Archive for the ‘Life’ category

The battle internal

June 23, 2014

Would it be fair to say that this place has lacked attention lately? Sure. Okay. I won’t fight you on that one. Heck, I won’t fight you for much of anything, unless it’s making me do something The Lazy doesn’t want me to do. Imagine the battle going on right now in my head over writing this article.

Me: I really need to do a brain dump and get some things off my sluggish mind.

The Lazy: Or, you could get sidetracked by your annoying co-worker who has taken over loud-speakerphone duties from the guy who held the championship belt before he retired.

Me: But what about sparking creativity and advancing my skill?

The Lazy: Here’s a bag of salty snacks and some meaningless videos to tempt you back to the brain-couch.

Here’s the problem: my soul is starting to itch. That deep-down itch like a million caterpillars are crawling out of my spiritual bunghole and I’m on some public stage where I couldn’t possibly itch it without causing a scene. And it was made worse this past weekend.

A good friend of mine unknowingly turned a set of high-intensity flood lights on my lack of meaningful accomplishments in life. It wasn’t his intention. He’s just so smart that he can do two things at once: 1) reveal a plan to revolutionize space exploration that is so simple and perfect that you can’t imagine why it hasn’t already been done and 2) cut to the core of what is going wrong with society as a whole. Interestingly enough, his stated reason for wanting to make his dream come true, aside from the obvious “holy crap, this is going to be so cool!” factor, was to get people talking again. And I don’t mean here, in the land of ones and zeros, but face to face. And even this was lost on at least one person who had to immerse himself in his social media while the discussions were still on-going. It made me smad. Sad/mad.

Having highly intelligent, and motivated, friends can be like owning the world’s most powerful computer. You know you could grow and expand your mind, pursue lofty and meaningful goals and likely become a better person. But then you see a commercial for a new video game, or you notice that Princess Pretty Face posted about her dinner on social media, and you get distracted. Well, not the truly intelligent folks, but people like me who anthropomorphize states of being and give them names like The Lazy to cover up the fact that they’re simply…well, lazy.

Finding out that a good friend of mine will likely be the talk of generations to come should have been like a defibrillator on my sleepy spirit. It should have galvanized me into returning to my attempts at finishing the second draft of what will likely end up as my never-finished book. What did I do instead of slapping myself hard across the face and then pounding away at the keyboard like a crack-addled primate? I took the easy way out, I let stuff distract me. In that moment, I realized that I’m no better than the person at my friend’s meeting who buried himself in social media while meaningful discussion was still going on.

To be fair to myself, I actually am currently pursuing lesser goals. I’ve knocked out fifty percent of a technical certification I’ve wanted for a while, and I’m working toward another goal that I’ve recently begun touting as a large part of my retirement plan: SCUBA instructor. But I’m still restless, which makes me wonder if the ants in my creative pants mean that I’m still not doing what I’m meant to do. But I’m nothing if not selectively patient. Make hard decisions about what path to take in my life that will lead to fulfillment and happiness? Eh, I’ve got time. Grind out countless hours on video games and movie-watching? I’m on it, stat!

Maybe I just need to stop being so rough on myself for not accomplishing anything but making it through each successive day without pissing too many people off. Maybe that’s the problem, not being rough enough on myself to spur action. Action that can get past the goal-line defense The Lazy has set up for anything that takes away from my beloved “free time”. Maybe I just need to get over myself. Yeah, that last one.

A date with 30 girls

March 6, 2014

*****Bear with me here. I promise goodies at the end if you can muscle through my attempts at being witty.***

As much as I would like to regale you with tales of my adventures in finishing the 2nd draft of my book, complete with riveting paragraphs of muscling through writer’s block, multiple and frequent interruptions and a losing battle with The Lazy, I fear you’d quickly tire and look for less exciting fare. With that in mind, here’s a little break from that chaos.

I’m a lover, not a fighter. Okay, to be fair, I’m not much of either, but I can fake it like anyone else. Achebeyo and I decided to put my imaginary Don Juan skills to the test in the Bahamas. I packed the tools of my part time trade and we made our way down Island way.

