Friday, November 30, 2007

Where are the words?

Last night I was looking for a notebook I had while I was in New York. I remembered I had copied down a monologue in it that I wanted to take a look at. What began as a simple Hey, where did I put that notebook routine turned into Wow, I just found another notebook I had totally forgotten about journey.

I don't think I ever realized how many words I'd put to paper in the last couple of years. Notebooks, journals, notepads, pocket memo books, you name it and it was filled with stand-up comedy ideas (some of them still made me laugh and others made me glad I had buried them in a notebook I'd forgotten about), short stories (including the original hand-written version of my short story, "Java"), and various quotes that struck me as humorous.

Still, I was struck by how much there was. Pages were literally filled with my familiar all-caps handwriting, all written with my trademark black-inked Pilot G-2 pen. Page after page after page after page. It seemed to just pour out of me, usually pretty easily.

It's been a while since I've written and the all-too-many empty pages at the back of each notebook only emphasizes the point.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Game

Before I moved to Pennsylvania, I was hanging out at my coffee shop of choice, Brewdaily's in Auburn, IN. Nathan, owner and all-around cool guy, was working behind the counter and asked me if I'd ever heard of the game "Settlers of Catan". I hadn't, and he tried to explain it to me. Sort of like Risk, sort of like Stratego, but not really either one.

After relocating to PA I was asked by my pals Ethan & Aubrey if I'd ever heard of "Settlers of Catan". I told them my friend Nathan had just asked me about it but I had never played. They said it was a pretty cool game and we should play sometime.

A few weeks later I was over visiting my friends Linford & Trish and while they gave me the tour of their house I noticed a board game on their game shelf. That's right. "Settlers of Catan." I remarked how suddenly I was hearing about this game everywhere and from everyone. Trish and Linford also raved about the game.

Later, I was back in Indiana visiting with my brother Ray and out of the blue he asked me if I'd ever played "Settlers of Catan". What was going on here? When did he hear about this game? I usually pride myself in being the first to find cool new games that I tell others about (The Great Dalmuti and You Don't Know Jack are two games in particular that I got to introduce to my friends in the past) and this time around everyone I knew seemed to be on the bandwagon BUT me. What happened? And how did it happen?

Last week Sarah and I went to Ethan & Aubrey's house and were pleased to find they were the new owners of "Settlers". They busted out the game, spread out the board and distributed the appropriate playing pieces. And then tragedy struck.

Ethan was the only one of us who'd played before and he had forgotten how to play. Sarah and I tried to build little Jenga-like towers with our playing pieces as Ethan scanned the rule book and Aubrey chilled on the sofa. The pressure of re-learning the game mixed with the embarrassment of forgetting the game proved to be too much for poor Ethan and we ended up giving up on the game and playing Dutch Blitz instead (another game I found everyone but me knew how to play).

This past weekend when Sarah and I were home for our reception we got to spend some time with Nathan and his wife Stacy (Sarah's sister, for those of you updating your flow chart as you read this). It wasn't long before Nathan broke out "Settlers of Catan" and Sarah and I were on our way to learning the game.

It was, to quote Dane Cook, a blasty-blast.

Relatively simple to learn yet deceptively cunning and strategic, Sarah and I both had a great time and Sarah actually ended up winning the game (much to Nathan's chagrin). We were officially hooked.

Last night Sarah and I were at Target shopping for Christmas trees when it dawned on us that we should get our own copy of "Settlers". The game isn't available in most stores like Target, K-Mart, Wal*Mart or other mart-type stores. I recalled Ethan had said the only place he was able to find it was a local comic book store called, obviously enough, The Comic Store. Despite the fact that Sarah and I were both risking countless cool points by stepping foot inside a comic book store, we knew it was a small price to pay for such a cool game.

We got to The Comic Store and began our search. There were two Comic Book Guys behind the counter that gave us a knowing look when we entered that screamed "STRANGERS!" I didn't wear glasses and my hair wasn't greasy and plastered to my head. I didn't have on a black jacket and my neck hair was well-groomed. And Sarah, well...let's face it. She's really hot. She definitely didn't belong in a comic book store. The only girls even close to being as sexy as her these guys had been around were drawn in pen and ink.

We began to weave in and out of the aisles as countless cartoon drawings of red-haired babes in bikinis and shirtless guys with pecs like cannonballs stared at us from the hundreds of boxes that lined the shelves. We saw Abe Lincoln as a super hero and even an issue of Howard the Duck. There were Jon Bon Jovi action figures and the red and blue neon signs in the windows added to the surreal mood.

