Stop me if I'm rambling...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

That's ugly

I know that I used to see this guy roaming the alleys of Boston's Back Bay at night, but I didn't realize it was a dog! Sam, a Chinese crested hairless dog, who was widely regarded as "The World's Ugliest Dog" since earning that honor at the 2003 Sonoma-Marin Fair, has died at the age of 14. Rest in peace, Sam.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Home Depot and the Pencil "Thief"

As the Boston Herald reported yesterday, "Home Depot did the math" and has decided not to ban a Lawrence man for a year after he accidentally walked out of a Methuen store with a 41-cent used pencil in his pocket Thursday.

“We will not be pursuing any claims against Mr. Panorelli for this incident,” read a statement from Home Depot. “We welcome Mr. Panorelli back as a customer in our stores at any time.” Panarelli, however, is rebuffing their apology, and I don't blame him. “That apology doesn’t mean much to me,” he said. “I’m not happy with the way I was treated. I didn’t deserve to have a security guard asking me why I needed a pencil so bad I had to steal one.”

Here's what happened: Last Thursday morning, Michael Panorelli went to the store with George Salas, a homeowner who had hired him to do a window replacement. The two ventured to the molding and trim aisle and Panorelli asked Salas for a pen or pencil so he could jot down calculations and make markings on lumber. Salas picked up a sharpened carpenter’s pencil and handed it to Panorelli. Upon purchasing $117 in Home Depot supplies, Panorelli and Salas proceeded to exit the store. However, Panorelli was quickly stopped by security guards, who noted that he had not paid for the 41-cent pencil. He explained that it was a simple mistake and that he had accidently walked off with the item. To his amazement, Panorelli was shuttled into a back office, where he was instructed to sign a document that banned him from Home Depot for one year. He was told that the company’s lawyers would be contacting him within the next two months and might pursue civil charges.

Well, Home Depot eventually backed off but the damage has been done. Previously a loyal devotee of the store, Panorelli now says he'll never go back because of the way he was treated. Hopefully, Home Depot has learned a lesson from this. Granted, this is an egregious example of security personnel not having a common-sense filter to differentiate between an easily forgivable blunder by a customer who just spent $117 and premeditated crime. However, it does seem indicative of the way the customer service industry in this country tends to operate these days. Think about it: When was the last time that you REALLY felt valued as a customer?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Winter is coming

I just took a walk down by Rowes Wharf. DAMN it's cold outside today! I'm not ready for another New England winter. I am, however, looking forward to my first trip to Medieval Manor tomorrow night....apparently, there's no silverware allowed. Should be interesting.

Earl's Brother

Well, I started this blogging thing last Friday and I'm enjoying it. I've managed to post something every weekday so far but since time has been extremely limited today, I'll make this short. I wanted to mention that I have a new favorite "underrated TV actor": Ethan Suplee who plays Randy Hickey, the dim-witted brother on "My Name is Earl."

On the show, he's the dumber to Earl's dumb. The mouth-breathing character with the sluggish drawl and deadpan delivery was particularly entertaining on this week's episode when he stood motionless, as if in a trance, while watching sultry love interest Catalina dance. In short, Suplee is extremely convincing as a benign simpleton. I'm curious what he's like out of character; I'll have to check out some of his other projects. In my opinion, "Earl" and "The Office" comprise what is CLEARLY the best comedic hour on TV these days (NBC's Tuesday 9-10 time slot). Anyone want to challenge that?

Another question: Is anyone taking Cincy this week against Indy? Indy is favored by 6, which seems very low. The Bengals are a strong team but even at home, they should be no match for the Colts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"Dude, wait'll the ladies see my new spandex!"

Today has been crazy, so I haven't had much time to work on the blog. However, while perusing today, I found something that's worth noting. The site is asking readers to pick "The ultimate 80s hair band" from a collection of candidates "sporting mile-high hairdos, outrageous spandex costumes, and a party-hearty attitude to match."

While the contest topic is certainly amusing, picking the "ultimate" hair-metal band seems a daunting task, primarily because there are so many different criteria to consider in the selection process. Best group from a musical standpoint? Probably Skid Row, possibly Poison. Most absurd high hair? Gotta be Britney Fox. Best groupies? Undoubtedly Motley Crue in their heyday. Meanest? Probably Dokken. Harshest screech? Anyone who's ever heard "Fly to the Angels" knows that's Slaughter. See, there are just too many tough decisions to make. In any case, the link is worth at least a quick glance because, if not for anything else, the photos are pretty damn funny.

Here's a shot of Ratt back in the day. I wouldn't want to meet THOSE dudes in a dark alley!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I'm moving out....

