Sunday, May 20, 2007

It Doesn't Matter Much to Me

Well this weekend was THE event. The one weekend of the year that the whole town drops what it is doing, joins in the festivities, and celebrates. That's right folks, it was the 66th Annual West Virginia Strawberry Festival.

This was my first Strawberry fest so I was intrigued. Everyone was telling me how great the festival was kept asking "are you going to the Strawberry Fest?" The hype factor was definitely high. With expectations that high, I was just hoping it would deliver.

Events were going on the whole week, I decided to check things out on Saturday as there was the "Grand Feature Parade." Saturday morning was a warning as to what I was about to get myself into as I was running errands and a typical 5-7 drive to Wal*Mart took a good 20+ minutes. There were cars everywhere and along Main Street [note: you know you live in a small down when the main street is called Main Street] at 10:30 am people had their chairs staked out to watch the parades. I finished my chores and headed out for a 20-min walk to "downtown."

As with all small-town festivals, there was a carnival and food vendors. I have no interest in carnies and getting ripped off so I skipped that. As it was lunch hour I did get a doner kebab to eat. Now these are all over Germany (due to a large Turkish immigrant population) and the OFOMOL has all but forbade me to have one, so here was my chance. The guy at the booth commented "ehh, you've been to europe?" I guess I ordered with a German accent...and we made small talk about all the doner places there. So I have five one-dollar bills in my hand and he says "that'll be $7." What? I'm already holding the doner in my hand and now I have to get more money? And $7 for this thing? I guess that's why there were no prices listed, if we knew how much they were charging we wouldn't buy them!

So I ate my doner while checking out the "Classic Car Parade." Now I'm no grease monkey but to me it seemed like they had quite a liberal definition of "Classic." to me, "Classic Car" implies lots of cars from the 30s-60s in good condition. Well there were some of those...but there were also plenty of cars in not good condition, plenty of cars from recent history, and plenty of custom jobbed modern cars. I mean when you see a mid-90s Mitsubishi Eclipse, you begin to question the cars. There were also plenty of trucks that had 3-4' of ground clearance including one that said "size matters" on the back. Ho hum! There's a saying that guys that put a lot into their cars have to make up for other inadequcies...I'm just saying. There was a couple behind me, who, upon seeing one of said trucks said, "it's great that you [the drivers] spend $3 to pull your car out of your driveway." Oh snap! No she didn't?!

I walked around more before the Grand Feature Parade started. A few observations:
Plenty of Confederate Flag, Git R Done, and NASCAR paraphanalia abound
All the people sitting in chairs for the parades would probably benefit from the extra metabolism it takes to stand.

So I stake my place on the sidewalk to watch the parade and soon see my friend Jason and his lady friend. They ask me if I am ready for a 3-hour parade. I do a double take and I'm like "what? you're kidding!" But no, they are not. This parade is really 3 hours long. Boy I wish they served alcohol here. Since none of us are native to the state we precede to rip on all the people in the parade and the whole festival itself. At one point there is a cowboy group (really, they were from Texas) on horses. Shortly behind them was a wagon with a guy who's job it was to SCOOP UP THE SHIT FROM THE HORSES!!! I kid you not. Now I don't know how he got assigned that job, but he must've done something really bad to draw that straw.

During the parade the conversation of Strawberries inevitably came up. One would think that they would sell Strawberries at the Strawberry Festival, but no, the only Strawberries to be found were in Strawberry Shortcake being sold. That was it. I thought that maybe Strawberries are a popular thing to farm in these parts, but I guess not. They just needed something to celebrate in this town.

The other amazing thing was the number of people in town! I don't know where everyone came from (out of the hills) but the place was crowded with overweight people wearing confederate flags who came to waste money on carnival games & overpriced food while watching a 3-hour long parade of people scooping up shit.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Residing in a Cardboard Box

My older sister and I must have some sort of connection. Well we are siblings, so I guess it's not that unusual. Anyway she sent me a MySpace message and commented about how she saw an episode of Saved by the Bell this morning and how it should be a topic for a blog. I wake up between 7:30 and 8:00 and during my breakfast hour I watch SBTB on USA from 8-9. They actually have a two-hour long block from 7-9 every morning. I saw the same episode and agreed with her on the ridiculousness of the episode. In reality every episode is pretty ridiculous but it does hold a special place in the heart for a lot of us. So in what will hopefully become a regular feature on MoL, I give you Classic Episodes of Saved by the Bell.

Our first stop will be the two-parter Home For Christmas. This is the one that focuses on the gang in the mall during Christmas. Jessie is a bitchy santa's helper, Slater can't wrap a package to save his life, and Kelly is working at Moody's Store for Men. Zach meets a pretty girl [Laura] who ends up working with Kelly. Zach and Screech meet a homeless man in the mall who later on collapses at the mall. At the hospital they find out the guy is Laura's dad, which mean, bingo! Laura is homeless! What is Zach to do? See since it is Christmas, this is a "very special" episode of SBTB.