Unfortunately for all of you still reading here, there wasn’t anything of note on the flights. People were fairly polite and relatively quiet, something that is rare in this age of “I can do anything I want because I’m alive and there’s nothing you can do to stop my annoying-assed behavior”. Shocking, I know. Even the TSA was miraculously kind and generous, only stopping my bag once in the scanner to review the metal and plastic contraption that was part and parcel of my intended purpose in visiting the Bahamas. Easy as cake-pie.

We arrived at the airport and were directed to a double-stretch limo that would take us to our resort. Even though the inside was devoid of booze, blow and floozies, we still felt like rock stars pulling up to the front of the resort. The moment we exited our plush ride, we were greeted with drinks (fruit juice, non-fermented) and directed to the front desk to check in. The lobby of the place was quite active and I could see pool tables, a gym and ping pong tables close by. There was also a bar and what looked like a stage with lots of tables just inside beyond the hallway past the front desk. I was excited to think I would be talking a lot about going to the gym while actively avoiding it.

We were given our room keys, instructions on how to find our room and wrist bands that indicated we were “all inclusive”. And they mean all inclusive. When I timidly asked if all drinks were included, they knew exactly what I meant and explained that the pool bar would be right outside our sliding glass back door. This would wind up being a blessing and a curse.

The room was, as advertised, nestled right behind the pool bar, and conveniently located for all of the central courtyard activities. Also a blessing and a curse. A blessing if you want to mingle freely with all the bulging, sweaty masses like me, a curse if, like us, you want to be a ghost at the resort and just interact with each other and the ocean. It’s not that we’re anti-social, it’s that Achebeyo is. Okay, not really, but she does like to keep a low profile, while I like to be the belle of the (always wearing a shirt, even in the water) ball. I’m gregarious, what can I say. Regardless of our differing views on interacting with the rest of the all inclusive crowd, we settled in and began preparations for the following morning.

I made several phone calls to find a proprietor who could, and would, service my needs. One place, recommended to me by a passing stranger in the lobby, one who could apparently sense a kindred spirit, offered part of what I was looking for, but not the essence of what I wanted. I called the number of the place I was warned to stay away from and found out they had pretty close to what I wanted, if not exactly the brand of ladies I was looking for. I checked with Achebeyo and got the thumbs up. We would be picked up early the next morning and transported to our day’s destination, just not in the same rock star manner to which we had become accustomed after one short ride the day before.

That evening, we ate at the lavish and gut-busting buffet of fine foods, limiting ourselves to enough calories to ensure we could forgo most of breakfast the next morning, but still be able to walk back to our room. Since it was still early after we finished, I wandered past the pool bar and ordered what amounted to a few plastic cups of rum with a splash of soda for flavor. They were too generous with the alcohol and I was only able to choke down one before switching back to water. Besides, I didn’t want to be hung over for the ladies the following day.

We woke up early and got ready, opting out of full-blown showers and anti-stink chemicals. The kind of ladies who would be entertaining us weren’t impressed by things like cleanliness and nice body odor. It would be a “in the raw” kind of day for us. The bus that picked us up also stopped at a few other locations along the way. Other people looking to be tantalized and titillated by the lovely ladies we would all be graced by. We made our final stop of the morning and began the process of signing waivers and shelling out the currency to make my dreams come true.

While Achebeyo wasn’t as thrilled by the day’s prospect, she wasn’t against it either. She would prefer that we indulge in less exotic activities, but she is always down for adventure, and this would prove to be quite fulfilling that regard. Once we finished with all of the red tape associated with our day’s adventure, we were instructed to board a particular boat for our…wait for it…dive with reef sharks. Yes, all that anticipation and potential animosity at your perception of what a womanizing jerkwad I am, only to find out I was making a very thinly veiled and feeble attempt at manipulating your online emotions. But as the pictures will reveal, it was the dive of a lifetime, so it was worth your scorn.

The two dives in the morning were fun, but mere cheese and crackers to the big emotional meal coming in the afternoon. We dive two beautiful wrecks, including one that supposedly had human remains in it. I would never find out, because the dark hold of the sunken ship was where Achebeyo draws the line at following me into adventure, and I couldn’t leave her to navigate the wreck on her own. We saw some lionfish which, even though they are considered nuisance fish, are truly beautiful underwater. Unless, of course, you jam a camera rig with strobes all up in their scaly grills. Then they get all poison-spine bristly and aggressive.

