Friday, May 30, 2008

In Memorium

Harvey Korman just passed away. He was 81. Anytime I think of him I always think about that classic dentist skit he did with Tim Conway of the Carol Burnett Show.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another Paul McCartney Punchline?

My Dream Town.

I visited my favorite town in New Jersey yesterday. It's Lambertville and it's on the Delaware River right across from New Hope, PA.

I wasn't planning to come here but my original plans had changed a little bit.

Let me explain.

My mother recently had a fall and hurt her eye. She had a doctor look at it and she has been going to Philadelphia for some doctor visits. My father had asked me to come down to Philly to drive her back to their house in case the doctor's visit went too long. He had an obligation to fulfill later in the day and needed me just in case he had to leave before my mother was done wiuth the doctor.

So I went to Philly and met up with my Dad. We hung out for a while while my Mom was at the doctor's. Well, My Mom got done early so I really wasn't needed. I had lunch with them at a diner and we went our separate ways.

So I figured what to do? Since I drove all the way out to the western part of New Jersey I decided to take advantage of that and visit my dream town of Lambertville, NJ. I went north on Rt. 206 from Rt. 70. The ride itself was eye-opening. I forget how pretty and authentic New Jersey is when you get away from the coast. Lots of farmland and rolling fields and the drive up the banks of the Delaware is quite scenic. Anyway, about 15 miles north of Trenton off Rt. 29 is Lambertville, New Jersey. A town with a canal!
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Lambertville is known for its antiques and historic houses. It's surrounded by tree-lined hills and it doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to picture the town in its canal heyday. The last time I was there, I spent more time in New Hope, PA at the suggestion of my companion. New Hope is okay but it pales to Lambertville. One reason is that Lambertville has the better brewery.
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Riverhorse is easily one of my favorite beers of all time. I first tried it shortly after I moved back to New Jersey. It was at a great liquor store in the town of High Bridge where my brother lives. Being the curious monkey I was, I thought a trip to the brewery was a good idea for a day trip. This time I was able to explore without the interference of someone who's not as bold at exploring.

I got there shortly after 4 in the afternoon. I had about 45 minutes to sample their wares. They give you 4 4oz. samples of their various brews for a DOLLAR! That's 16 ounces of beer for a dollar. So of course I had two sets of samples for two dollars and with a dollar tip I had two sets of excellent brew for less than what one glass of typical beer costs in a bar. I enjoyed my conversation with the server, we talked about the various towns of New Jersey which seems to be what I like to talk about these days.

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Anyway, when I got done I went to the offices of Modernism magazine. I've become a huge fan of Modernist architecture and I wanted to visit the place that puts out the best magazine on the subject. Yes, I understood the irony of a magazine called Modernism being located in a historic town of centurys old buildings. I walked along the canal and wistfully wished that I had lived there. Under my current job I would be able to afford a house there but it's too far from where I work, oh well. Maybe I'll retire there. I talked to a cute woman as I walked across the bridge to New Hope. A friendlier face I haven't seen in years.

Yes, I would like to live there.


Summer Karaoke

So, it's unofficially summer here on the shore. That means Jack's no longer will have the college kids and instead will be invaded by the so-called "Bennies" or "Bennys".

Anyway, since summer isn't here really yet, Jack's was uncrowed which means I get to sing more or leave earlier.

I sang three times. The first was yet another Monkees song. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" is a favorite of mine written by Carole King and her then husband, Gerry Goffin. It's based on a street in West Orange, New Jersey. I've got to pay a visit there in my search for a new apartment after work and see if it deserves the venom of its lyrics.

The clip with the Monkees is from the TV show. I loved the performance miming in the "Rainbow" room. It's straight ahead performance and yet you get the essence of each of the guy's personality. It's too bad the clip is too dark.


I wanted to try a new song for my second selection. New to me, that is. "Alison" by Elvis Costello was one of his first hits. I had crushes and almost relationships with at least two girls named Alison. I was reminded of one of them when my friend Sean showed old photos from our SVA days. As angry I was in how I was denied the opportunity to actually date them, looking at the old picture of the one Alison and remembering the other one when I saw her ten years ago, I wondered what I saw in either of them. I would not be attracted to either of them these days, even if they looked the same as they did in the past.

The anger in the Elvis Costello song captures my feelings about the past even though the my relationships with both Alisons were not near the same. The clip is from Elvis Costello's first TV appearance. The footage is bad, I guess that's the theme for the week.

