Friday, November 23, 2007

To groom, or not to groom


I agree issues like health care, The War in Iraq and the decimation of the middle class in this country are important issues for the candidates coming into New Hampshire, vieing for my vote, to address. However, one issue has been largely ignored and I believe it’s high time the presidential candidates come out and really let us know where they stand on it. This issue is whether or not people should groom their pubic hair.

For years, I’ve been having this conversation with one of my good male friends (I acknowledge this might toe the line of gay) and it seems to be quite a divisive topic. Now to begin with, it’s almost an obligation for females to trim the hedges. In fact, it has become a form of self-expression—some ladies go for the landing strip, the more adventuresome might groom little hearts or Rorschach test patterns, and ladies who really want to send a message shave it baby’s ass bald. But should women be socially obligated to groom? Of course, you have your rare hunter/mountain man-type of guy that digs diving into a jungle, but I would argue that most men expect some care to be taken to make the downstairs look nice and most women oblige. What would Hillary think?

Then there’s the same issue for men. A lot of guys have turned to the clippers since pornos and the movie American Pie made it fashionable. A number of men who, years ago, viewed their pubic hair with such insouciance it hardly even registered on the radar, with the rare exception of pubic hair jokes, now take their pubes pretty seriously. Many guys will admit they are trying to act as illusionists, trying to make their poles look longer. That’s fine. But I suspect it’s something more to it than that. Is this part of the whole metrosexual-thing that I really hoped was going to be a fad? What would Obama say? How about John Edwards? Does he groom?

And what about you, Mitt Romney? If your hair down there in any way resembles the hair on your head, you really owe us pictures.

You see, folks, you can count on me to get at the real meaty topics. I will be voting in the First-in-the-Nation primaries on Jan. 8. That must make you feel good. At least someone here cares about the issues.

Monday, October 29, 2007

How sweet it is


Everything was put on hold—my work, my family, my life. My entire calendar had to fit around these ridiculously late nationally televised games. I willfully sacrificed my liver to the baseball gods. If someone were to tabulate my beer costs in the past month, I could rightfully become a shareholder in Sam Adams. I ate junk, gained weight, stopped exercising and shaving. I’m a spent man. And was it worth all of this to watch the 2007 Boston Red Sox win a second World Series in four years?

You can bet your sweet ass it was!

For those of you who might not be Red Sox fans (if you’re a Yankee, then I only have one thing to say: “Shove it, assholes! How do these apples taste?”), it might seem that this surrender of self just to see a bunch of overpaid grown men pig-pile, spray champagne, and ritualistically engage in some of the most homosexual acts you’ll see anywhere with complete exoneration is, well, absurd. It is. I’m no closer to understanding why I wore the same clothes for two weeks than I was before The Olde Towne Team sealed the deal. It’s the intangibility of being a Sox fan. You do these things because it makes sense on some raw visceral level. And the payoff is this: complete self-indulgent satisfaction with the universe.

Sure, it’ll wear off, and come February I’ll be ready to bitch and whine about the off-season dealings—the failure to sign so-and-so, things I might deem as inadequate preparations to further humiliate the Yankees. But for right now, for this brief moment in the ponderous continuum of time, I’m to revel in this feeling and realize, in the most existential of senses, that happiness doesn’t have to make sense.

So, to these filthy rich men that I openly berate on this blog, I thank you. For however briefly, you’ve made me a happy man.

Go Sox!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Roaches and champagne


One morning, while Nate Graziano was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that The Boston Red Sox were on the brink of winning their second World Series in four years...


The idea of The Red Sox winning another World Series seems as absurd to me as waking up to find that I've morphed into a giant cockroach (although I don't doubt that some on my ex-girlfriends routinely wish for that). I mean, seriously. Are The Sox really up three games in the fucking World Series, on track to sweep a team that continues to remind us that the National League is basically glorified Triple-A ball?


Here's what I'm going to do, and if the Sox lose this series, I'll take full responsibility for it. I'll become the e-Bartman. But I'm planning to buy a bottle of champagne this afternoon, and it will be chilling in my fridge during the Pats game, waiting and breathing beside a jar of Spanish olives.


Here's the plan: I encourage everyone reading this blog to join me and purchase a bottle of cheap champagne today(if you're...cough, cough...of age, that is). It doesn't matter if you're a Sox fan or not. Have it in your fridge. And if the Sox win tonight, send me a picture of you opening it. I'll post them here, beside my own. I've been wearing the same clothes since Game 5 in Cleveland. You'll see the outfit that my wife has termed "disgusting."


Let's do this. Go Sox!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Is this all a dream?

I keep waiting for someone to pinch me or smack me across the face with a crowbar and say, "Wake up, Nate. It's time to resume your life. Put down that dream beer and come here. Your son shit his diaper. This is real time, baby."

