Holiday Cheer

The following is a poem I wrote.  Yes, a poem.  I wrote it exactly five years ago today to commemorate not Thanksgiving, but the day of travel that precedes it.  I’m proud to say that I cranked this puppy out in the first hour of my work day.  It’s amazing what inspiration (re: rage) can do.

It was Thanksgiving Eve
and on Tyler’s commute,
he encountered more people
than ever to shoot.

In fair Jersey City
the trouble began,
thanks to coiled deposits
from those best friends of man.

“I’m a dog lover,” he said,
“I love their bite and their bark–
but pick up their shit;
this ain’t Central Park.”

As he walked to the PATH,
dodging poopie from puppies,
he muttered at Asians,
at Hindus, and yuppies.

Lugging his luggage,
he descended below,
to the train that would take him
where he needed to go.

Surprisingly spacious,
he sighed in relief–
but his respite from trouble
would be shockingly brief.

At Pavonia/Newport,
two girlies got on,
bringing with them some Prada
and Louis Viutton.

Each Indian princess
shuffled and sighed.
There simply wasn’t much room
for them on this ride.

So they shot dirty looks
at the nearest male body.
And that certain young male
was this half-Jewish hottie.

With his bags and wide shoulders,
Tyler took up some space,
and was about to incur
the hot wrath of their race.

Their intention, it seemed,
was to have him just move,
but he had a point
that he needed to prove.

Chivalry isn’t dead,
but please stand corrected:
it’s a courtesy extended,
but should not be expected.

Well, Shiva and Vishnu,
weren’t pleased in the least.
But Tyler’s mind was now on
the impending Cohn feast.

At last in New York,
he rose to the surface
and quickly discovered
a strong brand-new purpose.

“I’ll teach all the people
to walk at a pace
at which they won’t lose
to a snail in a race!”

“Rule Number 1,”
he said in raised voice,
“Know where you’re going.
This is no time for choice!”

“This one’s for the parents,
and it’s Rule Number 2:
don’t walk any slower
than your damn children do.”

“If their legs are too short
or if they have sluggish feet,
take them up in your arms
and get off my damn street.”

“The Champs-Elysees
is great for a stroll,
but this is Midtown New York.
We are fleet-footed souls.”

“Don’t complain that it’s crowded,
that’s Rule Number Three.
You’re the one making it crowded
for people like me.”

“Numero Quattro
is for you fine CEOs:
a note about luggage,
especially those…”

“Those little briefcases
that come with two wheels,
that you drag on the street,
that crash on my heels…”

“If your baggage is smaller
than the handle you hold,
my beating of you
will be ferociously bold.”

“Just hold your damn suitcase
off the ground in your fist
and my thrashing of you
will be narrowly missed.”

Now, don’t think him rude,
or heartless, or vile,
but T-Trooper’s been thinking
this way for a while.

“There are eight million people
in this fabulous town;
but I have ideas
for bringing that number down.”

“If you can’t take the heat,
then get out of the kitchen.
Now get out of my way
and I might stop my bitchin’.”

In closing, my friends,
I wish you safe travels
and hope that your sanity
never unravels.

Because this is the day,
whether in car or in truck,
whether by train or by plane,
that commuting just sucks.

Have a great time tomorrow!
If you’re tired, just think:
“Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Now go get me my drink.”

Enjoy your holidays, everyone!

~ T

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Hex-iest Man Alive

This week, your friend and mine, noted Chekhovian scholar Channing Tatum was named People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.  And it’s surely to his credit.  He’s a thick-necked tough guy who is surprisingly funny (21 Jump Street was not an uninspired bore like I feared it would be) and who, based on the press I’ve seen and read, seems affable and grounded.  Most importantly, the dude can seriously dance.  Let’s be honest: he could be missing some teeth and have a nose more malformed than Owen Wilson’s, but being able to move the way he can would still place him head and shoulders above other nominees.

When I read about Magic Mike’s latest (only?) accolade, I had to wonder what kind of esteemed company he would be joining.  My cursory research isn’t the most reassuring for fans of Mr. Tatum.  Heavy is the head that wears the sexy crown.