After we finished those two dive,s we made our way back to the docks and dumped our gear in front of the next boat, as instructed. We didn’t just go all elitist jackass and expect that the staff would cater to limo-riding wanna-be’s like us. I even sat vigil on our gear while Achebeyo took her usual 25 minute bathroom break. I keep wondering if she’s conducting international business transactions in there.

It was difficult to wait for the next dives. I was anxious and eager, like a kid who’s slit the plastic tape on his gifts days before Christmas and already knows what he’s getting, but still can’t wait to open them (yes, I was that kid). When they let us board, I listened intently to their extensive speeches about the dive rules and etiquette. You might have even gotten the impression that I was an attentive good listener…if all you had to go on was that one encounter with me. Still, it pays to know what not to do on a dive with that many razor sharp teeth attached to living torpedoes.

We reached the dive site and proceeded to make the first descent, one that would take us along a wall with a 6,600ft drop to the Tongue of the Ocean. From the moment we began descending the anchor line, my heart was racing. The reef sharks, knowing what the black-clad meatbags with all the bubbles coming out of their face-holes would mean in just a little while, were gathering to watch us flounder around in their world. They were curious, but not aggressive. While we saw many beautiful fish and some huge lobsters, my mind was on the coming dive. The one where they would feed the sharks while we watched from our “seats” on rocks in a nice sandy area about 45 feet deep known as the Shark Arena. I couldn’t have been more excited if you told me that you would finish writing my book for me, give me all credit, that it would be an instant best seller and that I would never have to work another day in my life. That’s The Lazy talking.

Back on the boat after the first dive of the afternoon, we listened again to the safety briefings and the consequences of breaking the rules. Interestingly enough, the big threat wasn’t that a shark would hurt you, it was the rest of the divers. See, the way it was explained to me, almost as if they knew I would be the one diver would would want to issue hugs to these pelagic beauties, is that if we broke the rules, the dive would end immediately and everyone would go back to the boat. At that point, who could blame Lady Justice for taking the form of an angry mob of shark divers? Not me. I vowed to keep my hands to myself. Now, I imagine the dive crew has had this same conversation with the sharks, but they don’t really have to listen, do they? It’s their world and we’re just tourists with oxygen. They can (and did) touch whomever, whenever they want.

Even after all of the briefings and explanations, about how there would be 30-40 sharks around us at all times, I figured they exaggerated the numbers to make the dive seem more interesting before you took your seat in the Shark Arena. I was wrong.

This is just a small cross section of the entire dive. Most of the rest of these beautiful ladies (and a few gentlemen) were off camera, making their way in as the snacks were presented. I was tail-smacked, brushed and ogled, but never once did I worry that things would go all Spielberg on me, where I’d be forced to fight off the swarm of hungry fish with my own bitten-off leg. They were curious, but cautious. They did get a little “competitive” when the snacks were made available, but they knew exactly what they wanted and we weren’t it. I mean, if humans were on the menu, they had an underwater buffet to pick from. You know, once you peel off the neoprene wrapper.

It took everything I have to not stick my hand out as they swam by, but as the safety briefing explained, the dive team target feeds the sharks and my hand might make a motion similar to that target feeding motion. I didn’t want there to be any mistakes about what snacks were available and who was providing them. You can’t sue a shark for accidentally assuming all the bubbling meatbags could provide food.

Photo-bombed by a shark

In the video I shot of the whole dive, the soundtrack is filthy with the excited and happy noises coming from my face. It’s not very intelligible, but the shark feeder understood when I bubble-mumbled “THIS IS SO COOL”. His head nod and hang loose hand gesture to me was all the verification I needed.

The dive went on for probably about 30 minutes, but I was so enraptured that I’m not really certain how long it actually took before we were ushered out of the shark arena and back up to the waiting boat. I made up my mind then and there that my retirement plan will include working for these guys as a Shark Don Juan like that guy.

There was definitely more to our visit to Nassau, including getting to do some basic trapeze work and fighting off persistent seagulls when food was available, but I think this about sums up this trip and my feeling about it:

Happy baldy.

Writing instead of writing

February 14, 2014

Listen, I’m not going to sit here and toot my own horn…much. I mean, the whole purpose for me to have a blog in the first place was to work on honing my writing so that I could make a run at something more ambitious, something you’d want to get as a gift and read in places other than the bathroom. And by run, I mean a drunken snail’s pace toward an unknown finish line.  And that’s exactly where I’m at.

