Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holidays, Shuttle Busses and Zombie Fiction aka Deadbus Celebration (my new indie metal band)

What do you think it would be like if we still lived in a society hell bent on eating Geese for Christmas?

No ham, no turkey, no fully roasted duck in the Chinese restaurant, just a bunch of amateur hunters, who hate the letter V, with shotguns going to the field next to their houses with a prayer and a dream of taking that lead goose down so he never see's the south again.

The holidays are funny when you're older. I have twin ten year old brothers-in-law and a small niece and nephew who are so much fun to watch on the holidays, but in a lot of ways, it's just so much F'ing stress.

Pictured: The proudest moment of
my  young life.
Finding the good with the not-so is sort of what this whole blog thing is all about, so I don't want anyone to think I'm being a dickscrooge, because I'm not. The holidays are amazing and everyone, myself included, always loves them... once they're over. They lead to extremely high points, some awesome food, some spectacular arguments, and most of all an excuse to live in excess for a couple weeks at a time.

"Yes, I know I smell like gravy and have a new chin, but Christ was born you ungrateful douche nugget!"

And that brings me to the second part of this holiday related feast of frivolity...

What do you get when you cross 20 young men and women, a shuttle bus, a parking lot, two wretched sports teams, a two hour ride, six thirty packs, a grill, a guy named Sean, and a reasonable distaste for protecting ones liver and/or moral compass?

You get our trip to the Bills/Dolphins game on Sunday!

5:15am - Three consecutive beeps awaken our young hero from his short slumber.

"The shuttle broke down, I wanted to tell you as early as possible, I'm searching for a replacement."

Anger, panic and the intense need to urinate simultaneously hit our scholarly superman. The third having nothing to do with the former. No shuttle, 19 people anxiously awaiting a funfilled day of excess. Hours before we're scheduled to convene.

Our victor sets into action. He walks groggily directly into the bathroom to relieve himself. It did nothing to help the shuttle bus situation, but it was quite the weight off his bladder. He proceeded to do nothing but be awake for the next hour and a half. Seriously, what was he supposed to do it was 5:30am at this point.

7:00am - Still nothing
7:15am - Brian texts and asks if he's allowed to be bottomly naked for most of the trip. I tell him the situation and call sitting next to him on the bus.
7:30am - Option 1: 34 passenger limosine: $1400... I laugh.
7:35am - Option 2: Sean and a new shuttle... I'll take it.

Pictured: A perfect description of the day.

20 young men and women. Coming together despite overwhelming differences and hatred/loathing I feel for each of them that I never tell them about because I'd be bored all the time.
Just kidding... or am I.
(I am)
Big jump

9:30am - We've been on the shuttle for fifteen minutes and one of the 30 packs is already gone. We need to stop.

11:00am - Everyone almost pisses themselves, but only two or three of them actually do. The tables are being set up. The grill is being assembled. The frisbee was too cold, which is why I'm so bad at Kan Jam. It has nothing to do with my lack of talent.

Food, lasers, dancing, beer, beer, porta johns, beer, food, friends, fun, snow.

1:20pm - Our seats are pretty sweet. We proceed to watch 10% of the game. We drink 11% of the beer sold that day at the stadium. The blurriness starts. More people urinate on themselves.

4:00pm - Silliness. Who won the game? It doesn't matter? You guys want to wrestle on the concrete like it doesn't hurt really badly even though it does? Yup, me too.
Pictured: What happens
when we decide the bar is

Later - I lost track of time. You guys want to play music really loudly, but not finish any of the songs we start? Yup, me too.

Even Later - That was so much fun, we should definitely go to the bar.
A little later - Why the balls are we at the bar, this is ridiculous, I'm going home.

6:00am (The following day) - FUUUUUUUCK! Worth it.

Aaaaand now:

ZOMBIES! I just got and read the newest Walking Dead Trade. I realize that many of you read that sentence and decided never to talk to me again based on not knowing what the hell any of it meant. Allow me to explain, as briefly as I can.

At some point in the history of comic books, a dork decided he wanted to get laid so he renamed them graphic novels. They're basically the same idea, but the stories are often much more adult, intense, and sometimes bloody or sexy, sometimes at the same time (at least I hear that's how they do it in Eastern Europe).

Pictured: A poorly taken picture of one
of the greatest gifts ever given.
The Walking Dead is an ongoing graphic novel revolving around a group of survivors coping with life after a zombie apocolypse. Zombies are always on their mind and always a threat, but the story is really about the people and how messed up their lives are because of the whole apocolypse thing and because of how we, as people, really don't handle adversity very well. Especially when that adversity is either trying to eat you or was once married to you, but is now trying to eat you.