Elvis Costello 1st TV Appearance

Finally, the last song I sang was "Ballroom Blitz". I sang the song a lot in Seattle, this was the first time I sang it in New Jersey. I didn't do so well. It was okay but nearly as killer as I have done it in the past. Maybe it's the shaved head. The footage is one I've shown on my blog before.

The Sweet - Ballroom Blitz

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Good New Beer

I bought some beer today I have never had. It's called Kona Longboard Lager. It's brewed in Hawaii. I enjoyed the flavor, it went down smooth. I recommend it.

Mein Gott! Neu Cartoon!

Odd Coincidences

So, I was in the city last week visiting my friends who work there. I met two of them at lunch and my buddy Delfin after he was done at work. We met up at Foley's on 33rd street. Shortly after we started getting into our conversation a woman whom Delfin worked with before walked in. Now Del is one of those guys who somehow has many friendships with women. Nice women that are usually good looking. This one was no exception.

We asked her to sit down while she waits for her friend, another former coworker of Del's. This friend walks in about ten minutes later and after exchanging pleasantries, Del and the first woman got into a specific conversation that allowed me to get to know the second woman. (Apparently names wasn't something I got to know because I forgot both of their names) Since she was attractive and I was having a good day I was friendlier than usual. I told her I was celebrating the fact I got full time work at TSA and that I finally quit my other job at UPS.

She said "Really? You worked at UPS? My boyfriend works at UPS! Where did you work?"

Leaving the fact that I was disappointed at the fact she had a boyfriend I decided to pursue the conversation.

"I worked at Tinton Falls."

"Omigod! That's where my boyfriend works! Do you know Reno?"

"Yeah I know Reno, he's my boss!"

So, we were able to engage in conversation until Del and the other woman were done and a pleasant time was had for all.

The thing is, I have been looking for some kind of coincidence like this fro a long time. A person who knew someone I've known in my past. I just wished it didn't involve a job I really hated that I just quit the week before.

Fox News Does It Again

So I'm watching Fox and Friends because I woke up early unable to sleep over concern for my mom's health.

Anyway, they were taking Senator Tom Harkin's quote about John McCain being "too military" out of context. I had no problem with that. I expect that from Fox News, my problem was their defense of John McCain.

Their defense was a list of previous presidents who had military experience who were president. Now the list included the usual suspects, none of whom were steeped in the military culture as much as McCain. However, I noticed they had included Ronald Reagan on that list. Reagan, whose main contribution to the military was to make propaganda films stateside during World War II. That was bad enough, but Fox News gets a hard on about Reagan so that also is to be expected. However, the list omitted Jimmy Carter from the list. This was a man who graduated the Naval Academy and served for nearly a decade during the Korean War.

I know that Fox News hates Jimmy Carter mainly because he actually is a former president that still contributes to society.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Two Songs

I went to Jack's to do my usual routine of singing karaoke but was overwhelmed by the huge crowd there. It was a celebration of the graduation of Monmouth University students. I got to sing only twice, the noise was too loud and the students were more into the DJ cuts from Karaoke Steve.

The first song I sang was the Elvis song "Burning Love. " I rarely sing Elvis songs. I respect the man and my voice is close to his but I only really like singing a few of his songs. My favorite is "Burning Love" this was one of his last hit songs in his lifetime. It was recorded in 1972 and the footage I included is from his great Hawaii special from 1973.


Karaoke Steve updated his catalogue, which includes some of Monkees songs that are a little bit obscure. One of my favorite songs is "What Am I Doin' Hanging Round", a song with Mike Nesmith on lead vocals. This was my first opportunity to sing a Nesmith song. No one knew it but I liked it, so who cares. The footage is from the show in its second season. This is the type of footage that made me want to be a rock star. Even though they are miming, it looks like a legitimate performance. Mickey as usual clowns around, always fun to watch.


My Camera Don't Work

I just shaved my head. I got tired of what my hair looked like. It looked good when I had time to prepare it, but at 3 in the morning, my hair looked like crap when I would go to my job at TSA.

Anyway, I wanted to take a picture but my camera conked out. No power it says, I put batteries in it, still no power it says.

My camera sucks.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Will Elder

Another comics legend died. Will Elder who was best known as the collaborator with Harvey Kurtzman on Playboy's Little Annie Fanny and the early comic book version of MAD passed away at the age of 86.

Will Elder was a highly skilled draftsman known for filling empty spaces in comic panels with sight gags. His skills at imitating other cartoonist's styles was a valuable asset for satiric impact.

I was fortunate enough to have met him when he spoke to my SVA class taught by Harvey Kurtzman back in the late 80's. Nice guy of course with a very anarchist sense of humor that inspired the likes of underground cartoonists like Robert Crumb.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Friends Blogs

I just wanted to let my readers know about two of my friend's blogs.