Over the past four months, I’ve been working on the first draft of my first book. It sounds…not really impressive, I know. Four months? What, am I writing a review of some game or movie I encountered a couple dozen years ago? Something to get someone’s attention somewhere so they’ll ask me to agonize over writing something monthly, or worse, weekly? Yeah, not so much.

Understand that when I say I’ve been working on the first draft of this creation, I mean that I spent about two weeks last November crushing out the requisite 50k words for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated), and then slapped a few sentences together every other week or so until the story had the rough shape of what I wanted from it.

About a month ago, I got a wild hair (read: got bored) and decided to start an epilogue and prologue to my unfinished story. I thought it was a fun romp and it gave one of the characters a vehicle for venturing onward, if The Lazy and I can ever come to an agreement that means I’ll ever attempt to slog my way through writing another book. It did not, however turn out as I had planned.

Here’s the thing about creating something, from my admittedly limited perspective: it’s kind of like mad science. In my case, being the socially eclectic kind of person I am, I started slapping pieces and parts of life together from things I’ve seen, experienced directly or vicariously or simply wanted to try. What was born out of that process was rather like hooking Dr. Frankenstein up with Jim Carrey’s green alter-ego in The Mask. You may think it would be great to create something with the torso of Dwayne Johnson, the head of Peter Griffin from Family Guy and the arms of Verne Troyer, because hey, Human Tyrannosaur. Who wouldn’t like that? My proofreader, that’s who.

In the first email exchange we had after I sent her my first draft, I actually read the first few paragraphs and had to abandon the email for a few days. When someone starts outlining all of the things you feared were wrong with your project, the tendency is to protect your creation, to crawl into a hole and pout about not being able to create perfection on your first try, even though you knew there were issues that would need addressing. Well, at least that’s how an immature person like me reacts. I got over my pouting fit after a few days and realized that she simply wants to help me perfect what I’ve already done. And I honestly should feel good that I knew the problems she outlined existed before she addressed them to me directly.

Don’t get me wrong, she likes the clay I’m working with. She’d just like for me to give it some more definition and color than when it came out of the bag. That is how clay arrives, right? Bags? I can’t imagine ordering clay and having it arrive in a cardboard box full of packing foam bits. Regardless, she has given me some very valid points to ponder, as well as constant encouragement about the entire process.

Apparently, completing the first draft is supposed to be the most difficult part. And it really helps to have someone review my progress who has no vested interest in it other than to see me succeed and possibly be a note in the thanks or dedication section of the (hopefully) published end result. Still, I find myself doing more talking about what I’m going to do to make the story more enjoyable, coherent and cohesive than actually writing it.

I know it’s ridiculous, but I think I love the idea of this story more than actually doing the work to make it happen. That’s The Lazy talking, I know, but he can be very persuasive. Sometimes, however, his wiles fail to work their seductive magic on me. There are those moments when I stomp upstairs to my office and face two desks: one for gaming and one for writing. My mouth pouring out the idea that I plan on doing nothing that seems like work, I sit down and find that I can’t enjoy anything that is supposed to distract me from writing. So I wander the house, or visit this blog, wondering what the problem is when the problem is clearly me and my tendency to think that I’ve got all the time in the world to complete this project. Those are the times I reluctantly slide over to the writing desk and start taking those raw chunks of story and massage them into some semblance of a cohesive and enjoyable story.

Next week, Achebeyo and I are off to dive with sharks and bask in weather not summoned by ice-loving shut-ins. I hate trying to type on a tablet, but if I want to keep the new ideas that spawned as a result of my proofreader’s comments I’ll need to stay on task or risk losing these new ideas to the sun, the sea and late-night karaoke. But really, could you blame me if I take another break? Says The Lazy. I really need to evict that guy from my head.

Tending the cobwebs

February 5, 2014

Wow. This place. I had almost forgotten it existed. I mean, I knew it was here, silently mocking me with goals I had set for myself and deliberately avoided for various reasons that only make sense to another lazy person. But yeah, this place…

Originally, I started this blog as a way to exercise my fat, lazy grey matter in an effort to motivate myself enough to write something serious. Now don’t get your feathers all in a soggy bunch, bloggers. What many of you do in your personal spaces far exceeds anything I could pump out if I had a team of non-lazy assistants constantly nagging me to get my fingers in gear and type something. You’re informed, you’re witty and you make me laugh and think.

