December 27, 2008

2009 Resolutions

Christmas 2008: Came and went like it has the past few years, a few feverish days trying to make sure I got presents for everyone, a hectic Christmas Day full of here and there's, and finally gearing up for work the very next day. :) Thanks to all my family for all the wonderful gifts I received, I love you all!!
 
On To Serious Business: 2009 is slowly trudging its way toward us, and I, for one, plan to do some housecleaning this year. (No, not that sort of housecleaning, honey.) My new years resolutions this year boil down to two words:
 
CONTROL and PREPARATION
 
Control basically means that I have let way too many things slide, whether it be money, music, or work, I've come semi-irresponsible if I want these things to work out. Money, well, everyone's not in control of their money, but I'd like to get a lot of my bills paid or at least on a good run very soon. Its going to be tough, and I might have to try to find myself a second job, but I wanna get it done. Music is something I'd like to seriously pursue this year; I would greatly like to be in a band by the fall time, or at most, playing alone on a regular basis. I need to set up better practice times and get my originals back into play form. Work, well, I need to feel like I have something to shoot for, to have pride in, and something I strive to be. Sounds very general, but I really don't know exactly what that thing will be so its a work in progress.
 
Preparation ties in with control, because without preparation, control means nothing. But specifically, saving money and planning ahead for trips needs to be a better priority with myself and my family, whether it be food or travel routes, this sort of thing. I've sort of lived by the seat of my pants in 2008, but that sort of lifestyle is like the little girl with curls: when its good, its wonderful; when its bad, its terrible.
 
I know all these are very general, but I've picked small things over the last few years or so and these are things I know I can work on throughout the year.

December 24, 2008

Santa Likes These People?!

Sometimes I Wonder Why He Bothers Anymore: Its been a while, but I have a hotel story for all of you. As you probably don't know, I'm working 3 - 11 pm on Christmas Eve instead of working Christmas Day. Yay for that! Well...I guess the Christmas spirit has worked their magic on a few of our guests.

When I came in to work today, our AGM was watching the desk. She informed me of a story about one of our arrivals that was upset that we chose not to serve the full hot breakfast for Christmas Day. She explained to him that we wanted the breakfast cook to be home with her family, and he threw away the suggestion like a toy that a young child didn't want. He said that the only reason he booked here was for the hot breakfast and that he would be writing into the big corporate company for his inconvienience.

A half hour later, that same guest called down and told me that he was experiencing some problems with his heating unit, that it was rattling. Well, sure enough, I went upstairs and the problem magically disappeared!

Around five o clock, I had about six guests check in, one right after another, and the last guy took the last of the three luggage carts. As he's walking out with it, this blonde woman, we'll call her Meghan, passed by him and yelled, "WHATS THIS? NO MORE CARTS?" I was sort of shocked at her rage, and I informed her that I just had a lot of guests check in so they were currently in use. "SO YOU GUYS HAVE APPETIZERS TONIGHT OR WHAT?" Still in shock, I said, "Well I explained to the gentleman--" "I'M NOT WITH THAT MAN!" I must have raised my eyebrows because she got this look on her face like she was going to jump over the counter. I told her about the pies served tonight and she turned around to her now-present husband and said, "Oh, honey, this Hilton only decided to have one luggage cart for the whole hotel so we're apparently out of luck."

One of those guests that checked in was a "SUPER VIP" member who had never stayed our branch of hotels before. I said that I hoped we made him proud. Nice guy.

An hour later, his teenage son came down and asked if we offered "dog walking service". I said no, then asked him and his mother if they had a dog in the room (I know, odd question, but I had to ask) and they conceded that they did. I told them there was a fee for it and the woman looked at me like I had cheated her out of winning the lottery or something. "Well thats just GREAT! I'll have my husband talk to YOU, because we don't pay that dog fee if we're SUPER VIP GUESTS, SIR." I told her not to worry about it, "Merry Christmas."

A little later on, Meghan's husband called me and said the gas fireplace in his room was out; of course, they were checked into the only room that has problems with the fireplace. I went up and started fixing the fireplace. They were watching "Man vs. Wild", a Discovery Channel show (that Amanda and I love) where the host shows how to survive in the most treacherous places on earth. In this episode, he decided that he was hungry enough to kill a frog and eat it.

Meghan started talking to her children about how she had learned how to do all of that in survival camp in Africa, and that to do it, he'll have to stab the frog in his head with a knife to kill it. A few minutes later, the host does exactly that. I fix the fireplace and get the heck out of that room as fast as I can... (!)

I get downstairs and realize that the pie must have made my stomach turn so I ran to the bathroom to do a #2. While I'm in there, the phone rings. It rings as such that I know its an internal phone call. I didn't answer it, of course, because, well, I'm going #2!! The phone rings about nine times, stops, then starts ringing again. I lean over and pick up the cordless I had taken with me and answer it.

"Yeah, this fireplace is still not working, and we'd appreciate it if you came up and shut it off so the gas doesn't choke out my family. Thanks."

I go upstairs just as soon as I can clean up and shut it off, apologize for the faulty fireplace, and get out of that room as fast as I can (again!).

When I got to the desk, the dog guy called and asked for some popcorn, so I ran it up to his room.

I got off the elevator and I could hear Meghan's family was in the lobby in front of the desk. I thought, oh man now what and sure enough, I could hear them planning to put hot chocolate and cookies in front of the Christmas Tree for Santa Claus. Once I turned the corner, the one child, around seven years old, was being launched up onto a luggage cart by his eleven year old sister so he could do pull ups! I ran over and caught the luggage cart before it tumbled over from his weight! Imagine if I hadn't been there! His parents were completely cool with it and they were fifteen feet away!

Unreal!!

Imagine what they would have said...

"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuudge."

Except I'm sure they wouldn't have said fudge. :)

Merry Christmas All!!!

Take Heed, Pirates; I'm Watching You

Disgruntled? Yeah!: This may or may not seem lame to some of you, but I think its pretty cool. You'll have to stick with me while I talk about some dorky internet stuff I do.

That being said, there is a website that I have been following as a "favorite". Its called UniWatch, and its an "analysis" blog that talks about uniforms in sports. I'm a semi regular "commenter" to the site, usually something goofy about the Erie teams (Otters, Seawolves, and Bayhawks) but mostly just making jokes about the Yankees or something. Sometimes discussions get about as heated as internet discussions could be (and I say that because most of us internet dorks couldn't fight ourselves out of a wet paper bag).

On Tuesday, they featured a story about a guy who made a baseball helmet modeled after the pillbox style Pirates hats of the late 70's. He created it as a kitschy baseball hat for fun, but then realized it'd be a cool idea for the base coaches to wear (long story, if you care why they wear helmets while in the field, you can email me and I'll explain it).

I for one, thought it was a great idea, considering the Minnesota Twins had done something sort of the same this year, having their basecoaches wear helmets modeled after their 1970's hats.

Near the bottom of the entry, Paul Lukas, who runs the site mostly by himself, commented that he knew a few folks in the Pirates PR team who might be interested by this invention. I agreed completely, and went down into the comments to make my supportive voice heard. As I scrolled down through the comment board, I noticed that NOBODY said anything about it; rather they were making comments about the design of hockey jerseys in the 1980's. Made me angry; not at the site, but at the fact that a Pirates themed idea garnered no criticism or positive reinforcement.

I decided to write a comment that made my voice heard toward those "Pirates PR guys" that Paul knew. There had been 148 comments before mine, and that just upset me dearly. Here's what I wrote:

Dear apparent Pirates office workers who follow Uniwatch,

Being a huge hockey fan..., I hate to gloss over the awesome discussions about hockey jerseys.

But you know, if there’s someone watching this site that works for the Pirates… then I have something to say. Do you realize that this website has taken the time to HIGHLIGHT a great Pirates themed idea and nobody on this message board so far has commented about it? What does that tell you about the respect out there for this team?

Take this guy’s great idea for the basecoach helmets and run with it. Use the money from the dumb freaking bobbleheads of players that you’ll probably sell off in August and make this helmet a reality for the basecoaches.

I don’t think I can possibly take any more mediocrity from this organization.

1. Get rid of the red jerseys, I’m talking press conference, formal apology from Frank and Neal.

2. Get rid of the pinstripes. You’re not the Yankees, stop trying to fool us.

3. Scale yourself down. Go to a simple jersey set; road greys and home whites. Nobody buys your jerseys outside of Pittsburgh (and even then its a stretch) anymore so stop trying to push merchandise by creating another alternate.

4. Take all the money you saved from recycling those red jerseys into Primanti napkins, getting rid of the IDEA that anyone gives a crap about bobbleheads of Nyjer Morgan, only doing fireworks on the fourth of July like IT SHOULD BE…

AND BUY SOME BETTER PLAYERS!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!


Sincerely,
Tony in Erie
Disgruntled Pirates fan since 1980

I meant every word. Sounds silly, but I do. I'm tired of all of this crap about the Pirates not being able to afford good talent but continue to do basically nothing and let this organization be a laughingstock. We had our chances last summer when Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and Nate McLouth were ripping the cover off the ball and we were having our chances at finally winning more games than we lost for the first time in 16 years...and they traded Bay and Nady for a couple guys who flopped after a few months, helping the Bucs to lose 95 out of 162 games.

Immediately had a response from another reader, identified as ScottyJ In WV:

Well said, Tony!! Here here!!!

