You Gouda Be Kidding Me!

So tonight's date went okay...except for one itty, bitty part: the girl was cheesy.

Not in the Hallmark Movie of the Week kinda way either. I mean she -- honest to blog -- literally smelled like cheese. The good news (?) was that it wasn't really all that overwhelming of a smell. In fact, I couldn't smell her when we were sitting across from each other over coffee. It was only when she walked by me, as I opened the door for her when we entered and left Starbucks and when I hugged her goodbye. It was one of those smells where you're not initially sure of its source. When she walked past me the first time, I started to smell myself thinking maybe it was me or something. But then I remembered I was wearing Gillette Clear Gel "Fresh," not Gillette Clear Gel "Cheddar." It was definitely her.

I spent the first half of the date trying to figure out the exact smell. I wasn't sure if it was old cheese, or the smell of heated cheese (like nachos or something) or the smell of fresh cheese when you open or unwrap it at the deli. I finally figured out it most resembled the smell of individually packaged string cheese, like the kind Mom used to put in the brown bag for lunch. "Cool, sharp and earthy" would be the most accurate way I guess you could describe the aroma.

After figuring out that quandary, I spent part two of the date wondering if she was aware of the smell or if it's one of those things that you can't smell on yourself. Surely she must have friends or family that would say something to her, I thought. Who knows? Maybe they smell like cheese too. I'm not about to find out, though. We had our little date, went our separate ways, and I got home in time to catch the end of American Idol. (I watched 30 minutes of it, which was 29 minutes more than I had spent watching all year.) Luckily a friend cooked me chicken and rice casserole for dinner because that box of mac and cheese back in the apartment never sounded more unappetizing.


Action: Missing In & Can't Get None

Jesus, has it been a week since I posted? Yikes!

It's not like I haven't been writing...I've been putting in some serious time on the laptop working on my way too many, way too unfocused, way too incomplete pieces of work (one screenplay, one stageplay and one novel.) Last night I wrote from 7 PM until 1 AM. I woulda kept on typing but I realized I had to be up in four hours for work.

Looking back to last night, I clearly have some form of OCD (although I was tested a few years ago at my mother's request because she just knew I had some mental disorder that had prevented me from becoming some great scholar or something...I blazed thru all the tests they threw at me and in the end, the shrink said "Sorry, no OCD but wow...you are really, really smart. You should be a professor at Stanford or something. What's your deal?" to which I said "I have no fucking idea, doc.") On my laptop I had four windows open: the screenplay on FinalDraft, the stageplay on another FinalDraft screen, the novel on Microsoft Word and finally, iTunes. I dunno why, but I've become utterly obsessed with Death Cab For Cutie's "I Will Possess Your Heart" (which is sorta ironic, since the song is about a guy obsessed with a girl) and I played it on a continuous loop...for 6 hours. And I'm not talking about the radio edit either. I mean the 8:30 long album version!

So between the repeating song and the seemingly endless supply of Fiji water I was consuming, I was writing at a manic pace, flipping from one project to another when inspiration hit. I slept like a baby last night and I know it was being drained of all possible creativity.

But other than that, I aplogize for being M.I.A. As detailed before, I spent over a week on the East Coast then took a few days off last week to go up north to San Jose/Santa Clara. That's more vacation time than I've used in my entire life (not including those two years I spent retired, using only online-poker as my source of income.)

Work's been nuts, as always. I've been training new department heads since I returned and unfortunately, my property is not only one of the biggest and most important, but the nuances and procedures it takes to run this place is crazy and so not easy to train, let alone learn.

Alas, I will find time to go on some dates this week. Here's how my personal life looks a few days out:

Wednesday: A guy from church wants to set me up with his "little" sister (he's 38, so her being 27 isn't really all that "little".)

Thursday: Going to a birthday party for a girl who's a friend of a friend. Apparently her and I have been matched-up to meet be the friend (or is it the friend of a friend?)

Saturday: Another eHarmony date. Actually really looking forward to this one. She digs on sushi and I've got us reserved a table at the best sushi spot in San Diego with some additional perks...it pays to know people, right? (Thanks, P.J.!)

Yes, the docket is chock-full of potential disaster (I'm kidding, I'm kidding...I'm sure all three dates will be stellar!) so I'm sure this blog will be quite entertaining in the up-coming days!