When I say I wanted to motivate myself to write something serious, I meant any one of the numerous writing projects I start and then hide in a pile of old clothes that don’t fit me and hope that something seeps onto the pages I’ve abandoned from the wardrobe items I’ve abandoned. You know, misery loving company and all. Enter NaNoWriMo last year.

For those who aren’t aware, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, where you sign up and have the entire month of November to procrastinate writing an entire book. Fifty thousand words is the goal, and for those who write every day, it’s an easily achievable goal. For me, it was a lesson in how motivated I can get in the first and last week of the contest. But the end result was the same as everyone else who “won” last year: I put at least 50k words down on digital paper, skating in on the deadline with about 4 hours to spare.

The experience taught me many things, not the least of which is I write better when I’ve got white noise pumped into my brain pan, and that I really can write effectively when I just sit down and do it. Interestingly enough, The Lazy just reminded me that I then spent the following two months “editing” my unfinished book. Editing in this case means pouring over the first few pages a dozen times, changing character names and correcting grammatical errors I happened to spot. It was a way to not complete the project in its entirety. I’m nothing if not lazily predictable.

After several weeks of goading by friends, Achebeyo and one of my writing buddies, I got back to it like a child to volunteer-housework. I knew that my characters were sitting in their places, rolling their eyes every time I sat down and started “editing” again. I also knew it wouldn’t be long before the entire thread of where I wanted to take my story would fray and snap and I’d be left with angry characters doing nothing but ranting about how bad everything in their lives sucked. You know, a reflection of my own fears and frustrations.

A few weeks ago, the house was empty, except for me and Princess Pukatronic (the cat). When I went upstairs to immerse myself in distractions, nothing worked. I tried logging into online games I love to play, but the idea of lighting some digital representation of a douchebag in his parents’ basement up with electricity from the fingertips of my favorite game-toon just wasn’t holding water like it usually does. The unfinished story was glaring at me with undisguised contempt. I caved to its baleful attentions.

In two days, and roughly 6-8 hours of solid writing, I did what all of my inner voices said I couldn’t do: I finished the story. Granted, there are elements that need to be revisited, and things that need to be shored up or shaved down, but I think the basic first draft has a good handle on what I want to do, not only with this book, but (gasp) future books. I know, I may want to see a doctor and find out what happened.

Right now, the project is in the capable hands of one of my mentors for proofreading and notes. She’s admitted that she’s taking it slowly, so I’m not certain when I’ll get it back. For the moment, I’m keeping myself occupied by imagining all the book signings I’ll be forced to endure, and what I’ll say to people who actually think my story resonates with them. I’m pretty sure it’ll go something like this:

Them: You know, this book really changed my life. I now know what I need to do with myself.

Me: When you figure that out, can you come back and tell me so I have an idea for what I need to do??

Thanks to anyone who stuck around to see if I’d ever toss letters into this space again. I honestly appreciate it…even if I don’t show up enough to remind you.

The lull before the…other lull

October 22, 2013

Imagine if Adam Sandler made a martial arts movie. That’s the train wreck my life has seemed like since last I slapped a keyboard with these ham-hands. Yes, I know there are people with bowel-eating bugs and bullets for neighbors in other countries. This isn’t their story, it’s mine.

We went to Italy. I could post pictures and tell a goofy-yet-alluring tale of our time there, but I’m pissed. Up until the rental car turn-in, it was a magical ride through a beautiful country, peppered with stony silences when I pissed Achebeyo off from time to time. Now comes the rant.

While I usually don’t out companies, good or bad, I have to say that Sicily By Car is a criminal organization that hides innocuous and unnecessary parts of their rental cars, tells you that you lost them when you return the car, then charges you FOUR TIMES the amount it actually costs to replace the part you never knew was supposed to be in the car in the first place. Beware of this company if you ever travel to Rome and want to rent a car. MAKE them go to the car with you before you sign anything and MAKE them explain every last little piece that should or should not be there. Then take pictures of the car and the criminal in training to use as evidence later. This company can suck the dirt out of a dead donkey’s stinkhole, as far as I’m concerned.

