Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas sprirt in Wheeling, WV

It's that time of the year again. I'm often accused of seeing things differently than my fellow Wheelingites. So here's an interpretive glance at common things you might see during the holiday season. Basically, it's a... here's what you see, here's what I see.

You see a matronly woman at a restaurant. She's wearing a lovely Christmas sweater that says "Grandma's my name and Spoiling's my game.
I see this same woman. She is a corpulent woman who's having lunch at Eat'n'Park. While 30 people are waiting to be seated, she argues with the waitress about the quality of a buffet item. Apparently, there wasn't enough ground beef in the massive pot of chili. Flabbergasted, she exclaims, "It was all beans!" She demands some face time with the manager who's busy cleaning up some kids puke near table 16. She is adamant and finally gets her 10% off (before tax & tip). The total cost of her buffet and water with extra lemons was $4.99. Come hell or high water, she will get that 49 cents back. Sensing victory, she struggles to her feet. Totally out of breath, she looks at the people in line and mutters, "Usually, the service and food here is pretty good." Then, she goes next door to the Cold Stone Creamery and buys a double decker banana split & hot fudgalicious sundae to go. The total bill comes to $13.73. This fiscal discrepancy doesn't seem to phase her.

You see a line of young children getting their picture taken with Santa in the middle of the mall.
I see an elderly male on the sexual offenders list. He is wanted for multiple felony parole violations in WV and PA. But here at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville, he's off the radar. His breath wreaks of Jim Beam. Surely remnants from closing out a dive bar the night before. He's about ready to go on his Camel smoke break which will significantly add to the atrocious stench. As he massages the inner thigh region of children ages 3-7, he mentally salivates when the children tell him what toys they want for Christmas. Each child is a unique experience and Santa's erection goes undetected underneath all that fanciful attire. Santa's real name is "Bill." Bill likes to hear what the kids want. Bill knows what he wants. Later this afternoon, the state of Ohio will add him to the registry. But it will be worth it.

You see a father and children on I-70 heading up to The Highlands to do some much-needed shopping.
I see the redneck father who has everybody crammed in his pick-up. He purchased a top-of-the-line Durango with all the bells and whistles. With no money down, he pays $399 per month and will own it outright in 8 years. He chain smokes with the windows up while his three children sit in the back. Nobody gets to sit up front. That seat's for his spittoon. A glorious brass relic from World War I. This priceless family heirloom/tobacco receptacle has been passed down from 3 generations. You would think that either cigarettes or smokeless tobacco would be sufficient. You would think wrong. Both are necessary to simultaneously achieve that heralded nicotine buzz. His over sized, ill-fitting, trapezoid-shaped ball cap reads, "USA - LOVE IT or LEAVE IT." Not to let the ball cap entirely steal the spotlight, his t-shirt reads "WORLD'S GREATEST DAD."

You see a car heading up to Oglebay for the Festival of Lights.
I see a four hour line of traffic in every conceivable direction. Somebody runs out of gas half way up the hill. The grandma thinks the car broke down and frantically dials 911 as the kids in the back seat weep uncontrollably. "But Gran-Gran, I want to see the Kwissmas Twee!" She barely makes it into Stratford Springs. The car is towed to the nearest parking garage. Alas, all it needed was a gallon of gas. The gauge on her 1989 Cutlass Cierra had been broken since 2004, but she forgot all about that. Her lapse in judgment is understandable. Just too preoccupied with the spirit of the season. Me too, I suppose.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Republican 2012 dilemma

There's one question that dominates the mind of every potential contestant in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries. Assuming "Sarah the Imbecile" runs, how do I get rid of her without alienating her base? For the record, history is replete with nicknames of political leaders. Ivan the Terrible, Alexander the Great... As of this moment, I'm starting an internet campaign to orchestrate a new means of identifying her - "Sarah the Imbecile." I think it has a nice ring to it. It could catch on - you just need someone with some clout to introduce it an opportune moment.

But the million dollar question remains, how do you dispose of this woman. Right now, the 3 other central competitors (Romney, Huckabee & Gingrich) are terrified of the self anointed mother gristle. Let's look down the road a bit. Most political hacks think she'll run. I tend to agree. But I think her popularity in Iowa, the initial primary, could be a tad inflated. Remember, the Iowa caucuses are unlike regular primaries. There's no secretive voting. They hold the caucuses out in the open. Whether it be in a church, a school or wherever. Basically, there's a large group of people. After everyone makes an impassioned plea for their respective candidate, you literally have to go and stand in a certain part of the room. Not a lot of people realize this. It's a very OPEN process and the Iowan voters take a great deal of pride in their traditional process. Palin never went through all this in 2008. She was simply handpicked by McCain for the VP slot. It's one thing for a registered dumbass to vote for her. It's entirely another matter for them to withstand the embarrassment and scrutiny of their friends and neighbors. When your peers are standing in judgment, and you're pressed with the question, "Do you really think she's qualified to be President of the United States," I strongly suspect many would fold under the pressure.

I don't doubt that Sarah the Imbecile has the "ovaries" to "woman up" and compete. I just don't think she'll compete effectively. No doubt her good 'ol fashioned common sense instincts will be seriously tested in town hall settings. Her impassioned tweets and sound bytes won't hold up so well. If somebody asked her what cities she planned on visiting... Well, other than Iowa City, I doubt she's familiar with Davenport and Des Moines. Well, she probably has visited some of those cities on her book tour but she probably refers to those municipalities as the one with the Sam's Club, Borders or Books a Million. Trust me, this dipshit thinks Barnes and Noble is a wine cooler.

The Republican party has demonstrated a tendency to go with the establishment pick. It's generally more of a closed process than the Democrats. Presidential candidates are usually the traditional pick. That's why I think it will eventually be Mitt Romney. Surprisingly, if you check the gambling odds, Palin's currently the front runner.

Sarah Palin +300
Mitt Romney +400
Bobby Jindal +500
Mike Huckabee +500
Tim Pawlenty +1000
Mark Sanford +1200
Charlie Crist +1200
David Petraeus +1500
Newt Gingrich +1500
Jeb Bush +2000
John McCain +2000
Rudolph Giuliani +1500
Ron Paul +2000

I'm a little surprised with these odds. Jindal is on record adamantly saying he will not run. Crist??? Isn't he an Independent who turned his back on the Republicans and then got crushed by Rubio in Florida. McCain again? Gimme a break. And where's John Thune from South Dakota? He'd have a respectable chance. Not sure if has the name recognition or cashflow though.

But still, the question persists - How do you get the Republican nomination without alienating the Palin's little trained minions? First off, as one of her opponents, you MUST have an appropriate answer for the main question - "Do you think Sarah Palin is qualified to be President of the United States?" You cannot dodge this question and sheepishly respond, "Well, that's a question for the American voters in the Republican primaries." That's a cop-out. Here's how I would answer the question everyone fears...

"Of course she is, she was our VP nominee at the 2008 Convention. She had a debate with Joe Biden? Didn't you watch it? They ran it on your network!" The point is, after the primary fades I think it's highly doubtful that the press will begrudgingly harp on the point that you said she was qualified. Other high priority issues will surface - they always do. You might get bashed on MSNBC, but hardly anyone who diligently watches that channel is going to give a damn. And it will eventually become a stale talking point.

Anyhoo, what's my point to all this incoherent blather. Well, here it is. I'm trying to figure out the inevitable Mitt Romney strategy for defeating Palin while simultaneously not alienating her legion of followers. I think it goes something like this...

Mitt - We need to put aside all the hot-button social and religious issues. These issues must take a temporary back seat as we struggle to save the country. Now is NOT the time to get mired in debates about gay marriage, abortion... We need to focus solely on jobs, the economy and the deficit.

This would play well because Romney has flip-flopped on abortion and has overtones as a social liberal because he's from the Northeast. And it also eliminates discussion of the Mormon tag which plays poorly in Georgia and the south and midwest. The move would be unprecedented since all the candidates have historically pandered to the extreme right wing.

He also is the only Republican candidate with REAL big business experience. I think he needs to come out swinging in this direction. It sets him apart from Huckabee the preacher, Sarah the Imbecile, and even Newt the cheater. Romney needs to make it look as though "it's me against the field." I think you come out forcefully with a statement that "I'm the ONLY solid candidate who's focused on the critical economic issues." All the others are only concerned with tv exposure and their social causes. If you want a celebrity, vote for one of them. If you want a Republican president on 2012, vote for me.

Sure enough, you'll take some hits form the anti-gay and pro-lifers, but I think drawing a distinction in the primaries is more crucial. It is of paramount importance. Plus, it's a great way to pivot into the general election, especially if the economy is still tanking (and yes, the overall economy is going to be the same or even worse for the vast majority of Americans). And when the dust finally settles, are any of these hard-line base Republicans going to vote for Obama? Fuck no. You'll easily get them back for the general election. Anyway, I suspect Romney will employ this kind of strategy. Watch for it - specifically, the tacit discouragement and rejection of traditional conservative social issues in 2012.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

facebook cartoon pics/egging of Hummers

I never quite understood the mentality of changing ones profile pic on facebook to a cartoon character. It was initially portrayed as a way to empathize with the plight of child abuse. I guess that would sense to some people. It's relatively easy to convince people to take benign action when faced with an evasive, emotional issue. Supporting the troops, cutting the size of government, railing against childhood obesity, keeping pedophiles away from playgrounds, improving K-12 education, expressing love for your country, prayers to trapped miners, etc. All these are no-brainer issues, very Palinesque.

But something happened along the way with the cartoon profile pic. Someone out there in cyberworld made an allegation...

The people that started posting this thread/status update were pedophiles. That's right! They were trying to entice young children into "friending" them. Personally, when I first read that, I thought that sounded like a bit of a stretch. Fascinating though how quickly the non-snoped anti-cartoon profile thread is making the rounds. Probably because child abuse is such an enormous, hot-button issue.

It got me to thinking though. Mostly about the awesome power one could potentially harness by starting one of these status updates. When faced with an emotional statement, so many people make knee-jerk reactions rather than ask questions. I'm also guilty of this.

