Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The NBA - Do Nice Guys Finish Last?

(Below is a post I wrote for my friend's website. The site is called "The Love of Sports." It's a cool site, so please check it out. There's a whole lot more than what I wrote - a bunch of daily columns, videos, and pics from across the sports world.)

“Fantasy basketball is just like real basketball. Except different. Now here’s a dollar. Go wash my car.” That’s what my father always said. And truer words have never been spoken by man or beast. Even so, it’s important to remember that the fantasy clubhouse is still a place of complex interpersonal dynamics - just like a real-life NBA clubhouse. You have the infighting, the bickering, the showboating, the having sex with other players’ wives and girlfriends, etc. etc. Except it’s all imaginary. Did Kobe Bryant just throw a chair at his teammate Dirk Nowitzki? “Dirk, did you steal Kobe’s iPod?” Not in my fantasy clubhouse he didn’t. I run a tight ship.

We’ve all assumed that the imaginary relationships between the players on our imaginary teams have nothing to do with their actual success on the court during the real NBA season. Oh really? Is that so? How can you be so sure? Why is it if I wear my 76ers jersey inside-out, and sit on the left side of the sofa while eating a piece of cheese with two fingers in my right ear, they always hit a three and win the game? (Happened once in 1989. Not kidding.) And why couldn’t the positive vibes flowing from my fantasy locker room make it out to the real world, and vice versa? That’s what I’m here to find out. I’m going to spend this season focusing on the good, the moral, the wholesome, the honest in the NBA. And see if we can field a winning team.

I believe that sports is a reflection of life, and the sporting heroes that we worship on a daily basis not only teach us about victory and defeat, perseverance and humility, but in addition, they teach us how not to act. Don't beat up your wife or your dog. Don't drive your $120,000 Bentley into the river. Don't make a rap album. Don't take steroids. And so on and so forth.

Unfortunately for the youngest of fans - the most naive and impressionable of them all - it may seem as though the most troublesome behavior off the court leads to the greatest success on it. Let's be honest, many of the most exciting athletes around today are also the most likely to end up in an exciting police chase.

Yes, we'll always have to deal with the bad apples and their chronic legal problems, and the prima donnas who believe they're the most important ones in the locker room. But do you actually need any of these bad men on your team in order win? Admittedly, it IS all about winning in the end - especially when it comes to fantasy sports. My theory is, yes, you can field a dominant team that doesn't feature any former felons. You don't need a guy on your squad who keeps a Glock 9mm in his glove compartment. You do need a guy who just wants a hug after making that clutch shot.

My team’s name is The Centerfolds – the roster is beautiful from top to bottom, inside and out. My players have become fast fantasy friends. They eat lunch together in the fantasy commissary. They travel together in the fantasy hovercraft. They play friendly games of Yahtzee! and Pictionary, huddled in front of the fire in the fantasy log cabin, built into the side of a mountain deep in the Great Smoky Mountains. But no, they do not shower together in the fantasy locker room, while whipping each other with towels and spraying one another with shaving cream. That’s not part of this fantasy basketball world. Sorry.

The Centerfolds travel in style, to any venues located near water. Otherwise they travel by fantasy school bus.

Inside, you might just find nice guys Yao Ming and Ray Allen playing a game of pinochle during a fantasy off-day.

In any case, you’ll be following their adventures this season, with me as your guide and moral compass. They’re all really nice guys, so this should be quite a bit of fun for everyone.

Listen to this post.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween - What Is It Good For?

Halloween’s good for plenty of things when you’re a kid – 1) Gobs and gobs of free candy, 2) Stay out late on a school night, 3) Hang out with friends and joke around, 4) Dress up like a girl, etc., etc. But all the things that Halloween’s so good for when you’re young are summarily executed and tossed out the window when you get older - 1) Candy now makes me very fat if I were to eat gobs of it (1 gob = 8 pounds), 2) I’m too tired after a hard day’s work to stay out past 8:30, 3) My friends are super-serious and don’t like to hang out. They just like to schedule conference calls and discuss the complexities of modern-day thermomechanical wood pulp processing. Or some shit like that. Anyway, it’s no fun. And 4) In New York, men dress like girls every single day of the year. To do so on Halloween is so very passé.

Two years in a row and I haven’t dressed up! Does this mean it’s official? Is Halloween dead to The Mill? If so, I sincerely mourn the passing of my Halloween-celebrating days - if indeed those days are gone for good. I still halfheartedly try to come up with costume ideas, reasoning that if I find something fantastic, I’ll absolutely have to dress up. Even tonight, with mere hours before All Hallow’s Eve begins, my mind is chewing on the topic of Halloween costumes. Should I finally wear that Viet Cong guerilla outfit, and pretend to plant booby trap baby dolls and soda can nail bombs around town? Or is that still very offensive, non-PC, incredibly irresponsible, and asinine? Let’s hold off for another year, at least. Can I recycle my Serena Williams costume, originally worn back in 1999? What is the statute of limitations for re-using costumes? And would I even be able to pour myself into that tiny tennis dress? Probably not, although I can still fit into my Bar Mitzvah suit. But that wouldn’t make much of a costume. “A man in an ill-fitting, moth-ridden suit,” we could call it.

