Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"I Hope You Die Today"

These were the words spoken by a homeless woman, wrapped in a scratchy woolen blanket, carrying a large purse underneath, as she passed me on my way back to work from my haircut.

It felt....unwarranted, to say the least.

I mean, did she really hope I will die?  Does she know something I don't know?!  Was she even talking to me, or to one of the many voices in her head that I assume everybody of that socioeconomic status confer with on a daily basis.  Which, tangentially, makes me think that money really doesn't buy happiness.  If I could be homeless and always surrounded by that much company, who's really winning?!?

 Anyways, back to the matter at hand.  This lady.  Of course now, sitting here in my office, probably protected from her death wish, I am thinking about who she was before life hit her so hard.  Here's what I came up with.  And since that bizzo wished me ill, I am writing this story in Obituary format.  Take that, lady!

Denver Post - Bitchin' Obituaries (or whatever they call that section)
November 14, 2017

Mary Ann Walters, age 57, died today.  Mary Ann Walters, or Mare to her friends, of which she had few, lived a harder life than most.  At the young age of 19, Mare left her hometown of Wyatt, South Dakota, a small ranch town in the middle of nowhere, escaping a failed marriage.  With no help from family, Mary Ann left her abusive husband and made her way south to Colorado.  With little money in her pocket and no people in Colorado, Mary Ann had set herself up for failure.  It was after two years of burning through what little savings she had left, and a heartbeat away from turning around and going back home, did she meet the great oil tycoon William Grant Jr., or Billy Bob as she loved teasing him with.  Mary Ann and Billy Bob became fast friends, and inevitably married just 6 months later.  Those who remember Mary Ann from that time recall that it was probably the happiest she'd ever been.  But even then, a storm loomed on the horizon.  Mary Ann's former husband, whom she never legally divorced, read about the marriage from a local news source, and found his way down to his estranged wife.  One night, in June of 1983, Mary Ann's first husband found her and Billy Bob at their estate in Byers, Colorado where she was giving her husband a haircut, and shot Billy Bob dead, before shooting himself.  Adding to the tremendous grief Mary Ann felt over the loss of her husband was the growing suspicion from Billy Bob's remaining family that Mary Ann herself had actually killed him and her first husband in order to inherit Billy Bob's fortune.  After a very drawn out, lengthy legal struggle, Mary Ann exhausted what personal finances she had, and was forced to leave the ranch.  It was around that time, late in 1990, that Mary Ann was seen again, in the streets of Denver, Colorado.  Having been broken by the loss of both husbands in one night, and poor and destitute, she had turned to drugs and alcohol as her only respite from the evils that had befallen her.  Alas, the devil's bite of heroin had taken over her life, and she slowly lost her mind, ever to roam the streets alone.  Not much was heard of Mary Ann again before her death, but rumors persisted that a woman matching her description would be seen walking around town, carrying the only two possessions she had taken with her from the ranch.  A woolen blanket from the bed she shared with Billy Bob, and a large purse, which contained all her worldly possessions when she first ran away from South Dakota.  Of this person matching her description, it was said that she would mostly keep to herself, her mind addled with drugs, but certain triggers would bring her back to a state of lucidity and the self-realization of her situation would come crashing down.  Even then, it was all she could muster to wish people, often those coming out of a hair salon, terrible curses, and hopes for death.  In the end, it was a sudden myocardial infarction that killed Mary Ann, though anyone who still remembered her would say it was actually just a broken heart.

Mary Ann Walters - may she find the peace in death, she never had in life.
1960 - 2017

Right, so that's what happens when you randomly say "I hope you die today" to me on the street.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Summertime and the Livin's Easy

Possibly the biggest difference between living in Florida and living in Colorado, besides attitudes, driving, political landscape, religious freedoms, education, my attitude towards the weekend.