Where do I begin. Well first off, how did Slater ever get this job? Didn't they teach him how to properly wrap a gift? It's not that hard and the more you wrap, the better you get at it. But throughout the 2-part episode his wrapping doesn't get any better. And then at one point the homeless guy takes over. I can tell you if I was a customer and somone who doesn't work there had to come and help Slater wrap gifts, I would not be too happy. Of course I wrap my own gifts, so I wouldn't be dealing with gift wrap.

The mall puts on a performance of A Christmas Carol. This must be the super-condensed version as it takes all of 2 min to get through. The whole gang along with Zach's mom is taking part in the performance. You know what would make it better? If we get Laura, the homeless girl who is suddenly friends with everybody, to be in the play also. But grumpy Mr. Moody won't let her. Now the show takes place in SoCal. I've never been there but I've been told it is a different place, that California. It must be really different because a major store in the mall allows two of its employees to take the afternoon off to be in the play. I mean, where I come from the malls are pretty packed during the holidays...but this is California and like I said, it is a different world there. And then there is the litte fact that Laura is HOMELESS! Wouldn't she want to be working and making money instead of being in a play? I think that her and her dad, who has just been hospitalized without (one would assume) health insurance could use every little bit of cash.

And then we get to the end. Ahh yes, a classic Saved By the Bell moment. The gang is over at Zach's house (Laura and Dad included) to celebrate Christmas. Keep in mind that it has probably only been a few days (a week at most) since everyone met. The Morris family really takes the meaning of Christmas giving to heart as they decide to let Laura and her dad live with them until they get off their feet. In other words...they're going to let two people they just met and hardly know to live with them indefinitely! Oh yeah, that is completely normal. This episode ends with a warm musical number:

Like the majority of SBTB episodes this one ends on a high note and we're left to wonder what happened afterwards. Continuity is not a strong point of this show.

Questions to ponder:
What ever happened with Zach & Laura?
Did Laura's dad ever get a job?
How long did they live there?
How come we've never seen Zach's mom & dad in the same episode?
What was the charge of Laura's dad's time in the hospital?
Sadly, we may never know the answers to these questions. Feel free to speculate in the comments section.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

And Now It's Been 10 Years

Today's video has "Embedding Disabled" so here is the link to Underground by Ben Folds Fine. What a great song and my how young Mr. Folds looks!

One of my favorite blogs is DeadOn. It's a group effort over there and they've got a nice collection of folks who are purveyors of all things relating to Pop Culture. I really enjoy it. Mr. Yostal has a weekly column, Tied to the 90s where he discusses music-related happenings of the underrated decade of the 1990s. This decade holds a special place in my heart as I spent all of high school and half of college in this decade.

This week's column is on songs for those planning/attending a 10-year reunion this summer. As I graduated in '97 and my 10-year reunion is this summer, I take special interest in this column. Going over his list, it struck me that calendar years are not synchrynous with school years. Yeah I know, this isn't a big relevation but when you graduate high school and songs are either associate with HS or associated with college, it becomes significant. After looking over his list and comparing it to what I remember from 10-years ago, I've decided to come up with my own list of songs from 1997 that I fondly recall. In no particular order...

I'll Be Missing You -- Puff Daddy & The Family
I remember driving around with my boys on some spring evening in '97. We heard this song and it caused us mental anguish. This was one of the first big songs to use samples. It doesn't sound like a big deal now because EVERY popular Rap/R&B song uses sampling. But back then we hear this and think "oh we know this song...but wait we don't! Who is that singing? What's going on? What did they do with The Police." This song was everywhere that spring. It also ties into college as me and one of my roommates (and best buddies from college) use to sing it.

No Diggity -- Blackstreet
I still love this song 10 years later. Teddy Riley's backing track is what holds this song together. I'm also partial to the "mmm mmmm" that falls on the 4-beat.

Return of the Mack -- Mark Morrison
I had no idea who Mark Morrison was, or why he was returning to being a Mack. I associate this song with the valedictorian from HS. I remember her really liking this song and singing along to it.

One Headlight -- The Wallflowers
This song was everywhere in spring of 1997. It is one of those songs that should have been hated due to it being completely over-played but for me I still dig it. It is included on this list due to the fact that I associate it with my recruiting trip to CWRU.

Secret Garden -- Bruce Springsteen
Only included here due to the cheesiness that is the Jerry Maguire remix. This song goes with Eric Clapton's "Change the World" as former rockers gone soft. You had me at hello. Indeed!

The Freshman -- The Verve Pipe
I always put this together with One Headlight for whatever reason. I had to write a paper for English class and remember hearing this song about five times as I typed out the paper.

Semi-Charmed Life -- Third Eye Blind
This song holds a special place in my heart. I had a 5K open swim in the summer of '97 and for the hour that I was in the water this is what I was singing. It helped as I ended up winning the thing (out of about 10 people). Also, what 18 year old doesn't like a song the mentions Crystal Meth and oral sex.

Push -- Matchbox Twenty
Remember when no one knew about these guys? It was just this song that people took offense to as it talked about pushing around your girlfriend. They got famous, Rob Thomas got fat, he lost that weight then became more famous with Santana. Things have worked out pretty well for him, eh? I'm not ashamed to say that this album still sounds good 10 years later.

