Things are going well in Spain. The people here have a good time. Hardly anyone speaks English. The beer is pretty good. Dunkin Donuts is called "Dunkin Coffee" for some reason - even though they still primarily sell donuts there. The Spanish word for donuts is "donuts" in case you were wondering. I hope to get to the bottom of this before we leave. At the very least, I will have worked out some kind of theory.
The dogs do not respond to my Spanish greetings or commands.....so far.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Things are going well in Spain. The people here have a good time. Hardly anyone speaks English. The beer is pretty good. Dunkin Donuts is called "Dunkin Coffee" for some reason - even though they still primarily sell donuts there. The Spanish word for donuts is "donuts" in case you were wondering. I hope to get to the bottom of this before we leave. At the very least, I will have worked out some kind of theory.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Jaimi and I are headed to Madrid tonight. We'll be there for a week's vacation.
Not sure what kind of internet connection I'll have - I think Spain, as a country, is connected to the rest of the global village by some sort of wires or cables. But I don't know if it will be as fast as my cable modem.
I have very little patience for slow internet connections, and so, if I'm getting consistently slow upload/download speeds, then you may not hear much from me until I return on May 3rd.
I may be asking some of you for help with setting my fantasy baseball roster.
In any case, we'll take plenty of photos of Spanish historical sites, and Spanish cultural landmarks, and Spanish people, and of course, Spanish dogs. I can't wait to talk to the dogs in Spanish.
"Hola perro! Te gustan huesos y carne? Si? Muy bien. Me gustan para masticar en los huesos, tambien." (Hi dog! Do you like bones and meat? Yes? Very good. I like to chew on bones also.)
It should be fun. Although my accent is quite poor, so the dogs may have trouble understanding me.
If I make it to a bullfight, you'll definitely get a detailed account - complete with relevant social commentary, and the imagined thoughts and feelings of the bulls. I'm bringing a bright red shirt just in case.
Hasta mas later chicos y chicas!! I will drink a cerveza in your honor!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
If nothing else, I'm an honorable gentleman.
I live by a code of pure gentlemanliness - an urbane credo of decorum. The Mill's Manifesto.
My word is my bond.
Go ahead, ask around. I doubt you'll hear anything to the contrary. As long as you only ask my Mom.
Besides, if you don't believe me, you can kiss my ass.
Anyway, a while back I held a contest - my first refer-a-friend drive - whereby I offered a free I Am The Mill t-shirt to anyone who got the most people to visit my site and leave a comment.
The results were spectacular........Spectacularly disappointing. The winner was able to get 3 people to visit.
But nevertheless, as with any contest, there was a winner. And that winner was promised a free t-shirt.
So, please allow me to unveil the November 2007 winner of The Mill's 1st Refer-A-Friend Drive. Mr Dennis Hui. The awards ceremony was held earlier today amidst a cheering throng of office cubicles:
The honorable Dennis Hui - former fashion model, and finest gentleman - sports the newest "I Am The Mill" design.
Semi-flammable, 25% cotton, 100% original.
If you're interested in getting your dirty little hands on one of these totally sweet shirts, let me know. I may be able to find one in your size.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Yesterday was Earth Day.....I think.
My estimate is that half the population didn't remember. Again.
Instead, we're too busy watching baseball, or the stock market, or Lindsay Lohan stumbling out of a nightclub.
It's a shame, really. Because the Earth is a pretty important thing - in my humble opinion. It's time to give the Earth some props. It's a pretty great place in a lot of ways.
I mean, we live here, we go to parties here, and we play with dogs here.
We can buy and drink beer here, eat bacon here, and watch "The Daily Show" here.
Where else can we do all of this stuff, and still be able to bet on a horse race down at the OTB?
The answer? Probably nowhere else. Earth is da bomb.
We've got water to swim in, mountains to climb, deserts through which to drive dune buggies, and abandoned warehouses in which to throw raves.
We can skateboard along our roads, or get Skip Barber to teach us how to race a Porsche down those same asphalt thoroughfares.
Can't do any of that shit on Mars, Jupiter or Venus. That's for sure.
So maybe, on this day-after-Earth-Day, we should all take a moment and give thanks to Mother Earth for letting us do pretty much whatever we want on her. And also for being such a totally sweet place to film another Jackie Chan movie. Or for having a strong enough gravitational field to keep all of our Xbox 360's from floating out into space. Otherwise, how could we play Grand Theft Auto 4 while smoking a cigar and eating a slice of cold pizza, in our underwear?
Once again, the answer? Nowhere else but Earth.
So TODAY, turn off that faucet while you're brushing your teeth. Keep your carbon dioxide emissions to a minimum. Refrain from releasing heavy metals (lead, cadmium, uranium, etc.) into the groundwater. And carpool or take mass transit to work. It's the least we can do to give back to our totally awesome home - The Earth.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Philadelphia is a real hotbed of Presidential Primary excitement right about now.
I should know. I just spent the weekend there.
The signs are out in force. “Vote Obama” here. “Clinton 2008” over there. I also saw a “Hillary For President” sign jammed into a huge pile of dirt on the side of the road. I’m not sure if that was due to a clever Obama operative making a subtle statement, or a confused but resourceful Clinton supporter.