In Florida, a typical weekend morning goes one of two ways.  Either, you get out of the house as early as possible before it gets hot as balls (read: 9 AM) in a mad dash to get any errands complete before the sun or traffic catches up with you, or you just eschew any plans you have and spend the day at the beach drinking coronas (another big difference here!) baking in the sun.  I mean if you're going have sweat drip down your balls like the Ying Yang Twins always seemed to have an issue with, then it may as well be in a place where you can wash it off with saltwater right?  I guess that's the logic.

In Colorado, winter sadness precedes winter by a couple months (people hide their depression in the heady foam of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, which I hear may even have pumpkin in them soon!) Winter, which seems to break sometime around March, and then goes through a bi-polar attitude of sun and snow every other day until some time in May, which then makes way for "Hail Season", the few months of true sunny Summer are celebrated.  Then the challenge seems to be, how much of my duties today can be set aside so I can spend every sunny minute outside.  And when the heat factor can be mitigated by a trip up to the mountains, there really is no excuse to lay on the couch all day.  In fact if you live in Colorado and are having a lazy summer day, I implore you to find a picture from your last snowed in day at home, when two inches of ice lay hidden away under 6 inches of snow, and the temperature ranged from frigid to holy crap why'd I leave Florida!?  Its with that attitude, I push myself every weekend of the summer to something....Whether it's pulling weeds, to simulating that Miami Beach day at the pool, I work my way towards skin cancer more and more....which at least you can, of all the cancers, I'm proud of how I got this.  I mean...pancreatic cancer?  Not much you can really applaud there.

And so I spent last weekend, in all its melanomic magnificence, in the great outdoors.  (Let's be honest, I still didn't leave Stapleton.  I'm institutionalized now.)

After work Friday, I had drinks and dinner at Station 26 Brewing Company.  The brewery, which is tucked away in the near by neighborhood of Not-Stapleton, is a popular place for the Stapleton crowd looking to really get away from the neighborhood vibe.  They do that by going less than 1 mile from their house, and are surrounded by pretty much their neighbors.  In fact, it's rare to go there and NOT see somebody from my neighborhood.  It's the only brewery that has more stroller parking than bicycle parking, which is saying something for Denver.  Most nights, I go to this brewery for the steady and consistent rotation of food trucks, which has always been the highlight for me.  But Friday proved a great surprise as their beer game has also improved, as has their increased patio space, which seems dumb that they only just now did since it's basically winter tomorrow.  I also appreciate that they've started coming up with beer names that provide you absolutely no information on the beer you're drinking.  How am I supposed to know that Intergalactic Dingo is an American Pale Ale?!  To be fair though, I won't ever forget that name!

On Saturday, in a desparate effort to be outside even by a few inches of my garage, I washed and vacuumed my car.  Mostly, this was an excuse to sweat enough that I could justify drinking beer at the pool pretty much the rest of the day.  And so I did.  But as I alluded to before, it wasn't coronoa.  It was a selection of IPAs, which if you don't drink IPAs, you're basically not a Coloradan.  It was only after sitting in CU Stadium, after having run the Bolder Boulder that I developed a taste for this beer.  Or as I usually say, I became indoctrinated into what being a Coloradan means, and my genetics changed accordingly.  Don't be surprised to hear me talking about shredding back bowls and fresh pow pow this winter.  I still don't know what that means, but I assume it has something to do with diarrhea.

After the pool, I came home, exhausted, with only one desire.  To watch the movie Instinct.  This is an older movie with Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr.  It's a great movie despite how horrible Cuba Gooding Jr. is in everything (much less controversial than my hatred for Don Cheadle).  Also, the only place you can watch it apparently is on YouTube, which has the whole movie uninterrupted.  Well, except for a few Matrix like skips that make you question everything....

Also thank god I ate here earlier in the day, so dinner could just be a shmorgasbord of leftovers from there.

I don't want to oversell it, but this might be the great dim sum ever to dim in any sum.

I don't remember much else about Saturday because of the food coma I was in.  But I do recall waking up to see this werewolf inducing monster lurking outside the night sky.  

I hoped against hope that one of the great horned owls that are nesting in my neighborhood might have flown by the moon in it's Super Moon state, and then I would have known for sure that I was going to Hogwarts.  Speaking of that, I wonder why Hogwarts didn't have some sort of Adult GED program?