Upon returning home, we were faced with a cat who decided that her goal in life was to completely cover our carpet in regurgitated food and hair. You’d think she had eaten at several wig-and-food buffets each day while we were gone for the amount of puke there was all over the house. It was the final impetus for us to purchase a carpet cleaner for our home, and the final piece of the cat-food puzzle we needed to determine that our cat is allergic to…well, everything. Everything except venison, apparently. I’d hate to see how she would fare out in the wild on her own. Just looking at her, you can tell she doesn’t have the chops to take down a doe on her own, let alone a buck with horns. After horking up a squishy hair-turd a few days ago, I think she’s finally back on track to keeping what she crams in her facehole mostly rear-exit-only.

My job has provided me with unending inspiration for frustration. Between multiple furloughs because our government is more concerned with their own financial futures than any genuine concern for “We the people”, an office neighbor who believes that speaker phones not only need to be set to ear-liquifying volume, but also need to be shouted into with a bullhorn, and another office neighbor who feels the need to read every email sent to everyone OUT LOUD to make sure you understood it, things have been tough. It’s enough to make you want to join one of those vow-of-silence monasteries. At least it would be quiet…if a little too non-co-ed.

Every time I’ve sat down to write, something else catches my attention. Me and The Lazy have become pretty symbiotic lately, and I stopped fighting him openly. I took this moment while he’s busy plotting my unproductive evening to slip in a quick refresher on tossing letters together on screen. Maybe if I win my current battle with Italy’s Satan’s Bullying Car service, I’ll write more about that trip later. I’ll just have to find something long-range for The Lazy to start planning to keep him occupied.

Various and sundry

August 30, 2013

I had an idea for a post called “Ghostbursting”, but it later turned out to be just a bullet item on a Friday stream-of-consciousness post. The basic gist of it is twofold:

1) are there no ghosts from any time earlier than one hundred years ago because people just got lazier and lazier and couldn’t see the point in wasting a perfectly good afterlife drifting around waiting for their 15 seconds of ethereal fame?

2) this thing known as “Electronic Voice Phenomenon” (EVP), makes me want to slap people in the soul for not seeing the obvious. If you’re watching a show that was recorded and shown later, why does it take an additional, post-production-edited recording of the recorded show to hear something that can only be heard after it has been recorded? Logic fail, ghost hunting shows.

————-

We were supposed to go to that third world country, Detroit, this weekend for a comedy tour. I was going to write a post detailing, if you know me personally, how to lay claim to any of my stuff after I fall prey to one of the highest crime rates in the country. I don’t want all of my fun stuff, like remote control bugs, Sleestak mask and rubber dragon wings, to collect more dust than they have to. I want them to have loving homes. Turns out, however, that a series of life’s how about we make a different choice moments for both myself and Achebeyo has given us pause. When your cat horks up everything she ate in the last 24 hours three days in a row, and your car explodes (even if it wasn’t a movie-grade explosion), it’s time to listen to that voice saying, I may want to keep this bad streak closer to home. We’ll brave the turbulent carpet of our own property this weekend and see what happens.

————

Modern telephony. We’re all aware of the technology. Unless you’ve been examining your agrarian skill sets for the last decade or two in preparation for one of the popular apocalypse ideas these days (zombies, aliens or zombie aliens), you are probably aware that it doesn’t require a megaphone attachment to get microphones on modern phones to pick up sound. So please tell me why 90% of the people in this country feel the need to town crier their phone conversations to the world at large. HEAR YE HEAR YE! I’M BRINGING DINNER HOME AFTER PICKING THE KIDS UP FROM SCHOOL!

Okay, we get it, you’re important enough to have one of them there fancy cell-u-lar telephones that are so difficult to come by these days. You want everyone to know that Billy-Joe-Jim-Bob can warsh his own laundry and live with his new baby-momma if’n he cain’t keep his junk all locked up…and stuff. Just don’t be surprised when the Secret Society of People Who Still Know How to be Polite give you those looks or frown at your general existence.

————

Many of my real life friends who read this have mentioned that they absolutely cannot relate to my video game reviews. In their honor, a few paragraphs.