For one thing, this title does not guarantee career longevity.  Let’s look at the previous winners of this illustrious prize.  People‘s first number one fella, named in 1985, was Mel Gibson.  Sure, he still had Lethal Weapon and Braveheart in his future; but where’s Mel now?  Still doing penance for pissing off Jews and women, the people who respectively control and consume Hollywood.

Gibson’s successor in 1986 was Mark Harmon, who now serves solely as the voice old people like to hear in the background of their homes, as the lead on CBS’s NCIS, an acronym no one can or cares to decipher.

After Harmon came Harry Hamlin, who is most famous for being married to this.

Was she left under a sun lamp or something?

Tom Cruise was once Sexiest Man Alive.  All it got him were some hit movies and some blockbuster divorces.  Nick Nolte earned the honor in 1992.  You might recall Nolte’s last public appearance from ten years ago.

Ladies, ladies! Behave yourselves!

And if being the Sexiest Man Alive wasn’t threatening your career, it was threatening your life!   Who were People‘s sexiest men in ’88 and ’91?  JFK Jr. and Patrick Swayze.  Case closed.

In the 90’s, People starting recognizing guys of a higher caliber.  They were more than just pretty faces.  But according to People, guys this good were hard to come by.  Brad Pitt wins twice in five years?  Richard Gere wins twice in six?  Richard Gere?  Come on.  You’re telling me Hollywood didn’t have any other viable hotties in the Clinton era?  Was the pool of contenders really so shallow as to warrant double-dipping?  Or were the people of People just playing favorites?

Things only get stranger in the 21st century.  Ben Affleck beat his buddy Matt Damon to the honor by five years, a turn of events I never would have imagined.  Sure, everyone’s talking Oscar for Ben now, but what was the result of his Faustian bargain to nab the cover in 2002?  Gigli and Daredevil, thank you very much.

Johnny Depp first won the prize in 2003, which coincided with his portrayal of Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.  This means the male ideal of most women in the early aughts was a selfish drunk in eye make-up who never washed his hair or changed his clothes.

Whatever sets your pants afire, ladies!

Jude Law won and faded into B-list status.  Matthew McConaughey won, despite his mouth having the permanent crooked set of a stroke victim.  And Mr. Tatum’s immediate predecessors, Bradley Cooper and Ryan Reynolds, are so milquetoast they’ve enabled Joseph Gordon-Levitt, all 5’9″ and 110 pounds of him, to emerge as a viable alternative.

Maybe Channing Tatum is a step in the right direction.  He could out-dance you and beat the shit out of you, if he so desired.  And he’d probably buy you a shot to put a little hair back on your chest after thoroughly emasculating you.  If generosity, physical strength, and fancy footwork are all you need to be named Sexiest Man Alive, then I think next year’s winner is a forgone conclusion.

On second thought, maybe I don’t want that kind of bad mojo following me around.

~ T

The Day After Tomorrow

Not much to say this week, readers.  I’m sitting here in my room, using electricity for the first time since Monday night, when Hurricane Sandy barreled across the east coast.

Sure, it was funny on Sunday.

Compared to other people in the neighborhood, and my friends and family across the tri-state area, I got off easy.  Walking through the rest of downtown Jersey City, I saw some serious devastation.  Almost anyone living south of Columbus Boulevard and east of Jersey Avenue was flooded out.  Entire rooms were put out on the sidewalks for garbage pick-up.  I even saw one poor guy bailing out his car.  I’ve tried to help where I can, but now that the power’s back in my building, we have to assess our own damages.  Hot water and heat are spotty, so keep your fingers crossed that we don’t have to replace our machinery for the second time in a year.

I’m very proud of my neighborhood, though.  This has been a very scary, stressful week, but everyone is conducting themselves just as good-naturedly as they always do.  I had friends helping me, and was eager to pay it forward to others.  It gives me hope for what will likely be a difficult few months ahead for the neighborhood.

As the utilities return, so does a sense of normalcy; hence me updating the blog.  And since Halloween did just pass, and since power has now been restored, I am going to be sure to spend tonight engaging in one of my most favorite acts of normalcy.  It’s a hallowed Halloween tradition.  I think you know what I’m referring to…

I can’t think of a better way to shake off the post-storm gloom, can you?

