Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Happy Friggin New Year

So here it is at the end of 2012. It's been an ok year with ups n downs but overall it barely gets a 3 on the suck-o-meter. As I sit here pondering what the New Year might bring, I just want to say to all my friends, family and loved ones...

Stop forwarding shit others have forwarded to you! I have Twitter, and chances are I've seen what you thought was cute 2 months ago. Oh and guess what, it wasn't "LOL" funny, it was mildly amusing at most and by mildly I mean I probably never changed facial expressions.

A quick note…When I tell people to go fuck themselves as a collective group, you can take it to the bank that I was probably joking. You'll know when I'm not joking when I tell you directly to go fuck yourself.

When it comes to games you can count me in for a good game of hide n go fuck yourself...aside from that, I don't give a rats ass if you need magic watermelon seeds for your imaginary farm. I mean just how friggin old are you?! Back before computers there were people who played Farmville, they were called farmers and they had these things called farms they played with. 

If they were lucky they lived to the age of 30 without dying in a corn chopping accident. When they were finished for the day they had the sense and good taste not to hassle anyone about magic seeds. Magic seeds didn't appear much before the "summer of love."

As for you rotten bastards who want me to play lucky slots or blackjack, if I want to do either I'll go to a casino. Are you really paying real fucking money to play a game that pays you credits?! If you're that dim send me your money so I can buy Whiskey, drugs and hookers.... Then I'll waste the rest.

Facebook to you I say this, I understand you have gotten all grown up and now have investors to answer to, and need to figure out a way to make money on a service you were dumb enough to give away for nothing in the beginning. But for the love of all things holy on the Mayan calendar, stop asking if I want to pay to send messages to someone. I mean any messages of any kind my answer is no.

As I said, I have Twitter and nearly anyone I need to, I can get in touch with in seconds. If not that way, I, like nearly everyone on planet earth who can fog a mirror... has a cell phone. I'll text or call them directly. If they have a landline and no cell phone chances are I don’t need to get in touch with you, as you are my grandparents who have all been dead towards the higher side of three decades.

What passes for "important information" nowadays wouldn't have warranted dropping a dime back when pay calls were a dime, and back when there were payphones.  Bleeding to death doesn't warrant a phone call to me it warrants a drive to the emergency room.

My mother and my cat are the only ones who have given me true comfort this year and really my mom has no choice unless she decides to go all Joan Crawford on me. As she hasn't moved and forgotten to give me the address, or beaten me with a stash of wire hangers yet I think we're good. Besides she needs the snow blower fixed from time to time.

The cat loves me but even that comes with a price. He needs food and the occasional change of shit dirt and as he has no opposable thumb, he begrudgingly needs me. I mean who are we kidding, if he wakes up tomorrow with a thumb magically grown onto his paw I'm fucked, and there's a good chance my truck will be stolen. 
Have a safe and happy 2013 and for the most part, I love you all....if you wondered whom I meant by for the most part....go fuck yourself.


P.S. Oh, and you people tracking "food trends" Bacon is not a trend, it's a way of life get over it. As long as it's delicious and made of pig people are not going to stop eating it. You want to look for a food trend look at Soy Bacon...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Holidays, Out in the Garage

Christmas and New Years growing up was great as my brother and I didn’t have any sports or other activities to be dragged all over hell and half of Georgia for.  This time of year was all about family, celebrating the holidays and on occasion we got to see the two converge. Dad wasn’t much of a drinker but when he did have a drink you can bet it was most often in the safety and security of my uncle’s garage, away from the eyes of the women in the house but more importantly…my mother. Who upon seeing my father at the end of the night would declare, “your father is funny faced”.

There was certain etiquette in going to my Aunt Dodie and Uncle Gene’s house. But Christmas and new years were different, there was hardly a boring moment in the garage and there was always something happening that chances are, were not going to happen again anytime soon. Those things would usually start with a rather innocuous phrase such as “hey this schnapps tastes like mouthwash”, and end the next day with “I’m not sure why your uncle was crawling out the window…can you ask your mother to get me some Alka-Seltzer.” 