Also, gotta say that [the helmet creator] is the kind of fan a team should be proud to have. The pillbox coaches helmet is one idea the Bucs should run with.


Thought it was pretty nice to have someone support a comment that I actually thought would be deleted by the site administrator! But there it stayed, well after I went to bed last night. I also received a personal email from another reader, Doug Keklak, that reads as follows:

I was away from Uni Watch after 3 yesterday and didn't fire it up until much later.

Read your post regarding the Pirates.....GOD DAMN are you dead on! I was thinking the same stuff..how Ricko's scanned print ad of old hockey jerseys took over and no one really gave a damn about the main entry.

This will be the first summer since I moved to Allegheny County in '98 that I plan on going to no games whatsoever.

F--k them.

Kek

have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, always enjoy your comments

Nice touch, Doug. :)

Shockingly enough, I saw the coup de gras; I woke up today and found the following comment from the Pirates employee on the site:

I know of at least one other Pirates front office member, besides the aforementioned Dan Hart, who is a regular reader/contributor. However, she is extremely busy right now and the rest of the office is closed.

I’m not exactly sure how much I can say, but look for new jerseys to be unveiled at some point during the winter caravan/Piratefest. From what I hear, Tony in Erie is pretty close.

The bobbleheads have been greatly trimmed down, along with all the other garbage giveaways (collectible plates, etc.). Fireworks are not going anywhere. I have never seen a town go so stupidly bat-poo crazy for fireworks, no matter the date, time, or spectacle, as they do in Pittsburgh. Other teams actually have more fireworks nights than the Pirates. The Tigers had them after every Friday and Saturday night game last year.


I’m going to assume, that by the “buy better players” comment, he really meant “draft and develop better players” since that’s the only realistic option.

I hope this person, by the way they wrote, were part of the Pirates front office team. Talk about hitting your mark! I'm pretty excited that at least SOMEONE who is paid by that team saw my letter and maybe, JUST maybe, is circulating it around down there. Yay for me!

Next they'll be calling me for a job!

Yeah right. :)

December 23, 2008

The Best Day, Continued.

There's something I'd like to talk about because I'm, well, confused on this issue.

Last night, after the horrible day I had, I had a few more drinks than usual. Now, before I had my drinks, I had about fifteen chicken wings and a few slices of pizza, so there at least was something to sop up the alcohol. I wake up today, and I'm not hungover, even though there are a select few of my friends that are hating life this afternoon.

Which leads me to wonder: What am I doing with high alcohol tolerance?

All of my high school friends drank when they were very young.

I didn't.

I was usually grounded for something stupid like washing the dishes wrong or forgetting to clean up the dog poop. I was in my room, playing guitar, wondering why I felt like such a bad child. I never really "partied" when I was in high school.

The group of "hockey guys" had parents that purchased beer for them and their friends, as long as they drank it at that parent's house and nowhere else. Nearing our high school graduation, from what I hear, they started having parties with beer bought for them by the local college kids that they were friends with.

To each his own -- I used to really hate that about the group of friends I was attached to, despised it, wished bad things on them, and I'm not afraid to say that. But now, I'm not angry about that. As a matter of fact, I feel like I'm the least angry I've ever been in my entire life.

I had my first alcoholic drink on New Years Eve when I was 20. I was trying harder and harder to fit in with the only friends I had, and I thought that I was turning 21 that year so it couldn't hurt. I wasn't driving, nothing like that. Harmless little vodka and juice or something or other. It tasted like crap, to be honest.

That fall, I was introduced to Mikes Hard Lemonades by way of trickery...I was told they had very low alcohol content because they were mostly sugar. Six in a half hour time later, I was officially drunk for the first time, and I felt like a complete asshole. Acted like one too, from what I remember.

I didn't drink but maybe once or twice a year for a long, long time. The most dangerous night I ever had was being out in downtown Erie one Saturday night about five years ago with my fellow Sears tool salesmen, and it was one of my "fitting in" nights so they were shoveling me stuff to drink like crazy. I know we were at Sherlocks but I sorta don't remember where else. And yes, we actually had a designated driver, so there's no horror stories, take it easy, Mom and Dad.

The next morning, I woke up and was fine. Hangover? My friend Marc had less than I did, and he wasn't able to make it into work. Really confused me. Someone suggested I had a high tolerance for alcohol...but I wondered, how is that possible? Isn't 'tolerance' something that is built up?

During my relationship with Amanda, we've had a few nights where we've both had a few more than we should have, but we've always been smart enough to think ahead and plan accordingly to ensure we got home safely.

A few weeks back, I wrote a blog about "changing my life" and doing things so that I wouldn't be saying in ten years that I should have done things when I was 28 and not trying to be cool closing in on forty. That night, I went out to celebrate a good hotel inspection with a few of my friends and I had a couple shots of something I don't remember what, and the next morning I had a pounding headache, didn't want to get out of bed, it was horrifying. Amanda did too.

So I can have hangovers, it does happen, but if I think back long enough, I only remember "hating the morning" three times in my entire life.

Here I am, 1:30 in the afternoon, after a restless night where I didn't sleep very well, and I'm fine. No stomachaches, no headache, nothing. Amanda suggested that I have a high tolerance.

I still can't help thinking, how?

December 22, 2008

The Best Day

Even I'm Shocked: As anyone would know that has a television, the entire area around Erie has been blanketed by a big blizzard, dropping a foot or more in some areas. The interstate highways were shut down. The roads are pretty much unpassable.

Last night, I had to work at 5pm until 11 pm. The weather started getting snotty. So Amanda worked out getting us a suite to stay in at her hotel. Of course, I could have stayed at my own property, but what fun would that be? Anyway, shift went by uneventful, but I wasn't tired at all after I came back to the hotel. Best part, I had to be back into work only a short eight hours later, 7 am to 3 pm.

Today, we are having our hotel Christmas party from 6 pm to 10 pm or later. We were scheduled to have a representative from the Rochester hotel of our brand to watch the desk from 3pm until 7am. Sure enough, those closed highways included the ones between here and there, so we have to go without. I volunteered to work up until the party started at 6.

My shift went by pretty quickly, but the last two hours were the worst. I got berated by a "SUPER VIP" member after I realized that he used a pretty sneaky ploy to get himself a big free room. Its what I get for being a nice guy. Anyway, it just ruined my shift. Completely pissed off, I finally got away around 6:35.

I go out to my car to clean it off so I can finally get to the party, I start it up, and jump out of the car to clean it off. I get it all nice and "clean" (as well as possible) and go to jump back in.

It took nearly three years of ownership, three different homes, two different jobs, but I finally did it.

I locked my keys in the car. Running.

Luckily one of my fellow GSA's has AAA, but, due to the fact we are having the aforementioned storm of the year so far...they won't be here for an hour. And I'm down to a small amount of gas.

Is anyone going to blame me for tieing one on tonight?

December 21, 2008

Seven Points To Ponder




Pretty cool picture.





So I'm pretty much lost for ideas for another blog, so I'm gonna take some time and just write whats on my mind.


* I just finished reading "Deception Point" by Dan Brown (the author of "The DaVinci Code" and "Angels and Demons"). Its a political thriller; basically there's an election coming up and despite the presidential challenger's disdain for the space program, NASA discovers the "find of the century" and the current president involves the challenger's daughter to join a team of scientists during the discovery. Unfortunately, for all involved, the find of the century ends up changing all of their future fortunes. ... I know thats a pretty bad summary but trust me, if you like the poli-thriller, its a rocket read. I sacrificed half a night of sleep to finish it.


* * Found an awesome article on ESPN about Mike Tyson's Punch Out, that old boxing game for the Nintendo. I have many memories of the ol' NES, and I'd love to have one now. I have some of the games on my computer, but its just not the same. Anyway, if you loved the Nintendo, the game really brings back some memories.
* * * Jack Wilson, the shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, has been on the trading block since the season ended back in October (well, for them, in July)...recently his name has been taken off the baseball insiders list. Wilson finally stood up and proclaimed his distaste for the organization, and he's been applauded for that. Unfortunately, Jason Bay did the same thing LAST winter, and look where it got him. Traded. Or maybe thats ol' Jack's hope, that he'll have that shot to play short for the Anaheim Angels next fall. Who knows. God I hope that my kids will have something to cheer for when they're growing up.


* * * * Went to Amanda's hotel party last night, and it was held at this little "speakeasy" club in central Erie called "Astro Noeva" or something like that. It was held right at the bowling alley in the basement, this classic eight laner AMF style lanes, just like they had never been touched in the last forty years. Beautiful. Even had to do scoring by hand. I bowled like crap, rolled a 70 (yeah) and then a 104 (better? ugh.). I'm experimenting with a new throwing style.


One thing that not a lot of people know about me is that I used to be a pretty good bowler when I was little. My mom and her husband at the time enrolled me and my little brother at the Polish Falcons 123 when we were 11 and 8. I took to it pretty well, even got a personalized engraved ball for Christmas one year. I led a team of kids to YABA PA state semifinals in Grove City; I had a 150 or so average then. Not bad for being 11.


Anyway, back to present day...I used to toss the ball straight on, pretty lightly years ago. As I got older, I watched guys throw the ball really hard so I had to adapt. But as I started doing that, my arm and hand started getting number and number to the point that now, if I do it, my whole right hand is totally useless for the night if I even bowl one game.