It's phenomenal and everyone should read it. The new trade (a group of issues put together so people don't need to read one comic at a time) came out yesterday and was one of the best yet. I read it in record time and it made me think of a lot. When all is lost and everything you've been trying doesn't seem to be working, what do you do? You rely on the people around you. Whether they are your best friend or a stranger, when six dead people are trying to eat you, it's much easier to take them on with someone next to you.

Thus, Deadbus Celebration was born! Happy Buffalo Zombie Shuttle Merriment everyone!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Buffalo Bills are Amazing... for all the wrong reasons

I wore Zubaz.
I'm guessing if you grew up in Western New York, at some point you did too.
And we all looked equally as triumphant in them as Shane Conlan.

I didn't even like football that much until I was in college and didn't like getting made fun of anymore (Because I totally liked it when you guys made fun of me in high school... dicks).

But I wore the Zubaz, I know the chants. I know the songs. I know the history and I know who I'm supposed to hate, when I'm supposed to hate them, when I'm supposed to stop hating them because they were picked up by the Bills (TO), when I was allowed to hate TO again (thanks VH1) and why I should be ashamed of not being able to grow a beard.

I lived in Boston for over five years and the handful of Bills/Patriots, Sabres/Bruins games I went to had almost as many Buffalo fans as they did hometown fans. In almost every scenario, the Buffalo fans were way louder and if you heard "Aye aye aye aye" sung melodically from 50 yards away, you didn't think, you didn't look around, your body instinctively replied with the appropriate Buffalo based response.

Sports in the greater Buffalo area including the Bills, Sabres, Bonnies and probably the Bison's (shit I have no idea if they Bisons are good) and whatever professional soccer/lacrosse/badminton team has taken it's roots around here are inherently depressing.

Look at that, we're 5-1!
Oh my God we have the best goalie in the league!
Wow, Pelletier just broke the world shuttlecock record for speed serving!
F-Balls the Bisons played sports good!

It looks so good and the scent of victory, pride, unity, and hope is floating in the air, blocking out the sun like some sort of glorious red and white striped smog. Buffalo fans are the most passionate fans I've ever encountered (without the majority of them being assholes, ie. New England Sports fans are almost always passionate and absolutely always assholes about it. And no Evans, waving a terrible towel and blindly following a half-witted date rapist doesn't make Steeler's fans passionate. See also Philadelphia fans. I don't give a shit about you either Green Bay). We stand behind our teams and stand united as fans despite the fact that deep down inside we all know it's going to go badly sooner than later.

Most of us aren't even surprised when it does. We knew it was coming... somehow we always assumed we deserved it.

So why, when all hope seems to be lost and nobody is surprised, do I still say the Buffalo Bills are awesome?

Look at us. My group of friends still gets together every Sunday to watch the game. We still shoot lasers out of our fingers when the Bills score. We are still taking a party bus to the game this Sunday, which will almost definitely be freezing cold and doesn't make any difference on their season. We still think they're going to win Sunday too.  I still start Ryan Fitzpatrick on my fantasy team because I feel guilty taking him out. We still dissect the games afterwards for what looks good next season and for what the Bills could do this season if they would just listen to us!

If you're not a Bills fan, you might be saying to yourself. You know what, that's every group of sports fans in the whole world, to which I will reply, shut your stupid mouth and listen.

Yes, sports brings people together. Half of the people I watch football with every Sunday aren't even Bills fans. Wanting to drink and hang out with friends also brings people together, that's just an obvious one. Not wanting to think about work the next day... another good reason.

But what has every suspense/apocolyptic/tragic/disaster/teen coming of age movie taught us since Stand by me (besides not to jump into bogs in the middle of the woods... poor little Wesley Crusher)...

It has taught us that nothing brings people together like shared tragedy. What greater, mostly non-lethal, tragedy has ever outshined the Buffalo Bills as a representative for all of the fans of Buffalo sports.

We made it to the Super Bowl... we lost.
We're back!... we lost.
Third time's a charm!... we lost
We're here but we're probably going to lose... yup, we did.

The Buffalo Bills are amazing and being a Bills fan is awesome because whether you're a die hard sports fan, a casual fan, or just grew up around here and know too much about a sport you don't care anything about, you are connected and bound to a group of people who understands you and your pain.

We all know what wide right means. We all know what 4 feet of snow looks like. We all kn ow what chicken wings are supposed to taste like, and even if Brian Blask used to hit me every time I called it pop and now I call it soda, we all know what pop is. We're united as fans and we're united through the tragedy of growing up with parents who listened to Shane Conlan and dressed us in Zubaz.