My friend Miggy's blog is focused on an animation project he has been working for several years called "Tickle Me Silly".

He has some clips and behind the scenes information. It's worth checking out!

My friend Sean's website
is a family project that will have some of his most awesome caricatures.

This gives our PIC gang a lot of blogs to chose from. All will be a good read and a good use of your time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More Songs

I guess I wasn't in the mood to do Karaoke last night. I had spent my first free day in awhile biking my way through Sandy Hook. It was my first long bike ride of the year and it wore me out. My ass hurt and my legs were weakened.

Not many people were Jack's so it gave the opportunity to sing more than three times, but I only wanted to drink two beers, so I just stuck with the three.

Now, I only write this on my blog for two reasons. It's my weekly night of fun, you know like a poker night or dance practice. Second, to show vintage videos.

Here we go. Karaoke Steve updated his books which gave me the opportunity to sing new songs.

The first song I sang was Alice in Chains "Would?" Although I sang this song a few times in Seattle, this was an opportunity to sing it here. It went fine until the words disappeared from the screen. This is disastrous for the Scanman. Scanman never remembers words. Still, my voice was strong.

Here's classic grunge.

The second song I did was one of my favorite Monkees song. I was a huge fan of the show when I was a kid. My favorite member was Micky Dolenz, who I think was by far the best singer of the group. He wrote a song called "Randy Scouse Git" that was a highlight of the second season of the Monkees. I was thrilled it was available, not thrilled at how I did it. I usually nail songs the first time out and rarely get much better with practice. This time I might need the practice.
Here's the fun clip.


So I wasn't happy with the last song so I decided to be safe and do a song I've done many a time. That's "Kid Charlemagne" by the great Steely Dan. They recorded the song after they stopped touring and making television appearances. So the footage I have is from their late 90's reunion. Still a great song, that I think I do well except for the second "Gas In The Car" line.
Oh well.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Best Invention Ever!

I just got a device I've been wishing for the last ten years!

What is it?

A Mangroomer!

A Mangroomer is a back shaver. This is device I'm sad to say I've needed for over a decade. I hate having back hair, and lord knows many women find it a turn off. I could never ask any of my past girlfriends to shave my back because it's just too much to ask of a woman. In the recent past I have used Nair for men on my back. I had to be clever and use a back scratching device to spread it on. Although it worked it was unpleasant and unreliable in its method. The Mangroomer allows you to see instant results, doesn't smell bad, AND you can do it when no one sees you and as far as anyone knows, you have a hairless back!

Now, I like my body hair. It's a sign of virility in my opinion, but back hair reveals simian roots. It's not macho, it's monkey. So yes, I recommend the Mangroomer. Use it in your empty bathtub so the hair stays contained, take a shower and go to the beach to revel in your hairless back glory.

Waxing? Come on, You think I'm a Metrosexual?

The only drawback is that it's a nonchargeable battery device.

Anyway, buy it, enjoy it, let me know if you like it!

Ssssshhh, I won't tell!

The Death Of The Most Irrelevant Drummer Since Pete Best.

John Rutsey just died at the age of 55. Who's John Rutsey, no one asks? He was the original drummer of the Canadian ProgRock band, Rush. He was an original member of Rush, he even preceded Lead singer Geddy Lee joining the band.

He played in the band until after Rush released their first eponymously named debut album. He quit due to his health and was replaced by the great Neil Peart. Since Neil Peart is considered one of the best drummers of all time and is Rush's main lyricist this put John Rutsey as one of the most forgotten rock and roll figures.

It doesn't take a devote Rush fan to tell the stark difference in sound from Rush's first album and any album that followed. The first album sounds like derivative Zeppelin while the others sound more uniquely Rush.

Rest In Peace.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Iron Man Does Karaoke, I Mean I Sang Iron Man

I am in my last week working at UPS. This means that starting next week I don't have to go straight to Jack's from work. I can leave right from my place.

One problem I have when I go to Jack's sometimes is that sometime during the week I always have the perfect song to sing but when I enter Jack's I didn't really know what to sing, or did I?

There's been one song that has been constantly in my head the last two weeks. It's an old song, from 1970. It's a well known song written by a man who's best known for being a patriarch on a popular reality show. Snibbits of the song has been in circulation recently promoting a smash hit movie.

Of course the song is "Iron Man" It's featured in the movie of the same name, and that would be "Iron Man". First of all, I loved the movie, probably the best adaptation of any Marvel comic. I don't read Marvel comics anymore, as a matter of fact I don't buy any comics these days. I still however enjoy reading old Marvel comic collections including the Iron Man comics of the late 70's and early 80's during the David Micheline, Bob Layton era.