There's been an odd transference during the 2007 baseball season. All of a sudden, the Red Sox are becoming the Yankees with their engorged payroll, clutch hitting, and newfound winning ways; while reciprocally, the Yankees have become the Red Sox, a.k.a. the perennial losers of professional sports (yes, Cubbies fans, that's includes your team). So wake me up. This must be a dream.

I'm not sure what to make of last night's game. The die-hard in me wants to dismiss the 13-1 drubbing as a fluke, a matter of The Rockies shaking off the rust. But during the course of the game, I experienced a strange and eerie sense of confidence in The Red Sox, something as alien to me as partying with Republicans. Am I justified in feeling confident? Is this, indeed, the case? Are The Red Sox that good? Or are The Rockies that bad? I suppose I'll find out in a little over two hours.

In the meantime, for those of you who may have missed it, Steve Almond---a Boston-area writer and one of my favorite short story craftsmen---wrote an op-ed in The Boston Globe today that pretty much nails down Red Sox fans and calls us, rightfully, to task.

http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2007/10/25/fear_and_loathing_in_red_sox_nation/?p1=MEWell_Pos4

Ah, yes, Mr. Almond, in the words of Tom Waits, "You must be reading my mail."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Letter to God (from an ex-Catholic): Part II

Dear God,

As You very well know, in his magnum opus "Song of Myself", Walt Whitman asked: "Do I contradict myself?" To which he replied: "Very well then I contradict myself (I am large, I contain multitudes)." Well, God, like dear old Uncle Walt, I also contradict myself---again and again and again. I acknowledge that in my last blog entry I bashed Tito Francona, who finally woke up and put Ellsbury in the line-up, and J.D. Drew, who took Cleveland out of the game with a first inning salami last night. So here I am, a pathetic little penitent, asking again for Your help.

Please, God, can you find it in Your benevolent omnipresence to please allow The Red Sox to win tonight's game? My children, as You know, are 2 and 4-years-old, respectively, and I rarely get out of the house, and another week of baseball on television will make all the difference in my life. Is that selfish? Besides, I want to see this obnoxious Cleveland sports writer, Scott Petrak,

http://www.chroniclet.com/2007/10/19/scott-petrak-relax-this-tribe-team-wont-fail/

choke on his own false prophesies and suffer a lifetime of acid reflux for his haughtiness. I realize my vindictiveness is a mortal sin, but please, God, loosen the lease. We're talking about the Red Sox.

I also realize Trot Nixon has already implored Your son, but I'm hoping that by going straight to You, we can get some results (meaning no disrespect for J.C.). God, please. I'm begging. Please allow The Red Sox to advance to The World Series. Allow me to see Yourself in Cleveland's misery, so that every time, for herein forward, when I visualize those jack-ass fans waving their little tampons (Tribe towels) at Jacob's Field, I can laugh derisively. Fuck the Indians, and may You please bless Boston.

Faithfully,

Nate Graziano (peon)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Call me Herod




Call me Herod because I want someone’s head on a platter, namely Tito Francoma’s.

If it’s not apparent to non-Red Sox fans, let me begin with a simple lesson on our mentality: When the Sox lose, we need a goat. Bill Buckner. Grady Little. Bob Stanley. Mike Torez. Now I’m not going to be audacious enough to compare this ALCS with some of the team’s monumental and historical collapses—the 1978 season, 1986 World Series, or the 2003 ALCS—but if I’m going to make it through the winter, I need someone to scourge.

Okay, so let’s start with one of baseball’s most tried and true platitudes: The post-season is all about pitching. Obviously. But if I have to sit back while the Fox commentators give Jake Westbrook or Paul Byrd another blowjob, I’m going to start launching plates at the wall. These two guys pitched decently, fair enough, but it certainly helps when you have Nancy Drew (who, by the way, hasn’t hit the ball all year and plays the game with the enthusiasm of belly lint), Julio Lugo, and Coc(O for 4) Crisp’s bats in the line-up. Please, dear God, someone explain to me WHY THE FUCK Francoma continues to put these human stains in the starting line-up? Is he afraid of hurting their fucking feelings? You might ask, what would I do differently? Answer: Jacoby Ellsbury, Alex Cora, and Bobby Keilty. Could they be any worse than these other slugs?


And, while we’re at it, why wasn’t Josh Beckett starting last night’s “must win” game and positioning himself to start a potential Game 7? Unless he’s hurt (which we’ll find out tomorrow night), this seems utterly preposterous to me. How could you not know, as much as I like Tim Wakefield, that he wasn't going to eventually toss an inning of batting practice and take them out of the game? Seriously, Francoma’s proctologist is going to have his hands full this winter removing Tito’s head from his ass.