Sunday I decided to go for my first real bike ride after buying this bad boy:

Bought purely for its looks and having done no research what so ever, I was surprised by how much I like this bike.  Yesterday, I took down to the gym, and after realizing I didn't bring my key for the bike lock, over to the farmer's market.  Immediately upon taking this bicycle into "real" traffic, I became this guy:

Every Person with a Bicycle

I mean seriously....I never realized how much people just completely ignore cyclists at intersections where they clearly have the right of way.  I almost got hit twice.  Although that might because the brakes on this bike aren't the greatest so if they hadn't stopped, I suppose I'd be dead right now.  Which reminds me, I need to buy a better helmet....  (Like I said....I did very little research.)

Part of the problem of taking your cycle to the farmer's market is that you're restricted by whatever bag you bring for hte amount of produce you can buy.  Apparently 5 lbs of potatoes was my limit, which resulted in an overstuffed shoulder bag and no room for my bike lock.  As I sat along the benches in the shade contemplating my situation, some friends who live in my neighborhood walked by and offered to take as much as I wanted home with them, so I could ride my bike back without trying to balance things on the handle bars on my way to an inevitable death.  I guess on the tombstone they could write, "He avoided several cars, only to die by loose potato."

At the Farmer's Market, contemplating if potatoes are worth dying for.
Seriously though, in what other neighborhood could a neighbor randomly appear at the farmer's market to help me out like that?  That's one for you Stapleton!

The rest of the day was a blur.  I ate smoked ribs and mashed some potatoes.   I made jokes that my friend's Malaysian mother appreciated.  Mothers love me.  That's just a fact.  I see no point in continuing this post after that sentence.  BOOM.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Happy FPF from the Folks Who Brought You Turducken

The scientific community supporting "Animal Hybridization" is pretty small, or at least it would seem.  But they are a force that can no longer be ignored.  The very act of hybridizing two seemingly unique and different animals to make something better is not itself a new concept.  We've been doing it for years with food (i.e. the grapple - the texture of an apple with all the not part of nature grape flavoring goodness).  We have done it with geographies....I mean there's an Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas!  Heck, we've even done it with people.  Everyone knows a half-sy baby will be amazingly good looking its whole life (except for that first 6 months when the two halves are still trying to meld....)

So why not animals?  What are we so afraid of?  Why must I decide between chicken and pork, when I could just have chork?  I assume that's basically what spam is anyways.  What's the big argument against Science meat?  It's TOO easy to mass produce and feed starving folks?  It's TOO easy to control what goes in it so that you are getting the best possible outcome?  You'll MISS mad cow disease?

And even with live animals, I see many many benefits.  I mean, right now we don't use many animals in military positions what with their penchant to poop everywhere, but it's hard to argue with their natural prowess and agility.  And while I don't think a shark would fare well against a submarine in the ocean, what if we had a batallion riding these amazing creatures in the fight against terror?

The possibilities are endless!  Of course, this would have to be highly regulated....we can't just let anybody go start experimenting.  Otherwise we'll end up with this kind of terrifying monstrosity.

Good luck sleeping tonight with that image in your head.  But seriously, just think about it.  The AH movement is small but strong, and we will soon see the fruits of our labor. 

But let's change gears here, because AH is not what today is all about.  Today is about recognizing that it's the end of the week, and with that, comes a time honored tradition, of taking one's fists, and furiously pumping them into the air.  Some might say, like you just don't care.  So with dreams of monsters in your head, and the taste of chork in your mouths, let us all take a minute to celebrate this most glorious of Fist Pump Fridays!  Happy FPF!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Beware the Were: A Tale of Lycanthropic Lunacy

My friends.  My dear, dear friends.  I write this blog to you today, on the cusp of what may be my last few days on this earth, as a member of your human race.  Oh what a joy these last 34 years have been.  The friends I've made....the women I've loved....the laughter...and dare I say, even the tears.  It's all been worth it.  The aggregation of memories I cherish more than the most precious diamond.

