Sunday, October 31, 2004

Dumb as a Box of Hair

About four years ago, I had an unexpected night off from softball. I returned home, flipped on the television only to find Superman II playing. Clearly, fate was smiling upon me, and to celebrate, I cooked up a little dinner.

I started by making a batch of rice - no minute rice here - chicken stock, onions, carrots and rice. Next came the chicken - browned and crispy on the outside, then I placed the whole grill pan in the oven and let it cook.

Thirty minutes later, I pulled the grill pan out of the oven, and the chicken was perfect - crispy, juicy and fragrant. I spooned some rice on the waiting plate, and eager to see Superman fight Zod, Ursa and Non through the streets of Metropolis, I grabbed the grill pan to transfer the chicken to the plate.

Now, the oven was set at 400 degrees, and my cookware is all nonstick aluminum, meaning it retains heat very well. Which is great, especially if you remember to pick up a pan fresh from the oven with an oven mitt.

Which I didn't do.

My hand blistered instantly and six hours later, I returned home from the emergency room, my hand bandaged and numbed by pain medication. To this day, I still don't have feeling in one of my fingertips. Lesson learned.

Or so I thought.

Tonight, I had a nice quiet evening planned. So I took some chicken thighs, tossed them in olive oil and added salt and pepper. I browned them in a pan, added more olive oil, some garlic cloves, green onions and rosemary, sage and thyme, covered it and tossed it in the oven.

My plan was to add the garlic and onions to the mashed potatoes I was making, and I would saute the green beans in the herb-flavored oil when the chicken finished cooking.

The timer chimed and I removed the pan from the oven. I mixed the mashed potatoes, then I removed the lid from the pan. Without an oven mitt.

Fortunately I dropped it before I suffered any permanent injury. Vowing to pay attention, I mixed the potatoes with the garlic and onion.

Then I grabbed the pan's handle to remove the chicken. Without an oven mitt.

Again, I dropped it before any permanent harm, but I'm thinking that for me, cooking qualififes as an extreme sport.

The meal was delicious, though. So that counts for something . . . doesn't it?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

At Least I Can Start Sleeping Again

I kept waiting for the earthquake, the pestilence, the fire, but it never came.

Near as I can tell, someone drugged, bribed or kidnapped the Cardinals and replaced them with a high school team.

Well, I haven't slept in three weeks, thanks to baseball. I can finally catch up. My house is a mess, my life is in disarray, and I haven't eaten a decent meal in weeks (no, apparently, Doritos and popcorn is NOT a decent meal).

But, the sun will rise tomorrow, and I'll wake up, walk the dog, and shoo any passed-out Red Sox fans off my front yard. Unless they overturned my car - then I'm going to ask for their help in turning it back over - after I club them over the head.

Now I can start focusing on the important things -- dog, showering, plumbing, poker.

And spring training is only 121 days away . . .

Monday, October 25, 2004

Huh . . .

Sweet Baby Jesus! I just realized this little ol' blog of mine turned one today! Who knew I could keep up with anything this long? I think I'll celebrate by getting violently drunk tomorrow night and throwing an empty beer bottle through the television. I have a word for nights like that: Tuesday.

Happy birthday, blog!

Frustration Under the Arch

Copy of an e-mail I sent a friend today:

It's been nice seeing the Cardinals decide to be nice
and sporting by NOT taking advantage of Schilling's
bad ankle by bunting the ball along the first base
line about 45 times last night.

I mean, I know I wouldn't want to win my first World
Series in 17 years by taking advantage of my
opponent's potential glaring weakness.

But that's okay. Boston's been particularly nice thus
far - the crappy hotel arrangements they made for the
Cardinals - the piss poor driving arrangements - the
way the fans cheered when Womack took the ball off his
shoulder. Class. All around.

At least the umpires have kept things fair - the way
the strike zone suddenly grows when the Cardinals are
at the plate and shrinks when Boston steps up.

However, I wouldn't be this pissed about the whole
thing if the Cardinals as a team would step up and
start playing the way they played all season! What's
up with these bad hacks at the ball? The stupid
baserunning errors, and the way our pitchers are
afraid to throw a strike when they have two strikes on
someone - Jesus. I can't take this.

I won't be happy if we lose, but I can live with it -
unless Boston sweeps us. Because, frankly, they're not
that good a team. Houston was better than them, and we
beat Houston.

I'm just going back to drinking heavily and adding
pain medication on top. It just hurts too much.

However, I've managed to convince myself that we're
going after Johnson in the offseason. But maybe I'm
just grasping at straws.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


I just finished cleaning up the house. Everyone has gone home, and the television is the only sound. Downtown, people are cheering, milling about; happily drunk and enjoying the moment.