To add insult, these annoying Pink Hat fans who started following the Sox after Game 3 of 2004 World Series keep coming up to me and passing their irritating little farts of optimism like, “It’s not over yet. They can still come back.” Bullshit. They’re the goddamn Red Sox and they’ll always be the goddamn Red Sox. Let’s get it straight: The 2004 Red Sox were an anomaly—a group of guys with so much heart and soul that they played, perhaps, above their talent. The 2007 team is the opposite. They have a bloated bankroll, and guys like J.D. “Where do I sign for my check?” Drew making almost $15 million a year. Fuck him! God, I get so worked up.

In the end, and for most of life, it’s been seasons like this where my hopes are lifted—despite what I say on this blog, I really thought this team had a chance—only to be shot down, stomped, sliced into bite-size pieces and thrown into the sewer for the rats to eat.

I like your dancing, Salome. Whose head it is you want?

Monday, October 8, 2007

A letter to God (from an ex-Catholic)

Dear God,

First of all, let me apologize about the fifteen years I've been out of touch. The last time I visited you (on a non-holiday) was at St. Mary's Church in 1993, and that day I sat behind an old man who lost control of his bowels during mass and let a forty-five second fart fly that sounded like You were unzipping the sky. After this spectacle of Monty Python-esque proportions, the old man turned to me, shrugged, and said, "What are you going to do?" Understandably, I broke into a fit of uncontrollable laughter and had to excuse myself from the church and continue busting a gut in my car. I suppose that was slightly blasphemous.

No. I don't have any good excuses for not attending to mass or praying since then. There was a short stint in college where I fancied myself an intellectual and started reading Neitzsche and talking about how You had died. I'm sorry for the misunderstanding. But from what I hear, You're a pretty reasonable Deity, and it is with the utmost respect and contrition that I come to You with one humble, mortal request.

Before I get to that, I'd like to thank You for allowing The Red Sox to advance to the ALCS. I'm sure I'm not saying anything You haven't already heard from Curt Schilling, but the three game sweep of Angels (one might be inclined to think you'd favor Angels over Red Sox, but, once again, You've proven Yourself just and benevolent) was pretty goddamn sweet. Oops. Sorry.

Now, I come to You, as Your humble servant, to ask that You please, please, PLEASE make The Yankees lose tonight. Look, Cleveland has Trot Nixon playing for them, and after listening to the man in interviews for nearly a decade, I can say with some certainty that there's no one who digs your son more than Trot. Nixon credited Jesus for everything from a game-winning homerun to the passing of a healthy stool. You owe it to Trot, God. Think about that.

Then there's the fact that The Yankees are evil incarnate, the children of Beelzebub. If The Indians were to win tonight, I would see this as a classic example of Good triumphing over Evil on earth. It was very kind of You to strip that fat, greedy bastard Roger Clemens of his ability to pitch last night, thus making him a big $20 million lemon in the lot at The Bronx. Now, all I ask is that You, in Your infinite love and kindness, make those assbags in pinstripes lose tonight. It would be even better if You could also find a way to humiliate Johnny "Judas" Damon or Gay-Rod. Perhaps You could have one of those guys, like the gentleman in my last memory of church, lose control of their bowels while swinging at Strike Three with the bases loaded, turning to the crowd and the national audience with indelible brown stain on their pinstriped ass. But I don't want to seem too indulgent. It's a sin.

Thank you for listening to me, God. Hopefully, tomorrow the clouds will part and I'll see You smiling down at me and my fellow Red Sox fans.

Sincerely,

Nate Graziano

P.S. You really need to lighten up on The Cubs. This is reminiscent of Your malevolent Self that punished the Puritans.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Congratulations




Congratulations, fuckers. I have only three humble requests left to ask of you:

1. Don't choke.

2. Stop drinking Bud Light. You make millions of dollars each. That stuff is piss. If me and my buddies made half of what you make, we'd be dousing ourselves in Guinness.

3. Most importantly: don't choke to The Yankees. If I have to watch Johnny Damon, Gay-Rod, and Jeter dry-hump on the pitcher's mound at Fenway, I'm going to off myself.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Good peoples

I was interviewed on New Hampshire Public Radio tongiht, and I wanted to take a second and give them some props. Yes, maybe I'll be preaching to the choir--- I'm a liberal who believes in free spreech---but I'm going to say it anyway.

A couple of months ago, my publisher sent NHPR a galley copy of my book, Teaching Metaphors, and we really didn't expect much to become of it.

Much to our surprise, I was contacted last week by the producer of The Front Porch, Andrew Walsh, and invited to be a guest. Wow. For the little men in the small presses, the bastards like myself with their nails dirty from clawing out the mud pit of obscurity, this really was a break.

Anyway, I want to thank the host Liz Bulkley, who is an incredibly smart and cool woman, and Andrew, a cool-ass dude that really needs to let me buy him a drink, for having me in their studio. And if you give a shit about independent news, programming and ideas, you really need to support your public radio. They rock.