But the million dollar question, could people be motivated to commit random acts of violence or vandalism (much easier) based on one of these simplistic updates? Could you tactically phrase one of these updates concerning gay marriage, abortion, terrorism and then literally "pull the rug out from people" with some kind of counter-update conclusion? Could people be encouraged to turn on their "friends." Let's be blunt, most people have a few friends who they really don't know that well. Personally, I use the following scenario to gauge friendship - "have they ever been in my home" or "do I enjoy your presence" is a fairly good barometer. My point - when people have over 400 or so friends, most of these facebook friendships could easily be thrown out the window. You simply don't know them so it might be incredibly easy to turn on one of these acquaintances.

I'd like to create a status update based on my revulsion toward those idiot Hummer vehicles driven by wannabe, rugged trophy wives. I think they speak volumes about a person. The trick would be to make people believe that based on their purchase of a "knock-off" military vehicle that they have some kind of predisposition to believe something about our aggressive war policy. Perhaps a specific aspect about torture or enhanced interrogation techniques. Then, in a follow up post, you encourage people to throw eggs at the monster SUVs. This is a softer form of vandalism; thus, not as objectionable as say slashing tires.

I'd love to witness the universal "egging of Hummers." Has a nice ring to it aside from the strange, pseudo-sexual overtones. Just something to think about - an emotional appeal/facebook status update that encourages people to egg Hummers. The best place would be in grocery store parking lots since the availability of eggs is so convenient. And the act itself, not exactly a hate crime. More of a weak, random political statement. Shouldn't have bought one of those obnoxious gas guzzlers in the first place.

Maybe something like...

To everyone who owns a Hummer... Did you know that the creators of the Hummer brand were a group of militant Muslims? Their purpose was to increase our dependency on foreign oil. They purposely designed it to resemble our military vehicles as an inside joke on stupid Americans. If you see a Hummer in a grocery store parking lot, throw an egg at it. Copy and paste this to show your support for our troops and veterans!

Alright, now granted, that is a bit of a stretch. But you see where I'm heading. If anyone can come up with a better call to action, lemme know. By the time I leave this planet (I don't believe in silly notions of heaven or hell, and in all likelihood, I'll most likely be buried... so conventional wisdom says that I'll never "leave" the planet earth, unless NASA or the Virgin Atlantic dude offers assistance - proud distinction of the first atheist jew in orbit), I need to witness the egging of Hummers. It would be a source of tremendous pride to know that I was the one who got the ball (or for that matter, egg) rolling.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Buffalo Bills twitter

Yesterday, I watched the second half of the Steelers/Bills game at the 19th HO. Midway through overtime, Bills receiver Stevie Johnson dropped a perfectly thrown 50 yard pass in the end zone. After the game, he tweeted the following...


Now seriously, what the fuck is this? What the fuck does this even mean? It never ceases to amaze me how the human race is so incredibly self absorbed. Honestly, it defies description. I suppose it's an easy cop-out. After all, in this day of heightened religious sensitivity, if you blame a god for a trivial shortcoming, who's going to have the temerity to challenge that assessment. It would be akin to questioning someone's core beliefs. How dare you?

Of course, that's the beauty of steadfast devotion to a higher power. You can NEVER be adequately called upon to explain yourself. It's always about "faith." No wonder every politician claims a belief in the supernatural. You'll always be on relatively safe ground with the majority.

I have seen so many athletes praise and extol their lord for insignificant human victories. Over time, it really numbs your senses almost to the point of a casual indifference. Of course, they're not the only ones. Movie stars and musicians love invoking Jesus Christ when presented with an Emmy, Grammy or Teen Choice Award. Good for them. Over the years, I've grown accustomed to egomaniac athletes praising deities. This whole "god wants our team" to win mentality gets pretty annoying. On a global scale, I think it probably peaked in the 2006 World Cup when Iran kicked the USA's collective ass. For me personally, I lost it during the 1999 Rams/Titans Superbowl when Kurt Warner and the Rams owner (I think her name was Georgia Hess), thanked Jesus repeatedly after their team held on for the last second victory. She was literally screaming her brains out, "Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus!" Shouldn't they have made at least a cursory mention of the linebacker who made the last second tackle at the one yard line? What about the team bus driver that safely transported them to the venue? I wouldn't hastily dispute their contributions. Hell, I'd sooner pay homage to the janitor who scrubbed the stadium toilets.

I realize that I'll never be on the winning side of this argument. It's just too easy for feeble minded humans to embrace such simplistic notions of success and failure as it relates to the age old notions of good vs. evil.

But here's what I'd like to see more of... I'd like to see the losers PLACE MORE BLAME on their respective god. Now that would be long overdue. In my ideal world, where BALANCE is key, I would welcome this new found appropriation for defeat. Hell, tonight's mouthwatering Monday Night football match up is the Arizona Cardinals against the San Fransisco 49ers. Sucked. But the 49ers coach Mike Singletary is truly a man of god. He wears that mammoth cross on the outside of his sweatshirt. He must have some overriding need to demonstrate his Christian faith. I guess it's a "subliminal" message that he's on the side of virtue and truth. I'd love to see his team lose tonight. What if he had a total mental breakdown and pulled off a tearful Jerry Fallwell routine... "Oh, dear god, why hast though forsaken me? Why do I deserveth your wrath? Why must you inflict your misery upon thyself and punish the sodomizers of San Francisco?" I love the idea of Singletary blaming a football loss on the city's historic "embrace of the homos." Obviously, there must be a correlation. Has a nice Westboro Baptist Church feel to it, doesn't it?

Seriously though, the time has arrived to assign a greater amount of religious blame for the trivial transgressions of mankind...

Clogged toilet? Blame Jesus.
Erectile dysfunction? Blame Jesus.
Speeding ticket or DUI? Blame Jesus.

We need to establish a more balanced system of protocol for churchies everywhere. I consider this a moral imperative for societal enlightenment. Fuck it, they've already established the playbook and written the rules. I'm just trying to follow them. I call upon you, the reader of this eternally damned blog, to embrace this urgent call for balance. Sucky blog entry? Blame Jesus. On second thought, you know what? Fuck that! Blame Saf.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

thoughts on North Korea

The timing of this Kim Jong-Un shelling of a South Korean island intrigues me. Let's set the stage. They're on the cusp of entering these 6 party talks. So perhaps a display of force was a good idea. Remember the beloved Ronald Reagan - "Peace through Strength." Well, that analogy is a bit of a stretch.

I think Kim Jong-Un made a purposeful, strategic decision designed to improve his standing in Asia. I'd assume that most would agree with that assessment. I doubt most people think this was the act of a "crazy" man. Although, the father Jong-Il was always portrayed as a paranoid freakshow nutcase.

I think his purpose was two-fold. First, he simply wanted to solidify his power as the next dictator. What better a way to demonstrate that then to lash out at your mortal enemy? But more importantly, because let's face it, this was not the most heinous, vicious attack in the history of modern warfare. I think the body count was 2. Not to besmirch the fallen heroes, but 2 is... well, 2. Jong-Un needed to cement his authority with the military. I'm sure there's at least a few in the extensive N. Korean military apparatus that might try a coup d'etat rout. This sends a simple, straightforward message - I'm the one who's the boss. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss - Slosh.

But here's what I think this is really all about. I think Jong-Un is in the early stages of creating a new shift in the power balance. And I think he picked a good time to do it. If I were Jong-Un, when I enter the upcoming 6 party talks, I'll immediately decry the U.S. military presence in South Korea. I'll immediately call for a reasonably timed and phased withdrawal of U.S. troops on the border. I'll make the argument that my country has already been lumped in with the axis of evil (Bush's Iran, Iraq, North Korea bit). Hell, just because W is out of office doesn't mean shit. Obama hasn't spoken against the Bush doctrine. At least not that I can recall. Obama just doesn't label everyone who hates the U.S. a terrorist.

Anyway, if I'm Jong-Un, I'll commence any political bargaining from this vantage point. The U.S. is severely bogged down right now, both militarily and economically. Horrible time to further expose our exhausted military with an entirely new war front on a different continent. I'll point to the enormous American military presence throughout the world. Aside from our troops throughout EVERY country in the Middle East, when you think about it, we've got a ton of military might stationed in Asia as well. Jong-Un can just make the relatively sound case - "Hey, the Americans are all around us and they've already invaded before. Do we really want them muscling in AGAIN? I think China might go along with some carefully crafted rhetoric. Japan, Taiwan - no fucking way.

This would strengthen China's position as well. Hell, when the conflict with Islam finally begins to fade, China is likely the next enemy. Not in a traditional military sense though. Probably a sustained economic war with an occasional military skirmish. Anyway, I think Jong-Un knows what he's doing. I suspect he'll prematurely withdraw from the 6 party talks and demand the U.S. draw down its hostile presence. He'll promise to reenter future peace talks when he sees visual proof of the draw down. I think the 6 party talks will unfold under this general format, but Jong-Un will be left with greater standing, and believe it or not, more regional respect. At least that's how I'd approach this mess. Oh yeah, and call for more international economic aid for my enfeebled populace. You can never go wrong with the case for increased aid - reminds everyone that you are weak and on the defense. It's a better public relations perspective for this style of dictator - Feigning weakness even though you are surprisingly negotiating from a position of relative strength. I don't think you'll see a near-term escalation of military might. This North Korean outburst might appear sudden, but the objectives are long term. Jong-Un knows he's just starting out and has a long way to go. He really is a chip off the old block.

Now I will watch a true drama unfold. I'm going to check me out some young Palin on the Dancing with the Stars finale. Honestly, I've never seen it. No sarcasm here. I just need to see if Bristol wins, and as an esteemed surrogate for her mother flippin' mama, announces Mommy dearest's presidential candidacy for 2012. With Sarah's new book tour just getting underway, it's a win-win. Classy. Go get'em.