~ T

Sing-Along Study Break

Things have gotten busy for me lately, as evidenced by the fact that it took me two weeks to report on my one day spent in Philadelphia.  The school work at NYU has really picked up!  Since Friday, I’ve had a major presentation and one mid-term, with another test soon to come.  Never mind the fact that I’m already being inundated with e-mails about registering for next semester’s courses and further planning out my course of study.  My time for adventuring and jackassery has been significantly curtailed!

Still, I’m really enjoying the program.  I’ve learned some very interesting and useful things, and I’ve met some great people.  The course work isn’t so daunting, as long as I keep things in perspective.  For example, whenever I felt my eyes crossing as I reviewed the minutiae of First Amendment protections ahead of last night’s exam, I would just take a moment to refocus.  And I find a very simple way to do that is through song.  I don’t know if any of you other students out there agree, but even if this method doesn’t work for you, watching me apply it might have the same effect.

Wish me luck on my second (and likely tougher) mid-term!  And feel free to offer up suggestions for a song to rock out to during finals!

~ T

The Big Cheese(steak)

Last month, my cousin Dan graduated from his culinary arts program in Philadelphia.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to his graduation or the subsequent shindig.  I felt bad about that, seeing as how he worked very hard to get his diploma, and how he and his branch of the family tree always hauled ass across the tri-state area for any of my academic accomplishments.  Thanks to Christopher Columbus and the lay-about work ethic of show business, I had a three-day weekend to burn earlier this month, and I decided to spend part of it with my Jersey relatives in America’s revolutionary center, having some belated celebrations.

Food-adelphia

As a native near-New Yorker, equipped with all the appropriate municipal snobbery that comes with that, I have to say that I never really thought of Philadelphia as having any claims to fame beyond its neat historical sites and self-flagellating sports fans.  I wasn’t surprised that there was a culinary school for my cousin to attend there.  It’s a major cosmopolitan city, after all.  What I was surprised by was the variety of food you can find in Philly, and the obvious love its citizens have for food.

For proof of this, go no further than the Reading Terminal Market.  Formerly a busy train station, the Reading Terminal Market is now a permanent indoor marketplace, where you can order cuts of red meat while daintily enjoying your crepes, or have a gyro while browsing the fresh organic veggies.  This rollicking food orgy is a complete overload on your senses, what with all the sights, smells, and crowds.  This is where I first met the rellies upon arriving in Philly, and in the near hour we spent gliding up and down the narrow aisles on trails of our own gluttonous drool, I don’t think we saw half of what the Reading Terminal Market has to offer.  If you like to eat (and if you don’t, we should probably stop associating with each other), this place has to go on your bucket list.  I endorse it, and so does my cousin, the chef.

(For the record, I purchased a large turkey sandwich with cranberry, stuffing, and horseradish sauce.  Essentially, it was Thanksgiving dinner on whole wheat bread.  Oh, and I got a side of creamed spinach.  Just because it was there.)

Foot-adelphia

Another thing I take inordinate pride in as a city-dweller is not having a car.  I walk everywhere.  When I have to, I use mass transit; but I enjoy walking around, especially in places I haven’t been before.

The center city portion of Philadelphia is very pedestrian-friendly.  From Reading Terminal Market, we walked north to my cousin’s apartment, then meandered back into the thick of things along Walnut and Market Streets.  By the end of the day, we had covered about five miles.  Hardly an adventuring record, but still a nice taste of the neighborhood.

While the sidewalks on these main thoroughfares can’t compare to those along the wide avenues of Manhattan, Philly wasn’t crowded that weekend, which made our explorations easier.  I also have to applaud those residents of Philadelphia who were present for understanding that in a thriving metropolis, it is never permissible to do the mall crawl.  Thank you, my friends on the northeast corridor, for knowing how to use your legs properly.

It was a gorgeous day and a holiday weekend, so there was plenty to see as we wandered.  Somewhere between Rittenhouse Square and Independence Hall, we found ourselves walking through a street fair.  We couldn’t figure out what the purpose of the festivities were, until one of my cousins remarked that he had seen ads for the upcoming Philadelphia OutFest.  Confirming his assumption, my aunt and I spotted a sign inviting everyone to return the next day for the “Homo Ho Down”.