Cooperstown, NY

So after a couple of great days in Beantown, Pops and I rented a nice lil' midsize for our trek to upstate New York...Cooperstown, to be exact. The drive took us downtown Boston, through Springfield, Mass. (home of the Basketball Hall of Fame), across Albany and then about one hour of back roads and tiny county routes until getting to beautiful, picturesque Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Main Street, Cooperstown. Seriously, that's it. If you look closely, you can see the lone traffic light the town has to offer!

All these years of being die-hard baseball fans and neither myself or my dad had gone to Cooperstown until then. Hell, we didn't even know why the place was called Cooperstown. (Answers: famed American author James Fenimore Cooper's father founded the town, hence Cooper's town. Fenimore's presense is still evident in the town, including the local country club, Leatherstocking Country Club. If you remember back in high school literature classes, Fenimore Cooper wrote Leatherstocking Tales, a collection of stories about the American frontier, similar to his classic The Last of the Mohicans.)

After returning home from the trip, my dad and I both mentioned how wrong each of our visions of Cooperstown were before setting foot in the town. Both of us knew it was a small town, but had no idea just how small it really was. We both also expect the town to be overrun with baseball fans for the Hall of Fame and expected the Hall itself to be some huge mecca of a building. Wrong again!

When we got to Cooperstown, we only had two hours to check out the Hall of Fame before it closed for the day. We knew we had the entire next day to see it so we just planned on a quick two-hour run-thru of the joint. Our plan was to leave the gallery -- you know, all those cool bronze plaques you think of when you hear "Hall of Fame" -- for the full day so we decided to visit the exhibits and displays, perfect for baseball historians and memorabilia junkies like us.

The historical displays were not only amazing and awe-inspiring, but really well done for all scopes of baseball fans to enjoy, from the casual visitor to baseball-starved SABR members like my dad and I.

It was cool to see displays and game-used historical memorabilia of our favorite players. I'm sure everyone who goes to the Hall gets something different out of it. For me, it was merely creating another connection or bridge from my era of baseball to those greats I idolize.

My all-time favorite athlete, Ted Williams, had an entire wall dedicated to him at the Hall. Here's the famous Science of Hitting strike-zone that caused a seven-year-old version of me to make The Splendid Splinter my favorite player.

After the Hall of Fame staff had to kick us out, we walked a few steps to the near-by Doubleday Field, an almost-Major League sized field. The exhibition "Hall of Fame Game" is played there every year (Friars v. Cubbies this year!) and it's also used for amateur and junior-level leagues.

After a long day of driving and touring, we decided to call it an early night and get ready for the full day the next morning...

Day Two of Cooperstown started off with a private tour of the Hall of Fame Library, given to just me and my dad by Tim Wiles, the Director of Research for the Library. It was very cool to be given such special treatment. We were able to be taken to the climate-controlled rooms like their massive book collection (seriously, they had THOUSANDS of books...anything and everything about baseball) and their audio/visual room (tons of film reels, VHS and DVDs of baseball footage, highlights, clips, etc.) At the end, Tim took us to the main research room were they have more books and a few dozen very large room-length filing cabinets. Within the cabinets were files of just about every person who has been associated with baseball. Tim had a very cool surprise for us...in preparing for our visit, he checked to see if there was anything on my grandfather and sure enough, he had a file...Grandpa George is in the Hall of Fame! They had the original press release from the California Angels announcing his hiring to Director of Public Relations and Promotions plus very clippings from The Sporting News mentioning him, including his obituary. It was very special to see it all and quite a treat for my dad. What a great start to a day at the Hall!

After the private tour, we decided to check out the gallery. Again, our expectations were way off...the room is big, but just different than both of us expected.

The Hall of Fame Gallery room. Behind me is "The First Class" of 1936: Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Walter Johnson.

We spent about two hours looking at each and every Hall of Famer's plaque, really taking in all the history the place exuded. Much like the exhibits from the previous day, we each got a kick checking out our favorite players and baseball dignitaries.

After visiting all the plaques, we checked out the extensive art gallery then made our way outside, where the grounds had more baseball influence.

No surprise this former catcher took a liking to the Roy Campanella statue outside.

Before we knew it, it was 5 PM and our trip to Cooperstown was over! But no time to rest...it was off to the big city to catch up on the Yankees, Mets and friends!