Here's the link: http://www.nhpr.org/node/13777

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Some perspective


Sometimes there's nothing like a little perspective to straighten things out. Perspective is that magic pill we pop when the seemingly insufferable mechanisms of the world drill an un-lubed middle finger up our clenched sphincter. Perspective allows to say, "Hey, at least it wasn't smoldering metal spike."

As a Red Sox fan, right now, I need some perspective. Fpr example, I don't live in Dafur or Baghdad. I'm going to a wedding on Saturday, and I'm pretty sure O.J. won't come barging into my hotel room waving a gun. So The Red Sox have played like a bunch of 8 year-old girls forced onto the field by their parents while sitting on tickets to a Hannah Montana concert. So what? It could be worse, right?

So I've watched my hometown team cough up a 14 and 1/2 game lead over a team that fills my mouth with bile each time I see a pinstripe. I've watched a handful of overpaid, avaricious assholes sit on the bench after being cleared to play, dog out plays on ground balls (something you get benched for doing in Little League) and demonstrate complete complacency with coming in second. I had a football coach who once said, "Coming in second is like kissing your sister; you get nothing out of it." There's some perspective.

So I've put off my work, my studies, my life, to follow these fucktards for the past five and a half months. So what? It's not like I've been kept awake in Guantanamo Bay with loud music and halogen lights 24/7 during this period. It could be worse.

I'm not going to say anything that hasn't already been said on talk radio or the New England sports columns. The Red Sox are shameful. Sure, they might still take The Wild Card, although in my opinion, there's about as much chance of them going to The Series as there is of Bush pulling our troops out of Iraq. The point is that they've been humiliating to watch and don't even seem to care about their colossal collapse (minus Youk, Beckett, Paps, Lowell, and the new breed of young pups). Watching The Red Sox this past month has been like watching a grossly obese person chow down on a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey. You just want to shake them and scream, "What the hell is the matter with you!" But, then again, nothing short of the aforementioned smoldering spike will wake up Terry Francoma.
Again, it could be worse.

So to my fellow Red Sox fans (if either of the two of you who read this blog might happen to be a Red Sox fan), let me offer you some perspective: We still have air to breath (until we destroy our environment through global warming); the world isn't coming to an end (until Iran builds a nuclear weapon while the US remains mired watching over a civil war in Iraq), and, more importantly, we still have beer.

So screw perspective. Drink up. This round is on me.

Friday, August 31, 2007

I told you...


See. I told you so.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Put a fork in it.

It's over. There. I said it.

I want everyone to see that I called it: The Red Sox are going to lose the AL East and the wildcard, and the team will be sitting home updating their own blogs come October. I especially want Yankee fans to take note of this, so come September when you're celebrating your tenth straight division title, you can save your sick gloating for Red Sox fans who are actually shocked and distraught. I see it coming. I'm prepared for the worst.

And worst of it is that I was again cuckolded by this club. Bamboozled. Hoodwinked (go to your thesaurus and pick a verb) into believing that somehow The Red Sox could be anything other than...well, The Red Sox. As if somehow 2004 magically obliterated 86 years of pain, disappointment, and, at its lowest points, despair. The Red Sox may have become fashionable and sexy to a whole new crowd of urbanites who can afford forty bucks a seat to see a game at Fenway Park, but behind the big names and engorged salaries, they're still the same Red Sox that helped spawn three generations of pessimists.

I'm not going to go into the particulars of what is shaping up to be the team's most colossal regular season collapse since 1978 (it looks like Yankee fans will be able to paint a line across the top of the "1" and reuse their old "1918" signs). Three names---Drew, Gagne, and Epstein---just about tell the whole story. I'm more concerned with the fact that I almost feel at peace with the inevitable. It's as if the whole universe is back to normal.

For anyone that has grown up a Red Sox fan in the past eighty years, losing and disappointment are inevitable parts of our lives; they have shaped our entire world views. For example, someone who wasn't raised a Red Sox fan may bust their ass at work with the expectancy of getting a raise. The Red Sox fan knows better. There is no raise; it's not in the budget. In fact, you're probably going to get laid off as soon as the company gets around to outsourcing your job. You're prepared for disappointment, therefore you've successfully mitigated its effect. Disappointment, when you're surprised by it, is insufferable. Watching the Red Sox pull their old antics isn't going to surprise me because I've prepared myself this fate long before the hammer will fall. For a couple of years now, Red Sox fans seem to have forgotten this fact. We've been spoiled. Now the honeymoon is over, and we're back to watching the same bunch of fucking bums that have made us miserable every summer (sans one) for the past 89 years.