Even if you weren't born and raised here. If you're an implant, maybe from Minnesota or Jersey, you have been to games, you know the stories, and you're cheering just as loud as the rest of us.

Are you even a Vikings fan Pearson?
Hoffy and Dwyer, Jersey sucks. (sorry Bruce)

Our stadium sucks. Our teams let us down. We can't feel our fingers half the time. We all gain 8-15 pounds every winter. We have closer and more dedicated friendships than any regionally related connection in the continental WORLD (scientifically proven, but I can't give you my source because Google is broken and Bing gets all its search results from Google... seriously? No one uses Yahoo anymore).

No one circles the wagons... like people who know the inherent pain and tragedy of the Buffalo Bills... including almost all of my best friends and family whom I love.


I still haven't read shit.

I have been watching what I eat, but not that closely and I'm getting barbecue tonight and it's going to be awesome.

I still miss kickball.

I'm a good bartender, and substitute bartending at Marshall Street Bar and Grill has been awesome (come see me this Saturday 5-close).

Bottling bear is actually really fun, once you get past the monotony of cleaning and drying 48 bottles.
In 2-3 weeks my first batch of beer will be done and since he helped me so much, I'm naming it after my buddy Brian. Let me know if you want to reserve a bottle of Brian's Irish Curse - Irish Stout.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Pain of Turkuaz and the Brian of Brewing

In my last post I mentioned a friend coming into town.
Young Mr. Evans showed up Friday, pleasantly proceeded to destroy my liver and my colon with trips to Lux (one of the best bar's in Rochester, by far) and Mark's (a delicious garbage plate that I never ever ever want to eat again... ever).
I did, for a few seconds, consider not ordering the plate, watching my general intake, and trying to work out Saturday afternoon.

Instead, I had one of the best nights I've ever had in Rochester.

Water Street Music Hall  has rarely led me down the wrong path. Besides the expensive drinks and lack of parking I have seen some great shows there. (Ben Kweller opened up for Dashboard Confessional when the former was only 16 and the latter still cried on a stool alone with his guitar).

Three bands were on the docket.

Sugar, It's Eli -
A debunked NYC garage rock band playing their second night of a very-mini reunion. Two members of the band are college friends (one whom I barely knew until after college), two more are NYC friends who I got drunk out of 40 oz. Styrofoam cups of Bud heavy with, and the other was an amazing drummer. The crowd hadn't fully formed, but for those who were there, they fuckin rocked. It was great to see friends and even better to watch the ridiculous faces they make while playing their guitars (Torre and Kyle... mostly Kyle).

The Vassar Brothers
I'm no stranger to Vassar Brothers shows and if you are currently reading this and don't know who they are, you should definitely try to listen to some of their originals online or just do yourself a favor and come to the next show. Seven great friends from here and Rochester put together a funkgrass collective of awesome and typically rock pretty well. This time they added a trumpet, and somehow rocked even weller. Who knew a trumpet went so well with a fiddle, mandolin, washboard, and Phil's eyes?

The big surprise of the night was another NYC band specializing in Funk and making Jesus cry tears of joy. I had heard so much, but remained skeptical. Huge thank you to Mr. Chad Shorebird for being an excellent older brother and bringing Craig's band to Rochester. All skepticism went out the window within the first five minutes of their over two hour (maybe, I think, I don't know I blacked out) set. Water Street turned into Sweat Street and there was not a dry armpit in the house. Collectively, the entire crowd danced more, faster, harder, and more joyfully than I've ever seen a crowd dance. Granted, I've never been to a Phish show, but I'd say this was way better. It didn't matter how much anyone drank, because the alcohol came right back out through the pores and by the second set everyone needed water just to keep going. If you have spotify, go listen to them now and don't ever stop. If you have money, give it to them, please. My knees and my neck still hurt, but in that good way, like you just climbed a mountain or worked out for a week straight. Now I don't need to do either.

The night may have ended with an hour and a half cab ride home and me almost getting in a fistfight with a punk kid at Big Deal Pizza (Don't go to Big Deal Pizza anymore, they're full of punk kids and lies), but it was still worth it.

He's the joyful one up front.
That's his brother creeping everyone out behind him.
Brewing with Brian or Am I Capable of Sincerity

For those of you who don't know my friend Brian (one of the Vassar Brothers), you are missing out. Not only is Brian one of the most genuinely caring, kind, thoughtful, and creative friends I've ever had, but he also loves zombies, organizes excellent tailgates, and is the first one to step up when someone needs a hand.