No matter where you go around town, a political fever hovers in the air like a malarial cloud. Wave after wave of hard-ass Clinton attacks and weak-kneed Obama rebuttals waft across every cheesesteak-cooking grill in the city.
The smells of thinly-sliced sirloin, fried onions, Cheez Whiz, and hopes for universal healthcare are ubiquitous in these parts.
You could smell it, feel it, taste it. The difference was palpable.
Or maybe it was just a little humid, and there was a raging tire fire somewhere in South Philly.
In any case, it’s no surprise that the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary race hinges upon the voting preferences of the good people of Philly town.
For fair disclosure, I should let you know that I was born and raised in Philadelphia. I love the city, and even plan to move back there some day to buy a house and raise a family – or vice versa.
Rich in history - the first capital of the United States, and home of the Liberty Bell – it seems only fitting that Philadelphians should have such big influence on this all-important election. But even I feel a little uncomfortable about letting these folks decide who our next President will be. And like it or not, that’s essentially what April 22nd boils down to.
Keep in mind that this is the home of the notoriously unforgiving sports fans, who once booed Santa Claus during an Eagles game in 1968, and who, during a Phillies game 30 years later, threw batteries at an unassuming J.D. Drew.
My point is that, in Philadelphia, this type of behavior spans across generations. Hillary might do better with older Philadelphians – those who pelted Santa with snowballs during a football game. But Barack does well with the younger generation – who rained double-A’s down upon the head and shoulders of a mostly innocent outfielder.
Do either of these groups really know who’ll make a better nominee?
Do they know who has a better shot to beat McCain in the fall?
Should we wait and see for whom they vote, and then hope and pray that the other candidate wins the nomination?
Just kidding, fellow Philadelphians!! May your voices be heard on high!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Passover - the Jewish holiday which celebrates the Israelites' escape from Egyptian bondage.
It's a yearly celebration of the first degree - one of the most important times of the year for Jews, who often travel many, many miles along the New Jersey Turnpike to join their family and friends for the holiday.
For such a fantastic celebration, it seems like we should be able to have a beer with dinner.
Please God, gimme a break. I sat in traffic for 3 and a half hours this Saturday, trying to get to the Seder. And all I wanted when I arrived was a cold, yeasty, brew.
But alas, during Passover, Jews are forbidden from eating most grains, and anything with leavening. So no beer, whiskey, or Twinkies.
It's a way for us to give a little shout-out to Moses and the rest of the forefathers (and fore-bubbies) who didn't have time to let their bread rise, as they escaped from Pharaoh and his gang of meanies.
They suffered a lot back in the day, for years and years - at the hands of the Pharaoh, and then for 40 years in the desert. The least we can do is suffer a little bit by not eating bread or pasta for 8 days.
But still, back to the no-beer thing. It would seem to me that, after thousands of years of Passover celebrations, some inventive Jew would have come up with a way to make Kosher for Passover beer.
And whenever I need to quickly find an absolutely definitive answer to something I know little about, I checked Google. The search was simply, "Kosher for Passover beer," and I was not terribly surprised to find very few relevant results.
Apparently, a brewery in upstate New York called Ramapo Valley Brewery is the only damn brewery in the whole damn world that has even tried to make a beer for Passover. It's called the Passover Honey Lager. It doesn't sound very good, but I'd be more than happy to give it a try. It approximates real beer by using honey, molasses, and hops in the brew. No barley, wheat or other grains are used.
If anyone's actually tried this stuff please let me know.
Everyone knows the story of Moses parting the Red Sea. The plagues of locusts, vermin, and cattle disease. The smiting of the first born. The Nile transmogrifying into blood. And many other fun, wholesome, and hilarious stories of Passover.
Pharaoh was such a jerk for first enslaving my ancestors, then telling them they could go free, and then changing his mind at the last minute and chasing after them with his army.
I will never forgive him.
If only he had given the Israelites a little more time to let their bread rise, then I could be having a beer right now.
Friday, April 18, 2008
A federal judge recently upheld a New York City regulation which requires restaurant chains to show the caloric content of all their menu items - not just the low-fat choices.
It's a good thing for the people who are interested in watching their diet.
But I fear it may lead to some cardiovascularly dangerous games.
What about all of the hyper-competitive teens and college students in and around the city? Well, Mayor Bloomberg, you've just given them another perilous contest to focus their competitive energies on.
The High Calorie Challenge. In other words, who can eat the most calories at a single meal?
Previously, it would have been almost impossible to initiate such a competition. You'd have to have a mobile food science lab handy, complete with calorimeter and Bunsen burner, in order to measure the calories in your food.
But thanks to Bloomberg and his hubris, we're getting that info shoved down our throats. Don't tell me that a 2,000 calorie bacon-beef alfredo-smothered triple cheeseburger is bad for me!! I don't want to know that!!
I can see it now:
Two groups of young people walk into T.G.I. Friday's. They already know the menu by heart. In fact, that's one of the requirements of this challenge.
They square off, on opposite sides of the large booth in the corner - near the restrooms.
In the first round, one team orders appetizers, the other entrees. They switch during round two.
Team One brilliantly picks the jalapeno poppers - and asks for them to be fried twice. That's an extra 600 calories!