Even though I don't read them now, I have been excited about any movie that comes out featuring characters from Marvel since the first X-Men movie. Unlike many people I talked to, I wasn't thrilled with the casting of Robert Downey Jr. I felt that he wasn't smooth enough. However, he does have the ability to convey the potential alcoholism of Tony Stark. Anyway, part of why the new super hero movies are getting good these days is the advancement of CGI's ability to make the fantastic seem real. Since Iron Man's costume is metallic, the potential flaws of CGI is not evident. My favorite parts involved Tony Stark testing his armor.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed Gwyneth Paltrow's performance. She plays a character Pepper Potts, who wasn't really in Iron Man in the 70's and 80's when I read it. I liked the way she bantered with Robert Downey Jr. and I liked fact that although she wasn't "Little Miss Helpless" she wasn't also "Mistress Kick Ass". She acted like what you would expect someone to react when she gets confronted with danger all around her. A great scene with Pepper and Tony trying to work the kinks of his heart device was classic.

Jeff Bridges was a kick too. "The Dude" shaved his head, man! Terence Howard as James Rhodes was fine, but I never knew he had such a high pitched voice. Stay to the very end of the credits, I mean the VERY end of the credits for a tacked on scene that smells sequel and/or crossover.

Back to Karaoke. A fill-in host was at Jack's yesterday. His song collection was extensive and he had a microphone stand. I went with singing "Iron Man" because of it being in my head. I did it well and got a great response. The video clip is from the glory days of European rock shows. It's nice to see an Ozzy that was lucid.


The second song was challenging, a Soundgarden song from the late 90's. It has a cold start and the challenge of trying to match the powerful vocals of Chris Cornell. I did.....okay.

Here's the clip.


Saturday, May 03, 2008

Raining On The Parade Of Cinco De Mayo

My family in Ireland.
Clockwise from top left.
My Dad, My Mom, Deirdre, Scanboy, Brian

28 years ago today my sister Deirdre died. she was only 11 years old. It was Monday morning, May 5th 1980. She had woke up early that day and went into the kitchen. She had been fighting a case of what turned out to be Meningitis. My mother heard her making noise and went down out of concern to see what was going on. My mom was a nurse and felt that my sister should be in bed resting.

I was just coming home from delivering the newspapers. I was making my usual breakfast of Rice Krispies and milk and sat down in front of the TV when my mother was walking Deirdre up the stairs.

A drawing I did for a painting I never got to painting back when I was at the School Of Visual Arts.

When they got near to the top of the stairs my Deirdre collapsed. My mom called out to my father to help carry Deirdre up to her bedroom. My father ran down the stairs to use the phone. As he was dialing I heard the most horrifying cry coming out my mother's throat. "Pat, Deirdre's dead!" My father thundered past me up the stairs to my mother's side and he cried out too.

This was too much for me. I was at the bottom of the stairs feeling the house close in on me. I couldn't breath. My dad ran past me to the phone again. I heard my brother come out of his room at this point. The chaos drove me out of the house screaming at the top of my lungs. I ran in zig-zag fashion out on the street and finally collapsed in a ball of grief in a neighbor's driveway. The neighbor, Sylvia Liparini took me into her house. My brother joined me as my parents went to Dover General with my sister.

While my brother and I were at the Liparini's, we were talking to each other as though Deirdre was going to be okay and that we were going to someday laugh at the drama of the day with her. It calmed Brain and I down enough to have hope. I made a bargain with God in hopes that this will make Deirdre okay.

An hour passed when Mrs. Liparini received a phone call from my parents they were coming back from the hospital. Mrs. Liparini didn't tell us what was said. I don' think they told her anything. Brain and I were still in denial.

Another half hour goes by when my parents walked in the front door of the Liparini's house. I thought good we'll hear what's up with Deirdre. My father sternly ordered the two of us to sit down on the couch. I asked what's up as my dad grabbed the both of us by the shoulders and slammed us down on the couch.

He told us that Deirdre died.

Mrs Liparini cried "Oh No!" Brian cried, my mother was spookily quiet, I was numb. I had wore myself out earlier with my melodramatic cries of anguish earlier. I got up from the couch, shoved past my father and went to the front foyer, crouched down and weeped.

Thanks for listening, God.

The rest of the day was a blur. I spent the night at a friend of my father's house. Their son Keith had a great collection of comics that I had spent the night reading, they didn't do the trick but I couldn't sleep in my house that night.