I was recently handed leadership of an in-game guild, a loose association of like minded people who want to band together electronically to inadvertently keep birth rates down while conquering their respective digital realms. This guild was a popular, active and well-known guild, and I was a neophyte in it’s ranks. At some point, the game developers made some drastic changes to help bandage the hemorrhaging outflow of paying customers and revoked the guild’s original name in the process. In a frantic dash to ditch the guild while pillaging its resources, the leadership apparently made an over-the-shoulder fleeing shot to bestow the guildmaster title, and I stumbled into the path of said shot.

Being the kind of gamer that I am, I immediately began a recruiting frenzy that only a three-toed sloth could truly relate to. Most of the previously active members were no longer playing, but their numbers still counted towards in-game benefits. This was my chance to step up, take charge and show the kind of digital fortitude it takes to build the leading guild on the server. Rather than hassle with all of that, I recruited a recruiter. Within a matter of days, we tripled our active player base, and gave them the ability to recruit as well. Now we’re a happily growing tribe of miscreants bent on helping each other waste as much time as possible being utterly unproductive in real life. At least I require them to  be polite to each other and represent us to the rest of the server in a dignified manner befitting faceless Internet entities with a conscience.

———–

Italy! Europe’s thigh-high stripper boot! We’ll see you soon. I know you’ll give me stuff to write about and take pictures of so that the people reading this have something substantial to look forward to. Our whirlwind tour will take us first to Rome, then Venice, then Florence then back to Rome. While I personally would like to stay clear of the unwashed masses at your most popular tourist traps, Achebeyo has insisted we rub sweaty arm meat with other travelers and see your top sights. I’ll be happy to try real pizza for the first time, and to eat other real Italian food that isn’t mass produced, frozen then cooked and served by angst ridden teens. Regardless, I’ll be the bald polite guy hoping he doesn’t do anything to get him accidentally thrown in jail. Purposely thrown in jail…that’s another story.

———–

As a Friday parting thought, which theme park ride would you hate to be stuck on while they fix it and why?

Me? I’d hate to be stuck on “It’s a small world” at Spendneyland, because all that singing from robotic children seems like something straight out of a Wes Craven nightmare. I’d almost rather be trapped in Chuck E. Cheese on a summer Saturday. At least there would be games.

On Broadway (at the beach)

August 22, 2013

This past weekend, Achebeyo and I decided to buy into the inherently flawed, corporate-sponsored the more you spend, the more you…spend mentality with a national hotel chain. You know, one of those situations where you only need to spend another $450 dollars to get $25 worth of savings later kind of deals. Still, we needed something to break our recurring weekend code:

10 goto computer

20 goto couch

30 goto bed

40 goto 10

A short ride in the Ren-mobile, and we were at one of our favorite “local” distractions: Broadway at the Beach, where fun and frivolity can be had for just a few paychecks, and foot blisters are free…because there’s plenty of walking to do. It’s essentially a combination of a weekend carnival that got permission to hang out longer, and an outdoor shopping mall. There are various attractions around a manufactured lake, connected by various shops and restaurants who are all vying for your frivolous shopping dollars. Luckily for us, we were only there for the karaoke…and hot sauce…and 1500 thread-count sheets…and candy. But nothing else.

We got into our hotel room later in the evening than our usual dinner time. Thankfully, we had arranged to fill the boiling bile in our bellies (alliteration is frequently fairly fun) with over-processed junk food on the drive down, so we weren’t any more hungry than any other time we’ve gone 2+ hours without cramming carbs in our face-holes. We did, however, find that because of Achebeyo’s membership in this hotel’s Spend-a-rama plan, we had been upgraded to a room with a jetted hot tub. Off to the store I went to acquire the necessary items to create an unholy mess for the cleaning crew.

Since I never know how much bubble bath to put in those things (especially when you’re not really supposed to put any bubbling solutions through a jetted tub’s system without a structured plan to spend the hours following your bath wasting more water purging your mistake from the entire contraption), I of course added what turned out to be a sitcom-esque epic amount. Picture a bubble mountain where one entire side of the room used to be. I guess I really need to trust measurement instructions for stuff like that.

We managed to clear that mess up by draining the tub and giving it 8-10 hours for the foam to subside. We got up early the next morning to run on the hotel’s treadmills and act like none of the rest of the previous night’s chaos had happened. Turns out the running, as well as a 2-hr follow-up walk around the previously mentioned carnimall, gave us the kind of energy boost that meant we’d need to take a nap for a few hours to ensure we’d be up for the real reason we were there:  an evening of karaoke.