Team Two orders the Jack Daniel's Hungry Man Ribs 'n Cheese platter - 2 pounds of ribs, smothered in cheese sauce and deep fried in beer batter. They surprise their opponents by ordering a pint of ranch dressing on the side. Total calories? 12,500, including the dressing.
Team One counters with the Dom Deluise Crab, Cheese, and Corn Oil dip. It comes with homemade potato chips, and fried chicken wings for dipping. 2,200 calories per serving!!
But Team Two knows they have their opponents on the ropes. If they can consume enough calories during round one, they'll basically have it locked up. The death knell for Team One is upon us. They order the bacon-wrapped ribeye, with a side of fries and broccoli 'n cheese dipping sauce. 8,000 more calories.
Finally - as something of a backhanded bitch-slap to their bitter rivals - they ask that their napkins be deep-fried, along with the table cloth. These are eaten slowly, as they savor their victory.
The paramedics - who are present during every match, also according to city regulations - assist all of the competitors, with stomach pumps and defibrillators.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
(My weekly column from The Love Of Sports. It's not every day that the Pope comes to your town. Unless you live in The Vatican. And even there, it's not like it's very easy to get on the pontiff's schedule - even for a friendly game of bowling. I hear Benedict loves bowling. So now that he's in New York for a visit, I had to throw something out there on the topic.)
We all have our own special way of rooting for our favorite teams and players – fantasy or otherwise.
Sometimes, we find ourselves crossing our fingers when a beloved player is up to bat with runners in scoring position.
Other times, we cover our eyes and bite down on our hand during potentially pivotal plays - like I did during the 1993 World Series, whenever Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams was pitching. Depending on the importance of the particular play, blood may have been drawn.
With me, if you look closely, you can still see the bite marks.
We all want to believe that our cheers and our rituals will have some effect on the outcome of a game. And inevitably, we experience that occasion when we cheered real hard, and, lo and behold, our team won the game, or our guy hit a home run. So we keep doing it, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to a non-sports-fan observer.
- Hold your breath until the opposing team’s power play is over?
- Chug a 32-ounce beer every time your team scores a touchdown?
- Paint a big blue letter on your chest and stand outside in subzero temperatures, shirtless. During a blizzard.
- Sleep outside your favorite tennis player’s house for weeks on end, and not shave or shower until he/she wins a Grand Slam tournament.
Despite this seemingly irrational behavior, it all comes down to something called faith, no matter how you slice it.
And as illustrated above, each of us has our own brand of faith that we subscribe to when it comes to sports.
This begs the question - Does God/Jesus/Zeus/Buddha/Allah etc. really want our team to win more than anyone else’s?
And don’t you think the Yankees are taking it a step too far this year?
Pope Benedict’s visit to the Stadium – “The House That Ruth Built”, and I don’t mean the biblical Ruth - has been billed as just another leg of the pontiff’s journey through America – our first papal visit in almost 10 years.
The Steinbrenners arranged for the Pope’s entire trip in order to get him to bless their team – at their home stadium. After all, we know the Yankees are searching for something, anything that could help them return to the pinnacle of baseball – and dominate those damn, dirty Red Sox once again.
And although the Yanks couldn’t get Johan Santana, they did get Pope Benedict XVI. He might be the next best thing.
You might think that Pope Benedict is only good at blessing things, and spreading peace, love, and all that jazz. However, I’ve been told by senior Vatican officials that the current pontiff not only fires a fastball that lights up the radar gun at 99 mph, but he’s also got a knee-buckling overhand curve – which is a fantastic change of pace pitch.
He looks to be a solid number 2 or 3 starter – which is just what the Yankees need to get over the hump.
They’ve got the offense. They’ve got the defense. They just need some pitching help. And a little lift from the hand of God. With Pope Benedict, they get a bit of both.
Only time will tell if the Yankees radical strategy will work.
All I’ll say is – to all of you Red Sox fans out there – you should PRAY that it doesn’t.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I've always been happy with Amazon's service, and I particularly like their free Super-saver shipping promotion - which seems to be going on for a perpetually limited-time only.
But ever since I forgot to cancel my Amazon Prime subscription before the trial period was over, I've been forcing myself to order more stuff from Amazon in order to justify the cost.
In case you're not familiar with Amazon Prime, it's an extra service that gives you unlimited 2-day shipping for the year, for the low, low price of $79.00. Normally, the 2-day shipping costs an extra 5 bucks or so. Although I'm not really sure, as I had previously only used the free Super-saver shipping option.
I just never found myself in an emergency situation where I needed to order a Dustbuster, a cookbook, and a DVD all at the same time - and receive all of the items the next business day.
Anyway, what's done is done.
And yes, that's 79 bucks I wish I had back, but like I said, I'm trying to make the most of my mistake.
The first few items I ordered with my new Amazon Prime membership were books, and arrived within the estimated 2 business days after ordering. No problem.
I even ordered a few electronics items. Most notably, the ill-fated HD DVD player I bought for my Dad back in December - about 2 weeks before everyone agreed to stop making HD DVD's. The electronics items also arrived quickly and as scheduled, with no problems whatsoever.
More recently though, I've experienced almost supernatural service from Amazon.
Jaimi and I are going to Spain in a couple of weeks, and we really hadn't done any planning whatsoever. We're visiting a friend of hers who'll be able to show us around. But still, it makes sense for us to have some background info before we arrive.