"I'm not blogging today,"...

...posted the man on his blog.

* * * * *

Back from the East but it's right back to work for me this morning.

This week I'll put up two posts about my trip then back to bloggin' 'bout my crazy life.

See ya on the flip side!


Another Quote of the Year submission

"I was so excited to bring my donkey home." --Natalie

(I won't even bother to bring up the context of the quote because no amount of backstory can even explain how profound and odd a quote it truly is.)


friday morning new york rain

empty hotel room
in new york city
three walls bare
cut off from the world
lazy day as rain glazes windows
wet dripping sidewalk
safe from reality
secure in the rain
no need
no cares
no one
wake up slow

* * * * *

Both the photo and poem are originals created by me today...it's amazing how much New York, the rain and a cup of coffee can inspire.


What's My Thing?

So I've done a lot of walking in New York the last few days and I've done some serious people watching. Maybe my senses are heightened, maybe I'm just neurotic and the meds are wearing off, I dunno, but I've noticed a lot of people here have "things." Now it's an extreme characterization since I'm seeing these people for the first time and for a mere 0.2 seconds at that, but I like to think these people do indeed have "things." You know, a niche, a nuance..."a thing."

For instance:

*Deck of Cards Guy: This guy was doing sleight-of-hand tricks -- by himself, mind you -- on the subway. I'd like to think this guy carries a deck of cards with him wherever he goes. That deck of cards is his "thing."

*Mix-Matched Sneakers Girl

*Chew On Cigar But Don't Smoke It Man

*Fresh Boutonnière Man: There was this old man was walking down the street in a suit and a fresh blue carnation pinned to his lapel. I really like the thought that he dresses like that everyday, no matter the occassion, and gets a new flower each and every morning.

*"Fo sho, fo sho" Kid: I heard this little 11 or 12 year old kid say in his great NY accent "fo sho, fo sho" about ten times in within ten blocks of travel.

So what's my thing? And no, I'm not prepared to be "Thinks Up Random Useless Shit and Blogs About It Guy" just yet.

I've narrowed it down to two options. And before you call me out, I totally realize that it's probably damn disingenuous to self-fabricate one's "thing" for the sake of having a "thing," well, fuck off, okay?

So it's either one of the two:

1) Tic-Tac Guy: For some ungodly reason, instead of gum, I bought Tic-Tacs today and ya know what? Those winterfresh sons of bitches really came in handy! Maybe I'll stock pile a shit-load (sidenote: what's the metric conversion of one "shit-load"?) of different flavors and always carry a pack with me. That way, whenever anyone needs gum or something along those lines, I reach in my pocket and pull out the itty-bitty clear container, give it a little shake and offer my minty one-calorie services. It'd be my effort to better serve society and people would always associate the sound of a pack of Tic-Tacs with me.

2) Yo-Yo Dude: Now I absolutely understand that if I, at 29, start playing with a yo-yo, that toy ain't the only thing I'll be stuck playing with cuz no woman in her right mind is gonna want a man who is known for carrying around a yo-yo. Then again, what I've been doing now hasn't really worked either, has it? Anywho, imagine the odd looks I'd get from people if they saw me pulling off an around-the-world in the middle of a crowded bar ("That dude has a yo-yo...and he just did around-the-world! I'm buying him a shot!") or walking-the-dog at Trader Joe's ("Honey, how much Two Buck Chuck do you want and why is that guy walking his yo-yo down the organic hummus aisle?") or rocking-the-cradle at a bar mitzvah ("Oy gevalt! Ira, look at this meshuggener...he's doing tricks with a yo-yo!").

Zany, I know...but it just might be worth it.


"Oh, I love that dirty water..."

Now that's how you start off a trip!

We woke up to cold, wet Boston morning but no amount of chill or precipitation could damper our spirits...this was going to be a great vacation and today was going to be a perfect outset.