Alas, on this Saturday past, at approximately 5:46 PM, I was bitten by a dog.  A mere puncture on the right hand, just below the thumb by a rabid beast, and now my life is a ticking time bomb.  It's only a matter of time until the next full moon, and my body changes to it's next level of evolution, as a werewolf.  On that first evening, when my body writhes and contorts as the beast within finds its way to the surface, and my mind is ravaged by a wild, feral lunacy that will only be calmed by feasting on innocent lives, then I will lose that ounce of humanity that separates us, the sophisticated few on this earth, from our feral ancestry.  How did this happen?  How did an unsuspecting man, just slightly passed his prime, drunk on IPA, find himself in this situation. all started with a block party.

The day started like any other.  Hot as balls by 8 AM, without a cloud in the sky (typical for Denver.)  I awoke with anticipation of the afternoon's events.  The first ever tri-block party hosted in Conservatory Green.  My grocery list in mind, I went on a morning run through the neighborhood, followed by a trip to the grocery store.  All prepared for the party, and guava pastries baking in the oven, I took a few hours of respite in preparation for the party.  And it was quite the party.  Our courtyard was filled with the screams and laughter of innocent children, probably because there was a giant child in the bounce house...

The crisp late evening air was perfect for outdoor games and building camaraderie amongst old and new friends....

But there, in the shadows of our joy, lurked an indescribable evil.  This spawn of children's nightmares stared at our unbashed happiness with the hot rage of a thousand suns.  She stood on her perch, perfectly still, as if inviting someone to come dethrone her.  And while my intentions were only pure and good, I fell into her trap.  You see, I approached this monster, not to vanquish her, but to draw her out, and let her know that even she must have good in her heart.  And so, ever so timid, I approached and let the beast sniff me.  I stood bravely in front of her.  And while I don't have a real picture of her (because can one really capture pure terror in a photo?), this is about as accurate of an approximation I could find.

This fiend, having lured me with her siren's song, allowed me to come within the width of a fairy's wing between us, before she lunged and bit into my hand.  That quick, crushing gesture was all it took.  Of course, most of my blood replaced by alcohol at that moment, I didn't even know i was leaking bloodcohol from my hand as I continued to enjoy myself.  It wasn't until a friend warned me that my hand was bleeding did I know the true extent of what was to come.  This beast had changed my life forever.  Already, I can feel the effects of this lycanthropy.  The itching....the hunger for meat....the desire to lick things....

I only ask that you remember how I was, and not the brute I am becoming.  But also, use this as a warning.  Keep your distance friends.  Or else, this may be the last thing you see before your bones are buried under the rose bushes.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What Happens in Austin, Stays in BLOGstin. Also, a Wedding.

When I was a senior in high school, we went on a "science and math" related field trip to Busch Gardens, an amusement park in Florida.  I honestly don't remember what the science or math part was, but I was in a group of fantastic high school friends, and our chaperone was our calculus teacher, who aside from being really fun and closer to our age than most of the "foot-in-grave" crew that made our teachers, was also cool about doing all the work for us so we could just ride roller coasters and think of ways to sneak beer.  To this day, it was one of the most fun days I've ever had.  I remember almost every part of that entire day, and how much I laughed and enjoyed myself.  Those are the gems when we're older that we take with us.  The memories of great days.  The only thing that is sweeter is when we recognize that those days are the present.  Well that's what the Austin Bach-el-or-ette party was a couple months ago.  A social experiment of tens upon tens of people meeting for the first time and expected to create everlasting bonds.  (or at least Facebook friend requests.)

And bond we did.

The weekend started off like any weekend, with immense luck the likes of which the world has never seen.  Let me run it down for you.

Arrive at airport parking lot that is supposedly full, but get the best spot in the entire lot.  CHECK
Everybody gets pre-checked.  pre-CHECK
With only 20 minutes till boarding, find a bar that happens to be right next to our gate.  CHECK
4 spots at said bar open up right as we get there.  CHECK
Southwest gives us free booze because, why not?  CHECK
Arrive at baggage claim as all 3 of our bags arrive one after another.  CHECK
Get free breakfast for being base level nothing at the hotel, again, because why not?  CHECK

Upon our arrival to the hotel on Friday, we immediately took shots.  The next thing I remember was that it was Sunday. 