One final thought - I have no allegiance to North Korea or its leadership. Lately, I get the feeling there's some moron out there in cyberworld who would read this and conclude that I'm a Kim Jong Il/Un sympathizer. Maybe I'm even cahoots! You know, providing strategic advice to a member of the vaunted axis of evil. Kim Jong-Saf... I'll admit, it does have a nice ring to it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

shuttle/Raiders-Steelers game

So I got back from Arizona and I'm in the shuttle van returning to the extended lot (Red F-13) at the Pittsburgh airport. There are 7 of us. I'm sitting directly across from a 10 year old who was celebrating his birthday. He was accompanied by his grandparents. They were discussing their trip to Disney with a priest who was seated to my right. The grandmother was a large woman - I'd estimate she weighed in near the 268 lb range. Not quite sure why I find that detail pertinent. Apparently they spent 10 days out west and were headed back to Latrobe.

And here is a snippet of the conversation...

Grandma - "Ohh, we had a wonderful time. The fireworks were incredible.

Priest - "Did you see the presidents? Isn't that something?"

Grandma - "Oh yeah, they were amazing. So lifelike. It felt like they could reach out and touch you."

10 yr. old boy - He looks in the priest's direction and inquires, "Are you a priest?"

Priest - "As a matter of fact, I am."

10 yr. old boy - "When I grow up, I want to be a priest!"

Priest - "Ohhh, that's wonderful!"

Grandma - "Ever since he was a young boy, he's always loved going to church. You should have seen him at the baptism when he was a young boy. His arms were outstretched. And he loves the fish fries too! Don't ya?"

kid - Ohhh yeah, I just love fish!"

Priest - "Ohhh, God bless you."

Then, for the love of god, I decide to speak..

SAF - "Apparently, he's probably unfamiliar with the pedophile scandal historically sweeping through the church."

Grandma - "Seems like your parents never taught you any manners."

SAF - "Well... they tried but it didn't take."

Then there was this incredibly awkward silence for about almost an entire minute.

Bus driver - "F-13!," he cries out.

I scramble to my feet and politely nod in their direction, grab my luggage and exit. And that's pretty much the end of it.


And here's my take on the Steelers/Raiders game. It was 3 of us. Me, Gig and her friend Emily who made a surprise visit from Seattle. I constructed a sign that read...


U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A.!

The sign was written on the back of a coke 12 pack. I utilized a twig backing (carton-packing taped) for additional height. I was trying to convey a wide range of emotions. Obviously, the typical arrogant American sense of entitlement was center stage. And the Palinesque "U.S.A." bit was designed to evoke a phony, cornballish sense of patriotism for anyone who might be easily influenced. The "cash equivalent" request was admittedly a bit of a stretch. It's my dream that some sugar daddy might come along and ask me if I have change for a hundred, to which I'd respond, "Sure thing my man, here's a twenty." The stick-taped backing was a little bit ghetto but I liked the understated, blue collar approach. I even wore this yellow oven mitt. I was attempting to recreate a Michael Jackon/Liza Minelli glitteratti thing. All in all, I was trying to appeal to everyone across the board. Throw it all out there and see what unfolds.

Gig went with the traditional sign. "If you give me a free ticket, I promise I won't sit by you"

Emily had no sign. She thought we were both weirdos.

Ironically, Emily quickly snagged a ticket for $20. My sign seemed to be working against us. I got a few deranged looks here and there but little commentary. Gig received a far more positive response but nobody was biting. Tix seemed relatively scarce around 12:30pm. Sensing an underlying discreet vitriolic vibe, I rested the sign against the bench and just watched the crowd roll in.

Nearing crunch time I walked to the top of the steps and found an old man. He sold me a $200 club seat for $20. And then Gig conjured up a 20 buck ticket right at kick-off. We gobbled up the rest of our drinks, a mamosa and some red wine and headed in. Great game - Steelers 35 Raiders 3.

On the flight back from Phoenix, I sat next to a die hard Raider fan and his son. In fact, the plane had plenty of Raiders fans. I surmised that it originated in Oakland as that is one of the Southwest Air hubs. He had me totally convinced that the Raiders would pull off the upset. He kept spouting stats and betting trends. He called it Raiders 31 Steelers 10. Well... at least he got some nice California weather.

Monday, November 15, 2010

flippin' Patriots

Ahhh, the witty banter of Sarah Palin... If she went to the game last night she'd probably say, "Regardless of the loss, that Steelers game was flippin' fun!" Is it any wonder why I loathe this woman? Fortunately, she's over 2,000 miles away. Well, until her book tour rolls back through the area. One day I will pulverize this self-proclaimed Mama Grizzly. This, I vow.

Anyway, I might up with Gig and we headed down to the mayhem around 4pm. Parked on a creepy side street on the North Shore. I think it was called Fontilla Avenue. Armed with an unnecessarily massive amount of Steelers key chains, we did some low end solicitation. Someday, I'll get rid of all that unofficial merchandise. The rain was kind of annoying and set the stage for a melancholy tailgating atmosphere. Things finally cleared up but the general mood remained stale.

Gig and I had 2 signs...





We assumed our standard position - standing on the bench outside Gate A. In about 20 minutes, a man would hand me the elusive free ticket. It was a club level seat ($252 face). He seemed happy just to give it away. I was content to accept the magnanimous gesture.

Then, it got a little weird. A policeman told us to "lose the signs." We both said okay but remained standing. We talked about the unreasonable nature of his demands but complied with the order (for about 5 minutes). Then, he walked away and the signs went back up. Oh my god, the utter defiance! It was like Jean-Luc Picard disregarding the prime directive. Anyway, another cop comes over, but he just wanted to see the signs. He just smiled and walked back to his post by the main gate. This emboldened us a bit, but we still couldn't seem to acquire the second freebie.

Truth be told, it was a pretty "tight" scene. Not a whole lot of action. Then, about 15 minutes passed and the original cop returned with one of the stadium security people. This time he was pissed off. He growled at us, "I already told you guys once! Get down form there and give me those signs or you'll be arrested! Do you understand?" We just mumbled "okay, sorry." Then, that bastard took both our signs. I'm thinking to myself a few things...

1) I spent about 4 minutes making those signs.
2) Regardless of the fact that the signs are basically worthless, isn't it illegal for him to just steal them from us?
3) Apparently, we're allowed to stand on the bench, so the elevation part wasn't the problem. It's just the signs. Is it okay to just yell and beckon for free tickets? Personally, I think the latter sounds more invasive and obnoxious.
4) And lastly, we still need another free ticket.

Anyhoo, now signless we walked toward lot A. Not too much action. Then I saw a guy who had an extra. He wanted face but quickly dropped to $20. I met up with Gigi and she also had found a $20 ticket. So we sold hers off for $20 and that pretty much concluded our ticket quest.

The fireworks were pretty impressive. We went in and snagged a front row spot on the railing in the end zone. I usually stand in the pit and watch it on the big screen. But this wasn't bad because you could turn your head and see the critical plays and referee calls. A guy next to us yelled, "Brady is a cunt!" I thought that was an unusual choice of words. As the half came to a close, I figured we'd lose this one. Just no pressure on Brady as he picked apart our secondary.

During halftime, we wandered to the other end of the stadium. Mid-way through the third, we opted to bolt. I know, I know... I'm always quick to ridicule the lame-ass fans that leave early but we were both wet, cold and poorly dressed. So we zipped to her place and watched the rest of the game. At the end of that debacle late in the 4th quarter, the stadium looked desolate. No thanks to us. We flippin' suck. And so does that cop that harassed us and broke the law. What's this flippin' world coming to?

This morning I noticed the receipt ticket had a name on it. David Dichauzi of Winchendon, Massachusetts. I googled his name and sure enough he came up on facebook. So I sent him a message of gratitude. David, if by chance you ever read this, just know the sentiment was deeply appreciated. If only others were more like Dave and less like that arrogant, thug cop with an inferiority complex, the world (and Steelers games) would be a much better (and flippin') place.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

free Steelers theory

I've often boasted of my ability to snag free tickets at Steelers games. To be honest, when they're not doing well, it's relatively easy. The number of no-shows is sometimes absurd. We went to see them play the Green Bay Packers last year and they still had a remote shot of making the playoffs. The weather was cold but hardly unbearable. Over 7,000 people didn't show up. My sign said...


The first guy we encountered dished us off 2 freebies. Now granted, this game was a complete lay-down. Fuck it - I've encountered greater resistance trying to buy a Coors Light at the 19th HO. But it got me to thinking. You always see these articles about how much it costs for a family of 4 to go to an NFL game. Somehow, it seems to approach the $750 threshold. And that's for the seats in peanut heaven.

So let's try to do the exact opposite. I'm going to lay out a deceptively unsophisticated game plan to get you on your way.

Here's the hypothetical scenario for the Steelers/Raiders game on Nov. 21. It's currently scheduled for 1pm but it could turn into a night game based on the flex scheduling. I doubt they'll move it though because the Steelers have already had a glut of prime time games (that's because the Steelers rock, but I digress).

Alright, we're coming from Wheeling so git in your car at 8am sharp. I have no tolerance for a late departure. In my book, 9:30am is always the latest acceptable departure time. Why would anyone want to sit in that bullshit traffic and forfeit valuable sightseeing/tailgating time? So the drive up is going to cost you in terms of gas money. But I have figured a way to shave off some dollars. When you get on the parkway, get off at the Green Tree exit on 279N. Make a left and go through 2 lights. On your right is the Best Western Parkway Center Hotel. It's a large hotel with ample parking. Enter the lobby on any Sunday and you will see a mammoth, deluxe complimentary breakfast. All the fixins! Even kosher low fat Jew ham! So stock up. You'll feel like it's a Bob Evans buffet. Alas, you're not really "down on the farm." More likely, you're "up on the hill at a horribly disjointed intersection." Anyway, just relax and get a grip. Read the sports section and feel free to use the immaculate restrooms in the lobby.

Here's where the entertainment begins. They run a free shuttle from the hotel to Heinz Field and the casino. As a "valued customer," feel free to hop on. I would suggest tipping the driver about 3 bucks. Hell, it's a gesture. And he/she is going to drop you down right at the main entrance. So fuck that $50 Gold Lot parking pass or that $40 Carnegie Science Center Lot bullshit. And the myriad of $25-$30 spots on the North Side can also go to hell.

Or you can just make the drive down to the North Shore. I prefer off street parking near the main drag - Federal Street in the crack district and greater meth area. It's about a 3/4 mile to the stadium.