Tuesday was the wake and I saw my sister lying in state for the first time. It was too much to bear. She looked so unnatural with her lips sewn shut hiding her natural overbite. I cried when I saw her and I couldn't kneel in front of her body.

So many people that I cared about in my life showed up to pay last respects. My Uncle Jerry grabbed a flight form Ireland and had arrived early the previous day. I was so happy to see these people, people I haven't seen in years. I wanted so much to enjoy their company and I even thought that Deidre would be enjoying herself if only...

Our family spent a lot of time at the newly built funeral home. I would wander around and explore the place. I went down to the near empty basement to have long conversations with God and my sister. Although this made me feel a little better, it was the beginning of my doubt in the existence of God.

Deirdre was buried in a cemetery next to a church that wasn't part of my family's parish located near Schooley's Mountain. It was a small cemetery with not tombstones, only headstones that was flush with the grass. It made for easy lawn mowing I guess but I did not like it. The funeral was a bit surreal, knowing my sister was in the box...

Anyway, we went home to food and company and slowly but surely, we were left on our own once again. We went back to school a week later. I could not me until the summer before I entered the room where my sister died. It took the fact my Aunt Mary and Uncle Vincie staying in the room that made me feel the room was no longer a room of the dead.

It took me many years, about ten before I felt comfortable to approach Deirdre's headstone without prompting. I would usually shuffle around away from the grave. I could not get the image of what her body was doing under 6 feet of dirt out of my head. Time heals all wounds but I am, still to this day picking the scabs of that wound.

I have come to terms with visiting her grave. I don't go to the grave more because of its inconvenient location rather than my lack of comfort. Heck, I can even laugh at the farce that happened one Christmas of digging snow away form several headstones before finding my sister's.

So the fact Deirdre died on May 5th makes Cinco De Mayo a day I cannot celebrate the way I sometimes enjoy St. Patrick's Day. It's the reverse of what people whose birthday falls on September 11th have to go through. They have to always be conscious of the fact that in celebrating their birthday, they have to be careful to not offend sensitive people who lost loved ones that day.

Then there's the number 5. It's my favorite number. I always thought it was cruel fate that had my sister Deirdre die on the 5th day of the 5th month. I spent too much time trying to figure out its meaning.

I also think the fact that I have greater fondness for the 70's than the 80's is because my sister was alive in the 70's. Maybe that's why I don't like Reagan.

She had died of Meningitis. I always thought she had died of a brain hemorrhage due to a car accident she was in a month before. I learned this year when I over heard my father talking to a friend of my Aunt Eileen's. The topic of whether my dad had any girls. My dad matter-of-factly mentioned Deirdre and how she died. I looked up Meningitis and found out the tricky nature of the disease.

Anyway, I miss Deirdre. She'd be 39 years old. She most likely would have been married with a few kids and I regret not being able to intimidate any future brother in law who thought my sister was worthy of her. I wonder if my life's path would have been much better if I had her around to give advice and motivation.

You see, she was the good child. a straight A student her whole life. Who knows what she'd be, what school she might have gone to, maybe on a scholarship.

Here's to her.

Friday, May 02, 2008

If Only My Car Ran On Whine

I filled up my car with gas today. It took nearly 45 dollars to fill it. That's to be expect when you drive a small sedan and gas is $3.39 a gallon at the WaWa station in Old Bridge. I know that for some of my readers that isn't much because you don't live in New Jersey where it's cheap. $3.39 is significant because the day I started my current job on October 1, it was $2.39 a gallon. That is one whole dollar increase in a mere 7 months.

It figures. This job is the longest driving commute I've had in my working life. Time was, when I lived in Seattle I'd laugh at the fact that people in their big ass SUVs would be paying more money for gas when prices went up before. I think my contempt was in the fact they would never look out for bicyclists like me.

I listen to the news and hearing people with pride in their chest talk about how they're saving money by parking their SUV and buying a smaller car to drive around instead. They also talk about how they now take one trip to do two errands now.

I didn't drive for 14 years, rode my bike and took the bus. I endured some ridicule at my decisions and now I am made to feel guilty for using up more gas now than I did three years ago merely because of a series of circumstances.

Anyway, things will look up. I will drive one less day to work at TSA and I will eliminate my 5 day drive to UPS and will ride my newly repaired bicycle (courtesy of Bush) to explore the immediate areas around the town of Atlantic Highlands. In August I will move closer to the airport for a year and then in August 2009 I plan on moving back to Seattle. There, I will eliminate most driving and feel smug once again in my mellow happiness.

That's the plan. Hope I will fulfill the plan.