I originally started this post a month ago, but since then the actual wedding has already happened.  So instead of long introductions, here's a picture of the crew from the B-Party:

These jokers also showed up at every bar.
So that was fun.  Anyways, fast forward a couple of months to the wedding time.  There's too much to write about there, so instead, I'll just give you a few tips and things you need to know for the next time you attend/plan/work/have a wedding.

First, any DIY crafting group worth their salt should have a Union.

Second, repeatedly hammering a nail into a piece of tree is a good way to relieve wedding stress.

Third, remember it's gonna be a long day.  So try to keep it classy and don't drink too much.

Fourth, try not to be too sexy, or you will overshadow the couple getting married.

Guess I failed at that one.

And lastly,  a few props, and perfect timing, are the key to any memorable wedding photos.

So all in all, a fun wedding.  But now the wedding is over, and it's back to the grind.  Summer in Denver, is one of my most coveted seasons here.  Right up there with, beginning of summer and almost the end of summer, weather wise.  But this year has been a maelstrom of....well maelstroms.  When it's not hailing, pouring ground-can't-absorb levels of rain, tornado-ing, or terraforming the climate into a Florida swamp, it's too busy becoming 60 degrees in July.  WTF Denver?  The few hours of the day where we get a blissful 90 degrees and sunny weather are great, but why can't you save some of that for when I want to go to the pool?  Or pretty much anywhere outside that's not work...  And don't even get me started my plants.  That's a whole other post.  Maybe I'll write one tomorrow called.  HOA = Hellish Oblivious A-holes. 

C'mon man....I can do better than that.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

That Time I Was In 'Nam

Five weeks seems about as long of a build up as I can create without writing another blog post.  Be forewarned, like the hype over every major movie you've ever seen, you will be disappointed.  But, for the single digits of you that haven't heard of my adventures through Viet Nam and Tokyo earlier this month, well then...

Back at the beginning of this month, I met up with some friends, old and new, in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.  The city, formerly known as Saigon, in the country, formerly thought to be spelled Vietnam.  Ho Chi Minh City, from here on referred to as HCMC, is an ever sprawling metropolis in south east Asia.  While I'm not sure what the big economic boom was created from in that part of the world, I do know that it's relatively new.  Less than 20 years ago, this was one of the poorest countries in the world, a fact the U.S. surely attributed to the follies of communism.  While I continue to bleed white and blue along with my normal red, I have to say, that seeing modern skyscrapers go up all around me, and very few of what I would classify as homeless people anywhere in the city, communism might not be as catastrophic of an experiment that we have always been told it is.

But before you go thinking I'm some lefty pinko over here (and please ignore the communist propaganda posters I brought back with me), let's just move on to some of the highlights of my trip. 

First and foremost, I stayed in the Renaissance, just like any good culture immersing traveler would do.  And just like the locals, I had 24/7 concierge service that included free booze all. day. long.  Coffee made to order, and a fantastic rooftop swimming pool.  Oh those locals have it good.  And of course, the benefits of being Platinum were extended to my wayward traveling companions, Tim and Swarana, as platinum adjacent, who after months of spending nights in small beds in ramshackle slums, finally got to spend a week in a small bed in a spectacular hotel!

 Tim, I and some joker who spent his whole trip watching Star Trek episodes on his lap top enjoying lounge snacks
 Some observations about the city.  Despite the oppressive heat and humidity, we were out and about the city for hours on end....although the call of the air conditioned concierge lounge was a siren's call at all times of the day.  Our first stop on this trip was to the famed Ben Tranh Market.  A huge indoor market with stall after stall of clothing, coffee, food stalls, and other sundry items, it's almost as oppressive as the heat.  The worst part is right in the back of the market, where stalls selling durian overtake your olfactory senses with a stench that I could only describe as "decomposing dog".  But if you are brave enough to get passed the death by durian vendors, you emerge into a mecca of delicious Vietnamese food, which I will from now on refer to as "food."