Alright, so you just saved a bundle on parking. But what about alcohol? No self described fan can go to a Sunday afternoon game without imbibing a few drinks to get in the mood. At least, that's the impression I've gotten over the years. The rampant alcohol and substance abuse is on par with a Skynyrd concert at Starlake. So Saffy, how do you get free drinks? EASY. Have a dollar bill in your hand and approach a group of tailgaters drinking cheap canned domestic beer - Miller Lite or IC Light is always the best because you know it didn't cost them much. Look for the moment when a man is talking to his wife or girlfriend. Ask the following question, "Hey you guys, could I buy a beer off you for a buck?" 9 times out of 10, the guy will toss you a beer and say, "Oh, don't worry about it man." It's important to always ask the male though, not the woman. The man will always want to appear benevolent and philanthropic in front of his lady friend. Oddly enough, it doesn't work as well if you ask the girl.
You can do this one all day long.

If mixed drinks are your thing, fill up a high quality ziplock bag with Captain Morgan. Yellow and blue make green, asshole. Just make sure to seal it thoroughly. I'd suggest 2 ziplock bags as opposed to just a single. You still have to buy a Coke or Sprite on the inside though. But there you go. You'll feel like you're in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Well, on second thought it's a ghetto approach so maybe a cross between downtown Kingston and the northern Ukraine.

But Saf, I want to buy some official Steelers merchandise. What about that? Well, personally I'm not a big fan of the $250 Polamalu jersey. Now if some brother approached me on the street corner and had a $10 t-shirt that said, "Big Ben Raped My Mom" - well.... I'd probably cave. But yeah, what about some over-priced NFL gear for the pseudo, wannabe fan, lame ass American consumer/sheep? Here's what I would do. I would get 2 yellow dishrags or hand towels from the bathroom closet. Bingo! Instant 25 cent terrible towel. There you go. I usually carry a black marker at all times. So just right the word "Steelers" on it. Or better yet, write "GAY" on it - a tribute to our cornerback William Gay. It's my dream that one day, he makes a big hit on Terrell Owens over the middle. The TV announcer yells out, "Oh No! Sodomized by Gay!" (A Freudian slip) Is it doubtful... yes. Is it possible? Well, maybe in the 1-2% range. Still though, dare to dream.

Another option for free merchandise is just to sign up for a credit card and get a free Steelers Snuggie or crappy, mid-end fleece. Then, immediately cancel the card the following day. You could provide false information, but these days, they almost always check your drivers license to verify everything. Another option is to create a diversion. Have a friend fall to his knees like he's having a heart attack or a diabetic reaction. When the Visa-Mastercard asshole offers assistance, sneak behind the stand and snag 10 t-shirts. As you walk away, yell "Steelers shirts! 1 for $10, 2 for $15!"

But Saf, I need tickets and the damn game is sold out. Yeah, they've been sold out since 1973 and the waiting list is 10,000 douchebags thick. So now I'm going to give away the infamous Saffy/Steelers free ticket acquisition theory. If you read my blog about the Ravens game from a few weeks ago, you'd know I made a sign that said...


Needless to say, it worked in less than 5 minutes. A man gave me an $86 ticket in the 500 section. Now, you can make a sign say anything you want and you'll get predictably limited results. The trick is in the execution. When you stand outside the main entrance, there are a series of 6 benches that run parallel to the main gates. Simply step up and stand on the bench. I prefer bench #2. I'll label it accordingly when I'm at the game next week (Sunday fucking night - Bellifuck is comin' to town! Honestly though, I prefer him over Santa). Anyhoo, this forces about 40,000 out of the 65,050 entrants to read your sign. Play the laws of probability. There are many "fans" (I'd say about 32 people, mostly older white men) that regularly eat their tickets. They usually sit in the obnoxiously overpriced 200 club level. These are the $250 seats. They are unwilling to sell them for fear of sitting next to a drunken, snotting slob while they entertain their derivative trading clients. They also don't want some weirdo dressed like a Catholic priest with a black and gold hat trying to molest their grandkids. Speaking of odd head gear, I'm finally going to construct my black and gold "Terrible Turban." This is the final step in bridging the gap between atheist Jews and militant Islamic fundamentalists. With my assistance, we'll usher in that new found era of cultural understanding and acceptance that has proved so defiantly elusive since Jesus Christ died for my sins or Mohammed slaughtered a cow or whatever.

So there you go. I think we covered all the basics. Food, beverages, merchandise, and tickets of course. Saf, how can you give away these precious game day secrets. It's easy I tell ya. See, I also play the laws of probability. Let's assume there's about a baker's dozen weirdos who regularly read my blog. Of that 13, 3 have never been to a Steelers game. 1 has never been to Pittsburgh. Another 4 can't tolerate the concept of standing on a bench, opening themselves up to potential scorn and ridicule. That's right - It comes with the territory, bitches. Another 2 don't like to be outside in the cold. And another 1 thinks NFL Football sucks. He/she prefers going to church on a Sunday. Weak. That leaves 2 people to compete with on game day. I'll take my chances.

And just for the record, here's my 5 team parlay. 3 upsets, 1 over, 1 under.

I like CAROLINA over New Orleans (7 point underdog)
Buffalo over Chicago (3 point underdog)
and INDY over Philly (another 3 point underdog).
Take the OVER 40 in the AZ at Minnesota
and take the UNDER 44.5 in the New England at Cleveland.

I don't bet anymore but it pays $20 to win $1,267.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sarah Palin in Wheeling, WV/Tea Party rally at the Heritage Port

This afternoon I was checking out the Wheeling UnIntelligencer website and the "Breaking News" scrolled across the screen...


Needless to say, I quickly finished my Halloween costume (a Dolph Santorine name tag that says "Hello, my name is Dolph") and rushed out the door. It said the rally would start at 3:30 and here it was already 3:45pm. I made it downtown in 5 minutes flat. Fortunately, it had just begun. So here are my "unbiased" observations...

I parked in the United Bank lot and walked down. Lots of "Raese for Governor" and just as many "Manchin = Obama" signs littered the walkway. Plenty of vendors selling buttons and t-shirts. Most of the stuff was par for the course. Lots of red, white and blue. Let's get further immersed in stars and stripes. Plenty of abstract themes about freedom, liberty and less government. A few people had flags that read "Don't tread on me." And of course, there was the typical anti-Pelosi/Reid/Obama material as well. Who could have fathomed that one? I'll give the Tea Party credit for one thing - they don't vary much from their talking points. They have a mission statement and they stick to it.

I'd estimate the crowd at about 280 (and that could be a little generous). Considering that the weather was decent (pleasant and around 50 degrees), I'm surprised more people weren't in attendance. Then again, 4pm was rapidly approaching. I'll surmise that most of the crowd was en route to Mehlman's Cafeteria for the dinner rush. The crowd was OLD and WHITE. I did see one black man with a black trench coat and a long braided pony tail who was rather conspicuous. Plenty of people waving American flags and saluting anything in their collective peripheral vision.

What I found surprising was the lack of security. The crowd was calm, orderly and remained seated. Nonetheless, there will only 3 local city cops at the top of the steps. Considering how much this crowd loves their guns, I wondered if anyone at the Heritage Port was armed. I'm guessing maybe a few had concealed weapons. Maybe not. I could have made quite a big splash with my anti Sarah Palin sign. You know, the one that says...


4,000 YEARS OLD?


Seriously, I should have brought it but wasn't in the mood to take in all the hostility. In retrospect, I really should have brought the sign. CNN and Fox were both there and it probably would have caused a commotion. Plus, there were several other signs and much larger flags in the audience. I could have stood off to the side with my elevated sign. In retrospect, I think I'm just growing more cautious with age. In further retrospect, I suck. Honestly, why would I be so lame? And for Satan's sake, it's Halloween!

Anyway, the leader of rally - a local, large housewife initiated the Pledge of Allegiance. The crowd dutifully responded in unison. She introduced John Raese and he was warmly received. He didn't have much to say. Then, all of a sudden, they introduced our knight in shining Armour - or queen of Spam if you prefer... SARAH PALIN! The crowd erupted. Well, "erupted" is a bit strong. Think of the level of excitement that would ensue if they announced 50% off stool softener at a Methodist church bingo.

Sarah looked pretty sharp in her dark leather get-up. She blabbed for about 5 minutes about how much she loves coal, West Virginia and country music. And of course how much she loves freedom, liberty and the constitution. Not much substance with either refrain. Just the typical cheerleading that has cemented her in the hearts of bible belters who love that American Idolesque enthusiasm. Hey, just because you're some old, encrusted bean counting honky from Oakmont or Barrington, doesn't mean you don't get a piece of the action. This afternoon Halloween party's for you!

Anyway, she concluded with standard "God Bless you! God Bless DiCarlo's Pizza! God Bless West Virginia! And of course, God Bless America! As an atheist Jew, it's much harder for me to get ramped up. Then, she was swarmed for about 8 minutes by people seeking autographs. Keep in mind, these were the younger people who didn't have walkers or weren't confined to wheelchairs. Anyway, some other guy got up and started again with the anti Nancy Pelosi/Harry Reid rhetoric. God damn, I hope Harry Reid wins on Tuesday. I think he will. I'm not a big fan. Personally, I'd prefer a Senate Majority leader with at least some kind of attitude (maybe a damp kitchen rag would suffice). But for the love of Allah... Sharon Angle is a right wing lunatic. At least she's an idiot right winger and not a Newt Gingrich intellectual. I guess that bodes well for her demise.

Anyway, I came to see the human I hate the most on the planet earth and was successful. I sometimes wonder who is a more dangerous character - Palin or Ahmedinajad? Palin or Robert Mugabe? Palin or Ayman Al-Zawahiri? I'm not joking. The latter are all villains but their capability to inflict immense damage is for the most part, neutralized. Hating her just comes so naturally. Seriously, how can anyone pass on the opportunity to see that finely tuned, shrill Alaskan section of discarded labia.