This guy got me one of the coolest presents ever, and as soon as I have a picture of it I will probably write something about it in my Nerdy Things I Write for Nerds (Like Me) page at the right of this blog. I'll save the story of the gift for that page, but suffice to say it involved zombies, deceit, the UK, and spending time alone in the basement with my wife... talking... just... talking.

Anywho... The first post I ever wrote on this blog was all about the things I wanted to do that I'm capable of doing, but simply don't do. Brian does all those things. Art, trips, languages, working out, brewing, reading, pottery (I don't want to do that one), and still finds time to come over to my place on a Monday night to make sure I don't completely screw up my first brewing experience.

Four hours later, with a kitchen smelling like syruppy chocolate and malt, I have five glorious gallons of Irish Stout fermenting in my basement.

Brewing is not hard, but it is definitely not easy. Brian has brewed enough that he doesn't use the convenient little kits anymore and had some valuable tips.

Tips for a first time brewer from a first time brewer from Brian:
  1. Read everything you can. There are simple directions and a term booklet that come with the kit and the brewing equipment. They are written for children and remarkably easy to understand.
  2. Make sure you have all the equipment you really need. Things I didn't have:
    1. A proper stirrin spoon (clean stainless steel or long strong plastic).
    2. At least a 5 gallon pot. I can't imagine how badly I would have screwed everything up if I tried to make this in my Sunday chili pot.
    3. Patience to make sure everything is sanitary. Apparently, when fermenting, things can go horribly wrong and bacteria can run rampant on your beer and eventually, I assume, your stomach and/or butt. We used a lot of paper towels and a lot more sanitation solution (Get a spray bottle)
  3. Don't rush it. These things take time. We started around 6:30 and didn't get done until after 10:30, so it was definitely a commitment. Fortunately it was a commitment Brian was willing to make, thus forcing me to put myself into the position. It's going to take time, but it is worth it. The time went by quickly, Brian ate a gas station burrito covered in hot sauce, we drank a couple beers, we watched a French short film on YouTube, Brian cried, I was uncomfortable, Jenna did school work, Brian played Red Dead Redemption for the first time and was better than me at it even though I beat the original game, I cried, Brian was uncomfortable... and scene.
  4. Do it again. Now that I feel more comfortable and I've accepted my exploitation of Brian's talents, we have plans to brew together again as soon as we can, probably next week so we can get a non stop collection of home-brews going until we're good enough that we buy a kegging machine and then Incorporate and Trademark our product and then start in local pubs before going national where Brian realizes he's the brains of the operation and tries to pull a Mark Zuckerberg to my Andrew Garfield's character (Eduardo I think) in the Social Network/real life.
  5. Apparently I'm all about run on sentences today.
That's it. Amazing weekend. I didn't care about what I ate or drank because sometimes fun with friends is more important. I've started to knock things off my list and as soon as I complete my third batch of beer, I'll consider that a success. Three posts and a Nerdy page about superhero movies later (It's right there to the right, but click on the link if you're into it), I also feel like I'm invested into this blogging thing.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Why your mid to late twenties suck... and are awesome

When most of us left high school, we thought to ourselves, "Finally, all the bullshit is over! No more drama, no more cliques, no more rules."

Then we got to college where we discovered the same exact people we went to high school with, only this time the drinking was openly encouraged and you didn't have to sit next to them in study hall. Working with First Year Students, I hear this story 50 times a year and it's always the same. "I thought it was going to be different." I always smile, laugh and tell them how different it really is.

Life doesn't change. Whether you're 18, 22, or 29, life is pretty much always the same. For those who finished college and said to themselves, "Finally, all the bullshit is over! No more drama, no more cliques, no more rules." Then they started their first job or in some cases were forced to move back in with their folks. Either way, if you keep telling yourself it's the same and things never change, it will be and they won't.

What really changes, because it's not the bitchy women, douchy bro's, pretentious snobs, and creepy dudes, but rather how we deal with it. Especially in our twenties. We have the choice of living a shitty miserable life and blaming the world for never changing, and getting off our ass and doing something about it.

Things that suck, but are awesome:
For the most part, all of your friends are in the same boat as you. Everyone is sick of stupid shit and the drama queen or prickish dude who always annoyed everyone has worked their way out of your group of friends and into another group of friends who hangs out at Prepps... a lot.

  1. Everyone is career oriented, but not making enough money.
  2. Everyone still wants to hang out, but has a job.
  3. Everyone wants to get into shape, and only those two people do... you know who they are.
  4. Everyone wants to relive the great times they had five years ago, but physically can't do it anymore.