Despite all the nay-sayers, and there were many of them (myself included), the Cardinals are going to the World Series.

I started smiling while typing that last sentence.

The hints were there all season. In June, the Cards played the Cubs in Wrigley. They were down by nine runs in the third inning, and they clawed their way back into the game to win it. This team just kept finding ways to win; they picked each other up; no one would take too much credit. It was always the team.

October baseball is tense, edge-of-your-seat, unforgiving baseball. People complain that the sport is too lazy, that it languishes too much. Watch some October ball. Nothing is more exciting.

This series has been better than anyone gave it credit. New York and Boston was the heralded series, but the fans who have watched this series has seen some of the best, hard-nosed baseball they could ask for. Houston and St. Louis were both evenly matched, and to be honest, I could have lived with a Houston win. It wouldn't have been nearly as sweet, but it's an easier pill to swallow than it was two years ago, when Kenny Lofton and Barry Bonds took the Cardinals' World Series berth.

Twenty-two years ago, I sat on the edge of the couch next to Mom and Mike as Bruce Sutter won the World Series. I laid awake in a sleeping bag in the living room, waiting for Dad to return from the game. He walked in hours later with a smile on his face and a game ball in each hand. I'm ready to jump again.

I'm tired out, exhausted and exhilerated. I need sleep but I don't think I can. We'll just see what happens.

Good luck, Cardinals.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


I need easy Halloween costume ideas! Surely both of my readers can come up with something! Any ideas will be greatly appreciated.


I leaned forward on the edge of the couch in the darkening living room. The dog slept nearby, and the only light in the room was the television's ghostly flicker.

For the past two hours, I alternately laughed, jumped up and down, annoyed the dog, and screamed as the Cardinals tried like Hell to throw away a shot at the World Series this year. Fortunately, good triumphed over evil, but I feel like crying, I'm so damn tired.

Some thoughts:

  • "Why does La Russa hate us so much?" I asked Tim over the phone when Isringhausen started pitching the 10th. "It's not La Russa who hates us - it's Isringhausen," Tim replied.
  • Going into the 12th inning, it dawned on me that somewhere in a towering steel and glass office building, some Fox executive is looking down upon us and getting pissed that the Cardinals/Astros game may cut into the Boston/New York game's National Anthem. Fortunately, Edmonds solved the problem, so we weren't subjected to Tim McCarver analyizing the singer's vocalization.
  • Brad Lidge isn't human. There's no way the guy can keep pitching. I've decided he's an android. I thought about running down to the ballpark and proving it, but I may not survive when it goes into kill mode. I'd try to kneecap Beltran, but Steve "Carlos Beltran is soooo dreamy" Lyon would probably take the hit for him.
  • At Yankee Stadium, in a dark, dank room with pipes running across the ceiling and water dripping down to the floor, I'm sure George Steinbrenner has Kevin Brown's family tied up - insurance in case he doesn't perform well tonight. (Judging from the score, I hope Kevin has a backup family). Man, if the Yankees lose, I can't imagine what will happen to that organization.
  • They say Julian Tavarez broke his hand in two places when punching the wall. I disagree. I think La Russa broke it: "Okay, Julian. Hold still! This one's for blowing the game." SNAP! "And this one's for throwing a fit on national television." SNAP! "Don't do it again."

Perhaps I shouldn't be drinking by myself during baseball playoff games . . .

Monday, October 18, 2004

I'm Pissed

  • that the Cardinals have suddenly forgotten how to hit the ball the way they have all season.
  • that the Fox announcers are acting like they'd like to run down to the field and make sweet love to Carlos Beltran (Pujols is hitting better than he is).
  • that the jackasses at Operation Rescue (I refuse to link to these schmucks) are driving around town with rather shocking and gruesome images on the sides of trucks (Let's just say if I were a parent, I'd be really upset), yet it's okay - because they're "pro-life".
  • that I had to drive all the way the hell across town to meet my family for dinner, even though it would have made far more sense to meet about 50 miles closer.
  • that I haven't been able to sleep this week.

Enough ranting. Tomorrow will be a better day. Otherwise, I may start hitting the bottle or cutting something. Oh, and Arrested Development comes out on DVD tomorrow, so that's something.

Have a great night, all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Out the Door

It laid on the table before me; dotted and crossed with scratches that might have well been Sanskrit. The pressure increased; the pen beckoned me. Sign it and I could leave. No problem. My head spun, the light burned into my head; my stomach rumbled and I just wanted to return to my warm home, my little dog, my familiar confines.