I remember the garage being full of uncles, cousins and friends all laying claim to the odd milk crate, cinder block, old car seat, lawn chair or other perch in which to sit on. It started out as a group of discussions on all things mechanical or home maintenance related. The odd beer was distributed to any and all newcomers who made their way into the garage and greetings were made quietly while a dissertation was being given on say, a 63 Chevy Impala Z11 427 ‘mystery motor’ or other such important things.

Then the offer “highball?” was made by my uncle. Then me, my brother and any cousins available would make our way inside to ferry drinks and what would be platters of finger foods back to the garage. The drinks were made by any number of the battalion of women in the house and were usually a combination of Canadian Whiskey and ginger ale or half n half. Initially drinks were freely poured, later in the night the women would begin to ask who each drink was for and formulate weaker drinks accordingly.

Somewhere between ten and eleven the merriment was in full swing and everything from men dancing in the snow of the driveway in their stocking feet to the passing and sipping of some clear liquid from a mason jar someone had brought back from a trip. The night usually ended with my mother driving us home and my brother and I being fortunate enough to ride in the front seat, while my father said funny things and laid across the back seat happy as could be.

As my brother and I got older there were girlfriends, wives and eventually children. Over the years the gatherings got smaller, times got busy and visits were further apart as my brother and I moved from the area. When I go back now I see a dark garage and imagine my father and uncles dancing and singing in a snowy driveway. It was the one time a year I got to see my father not be so serious with work, finances and family obligations weighing him down. I got to see him live a little.

So on this first anniversary of my blog and also my father’s birthday which was my inspiration for writing in the first place, I want to say thank you very much for reading my ADD riddled pieces of angst. I want you to remember that it’s okay to go out in the snow in stocking feet, and drink from an unmarked Mason jar from time to time. The Mayans were wrong, but eventually the end is going to come, and the last thing you want to have the answer to is why your uncle was crawling out the window. Live a little…Highball?! 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sears, Change in a Bad Way

My first memory of Sears was when I was six. Walking into the store with my father when it was still more or less a catalog location on Maine Street in Keene, NH. I recall a man at the counter greeting and shaking hands with my father as soon as we walked in. My father presented the man with a broken Craftsman box wrench and before my father could explain what had happened to it, the man was returning with a wrench to replace it. “No explanation necessary Bill” was all the man said. That's how Sears used to do business. 


My mother has a Kenmore gas oven that since day one, a monthly tightening of the bolts that hold the handle to the door must be performed. The door itself works perfectly and in fact there is so much spring tension that if you don’t hold onto the handle tight enough, it will nearly rip your arms out of their sockets and slam shut. It needs tightening so often that my mom keeps a screwdriver in a drawer next to the oven just for that purpose. One day about 6 weeks ago my mom called and said she thought the threads were stripped because it wouldn't tighten back up.

I went over the next day and took the handle off to see what the issue was. Here’s what I found…A metal bolt that has no more than four or five threads going into a plastic handle with plastic threads trying to hold back a door that has something on the order of 20 ft lbs of torque when it’s closing! Genius…a design fail. So I went online to see if I could get another handle and tried to find the part myself. It was difficult even using the model number of the actual stove.

So I called Sears Parts Direct, explained the problem and gave the woman the model number to see if she could pull the part number. “Yeah it doesn't work that way sir I need a different number”…I said I’m not at my mother’s, isn't it possible to cross reference from the model number?! “No.” So there’s nothing you can do? “No sir I’m sorry…anything else I can help you with? I guess not. So after some digging I was able to find the part online. For an injection molded plastic handle that weighs less than one pound they want to charge $63.93 thirteen dollars of which is shipping. For thirteen dollars I can overnight a hamster to Zurich!

I refuse to pay for a handle that was poorly engineered from the beginning. So I thought a faster way of bringing attention to my problem was through social media so I tweeted and within five minutes had a response and was told to direct message my contact info so they could remedy the situation within 24 hours… it has been 5 and a half weeks. 