So I’m without a good idea this year. But there are plenty of other folks who lack good costume ideas, and still manage to participate in Halloween. How many Mahmoud Ahmadinejad costumes will we see? That one is so damn obvious. I’m sure we’ll also see numerous John Edwards’s, Dennis Kuciniches, and Jake Gyllenhaals, just to name a few easy ones. Oh, and William Hurt. I bet you'll see like 25 William Hurts this year. Why can’t people be more creative? And no, the “Cereal Killer” (guy tapes a bunch of cereal boxes to a sweater and walks around with a fake knife or knives impaling the cereal boxes) is not creative. That’s just stupid. And a waste of perfectly good cereal.

Wow, great William Hurt costume. Very lifelike. Too bad hundreds of others will have the same idea this Halloween.

A douchebag's classic standby costume. And so terrifying - a terrifying waste of cereal, that is!

Perhaps I'll be inspired in the hours and minutes leading up to Halloween. Although I'm not holding my breath. In any case, everyone knows that the weekend before Halloween is when all the good parties take place, and I definitely missed out on that this year (insert sad face emoticon). Thanks for bringing me to your friend's wedding this past weekend, Jaimi! We all dressed up in costumes. Wedding guest costumes.

Listen to this post.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Global Warming - A Revelation

I’ve always believed the proliferation of factories, coal-burning power plants, and the automobile were largely to blame for global warming - that our society’s complete and utter reliance on fossil fuels has led us to this point. And the racing locomotives that are the U.S., Chinese and Indian economies are forcing us ever closer to the brink of disaster.

But then I was watching “An Inconvenient Truth”, starring Al Gore as a professorial prophet with absolutely astounding PowerPoint skills. At one point during the presentation, he shows the sun shooting its rays at the polar ice cap. And the ice just reflects the sun’s heat. Then the ice melts and the sun’s rays are absorbed by the open ocean. Thus leading to more warming and more melting and more absorption of rays. And then more melting. And more warming. And…and. You get the picture. A peristaltic chain reaction of ruin.

So I done got me to thinking. What is the real problem here? Sure, it sounds like global warming could be pretty serious. But do I really need to build a windmill in my backyard (if I had a backyard) and drive a battery-powered soda can to work every day? Will that really save us?


"Why not, Mill?" you ask. Wouldn’t a decrease in the burning of fossil fuels lessen the production of greenhouse gases? Well, yes. But it’s not all about the greenhouse gases. Don’t persecute them just for trapping heat. The real problem is the sun. It’s way too hot. And as Mr. Gore demonstrated, it keeps shooting those damn rays at our open oceans, thus warming the water, melting the ice, raising the sea level, and murdering the polar bears. There’s only one solution: we need to find a way to blot out the sun. Literally. Not kidding.

Kill the sun, I say, and you cool the planet. That is indisputable science. Kill the sun, and save the bears. Let the ice live free and let the sun die hard, with a vengeance. But it’s unbreakable, you say? Well my sixth sense tells me that it can be done. And just as fire is the fifth element, so can Armageddon be brought down upon the sun by a simple team of twelve monkeys, Hudson Hawk, and Billy Bathgate.

Okay fine. Maybe I don’t have a plan. Maybe instead of coming up with a legitimate way to mitigate the tremendous damage we’ve already done to the planet’s climate, I just listed a bunch of Bruce Willis movies (can you find them all?). But that was fun, and still serves to illustrate my point. That point being - Bruce Willis can do it. He can save the world. If anyone can, it’s him. Again, not a joke. Mr. Willis, if you’re reading this, please leave a comment that you will indeed save the planet, as I’ve suggested.

So I wrote this post last night, and during my normal travels over and across the World Wide Web, on my way to sleep, I ran across this article.

Strange thing is, the author details a method by which we could actually reflect some of the sun's rays - by throwing a bunch of dirt into the atmosphere. A simulated volcanic eruption, as it were. I can't tell exactly when the article was written, but I'll just go ahead and assume that I came up with the idea first. As I've said before, I are a genius.

Listen to this post.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Ode To Beer: Redux

The crackling cap lifts from the lip.

A sizzling slide of golden amber.

Suds down the side of a fancy glass.

So cold. Fresh. Bitter. Smooth.

A biting cold. A sprinkle of snow down your neck.

Excuse me miss, how old are you?

Twenty-two, yet still with braces.

And only four foot ten.

But yet, this card says your age. And says it all.

I see here you’re from Maine.

The land of 10,000 lakes.

Or something like that.

I haven’t a clue.

Ten beers gone by.

Like a bygone high school daze.

In the dark dank alleyway.

No smoking inside. It’s the law.

What say you Officer?

Yes, she’s with me.

A fake? Who’s a fake?

What’s a fake?

Fake this! A flight to safety!

But no.

Too slow.

The blunt cold concrete.

The faint essence of urine.

It’s all you sense. With a knee in your back.

Suspect immobilized.

The pain is dull. A throbbing dread.

She’s talking to the cop.

He’s taking notes.

Thank you beer.

Listen to this post.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dim Sum - A Metaphor For Life

Vegetarians need not apply (unless you're happy with a pile of bok choy for lunch), but for everyone else, dim sum is a must-eat. Not only is it fun, delicious, entertaining, and inexpensive, but a whole truckload of life lessons can be gleaned from participation in this gastronomic activity.