City of Brotherly Love,  indeed.

Phila-drink-ia

Though my aunt and uncle have long been the family sommeliers, Chef Dan has nosed in, pun intended, with his new-found professional knowledge of libations.  When it comes to alcoholic beverages, my palette only has two settings: good and bad.  That’s not to say that I didn’t appreciate the many glasses of wine and beer that were consumed throughout the day.  My relations only drink the best!  Most of our drinks were had at the famous Monk’s Cafe, where my cousin has been honing his culinary skills.  This should be a definite stop for the serious foodies who visit The Honestly Blog.  I was still full from lunch, but I wish I’d had room to sample stuff on the Monk’s menu.

Phila-dance-ia

After our pit stop at Monk’s, my aunt and uncle headed home, and left us young bucks to revel in the city for the night.  My other cousin, Tom, was playing with his band at a bar with the hilarious name Kung Fu Necktie.  We drove to the bar, given that he had an entire drum set carefully packed away in his four-door sedan.  Kung Fu Necktie is in a corner of northern Philadelphia that is eerily similar to 161st Street in the Bronx, what with the overhead train tracks and drivers’ complete disregard for traffic laws.  I helped Tom unpack the car, which meant I got to add this evening to the scant list of times I’ve been able to say to someone in a position of authority, “I’m with the band.”

Tom and his guys were performing in the upstairs venue at Kung Fu Necktie, which alternately made me feel like I was in a frat house or the canteen at sleep-away camp.  There was a pool table and some video games, but also lots of beat-up furniture, bros, and, of course, beer.  The fact that the first band sang a special kind of full-throated “no one understands me” metal just amplified the sensation that I had time traveled into someone’s basement.

I went down to the main bar to wait until Tom’s band was on.  I got to catch up with one of my college friends who now calls Philly her home, as she was kind enough to journey out to this particular corner of town for a visit.  More beer was had, and even before Tom’s band went on, the dancing had begun.  Kung Fu Necktie isn’t particularly conducive to dancing, especially not in the smaller upstairs area, but Lauren and I had our fun nonetheless.

Tom’s band sounded great, even through the ear plugs he correctly insisted we wear.  They cleared out for the fourth and final act.  More beers were had.  There was a bit more dancing, and some amusing photographs were taken (none of which were really suitable for publication here).  By 1:00, the drums and Yours Truly were both safely loaded into Tom’s car, and by the time the car was in drive, I was fast asleep.  What do you want from me?  It was a long day, I’ve never had a high tolerance for alcohol, and like most babies, I find the motion and hum of an automobile to be incredibly soothing.

I returned home the following morning, once again surprised at just how much adventure I had been able to cram in to a measly twelve hours.  Congratulations again to Dan, and thanks to him and the rest of the fam for showing me a good time in Philadelphia.  You see, readers?  There is life beyond New York!

~ T

Post-Season Predictions from Tripp

As promised, I’m going to be featuring some guest writers here on The Honestly Blog.  Our first guest writer is an old favorite and prior contributor, baseball enthusiast Tripp Williams.  Tripp did me the immense favor of offering up his post-season predictions from all the way across the pond.  At press time, the first round of play-offs are under way, and current results will be included below.  As always, content has been edited for space, grammar, and Yankee bashing.

Yesterday, it seems, we were waxing poetic about the hopes that each baseball fan enjoys in March and April, when Spring intoxicates us with “Up and coming prospects!” lists and “Top Ten Reasons why your team will make the playoffs this year” adverts.  Now, at the other end of the proving ground that is the regular season, most of us find our proverbial team ships of hope battered and wind-blown, scuttling back to the harbor for a winter overhaul.  Only the lucky few – yeah, Tyler, you’re one of them – get to see if a turn on the open ocean will bring post-season glory.  But who will last?