And I've got bad news for all the tea baggers that showed up for this rally on the muddy banks of the Ohio River...
Aside from the fact that you can suck my dick, Harry Reid will win & Manchin's gonna win too. And I have a strange hunch that Sestak is going to beat Toomey in PA. I can't wait for the election returns on Tuesday night. Republicans will win the House, but there's no way in hell they'll win the Senate. Perhaps some constructive gridlock will be beneficial for the country. But honestly, I doubt it. This country is fucked up. Neither party can save it nor wants to save it. All they want is the notion of control. You'd think I was a diehard liberal. Not really, but compared to that Earl Grey Tea Bagging rally.... YOU BETCHA!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Maury Povich "intern" program

To claim I have issues with the existence of Maury Povich would be a vast understatement.

Incidentally, I love the diverse ethnic mix of interns who hover around Maury in the footage. Should they have used a Pakistani with a turban? Perhaps a Jew with a yarmulke would have been sufficient.

So what's with this insatiable quest for interns? Just how many staffers does Maury Pukich need for his idiot show? And what function could they possibly serve? Other than the brunette woman in her late 30's who brings the babies on stage to adequately celebrate positive paternity outcomes... Actually, I like this woman with the non-speaking role. I dream of the day when she walks out onstage with a giant jar of Hellman's mayonnaise. Maury pipes out, "Bring out the Hellman's!" And the crowd fires back in unison, "Bring out the best!"

But seriously, why the endless demand for so many interns? To get Maury's dry cleaning. Maybe give blow-jobs to security personnel? Fetch the lie-detector administrator a scone? Prep the crowd with weird sounding "booooo" noises?

But again, here's the million dollar question - Why would the producers waste precious advertising time with these never-ending appeals for college interns? Well, I have the real answer. The truth is - they're not really searching for interns. What they really want is a letter of "accreditation" from the college or university. Check this out - it's from Maury's website...

Students selected MUST be able to receive college credit for the internship. *Please note that the student will need to submit a letter from their college or university on official college letterhead to the internship supervisor at The Maury Show prior to the internship start date stating that the college or university is aware that the student is undertaking the internship and that the institution agrees to award academic credits upon successful completion of the internship.

So what's the problem here Saf? They want these kids to receive the allotted educational credit for participating in the valuable intern program. WRONG. If you believe this, you're a complete fucking idiot. My best guess is that they're abusing or possibly in cahoots with some back door government program sponsored by the Department of Education. If a producer from the show could prove that there is an overwhelming demand for interns and be able to substantiate this with a flood of paperwork from hundreds of different institutions of higher learning, I'm sure that some form of government funding comes rolling in. It must serve to "legitimize" their bullshit programming in some misguided layer of bureaucracy. Honestly, can anyone give me a better explanation why they'd run that same ad beckoning for interns everyday?

My other hunch is that it could be a simple way to funnel marketing information. If you're searching for the most gullible and naive segment of the population, I'd generally look to a Maury/Springer based audience. To be blunt, this really isn't programming for the most discerning viewer. That's why they have those incrediby lame polling questions? Maury says, "Call me and tell me what you think! You'll also hear incredible offers and special promotions! So call Maury, now!" This is nothing more than the acquisition of straight-up telemarketing info. It reminds me of the booths at county fairs that "give away" a trip to the Bahamas or a brand new car. Hey douchebag, just fill out the entry form. You could win the grand prize. Or well, at the very least, you'll get a call on Monday at 9:03am from some guy named Singh in Hyderabad, India.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Westboro review from Wheeling, WV

Always an advocate for some of the more extreme elements of free speech, I felt compelled to go down to the Woodsdale/Fulton exit in Wheeling yesterday afternoon. The Westboro Baptist churchies were back. This was a different crew though. They only had one child with them, 6 adults and a somewhat attractive brunette girl in her late 20's. They were supposed to be at Wheeling Jesuit University, but opted for the much busier intersection by Perkins Restaurant.

There were 2 cops who stood diligently across the road as well as some younger counter-protesters. Three of them were from Columbus, Ohio and had decided to follow them to Dayton and then backtrack to Wheeling. They offered everyone an absurd amount of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (disgusting) and a smorgasbord of homemade cookies (much better). I had one of the raisin oatmeal ones. Above average. They carried some scribbled signs that read "Jesus Loves Westboro" and "God loves you" (predictably weak and beyond lame). I've seen better artwork from most second graders. Nice kids though.

As a collector of oddities and unusual propaganda, it was my intention to secure one of their signs for my household. Seriously, what a great conversation starter. I suppose I could just make a replica, but that's quite the pathetic effort. Instead, I had hoped to get a teenager on a bike to steal one of them for me. Maybe pay him $20-$40 for it later at a nearby undisclosed location. I spoke with some of the anti-protesters and they suggested I simply just ask them for a sign. They claimed they wouldn't accept cash but might simply relinquish a sign if they thought it would further their cause.

So as the protest wound down, they headed for their Blue Ford Econoline Van (different than what they drove last time - an old Plymouth Voyager). I approached them on the sidewalk...

"Hey you guys, I know this might sound like an unusual request, but I was wondering if I could have one of your signs... you know, if you have any extra."

No repsonse

"Uhhh yeah, I'm just fascinated with freedom of speech issues and if you could find it in your heart. I'm sure you have some extra in the van. I'm willing to take anything you got."

Still no response as they walked briskly toward the back of the lot. They all seemed programmed to automatically ignore my request.

"Hey uhhh, I know it's a little out of the ordinary but I'd be deeply appreciative. Seriously, I'd even be willing to pay for your lunch or something.

Their blatant indifference was starting to get on my nerves. These morons were just singing up a storm and telling everyone they're going to hell and this and that, but they seemed vehemently opposed to any other form of discourse, even just simple small talk.

Now I'm disturbed. Finally, I say, "What's wrong with you people. Can't you even respond? Do you lack the ability to form a verbal response.

Finally, the leader/driver (male in his 40's) grunts, "NO! We need the signs for the tour!"

I quip back, "Alright, thanks for nothing you idiots. Was that so hard? Like it's a matter of life or death that you can't speak. Idiots."

They just ignored me and jumped in the van and rolled onto "their next gig on the tour" at Trinity High School in Washington, PA. A bunch of college age kids were left walking around the Perkins lot. They kind of resembled zombies on this overcast, dreary day. All in all, I'd have to say I was very disappointed. There was hardly any interaction with motorists. Out of 25 minutes, I'd say only 7 or 8 cars honked their horns. One guy in a truck yelled "Fuck You" and I saw a girl in a Nissan give them the finger. But other than those isolated reactions, the citizens of Wheeling pretty much pretended that nothing was even happening. Talk about lifeless. How much effort does it take to roll down the window, and tell them to "eat shit and die" or "go fuck their mother" or something. Am I really asking to much?

That speaks to the overall complacency of Wheelingites. The vast majority have no balls, testicular fortitude, ovaries or even slightly elevated estrogen levels. They seem content to sit on their front porch, incessantly smoke cheap cigarettes and most important, no talking under any circumstances. Unless it's a critical discussion about a coupon for 10 cents off ranch dressing. That savings of a dime will really come in handy on that oversized $3.99 bottle. And considering the urgency among locals to overdress their iceberg lettuce to the point where the fucking salad starts to resemble the Puget Sound...

All in all, no sign was obtained and the whole excursion ranked extremely low on the entertainment factor. Last time they came was vastly superior. I'm curious to see how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on their right to protest. I'll be shocked if they don't get a unanimous ruling in their favor. Maybe Scalia and Roberts vote no. My prediction - Westboro Baptist Church wins either 9-0, 8-1 or at the worst 7-2. What a conundrum... I despise, detest, loathe and have trememndous animosity for religious dumbshits but I completely stand behind them and embrace their 1st Amendment rights.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Ravens/sign/bum/parking ticket

So yeah, the big Steelers game was yesterday. If I was going to get a free ticket, I knew I'd have to come up with a strong sign. My original idea for a sign regarding Ravens kicker BILLY CUNDIFF would have have a little cardboard flap over the "D" - thus when you flip it up it turns into BILLY CUNTIFF. As strong as I thought it was, I don't think it would have helped much with the quest for a freebie.

Then on Friday afternoon I was in the shower and I had a revelation. I made a sign that said...


I was at Oglebayfest all day Saturday so I was a bit under the weather Sunday morning. But armed with my ghetto sign and three water bottles containing the drink of excitement, I cruised up to the stadium solo. I parked on West North Ave on the North Shore next to a church. Hooked up with a bunch of the revelers who were rocking it out across from PNC Park. Got to utilize one of the nicest semi-public restrooms in the bar at the Marriott. Discovering this place was a urinary gift from above. Kind of like god administering a golden shower of sorts.

We started our trek to the stadium at noon. As expected, very few extra tickets were floating around. At 12:20pm I stood up on the bench outside the main entrance and held up my sign. Within 3-4 minutes, an older man looked at me and said, "Are you really going to honor that commitment?" He flashed the "coveted golden ticket" in his outstretched hand. I gave him a slightly suspicious look, "Are you serious?" Then he hands me the ticket as I began to celebrate. I handed him a bunch of Steelers key chains and thanked him profusely. Fuckin' A. That was too easy. I knew there's always a few people that eat tickets but I figured they'd be the suite level arrogant fucks with unlimited cash to burn - any of that sound familiar??? This seat was section 510 Row P. I decided to try for another ticket since I had set my own personal over/under at 2 tickets. Nobody else would bite, but I was very content. Seriously, a freebie ticket for a high profile game like this. On the way in, I heard a dimwitted man say he'd be willing to pay $250 for a single. What a douche.

Anyway, I'm still standing on the bench just after kickoff and this quasi-homeless black man with dreads starts yelling at me. "Get down from there! I need to sit down!" Then this asshole starts grabbing at my leg. And this particular bench was a little wobbly. I yell back, "Get your fucking hands off me!" All of a sudden, a cop shows up and summons me over. I explain to him that this weirdo freakfuck started grabbing at me. "I don't care if he's some weirdo. He can't go around fucking with people like this." The cop just smiled half-heartedly and said, "Hey man, you gotta just let it go." I figured - oh well, might as well just head in. I look back at the asshole and he's smiling at me, mumbling to himself, sitting on the bench. Apparently, Scottie and Schneid had witnessed the whole altercation from the 5th level railing. They seemed to enjoy the floor show. I'm still a little pissed off but considering my plan for a free Steelers ticket worked perfectly, I suppose I'll chalk it up to "taking one for the team."