For those unfortunate souls who have never experienced dim sum, here's a quick yet vivid definition, straight out of The Mill's Unabridged Dictionary of Food-Related Terms (or, the MUDFOOT):

dim-sum (pronunciation)
- noun
1. Usually occurs in Chinatown. Chinese ladies push around little metal carts stacked with small dishes of various foods. When you see something you think you'd like to eat, you point to it, they put it on your table, and then stamp a card in such a way that lets the cashier know how much to charge you. Sometimes an unknowable scribble is added to the card, thus enhancing the mystery. A wide variety of foods are offered, ranging from the standard - dumplings, to the exotic - jellyfish, to the terrifying - boiled chicken feet. It's all very fun.

2. A metaphor for human existence as we know it.

Definition #1 is rather straightforward. You go to Chinatown, find the restaurant that's most packed with native Chinese folks, and get a table. You wait for the carts to come around. When you see your favorites, perhaps shrimp dumplings, or lotus leaf-wrapped sticky rice, you point and grunt. You're then served the chosen items. A mark is made on your check, or Dim Sum Scorecard. You chow down on the savory morsels while keeping one eye on the passing carts, for any other eye-catching goodies. My favorites include the pork shumai, shrimp noodles, and anything deep-fried.

Not everything on the table is deep-fried, but they will fry the table cloth if you ask nicely.

Definition #2, however, needs a little more explanation. Dim sum is not only a meal. It's not just synonymous with delectable pork-filled doughstuffs. But to eat dim sum is to experience a true slice of humanity, and all the intricacies and social issues that go along with being human. You need to communicate without words - by pointing and grunting. You need to compete with other diners - for the last plate of fried sesame balls. And you often have to sit at a table with total strangers, some of whom may eat with their mouths open (a pet peeve of mine) - and instead of throwing hot tea in your noisy neighbor's face, you must try to remain civil and orderly. Something of a microcosm of society. It's a lot like the novel "Animal Farm". Or maybe "Lord of the Flies." Wait. Which was the one about the theme park where they clone dinosaurs, but the plan goes terribly wrong, and the dinosaurs become uncontrollable terrors? Basically, the moral of that story is you can't keep dinosaurs as pets. And also that you need to maintain order, lest all of society fall prey to the scourge of communism. It's completely analogous to a scenario in which there aren't enough pork and shrimp dumplings to go around - things could get very ugly, very fast. That hungry patron could quickly get as vicious as a velociraptor.

Dim sum waitress maintains social order by slinging pork at patrons.

To experience an authentic and delicious dim sum meal, such as the one briefly described above, I recommend Delight 28 (used to be called Hee Win Lai, which maybe means "delight 28" in chinese?). It's on Pell Street just east of Mott, in the heart of Chinatown NYC. The fried food is plentiful here, and so are the secrets of civilization.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Leaf Peeping Adventure

It really should be called "Leaves Peeping," as the idea is to view many multiple leaves during the fall foliage season. But that doesn't have quite the same ring. Anyway, Jaimi and I went up to Vermont this past weekend to peep a few Vermont leaves, taste a bit of Vermont cheese, and pay tribute to famous Vermonter, Christopher Reeve. (Editor's note: Reeve was born in New York City in 1952, but his name rhymes reasonably well with both "cheese" and "leaves")

But leaves are not the only thing to peep in rural Vermont (which part of Vermont is not rural?). There are also plenty of cows and sheep. This is where the cheese, mentioned in the previous paragraph, comes from. I'm not sure how they do it, but they somehow take byproducts of cow and sheep and transform them into cheesy goodness. My guess is that it's some kind of meat product, because it tastes so darn good. Maybe from the delicious area around the face, hence the name "head cheese". Regular cheese must also come from this part of the animal. Please don't tell Jaimi that this is where cheese comes from. She wouldn't be happy to learn this, as she's not one to eat either cow or sheep meat. But others will tell her that cheese is made from milk, and they'll all say that I'm lying. Even the internet says cheese is made from milk (see here for further perpetuation of this myth) Yeah right. It comes from milk. Fine. How quaint. Then how come it's so savory? Huh?

Presumably harvesting sheep face to make cheese.

Anyway, the cheese in Vermont was great, wherever it comes from. And while we were cheese peeping, we met the owner of a sheep dairy who was nice enough to show us around even though the place was under renovation. This dairy is called Woodcock Farm (here for more info), and they specialize in raw sheep's milk cheese. Each wheel is lovingly prepared by the husband and wife team of Mark and Gari Fischer. Both formerly of New York City (just like Christopher Reeve). They left it all behind to live with sheep, and make cheese out of them. Also, they had two really nice sheep dogs, one of which seemingly wanted to get into my car and come home with us. Alas, I think he's better off where he is. From a 45-acre sheep farm, to a 400 square foot apartment in Manhattan (he'd have to stay in Jaimi's studio, as my landlord forbids any pets) would be too much of a culture shock for him.

Scene from a sheep dairy - I don't know exactly what this woman's doing. But she needs to be arrested. Immediately.