So I'm trying to adapt to the curve style come hell or high water. I was able to throw three games worth of balls. I didn't do well, but its a start. (I didn't score the third game, in case anyone is trying to point out the flaws in my writing.)


* * * * *Anyone looking forward to Christmas? I am. Should be a good day. I have it off! Got Townsend a bunch of really great presents (thanks our own personal Santa Claus, you know who you are) and I think he'll be really happy with what he received.


* * * * * *I officially changed my availability at work so I can't work Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, so I can prepare more fully for the night at Clancy's. 2009 is going to be a good year for me musically, I just know it. My voice is getting better every time I sing. Someone has to be taking notice, or at least someone WILL be. I'd bet good money on it.


* * * * * * *I noticed something earlier (obviously you can tell I was spending a lot of time on ESPN.com). What is it about boxers that have religious items on their shorts? This is a pic of Evander Holyfield from his recent fight against some (very hairy) Russian dude:



Note the "Psalms 107:20" mark on his shorts. This passage is "He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." What? I'm confused. I mean, I usually "get" these things, even though they don't make much sense, I still figure them out. But this one totally throws me off. What does being an over the hill boxer have to do with that passage? Totally over my head, I suppose.

Well, thats about all I can think of now, I should get something constructive done. Comments or questions, go ahead and email me! I love feedback.

December 17, 2008

Blustery

Neighbors: Got an email almost right away from my friend Lisa, who encouraged me on to make this music thing more serious. So I spent a few minutes cleaning up the big kid play room we have off the living room so I can have more of a "live" setup.
 
Feeling a little better after my shower, I plugged in and started playing, and for some reason, after playing two songs, I just lost all feeling for it. I think I need new guitar strings for my Stratocaster...but I think I know what it really is.
 
I could hear my downstairs neighbors stomping around and I started wondering how loud I was singing, so I stopped singing louder. Then I turned the guitar down. Then I went to my acoustic. Before I knew it, I was trying to sing "Simple Man" in a whisper.
 
Wish I had someplace or some other way to practice without worrying the neighbors. They might not say something, or they might, who knows...I just feel bad being a bother. I know the one guy works third shift on Tuesday nights so the chances of him sleeping while I was trying to play a solo was pretty good, and it'd piss me off if I was the one sleeping.
 
Sort of popped the bubble of any good mood I had going today, and now I'm at work, and don't want to be here at all. Luckily there's not many people coming in.

The World Has Turned...

And Left Me Here: About 15 minutes before 11, my scheduled shift end, I got ansy and decided to change clothes to go out to open mic while I was still at work. The guy who works over night is always ten minutes early anyway; I figured why not. So I get all changed out of my nice red shirt and black tie into my Beatles "Hard Days Night" tee shirt and jeans and go outside and start my car. At this point, I'm rip-roaring ready to go to open mic and tear the roof off.

A few minutes pass and I think, well, thats odd...he's usually here by now.

The last time I actually had plans after a 3-11pm shift, he was the one who was taking over for the third shift...and he was late.

11:00 becomes 11:05, and I'm still standing there at the desk in my Beatles T-shirt. Phone rings for a wake up call.

C'mon man...I wanted to BE there by now!

11:05 becomes 11:10. I realize now that there is a distinct possibility that he's not coming in for his shift...so I give the ol' boy a call. No answer. But the phone rings again a minute later.

"Hey...Tony.....uhhhhh...I just woke up."

He said he could get there in like twenty minutes (he lives close by) but I told him to take it slow because the roads were crap. I go out to my car and shut off the engine.

So there I was, watching the desk until 11:35 in my Beatles T-shirt. Great. :)

Tearing The Roof Off, Er...Wanted To: When I arrived at Clancys, there was noone performing. A video of John Mayer was on the TV screen blaring away. Amanda and I head up to the bar and order a beer and sure enough, the old man who "had soul" last week was sitting there. Told me he'd been waiting for me to show up for three hours!

So I plug in, get situated, and start monkeying around...for some reason felt like I didn't have much direction songwise. I couldn't think of any tunes to play or anything, so I started off with "Walk Don't Run" by The Ventures. Got some applause. For some reason, I was feeling nervous, and I can't figure out why, even as I write this.

Ralph, the old man, steps up and picks up his bass guitar and we start in a little jump blues in G and things sound frickin great, I'm getting into it, the guy is grinning ear to ear, and sure enough, Doug, who "is always there" walks up and plugs in his acoustic guitar and took things over, again.

Starts playing the same five songs he always plays, just like he did last week, and the week before the week before. Following me? ;)

I played along for a while, Ralph gave up after that one song and wandered off outside with some drunk preppy boy who kept pestering me about needing a drummer. But after about forty minutes, I honestly just wanted to go.

I'm not sure exactly where my night was ruined, whether it was the 3rd shift man being late or the weather being crap or Doug taking over (AGAIN), but it was not one of my better nights there. I'm going to have to learn some new songs for next week so I can just keep playing instead of giving up to someone who knows only a few tunes.

December 16, 2008

Pet Peeves Be Damned

Back To School, Er, Work: So I finally got back to the ol' HWS front desk last night. Truth be told, I am glad I got the time off but I sort of missed the place. I feel a lot more loose and cool now and lets hope this feeling continues. No major problems, tried to get some laundry done but the rigors (ha!) of phone calls, toilet plunging, and toothbrush runs just wears me out, man. Had a talk with the general manager about some of the things that were bugging me and he said that he will try to take that pressure off my head as long as I try not to get upset over things I can't control. All gd, as he'd say.

And Now For Something Completely Different: I was on my way to work yesterday and I took a different route, from Liberty to 26th and then 26th to I-79. On my way, a driver in a Toyota truck almost t-boned me at the corner of Cascade and 26th. He pulled out behind me and was right on my tail for quite a ways. Then when the road split after Greengarden, he tried to pass me on the left but got caught up when another vehicle decided he was going to turn on Hampton Rd. I made it onto 79 and the guy was RIGHT ON MY TAIL.

As we pulled off the off ramp, he whipped out into the far left lane while he was still coming down the ramp and laid on the gas, flying by me at almost 75 miles at hour (at least). I got pissed for just a second, then realized that there's no reason at all to be mad. I didn't do anything wrong. For all I know, the guy might be heading home from work to his sick kids in school or maybe he found out his wife let the UPS guy in for a little more than just a drop off, who knows.

I turned off the Kearsarge ramp and got onto Interchange, and was stopped in traffic at the light over the bridge. And guess who was right beside me. Yep, you guessed it. Toyota truck dude.

Anyway, I remember the term "pet peeve" floating through my head for just a second, and I realized something.

What the hell is a pet peeve, anyway?

Seriously, think about it. Whats your pet peeve? When someone tailgates you? When someone has 11 items in the 10 items or less line? When your cat takes a dump in the litter box in the kitchen while you're trying to cook dinner? When NBC cuts off coverage of your soap so they can put on the President talking about who he is putting up for Cabinet appointments?

And we get all angry because of this.

Why?

What seriously changes your day if someone tailgates you? Are you really going to be all that much later because someone decided to carry one more item into the check out line? Are you going to smack your cat for doing his natural duty? Are you seriously going to absolutely die if you don't find out if Brooke is going to go back to Ridge, AGAIN?!

Come on. Pet peeves are stupid. We need, as a culture, to rid ourselves of the unneeded stress of the pet peeve. Unless your pet peeve is something that is unchangeable and is impeding your bloodflow, stop worrying about it. Really.

Am I wrong? I'd like your thoughts.

December 15, 2008

Hoops-a-daisy!

Three Times...A Charm: Had ourselves some free tickets to the first three games for the Erie BayHawks (or is it Bayhawks? *shrug*) over the weekend. Thursday night they played the then-undefeated Iowa Energy, then played the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (yeah, thats their name) on Saturday and Sunday night. Got to catch all three games. Pros and cons...

Pros:
1. Incredible basketball team. They control tempo, they are very fast when it needs to be, and they play really hard, you can just tell. Iowa, an undefeated team, got out to a 15-3 lead in the first quarter on Thursday but Erie went on a twenty point run and never looked back. Definitely some fight in this team.
2. Excitement abound! The promotions and marketing team for the Bayhawks appear to have got their lessons from the actual NBA (I'll get to that in a moment). Loud music, kids play area next to the court, in game promotions that aren't stupid (like the Otters), and affordable tickets! (Well, they were free, so, uh...)
3. Clutch. The Mascot. Dude is just as cool as the San Diego Chicken was. Climbing all over the stands, leading cheers, doing handstands, making fun of the floor waitresses...I'm not ashamed to admit my eyes were following the mascot around rather than the Bayhawks dancers. Well, Amanda was there, so I couldn't have anyway; not that they're pretty or anything, honey. Okay, they are, but they need some more dance moves. Can't expect season ticket holders to watch the same three dance moves all season, girls.

Cons:
1. Erie. Yeah, I said it. Erie sucked as a fan community this weekend. I'm sorry to say it, but when its opening night for a big time new basketball team and less people show up than at recent Otters games, you have a problem. The biggest cheers of the weekend were when they were offering free products -- free t-shirts got the fans on their feet, not the three pointers of Erik Daniels and Taj McCullough. Free fries got people screaming like children, not the dunks of Ivan Harris. THERE WERE PEOPLE LEAVING THE GAME WITH FIFTY SECONDS TO GO ON SUNDAY, AND THE GAME WAS TIED!!