So I ordered "Rick Steves Guide to Spain 2008."
I really think it shipped before I even placed the order.
As usual, I selected the 2-day shipping option, which is included at no extra charge (beyond the 79 bones I already dropped on my Prime membership). This was on Monday. In the evening.
I received the book on Tuesday.
I inspected the book and its packaging for any telltale re-entry burns or gamma ray damage - perhaps they shipped via space shuttle?
Everything appeared normal.
I looked for any signs of time travel - fossilized insects, woolly mammoth fibers, Charlie Chaplin's mustache hairs - but found nothing.
The only other possibility is that Amazon is spying on me. They knew I was going to order that book before I ordered it. They may have even known I'd order it before I knew I was going to order it.
This whole apartment is probably bugged.
If I had known that this intimate level of service was included with the Amazon Prime membership, I would have been sure to cancel before the end of the trial period.
Maybe it should be called Amazon KGB, or Amazon Patriot Act Edition.
I think I'll test it out with a refrigerator, or something equally massive and difficult to move. If it arrives in a day, then I know I'm being watched.
Don't make the same mistake. Cancel that free trial!!
Monday, April 14, 2008
Dumbo, my new neighborhood in Brooklyn, is nestled comfortably between two iconic New York City bridges. We have the Brooklyn Bridge to the south, and the Manhattan Bridge to the north. Dumbo lies essentially in between - offering its residents a very difficult choice.
I've yet to hear any bickering in the streets over which bridge is the best - but now that I live here, I'm going to try to change that.
Don't be surprised, if the next time you're in Dumbo you hear the following:
"Hey kid! Quit looking at that stupid, big, blue hulking monstrosity (Manhattan Bridge), and turn your attention towards a REAL bridge - the Brooklyn Bridge!! Go get a Kleenex, you snot-nosed punk!!"
"Listen lady, you better put that camera away and keep walking. What you're aiming at is old as dirt, and built by slave labor (Brooklyn Bridge). If you're gonna take a picture of a bridge, then turn your big ol' self around and snap a shot of that magnificent steel structure over there (Manhattan Bridge)."
I personally believe that I'm very lucky to live so close to not one, but two suspension bridges. They're both very cool-looking. And they both offer a reliable route to and from Manhattan
Because, we as Americans can't accept the possibility that two things could be equally good, how does one decide which bridge is best?
Here are some important criteria that I've identified.
- Accessibility and congestion
- Appearances in film and television
- Number of Workers who died during construction
- Number of chief architects who died during the construction, and number of chief architects' sons who went mad and became invalids during the construction.
Oldness - Brooklyn Bridge wins by 26 years. It first opened in 1883, at which point it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The Manhattan Bridge opened in 1909 - a relative teenager compared with the elderly Brooklyn Bridge. First point goes to the Brooklyn Bridge.
Beautifulness - I think there may be some debate on this point. But really, there shouldn't be. The Brooklyn Bridge is a timeless classic. The massiveness of its gothic stone towers give it an indestructible aura. If you don't think that it's much more aesthetically attractive than the Manhattan Bridge, then you are an asshole. Brooklyn Bridge is up 30-Love over the Manhattan Bridge.
Accessibility and Congestion - It obviously depends upon construction delays and time of day, but I'd say that in general, the Manhattan Bridge is less congested. The Manhattan Bridge has 7 total lanes open to traffic, while the Brooklyn Bridge has only 6. Additionally, the Manhattan Bridge can handle bus and truck traffic, which the Brooklyn Bridge cannot. This may be bad for congestion, but it's good if you're moving a big truck full of your old crap from an apartment in Manhattan to a new place in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Bridge 2, Manhattan Bridge 1.
Appearances in Film and Television - Both bridges have been filmed extensively. But I actually think the Manhattan Bridge has appeared more often. It's been featured in "King Kong", "Independence Day", "Live and Let Die", some stupid Steve Martin film, and "Armageddon" - among others. But the Brooklyn Bridge is the subject of Ken Burns documentary (cleverly called "Brooklyn Bridge") and is much more recognizable than the Manhattan Bridge. Let's call this one a wash. Still 2 to 1, Brooklyn Bridge is winning.
Number of Workers Who Died During Construction - No need for suspense. The Brooklyn Bridge wins this category by a landslide - similar to the panicked stampede that killed 12 more people soon after the bridge opened. 27 workers died during the construction, including the original designer, John Roebling - who died of tetanus after his foot was crushed in a ferry accident, pretty much before construction even began. As far as I can tell, nobody died during the Manhattan Bridge's construction. That's so lame. Come on Manhattan Bridge!! Can't you at least TRY to win this competition. Brooklyn Bridge is running away with the prize, 3 to 1.
Number of Chief Architects Who Died During the Construction, and Number of Chief Architects' Sons Who Went Mad and Became Invalids During the Construction - Brooklyn Bridge wins again. As mentioned above, the designer died early on. His son, Washington Roebling continued where his father left off, but soon descended into madness due to what must have been an awfully wicked case of the bends (decompression sickness). Brooklyn Bridge wins another one.
Ok, maybe this last one was a little unfair. I've been rooting for the Brooklyn Bridge all along. In my mind, it's not even close, and I've manipulated the score to reflect this.