ALDS: New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles
I expect the Yankees to compete in their series, like they normally do. I have a sense that the Yanks have been looking over their shoulder for a good part of the season, eyes widening as the Orioles kept pace right until the bitter end.  The Pinstripers won’t be intimidated, of course, but then again I don’t think the Orioles will be either.  The O’s are young enough to not know any better than to think they’ll win the whole thing this year – kind of like the Rays in 2008.  This will be an intriguing match-up, but I’ll go with the Yankees by way of their knowing how to win.  I’ll be more than happy to admit the error of my ways if the Orioles advance, though, and will likely cheer for their exuberance and passion as long as they’re in the playoffs.  I mean, honestly – who doesn’t like to root for a team, and a city, that’s been irrelevant for over a decade, the roster of which is made up of kids who play their hearts out?  Except for Tyler.  Prediction: Yankees in 5.
(The Yankees currently lead the series, 1-0.  So, suck it.)

ALDS: Oakland Athletics vs. Detroit Tigers
The Oakland A’s have pulled off one of the sneakiest division title victories in quite some time.  Buoyed by all the talk of Moneyball, and the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes (you be the judge which had more of an impact), the A’s carried the banner this year for mid-market franchises and go into the postseason, one would think, pretty darn confident.  I like the A’s… but the firepower of the Tigers is tough to ignore.  Detroit seemed to do just enough throughout the year to make it into the playoffs, and now, like an experienced marathon runner, seem ready to let loose the kick they saved for the last stretch of the race.  I think the A’s still have a good shot, considering their consistency throughout the year and their grit and toughness.  This will be a good matchup, especially in the middle games of the series.  I admit it – I saw that the Tigers won Game 1.  All the same… Prediction: A’s in 5.
(Detroit currently leads the series, 2-0.)

NLDS: Cincinnati Reds vs. San Francisco Giants
The NL presents a Reds-Giants match-up that is a little bit off the radar, if for no other reason than because the Reds had a sneaky great year and are a darn good team.  They ended up just behind the Nationals with the second best record in baseball, which isn’t an accident.  With playoff experience from last year, their young lineup will likely be well positioned to make a run this post-season.  The Giants come into the playoffs off of a strong finish to the regular season, but they have some uncertainties in their rotation.  If Timmy had had a good year, like any of his last four, I would be quick to explain that the Giants present a nasty playoff pitching rotation.  But that assertion doesn’t ring nearly as true when Matt Cain is the number one, instead of the 1A, and Timmy is dropped down to the starter for Game 3.  Without the confidence in the pitching staff going into the playoffs, the Giants are vulnerable.  Both offenses can hit the ball; like in every series, this one will come down to pitching.  Loyalty requires that I go with the Giants.  I have no misgivings. Prediction: Giants in 4.
(The Reds currently lead the series 2-0.  This could be a tough deficit to surmount; but if anyone can be a hero, it’s little Timmy.)

NLDS: Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The Nationals and the Cardinals will be fun to watch.  DC has been playoff baseball deprived for decades, and the atmosphere in National’s Park will be electric.  The Cardinals are making their 2012 run in defense of their World Series title from last year.  They decided, consciously I suppose, to follow the script from last year – make the playoffs by a razor-thin margin – because it worked so darn well.  They are a crafty bunch, seasoned professionals way ahead of the Nats in terms of experience.  The Nationals are a good team, and they play with an energy that will only be amplified by the playoff atmosphere.  I expect they’ll get off to a quick start and stay ahead.  They will miss Mr. Strasburg.  How the Nationals managed to work it so that their number one pitcher would miss the playoffs is still just a little bit baffling to me.  All the same, the stage is set for Bryce Harper to take the next step up the ladder of stardom, and the rest of the squad will be poised to help make 2012 a positive year in the annals of DC baseball history.  Prediction: Nationals in 4.
(The Nationals currently lead the series, 1-0.)

ALCS Prediction: New York Yankees vs. Oakland Athletics
The Yankees and the A’s – David and Goliath.  This match-up would be a network executive’s nightmare but a fan’s delight.  The cross-country element makes it that much more enticing, pitting the punk Californians against the utmost professional Pinstripers.  When the Yankees win, baseball wins – more people watch, and the games just have a feeling of being that much more relevant.  But if the A’s are able to pull this off and make it to the World Series, hope will fill the heart of every Royals, Pirates, Mariners, Astros, Marlins, and every other middling team’s fan.  And for the A’s to advance while the Rangers and Angels watch on TV?  What could be sweeter for anyone who has ever rooted for the little guy?  Fun fact? The Yankees’ two highest paid players (Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia) make more ($30 million and $24.2 million, respectively) than the entire A’s roster ($49.1 million).  When you have a team who hasn’t spent the coin required to sit in the proverbial luxury box of professional sports, and yet DOES win?  It’s a great game. Prediction: for baseball’s sake, Yankees in 6.  What I hope for?  A’s in 7.