About two years ago, I remember reading with amazement that the Old Homestead Steakhouse in New York City was charging an eye-popping $41 for a hamburger. That's right, $41. Sure, they tried to justify the price by saying that the burger was made from 20 oz. of grade-A Japanese Kobe beef. But, come on, who would pay that much for a burger??? At the time, the $41 hamburger seemed like a distinctly Manhattan phenomenon. Here in Boston we certainly have our share of exorbitantly-priced restaurants but I always felt that a buck in Boston goes a lot further than it does in the Big Apple. New York City, of course, is where the annual incomes of Times Square panhandlers consistently outpace those of well-regarded surgeons in Topeka, where a well-situated cardboard box in a Lower East Side back alley would easily fetch a better re-sale price than a split-level in Tulsa. That's Manhattan, I said, and a $41 burger is understandable because EVERYTHING is overpriced there. Or so I thought. Recently, I was astonished to read that Boston beat out San Francisco, Washington D.C., LA, and yes, even NYC, to be named the most expensive city in the country
The report found that last year, a family of four living in the Boston area needed $64,656 to cover its basic needs. This was $6,000 more than in New York City, and about $7,000 more than in San Francisco. Living expenses, which include healthcare, child care, and other basic needs, were $44,000 or less in Austin, Texas; Chicago; Miami; and Raleigh, N.C. Housing prices, the report notes, are rising much more rapidly than wages. In 2004, there were only 27 Boston-area communities in which a household whose members made the median income could afford the median-priced home in that city or town. Furthermore, even renters are feeling the strain. The report notes that even though there were 34,000 fewer rental households in 2003 than in 2000, 19,000 more rental households were paying more than 50 percent of their incomes for rent in 2003 than in 2000. It seems that prices have come down slightly in the last year, probably due to people re-locating away from the area, and lately I've been wondering why I'm not joining them. Think about it: Sure, Boston has lots of history, educated folks, and those beloved Red Sox, but the weather stinks, people are rude, and taxes are too high. We drive on paved cowpaths that clearly can't accommodate the number of cars on the road; they want us to take the MBTA, but that sucks too. "Disabled train" is a term far too familiar to us daily T riders. So, I've made my decision; I'm moving to Winston-Salem, NC where the winters are warm, the living is cheap, and I can even see quality baseball for only $5.50 per game. And besides, their minor league team has a cool nickname (the Warthogs) and the team actually has a working general manager. Theo knew when to get out of town and I think I do too.

Monday, November 14, 2005

"If you're going to die kid, die in the ring. It's good for business."

Those words were spoken to famed WWE heel "Rowdy" Roddy Piper by a promoter back when he was a young man trying to break into the wrestling game. They are representative of the brutal nature of the sport (or "sports entertainment" as slimy WWE honcho Vince McMahon calls his cash cow) in which no gimmick is too unsavory in the federation's quest to make a quick buck. Granted, it's "fake," or "scripted" to use another McMahon term, but in many ways, it is very real. It's an unforgiving business in which being a jacked, muscle-bound wrestler is important but having a high threshold for pain is paramount. Accounts of life in the WWE chronicle a vicious cycle of self-inflicted abuse, as wrestlers medicate with painkillers, cocaine, and alcohol, and are routinely urged to get bigger and bigger through the use of human growth hormones. While I was never a huge wrestling fan, I always harbored a voyeuristic car-crash type of curiosity with its mix of rogues and intricate storylines. I always looked at it as a soap opera--albeit a violent one-- that guys could enjoy. For years, it remained one of the few bastions in American culture in which there was a definitive good guy (a "babyface," to use wrestling jargon) and a bad guy (a "heel"). Growing up, I could count on Hulk Hogan to defend our American liberties against evil outsiders like the Iron Sheik (the dreaded Iranian who wore a table-cloth style headdress) and Commie Nikolai Volkoff (who threatened to undermine our way of life by singing the Soviet national anthem). Sure, it was xenophobic and maybe a little insulting to our intelligence, but wasn't it fun to watch?? Anyway, when I began to hear about some wrestling casualties, I started to take note. The list of young guys (many in their 20s and 30s) dying far too soon, from both wrestling-related and non-wrestling causes, was staggering (see Owen Hart (killed when performing a stunt in the ring), Dino Bravo (dead at age 44--mob hit), Junkyard Dog (rumored to be drug-related), "Ravishing" Rick Rude (heart attack possibly linked to steroid use), "Miss Elizabeth" (drug overdose), Big John Studd (liver failure), Andre the Giant, Yokozuna, "Mr. Perfect," The British Bulldog, many of the Von Erich clan...the list goes on. The latest casualty is Mexican-American Eddie Guerrero, who died yesterday at age 38. I remember Eddie the most for having the "cojones" to rock a mullet well into the 21st century. I think he just cut it off about two years ago. Heart failure is listed as the cause of death, and his history of drug and alcohol abuse is well-documented. Sadly, he leaves behind a wife and a few kids. It's a shame...another casualty of the WWE lifestyle.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hello from BP!

A blogging virgin no longer! Thanks! I found your site when I attempted to find James Keown's blog and was directed to a link on this site. For those of you who aren't familiar with that name, he's that goofy-looking radio talk show host from Jefferson City, MO who is accused of poisoning his wife by mixing into her Gatorade a deadly ingredient used in anti-freeze. The apparent motive was a $250K life insurance policy which he was unable to collect because the circumstances surrounding her death remained a little sketchy. Following his wife's murder, he was living a carefree bachelor's lifestyle in the Missouri capital until he was nabbed by the police this week while on-air at his radio show on KLIK 1240AM. Anyway, I couldn't find his blog but I did find this outlet for my own thoughts. I'm a big fan of sports, movies, pop culture, travel, among a wide array of other interests. I'm an admitted Google addict and could easily spend hours sitting in front of a computer typing in random words and reading what pops up. I still have grandiose visions of writing the "Great American Novel" so maybe some ideas that I develop here will lead to that. I've gotta run now but I'll write more soon.