I passed a guy in a wheelchair who was wearing a long green army coat and he leered at me from the corner of his eyes. He reminded me of Samuel L Jackson in Unbreakable.

Finally, we found the game shelves and it was pretty wild. There was a Sin City board game and even "Axis & Allies," a game my brother and I were into back in high school. And, of course, there was "Settlers of Catan". And the "Settlers of Catan" expansion pack. And "Seafarers of Catan" and its expansion pack. And 3 or 4 other versions of the "Catan" series. And their expansion packs. It was almost too much.

Which one should we get?

Should we get the one we already knew how to play and were familiar with or should we go with one of the others to add to the game the next time we play with friends? After an unsuccessful phone call to Trish and Linford to ask their advice (I had the wrong number in my phone) Sarah and I decided to go with STARFARERS OF CATAN. It was in the biggest and most impressive box, so much so that whenever I write the name I feel compelled to use all caps. STARFARERS OF CATAN.

This version was set in space and even came with spaceships and promises of fighting evil alien monsters. We were sold.

We approached the counter to pay and Sarah came across a plastic package of paints that also included 3-inch pewter wizard figurines to decorate. I could tell by Sarah's tone she was about to make a joke. "Hey what's this!" she exclaimed and the guy behind the counter looked up. Don't make the comic store guy angry! I thought to myself and my telepathy must have worked. Sarah switched gears and muttered, "You can paint little dudes." Inside I laughed my head off and am still laughing about it as I write this. You can paint little dudes.

We completed our purchase, zipped home, and busted out STARFARERS OF CATAN. And guess what?

It freakin' rocks.

We built spaceships, we colonized planets, we battled aliens--and each other--and it was great. Sarah told me she was never really much of a game player growing up and I've lived alone for so long it's been a while since I've had anyone to play board games with. Needless to say, we both enjoyed it.

So as you're gathered around the Thanksgiving table tomorrow trying to figure out just what in the world is in that Tupperware container and wondering if your family is as crazy as you think they are, trying to hold conversation while a TV blares a football game in the background, Sarah and I will be sprawled out on the floor drinking coffee in our pajamas, lost in the world of STARFARERS OF CATAN.

And maybe, just maybe, laughing about the little dudes you can paint.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Blog for Bob

When I was home in Indiana for our wedding reception this weekend I ran into my good pal Bob. He's been an avid reader of my blog for some time now, but he had a complaint. It seems that since Sarah and I have fallen for each other, my blogs have gone a little soft and become quite mushy.

I agree with Bob. Not that I mind the tone of my more recent blogs because, like the blogs before them, they are true to heart and reflect what was--and is--on my mind. But I am indeed aware that as a result, the humor and sarcasm seem to have taken a back seat.

I promised Bob that when I returned to PA I would make it up to him, even naming my next post "A Blog for Bob." I promised him a return of the humor he has come to look forward to (and subsequently miss).

I honestly thought about this during much of the drive back home from Indiana. As Sarah slept in the passenger seat beside me, I found myself wondering just what on earth I was going to blog about. Many of my more humorous blogs aren't necessarily me coming up with a silly idea; they're usually me reacting to an odd situation I've found myself in.

And I guess that's the problem. I haven't found myself in any weird or I-Can't-Believe-This-Is-Happening circumstances as of late. Or at least not that I can think of.

But now that I think of it, it IS really cold in my office. There are two ceiling vents that seem to blow air direct from the Arctic Circle and onto me on a regular basis. It's not as bad in the summer time because at least I can step outside to thaw out the icicles that have formed on my nose and/or ear lobes.

I mentioned this to someone here at work and was told there is nothing that can be done about it. The vents always blow cold air, always have and always will. The odd thing about it is that mine is the only area that seems to be this cold all the time. Part of me hopes my office is haunted. I want to fight a ghost.

The cold air hasn't stopped despite the fact that the weather has taken a chilly turn. I actually thought it would let up when the temperature dropped, but no such luck. Today I found myself balanced on a chair, taping two folders (that I had already taped together) to the vent directly above me in an attempt to divert the constant breeze that is blowing down my back.

It seems to have worked. For now. Either that, or the air has stopped blowing. Either way, I'm still hoping to fight a ghost. That would be cool.