NLCS Prediction: San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals
The Giants and the Nationals will feature two high-energy teams hungry for the NL crown.  The match-up will be pretty even on paper: decent pitching that drops off further down in the rotation, a couple of hitters in each lineup that can strike fear in the hearts of opponents (Zimmerman, Werth, and LaRoche for the Nats; Posey and Sandoval for the Giants).  Because of the parity between the clubs, I would expect this to be a long series.  The hole left by Strasburg will seem even larger in this series, as he would have been able to have a greater impact over the course of seven games.  Similarly, Timmy’s struggles will be more acutely felt – lining him up to pitch games 1, 4, and 7 isn’t an option.  Matt Cain is an able number 1, but any team that can have two top-tier pitchers share the physical and emotional burden of being that team’s go-to guy is better off than normal.  I’ll be happy with either team winning.  For the intrigue of the match-up, I’ll choose the Giants in 6.  I’ll be far from unhappy, though, if the Nats pull this off.

World Series Prediction: ??? vs. ???
The Oakland A’s and the Washington Nationals.  To think that either of these teams, let alone both, would make the World Series, let alone the play-offs, is pretty wild.  And I would love it.  The energy would be great, with each city capital-C celebrating their team’s return to competitiveness.  I mentioned earlier that baseball wins when the Yankees win; ratings climb, national coverage seems better, etc.  But maybe what baseball needs is a World Series featuring two upstarts like the A’s and Nationals, two teams that kind of defy the odds a little bit in their respective climbs to the top.  You may argue that the Cardinals played that role last year, or that the story line isn’t nearly as exciting as I’m playing it up to be.  My rejoinder would be twofold: 1. The Cardinals are an extraordinarily successful franchise.  They won the World Series in 2006.  For them to be successful is neither unexpected nor new. 2. Last year’s playoffs, even with the very successful Cardinals winning it all, was incredibly exciting.  The A’s and the Nationals could provide baseball with the shot in the arm it seems to need pretty regularly now, injecting enthusiasm and hope into all the other markets and fanbases who have mired in obscurity for several years.  I speak from experience – the Mariners have mastered the art of finishing under .500.  For rejuvenation’s sake, let’s see the A’s and the Nationals! Prediction/hope: A’s in 7.

Tripp Williams is currently studying at the London School of Economics, which will become a crucial point on his resume when he runs for president in twenty years.  As a Seattle-area native, he has acclimated flawlessly to the London weather.  Contrary to popular reports, he is not dating Pippa Middleton.  Yet.

Presidential Debate Bingo

Hello, citizens!  Ahead of tomorrow night’s first presidential debate, I thought I might encourage you to be an active participant in your democracy by turning what might be a droll 90 minutes into a healthy competition amongst friends.

Below, you will find all the materials necessary for Presidential Debate Bingo!  Here’s how to play:

1) Open and print out the Presidential Debate Bingo boards and the Bingo Word Bank from the links at the bottom of this post.
2) Choose one of the two candidates, and take the board with that candidate’s name at the top.
3) Using the choices within the Word Bank, fill in the empty squares of your board with the words or phrases you think will most likely be mentioned during the debate.  One item per square, naturally.
4) When your candidate says one of the words or phrases on your board, mark off the corresponding square.
5) Keep playing until your achieve Presidential Debate Bingo!

So tune in tomorrow.  I promise it’ll be fun.  Play with friends.  Have your own Presidential Debate Bingo Party!  You can easily turn it into a drinking game, if that might attract more people to your gathering.  When have alcohol and politics not mixed well?

Oh.  Right.  Never mind.

Game on, voters!

Bingo Obama Board
Bingo Romney Board
Bingo Word Bank

~ T