Of course, we lost a heartbreaker. When I get back to the car there's a parking ticket on my windshield for $120.00. Keep in mind, there was no meter, no yellow line, no fire hydrant, no nothing. In fact there was no warning anywhere. On the ticket it reads...

1 Hour Parking
No Visitor Pass

Well, when I got to Gig's house she explained that it was parking for the church. What the fuck is that even supposed to mean? Visitor pass??? What if my atheist Jew ass needs more than an hour to adequately pray, repent or spiritually suck god's cock. Honestly though, I did notice that the curb was about half the height of a regular curb. I suppose this is for people in wheelchairs to have easier access to the house of worship. Fuck them. I will not pay this ticket. Complete bullshit. If I ever have future issues, I'll just say I never got it. Maybe it blew off the windshield. I almost never park up there anyway. Total fucking bullshit. As long as they can't issue a misdemeanor warrant, I'll be alright. On the ticket , it just gets upped to $158 if you don't pay it in a month, it does say they can put an immobilization boot on my car. To that I say, fuck da police!

Steelers 14
Ravens 17

And for all you Baltimore fans, here's a quote from Edgar Allen Saf - "Fuck da Ravens!"
Fun time though.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

weak toll booth in Wheeling?

I've witnessed most of the gradual disintegration of downtown Wheeling. When I was a teenager during the mid 1980's, I'd hardly say that downtown Wheeling was booming, but it did have a decent amount of foot traffic. Safe to say, that nowadays, it's a pit of grief and relative despair. There are a few exceptions:

1) A clean walking trail that runs adjacent to the wafting stench of the sewage treatment plant. The underutilized trail is pretty strong, but hardly a beacon for economic development.

2) Coleman's Fish Market & Jebbia's are exceptional establishments. Although I've found that the abrupt, barking voice over the intercom lends itself to confusion (Example - "My aunt Selma came in from Toledo last weekend. She said we got the best mango she ever had in her life. Josh, we need ya in the back. Yeah, best mangoes. They're GREAT!!!). The gruff attempt at a voice mimicking Tony the Tiger fails miserably as he begins to relentlessly cough and hacks up remnants of bile infused chewing tobacco.

3) I guess the Capitol Music Hall is back in action. After a taxpayer infusion of probably 1 million, and a steady flow of additional funding every year, the Linsly Extravaganza will be back stronger than ever. Ohhh, to hear those angelic teen voices spawned from the upper echelon of local attorneys. And what about that captivating reenactment of the "Who's on first base" Abbott & Costello routine. Or it might be Laurel and Hardy - I do not care.

My point - aside from a few reliable, surviving businesses, downtown Wheeling ain't gonna make some miraculous comeback. South Wheeling is archaic and drunken. North Wheeling is freakish and bizarre, and East Wheeling is "beyond methadone." I know the city council thinks that a B&O tax will solve the problem. Perhaps loosening some of the zoning restrictions. Maybe they could get a few more "antique" aka junk stores in Center Wheeling. Maybe not. It's my contention that few intelligent business people would look at downtown Wheeling and think, "Oh yeah, this is the place to start up my new venture. It will most certainly thrive in this business friendly environment."

OK. I think I've made my point. So how do you generate revenue in this valley of death? There's only one viable method I can envision and that would entail screwing the fuck out of everybody else. If you're guessing, he wants daily DUI checkpoints on every corner, you're getting warmer. Perhaps a tax on the obese crackhead hookers... How come we're the only city with strung-out prostitutes who somehow manage to defy the odds and gain 100 lbs. instead of losing one hundred? Again, you're getting warmer...

Here's my idea. We establish toll booths on I-70 right as you prepare to go through the Wheeling tunnel. Maybe something in the realm of $2.00 or $3.00. But here's the catch, we only charge you if you're license plates aren't Ohio, WV or PA. We also construct a similar toll booth at the top of I-470 in Bethlehem. The concept here is to screw everyone, but the regional residents. Both these interstates get an enormous amount of national traffic and we totally fail to take advantage of it. We've got this here gold mine - a little sliver of land in the panhandle of WV that nobody realizes can be EXPLOITED.

But hey, these are federal interstates. You can't just go putting up toll booths. Well, I think we're in a unique situation that might give us a leg up. Look at the geography of our state. All the money and power has always been driven to the center. The panhandle has always been left to basically fend for itself. The same is true with the geographical power of Ohio and Pennsylvania. East Ohio and Western PA have always been victimized like a prepubescent teenage boy in a Catholic church choir. The legislative power and funding works like some kind of anti-Hoover vacuum. Everything gets funneled in the opposite direction. And this is how you frame your argument for the "discriminatory toll booth."

If the Ohio county commissioners and the mayor of Wheeling presented a united front and pushed this issue, they just might be able to make it work. I thought it was interesting that Rahm Emmanuel is stepping down from his power position at the White House to launch a bid to become Chicago's next mayor. At first, you'd think this is a bigtime demotion, but I think Rahm might be on the right side of history. He sees the federal government gradually losing power. As this trend continues, it's logical to see a reemergence of local power like it was back in the days of prohibition. I believe this to be a reasonable assertion. Mayors, sheriffs, country commissioners, assessors, etc. should all become the logical beneficiaries. As the federal powers get slowly or suddenly usurped, something will have to fill the power void. My assumption would be that it trends back to the cities. Any of this sound familiar??? I'm talking about the inevitability of resilient communities.

Since Wheeling has virtually nothing to truly offer in the form of resilience, or goods and services for that matter, it's time to think outside the box a little. Your argument might sound something lie this - "Saf, well duh, why not just take the local roads around the tolls?" Well, it's more difficult and confusing than you might think. Plus, considering the unusual topography, it could be a major waste of time. Especially, if everyone is trying to save a few bucks. And hell, those that do make the effort to go around... our admittedly meager retail outlets could see some benefit. The trick is to make the amount of the toll annoying but not overbearing. A few bucks is hardly a big deal as the vast majority of drivers see it as "paying their dues." "Oh no, we're coming up on West Vagina. Hell, we gotta get through West Virginny! Those hillbillies are poor and last in the nation at everything." Trust me, they'll buck up.

Just make sure all proceeds go to development of downtown Wheeling. And yes, I know it doesn't really work like that. Fuck it, we need a identity for Wheeling - you know, the city with the weak toll booth. I prefer the term "meager toll booth." This would be a start in the right direction.

PS - I still like my idea for the fake boardwalk along the muddy banks of South Front Street that extends from the Casino to the Suspension Bridge. But that's not really a way to generate mass revenue. This one is.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bill Cowher will coach NY Giants

Top 10 Reasons Cowher will coach the NY Giants next year (not intended to be humorous)...

10) Assuming the Giants don't make the playoffs, Tom Coughlin will be gone. Players don't like his drill instructor routine. Ownership doesn't care for his disposition.

9) Cowher is tired of the broadcasting booth. Wants to be on the sideline. Wants an established winner as quarterback (Eli Manning).

8) A respectable amount of time has passed since the ordeal with his wife. Kids are grown. There's a reason he didn't jump on any of the several head coaching positions last year - it's because he was waiting for the NY Giants job.

7) Wants to be the highest paid coach (he'll probably get it, might have to settle for the average salary of the top 3 - Belichick, Shanahan, Carroll)

6) Wants the grandest stage - NYC. And gets a brand new bad-ass stadium.

5) Wants all those high profile games (Redskins, Eagles, Cowboys).

4) The Carolina coaching job is a ruse.

3) He's getting his buddy Jerome Bettis to leak his interest on air and feed the rumor mill.

2) Wants to be the first coach to get a Superbowl ring with an NFC & AFC team.

1) Giants ownership is a strong fit. Not arrogant, and for the most part, hands off the day-to-day football operations (like the Rooneys). Cowher will get to run the whole show.

Monday, September 27, 2010

5 additional #1 rankings...

I did a little google research and discovered 5 more ways where the USA is the undisputed champ. Please keep in mind, this is a number one ranking out of 195 contending countries.

1) Most lawyers. Yep, I believe it was Shakespeare who said, "First, let's kill all the lawyers." This would bode poorly for my brother Bennett who is about to argue or currently arguing a case before the Colorado Supreme Court. Some mega-land owner in northern Colorado, is being forced by an oil and gas company to relinquish his property rights via some kind of eminent domain procedure. Bennett thinks the guy has a good case. Anyway, in the United States there's 1 lawyer for every 265 people. We easily outdistance Brazil 1/322 and New Zealand comes in a surprising third at 1/391. I had no idea the citizens of New Zealand were so litigious. I wonder if West Virginia is the #1 state in lawyers per capita. I'd be surprised if it's not. We should change our state motto to "West Virgnia - Welcome to the Judicial Hell Hole." I like that better than "Open for Business" or "Wild, Wonderful." It just sounds cooler.

2) Most guns. Yes! Despite the notion that Obama is going to take away your guns, the Unites States has 90 guns (civilian ownership) for every 100 people. For the sake of god, that means nearly every citizen in our country has a gun. India comes in second with 4 guns per 100 people. And China has a paltry 3:100 ratio. I just find it interesting because of the huge disparity. So as of right now, there's about 270 million guns in the hands of citizens. So if you're truly worried about the administration overturning the 2nd Amendment, perhaps you need a simple reality check.

Incidentally, the anti-SAF bumper sticker on my car (it has the word SAF in an oval circle withe a red line through it - kind of like a ghostbusters bumper sticker) is actually from an anti-second amendment group. My theory goes something like this. Deer hunter in jacked up, thoroughly rusted 1982 Chevy pick-up truck with loud dual exhaust and Yosemite Sam mud flaps that say "BACK OFF" sees the anti-SAF logo. He thinks to himself, "Yeah, I hate that Saf guy too. He's an asshole. I need one of those stickers next to my McCain/Palin 2008 sticker." Possessing no knowledge of the internet search engine, he has 50 of them custom designed and gives them to all his friends he saw at the Toby Keith concert (It's the following morning at the mudbogs in Viola). They all unite and stick them on their trucks. Little do they know, they are condemning themselves in a gesture of "double reversal irony." They are accidentally disavowing their gun rights and condemning every inner fiber of their being. In keeping with this irony, let it be known that I have no problem with the right to bear arms or common sense gun laws.