So I think I really learned a lot about Vermont during our brief trip. Their current motto is simply, "Freedom and Unity." Might as well be "Boring and Banal." Come on Vermont! You can do better than that. Here are a few suggestions, based upon the knowledge I gleaned this past weekend:

"Vermont - More sheep than people." (Note: May not be true. Couldn't find latest sheep census.)

"Vermont - More trees than people." (Note: Certainly true. Also, forgot to mention the maple syrup before. That stuff's almost as tasty as the cheese.)

"Vermont - Fewer people than Delaware." (Note: Also true. Fewest people of all states except for Wyoming.)

"Vermont - We'd kill a man if it meant we could have even more craft shows." (Note: We went to one craft show. It was pretty crowded. I imagine they have a lot of craft shows there.)

And what about those leaves anyway? Well, it turns out we missed the leaf peeping peak by about a week. (That sentence rhymed unintentionally.) So the trip was good, but not as good as leaf peeping can get. Thus, the perfect excuse to return to Vermont next fall for another round of cheese, leaves, and Christopher Reeve.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Letter To My Former Starting Fantasy Football Quarterback

Drew Brees, my former starting Fantasy Football Quarterback, had a nice game this past week. The best of the season so far, in fact. Does it have anything to do with my benching him for the past 2 weeks? And telling him that our relationship has been severely strained by his poor play? Is it possible that in some cosmic/psychic way, I've affected his game play, and driven him towards success? Yes, yes, and perhaps. Here's the next installment in my master plan to alter the fabric of spacetime in the fantasy football universe. It's sort of like being a puppet master. Please tune in to the Saints-Falcons game on Sunday to see how Drew responds to the following message.

Dear Drew,

How are you doing? Have you been keeping yourself busy? Did you get some rest during your bye week? Did your team win this past Sunday? Against the Seahawks? Like maybe, 28 to 17? Oh yeah, it says it right here in the newspaper. Well, congratulations. It's nice to see you're beginning to turn things around.
And how did your throwing the football go? Were you able to throw nice spirals? Any touchdowns? Or passes completed to your teammates? Oh, hey. It says here that you threw 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Gee whiz. Nice work.

I just thought I'd check in to see how you're doing. And to let you in on a dirty little secret. Something that is so subversive yet effective, that it may seem like black magic. It will become ever more apparent as the season progresses, but even after one short week, it's almost completely obvious. That's right Drew. My psy-ops campaign is working. Working like a charm. And rest assured that there's nothing you can do to resist. I truly believe that benching you this past weekend was the best thing I could have done....for you. It's all for you. Don't forget that in my last letter I made it clear that I wasn't completely giving up on you. I still ascribe to the Doctrine of Drew - that is to say, throwing lots and lots of touchdowns and very few interceptions. And from the looks of things, it would appear that you're going back to the Drew of 2006. "Pro-bowl Drew", as I like to call him. Or, "Not Kicking Myself For Drafting With A High Pick Drew." Almost 250 yards passing, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Not bad. Not bad at all. You can do better of course, but I'm just so happy to see that my subtle psychological tactics have been working. I lit a fire under your ass, so to speak. And I'm both flattered and honored to see you respond with such sense of purpose and singular focus - to improve your fantasy stats.

I have some more news for you Drew. There's someone else. Someone I met on the fantasy football waiver wire this week. He's young, strong-armed, and agile. His name's Derek Anderson. Maybe you've heard of him? He's the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, and he threw for 3 touchdowns last week, and ran for one more. Not only that, but he's been consistent all year. And Drew, he's currently the 3rd ranked fantasy quarterback in the league (you're pretty much ranked last). Behind only Tony Romo and Tom "New Daddy" Brady. I'm not sure why one of the other teams in my league dropped Derek, allowing me to add him to my roster. His loss is most certainly my gain. Unless the other manager knows something about Derek that I'm not aware of. Like, he's addicted to crack and PCP. Or that he accidentally killed a few strippers Sunday night while celebrating the team's victory over the woeful Miami Dolphins. But that's not something any of us should brood over. What's done is done. I want to win, and Derek Anderson can help with that. Regardless of any sort of moral deficit or lack of common sense. Whatever his crimes, if there are any, and if they can be proven, he's got what I like to call "football smarts." That's right. I came up with that phrase.

Take a long look at this tall, cool drink of water. He's your new teammate, or worst nightmare, depending on how you perform for the rest of the season.

So as I've just described, there's a new kid on the block - a very talented, aggressive, and charming kid. And I thought you should know about him. I don't want to hide this new relationship from you. After all, I've been honest with you since the beginning. As I said before, I'd still like to be able to write you, call you, whatever. (And continue my purposeful psychological barrage) But no pressure. Need I mention that you'll have to show me a bit more consistency before we can even talk about thinking about discussing your return to the starting lineup. Drew, please keep in mind that with relative certainty, if you keep up the hard work, you will, most likely, fall back into my favor. It's a simple equation: (Touchdowns + Passing Yards) divided by (Interceptions + Fumbles Lost) = (My love + My respect as your fantasy football manager) + (a second chance for you).

Not everybody gets a second chance. Don't let this one pass you by.