I'm not sorry I said any of this, but if the NBA D-League continues to put product on the floor that is at LEAST the best the SeaWolves have put out, Erie doesn't deserve a team like that. Fans need to show more love....I expected more people out for this weekend. Not less than the Otters draw during a losing streak. Pretty sad.

....by the way, the D-League is a relatively new league that the NBA put into action a few years ago made of of mostly Western US teams. Erie is the farthest East by A LOT, only Fort Wayne stands between them and South Dakota. And even then, South Dakota is quite a jaunt from the next easternmost team in Tulsa.

Anyway, the league is made up of out-of-college prospects, much like minor league baseball, but 98% of the players aren't owned by the parent NBA clubs. In Erie, theirs are the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Philadelphia 76ers. But if the Cavs had a player that they signed out of college and he ended up needing a little more polishing but they had no space on their team for him to catch up, he'd go to the Bayhawks to get more playing time.

Don't get me wrong, a lot of these players on the court are professional-caliber guys. No doubt. Good show though, I must say. I was hugely impressed. And coming from a guy who had only been to two basketball games in his life before hand, thats saying quite a bit.

December 11, 2008

Music, Music, More Music!

Roll Em On: Went to Clancy's Tuesday night again (as I will be most every Tuesday until I get into a band or something else kicks in to gear, I'm now sure of) and had the best night of my performing life. Played a little bit with "Doug", this guy who seems to be drunk the entire time and only knows five or six songs. Shame, he seems funny, but I dunno about all that. By the way, I said I had no pictures from last week --- I lied...





Thats Amanda singing "Mercedes Benz". Knockout. She's awesome.

Judging by my hands, I'm probably doing "Put Your Hands On Me"

Went extremely well this past Tuesday though, getting back to the point...This old guy who had been making comments the whole time about his bass guitar or whatever comes up and starts playing Doug's guitar, tells me to play these certain four notes. He then proceeds to play only five solo notes, but he KILLED IT! Proves that soul goes a heck of a long way when you feel it.

I played so well I could have never played again and I'd have been happy. But....

Hey, There, Rockstar: Went to Docksiders for the Acoustic Open Mic night as well on Wednesday. Had a pretty good evening; Amanda's mom and brother went with us and Rachel, one of my coworkers, showed up with her little posse. I got to play for only about twenty minutes but I did my acoustic thing (not as great as I wish it was) but apparently I was a lot more impressive than I thought I was. I was welcomed back to play any time there. Amanda shot a video of me doing "Wonderwall" that I will upload to the site here soon.


Psst:...I'll be at Clancy's again on Tuesday :)

December 08, 2008

Tired, or Maybe Bored

I Think I'm Burned Out: When I worked at Sears, I had a boss named Frank that always complained that he got this lump in his stomach when he drove toward work. He always seemed to never ever want to be there.
 
Lately, I feel that way here at the hotel. I don't know how to explain it, and I have ideas WHY, but I just don't want to be here. I don't want to be working at all. Luckily, starting Wednesday, I have five days off in a row. That'll be a nice little break, eh? Can't wait for that. I just feel like we're all fighting wars on different shores.

A long time ago, one of my managers told me that the best way to screw things up is to fight wars on different fronts. Take one battle at a time. Get one thing fixed, and eventually the chips will all start in motion. I hope I can influence the powers that be to get that ball rolling.
 
The Strat-o-Caster: Went to Clancy's Pub again last Tuesday night, and although I don't have any pictures this time, it went really great! I was basically in the drivers seat for the whole three and a half hours; only flanked by a lead guitar player. He was a little overpowering at times, but I think it went rather well considering we don't know each other outside of musicians night. Amanda actually got up on stage and sang a version of Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" which she promptly knocked right out of the park. We then sang the classic Johnny and June song "Jackson" and also a version of "Evangeline" by The Band. Why we don't always perform as a pair is beyond me...maybe in time.
 
HouseCleaning: Anyone want to clean our apartment? I'm getting tired of looking at it. No, seriously. I really don't like our place anymore. I see it as way too much work to make it "our own". I would like to have a house or an apartment out in Edinboro or Waterford or something. Can't stand to park on the street anymore, can't stand to deal with living upstairs to someone else. I just want to be able to turn up my guitar and really play and not be afraid of pissing someone off. I want to be able to go out the back door and throw a baseball as hard as I can and not worry about it bouncing off a fence five feet away. I'm seriously getting tired of the apartment life. I know Amanda feels the same way. I don't think we can afford to buy a house now, and we both know its out of our range anyway at this point, but still...I can't stand that apartment anymore. The 'place' is cool, its just that things keep breaking down. The oven doesn't work right, the locks don't work like we wish they did, the basement is a dirty hole in the wall with old appliances stacked everywhere, some of the outlets in the place don't work, and we're paying out the ass for the place. Even the furnace is a landlord admitted piece of crap that we have to have the handyman come out every six months to fix it. I know we're not paying them but still, its becoming a real pain. *breathe tony, breathe*
 
Anyone know of a place we can rent that ISNT in the city?

November 30, 2008

Nobody Knew Me When I Wasn't There!







I Surprised Myself! Well, I finally did it. I went back to playing live. Next time there might be a little better lighting or something, but here's picture evidence -- me playing "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out". Its real folks, I've finally made my music leap. Yay for that.



Next Tuesday, I'll be going back to Clancy's Pub on the corner of East 10th and East Avenue in Erie for my next shot at getting famous.



Pipe dreams, yeah, but its a heck of a lot more fun that I've had in a while.



Cold As Wet Snow: This morning, Amanda, Townsend and I went to Edinboro to go sled riding on Culbertson Hill. Good times...wet and cold but good times. Here's a pic of the three of us:



November 25, 2008

Faith

No More Sitting In Park: I'm online this morning messing around, doing my normal email check in thing, and I find a photo gallery on Sports Illustrated featuring "Most Notable Retirees of 2008." Inside are pictures of guys like Warren Sapp, Mike Piazza, Mike Mussina, Dale Jarrett, Dominik Hasek...people that I remember how much of a big deal it was when they were DRAFTED. I don't know if I've ever noticed a set of retired athletes before that had their careers during my lifetimes that I knew front to back.
 
I realize that I'm getting a little older day by day and I can't be sitting in park anymore. If I am going to do something with my life, I have to do it NOW. I think I have some sort of feeling on people that have six months to live and know it. I'm scared of the possibility of looking back ten years from now and thinking "why the hell didn't I do that then?"
 
Quality, Assured: The hotel is having their inspection as we speak. Apparently we are not off to a good start; already been assured we can't finish higher than a 90%. The management are all really nervous. I don't know if they should be. After all its their first inspection as a team and the first one of a new term is always a learning experience. But its easier said than done. At least I'm assured we're all going to have a beer tonight. Haha!
 
Economical Conundrum: Isn't it wonderful that I can finally afford to go "driving" again for basically no reason? I really missed doing that...the open road, the missing knowledge of where you're going....wait, whats that? Oh, higher grocery prices? higher gas bill? electric bill?
 
Eh, it was a thought. It'll get better. Gotta have faith.

November 22, 2008

Snow Panda

Happy Winter!

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Snow (Hey Oh)

Welcome Back, Mr. Winter: No, the famous albino guitarist isn't back in town. This is the other older man with the last name of Winter. Wasn't a huge surprise, but the fact that its snowed almost every day in the last week has been interesting.
 
This time of year is very bittersweet for me. I like the Christmas season (for as much as the retail industry tried to beat that out of me), but I don't like the fact it is dark at 4:30 in the afternoon. Last night, Amanda and I went out to a club and we didn't really go out til about 10:30 and it felt like it was 2 in the morning. We played Scrabble (congrats on beating me again, Panda) around 8 pm and it just felt like the right time to go into bed. But we (and by we I mean "I") decided to tough it out and go out to the club. Weather wasn't too bad, and it was good to see our deejay friend Lori again.
 
A Great White North Story Too Good To Not Pass On: Last weekend, Amanda and I decided to do the big weekender again with the Erie Otters hockey games, both against the Owen Sound Attack.
 
On Friday, we had Townsend with us. I picked up tickets in section 19 and we headed to our seats. Outside the entrance to our section, I noticed a lot of fans with the other team's jerseys on. Inside, I noticed more folks. We got up to our seats and I realized that we (and be we I mean, "I" again) were sitting right in the middle of a sea of Owen Sound fans.
 
The "Attack Pack" as they called themselves, had lots to celebrate over, as they beat the Otters pretty badly 3-1. What was great about it was the collision of my patience and their fans. I stewed the entire time. There was a girl sitting beside me that had an oldfashioned wooden noisemaker...every time they made a good pass or had a big body check or their goalie made a good save, she would ring this friggin' noisemaker right next to my head.

Best part of all of it was when Towns was sort of acting upset that we didn't buy him cotton candy early on. The women behind us had a little conversation with him...
 
Canadians: Hey little man, would you like some candy? (Townsend looks at Amanda real coy) I'm sure it'd be alright.
Me: No, I think he's alright.
Canadians: I can't imagine how upset he must feel, considering your team is down 3-1.
 
Townsend is not my son. But I still wanted to punch the woman for being so stupid to him.
 
On Saturday night, we went again, just Amanda and I, and the Otters won 6-2. Big time adjustments had to have been made at practice after that Friday night game because the Otters played 500% better than they had on Friday night.
 