Let me know what you think.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I wake up pretty much every day. You probably do too. There’s nothing surprising about that.
But this morning was different.
Whether from the remnants of last night’s dream, or simply sparked by an email I received from one of my college roommates last week, I woke up screaming. Don’t worry – I was only screaming on the inside. No need for a psychiatric intervention. Yet.
The reason for my shock was this sudden realization: I’ve been out of college for 10 years!
My 10-year college reunion is coming up this June. I can’t believe it. I’ve been not-so-subconsciously ignoring the emails and messages regarding this event.
I do believe that if I continue to ignore my 10th reunion, then it won’t happen, and I’ll live forever. No 10th reunion, and my body will believe that I’m still living somewhere in the misty region of memories between the 5th and 10th reunions. If my theory’s correct, then I should find myself stuck in some sort of space-time feedback loop.
Being stuck in a time loop might suck. But hopefully, it means I’ll be able to make some very lucrative sports bets.
In any case, I think the real reason for my fear/shock/dread of this 10th reunion is that I don’t have any really impressive accomplishments to brag about to my former classmates.
I’m not a doctor, business owner, or professional athlete. I haven’t cured cancer, made a million bucks, or appeared on a Wheaties box.
I haven’t traveled to sub-Saharan Africa to teach the poor how to farm, or how to drill a well – for oil, or clean drinking water.
I can’t compete with any of that.
Oh, I know it’s not really all that bad. I haven’t been sitting on my ass all that time.
In the past 10 years, I’ve gone to grad school, published a few papers, had a few jobs, met some nice ladies.
I’ve tasted many, many different beers, played with many, many different dogs, watched a few ball games, ate some great ramen, and met Corbin Bernsen.
I also met Terrell Owens, which is an awkward story for another day.
And then there’s this here blog. Say what you want, but it’s mine – all mine. 100% original material (except for most of the photos).
Some kids aspire to be a baseball player, or a doctor, or a business owner, or maybe even President of the United States.
Me? There was a time when I dreamed of playing ball, curing autoimmune diseases, decoding the human genome, and solving world hunger.
That was when I was four years old.
But by the time I was six or so, I knew there must be something else for me to pursue:
Yes, I’ve known that I’ve wanted to be a blogger since I was 6 years old.
Between the Muppets, Sesame Street, and G.I. Joe, I’d dream of a magical electronic medium by which one could express random thoughts around the globe at the speed of electrons flying through miles of copper cable.
This would allow me to pass along completely arbitrary tidbits of advice and knowledge across the nation and the world – except where those damn commie Soviets and their cronies would censor this new form of communication.
Also, I’d try to make the stuff somewhat funny.
Anyway, my point is that this longtime (26 years) blogging dream of mine has finally been fulfilled.
Maybe I’m not a hedge fund millionaire. And nobody calls me doctor – unless I pay them to do so.
But I have a blog, goddamn it. And I will spend every waking hour between now and my 10-year college reunion convincing myself that this is something to be proud of.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
(My weekly article from The Love Of Sports. It's tax time folks. And everyone's looking for deductions - including pro athletes.)
It’s baseball season. I should be solely focused on my fantasy team, and the National League East race. I should be looking forward to months of hot baseball action, as the boys of summer begin finding their grooves, and we’re able to separate the stars from the has-beens. The cream always rises to the top after a month or so.
It’s a great time of year and one of my favorite seasons in the sporting calendar – second only to the early fall, when the NFL is gearing up for their grueling and exciting 17 weeks of violent fun.
However, when I look at the calendar right now, there is one absolutely massive obstacle in the path to my personal enjoyment of, well, just about anything.
Tuesday April 15th.
I’m not talking about the Mets vs. Nationals game at Shea – although it promises to be a real barnburner.
No, I’m talking about the deadline to file your taxes.
Have you forgotten about it? If so, it’s pretty much time to start panicking. But I’m glad I reminded you.
Normally, I’m way ahead of the curve with this. I loves me some refund checks from the IRS.
Things are different this year, though.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m in a new tax bracket, or just don’t have as many deductions as I used to, but Uncle Sam will not be sending me much, if anything in the way of refunds this year. So there goes my motivation to gather my forms, fill out the worksheets, and fire up the TurboTax software.
And thus, here I am, with the April 15th deadline screaming towards me like a Dice-K gyroball, and my taxes have yet to be filed.
The pressure’s on. It’s the bottom of the ninth – and since there are still several days left before the 15th, I guess the proper analogy is that I only have one out. But I’m down by 7 runs, and I can’t find my 2007 W-2. Also, I’ve just received notice that my 2006 Form DTF-686-ATT (New York Reportable Disclosure Statement and Request For a Determination) is incomplete, and will need to be submitted again. I’m pretty sure I don’t know what the hell that is.
Anyway, all this anxiety-inducing tax talk got me to thinking – it must be nice to be a pro ball player and have someone do your taxes for you. Also, it must be nice because I bet the deductions you can take are rather extensive when you’re always on the road, and your body is essentially your business.
For example, here are a few baseball player tax deductions – at least as I’d imagine them:
- Manny Ramirez’s Maserati: Non-reimbursed transportation and commuting expenses. Whatever keeps Manny happy and showing up for work is a legitimate deduction, according to Red Sox accountants.