Perhaps, if we're to take the Eastern approach to this, we can say that everything happens for a reason. Maybe the hordes and hordes of Pink Hat Fans that are talking on their cell phones in the stands during the games at Fenway, helping gouge ticket prices, and taking seats that some of us who actually give a shit about baseball could be using will realize after The Red Sox choke this year that the team is really a disappointment to follow, and they'll go back to spending their evenings at The Wang Center instead of Fenway Park.

So Yankee fans can save it, stuff it, stick it, and blow me. I'm going to give you the same response all real Red Sox fans will give you: "What are you talking about? It's football season. How about those Pats."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Scooby Dooby Dumb-Ass


Being a teacher, I freely admit to having one of the sweetest schedules in the working world. Of course, there are always people out there with better schedules---people who work for themselves and get to set their own schedules, or better yet, someone who doesn't work at all---but I think a teacher's schedule is still pretty damn good: weekends, holidays, vacations, and summers off.

However, most teachers take on some kind of employment during the summers because they're responsible adults and realize the extra money will help their family's financial situation. I didn't get that gene passed on to me. I take summers OFF. No work. The reason for this is simple: I'm lazy. This summer, however, I did tell myself that I was going to work through the novel I've been writing for a couple of years and have another draft by the end of August. That, I told myself, counts as work, only I'm not getting paid for it, nd it helped assuage the diminuitive amounts of guilt I feel for sitting on my ass for ten weeks. A modicum of my parents' work ethic must've rubbed off on me at some point.

So here we are, the beginning of August. My novel is 300 pages in draft form. Care to guess how far I've gotten into my rewrite? No, I won't make you guess. I'll tell you. 82 pages. Yup, that's been my work this summer, approximately half an hour of real writing a day.

I have become a veritable expert on making excuses not to write. Most of these excuses start and finish next to a beer tap, but there are other excuses as well. Today's excuse: There was a Scooby Dooby Doo, Where are You? marathon on cable. That's right, folks. I watched six hours of Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Velma and that hot piece of ass Daphne on my couch with my kids. I did, however, get some inspiration to watch all of them by participating in some recreational activities. After six hours of Scooby Doo, I turned on the Red Sox game, and that did it. Here I am.

I was about to do some actual work a couple of minutes ago, but then I started writing a blog entry on my own slacking and Scooby Doo. Now, Entourage is almost on, so scratch today. Maybe tomorrow I'll work on writing a sequel to Teaching Metaphors about teachers during the summer break. I'll title it Doing Jack Shit. But don't expect me to start working on that any time soon. There has to be a Brady Bunch marathon on somewhere.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Strange Happenings

I've done a lot of readings in my brief literary career. I've read at colleges, bookstores, and featured at dozens of open-mics in a number of states. This, by the way, is not boasting or a sad attempt at a resume. Anyone who has done the reading scenes will tell you that readings can range from exhilarating to "slit-my-wrists-and-drop-me-in-a-warm-tub" depressing. I've read to large, enthusiastic audiences and audiences you could pack into a bathroom stall. It's really crap shoot when you agree to read at a venue.

There's one thing, however, that I can ascertain: reading in Portland, Maine is always going to be interesting. Last night I featured at The North Star Cafe. Now, I should note that The North Star Cafe is a lesbian coffee shop---that serves booze---that has been kind and generous enough to provide a venue for The Port Veritas open-mic series in Portland. The reason I mention this is because the information will become quite relevant later.

The evening was almost Shakespearean in its foreshadowing. Early on, the host, whose name also happens to be Nate, and I were smoking cigarettes outside the cafe. "Man," he said, "something is off tonight. There's something strange about it." It would not have surprised me, in hindsight, to find three witches stirring a cauldron on a side street outside The North Star Cafe.

For the sake of brevity, I'm only going to stick to main events. First, any open-mic, by default, is going to draw its share psychos wandering off from a halfway house somewhere in town. This was no different. One of the readers, a regular who I will call Leo, introduced a new component to the weekly reading series. Generously, Leo has decided to start reading directly from his personal journals, something he has broken up into 15 chapters and has promised to read one, languorous chapter each week at the open mic. Book your plane tickets, folks. This is "don't miss." While Leo was a reading a young, rather pugnacious woman in a black wife-beater was restlessly searching for an acoustic guitar. Apparently, her reading, which she saw as the night's true "feature", required one.

After Leo finished with something utterly and mind-numbingly incoherent that stretched the five-minute time limit to close to half an hour of journal entry, I went on for my feature. And it went well. I read some new poems, a couple of family-oriented pieces from Honey, I'm Home (there was a young couple with their newborn in attendance and it seemed fitting), then I launched into the new material from Teaching Metaphors. The audience was receptive and kind, and it seemed that the night was going to take a turn for the better. Nate's instincts were erroneous, maybe even paranoid.

Then it all came down.