We walked to the adjoining restaurant to our hotel, where my dad and I met up first with Jared Porter, Director of Professional Scouting for the Red Sox and his cousin, our host, Patrick "Sully" Sullivan, who is a co-author on my dad's website. (Classic story: Pat took a cab from his apartment to the restaurant. Moving past Commonwealth Avenue that morning was a Walk for Hunger...apparently Pat's cabbie not only didn't know what the mass of people were, but what they were doing, as he complained that all the marchers, who caused the street to be closed therefore screwing up cab routes, "don't care about anyone but themselves." How funny is that!) We sat down for breakfast and were soon joined by Bill James, Senior Adviser for the Red Sox. I don't know if you can appreciate what it meant for me to not only meet Bill James, but talk with him over breakfast. It'd be a like a professional dancer spending two hours with Fred Astaire. An aspiring singer hanging out with Michael Jackson. A stripper getting a bikini wax with Jenna Jameson. Bill James is the forefront leader in new era statistical analysis for baseball and had single-handedly changed the way baseball is studied, watched, analyzed, etc. It'll be one of those moments I will never, ever forget.

After spending a two hours with two of the leading minds in the Red Sox front office, we walked down the street to Fenway Park -- to which we said goodbye to Jared and Bill, because, well, they were off to work! (Whatta life!) Jared was nice enough to comp us four tickets on the field level. Joining me, my dad and Sully was Johanna, Sully's wife. Johanna and I go way back...fifteen years to be exact, where we went to middle school together and shared social circles. Johanna went from Long Beach to the Ivy League where she met Sully at Penn. The two married last year and now live in Sully's hometown of Boston.

Anywho, we caught Scott Kazmir's season debut, where he showed some signs of brilliance, but he still wasn't 100%, only maxing at 93 MPH. Unfortunately against the lefty Kazmir, David Ortiz sat to rest his knee but the rest of the Red Sox team didn't disappoint...Manny Ramirez had a double off the Green Monster, Kevin Youkilis went deep to dead center, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia looked great at the plate and on the field and in the end, saw Jonathan Papelbon record four straight outs to preserve the 7-3 Red Sox win.

After the game, we got some drinks at The Baseball Tavern, then took a cab to Union Park, the quaint neighborhood Pat and Jo live near downtown Boston. We took a quick tour of their apartment (gotta love the brownstones!) then took a cab to the north end, were we walked a bit down The Freedom Trail, seeing Paul Revere's home and the famous "One if by land, two if by sea" church. We had a delicious dinner at Cantina Italiana and spent a great three hours drinking, dining and discussing. It was a great day from start to finish and quite a fantastic start to our trip.

Tomorrow we head on out to Cooperstown in upstate New York to partake in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cheers!


East Coastin'

Well, Southern California's had it about up to here with me, so I'm heading to the East Coast with dear ol' dad on a once-in-a-lifetime baseball excursion taking us from Boston to New York and finally in Philly.

Here's the complete itinerary:

Saturday, May 3
Arrive in Boston around 4:00 PM. Check into the Hotel Commonwealth, which is right across the highway from Fenway. (Should I want to, I could open up the window to our room and peg -- okay, not peg...maybe have the ball eventually roll to a stop against -- bottom back-end of the Green Monster.)

Don't believe me? Here's a photo I just took from said window:

Sunday, May 4
This morning is what I'm calling "Breakfast with the BoSox Brass"...my dad and I will be joining our host Patrick "Sully" Sullivan along with his cousin Jared Porter (Director of Professional Scouting for the Red Sox) and Bill James (Senior Advisor of Baseball Operations for the Red Sox) at the Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks in Kenmore Square. What better to start off a trip than with sausages and sabermetrics!

After breakfast, there's a 1:35 PM tilt between the Rays of Tampa Bay (Scott Kazmir's season debut!) and my Red Sox, who have young Jon Lester on the mound. Joining us will be Patrick and his wife Johanna (whom I went to middle school with back in Long Beach...it's a small world after all!)

Monday, May 5th
At the butt-crack of dawn, we're heading by way of rental car from Boston to upstate New York...Cooperstown, to be exact; home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's a four hour drive, so most of the morning will be spent traveling but we'll still be able to spend half a day on Monday at the Hall. Using my dad's insider connections to the baseball world, we'll be receiving a private behind-the-scenes tour of Cooperstown, making the trip all that more exciting.

Tuesday, May 6th
A full day at the Hall of Fame. Honestly, the place is like the Smithsonian...you could spend a week there and not see everything you wanted to.