- A-Rod’s $1200 designer sunglasses: Legitimate business expense, as the glasses protect him from sun and paparazzi camera flashes, preserving his eyesight so as to strike out only when his at-bats actually matter.
- Prince Fielder’s aerobics class membership: The Brewers and the IRS understand that if Prince isn’t careful, his body could soon resemble that of his father’s. In other words, a cross between Jabba the Hut and a Butterball frozen turkey.
- Derek Jeter’s scented hair crème and almond butter body lotion: Jeter’s business is as much about slick fielding and solid hitting as it is looking oh-so-fine for the ladies. It’s almost a no-brainer that the IRS would allow for this deduction. They’re probably in love with him as well. I just wish they'd admit it.
Best of luck to you as you race against the IRS clock, and try to get your act together by the 15th. May your deductions be as plentiful as your frustrations and anxiety.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
(Warning: What follows is a highly sophisticated and erudite analysis of the Chinese government's human rights abuse and the geopolitical consequences as witnessed by recent demurrals against passage of the Olympic Torch through non-Chinese territories. Also, David Archuleta is AWESOME!!!!!)
Hey hippie protesters, what did the Olympic Torch ever do to you? Let that flame be!!
This beautiful flame represents physical fitness, obscure and unusual sports, and historically declining television ratings. It has nothing to do with the oppression, injustice, violence and human rights abuses of the Chinese government.
If you want to do some protesting about all that stuff, go to China!! Don't clog up our streets and try to tackle the guy or girl in the tracksuit holding the torch.
Actually, to be entirely accurate, the Olympic flame represents Prometheus's theft of fire from Zeus - thus delivering the gift of fire to the human race. He was punished by being chained to a rock, and having his liver or brain eaten by birds or dogs on a daily basis - or something like that. I'm sure you're familiar with the tale.
Ridiculous story? Yes. But it shows how prescient Zeus was. He knew that we would eventually turn that gift of fire into an absolute shit storm - resulting in burned out warehouses, acres of scorched forests, that awful smell of burnt hair, and the McRib sandwich.
True story? Perhaps. The liver (or brain) does regenerate to a certain extent. And birds (or dogs) absolutely LOVE liver (or brain). In any case, I'll be waiting for Mythbusters to bust this one before completely dismissing it.
I realize that most of these protests aren't really about the Olympic flame - the Chinese government can be real assholes to their own people, and that makes many hippies mad.
But it also makes me mad. I hate assholes who put innocent people in dungeons and/or run them over with tanks. It's just not cool.
But don't blame the flame.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Don't laugh. This guy's for real.
I just wanted to show you a picture of the world's tiniest weight lifter (little guy on the left).
His name's Aditya "Romeo" Dev. He stands 2 feet 9 inches tall, and weighs a little less than 20 pounds.
And sometimes, when I look out at the big, wide world, or gaze across the street at my neighbor's absolutely massive flat-screen TV, I feel a bit like him - very, very small. Or at least, that's what I imagine he must feel like.
The similarities don't end there.
Both Romeo and myself can lift in excess of 5 pounds, and we're rather proud of our physiques. Additionally, as you can see from the photo, Romeo is incredibly well-proportioned for a man of his unusually small size. Likewise, my torso forms a perfect golden rectangle. And my head is a nearly flawless oval - smooth and gently curved - as if it's spent a good amount of time in a gem tumbler.
I can't say for sure that it hasn't.
Sometimes, you know, it does feel like my head's been put through a spin cycle, so to speak. And the big city is just an overwhelming maze of cement and glass. And trash and Starbucks. I wonder if I really belong here. Can I make it in this concrete jungle?
But then I take a page out of Romeo Dev's miniaturized notebook. He's the smallest guy in the gym. Always. Anywhere he goes. That's guaranteed. And what's also guaranteed is the reactions he'll get when he walks into that gym.
Shock, surprise, ridicule. I'm sure he's seen it all. But he keeps working out and keeps pumping tiny iron, blocking out the stares and whispers all around him.
And you know what? He's proud to be the littlest guy. He strives to be known as the strongest toy-like, fully-grown human in the world. And he may have already achieved his goal. But that's ultimately up to the good folks over at the Guinness Book Of World Records.
I wish I could say I was the best at something, for someone of my size. I'm certainly not nearly the strongest, or the smartest, or the fastest 6-feet tall, 180 pound guy in the world (of all 2 billion or so of us out there). But I'm also not the weakest or the dumbest - if you'll allow me to toot my own horn for a moment.
I'm ok with that. I am who I am. And Lil' Romeo is ok with it too.
Monday, April 07, 2008
I can’t help but write about my new neighborhood. It’s so much different from my old neighborhood. My recent move from the East Village to Brooklyn has really opened my eyes.
Here are just a few quick observations. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more as I continue to explore my new environs.
My new neighborhood, DUMBO – which stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” - is an old warehouse/industrial district located between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges just across the East River from Manhattan.
So basically, the acronym “D.U.M.B.O.” is pure bullshit.
That being said, overall I really like my new ‘hood. But there are some other things about the area that are totally bullshit:
1) Only one Starbucks within walking distance.
2) Crappy cobblestone streets. Quaint, yes. But driving around here totally kicks the shit out of my poor little Mazda. Think of it as driving through Beirut, circa 1987.