As before,

And no less than ever,

Your friend through thick and thin,

But only if you continue to play like you did last week,

Or even better than last week,

Still, only somewhat reluctantly,

Your fantasy football manager,

- The Mill


Sunday, October 14, 2007

This Is Crazy

Again, I'm not able to explain how I came across this website. Just don't worry about it, okay? But please check it out: Crazy Link

The first thing you'll see when you visit the website is: "Thank you for your interest in patented Neuticles and the revolutionary testicular implant procedure for pets."

This fuzzy guy would just as soon use Neuticles for chew toys as have them replace his real testicles after being neutered. Right little buddy?!??!

Huh? Why would my pet want that? And perhaps more importantly, why would I want that for my pet? After all, it's not really my pet's decision. I mean, I'm the one paying for any sort of cosmetic surgery for my pet. That's something me and my pet agreed upon long ago. He pays for cable, rent, and phone, and I pay for cosmetic surgery and food. That's the deal. So it's not up to him. If he wants to pay for unlimited long distance, I've got no problem with that. But if I want to pay for his tummy tuck or tail lengthening, then he'll just need to take it lying down.

But seriously, I spent a good 3-5 minutes trying to figure out whether this site was for real. I've concluded that it is, although I'm still only 97% sure. They even have price lists and diagrams for veterinarians. There are different sizes and textures available, for a natural look and feel. Not kidding.

My Neuticles look ridiculous. I think they gave me the ones made for a Doberman. I'm mortified. All my friends point and laugh.

I love dogs, but I could never imagine that they would give a shit if you gave them fake testicles or not. So why do it? For your own satisfaction? That sounds like it could be rather socially unacceptable. Most likely, it's just to make the owners feel a little less bad about neutering their pets. But one of the most wonderful things about pets (dogs, in particular) is that they don't hold grudges. You could have pretty much any kind of surgical procedure done to them, and they would still love you after it was all over. This is one of the many reasons we love our pets, and would do almost anything for them (also see my post from June re: dogs).

We really don't mind if you have us neutered. We'll love you no matter what. Just keep feeding us. Thanks.

I don't know. It's crazy - but at the same time, if it doesn't hurt the animals and it makes the owners feel harm no foul. Perhaps this post was just an excuse to put up some pics of cute puppies.


Friday, October 12, 2007

The Mill Hates Traffic

Warning: This will not be a happy post. I will be writing about something that I despise so much, it will totally blow your mind. You can't even begin to imagine the astronomical abhorrence I feel towards bad traffic. I dry heave when thinking about it. And even worse when stuck in the middle of it. How much do I hate traffic? Let me help you understand. But please, before continuing with this post, make sure you ask any small children to leave the room, and keep your legs and arms away from the computer screen at all times.

Imagine yourself gliding effortlessly down the highway, heading home from a difficult day at the office. It's time to relax. You earned it - climate control set to your liking; iPod connected to the 6-speaker stereo via a convenient glove compartment jack; singing along to your favorite KISS tune ('Christine Sixteen', or maybe 'Calling Dr. Love'). You haven't a care in the world. You know dinner is waiting for you - from the night before when you ordered too much Chinese. And you're looking forward to cracking open an icy frost-brewed lager of some sort. Or even just breaking the neck off that bottle of vodka that's been sitting in the freezer for 2 years. You hate vodka, but it'll do the trick, and it's been a long week.

Just a guess, but I'm betting that KISS hates traffic too. They just want to party every day, and rock 'n roll all night, or something like that.

Suddenly, and without notice, brake lights begin to blink up ahead. They get larger and larger. Redder and redder. You yourself might want to think about braking right around now. But it's been such a nice ride. You were making such good time. And an evening of relaxation and recuperation had already been fully planned out in your mind. Well guess what? Those plans have now been officially shot to hell, in a handbasket. And the handbasket is on fire. With your wallet and passport inside. And maybe a couple of puppies. And a whole bunch of cash that could have been yours but is now on its way to hell. That would really suck, huh? And so does traffic. Because that's what you're stuck in. Get it? Bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-95 South just north of New Rochelle. Not even halfway home.

And you can't help but wonder, "Who's the asshole at the front of this logjam?" Because, logically, there has to be a point at which the traffic jam begins. And at that point, there has to be an asshole, or group of assholes, holding everything up for the helpless mass of humanity that is now stalled on the highway behind said asshole(s). Perhaps some jerk wasn't paying attention or was on his cellphone, and slammed into a tractor trailer, causing it to jack knife and burst into flames (it's a gasoline tanker), blocking 2 lanes of traffic with an intense wildfire and debris. Or maybe some douchebag was driving far above the legal speed limit, and lost control of his vehicle, swerving into the divider, bouncing back into the left lane, and crashing into a truck transporting hundreds of chickens. Bad for the chickens, but worse for the drivers who find themselves engulfed in a blizzard of feathers. Visibility would be terrible. What a mess.

A couple examples of what the douchebags at the front of that traffic jam may look like.

But worst of all, and one which demonstrates the very worst that our species has to offer, is the asshole who slows down to a crawl to gawk at something on the other side of the road. Thus causing the frustratingly irrational and imbecilic Gaper Block, or Rubbernecker. It's the most mystifying type of jam up because invariably, whatever it was that made those first few people slow down isn't all that interesting. I've seen gaper blocks caused by overheating cars, cars with flat tires, common roadkill - deer, raccoons (a rhinoceros or panda bear would be reason to slow down and ogle), or someone pulled over by the police. It's ridiculous. I hate it, because now I have to slow down too. And I'm not interested in whatever it is that everyone's pausing to look at. I just want to get home.