The market isn't confined by its 4 walls either.  Many vendors who I assume can't afford the 35 cents a month lease (I think that equates to like 18 million dong) have stands set up on several streets just outside.  It was along one of these streets that I found a wonderful tailor, who made me two fantastic cashmere suits.  Start to finish it took him about 3 days.  I should have requested a discount for it taking so long.  But you can't argue with the end product.  I also just realized that I don't have a picture of my suits, so I guess you can argue with the end product until you see one.

Another interesting aspect about HCMC is the traffic.  The majority of the roads don't have traffic lights, and pedestrian crosswalks are basically a feat of bravery to cross.  The trick, we soon learned is to walk at a normal pace as if there AREN'T 7000 motorbikes careening towards you at 90 Km per hour (I think that equates to 18 million MPH....I don't know the math.)  Walk too fast and you're a pancake.  Walk to slow, and you've caused a 200 bike pile up that will make the evening news.  And don't think because you've made it across the sidewalk (that's American for pavement) that you're home free.  The motorbikes will hop a curb and drive the wrong way down the sidewalk because....why not?  Here's a glimpse of one of our many rides through the city

Oh yeah, we found UBER there!  They've taken over the world and I'm so ok with that.

Of course I have to talk about the food.  Pretty much every 3 feet, we'd find another food stall selling one or two specialty items at a laughable cost.  I was paying $1.75 for a bowl of pho, $0.50 for a banh mi.  And this was for fresh cooked to order (not that I could order...I just pointed...) food made right in front of you.

I don't know if I actually met any Vietnamese people on this trip....except the tailor, if that counts.  But we did have some interesting encounters.  One evening, we went to see this Malaysian lady sing Top 40 American pop songs at a bar in the back packer's area (also may have been Chinatown...).  While there, we ran into another Indian fellow who was staying at our hotel, and was interested in us ever since he overheard us talking about people's rights to consummate with animals.  In fact that was his opening line when he met us.  Obviously, we were too drunk to consider the red flags of that situation and pretty much shut the bar down with him and his female employee / girlfriend / escort.  I have no clue who she was.  She just kept saying things like, "NO DAHHHLING, SONG WILL PAY FOR THAT DAHLING."  Yeah that's guy's name was Song or something.  I have no clue.  Anyways, we ended up taxiing back to the hotel with them and also this other guy named Sang.  Seriously, I swear these were different people.  We never saw them again despite making loose plans to basically spend the rest of the week with them.

 In addition to meeting some random folks, we also got to spend some time with Tim and Swarana's friends who were also drifting about Viet Nam.  One night we spent time with these friends, from all corners of the world, and other more local people that they knew.  How's this for 6 Degrees of Separation.  On one evening, I, my friend Swarana, her fiancee Tim, his friends John and Erica (who's from Morrison!), their traveling companion Ant, his friend who's name I forgot but she lives in Ho Chi Minh, and her friend who's name I also forget because I'm probably racist, all went out together to a hidden brewery in some dark back alley.  Oh and PS, the brewer spent like 5 years in Denver.  And the owner is from Tennessee.  So strange.  World's colliding....or imploding...
The whole gang
The brewer is standing next to that weird Indian guy

This menu is where I first grew suspicious that there was a Denver influence here...

Steps to secret hidden brewery.  (Ignore that sign...)

Oh yeah we also took a cooking class in HCMC.  That was probably one of  the best parts of the trip actually.  The class was 3 hours, and the food was amazing.  I'd recommend anybody traveling abroad to take a cooking class.

 Also, apparently there was some kind of war in Viet Nam, not sure if you heard about it.  These are pictures of stuff about that war that I don't intend on explaining.

Also, I went to Tokyo for like 4 hours.  That's not an exaggeration.  I was there in the city for literally 4 hours.  I'd tell you about it but there's no way you're still reading this.