I got a chance to talk to the Otters general manager and he said that the team had to bench about seven guys due to a nasty cold that had been going around. And the guy actually APOLOGIZED for the game. Talk about humble, eh?
 
Ick, now I'm even typing like a Canadian.
 
Editing Note: The next entry that will be posted to the blog will be a picture of Amanda in front of a snowbank that I took yesterday with my camera phone. Please email me if it is not showing up in your mail.
 
If it doesn't show up, you can always go to thetonytimes.blogspot.com and check out the main site.
 

November 14, 2008

Friday Randomness

Yesterday I passed a threshold in my career; I finally got a name tag with my first and last name on it! I was going to take a picture and upload it to the blog but I decided I didn't feel like blacking out the name of the hotel. Feeling pretty accomplished, and I think I might finally be starting to truly feel like I'm on the right career path...Took a long walk last night through the streets of my neighborhood. I found it very therapeutic and I'm looking forward to doing it again. Hopefully under other circumstances...Looking forward to another Otters weekend with Townsend. I think we're going to go to the home game tonight against Owen Sound; always a fun rivalry. Working 7-3 all "week" so we'll have plenty of time to do the hockey thing. I'm surprised he's been so for it...Hillary Clinton as secretary of state? Huh. Its an idea...

November 13, 2008

Chinese Democracy Has Nothin' On Me

So I think I've come to the realization that I need to stop putting so much damn pressure on myself to record new music. I don't have a record deal. I don't even have people calling me ASKING for new music or anything. Amanda is very supportive; listens to me every time I change direction in my brain with my music. So thats great...I just wish I had the patience and time to get these songs right.
 
They sound so cool, I mean, I can't wait for all of you to hear "Put Your Hands On Me" like I intend it. I also have a pretty cool Beatles type chord progression going on that I have been working on. I intend on playing a little bit of blues guitar this next time...but then again, who knows.
 
One day I wanna be John Mayer, next day I wanna be the Stones, next day I wanna be the Greatful Dead, the next day I wanna be Eric Clapton, next day I want to be the first Tony Kellogg, next day is the day I have time off work and can do it and I end up putting it off because I listened to Hendrix and have myself convinced I can never be that good.
 
I need to realize that most of these people spend six months or more in the studio, most likely eight hours a day, perfecting these songs. I have a few hours each evening AFTER I've spent eight hours standing in one place (okay, more like six and half standing, one and a half running my butt off) and I just don't feel musical.
 
The first CD I ever made was "Coming Home" back in 2003, and I was sleeping five hours a night and addicted to the internet. I was dating Jessica but she wasn't living with me yet, so I had some time. The next CD I did was "Kelso Drive" in 2004; I recorded all nine songs over a three day weekend as a whim to have it done before Jess got back from some vacation she had in the Carolinas.
 
You can hear the sound qualities in those and you can tell they're just banged out.
 
"I'm Nobody Without Myself" I took about four months to finish; I recorded and re-recorded and threw tracks away and thought I was on the right track. The songs sound better but they are limited to the technology I had then which was basically a mic and a computer with a bad sound card. (I won't get too technical)
 
"The Kitchen Sessions" I finally finished in March or April (can't remember) of 2007 and the songs came out really well because they're mostly acoustic. But there's nothing poppy or catchy on them, so I really don't have much recollection of them.
 
So I've been trying to record new music here for almost a year and I just can't bring myself to really push into it. I've had a full time job this entire time I've recorded songs so its not work...I've had serious relationships almost the entire time as well. So what is it?
 
I wish I knew. I guess I keep bitching about it maybe I'll get going one of these days. I spent last afternoon recording "Hands" and I really got some good things out of it -- first off I realized that I am a pretty freakin good guitar player. I'm not the most technical person but I have a style all my own. I play blues how I like to. I play rock in my own little style. I'm not an over the top rock star soloist but I like to think that my solos have an emotional feel to them. I'm happy with my guitar. No problems there. I've been pretty happy with my solos for years.
 
But its my voice. I don't know what it is, but there is only about one day out of the week that I feel confident in my voice. I have the talent, I know when I'm singing out of tune, I know when its right on, and I know when I am barely hanging on. But for some reason, I'm missing that dynamic. My voice is like the guy who just goes to work, finishes his job, and goes home. Has nothing to offer except punching in and punching out. I know its there. I know it has potential.
 
Anyway, Axl Rose is finally releasing "Chinese Democracy" as a Guns N Roses CD on November 23...seventeen years after first starting it.
 
I kinda feel like its been that long for me. I know it hasn't, but thats how I work best--under pressure.
 
We'll see. Maybe I won't listen to Hendrix this time.

November 05, 2008

President Barack Obama

Its hard to believe, isn't it?

I sat on the couch in my old home on Route 99 in McKean eight years ago after casting my very first vote for President. I voted for Al Gore; and somehow, that night, something seriously changed in my head. I couldn't believe I was seeing Fox call the election for Bush. No matter the legal stuff that followed, that election was really over in my mind that very same night that I saw Fox News call the election for him. I remembered how prosperous things seemed to have been during the Clinton administration; how could anyone not vote in Al Gore?

It was hard to believe.

Four years later, I voted again, this time in downtown Erie. First time hitting the polls with a computer, as most of us were, and once again, I voted for the guy who lost. Looking back, I can understand why John Kerry lost; the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. Bush seemed like he was screwing things up and didn't care. He got voted back in by even more votes this time.

It was hard to believe.

Nearly two years ago, I met a woman who would completely change my life; give me the strength and the hope that I could really truly be something without resting on my laurels of being a "smart kid in high school". She is everything to me, everything I wish I could be, everything that I wish everyone could be. Someone that I always have fun with, and someone that I knew from the very first moments together that I would never ever stray from. I never thought I'd meet someone who was truly great.

It was hard to believe.

This morning, I woke up at 7 am and walked to the polls with her, this time four blocks away at a Methodist Church. Only person in front of me was Amanda. And I cast my vote for a man that people very close to me refused to take seriously because of various reasons that I am ashamed to even re-type (so I won't, even though I really want to). I never felt more enlightened about a person that I felt so strongly could lead our country, not in the RIGHT direction, but in a BETTER direction than its gone.

Tonight, I watched this man speak for the first time as the President-Elect of this great country. His speeches sticky with beautiful patriotic goodness; the camera catching Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey, along with lots of 'ordinary Joes', crying. To think that someone of minority descent could bring so many people together; that he could win over voters in states that haven't elected a Democratic candidate since before the "I Have A Dream" speech.

It was hard to believe.

But tonight, more than ever in my life, I believe that things are finally going to be set in the right direction. I have faith in my fellow people that want this change. I, quite honestly, have bounced the idea around about politics before personally...and who knows. Makes you wonder what you can really do.

The man is incredibly inspiring.

President Barack Obama.

It is hard to believe.

But its true.

November 03, 2008

Is It November 5th Yet?

Long Time Gone: So its been a while since I've said anything politically in my blog. So here goes. Hope I don't sound like a moron.

Election Day is tomorrow, November 4th. And not a day too soon. I'm really sick and tired of hearing all these political ads. I'm actually sick of feeling the need to listen to talk radio as well. All its doing is pissing me off and wishing that it was all over soon.

Just yesterday, I turned on WJET AM 1400. Mostly just to hear what the conservative guys are saying, because I like to be "entertained" and to figure out what I'll hear next about how bad of a person I apparently am.

So this guy, Mike Gallagher, was ranting on about this man in Hollywood who had decorated his house up for Halloween and had included a hanging effigy of Sarah Palin. Gallagher claimed that this man had gone on the "coward" route by not hanging an effigy of "BuhROCK-oh-BUHMA" because it had racial overtones. He then went on to complain about this man and his "life partner" who had obvious problems with Governor Palin.

My take? Of course its not right to do something like that. Hanging any effigy is no good.

If Pedro Sanchez couldn't hang a pinata of Summer Wheatley in "Napoleon Dynamite", then noone can do it in real life either.

That being said, Gallagher went on a rant about "coward liberals" destroying the fabric of our country by doing things like hanging effigys of Governor Palin. He then challenged any listener to call in and defend these guys.

A call came in after the commercial from a guy named "Jody" who went on to explain that back in 2004, someone did something just like that in his neighborhood for Halloween. A neighbor had made two scarecrows; one stabbing the other one in the back numerous times. The stabber was George W. Bush, the victim, John Kerry.

So "Jody" then said that if thats not proof that this stuff is all baloney about it "damaging the moral fabric", then he didn't know what was. So Gallagher said, "You're calling in and defending this two gay men from Hollywood, this gay couple that decided to take on a political star like Sarah Palin, and decorate their house so spooky, that their gay neighbors would think it was 'fun and twisted.' Now, Jody, this gay couple--"

The caller cut him off and said, "Mike, why do you have to label them as gay? I didn't hear you say 'heterosexual vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin'."

Gallagher retorted, "Oh, you have a problem with me calling them what they are? They're GAY. Thats what they choose to be? Are you homophobic? Your homophobia is BLEEDING through the airwaves."

Jody tried to get a word in edgewise but couldn't. Gallagher went spouting on about "liberal cowards like you" and he has "no problem with gay people at all, and thats what liberals, deep down, can't take. Most conservatives like me and 'my guy' John McCain, have no problem with gays, but for some reason, liberal cowards like you and 'your man', BuhROCKohBUHMA can't take these people for what they are."