So there you go, Bob. This entry probably won't end up being printed in The New Yorker or even Cracked magazine but if you've made it this far then chances are I'm on the right track to Ha-Ha Town.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Q.O.T.D. - Nov 13, 2007

"Light as a candle, stiff as a wick." - Sarah, referencing an old slumber party game while moving a candle

"This is so cool. We should have a booth. Let's by some wood." - Sarah, admiring the booth at the kitchen table in Aubrey's parents' house

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Q.O.T.D. - Nov 12, 2007

"I think it tried to eat a penny."
"Don't tell your mom." - Sarah to me while vacuuming, because she once saw mom pick up a penny from the ground outside a restaurant

Monday, November 12, 2007

Quotes of the Day

As many of you know, I always carry a little notebook in my back pocket to jot down any moments of comedic clarity that might run through my brain throughout the course of the day. Some time ago I also started keeping track of "quotes of the day," odd, random, or just funny statements uttered by whomever I happened to be with at the time.

I'm at work right now, but while I wait for the DVD I'm working on to finish burning I thought I would share some of those quotes with you. Enjoy!

"Give me back my baby!!" - screamed by a random woman on the streets of Garrett, Indiana

"This stupid thing. I'm gonna burn it. (pause) Will this burn?" - my brother Ray mad at his tape measure

"Tootsies don't pop. They only chew." - Sarah explaining why she prefers Blow Pops to Tootsie Pops

"I couldn't hear you. Sarah was talking to the fruit flies." - Stacy, during a game of poker

"I think of meat and milk a lot." - Kristi, on the way to the Creation Festival

"I'm not cool because I don't have an iPod."
"Then go buy one so you can buy your coolness." - Mindy and Kristi, in the car on the way to Creation

"I didn't think people snored like cartoons but turns out they do." - Sarah complaining about a loud neighboring camper at the Creation festival

"Man, I haven't blinked in a while." - Sarah, playing Bejeweled on the computer

"I never knew what a work ethic was. Neither of my parents worked." - Sarah on a Sunday afternoon

"I don't have a grudge against him because he sucks at his job. I have a grudge against him because he sucks as a person." - Kate, amid frustration

"You can if you're a genius, a super computer, or two albinos with a camera." - Fred, after being asked if you can upload videos to the Monsterpod website

"I didn't think you would eat it."
"It's a brownie, man." - Me and Ken at Outback Steakhouse

"I was going to say 'Look at the moon behind you' but it was a light bulb." - Sarah outside IHOP

"Actually, I played with eggs more than I did with dolls." - Sarah, walking past a store where everything is made of eggs

"I can tell by your writing you're sick." - Sarah, to me when I was ill

"What'cha not writing?"
"My name." - me and Ashlea, in an i-tickets meeting at work

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Gots Ta Get To Readin'

In January I made a vow to myself to read more books this year than I did the previous year. I'm almost done with book number 19. Last year I read twenty-seven. Granted, a lot of that reading was while I was on the subway in New York and it's a bit more difficult to read while in transit now since I am the one doing the driving. (Just a bit, though.)

It doesn't look like I'll be able to do it, but I'm not taking this lying down (unless I'm reading, then I'll probably be lying down. You know what I mean. Shut up).

Friday, November 09, 2007

Tricked into Fun

If you want to get me to show up somewhere, then tell me there will be Guitar Hero and/or Karaoke Revolution. My buddies at work knew me well enough to use this to lure me right into a surprise wedding shower for Sarah and me. And it was great!

Every few weeks or so, I'll bring my PlayStation2 with me to work and a few of us will stay after hours to play Guitar Hero and Karaoke Revolution. It's always a lot of fun and usually around midnight we realize how long we've been there and pack up and head home.

A little over a month ago we planned our first post-Ed's-wedding Game Night. We were excited that Sarah would be able to join us and Wednesday I left work at 5:00 to pick up Sarah and the PS2. We got back to the station and walked upstairs and there stood the entire station staff. I'd only been gone about 20 minutes and in that short time the room was decked out with balloons, streamers, cake, presents, and food from Boston Market. They yelled "SURPRISE!" as we walked in and I called them all "jerks." They totally got me and I never suspected a thing!

It was a great time and it made Sarah and me feel all warm and gooey inside. It was like being home again, only this time Sarah was with me.

Halfway through the dinner, Sarah leaned over to me and whispered, "Do you think we'll still get to play Guitar Hero?"

Of course we would.

We opened presents and laughed and were reminded again of what great friends we have here. Soon people started to leave and others started to get antsy: they were ready for Guitar Hero, too. After some mingling and catching up, we were down to our core group of gamers and the festivities continued.