So what to do? I don't know, you tell me. Buy a helicopter? Take only backroads? Or just suck it up and spend 25% of my waking hours in the car. Right now, I work about 37.5 miles away from where I live. That drive should theoretically take 45 minutes. But last night, it took more than 2 hours to travel about 30 miles. Granted, there was severe flooding all around the greater New York City area, so at least I have an acceptable explanation for which asshole was at the front of last night's traffic jam - that asshole is named "Waist-deep Water." In any case, there've been plenty of other occasions on which I've been swamped in horrible, miserable traffic for no discernible reason of any sort. No accidents. No bad weather. Just too many people on the road at one time. That's what I get for daring to drive anywhere near the biggest city in the country. Shame on me.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

For The Love Of Soup

A while back, I wrote about my love affair with ramen. That super-salty, noodle-laden food of the gods. Not too hard to find a good bowl of authentic Japanese ramen in the big city. But outside of New York, let's say in Forksville, PA or Comanche, MT, you may not be so fortunate. However, you're not entirely out of luck if you don't live in the Big Apple, but still want a warm, mostly liquefied meal - perhaps with some pasta, vegetables, and/or pieces of meat. You see, there's this thing called "SOUP", and it's pretty damn mouthwatering too.

I've rarely met a soup I didn't like. Or at least didn't eat. There are a couple main reasons for this:

Number one, soup is the perfect vehicle for salt. And I love salt. You really have no way of comprehending how much salt can be added to soup until you try. It just keeps dissolving and dissolving. One handful, two handfuls. Maybe even three. Keep stirring. And add another handful. You'll be amazed to see it disappear into the broth. Recently, results of several medical studies have found that excessive sodium consumption may be harmful to many of your organs. I don't give a shit. There's no way I'm cutting salty soups out of my diet. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. But I do do soup. And until it's made illegal, I'm gonna keep eating it with gusto - the year 2024 is my best guess, under co-Presidents Arnold Schwarzenegger and David Beckham. But a lot of changes will need to take place between now and then for my prediction to come to fruition. Plenty of fodder for another post.

Future Co-Presidents Schwarzenegger and Beckham will look to outlaw bad hair, ass flab, and soup.

Reason #2, soup is so easy to eat. Physically. Think about it - soup creates almost no pressure on your jaw, teeth, or skull. You don't have to chew, and you barely have to invoke involuntary peristalsis. Gravity does most of the work to get soup into your stomach. So it's the perfect food for the aged, infirm, invalid, and boundlessly lazy. Most people fall into at least one of these groups.

Another great thing about soup is that you can make almost anything into soup. Or any combination of things into soup. It's the most versatile food in the world. So long as the soup is composed mainly of edible items, then you're good to go. It doesn't even have to be hot, or salty, or nourishing. You could make a cold soup out of table sugar, pulverized Froot Loops, and Mrs. Butterworth's, and it still has to be considered a member of the highly respected soup family. To paraphrase the dictionary, soup is simply:

"a added ingredients."

So according to God, or Moses, or whoever wrote the dictionary, soup is basically just any kind of liquid grub. And thou shalt honor it and eat it, and shalt not spilleth upon thyself, lest thou waste a precious drop of thine holy soup (Leviticus 36:25:34).

Cream of Froot Loops - An exquisite puree of sugary cereal, sugar, and syrup. Yes, it's technically soup.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Dear Fantasy Football Quarterback.....

This is the fourth letter I've been compelled to write to Drew Brees. Another lousy week, another letter to my quarterback. As in all aspects of my life, when you deal with me, and you don't meet my high expectations, you can expect a letter. And sometimes, it may even be stern in tone. Be forewarned. Do not end up like my fantasy football quarterback.

Dear Drew,

Sometimes, I think back to December 10th of last year. The fearsome Dallas Cowboys would be your enemies on that day. The breeze, a gentle westerly wind, yet just enough to make your hair flitter as you stood on the field during pre-game warm-ups. Perfect weather for a good 'ol ball game, you thought. Their defensive lineman are very big and strong, you also thought. Their defensive backs also look strong, but not as big as the lineman, you concluded. That's really all you had going through your mind. You were at ease on that day. "Cool Brees", I giggled, as you took the field.

384 passing yards, and 5 touchdown throws later, you were on top of the world. And my fantasy team was absolutely dominant for yet another week.

And occasionally, I still reminisce about November 5th 2006, against Tampa Bay. 314 yards, 3 touchdown passes, zero interceptions. Yet another flawless performance.

Drew, I don't want to live in the past any longer.

I think you're a nice person. Really I do. You appeared in an ESPN commercial recently where you try to drive a Mardi Gras float into a parking lot, but get stuck. It's funny. And cute. I've heard that you donate your time and money to charities in the New Orleans area, or something like that. And that's really great.....for people in New Orleans. What about the rest of us?