............am I missing something? I don't know. I tell Amanda about this stuff and she has this great internal power to say she doesn't care and it doesn't really matter. I wish I had that. Its really strange, but I feel this overwhelming desire to just scream when I hear people like this. Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Mike Gallagher. They just sound like they're skirting every issue by sweeping it under the rug. Like they're all trying their best not to just come out and say "don't vote for Obama because he's black" or something.

I don't know. Maybe I'm too passionate about all this.

The lingering problem I feel is really hurting this country though is this huge emphasis on the four year cycle of "elections" as if there's only one election every four years. Thats not democracy.

EVERY SINGLE GOVERNING LEADER IS IMPORTANT TO THE EXISTENCE OF DEMOCRACY. EVERY SINGLE ELECTION IS IMPORTANT TO "EVERYDAY JOES".

School Board, Tax Collector, Mayor, City Council, County Council. These people have the powers of changing your local and your property taxes. Does anyone know who their reps are? I have a fair shot at answering no.

State Representative, State Senator, US Congressman, US Senator. These people are the ones effecting state laws like drinking ages, polling places, district redistribution, state taxes, matters of the Constitution like abortion and military drafts. Some people would be okay to know these folks, because most of them float by for years unopposed.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but because of "checks and balances", the President is only a figurehead that apparently has the power of vetoing any bill that passes through the House and the Senate, and has the power to appoint Supreme Court Judges.

Yeah, a radical person who is against a big issue could effectively bring in enough judges to overthrow a major issue (like abortion), but the government would never allow this to happen. Thats why our political system works. No radicals will get into power and stay there.

Heck, we almost threw out Bill Clinton because he lied about having sex with an intern. Imagine if we got wind of a President wanting to eliminate the drinking age.


Anyway, I hope I haven't confused any of you. I hope all of you go vote tomorrow. I don't care who for, as long as you go vote. People that don't bother are at the mercy of groups like the NRA and AFSCME. Do you want 'groups' to change what you have to say? No, of course you don't.

Your vote counts because it shows your choice. Anyone that has ever said "my vote doesn't count for President" just proved everything I was writing about today.

Your vote DOES count when its only one of a couple thousand that vote for the county executive who decides to bring in a casino. Your vote DOES count for the school board members that want to enforce dress codes in elementary schools.

EVERY SINGLE GOVERNING LEADER IS IMPORTANT TO THE EXISTENCE OF DEMOCRACY. Remember that.

October 30, 2008

My "Saturday"

Dreaming Again: Woke up yesterday morning at 11:30 am. Boy did I apparently need the sleep. One thing about sleeping so soundly...I dream the weirdest things. There was quite a bit of weird stuff in there, tornados, cars... but the oddest thing was this chain of events.

I was at a car dealership looking at Buicks when along came a salesperson to "bother me". The salesperson ended up being Kelly Robertson, who I used to work with at Sears. She said, "You know, these cars are really great. But one thing you don't get at other dealerships---a free computer monitor with every test drive!" So she gives me this monitor (which looked a bunch like my first computer monitor, about the size of a television) and I wanted to see if it would work. We walked around the back of the dealership, which turned out to be the back of my old neighbor Chaz Lucchetti's place. We finally found a plug to power it up with and when the screen came on, there was a music video playing. It was Toby Keith, singing some song about Ford trucks. The odd thing was, the band and him were all wearing these plastic plates on their arms that were held on by rubber bands. On the plates? A red logo with a big M -- thats right, McDonalds.

I woke up with the notion that, "wow, I haven't had McDonalds in a while."

Dinner Dash: Dad called me up around 4 or so yesterday and asked if we were interested in having dinner and of course, we obliged. Dinner is always a good time with him. His beard is getting long! Looks great though. I wish I could get mine to look like that. Anyway, dinner was basically the same as it always is, good, fast, and tasty. Lories is such a great place.

I need to get something else for dinner there other than that barbecue burger though.

We went from there to Wal-Mart, where we picked up a few things. Dad told us this story about how he used to put Adam and I into shopping carts and run full throttle around the grocery stores, and it used to make Mom mad. Hilarious stuff. :)

October 28, 2008

Darius Rucker Sings Right To Me

Weird, But Sadly True: A few weeks ago, I heard Darius Rucker's new country song, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It". For those of you that don't know, Rucker is the frontman for the 90's roots rock band Hootie and The Blowfish. He's suddenly gone country, and his new album, Learn To Live, is pure country shtick but I like it. A lot. Very catchy tunes, good lyrics...things that Hootie was always pretty good at.
 
Anyway, I was on my way to work the other day. To get to the hotel, I have to pass by Sears, my old place of employment...the place that I still think about every once in a while. Rucker's tune (now a #1 on the charts) was playing on my car radio and the song for some odd reason, struck me as almost exactly how I feel about Sears.
 
I know, weird, but sadly, its true. I kinda miss the old place, but I'm very happy where I am now. As Rucker sings on the title track to his song, you gotta live and learn, so you can learn to live.
 
Anyway, here's the lyrics to "Don't Think I Don't Think About It"
 
I left out in a cloud of taillights and dust
Swore I wasn't coming back, said I'd had enough
Saw you in the rearview standing, fading from my life
But I wasn't turning 'round, no not this time
 
But don't think I don't think I don't think about it
Don't think I don't have regrets
Don't think it don't get to me
Between the work, and the hurt, and the whiskey
Don't think I don't wonder 'bout
Coulda been, shoulda been all worked out
Yeah I know what I felt
I know what I said
But don't think I don't think about it
 
We make choices, we gotta live with it
Heard you found a real good man and you married him
I wonder if sometimes I cross your mind
Where would we be today, if I never drove that car away?
 
But don't think I don't think I don't think about it
Don't think I don't have regrets
Don't think you don't get to me
Between the work, and the hurt, and the whiskey
Don't think I don't wonder 'bout
Coulda been, shoulda been all worked out
I know what I felt
I know what I said
But don't think I don't think about it
 
Don't think I don't think about it
 
My buddy Mike sent me an email today telling me that they painted over my "time capsule" in the stock room...there was this really tall shelving unit that hadn't been used for years up against one of the recieiving bay doors. Before tearing it down, I stood on it I reached up as high as I could and wrote everyone's name that had been working there at the time. There was graffiti all over the place from back when the stock room shelves had been about twice as high as they were at that time...so I didn't think a little list of names would be so bad.
 
Sears is going through this "Shine and Clean" thing (rumor has it they are looking to get bought out again) and they painted over my little brick. Makes me sad.
 
 

Sleep Deprived

Who Knew I Could Be So Lazy: In all my years of internet addiction before, I rarely slept a full nine hour night. I'd stay up until four in the morning online, just wasting my nights away, doing quick math to figure out how many hours I could sleep to survive.
 
Side Note: I still believe the Flounder Quotient -- guy I used to work with at Country Fair (nickname was Flounder) said that if you sleep hours in multiples of threes you should be safe. It works.
 
Anyway, Saturday night, I went out to the Otters game with Amanda (they won!) and we went to the Plymouth afterwards. Didn't get in until later on. I didn't sleep really well, only got a few hours of consistent sleep.
 
Sunday night I worked until 11 pm and had to be back at the hotel at 7 am for our front desk staff meeting...so needless to say, I didn't get much sleep, again.
 
Yesterday, Amanda set up an appointment with State Farm to look into renters insurance and possibly a new car policy for her. She rescheduled the appointment for this morning because she wanted me to be there. So we went to bed last night after I got home from work and got up around 8 am...once again not getting a great night of sleep. Oh, and we didn't end up going to the appointment. Again.
 
So today I'm sort of sluggishly lazy. I watched a couple television shows that I taped (one on disproving "spontaneous human combustion" and a UFO show; shows my brain laziness). I washed a set of towels, cleaned out the litter box...and...uh....that's about, um, it.
 
I'm off the next two days, so that should be an exciting time. Er, something.
 
I put up a newer, flashier sounding version of "Put Your Hands On Me" on the MySpace site. Noone's ever said anything about it...so I'm wondering if anyone has checked it out...so...hint hint...DO SO!

October 16, 2008

Just Don't Forget Where You Came From

Happy Birthday: Welcome back, Tony!! Been a while, where you been, kid? We've been lookin all over for you! Anyway, I know its been eleven days since I wrote so I'll try to keep you informed. I really haven't had a ton of things to write about in the "normal" position, so I'll just catch all of you up on the things that were really big in the last eleven days.

See Former Title: Yes, it was my birthday on October 9th, thanks to everyone who wrote me on MySpace and the emails and the cool cards and the actual real cards. I didn't do all that much on my birthday; Amanda took me out to dinner at O'Charleys and we went to see "Step Brothers" at the Cinema Six. Dinner was very good, and the movie, well, as I've told a few folks, was the "most hilarious waste of two hours" I quite possibly may have ever experienced. But it was a good time, anyway. Thanks babe. :)

Well, Its Better Than The Alternative: Got pulled into the managers office a few days back after I'd had a small altercation with the sales manager; thought for sure I was gonna get run up the flag pole for that one. But in fact, it wasn't about that at all. Shawn and Jen brought me into the office to let me know that they are promoting me to Front Office Manager!!!! I apparently have done well enough work to be qualified for the position. It was weird, still is....I've never actually been GIVEN a promotion without having to kick and scream and fight for it. So its nice. I can go into work in actual nice colors and all of that, plus the authority to change a few things that I have been increasingly frustrated with at work.