1 - I love my job, I make a good living and I'm extremely happy, but how cool would it be if I had an extra 30K every year. Now, I'm not complaining about being the 99%. I didn't go to business school, I didn't want to go to business school, and I don't want to live in a loft in NYC, grow a beard and fly to Switzerland every other month like some a-holes in the world (that was mostly a joke, because I love the person I'm directly referring to very much.) I don't want to put myself in a occupational position to make 30 extra grand a year, because I wouldn't be happy. I just want the money and the freedom and security that it brings.

I want a benefactor... I want to help Robert DeNiro  hide from the cops after he escapes from prison to have him secretly bestow wealth and luxury on me later on and life while I deal with Gwyneth Paltrow and her crazy aunt. (If you didn't get it, I'm Ethan Hawk and this is a 1997 Great Expectations reference... even though it wasn't very good). But I'm happy and healthy and life is good.

2,3,4 - Hanging out every night sounds awesome. Sometimes we even come close. Family dinner night, kickball, happy hour, show's on a Saturday night, Football Sunday. A good week of friends is relaxing, joyous, and fun, but it is also inherently exhausting, expensive, and drunk.

I have been fortunate enough throughout my life to have amazing friends. My friends from high school and I are still ridiculously close and love it when we're together. One of the reasons is probably because we only see each other every so often. There's a lot to be said for missing someone. If I acted and drank every night of the week how I do when I am with my old friends, I would lose my job and or be dead and or have diabetes and or all of the above within a month. All those things sound shitty, I don't want that, I just want to see Moser every three months like a normal person.

Rochester has embraced the Chew's and we have tried to give back in turn. Some old friends combined with new friends and a general sense of community in love prevails over any of the little issues that still come up. (It's life, life comes with issues). We spend time together, support each other, and genuinely enjoy each others time. Our ages range through the twenties into the early thirties, but we find commonalities in personalities, respect, and love.

...But we can't do it like we used to. Sunday's, these days, are all about football, friends, food and a couple drinks. We tail gate. We cry. We shoot fake lasers through our fingertips and we typically do so while grilling, cheesing, Genny'ing, and dipping like whoa. My friends have become family and serve as my biggest source of support and greatest instigator and negative influence ever.

Oh my god, Jim is in the best shape ever. I can totally do that! Tomorrow... I'll totally do that tomorrow. Two hours in the gym, really, that sounds hard. Is there more Mac N Cheese?

Things aren't as easy as they used to be. I threw my back out earlier this year playing kickball. There was a series of great plays and Kick James was victoriously walking off the field. I was not a part of any of those plays. I watched them happily from third base, and while I was walking back to the bench to congratulate my team on an inning well done, something popped or moved and slipped and I was on my back for a week. Seriously, it was as pathetic as it sounds.

I'm getting older and I can't do what I used to be able to do and that sucks. But I am gainfully employed and I have insurance like a mofo. Dr. Matt and his Dr. wife twisted me and bent me and stretched me and made me fall in love with chiropracting. Yes, Mr. Blask, I recognize your profession as a real job, but I will never call you Dr. no matter what your white coat says! 

For the last week, since I created this blog and a little before, I have been actively trying to cut back on some things and add a little more activity into my life. It's been going well. Moving around more at work and poorly playing basketball at lunch. Only having one heaping serving of delicious for dinner instead of three. Not splitting an entire bag of cheddar popcorn with Jenna in two days. These things are working, but now it's Friday. Dun dun dun!!!! Friends in town. Show tomorrow night. It's cold out and gravy makes me warm. These are all great things and life is awesome. But I'm going to think about it and I'm going to worry about it and I'm going to question what I eat and drink and do, and that's going to suck.

Thus is the dichotomy of life. Natalie and 80's Clooney said it best, "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have, the facts of life."

My facts of life tell me that I'm a happy guy. I am lucky and blessed (when I say blessed it's much more of a comparative term than a spiritual implication) to have friends and family who love me and want to spend time with me. I have a beautiful wife who challenges me and impresses me every day. I have a beer gut and slowly greying hair. One I'm addressing, the other I'm working to embrace. I try to be good to people. I try to let happiness and the positive aspects of any given circumstance stand at the foreground. Anger, bitterness, denial, and complaining are there and sometimes they reveal themselves, but I work really hard to get beyond them and go back to the smiles and hugs.

I've learned, and if you're honest with yourself I think you have too, that you can't appreciate your life until you've gone through some shit. Accepted the fact that you're not perfect. Taken account for your fuck ups and learned the lessons that came with them. We're still growing. We're still learning. We're still figuring out how to be 25, 29, 31, a good friend, a good husband, a good person, and good in general.

Your 20's are going to suck. But they're also going to be fucking awesome.
My 30's will be the same way, I just hope I'm a little bit better and focusing on the good and the happy, and a little better at ignoring the shit.