I just don't think I can do it anymore, Drew. Maybe we've grown apart since last season. I no longer feel the same excitement when I see the score of one of your games. I almost dread the chance to watch you play if the Saints happen to be on national TV, or you're playing against one of the local teams. It's horribly painful. A pain I can't bear. One I shouldn't have to bear. Who in the hell do you think you are? ONE lousy touchdown and NINE interceptions through five games this year? Are you kidding me? This is bullshit.

I'm sorry Drew. That wasn't me talking. That was my anger. I have to let it out. And you need to understand how you've made me feel this season. Yet another agonizingly poor performance this week. Two more interceptions. Zero more touchdowns. I need you to understand where I'm coming from. I need you to see what you've done to me:

I'm sad because of you, Drew Brees. That clock in the background is counting the end of this relationship.

I look pretty sad, right? Well it looks pretty bad on the inside as well. That's because you're killing me. Slowly. Having you on my team has been a disaster. Unrelenting. Unrelieved. Clear-cut. Intense. Unabridged. Unabated. Thorough. Complete. In case you hadn't guessed, I have the thesaurus lying open - tear-stained, cheez-whiz and ketchup obscuring a few synonyms - but opened to the word "unmitigated". Because that's the kind of disaster we've witnessed from you this season.

Dear Drew, I can't keep on with this kind of relationship. All I do is give and give. Start you week after rueful week. And what do I get in return? A shoe-full of dog crap. Or at least that's how it feels. And smells. My point is that this relationship really stinks right now. But you gave me so much last year, and it was such a wonderful surprise. I put my faith in your resurrection, and I drafted you so highly this year. All of which makes this breakup that much harder.

I still want to be able to call you - and bring you back to the starting lineup if you can manage to right your sinking submarine. And I'll keep you on the bench, so that you're never too far away. But I can't and I won't start you next week. Or the week after. Or the one after that. It's too much anguish. I don't think we'll ever go back to what we had before. In some small way, perhaps I blame myself. Maybe I pressured you too much. You weren't ready to take the next step, to Fantasy Football superstardom. And for that, I'm sorry.

Finally Drew, I want you to remember one thing: It's not you, it's me.

Your former fan,

With treasured memories of bygone seasons (2006),

I still remain for now,

Even though you've been officially benched,

Your fantasy football manager,

- The Mill


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Costco Wholesale Clubs - aka - Why I need a 55-Gallon Drum of Soy Sauce.

Costco's great. The greatest, really. I just get a happy feeling whenever I walk into the place. Not only do I save tons of money when I shop there, but it's a club. So not every schmuck off the street can shop at the store. If you're not an exclusive member, they will actually tell you "Your money's no good here," which is something I've always wanted to hear. Actually, Costco's line is more like, "We're sorry sir. Your money's no good here. You'll need to become a member and pay us fifty bucks. Then your money will be very, very good here."

What are some of my favorite items for which to redeem my cash at Costco? Well, the list is quite extensive. It's the kind of place that really instills wonder and awe, as you marvel at the genius of capitalism. So you give them a measly twenty-dollar bill, a thin slip of nappy green paper, and what do you get in return? They'll give you 12 toothbrushes, 10 liters of mouthwash, and 4 miles of dental floss. Enough to sterilize your mouth for 5 years.

Fifty dollars? What will that net you at Costco? A mere two Jacksons and two Lincolns. One Grant. Five Hamiltons. No matter how you slice and dice it, it still buys you a cordless Norelco beard trimmer, 36 Gillette Mach3 Turbo blades, and a 24-can Valu-Pak of Edge shave gel. You'll be completely shaved and smooth as a baby for the next decade.

Let's consider what one can purchase for $100 at this wholesale Shangri-la: 12 pounds of ham, 10 pounds of Alaskan king crab legs (previously frozen), a paper shredder, 14 bath towels, Season 3 of The Sopranos on DVD, 5 gallons of mayonnaise, 96 rolls of paper towels, 15 watermelons, 6 pairs of blue jeans, a gas-powered chainsaw, and a 14 karat gold tennis bracelet (encrusted with 25 genuine sapphire-cut diamelles). Not sure what I would do with all that stuff, but I have one word to describe these incredible deals: holycrap.

This picture of Ben Franklin is all you need to get a shopping cart full of crap at Costco.

Need 600 pairs of blue jeans? Of course you do. $34.99 at Costco.

So how does Costco turn a profit, while selling almost everything at ludicrously low, bargain-basement prices? The answer: they probably don't. Although the stock price has risen nicely over the last few years on reports of strong earnings, I bet they're cooking the books bigtime. You heard it here first. Costco is the next Enron. Get out while you still can. The Mill has a "Sell Yesterday" rating on this particular stock.

Another popular Costco promotion - Buy 20 pounds of king crab legs for $19.95..........

Get 3 Craftsman gas-powered chainsaws for free!

Now would be a good time to point out that I have no reason to believe that Costco is actually doing anything improper with their financial statements. Really, this accusation is all out of frustration. Frustration for not being able to comprehend the causality of these implausibly breathtaking bargains. How do they do it? Seriously. I'm not joking. Somebody explain it to me. I mean, picture frames are 5 for $5. Pillows are 3 for 10 bucks. Beef jerky - 2 pounds for $6. All amazing deals. All at one store.

Mr. Costco (if that is your real name) you are my hero.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

How Fast Am I, Really?