And its a little raise too.

The Musician In Me: There's not much to say here, uh, so I'll just post this blog that I wrote on my brand spankin' new MySpace music site that is promoting my re-venture into the music business. I've decided to take the next calendar year and seriously open myself up to the possibilities of being a professional musician. I'm going to start small with open mic nights and hopefully meet some people to get things going with.

Oh yeah, and I'm growing a beard. Haven't heard a bad comment yet.

October 05, 2008

Homecoming '08

Edinboro, PA: It was quite slow at work on Saturday morning so the general manager convinced me to cut out early, around 12:30. Amanda and Townsend went to Edinboro for the university's Homecoming parade in the morning.

Apparently the parade was crap compared to what it used to be, so they weren't heavily entertained. To make matters worse, Townsend's grandfather (his dad's dad) was in an accident and was put in the hospital. Amanda took him home in the early afternoon to be with John.

I drove down to the Boro around two and we went to the new and improved Charlie's Pub in the Giant Eagle plaza. Charlie's used to be "Uncle Charlies"...I guess by taking down all the old-timey decorations and putting up big screen TV's you're suddenly not an "Uncle" kind of place. Food was the same, greasy. Service was the same, no waiters. *shrug* What would you expect, I suppose.

So the plan was to go to this pig roast at a house of a '97 classmate of Amanda's, Jeff Cullers. Our friend Allison was there and she already sounded pretty toasty. (Unfortunately I only ever see her in this mode.) Amanda and I parked down by Edinboro Lake and walked over to the gas station for a pop for me. (I'm on a semi-permanent break from drinking beer.) On the way back we saw a few old friends of mine at a fenced in party near the beer distributor and we decided to go check it out. Stayed for a couple minutes, saw that they were playing "apple dodgeball" (a sport reserved for folks south of the "Mason-Dixon line" aka I-90) and we left them to their devices.

Headed on down to the pig roast and it was a total disaster. A whole mess of people that I never looked up to kindly in high school, and Amanda felt about the same way. I don't mind social atmospheres as much anymore, but this time I felt like I had fleas on me. Couldn't stand being there. We left pretty quickly, once we were able to say hello to everyone we knew.

I got a phone call from one of the "apple dodgeballers", Curtis LeSuer, asking us to go over to Gary Barbour's place to hang out for a bit. So we went over and the afternoon was a rescued for the most part.

Got to catch up with Curtis, talked fantasy football shop and watched the ending of the Penguins-Senators game. Gary's got a nice little place! Amanda also got to meet the only other person I know that still likes Oasis, Eric Kraus. Typical Eric, bouncing between the hockey game, downloading smut on his laptop, bitching about how many fantasy points we get for return yards, and blasting Oasis's new single, "The Shock Of The Lightning".

When we left, Eric was walking around on stilts and they were getting ready to gear up for beer pong. There are times I wonder how in sam hell I got caught up with guys like that, but I'm still glad I have some friends that care that I'm around.

American Splendor: Got our newest movie from NetFlix last night, "American Splendor". Starring Paul Giamatti, the movie lays out the story of Harvey Pekar, a guy who grew up in the sluburbs (no typo, i just made that up) of Cleveland Ohio and ended up with a dead end file clerk job. He is the author of an underground comic strip which the flick was named from. Not really all "horsies and peppermints" of a story, just a real guy living a real life in the doldrums and finding something good out of it.

Couldn't help thinking of Chris Brown's comics. I wonder if he's inspired by that at all. Or if he'd ever heard of them. Anyway, if you folks haven't seen it and like the indie style of films, check it out. Giamatti is freaking awesome. Every movie I see by him impresses me more.

I'm Glad I Was There: A few days ago I blogged about a long term guest of ours who was rushed to the hospital. The last bit I'd heard about him, he'd been diagnosed with pneumonia and that he'd be back in a few days. Yesterday afternoon (a week later) I found out that he had taken a turn for the worse and slipped into a coma and that they weren't sure if he was going to make it out.

Unfortunately, probably around the time I was being told of this, he died yesterday morning. He had a rough battle the last few months and you could tell he wasn't the same happy guy we had here before. I won't forget what he said that afternoon when I was sitting with him in his room waiting for the paramedics.

"Its hell to get old," he said. "I don't recommend it."

October 04, 2008

Suddenly A Convert

Don't Judge A Book...: Amanda and I decided to take a walk down to Dobbins Landing (yeah, the Public Dock, Mike, I know...) and check out the brick Dad got for my brother and I, and take a walk around on a nice day. Apparently, after all this time, I'd never mentioned to Amanda I had this brick and I talked about how I went down there with Mike last Thursday and she was quite embarrassed...whoops!

Anyway, we walked around, and it was quite blustery. She suggested we take a walk over and see the Sheraton. I wasn't really into the idea, because they are "competition" and I didn't really want to "get caught snooping." I actually wrote about it earlier in the year in my short lived Erie-flections blog as being one of "Erie's Eyesores".

But we went anyway, and walked into the lobby to find our old Sears friend Teja working at the front desk.

Quite cordially, she invited us to take a tour and the sales manager Lisa Chilson (who ironically enough used to work here) and took us on a nice tour. Gorgeous lobby...their "Link" as they call it is all in dark wood, with Navy blue and deep reds in the fabrics. She showed us a couple of their banquet/meeting halls and their views are spectacular.

I left there not jealous at all, because that hotel is definitely in a league of its own, but it makes me proud as an Erie resident we have a really really nice place like that. Worth the money and the eyesore? Eh........... but its definitely nice.

With Two Days You Get Eggroll: Yeah, I don't really have all that much to write about, so I'll do the rambling thing again. Dad finally got me new tires (two fronts) for my car for my birthday (October 9th in case anyone forgot...)...I decided to grow a beard now, I got permission from the hotel management (*cough, laugh, giggle, cough*). It might play into a Halloween costume...Finally got the right rythym track down for "Feelin' Like The First Time" for my CD. Shaping up to be a good track...Oasis album comes out Monday!

October 02, 2008

Ninja Cat - I Had To Share This!

The video that is sweeping the e-nation.... NINJA CAT!


If you can't see it, click on the "Ninja Cat" link above.

The End Of Karaoke?

Swan Song: Tonight Amanda and I went to karaoke at the club we'd been going to. It was exceptionally busy for a typical Wednesday night. Lots of faces I'd never seen. But apparently we were needed, because the DJ came by and hugged us, saying "thank god you're here". So we sang a couple songs, typical stuff. For some reason though, it seems to be weighing on me going there, and Amanda and I had a little discussion about it...maybe its time to stop going.

I look across the way and I see one of my co-workers there, along with the guy who works for the Scott hotel that won't give me rates. Anyway, I went over to my coworker and said hello. His boyfriend looked incredibly pissed at me, pointing his finger in my face and saying he expects a full apology.

Turns out earlier today when we were at work we were having a discussion and my coworker made a wisecrack about his boyfriend being a little crazy, and a comment was made that "better watch out or he'll cut you to pieces." Right now, I can't recall if I said it or if he told me that one of his friends said it and I just agreed with it.

Anyway, my coworker apparently told him that I said it and this boyfriend of his got extremely pissed and basically threatened me if I didn't apologize. Which I did, because I'm not a punk, I had some responsibility for the comment, whether I said it or not. But I didn't appreciate the steamrolling I received right at the beginning.

I think Lisa is right about people hanging out with folks you work with. Doesn't always turn out right, and when it does, it makes things extremely uncomfortable. Hopefully by the next time I work with the guy all this drama will have dissipated and I'll be alright.

But I went on stage soon after this and sang "Rain King" by the Counting Crows (spot on performance) and said that it might possibly be the last time I sing there. I just don't need this drama crap. Especially since I'm trying to find ways to be less worried man and more happy man; less stressed and more relaxed.

I'm getting there....

October 01, 2008

I Don't See Any Ushers Here...

Pour Some Beer On My Sacred Heart: Last night Amanda and I were invited to be guests at the Sacred Heart Ushers Club up the street from us. A woman she works with is a member there and has been bugging us for weeks to go.

I remember what it was like to go to 'clubs' like that as a kid; they have this mirror on the wall and you have to buzz someone to let you in or show your identification. I'm frankly surprised that those places still exist...

Anyway, the club was exactly how I expected it to be, pretty small barroom, but it was very clean and had these two huge big screens (that I found myself stuck to the White Sox - Twins game) and a nice sound system. It was a decent place, but I was tired. I guess there was some sort of subconscious effort to get Amanda to go home at 10:30 because she wanted to stay and I was growing really tired. After a Coke though, I felt pretty good about staying and we played a couple games of pool.

Its October: The baseball playoffs start tonight, so I figure its a good of time as any to make my picks for the playoffs and World Series...so here we go:

National League Divisional Series
Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers : I like the Cubs in this series...I think Manny Ramirez can only take Los Angeles so far. And when you have a pitcher who hit nine home runs this year (Carlos Zambrano), how can Chicago really go wrong here? Cubs in four games.

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Philadelphia Phillies : I'm seeing this as a five game series that ends up being closer than Wild Card vs East Champ should go...and I am going to stick out my neck and call it for Milwaukee. Sabathia's performance should give them two wins at least, and I hope that one of the Brewers other pitchers can pick up the slack and win them that third game.