3) Brooklyn-Queens Expressway within spitting distance of my apartment. This is both a blessing and a curse. A constant stream of diesel exhaust flows through my living quarters, and the sounds of traffic never seem to stop. Why, just the other night I had a dream that I was debating Abraham Lincoln – in the middle of the highway during rush hour. The upside is that we can easily get to Brooklyn AND Queens via this highway. Its moniker (unlike DUMBO’s) is truly accurate.
4) A fully equipped camera crew was filming a Capital One commercial on my block this weekend, starring a Kenyan marathon runner. That’s not the really the bullshit part. I have nothing against Kenyans or marathon runners. Rather, I was really annoyed that the crew wouldn’t let me leave my building until the cameras stopped rolling. I’m not good enough to be an extra? I could totally blend in with the crowd. I was wearing a blue sweater, gray hat, running shoes, and a wristwatch. Also, I had on exactly zero pants.
5) The local market, “Peas ‘n Pickles,” has a lousy pickle selection. The pea selection is pretty solid, but again, the name is somewhat misleading. On the upside, the beer selection is great. Should be called “Peas ‘n Beer” or just “Beer.”
6) Neighborhood furniture store to human ratio = 3 to 1. All we need now is a Pottery Barn, and we’ll have completed the set.
Lest you think I’m complaining too much, here’s something about the neighborhood that’s totally awesome: WEEKLY STEVE BUSCEMI SIGHTINGS. My last one was in “Peas ‘n Pickles.” He was buying a pack of gum. He didn’t look like he wanted to talk to me.
I’ll let you know how the next encounter goes.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
A move out of Manhattan brings with it a wealth of new conveniences.
- Parking spaces
- Less than a 45 minute wait for brunch
- Actual, honest-to-goodness, no joking around supermarkets
For now, I’d like to focus on the last item from the list above.
Anyone who’s ever lived in Manhattan knows that the two most prevalent supermarket chains – Gristedes and D’Agostino’s – totally suck shit, big time.
They’re usually grimy, dimly lit, overpriced, overcrowded, and understaffed. Generally, when you visit one of these stores, you can count on a less than pleasant shopping experience.
Dry goods aisle at D'Agostino's - are these guys even trying to run a decent supermarket?
As I’ve mentioned previously, Jaimi and I recently moved out to Brooklyn. We’ve been busy unpacking and I’m proud to say we’ve definitely unpacked at least 10% of our belongings. Not bad for a week’s worth of work.
And with this Saturday’s deliverance from a week-long lack of cable and internet, a great amount of stress and anxiety was washed away. I was able to concentrate on moving my life forward. We finally had some time to explore the neighborhood, clean the apartment, unpack, etc.
But instead of all that, we headed to Fairway.
For those of you outside of the New York Metro area, you may be unfamiliar with this supermarket chain. There are only 4 locations.
It’s also likely that if you live outside of New York, then you haven’t had to endure the shitty-ass supermarkets we have here. I’m a little concerned that my point of view has been permanently tainted by the trauma I’ve experienced at Gristedes and D’Agostino’s.
So maybe Fairway wouldn’t be all that impressive to you.
But then I think about the friendly employees – every register was open!! I saw zero employees smoking on the loading dock!! And I remind myself of the large selection of prepared foods, and a huge fresh produce department. They had seven different types of tropical melons, for God’s sake!!
So upon further reflection, I’d be willing to bet Fairway matches up pretty well with anything you’re used to.
Whether you frequent the local Albertson’s, Safeway, Piggly Wiggly, or Stop ‘n Shop, you’re not likely to find a better selection of olives.
If you typically go to Acme, Super Fresh, or Kroger, I don’t think you could find a wider array of imported cheeses.
Publix? Shaw’s? You’re not gonna find a better selection of freshly roasted whole bean coffees.
Jaimi spent her time perusing the produce selection, and visiting the seafood department. I think she also got some cereal and some ground turkey with which to make her famous turkey meatloaf.
I picked up some cheese, salami, beer, and coffee. In other words, I covered all of The Mill’s four food groups:
2) Cured Meats
Fairway is awesome for all of my four groups. I believe they also have eggs, milk, bread, granulated sugar, and apples and other popular food items– but I can’t be entirely sure. It's best to call the store before you go.
But without a doubt, if you’re in the market for bacon, beer, and/or brie, then I can safely say that Fairway is your place.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
I'm up and running.
Cooking with grease.
Downloading at many, many megabits per second.
Yes, the cable guy arrived this morning and hooked my shit all up.
And to add excellence to this ecstasy, he arrived at the very beginning of the 4 hour scheduled window. He was supposed to be here somewhere between 10 am and 2 pm.
Normally, I'd just assume that he'd get here at 1:55. But for perhaps the first time in human history, the cable guy arrived at the very beginning of that alloted time window. In fact, he was even a few minutes early.
I almost kissed him.
I guess I'm glad I didn't, as I'm not so sure how that would have gone over. But with my internet fired up and humming along ever so nicely, I don't think I would have even felt the sharp pain of his fist against my jaw.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
(An article for The Love Of Sports, in which I complain yet again about my current lack of internet. I guess it's really getting to me. I don't know. You won't have to listen to me whine about it after this though - I promise.)