But he wouldn't let me leave.

It started Tuesday. I drove to work, same as every day; except that fate stepped in and told me to take a different route. And I saw the sign.


I need a new car. Four years ago, my old car, The Red Menace, went to the great junkyard in Earth City after she died on the highway on a breezy May night. I needed a car, but had no money. So like some Beelzebub or Mephistopholes, the car salesman conned me into leasing my car, the White Flight.

All I can say is I wish he would have kissed me as I signed the documents, because it would have made the reaming go that much easier.

So here I am. I've already exceeded the mileage limits on my car, and I have seven months remaining on the lease. Not good. At this rate, I'll be able to purchase a car for what I'll pay in penalties.

How can I earn your business?

He was smooth; he was friendly. The essence of sales. You want to believe him; you want to do as he says. But Sweet Jesus, I hate the way they throw numbers too and fro; hither and yon.

To me, numbers are an obsucre language. I don't speak math beyond a third-grade level. Fractions give me pause; algebra headaches; calculus? Forget it.

I gotta go.

I know I've grown as a person over the last few years. I'm not as accomodating or eager to please, and I've finally learned after all these years to say no. (However, if he would have been a cute blonde named Amy, I'd be driving that car right now).

I will probably buy it this week, but it's going to be on my terms, not theirs, and that makes me feel far, far better about the whole deal.

Until the car blows up after I take it off the lot.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Crack in the Wall

I like to call my little corner of the office "Circumspection Circle". We don't talk to one another; we don't reach out to one another; we just nod and move about our business like good worker bees.

The solitude kind of empowers me; I focus. In my headphone world, surrounded by my walls, I research, I study. But I don't talk. People don't come by too much; they're actually working. I'm sure that'll change soon - as I start going to meetings and acutally working on assignments, but for now, the throb of the air conditioner and the low hum of voices filter over my walls, my companions that remind me there's a world outside my metal and plastic fortress.

BBBBBRRRRRIIIIINNNNNGGGGG. The phone shattered my concentration; broke down the walls. The rest of the world came crashing back in through my walls.

"This is Brian."

"Hi there." Her voice was girlish and playful. "How are you."

"I'm fine; and you?" At this point, I had no idea who in the hell this was. Outside of the office, only one person has my work number.

"Don't you know who this is?"

"No. Sorry, I don't"

"How can you send an e-mail to someone without knowing who it is?" Well, that's easy, I thought, I frequently e-mail Ashley Judd, Kate Beckinsdale and Charlize Theron and I don't know them; however, their lawyers? Whole different story. At this point, I'm looking around, seeing if this is some sort of prank.

"Well, I didn't send you an e-mail."

"Your name is Brian? Well, the e-mail I got had this phone number."

"What was the name on it?"

"I don't know. You work in an office right? Are there other people around?" I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but how can this e-mail NOT HAVE A NAME ON IT? And more importantly, if it didn't, why is this fool calling the number on it?

"Look. I don't know who you're trying to reach. Don't you have a name?"

"I used to know a Todd there." I grabbed my phone list.

"Nope. No Todd here. Sorry I couldn't help you." And she hung up.

Hearing no laughter, I replaced my headphones and dug back into the book.

Sunday, October 10, 2004


Watching the Dodgers come out to congratulate the Cardinals - and seeing Albert Pujols joking and laughing with Eric Gagne after the game is why I love baseball.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Honest Day's Work for an Honest Guy

Friday was a typical first day at the job - you know: sign this, sign that, smile for the camera, bend over, cough - first day stuff.

Then the horrors began. Right about the time I would normally settle in for my 10:30 siesta, followed by lunch, followed by the noon snooze - THEY GAVE ME WORK!!!! And even worse - I LEFT MY BOURBON IN THE CAR!!!! Fortunately, they gave me a new highlighter, so I huffed on it all afternoon while reading up on stuff. I'm hoping no one noticed my flourescent pink nose . . .

Seriously though - it was nice. No stupid pep talks; no empty promises. No ass-kissing. It looks like a pretty professional operation, and that makes me wonder just why they hired me. Man - I just can't stop ripping on myself. What can I say? My self-loathing knows few bounds.

In any case, I spent today reading up on Radiation Therapy Planning, and if you think that sounds like fun, I'm here to tell you - it's not. Let's just go ahead and replace "reading up" with "desperately stabbing myself in the leg with a pen to stay awake". It wasn't too bad, really - I felt like I was back in college - only instead of hot coeds ignoring me, it was the three guys in my little cube block.

So all-in-all, things at the new job are okay. They don't think I'm crazy - yet, but I'm confident I can scare them soon.