American League Divisional Series
Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels : I'm going to go a little romantic, my dear. I'm enjoying the success that LA has had in the last few years, and I find them to be totally under rated. They won 100 games this year! I'm giving the Sox one game but the Angels will take this in four.

Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays : UPSET! Yes! Stop The Presses!!! After watching that game last night, I'm convinced the White Sox are going to upset the first time AL East champion Rays...its a matter of experience AND the wave those guys are on. White Sox in five. Only because Tampa won't go down without a fight, because yeah, they're still good. No matter how hard it is for John Pritchard to swallow that. :)

National League Championship Series
Cubs vs. Brewers : Its their year. Brewers will run out of gas after pitching Sabathia on three days rest for the second time in two weeks and he'll prove ineffective in an important game... Cubs take this series in five games.

American League Championship Series
White Sox vs. Angels: This one is tough to call for me. Giving the White Sox the series against Tampa Bay may be the worst prediction I make, but if they knock off the Rays, don't be surprised if they give the Angels a run for their money and give the world the possibility of an all-Chicago World Series....but I'm still gonna give this series to the Angels in seven. They're just too powerful and you can't deny Mike Scoscia's club.

World Series
Cubs vs. Angels : A ratings bombshell this one will be! There's lots of talk about the fact the Cubs have gone a hundred years without a championship and how there is a curse...but I watched the Red Sox AND the White Sox roll over this myth and I'd like to hope we can move on in this 21st century world and be real, stop crying jinx and stabbing voodoo dolls for comfort.
The Cubs will face a steamroller in Los Angeles's AL team, and the Series will be a hard fought battle for both teams. I'm going to say the series will go six games and my choice for the World Series champion in thirty days is.... Chicago. The Cubs can't possibly screw this up this year.

So here's me saying, GO CUBBIES!

September 30, 2008

108 Years Without Ten

The Worst Is Over: I can finally move on at work...the "new" Assistant General Manager started yesterday, something I was subconsciously hoping wouldn't happen, but the day went off without a hitch, as once again I swallowed my pride and decided its easier to take the high road and deal with it in a positive manner. Makes me feel better anyway, and who really needs that stress?

A New Direction: Going to the show at Forward Hall the other night has inspired me to take a new direction for the CD I've been working on. I think I'm going to do it 'live' with as little overdubs as possible (overdubs are edits after its originally recorded, track by track recording like is done in a big studio) to make it more as you'd hear it if you went to see me at a show.

I'm spending too much time and stress going over a bass line or a harmony vocal, and when you'd go see me, you'd either see me playing alone or possibly having Amanda singing right next to me, so the most you'll probably hear is her singing and maybe playing another guitar. The only overdubs would more than likely be a few parts that I feel are important to the sanctity of the song, like Eric's banjo or maybe a sweep-you-off-your-chair lead guitar solo by yours truly. As of yesterday, I'm starting to do things with the harmonica too as much as possible.

Course, unless I change my mind in two weeks. Who knows.

Lack of The Typical Third Subject Leads To Rambling: Fell asleep "mom style" last night on the couch around 8:30 pm; my body is still trying to get used to the new schedule. I haven't woke up to an alarm more than a couple times in almost nine months!...If you happen to get a chance, check out the Discovery Channel's "Planet Earth"; watched it last night with Amanda and I'm happy I did. Its amazing stuff. Thats the sort of thing that should be on high definition TV, not a soap opera football game...The Pirates fired their pitching coach yesterday. I read somewhere that it was the first time since 1890 (!!) that the team didn't have a pitcher win at least ten games. I think thats a pretty good reason to lose your job, considering an average pitcher has at least 35 chances in a season to win a game..."I can live in a recession, I've been preparing for it. Hope these other people can." - Mike Sebald. Had a great time Friday, by the way!

September 28, 2008

An Alright Saturday Night

Forward: Well, the big Saturday night I was looking forward to ended up going alright. Only made it to one out of the four -- the big jam show at Forward Hall. Almost was a bust too -- we ended up late because we took Townsend home and took our time getting back.

First act on stage was this guy named Matt. I immediately recognized him from open mic nights at Clancys. He does the singer/songwriter thing but plays alot of old obscure blues stuff. Played about eight songs, some electric and some acoustic.

During his act he mentioned something about a CD he had if anyone was interested. To get in to this show, there was a $7 cover. Amanda and I took our friend Lori (who is a DJ at the club we go to) and she really didn't seem to enjoy it all that much. After Matt mentioned his CD, she joked, "For this price and for this show, I better get it for free!"

Second act was Gypsy Dave and The Stumpjumpers. A lot different than what I pictured them as. I listened to a online radio program from Knoxville last week and heard them and the band seemed pretty good. Anyway, they played for about forty minutes and it was good! They weren't anything floor rattling, definitely mood music. Have a very core audience. I can't imagine them getting big and selling out a stadium. But what band does anymore?

Third act was Rachel Eddy. She's a fiddle player from Nashville. Think Kathleen Edwards without the Sheryl Crow side of her. Pretty cool. She played with Fred Parker and Billy Smith, both pretty big bluegrass people out in the "sticks". I was impressed...although Amanda seemed to have a problem with the fact Rachel was wearing Crocs. *shrug*

Last band on was Shotgun Jubilee which featured an old high school mate of ours, Ryan Bartosek, on bass. He was as good as he was back then, probably better...the band was decent but we left early cuz it was getting late and I had to work pretty early.

Definitely worth the $7.

By the way, the Otters lost in Guelph on Friday night (5-1) and beat Kitchener 4-0 last night. Their record stands at 2-2. Not bad.

An Interesting Five Minutes: Yesterday one of our long term guests, I'm gonna call him , called 911. He's an elderly guy that has stayed here for a long time, and in recent months has had some bouts with his health.

I ran down to his room (after calling the boss for split second advice) and got in there. He was coughing alot and having trouble breathing. I didn't panic (it doesn't help anyway) and sat with him until the paramedics got there. Had to calm him down because he was seriously freaking out over the fact he couldn't stop shaking. The paramedics were there in about ten minutes and they took him to the hospital.

Found out later in the evening that he has pneumonia and that he should pull out of it with some treatment...he's had a couple episodes this year and hopefully everything turns out fine.

New Developments: Possible new career move on horizon...I am looking forward to another chance that has come up in the last few days. I'll keep you posted as much as I can with that...you can email me if you want to know more, not much I can say publicly.

September 24, 2008

Its War!

You Forgot To Put In The Crystals: Last night around 5 pm, I started getting phone calls from guests saying that their internet wasn't working. So I jabbed with the technical support help desk for about a half hour, and they said everything seemed to be in order from our end.

Unfortunately the guests were still having problems. I gave them the number I call and most of them were actually able to get fixed and work. But some of them didn't. When they didn't, they came down to the business center to use the internet down here that is hardwired into the wall.

And...that wasn't working either. I called up the company who runs the computer and they said we have some sort of virus blocking the internet from coming in to the hotel. Great! So today they were supposed to call back to get all these things fixed, and apparently the technical support still hasn't fixed these problems.

Its a great day to be a front desk agent...but even better knowing you have the next two days off. Yay!

V Is For Vonnegut: Tomorrow morning I'm having a overdue visit from Mike Sebald, one of my buddies from Sears. I really miss having him around. When I mentioned all those "good guys" in my blog a week ago, he was one of them. I haven't seen him since I had lunch with him and Chris Brown about two months ago. We are all busy people, I guess.

I've Got People: Came into work tonight and the boss tells me that he received the order for new name tags (since I lost mine a few weeks ago) and forgot to order mine. He then asked, "Who do you know at the engraving company?" I was pretty much clueless unless he gets them from the Trophy Shop Engravers in Edinboro.

"Someone wrote 'Hi Tony' on the box."

AH HA! I let him know that its most likely my mom...she's a sorter at UPS and did that when I worked at Sears. Always got teased for it, but its nice to know she's watching out for me. :)

And Finally, ITS WAR: A month or so ago, one of the front desk people left here and went to the new Hilton Garden Inn on upper Peach Street. When he left, I told him that I was in the running for Assistant General Manager and that I wanted to see if he'd let them know that since they're a Hilton property, like ours, that we could make amends and share information. He said that he'd see what he could do because he does understand expanding the company base.

Fast forward to this past week...I'd been talking with this front desk girl there who's been giving me the amount of rooms they have left to sell, and I felt okay with that. I'd just look up their rates, is all. Tonight, our former desker answered the phone and flat out refused, even pushed back at me, when I asked him for the number of rooms remaining. I told him that the girl had been giving me this info, and he said "management wouldn't be happy to know that".

Now the story here is that Scott Enterprises owns alot of the properties in that area. Hotels such as the Courtyard by Marriott, the Comfort Inn Peach, the Holiday Inn Express, the Residence Inn by Marriott, and now the Hilton Garden Inn. They also own the Applebees, Steak and Shake, Boston Pizza, Bob Evans, and the Splash Lagoon waterpark.

Great, right? WRONG. Why can't they understand that we are trying to build the company's name? You're never going to be anything but a property management company. People don't go to your properties because you're owned by Scott Enterprises....they go because they like the Marriott's no smoking policy...they like the prices that Comfort Inn has...they go because they're attached to Splash Lagoon.

Whats with the strongarming? Why push everyone away? I need to understand this badly, because it now makes me pissed off at that desker who is "following orders" ... they make the same amount of money I do. Its not as if they're all making twenty bucks an hour waiting tables.

Why does this crap go on?