3) Most Jews. The United States has the world's largest population of Jews. We have 5.8 million, whereas Israel has 4.8 million. France is a distant third with 600,000. Iraq was at the bottom of the list with 180. Not sure where they got that number from. Mohammed Al Schwartz and Jamir Abdullah Goldstein must have had many wives.

Could you possibly surmise that we have the greatest number of religious circumcision ceremonies? Quite possible. Yes, I realize it's a routine procedure unless you're a porn star with a foot long cock. I went to a Bris (Brit Milah) back in high school. What a fucking barbaric procedure to celebrate and embrace based on some bizarre biblical passage. I'll never forget the proud grandfather offering shots of rye. His face was welled up with tears. Oh, the pride he must have felt recalling Abraham, Isaac or whoever the fuck was promoting castration back in the day. And we find the genital mutilation practiced in Africa disgusting. Who are we to condemn? I suppose there are varying degrees of brutality. Seriously, why would any human, with the exception of a self-hating dyke, want to sew a vagina shut. Isn't that counter productive - especially in Africa where "volume reproduction" seems to be all the rage.

4) Most Miss Universe winners. The U.S. has 7. Venezuala has 6. As a friend of mine might say, "the fix was in." Isn't the damn thing always held in Vegas or Atlantic City? Isn't Donald Trump always one of the judges? Seriously, out of 195 countries... Well, let me readjust that to about 150. I doubt Yemen or Saudi Arabia sent a representative. Personally, I'd like to see an Afghan beauty pageant where all the contestants wore full blown burkas. I've often thought it would be an amusing sociological experiment to wear a Steelers black & gold burka to the game. Maybe I'll do it this Sunday at the Baltimore game. I could stand up with my sign. "Repressed Afghan seeks Miracle ticket." I'm sure someone would cough up a freebie.
Instead I'll probably go with the Billy Cundiff sign. He's my favorite NFL kicker. The "d" in Cundiff turns into a "t" when you flip up the cardboard. Very subtle.

5) And in typical American fashion, we have the most UFO sightings per capita. No other country even comes close. This seems reasonable considering we are the most medicated country. We love our god(s), scoff at science, yet embrace science fiction. We like airplanes but get skiddish at the thought of flying saucers. I've always liked the idea that aliens are little green people with huge heads and wide-open eyes. I wonder if there's any correlation with the Mr. Yuck creator.

Anyhoo, these are 5 distinct areas where the United States can claim absolute superiority without question. Lawyers, guns, Jews, Miss Universe winners and UFO sightings. So the next time Sarah Palin tugs at the heartstrings of her faithful with a resounding - "we are the greatest country in the world!!!" - and the fever pitched crowd offers up a thundering ovation... I implore you to just keep in mind these 5 unusual areas of greatness. Also, please recall the other 10 I invoked in my prior two blog entries. That's enough USA bashing for now. Seriously, I love it here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

last 2 #1 rankings

A U.S. Justice Department report released showed that a record 7 million people -- or one in every 32 American adults -- were behind bars, on probation or on parole at the end of last year. Of the total, 2.2 million were in prison or jail.

Seems like another #1 ranking for the USA. And this is from 2006. As the economy has worsened, I imagine the situation has gotten progressively worse. This is an interesting distinction because there currently isn't a domestic war in process. Well, perhaps we should reconfigure that assessment. There's ALWAYS a war going on in the U.S. When our political leaders have a problem with an issue, they like to declare war on it. War on drugs, war on illiteracy, war on AIDS, war on poverty... At least the Obama administration tends to tone down the rhetoric. Maybe they should ramp it up. Michelle Obama seems concerned about the childhood obesity epidemic. Why not declare war on overweight, sedentary children? Maybe she could team up with Maury Povich and send them all too some kind of "fat kids boot camp." His drill instructors (usually angry black men) could help whip Ethan and Toby into shape.

And by the way, here's a thought. One of the best public relations ideas that came out of the White House was the vegetable garden. Seems simple enough. Have the children plant a garden and harvest some vegetables. WHY ISN'T THIS A NATIONAL DIRECTIVE? Wouldn't it be a great idea to have every public elementary school grow fresh vegetables? How crazy is that? Why hasn't anyone ever suggested this? You could even set up a farmers market type situation and use the proceeds for the school. Maybe teach the children the market value of a cucumber or tomato. It would make for a simple math project - let's evaluate why that one red pepper at Kroger costs $6.99/lb. I know, it's out of season and I need "color" for my salad of field greens. Or the worst case scenario, donate the food to a local homeless shelter. Would it really be the crime of the century if young Holden or Trayvon had to eat a carrot? Seems like it would be a win-win scenario.

Regardless, out of the near 200 countries on the planet earth, we can proudly assert our #1 ranking in regard to how we incarcerate the highest percentage of our population. You would think that this runs counter-intuitive. If we're the greatest country on the planet, why would we be throwing the greatest percentage of our citizens in jail? Nonetheless, this is a statement of fact - we are the planetary leader in incarceration.

And since I wanted to complete my top 10 list of #1 rankings, here's a decent one. The United States is the most heavily medicated country in the world. We are the leading consumer of prescription drugs on a per capita basis! And guess which state is #1? Yep, you guess it - West, by god stand up say like you mean it, Virginia. It's true! I'm honored to conclude on this note since it's so close to home. Regrettably, I'm not presently "on" anything. Still I feel qualified to weigh in based on my observances. Seems like all my friends and acquaintances take some type of medication. I suppose I could too, if I applied myself. Of course, I don't have health insurance. I prefer a simple, more holistic approach. I once tried prayer, but that only works with things you can't see. One of my favorite websites is

Wouldn't a kind and noble god address the needs of a triple amputee child in Kabul before tending to Aunt Helen's high cholesterol? Just something to think about.

It boggles my mind how everyone goes running to the doctor for their "ailments." My favorite is back pain. Ohhh Saffy, my back hurts! I ask you, whose fucking back does not hurt? Ooooh Saffy, my arm is numb! I don't know, maybe you slept on it wrong. And it seems like there's a pill for everything conceivable. I like the breakdown of medications for obsessive compulsive emotional disorders. Agoraphobia (fear of crowds) - you need this specific type of downer so you can "get a grip" and "maintain composure" at the exhilarating Lady Gaga concert. Don't give into your fears and sell that ticket. What a conundrum - you must see the Gaga but you're afraid of the large crowd. How will you endure? What's a reasonable coping procedure? Fear of changing a diaper - If confronted with this dilemma, I think I'd need a cocktail of anything you got. I once saw an expose on some weirdo woman with OCD. She had one of those large area rugs with the little tassel, fringy things on both ends. She'd have to spend an hour every morning combing the damn extensions. Here's a thought - maybe get a rug without the fucking cilia hairlike shit, or better yet, throw the fucking thing in the dumpster. I recommend the one at the Washington Ave. Convenient or Triadelphia Middle School.

Again, it seems to run counter-intuitive. If we're the greatest country with the greatest people, why are we the most medicated? Wouldn't logic dictate that such an excellent population be less beholden to prescription drugs. Shouldn't we be the least medicated or maybe somewhere in the middle of the pack? But, lo and behold, we're #1. So there you have it. That rounds out some specific #1 rankings for Uncle Sam.

Friday, September 24, 2010

god and country rally - "USA! USA! USA!"

There's one of these god and country rallies tomorrow in Bethlehem Community Park. I might go. The Chrisagii are scheduled to perform from 2-2:30pm. And of course there will be a bunch of speakers, mostly pastors and "community activists." I suspect it will be an emphatically diminutive version of the recent Beck/Palin rally in DC. Incidentally, my deepest apologies if you find offensive the lowercase "g" when referencing the term "god." I just think "god" is essentially the same as "ghost" or "deity" - you wouldn't capitalize those words... would you?

Anyway, I have a strong hunch that if I attend tomorrow, I will continually hear the following comment - "The United States is the greatest country in the world. God Bless you and god bless America" This always seems to be a no-brainer, crowd-pleaser. Nothing livens up a throng of self described patriots than this never-ending refrain. But it got me to thinking just how many times you hear the following statement - "We are the greatest country in the world."

I'm silently thinking... what if we aren't the greatest country in the world? Kind of reminds me those square ballcaps that say "#1 Dad" or a t-shirt that reads "World's Greatest Grandma." These ratings just seem kind of subjective. Isn't there a posted article in the Woodsdale DeFelice Pizza shop that describes how they won a contest for "the greatest pizza in the world?" Just who officiates and monitors these contests? Anyway, I digress. But the question is an interesting one. Why do people feel this necessity to define the U.S. as the absolute best. Seriously... there are roughly 195 countries on the planet earth (depending on how you define the word country). Isn't it just a tad naive or perhaps arrogant to say we're the best? When's the last time you heard Scotland claiming superiority over Denmark or Nigeria asserting their greatness over Cameroon. I understand that the tea partiers like to engage in a lot of hyperbole and statements of grandiosity to convey their pre-programmed reference points, but seriously... It just got me to thinking about some unusual ways that the U.S. can indubitably claim superiority. And without further adieu, here they are...

1) We seem to excel at razing large stadiums and constructing new ones seemingly adjacent to where the old one was located. Many reasons are given. The old one didn't have enough luxury boxes or an insufficient number of restrooms. The sight lines were poor, the concession stands weren't plentiful enough. There aren't enough flat screens. There can never be enough flat screen tv's in a stadium. I came to the venue to see the live event take place, but I still need to see the broadcast as well. Hell, the damn stadium just isn't maximizing revenue. We desperately need to build a new one. The franchise is threatening to leave town if we don't capitulate. Anyway, my point - I think it's safe to say that we're #1 at tearing down perfectly functioning structures and building brand new ones in their place. Also something to note, some of these mammoth stadiums with price tags in the billion dollar range are only used about 10 times per year (about 3% of the year). That's 8 football games and a couple of country superstar mega-concerts. And what becomes of the old stadium? Time and time again you can sum it up with one word - parking.