The fantasy baseball season is officially rocking and rolling.
What a terrible time to be moving into a new apartment.
You may be asking - What on God’s green earth does that have to do with sports?
The answer? Plenty. More than you could ever possibly imagine.
You see, I’m currently living a full-fledged fantasy baseball (and to a lesser extent, fantasy basketball) nightmare.
Now you’re probably wondering:
- Was my team devastated by injuries during Spring training?
- Did I mistakenly draft the wrong Ryan Braun in the first round (scrub pitcher for the Royals, instead of stud third baseman for the Brewers)?
- Am I upset with my team name and the league commissioner won’t allow me to change it?
No, almost, and maybe - although I’m not going to make a big stink about the team name thing.
Anyway, the abomination to end all abominations is the fact that my new apartment, as of right now, DOES NOT HAVE AN INTERNET CONNECTION.
The cable guy will be mounting a rescue mission on Saturday to hook us up, so relief is in sight. But until then, I must endure the horror, and the painful cramps of withdrawal.
The first thing that comes to mind as I reflect upon my current state of disconnectedness is the familiar saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”
To take it a step further – and to borrow some lyrics from the “
Living without you is all a big mistake.
Instead of getting easier, it’s the hardest thing to take.
I’m addicted to you (internet), you’re a hard habit to break.
And to quote
In other words, I can still access the mobile internet on my cell phone, but it just ain’t the same as a high-speed cable connection.
And so, I sit huddled in the corner of my new living room, buttocks firmly planted on the freshly waxed floor (we don’t have any chairs yet), surrounded by so many unpacked boxes, endlessly mumbling the refrain to my own song of internet mourning:
The internet’s been my best friend for years.
Now I realize it, and it’s bringin’ me to tears.
This sorrow that I’m feelin’ is not just about baseball.
It’s NBA, it’s college hoops, it’s Skype long distance phone calls.
Yes internet I miss you.
Sweet internet I need you.
When you’re not here I won’t eat, I won’t speak.
And without you, recently injured Victor Martinez will stay on my roster all week.
The melody is basically three repeating power chords on the electric keyboard, with a slow electronica beat.
In any case, as an avid fantasy sports fan I’ve come to really appreciate the power of the internet. It’s hard not to take it for granted. And it’s become the lifeblood of any sports fan, fantasy or otherwise.
Let’s face it, nobody reads the newspaper anymore for sports scores and injury updates. ESPN is good, but who wants to sit through 20 minutes of golf, soccer, and tennis highlights, when all you want is the damn baseball box scores.
The internet is there 24/7, for all your sporting needs. It never gets tired, although it occasionally refuses your query or can’t find the page you’re looking for. But it always apologizes in such instances.
So yes, the internet is a dear, dear friend of mine. And I miss it something awful.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Jaimi and I moved into our new place in Brooklyn yesterday. So far so good - except for the intense, incredibly realistic, never-ending nightmare part of it.
You see, I’ve got very limited internet access these days. It won’t be turned on until Saturday. And the wireless networks in the building are all secure, so no poaching.
Just trying to get by. Taking things day by day, you know?
Sometimes, I think to myself, things aren’t so bad. I could be a lot worse off. I mean, my iPhone works. So I can view sports scores and check my Gmail, even if it is over AT&T’s less than high-speed EDGE network.
But then I remind myself of how my regular internet doesn’t work. And how I have to go to Starbucks to send email, or write a blog post, or bid on some used furniture on eBay – for my nearly empty, new apartment.
And I feel sorry for myself. So sorry.
Poor, poor Mill. As isolated as a wildflower in the desert – in a cyberspace kind of way.
I wonder what’s being posted at Boing Boing right now. What did Perez Hilton have to say today?
What’s the latest he-said, she-said to rock the Obama-Clinton battle? Only the internet can tell me.
I’m sure you can see how difficult my life is right now.
But as I said before, things could be worse. I could be in the hospital (get well soon Mario!). I could be faced with foreclosure on my home, if I owned one. I could be locked out of my new apartment. My girlfriend could have left me - although her name’s on the lease so I’m not sure where she’d go.
It’s time to put things in perspective. After all, it’s not like I’m on trial for a crime I didn’t commit, and it’s not as if my internet doesn’t work.
Oh shit. My internet DOESN’T work. That’s why I’m sitting in this cold, barren Starbucks.
It’s so creepy in here. The place just reeks of extra-bold, fresh coffee, and delicious muffins. There are yuppies everywhere. I think I just paid 4 dollars for a hot chocolate.
Also, I swear I just saw the ghost of a dead Bichon Frise in a tiny Polo sweater chewing on a croissant. Oh wait, that’s a living Bichon in a Polo sweater chewing on a low-fat blueberry scone. My mistake.
Time-Warner Cable, take me away from this waking nightmare with your high-speed internet service!!! Take me home on a 400 foot length of coaxial cable (that’s about how far the new apartment is from Starbucks – we’re in New York City, after all).
And so, I’ll struggle to write for the rest of this week. And God willing, through sheer force of iron will and strength of character, I’ll make it to Saturday, when a cable company representative will appear at my door and make it all better.
Pray for me.
I know I’ll be praying for myself. After all, I don’t have much else to do without cable or internet.