It started with an older man in a two-ton electric wheelchair and an American flag on the back (a friend of Leo's) reading fifteen-minutes of "Roses are red" poems, while the angry lesbian in the wife-beater brooded on-deck. She had found an acoustic guitar and was carrying it like lumberjack carrying an ax. She was pissed off that the crippled man was taking so long and holding up her show.

Finally, the wheelchair man finished, and the angry lesbian came stomping on stage, grabbed the microphone like it was phallus she was trying to tear off a male, and went into this acerbic rant that included post-it notes. Apparently, she had been writing some of it down while I was reading.

"And I don't give a fuck about hearing about people with a wife and kids complaining about having nothing," she went on.

I nudged my friend Jonell, who went with me to the reading. "Is she talking about me?"

Jonell nodded. "Oh, yeah," she said. "She wants to kick your ass."

So I spent the rest of the night afraid that the angry lesbian was going to sucker punch me outside the cafe because I read about my family. Didn't she know my marriage was on the rocks? I wanted to go up to her and make something up to get in her good graces. "Listen, that was all an act. My wife and I actually hate each other and the institution of marriage. Let's go buy some wife-beaters then slam some shots of whiskey, maybe punch some street signs after we're good and drunk."

It never happened. The angry lesbian played her song (in spite of some small details, such as she didn't know how to play the guitar) and didn't end up kicking my ass; however, I did end up carrying the man, in his wheelchair, out of the cafe with Nate and pulling a muscle in my back. Before leaving, the wheelchair man asked me if I'd give him a free book. Apparently, transporting him in his wheelchair out of the cafe wasn't enough. I gave him an old copy of Frostbite.

Later, at an Irish bar next to the cafe, Nate, Jonell and myself had a beer while some seventy year-old man next to us made out with his twenty-year-old girlfriend who was wearing a t-shirt that read Hottie.

"Looks like you were right, Nate," I said. "This was, indeed, a very strange night."

"I knew it, man. I sensed it in the air."

As I was leaving, a copy of Teaching Metaphors fell out of the box of books I was carrying. Hottie picked it up. "You write books? That's soooooo cool. He's trying to right a book," she said, pointing to her septuagenarian boyfriend. The man glanced coldly at me.

"Don't bother," I said to him. "The lesbians will hate you."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Idiot Bliss - Dan Cray

This is my good friend Dan doing one of his kick-ass tunes. Lyrically, this is fantastic and, sadly, dead-on true. I'm posting this without his knowledge, so he might be coming to kick my ass. But little does he know that I was trained to be a ninja. Check out more of his music at www.dancray.net

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The All-Star Break Blues


Here it is, the All-Star break and the Sox have an 11 game lead in the AL East. They have one of the best records in baseball and seem like a lock for the post-season. So why is it that I haven't warmed up to the 2007 Sox? Why is it that I have a hard time liking this team? Is it the Pink Hats? Is it the fact that I'd have to take a second mortgage out on my house to bring the family to Fenway these days? Is it the fact that they're actually selling a CD of the songs Dice-K listens to before his starts AND people are actually buying it?

Well, it's all of the above and more.

I guess the real problem is that this team doesn't seem to have a soul. The Red Sox have become clinical, business-like in their approach to winning. While trying to compete with the nefarious New York monsters, they've become the Yankees. They spend a ridiculous amount of money to field a team that looks brilliant on paper, plays brilliantly on the field, and has absolutely no character. Historically, the Red Sox have been the blue-collar rebuttals to the opulence of the Yankees. They've always been the lovable losers, the underdogs, the dirt-dogs. Dare I say that I miss those guys?

A perfect playing metaphor for this can be found in JD Drew. Let's remember that the Sox jilted Trot Nixon to put this putz in right field (Drew even stole his fucking number!). They're paying this guy a grand for each time he takes a dump in the clubhouse, and he's about as boring to watch as the Republican National Convention. It's apparent, to me at least, that this guy gets paid to play baseball. If he has the fucking sniffles, he's out of the line-up. There's no passion, no verve, no style whatsoever with JD Drew. He plays the game like a bad porn actor humping a blow-up doll.

Like a good book, what made the 2004 Red Sox so amiable were the characters--- Kevin "Cowboy Up" Millar, Johnny "I sold my soul and hair to the devil" Damon, Billy Muellar, Trot, Derek "Glug-glug, let me grab my crotch" Lowe, Pedro "The Princess" Martinez. This is also the team that Theo Epstein liquidated the next year for the Edgar Renteria's and JD Drew's of the baseball world; guys with stellar stats and the personalities of pubic hairs.

Listen, I'm not going to stop watching and rooting for The Olde Towne Team. The Red Sox are in my blood and always will be. But this season I'm getting the sensation of team that has been bred for success, like private school brats, and will do everything the foster the image of "success." The next time the private school brats take the field at Fenway Park, take a gander at the crowd. They're being applauded by their peers.