Tubthumping -- Chumbawumba
As we move into the College portion of this list we arrive at the anarchists from the UK. Their anarchist messages meant nothing to me then (or now) but definitely a great song to sing along to at the top of your lungs, sober or not.

I'm starting to lose steam here and Lost is almost on, so I'll do a quick couple more.

I Will Buy You a New Life -- Everclear
Do you remember the world before MP3s? Well arriving onto a highly technological campus in the fall of '97 I quickly found out the joys of this new music format and network sharing. This is one of the first (of many) songs that I remember getting as an MP3 file. As a note, I still have my 1997 era desktop (200 MHz and 4 Gig hard drive!) in hops that I will one day recover the thousands of MP3 files I have on there.

Getting Jiggy With It -- Will Smith
My coach had this personality quirk where he would find a song and play it incessantly, somtimes on repeat (Shimmer anyone?). Well in the fall of '97 this was it. This song indoctrinated me into the world of college swimming which pretty much led me to where I am today.

So there you have it. My 13 songs from ten years ago that I associate with the end of high school and the start of college. I have to hand it to Yostal and his weekly posts. These take a lot of effort and just doing this one is enough.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I Think I Smell A Rat

Saturday May 12, 2007, 11:30
We find our hero settled into an evening of relaxation while watching television. He's already watched his beloved Cavaliers fall to those Nets from New Jersey. How a group of nylon stitching defeated a gang of swashbucklers remains a mystery. He's currently trying to find humor in the Molly Shannon-hosted episode of SNL but that humor is few and far between.

I hear some noise in the kitchen. Nothing big or anything and i attribute it to the wind. There are times, like we all do, that I imagine I have ghosts in my apartment. Not that this scares me or anything...its just a result of living alone in rural America. So I hear these noises and look into the kitchen and I catch something moving. I check it out a little more and what do I see? A mouse! Or Mus musculus for you scientifically oriented readers. I scare the little bugger and he retreats underneath the sink.

This means war. It is late and night and I think "well this can wait until tomorrow." Then I think about it some more and I really don't want to be asleep with thoughts of Mr. Mus musculus running around my apartment having his way with whatever he wants. So at midnight I head to Wal*Mart. Let it be known this is the first time in my life that I'm glad Wal*Mart is around and that it is open 24 hours.

Side note: Being in Wal*Mart at midnight can be interesting. The one thing that suprised me the most were the mothers who were there with their kids. I'm usually in bed by midnight...yet I saw at least 3 kids aged 8 or younger, including one [awake] baby. This can't be good for them.

So I search for traps and some reason they are in the same aisle as soap/detergent. Whowouldathunk? I then need to decide which kind to buy. I decide to go with the glue traps so that I'm not awoken by a snap of the traditional traps. I head home, set the traps, and head off to my slumber.

I awake in the morning and find my victim stuck in the trap. He's still alive and twitches every once in awhile, but I got the sucker. I dispose of him into the trash and revel in my victory. This is only one. While I am happy I got this guy, I don't know if he has reinforcements coming. The traps are still out but I haven't seen/heard any other mice. Hopefully this guy was just a scout. If he wasn't, my troops are armed and ready.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Take Me To Another Place

I tried posting this the past two nights...we'll see if the third time is the charm. So I travelled down to Knoxville, TN for a family wedding this weekend. I had a nice time. I saw some cousins and relatives I haven't seen in years. It is nice to see how everyone is doing and come together in a happy occasion of a wedding.

At one point I intruduced myself to my cousin's husband. His reply was "Oh, you're fast cousin M---." I don't think I've ever had adjectives attached to my name...well none that I know of. For whatever reason there are people (good and bad) who we don't call by just their name, but their name and a descriptor. He's not Mike, but Smart Mike, not Chris, but Smelly Chris, not Joe Davola, but Crazy Joe Davola. You could say "I was out with Dave the other night..." and people will look at your funny, like they don't know Dave. Then you say "you know, Big Dave" and they know exactly who you are talking about. There are only a select few individuals who have this honor. How they get it? Beats me, but I'll chalk it up to some sociological phenomenon.

I know I blasted my little sister a bit on my last post. I did, however, stick up for her (like a good brother should) at the wedding. She was in front of me getting drinks and she was carded. OK, I understand there are underage drinkers out there and we, as a society, need to do everything we can to make sure they don't taste alcohol until they are 21...but at a wedding? Seriously? Who gets carded at a wedding? My little sister I guess. So she's running to get her ID and I make some comment to the bartender like "Oh, you're carding?" And in a smug retort she says "Yeah, the drinking age is 21." What? When did this happen? I never knew we had a drinking age, and 21 to boot! I go on talking about how I think it is stupid to card at a wedding. The bartender could have fun with it and say something like "Yeah...its a pain but it is my job and she looks young," but she decided to keep whatever it was stuck up her butt and infomed me again that the drinking age is 21. For the rest of the night I made sure to go to the other bartender whenever I got a drink.

Congrats to Butch and Maria. I wish you a wonderful life together.