I enjoy a nice jog about town every now and again. And although I wouldn't really call myself a "Runner" or "Jogging enthusiast", for the past few months I've tried to make a habit of suiting up and hitting the asphalt somewhere between one and five times per week. The theory goes something like this - the more I run, the more beer I can drink and pasta I can eat without getting fat. It's true, after all: calories consumed minus calories burned = weight gained. So, the more calories you burn (by running, chopping wood, strong man competitions, etc.), the more you can eat. Get it? Another popular saying is, "Don't drink beer while you run. Wait until you're done." And, "Run a thousand miles. Drink a thousand beers. Live a thousand years." However you phrase it, it's all part of living a healthy lifestyle.

But perhaps more importantly than the healthfulness of it all, is the fact that I feel good about myself when going for a run. And even more importantly than that, is that I feel FAST when I run. Of course, by definition, running is faster than walking. So no surprise there. But I'm a rather brisk walker. Therefore you can only imagine how quick I am at a trot or full gallop. Once I lace up those Asics, hike up those shorts, and lock myself out of the apartment because I always forget to bring the right key, I'm ready to go! And it's ALWAYS a race when I'm out on the trail/sidewalk, except that no one else knows we're racing. That's the way I prefer it. Makes it much easier to win.

Some examples of how fast I think I am:

1) I once chased down a bunny rabbit at the New York Botanical Gardens, and almost grabbed him! Right Jaimi? You were witness to that incredible feat of speed and agility. Those little bunnies are wicked fast!

2) The other day, I was running along the East I actually caught up with and overtook two bikers, speeding past them with a slight pause and look over the shoulder, as if to say, "You've been officially dusted by the Mill. Congratulations...losers." It may be worth mentioning that one of the riders was a 4 year old girl with training wheels - she only bogged down her poor mother. It may have been a close contest had the mother not been figuratively tethered to her literally slow child.

3) I ran the 4 x 100m relay in 6th grade. One time while I was warming up for a race, sprinting back and forth across a patch of grass, someone nearby said, while pointing at me,"He's not very fast at all." This comment was clearly due to pure, distilled jealousy of my incredible speed.

4) A few years back, I was pulled over by the New Jersey State Police for traveling in excess of 90 mph in a 65 mph zone. The trooper approached me, and asked for my license and registration. Then he looked me dead in the eye and said "Do you know how cotton-pickin' fast you were goin'?", and then a few moments later (when he got to the line on the ticket where you have to fill in the license plate number), "Jesus, Mary and Joseph!! Where's your car, son?" That's right. I got a ticket for traveling at or above highway speeds....without a car.

This trooper had his radar gun aimed squarely at my back as I sprinted by. I didn't stand a chance. The ticket was 350 bucks :-(

So if you're out for a nice healthful jog and you catch a glimpse of me over your shoulder, bearing down on you, arms pumping furiously, face beet-red, legs all a-blur - do me a favor and slow down a bit. Let me run past you. I know I'm fast, but I really need the extra affirmation. Please help me out if you would. Besides, the cool breeze left in my wake will probably refresh you as I bolt by. So we both win, in a sense.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Poll Results - The Mill Has Five Moms

Here are the official results of my latest poll:

Why did you visit this site today?

"I am the Mill's mother. No other reason." - 5
"I suspect the Mill is watching. And I fear his wrath." - 4
"Mistakenly ended up here when a chihuahua walked across my keyboard." - 3
"I can barely read and enjoy the pretty pictures." - 3

Could these five be my moms?

My family always used to joke that they didn't know who the mother was when I was born. Unfortunately, it looks like this cruel joke has become an even crueler reality. According to my most recent poll results, five people chose the answer "I am the Mill's mom. No other reason." to the question "Why did you visit the site today?" Only one of those respondents was the woman who I've always believed to be my mom. Or at least the woman who lives with the man who I have presumed to be my dad for the past 31 years. Who are both, at the very least, reasonable facsimiles of the humanoid life forms who live together and who I've suspected of being my parents since I was a wee child. In any case the results are in: by force of sheer numbers, my mom(s) won the poll. Congratulations to all of you, whoever you are.

Are all of my moms somewhere in this picture? Along with my brothers?

I never expected that one of these lighthearted polls could turn my world upside down. Now I'm beginning to question everything. Does this mean that my brother isn't really my brother? Or that he is my brother, but so are 10 or 20 other guys? And does anyone really know who those guys' moms are? Maybe I was grown in a laboratory and hatched underwater, like a Sea Monkey. Mill Monkey, I could call myself. Perhaps all of the scientists and lab techs involved consider themselves my mom. Yeah, that sorta makes sense. It sure makes more sense than any other explanation I can think of right now. I just refuse to believe that my loyal readers would try to be funny and pretend to be my mom. That's just depraved. Shame on you for even considering it.

Would the Mill's five moms please stand up?

So that's what we'll go with. Henceforth, I shall proclaim on my resume, in interviews, and during casual conversation that I was hatched underwater from an egg, and that I have not one mother, but five - two of them are Indian, one is Hispanic, and my other two moms are Jewish men (typical makeup of any advanced genetics lab). The African-American woman was on vacation that week, so she's more of an aunt or godmother.