***(correction, The Red Sox have a 10 game lead. Guess who made the last out with a little pussy pop-up to third and a runner in scoring position in the ninth inning? He didn't look too upset after choking in the clutch, yet again. My point exactly. I miss you, Trot.)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Horsin' Around


I don't think it's presumptuous to go ahead and divide my life into two distinct periods: before-HBO and after-HBO. Before Nate Graziano received HBO (yes, I'm writing about myself in the third-person. You wanna go?), he dreamed of writing great books; he valued things like family and friends, and was said to enjoy reading a good novel on the occasional rainy afternoon. All that has changed. Now, after receiving a year free of HBO and Starz as part of a cable package deal, Nate Graziano has abandoned the novel he's been working on for a couple of years, stopped reading altogether, and spends his time trying to catch up with the back episodes of Entourage before the new one airs Sunday night at 10 p.m.

However, the point of this blog isn't necessarily about HBO and how I've become a slave to the Home Box Office. This morning, while our kids were in daycare, my wife and I decided to abandon our plans for the day (we were going to paint the living room, and I was supposed to work on the novel that I've stopped writing anyway) and watch Real Sex 36 on HBO ON-Demand. To say this show is bizarre is a lesson in understatement. It's like describing The Iraq War as a small tactical gaff. The episode we watched began with a segment on "Pony Play."

Most of us would probably call this behavior...oh, slightly aberrant. No. Poor choice of words. How about fucking insane! The gist of Pony Play is that one partner pretends they're a horse. And this isn't just a horsey ride into the bedroom. I mean, who doesn't do that, right? These people take it to the next level. They bray; they allow themselves to be saddled up (see picture); they're chewing bits, pushing carriages and sometimes having their partner ride them bare back and feeding them carrots. They get brushed, washed, and praised for temperate behavior (I mean, who wants to ride a wild stallion) with comments such as, "That's a good horse, good boy." And the horse-man/horse-woman brays and allows themselves to be pet. Sometimes, the whip comes out. And here's the coup de grace: they have blacksmiths who fit these people for horseshoes!

They're being fitted for fucking horseshoes!

Now, I'm a pretty open-minded guy, and I could care less what gets you off in the bedroom. To each their own, you know. If you can't climax unless you're partner is wearing Bozo wig, break out the wig, baby. But there's something about Pony Play that just strikes me as creepy. They claim that it dates back to Aristotle. Apparently, in between chapters of Poetics, his wife throw a saddle on the back of his toga and go to town, giving him a carrot then smacking his ass red with an ancient horse whip. I wonder if he ever pretended to be the Trojan Horse? Think about that one. I don't know. I guess I should go easy on these folks. They're getting their nuts off and all is well on the Animal Farm, I suppose.

But they're being fitted for fucking horseshoes!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Without

I spent the last three days (yes, isn't it pathetic?) without Internet access and experienced a myriad of emotion, ranging from despair to jubilation. Let me explain.

On Monday, I was set to switch over Internet service from Corporate Cock-Slapper #1 to Corporate Cock-Slapper #2. Well, Corporate Cock-Slapper #2 sent a worker to my house on Monday morning. This was an individual who didn't seem competent enough to stick toothpicks through sliced fruit, much less install my service. While in my house, he answered a personal cell phone call, on speaker phone, and proceeded to discuss with his buddy (someone he referred to only as "chief" and "ace") their plans to attend the NASCAR races in Loudon sometime in the foreseeable future. I left the room shaking my head, sensing something ominous. Sure enough, twenty minutes later he came downstairs and told me that he couldn't install the service and pointed to a phone number on the top of the work order.

"Maybe they know what the hell is going," he said and hop-skipped out the door.

Long story short: I needed to use extortion, threatening to return to Corporate Cock-Slapper #1 if Corporate Cock-Slapper #2 didn't get back to my house before the holiday weekend and install my goddamn Internet service. It's strange. I can sit back and still tolerate an unjust war in Iraq, the squeezing of the middle-class in America, and good people being left to suffer without health insurance, but if someone turns off my Internet service, I suddenly become Caesar Chavez. I went on and on about how it's important to finish work that has been started (I've aborted two or three novels) and how some people, like myself, depend on the Internet for their income (a lie), reminding them of the vital role of positive customer service in successful businesses (bullshit) .

I received the Internet today, a week before they're first purported "available" date.