Wednesday, May 7
We arrive at the New York Helmsley (not quite the prestigious Welshly Arms, but hey...) in midtown/Times Square. That night we take in the Indians-Yankees game. In all actuality, THIS is the game this trip was built around. You see, storied Yankee Stadium is closing down after this season and neither my dad or myself had seen a game there, so we just HAD to make the trip out east.

Thursday, May 8
A nice relaxing day...my dad is visiting a family friend then meeting up with baseball author and blogger Alex Belth for some sight-seeing and a game of catch in Central Park. I, on the other hand, will also be visiting a friend, new New York-transplant Natalie, who has the most-unenviable task of entertaining me. Hopefully we'll be able to meet up with friend and former classmate Becky, also a Long Beach-to-New Yorker.

Friday, May 9
Back to baseball! Dad and I head this time to Queens and check out a match-up featuring two young studs, Edinson Volquez of the Cincinnati Reds and Mike Pelfrey of the New York Mets. Like Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium is closing after this year. While it doesn't exactly have the same aura of Yankee Stadium, Shea is still a great ballpark...the homerun apple, the '86 World Series ("It gets by Buckner!"), the residue of cocaine left behind by Daryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden, the smell of piss embedded in the concrete...okay, I'll stop there. Joining us is Alex and another baseball internet luminary, Darren "Repoz" Viola of Baseball Think Factory. (I'm really geeked about meeting Repoz...I think in another life, I could have been him. I'm looking forward to matching wit and banter with him...he's got me by a longshot, sure, but I'll still be excited.)

After the game concludes, we pick up a rental and head west to Philadelphia.

Saturday, May 10
On Saturday morning, we meet up with family friend Dave O’Brien, former Athletic Director at Long Beach State, Temple University and Northeastern University. Dave’s now works with a few schools in recruiting athletic directors. We’ll be playing golf with Dave and one of his sons at their Philadelphia country club in Philadelphia. Drinks and dinner with the O’Brien family will concluded the week.

Sunday, May 11
Back in New York, we head home on good ol’ Jet Blue, leaving JFK at noon. Thanks to the time difference, we’ll touchdown at Long Beach just before 3 PM, enough time to spend Mother’s Day with Mom.

Not a bad trip, eh?


The Ol' Dead Aunt Line

This is an actual screen shot off my laptop from eHarmony (click image for larger view):

Maybe she's telling the truth, maybe not. But either she used the oldest line in the book or my life is actually a page ripped right of that very book.


"One and done, man."

Now I honestly don't want to sound like my life is the sequel to Swingers, but I do have a rule when it comes to the opposite sex, sorta like Trent and Sue's "six day rule." "What is this rule, Joe?" you ask...I call it the "one and done rule" in regards to calling women. Call her. Talk, leave a message, whatever. If she's truly interested -- and I mean truly interested -- she'll eventually call back. No need to call again, right? I know people will think this is absolutely ridiculous, but I'm passive-aggressive and non-confrontational by nature, so that one attempt at contact is enough for me. If that's a major stumbling block for my relationship growth, so be it...I can't really change who I am. I mea n, I knew a guy who called a girl so much that she seriously was forced to change her number. That just ain't me.

So this little background information leads me to last week, when I called a girl whose digits were given to me by a mutual friend. I called her, actually spoke to her but she asked me to call her later that night. So I did (there's the "one call") but she never called me back. Henceforth, I was done. Other than some brief self-loathing, the thought of her very existence was eventually wiped from the portion of my brain responsible for remembering random women who don't call me back. You know, kinda like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Last night, this said-mutual friend called me to find out how it all went down.

"Oh, it went down, alright. I called and she never called back."

"So you aren't going to call her again?"

"One and done, man. No offense, it's just a rule I have."

"Joe, why do I bother helping if you aren't going to call her?"

"Um, I did call her! She's the one that didn't call!"

"She likes the pursuit."

"Dude, I'm not Dog the Bounty Hunter. I don't chase people. I don't have the time nor the patience nor the game to do that shit."

"Maybe she never got the message, did you ever think of that?"

"I know she got the message."

"And how do you know this?"

"Well, when was the last time you spoke to her?"


"And did you ask her if I called?"


(If you are laughing right, don't feel bad. So was I at this point of the conversation.)

"Looks like my job here is done. Alright man, "Saved By The Bell" is on and I've only seen this episode 130 times. Gotta go!"

We hung up and then A.C. Slater made me laugh.