All in all, it was a great night.

I've worked in places before where they claim to have a "family" atmosphere or profess to be more of a family than a workplace, but here at WJTL it's actually true.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Little Better, but Just as Stupid

This morning I got up and couldn't feel my stomach. Meaning, it was upset all day yesterday but upon waking I didn't feel anything. My first thought was, "Am I better now?"

Sarah stirred and asked "How do you feel today?"

I sat up and felt pretty good. So, just to make sure, I punched myself in the gut. Hard. I winced. I wasn't better yet.

"That was dumb" was all I could say and then Sarah and I laughed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Yesterday Sarah and I woke up to do our daily workout and I couldn't make it all the way through. Dizzy, light-headed, and just an in-general feeling of being drained. I pontificated on whether or not I was getting sick.

Last night we got home from the movies ("Back to the Future"!) and not long after getting back to the apartment I started feeling ill in my stomach. Almost like a light version of the stomach flu. I woke up a couple of times in the night to smell up the bathroom and when I woke up the woozy feeling was still there.

I came in to work today and smelled up the bathroom here a few times (I don't discriminate) and am now considering just going home early. Ugh.

Stupid imperfect body.

Monday, November 05, 2007

My Scientific Discovery

You know those times when you just wake up and you're laying there thinking about nothing in general and then you have an idea you think is BRILLIANT but then a few hours later you realize you were still half-asleep and your idea was, in all actuality, retarded?

Here was my awesome idea: Radio waves are everywhere. Radio stations are sending out all these signals and they're all over the place. I then wondered how the radio waves from all the radio (and TV) stations affected our bodies. And sometimes you come across people who are sick all of the time for no apparent reason. Well, what if it's the radio waves that are affecting their bodies and making them sick?! And what if I just cured someone? Has no one else ever thought of this? I'm a scientific genius!!

I remember laying there and priding myself in being such a deep thinker and if I have these awesome ideas in the morning by just laying there, maybe that's how I should start every day and who knows what story and movie ideas I would come up with.

But now that it's later and I'm pretty much fully awake I realize I should keep most of my half-asleep revelations to myself.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Small Wedding

As I sat down to write this I turned my iPod on "shuffle" to supply a little background music. Appropriately the first song that came on was "L-O-V-E" by Nat King Cole. And really, right now that's about the only thing that's been on my mind.

Sarah and I have been married for just over a week now and it's been amazing. Our wedding ceremony was pretty simple by most modern standards and I wouldn't have changed a thing. It was just Sarah and me on the beach in Florida with the preacher and a guy taking pictures.

It seems wedding ceremonies have become so complex and involved, it's become very easy to focus on all of the non-essentials: Renting the church, coordinating colors with bridesmaids' dresses, choosing music, deciding who to -- and not to -- invite, decorating, who will sing which song, whose niece will be the flower girl, will we take communion and light a unity candle, coordinating who walks down the aisle to which music cue, wondering if everyone will be able to fly in and get a hotel, buying and booking flowers, photos, videos, and commemorative mugs.

All that and more.

Needless to say, people in the wedding business are making a good chunk of change off of America In Love.

We go through such a rigmarole, instead of two people pledging love to one another the process transforms us into mini-producers trying to put together the perfect performance that will outdo anything we've seen, will be more memorable than the next couple's ceremony, and will also be pulled off without a hitch.

Sarah and I decided to approach it all from a different angle entirely. We wanted to skip all the flair and go straight to what was important to us: Pledging never-ending love to one another. Let's be honest. Ten years down the road no one but Sarah and I will care -- or remember -- what we did or didn't do for the ceremony and we agreed we'd much rather look back and remember the day not as a big blur that cost us thousands with nothing to show for it but a few fancy photos sitting in an album no one ever looks at (how about we save that money to put toward our future together instead?), but we'll remember October 26 2007 as the day we made a promise to each other (and God) that this was it.

When Brewster, my buddy who officiated the wedding, asked what kind of ceremony-on-the-beach we wanted it felt great to be up-front about it without having to impress anyone with our "wedding show". "Nothing fancy," we told him, "We want this day to be about what it's supposed to be about."

And it was good.

After the ceremony Sarah and I ran into the ocean, wedding clothes and all. Why did we decide to do such a thing? For no other reason except we wanted to. And why not? I can't think of a better way to start a great adventure. And admit it. It looked fun and you wish you jumped in the ocean, too.