We dragged our carcasses out of bed from our life-giving nap and prepared for the evening ahead. For me, that meant putting on slacks and a classy two-shirt combination, one that makes me look like a mafia bowler. Add shoes and I was ready to roll out. For Achebeyo, it’s a bit more involved. There’s a convoluted process that no straight male will ever understand where most women get ready, and I’ve found it helps to have extensive distractions to while away the vast time between when I’m ready and when she’s ready.

After construction was complete on Going-Out Achebeyo, we walked back to the human fly-paper that is Broadway at the Beach and picked a nice sushi restaurant to have dinner. The food was great, the service was fast, and we never felt like the waitresses were timing their visits to deliberately interrupt us every 2-3 sentences of our conversation to see if everything’s okay. If I’m not looking around like I want someone’s head on a platter, I’m usually good. And this place was aware of the subtle difference between helpful wait staff and I’m filing a restraining order against my waitress (COUGHtakenotewaitressesCOUGH).

We had, unfortunately, timed our dinner to coincide with a 2-hour wait before karaoke would begin at another destination in the same complex. Being that we had some time, we decided to work on our evening blisters, and walked around the 3-4 block area of attractions again. We window shopped, we gawked at interesting tourists and we even took time to cater to a few of the billions of carp in “Lake Broadway”. You think I’m kidding when I say “billions”, but I’m not. Go see for yourself. I was too afflicted with The Lazy to take any pictures. After playing some air hockey and a 2-player shooting video game, we finally settled in outside our destination and waited for the clock to tick down to go time. We had less time to wait than we originally thought.

Turns out that start times for events in pubs down there are pretty fluid. If they SAY they’ll start at 9:30, they really MEAN they’ll start when customers begin shelling out cash and plastic. Luckily for us, I was antsy and peeked inside an hour before their stated start time and we dashed in to get good seats before too many more people piled in.

This place wasn’t just a bar, wasn’t just a dark room with an old flatscreen television and sticky floors. This place had a STAGE, with professional lighting, smoke machines built into the floor and monitors at various locations and elevations so you could wander a bit while singing and still see the lyrics you might otherwise have to fudge. They were serious. We were simultaneously impressed and intimidated. We were used to the barely-lit rooms with booze-sodden spectators cheering what was probably just buzzing and thumping in their ears by the time we sang. This place would actually feature the singers.

Achebeyo and I powered through our initial fear and filled out song slips. Our choices would turn out to be quite popular and make each of us a celebrity du hour. Achebeyo went first and chose Rumor Has It by Adele. She KILLED it. Men around the establishment were head-bobbingly enthralled, and the women were cheering her on and singing with her. She finished to a standing ovation.

Since I put a nickname on my slip, and was subsequently reprimanded over the PA system, I had to resubmit my selection of Stray Cat Strut. when I finally got my turn, I had fun with it and didn’t do terribly badly.

Achebeyo would follow up her 1st hit single with the Divinyls I Touch Myself. She made sure to disclaimer it at the beginning to discourage pervs, but she ventured on stage to collective repeated shouts of GO ACHEBEYO! Her real name isn’t as cumbersome to chant as her blogdentity here, so it sounded way better than it just did in your head. Again, she KILLED it. A second standing ovation and lots of happy congratulations on her way back to our table made her night.

My second selection was Faith by George Michael. According to Achebeyo, the crowd went wild. Apparently, that song is something of an anthem. Not only was most of the bar singing along with me, people actually got up to dance on the floor in front of the stage. It’s a fun, upbeat song that most people know and I had a lot of fun with it. As we left the bar following that song, we were both stopped by various people asking if we would be singing again. It was a night of fun, frivolity AND boosted egos. Score!

The rest of the weekend would pale in comparison, but our brief bout of beer-goggle-celebrity gave me loads of bragging rights at work on Monday, as well as something to write about besides not being able to come up with anything to write about. I guess the cure for casual writer’s block is doing something on your weekend besides vegging out in front of electronics and hoping something fun will spontaneously burst out of your noggin. I’ll test the opposing side of that theory this weekend.


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