I have sent multiple messages and tweets and in return I am told a multiple of conflicting stories about how the problem resolution is being handled. In short… their customer service not only sucks, but is non-existent. The only response I got was 2 days ago a phone call from their Round Rock Texas call center with no message left in my voice mail as to whom had called or a number or person I could call back.

I have a solution to the problem which has cost me less than 4 dollars and five minutes to install. But What I’d really like is to get a properly made handle from the people who are supposed to stand behind their products (one with metal threads or at least a metal shim not the cheap injection molded plastic one that is already an engineering fail) and an apology for such obvious and gross disregard for customer service. 

The ball is in your court Sears, are you going to keep me as a lifelong customer, or are you going to drop the ball...again. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Sitting at a bar waiting on a friend I was approached by the bartender and asked, “What can I get you?” I never give beer any serious thought as I like most anything, which is to say anything so long as it has alcohol in it. I don’t go crazy over what hemp beer is being tapped this week. I find it hard to get excited about anything hemp, and if I wanted to drink a shirt I prefer Egyptian cotton with a nice French cuff. Beer and wine are the new gateway drugs to one-upmanship and snobbery in the drinking world, much the same way kale chips and kohlrabi slaw is in the food world.

“Guinness,” and off he went to begin the ritual pour which I had been certified to do at Guinness while I was in Ireland. Truthfully, had I been allowed I would have forgone the ritual and did a keg stand while the crowd sang The Irish Rover. But beer folk are a funny lot and take these traditions seriously. To me beer should be comfortable and familiar. Beer snobs are like twenty year old sailors in a brothel on payday. They want to try everything but leave broke, empty, with some kind of rash, and never seem satisfied.

Settle down beer aficionados, I love beers of all provenance and styles. When I go to a chef friend’s place they don’t ask what kind of beer I’d like… they give me a beer and I drink it. I've never had a bad beer this way. I have had bad beer when left to my own devices, friends, bartenders pushing beers, and “buzz” about a beer being great. As with coffee, wine and cheese I like what I like, and the so called experts insist my choices are the result of ignorance or being dropped on my head at birth.

I've had so many beers that my liver shudders at the thought, and at one time in my mid twenties I could have driven a large nail to flush with said liver. I've had everything from Sam Adams’ Utopias to Schlitz, I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that if you have too many of any of them, you won’t notice a hint of apricot or how frothy the head is when you’re booting behind a dumpster at 2 am. So grab a beer you like. Grab one that helps you recall a favorite memory through taste, a place in time, a special event...

It was a warm fall afternoon on a patio overlooking a barren corn field at my aunt’s house. My father and uncle just got back from the farm where they helped bring in the last of the corn silage. They wore dusty white t-shirts and jeans that smelled of corn and diesel fuel. They looked like older versions of the 50’s era teens they once were. My aunt handed them both ice cold beers, and they both took mighty gulps to wash the day’s dust away.

I was nine, dad ruffled my hair then with a wink he handed me the beer and asked, “You want a sip?” My mother’s protest fading into the background I took a sip… a malted taste and icy carbonation I could feel, taste and smell all at once. Tipping it back again I started to chug. My uncle began to laugh his cackled laugh, and my father snatched the beer back while shaking his head and smiling his crooked smile. That was the only beer I ever shared with him. A rite of passage into adulthood usually reserved for your twenty-first birthday and I had done it at the age of nine, not knowing it would be the only time.

“Here it is” said the bartender startling me. I drink it in and in that first gulp I can taste for a brief second, that first beer I ever had. It’s not important that your beer was brewed using Icelandic glacier water, or that the hops are so rare that they are only grown in moonlight behind a man named Gunter’s house in Bavaria. What matters is that you like it. I’m certain that first beer my father shared with me was a mass produced can of ice cold crap to most beer folks. I’m equally certain that all these years and many beers later, it was the best beer I ever had.