2) Which leads me another area where the U.S. gets a #1 ranking. And that's parking revenue. No other country has such a disdain and contempt for public transportation. I realize that bigger cities use their buses, but have you ever seen more than 4 people on a Wheeling bus. Nobody rides the damn things. I was at the Pitt/Miami game last night and couldn't help but notice all the emphasis on parking. It's a viable option to park a few streets down on the North Side for free, but everyone seems to require their own personal spot. And these spots ranged from $20 to $40. And the passes on the gold lot are $50. It seems that we are world leader in willingness to pay "extreme parking fees." Why? Well, the answer is obvious. It's because we're the greatest. And here's a good trivia question > Which U.S. airport has the highest hourly rate for short term parking? The answer is Philadelphia International Airport at $38/hour. And that was about 10 years ago. It's probably some other airport these days. I do not know. I just found that kind of amusing.

3) How about pornography? I don't have the stats but I can say without even the slightest hint of doubt that we lead the world in the production, sale and distribution of pornography. And with the advent of high-def, as well as bizarre sexual niches and unusual proclivities, the world of porn has never seen so much room for innovation. Rest assured, the United States is #1 and will continue to top the list.

4) How about the sale of weapons? We are hands down the leading supplier of weapons worldwide. And we don't like other countries usurping our rightful place. Think about Saddam. He had the audacity to buy weapons from the French. Well France got what they deserved. Does anyone recall the emergence of "freedom fries" in 2002? Fuck the French! Those arrogant bastards. They don't support our liberation of Iraq. Nobody seemed to care that France lent us a hand in the revolutionary war. I always thought it was bizarre that everybody jumped on the "I hate France" public relations bandwagon back in the early Bush years. What's wrong with people asking the simple question, "Why would France want to actively participate in an invasion and prolonged occupation of Iraq?" It' like asking the question, why wouldn't Thailand be interested in conquering Syria? And what's really intriguing about our penchant for selling weapons - we always seem to arm both sides of a conflict. When arming them both is unrealistic, we sometimes choose to invade and occupy. This way we become the only arms dealer in town. Either way, the U.S. is numero uno when it comes to selling weapons.

5) We lead the world in consumption of water. China and India both have over a billion residents. The U.S. has about 300 million, but we totally dominate in the consumption of fresh water. And we use it in all kinds of ways - you gotta love those water driven amusement parks. Our nation also likes to spray each other with water, hence the emergence of the Super Soaker. If you don't want to consume the water, how about drenching someone with it? And it's critical that even during water shortages, we maintain the upkeep and presentation of golf courses in the dry desert climates of Nevada and Arizona. I watched a 60 Minutes clip about this man from Somalia who had immigrated to Atlanta, Georgia. He told the interviewer that he had a lot of trouble comprehending how we use water. "What do you mean?" inquired the host. "Well, in Somalia the women wake up before dawn and walk an hour each way to obtain the days supply of fresh water. Here in downtown Atlanta, you have this mammoth fountain that spews forth thousands of gallons of water for no reason whatsoever." I thought that was fascinating. Not only do we lead the world in water consumption, but we also seem to take delight in using it for exclusively aesthetic purposes. Once again, we blow all other countries "out of the water." Way to go.

6) I'm sad to say that we relinquished our #1 ranking in childhood obesity this year. We got knocked down a peg to the number 2 spot. Oddly enough, Australia is now #1. I wouldn't have thought that. Technically they might be #1, but I think we're still at the top when it comes to a phenomenon I like to refer to as "obese people that suffer from malnourishment." These people (mostly from the deep South) have plentiful access to nutritious food, fresh fruits and vegetables, but they voluntarily choose the family size bag of Cheetos and mega-size Cookie Crunch cereal every time.

7) We also lead the world in missionaries. The U.S. isn't content to just embrace freedom of religion. We seem desperate to promote it. These humans of lesser intelligence... these poor humans just don't know any better. We need to show them the way to eternal salvation through Jesus Christ (his is a personal name, so I'll reluctantly use caps). I'd think that most sane individuals would object to going deep into disease ravaged, war torn regions in central Africa to spread the gospel. That supposition would be incorrect. The U.S. will always be #1 in telling people how to pray. And why not? When it comes to specific religious dogma, the correct choice is so blatantly obvious. Isn't it?

8) How about junk mail? Another one where I don't have the stats, but I'd bet my life on it (well, maybe not my life... perhaps the life of my neighbor Fuckface - and this one I will capitalize). And guess what? Fuckface just put his house up for sale. Of course he wants an absurd amount of money, but if anyone wants to fulfill their lifelong dream of saying, "Someone or something called "sonofsaf" is my neighbor," feel free to look into it. Oddly enough, the listing agent is Gil White. I suspect it's some kind of "erotic payback" for his mom's car in the pool incident. Again I digress, but it's safe to say that the U.S. is tops in the junk mail biz.

Well, I was going to do 10, but my reserve battery warning just came on. Regardless, here's my point. You always hear that USA chant but you never hear much about the specific details. So I just wanted to offer up a few ways where the USA is, without a doubt, a superior country. And that's out of 200 or so countries on the planet. Just something to think about.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

wide (open) spread panic opener

Last night, Widepsread Panic opened their fall tour in of all places - Morgantown. They were set to play the Coliseum which struck me as odd because I thought the venue was too large. Regardless, I thought it was immensely cool that Panic decided to play there. All they've ever had there in the past are some mid-range country shows (Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Lee Ann Womack, maybe a Shooter Jennings come to mind).

Well, Jess went shopping and got caught up in major traffic in Little Washington, so I just decided to go solo. What are you gonna do? So I hit the road and it was one lane through the West Alex area which I got snagged in for about 10 minutes. No big deal. Made it to the Coliseum and hooked up with Gary and Greg and an wide array of tailgaters. You rarely get to see the WVU hippie population at a centralized location. And there was a shitload of nitrous. Kind of surprised they didn't crack down on any of it.

I saw my favorite scalping buddy Brian. I asked him, "What the fuck are doing all the way down here?" He shakes his head and lamentably responds, "Yeah... I didn't know this was a deadhead concert. I should have worked Rascal Flatts tonight. Eric, do you think any of these people got any money?" I reply, "Yeah right, look around. Are you fucking kidding me?" The irony - all the freshman WVU girls are superloaded hippettes from New Jersey and the DC beltway. This has always been an interesting sidenote/anomaly with WVU. They come here in droves. Always have, always will.

Tix were kind of pricey - $39 and for students, $29. There was now way in hell I was paying for this show. Of course, this has become a standard, monotonous refrain. So I walked around the side with the equipment rigs. It was loosely being guarded but still too risky. It was about 8:30pm and darkness had set in. The opening act was over and the lot was pretty much deserted. I had a crunched up $10 bill in my hand but didn't envision much luck with this one. So I proceeded to walk to the North side of the lot. As I approached the gates, there was a fenced in smoking area with about 200 hippies chaining their collective brains out. You could really smell the stench of low-grade tobacco. It was so overwhelming it kind of made you sick.

Regardless, I walk around and notice that the metal barrier on the corner has been pushed aside. I thought to myself, "For Christ sake, it's wide open." So I just slip in doing a move comparable to a "square dance Dosey-Do." Seriously, that was far too simple. In about 4 seconds I was in the door. Way too fucking easy - borderline comical.

Just as I walked in, the lights went out. Perfect timing. Panic opened with some upbeat stuff. Typically I know about 4 songs out of the 20 some songs they'll play. I always get a kick when some youthful bearded dufus reaches his hands to the sky and celebrates the intro to some song as if it's the song he has desperately been waiting to hear. Let me be blunt, skank-fucking-dank-ass-kid I'm talking to you, if I have no idea what that tune is, I seriously doubt that you know what it is.

Anyhoo, Panic played an unusually strong first set. Very upbeat tempo and they seemed in great form for the fall opener. I really like these guys. They're just a straight-up jam band without all the pretension and melodramatic nonsense. I like the old bongo player - he reminds me of a young Mr. Mayagi. Not so much from Karate Kid I & II, but surprisingly III and The Next KKK with Hillary Swank. I say this because his roles were more subliminal and he lad less impact in the later years. Still he could bring it. Like in the final edition where instead of honking the villain's nose, he exhales on him and "blows him to defeat." Who the fuck was that guy anyway? He was a ruthless ex-military thug/bully that lost the war and returned to unleash his venom on high school kids and an aspiring female karate student? What the fuck is that?
I also like the fat ass rhythm guitarist with the long black hair. He looks almost identical to the Soundgarden guitarist - just add a mere 150 lbs. I wish the lead singer had a more appealing voice but that raw southern twang does lend itself to their brand of music.

So during the second set, I ran into the indomitable Matt Ewing (always a pleasant surprise) and saw Kota and a few others roaming around. I fashioned a napkin into a fake white wrist band to gain floor access. That failed miserably when the female attendant asked to take a closer look. For some reason, I burst into laughter. "Yeah, this bullshit wrist band is pretty ghetto." I walked away secretly relieved. The floor was way too crowded and hot. The first level seats were far superior.

This show seemed to fucking drag on til about 11:45pm. Ridiculously too long. They started at fucking 8:45pm and played their usual 2 full sets. Then they brought out the opening act for some kind of celebratory "Blood-Panic" jam. Simply put, this was the concert that refused to die. I decided to exit and head back to the car. As I walked back I found a ticket stub lying on the ground for my bedroom wall. Sweet. Ironically, a floor ticket.

I hung out in the lot for about an hour after the show ended and ate a slice of pizza and a grilled cheese. I always feel some sympathy for the food, t-shirt and craft vendor hippies. They're laying it all on the line and meanwhile everyone's dishing out monster cash for balloons. And the balloons were in full force after the show. Back in the day, I would have succumbed. These days I'm a little leery about hippie crack. So I bolted the lot and got home just before 2am. Fun time, long ride home. Something about that extra 15 minutes on the Mo-town trip. Pittsburgh always seems so much easier. I think it has something to do with the hills. I'll be skipping the WVU- Maryland game at noon. Too bad, the weather is ideal.