really know their hockey and are passionate about it—how they went damn near ten years without an NHL team is unfathomable.

As for the building itself, it's an awesome place to watch a game. Everything is first-class here, and the place just oozes hockey.  They put a lot of effort into honoring the area's hockey history here, dating way back to the horse-and-buggy days.  The arena is very stately, and I loved the little extras they threw in, like the four "crow's nests" on each corner of the building, one of which houses a Zamboni-shaped organ (the musical kind), and another that resembles a lighthouse-type structure which houses the horn that goes off after every Wild goal, complete with fog machine.  Add to that some state-of-the-art scoreboard and video outfitting, and you have a very enjoyable hockey rink.  I imagine this would be a pretty nice concert venue as well.

I also had a chance to check out St. Paul's riverfront area, which is quite cool.  Minneapolis seems to always get all the glory, but St. P certainly doesn't suck.  Well done, St. Paul—I had a great time.  A hearty "Bravo!" from yours truly...

Where's that confounded bridge?

Earlier in the day before the hockey game in Des Moines, I went on a fun little adventure checking out the famed Bridges of Madison County—all six of 'em!  Iowa isn't nearly as boring as people think.  There are a lot of cool things to do there—you just have to look for them.  I spent roughly ninety minutes criss-crossing Madison County visiting the famed covered bridges, most of which were built just after the Civil War (ours, not Iraq's).  I stopped off at the visitor's center near the town of Winterset (which is also the birthplace of actor John Wayne), and the elderly gentleman there was nice enough to go over the map with me and direct me to all six bridges—kudos to him!  I saved the most famous bridge for last, the famed Roseman Bridge (pictured above), which of course was the focal point in the film The Bridges of Madison County.  It was a bitch to get to, over 4 miles of twisty-turny gravel roads, but it was fun anyway.  There was no note waiting for me from Francesca, though...

Great film, by the way, especially for a "chick flick", but one scene in it always drives me nuts.  It's where Robert (Clint Eastwood) and Francesca (Meryl Streep) do the dirty deed on the floor in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace—on a HOT night!!!!  I still can't believe that Eastwood, of all people (he also directed the film), fell prey to this lame Hollywood cliché.  These two are suddenly (and rather impulsively) drawn to each other, yet they have time to build a fire before they fuck each other?!?  Oh, please!  Did I mention it was a HOT night, too?  And unless one has really good knee pads or thick carpet padding, I can tell you from personal experience that doing the wild thing on the floor is about as romantic as an autopsy.  Give me my ol' Sealy Posture-pedic any day...

"We were a bit early for Des Moines..."

I'm quoting Ray Manzarek of The Doors, regarding the 1967 show they played in Iowa's capital city to a paying audience of 34 dumbstruck audience members.  The same can also be said for the crowd at the Iowa Stars hockey game I attended at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Friday night!  Nice building—outstanding, in fact—but a very bland atmosphere, as only 5,000 and change bothered to show up on a Friday.  To be fair, the NCAA Tournament probably factored into the low attendance, plus they had another home game on Saturday night, but I can see why this team has been rumored to be leaving town after just two years in their new digs.  These folks were more like the Larry The Cable Guy crowd than a hockey crowd.  Too bad, because they have a first-class arena, even though they pull that black-curtain-to-close-off-the-upper-deck shtick to make the place look more intimate.  I also wasn't too impressed with the concession stand staff, who acted like it was opening night, rather than the home stretch of the season.  It took them forever to dish me up a freakin' hot dog, and the woman who waited on me had no clue how to pour a freakin' beer...

Next morning, I awoke to stormy skies over Des Moines, and it looked for a bit like I'd get to do some storm chasing, but as I neared Ames, below is the view I had driving up I-35 toward Minnesota:

I haven't the foggiest idea what I drove through Saturday morning, as I charged through northern Iowa. Turns out there's not much to see anyway...

Back in the saddle again...

I have returned!  It was a fine little weekend sabbatical in the Upper Midwest, details of which I will pass along in subsequent posts, as soon as I can round up some photos.  It’s always nice to get away for even just a couple days to recharge one’s mental batteries, if nothing else.  Wish I could have stayed a few more days too, but you know how that goes.  In the meantime, it also gave me a little time to think about stuff…

Almost every time I go on a road trip, I’m asked by my co-workers, “Why do you always go by yourself?”  Well, it’s pretty simple—I’m 42, and I don’t have a co-pilot!  For me, it’s like the Gregg Allman song goes, there’s “nobody left to run with anymore,” and I don’t have much of a choice but to fly solo.  True, I’ve always been kind of a loner, and most of my road trips have been solo acts anyway—I love the freedom of going wherever I want, whenever I want without having to argue about it and futz around with other people‘s agendas.  It’s great in that regard, but it sucks in other ways, especially not having anyone to share the fun with, but I really don’t have a choice now because all my close friends are married and/or in the family way.

It never ceases to amaze me how the vaunted institution of marriage has quietly, yet stealthily managed to surgically remove ALL of my close friends from my social life.  I don’t intend this to be a pity-party here, but I can’t even recall the last time I attended even a fucking ballgame with anyone other than my mother.  Don’t get me wrong—I love Mom to death, but I find it rather pitiful that she’s the only person in my immediate circle who’s readily available to ring me up and say, “Hey Brian, how ‘bout we get out and do something?”  My best friend and I haven’t done squat together since he got married six years ago—he’s always busy with his family and his church, so he’s pretty much tied up for the next 15 years until the youngest child graduates high school (maybe even a couple years longer).  I have another close friend who’s a truck driver, so the last thing he wants to do is a road trip, and the same goes for another friend who travels a lot on business.  Of my two closest female friends, one lives two time zones away, and the other currently lives halfway around the world.  Other friends have gone AWOL altogether, and all of the above are married anyway, so I’m pretty well screwed for having anyone to tag along with me anywhere.

Most of my friends also don’t share my avid interest in ballparks and hockey arenas either, and I’m not about to put my life on hold waiting for someone to become available to explore sporting venues with me, thus I go it alone.  Hell, I’m lucky if I can even get a personal e-mail from certain people anymore, even though they hear from me plenty, and I find that not only frustrating, but disheartening too.  I try not to take it personally, but I can’t help but wonder sometimes.  I realize I can be a bit opinionated at times, but I’m not exactly an axe-murderer (I can honestly say I've never murdered an axe in my life) or a child pornographer (believe me, the less I have to do with children, the better), yet I often feel like I’ve been kicked to the curb anyway.  Whenever I broach that subject with my friends, they tell me I should get out and make new friends.  Great idea, in theory, but not very easy in practice—and besides, these things take time to develop.  Meantime, why can’t I expect a little acknowledgement from my existing friends?  How long does it take to write a brief e-mail, anyway?  About all I get is the token “Let’s get together and do something sometime…” but the phone never rings.  I even feel a little resentment from certain friends because I’ve remained single all this time.  Sorry if I’m the last domino to fall, and call me a heretic all you want, but I’m proud to say that I’ve never knuckled under to peer pressure to get married and/or have kids.  I’m not cut out for that kind of life anyway…

Sorry to get off on a rant here, but I needed to get that out of my system.  Maybe soon I’ll find a suitable co-pilot (preferably of the opposite sex) to travel the world with.  In the meantime, I’d gladly take in a Kansas Shitty Royals game with someone besides Mom…