(Older Kevin Arnold voice)

I learned something those three days when I didn't have Internet service that summer. Being isolated from my friends and cyber-chums wasn't a bad thing after all. I spent more time with my family and worked on things important to me. I discovered exercise and reading. But, ultimately, absence makes the heart grow fonder. It seemed like such a cliche, but it was so true. And with the package deal, I got a year of HBO free. With the munchies at midnight, it makes it all worthwhile. Sure, sometimes we're all shallow and ridiculous, but when we have HBO On-Demand and a plate of nachos, we can forget it all and just be happy with the multitudinous distractions technology bestows us.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Yankees, Spank Me

Before I could even speak in complete sentences or find my own way to the bathroom, I learned how to hate the New York Yankees. For most baseball fans born and raised in New England, our mutual loath for The Evil Empire is a source of kinship--- a conversation topic at bars, safe ground with the in-laws. The Yankees have always been the bully in the playground, the popular asshole that steals your girlfriend in high school. They're uniform (no facial hair or hair beyond a certain length, Johnny Judas), fascist, and downright disagreeable for anyone with a soul. Of course, they've also been vastly successful.
Until recently.

Now, I'm not going to assume that the Sox have the AL East locked, despite being 10.5 games up in June; one of my first life lessons was to never bet on The Red Sox. However, to say that I'm not experiencing schodenfreude watching The Spankees get swept by the Almighty Colorado Rockies, Roger "The Douche" Clemens holding down 1-2 record with a bloated 4.86 ERA and $28 million prorated contract (check out this hilarious video http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/6562), and A-Hole (despite his MVP caliber stats) make his famous pout face whenever they lose would be, entirely, misleading. Some may think that 2004 exorcised Red Sox Nation's bitter rancor for The Yankees, but that's also misleading. Often, I stop and ask myself whether or not I want to see The Sox win more than I want to see The Spanks lose. The answer is no. The reason being: The Yankees, as an organization, are a metaphor for everything that is wrong and evil in this world. Granted, the Red Sox are spending a lot of money this year and killing their fans in ticket prices, but at least they're winning. The Yankees still dwarf any team in baseball with their salary, flagrantly disregarding salary caps, and have been spending like spoiled, overstuffed brats for the entire new millenium. Still, they have nothing to show for it. If there is such a thing as kharma, it's certainly evident in the Yankee's lack of success lately.

Anytime I need a quick pick-me-up, I simply need to watch Game 7 of 2004 ALCS. I don't even watch the game; I watch the crowd. Seeing all of those Yankee fans' faces, heads hanging in recognition of the biggest choke in professional sports history, their "1918" signs tucked pathetically between their legs beside their tails, Gay-Rod crying in the dugout...oh, man, it's beautiful. Schodenfreude, my friends. Schodenfreude.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My "Kevin Arnold" Voice


So I'm giving it another go at blogging. Some of you may remember my ill-fated attempt last winter at a blog. However, invariably, most of you do not remember it, seeing no one read that blog either. I must say that these puppies (isn't it great that you can refer to almost any noun as a "puppy"), meaning blogs, are some of the most self-indulgent enterprises going these days; arguably, some of the most self-indulgent enterprises since the Roman orgies. Anyway, I make no pretenses of being someone who is not self-indulgent, and seeing I just had a new book released (cough, cough) titled Teaching Metaphors, I figured it's time to give this "puppy" another whirl.

Now, before I continue with this post, it's important to point out one thing for any of you reading this. I've been watching an hour a night of reruns of The Wonder Years on some ridiculous channel called ION. To give you some idea of their target audience, I counted seven commercials for Erectile Dysfunction drugs during The Wonder Years last night. Of course, I laugh each time they come (heh-heh, I said "come") on television. After giggling like giddy schoolgirl, I then do my best Beavis--- of Beavis and Butthead fame---voice and scream, "BOOOOINNNNNG!" Yup. That's about my level of maturity. My wife laughed the first two or three times I did it (and some quick math tells me this occurs around 35 times a week) but now she just rolls her eyes.

If it isn't entirely evident yet, you might be able to infer that I'm a tangential thinker and slightly unfocused. Where was I? Oh, yes. BOOOOINNNNNNG!

The larger point I was trying to probe here was that when you (the imaginary reader) read each one of these blogs, you should be hearing in the voice of the retrospective Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years narrate. If you don't know me and have never heard me speak, no problem. If you do, then you have the formidable (or not-so formidable) task of forgetting my voice and replacing it with the Older Kevin Arnold. Every post will be told with the same wisdom that comes (heh-heh, I said "comes" again) with retrospect. Let's try this:

What I learned while watching The Wonder Years that night with Liz was that it's not right to laugh at old men who can't get wood because wood was something I took for granted, something men never think about when they're young and horny all the time. Maybe my sophomoric jokes while watching those commercials where growing tiresome for my wife, and maybe someday when we got old and were sitting in matching claw foot tubs on the top of a canyon, I'd have a stinger lasting over four hours and need to seek immediate medical attention. I learned that ED isn't funny, at least not for men who can't pitch their tents or laugh at euphemisms.

BOOINNNNG!