Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Looks like I picked a bad year to stop ignoring the Orioles.

I've decided that my life has been too blessed and full of good things lately, so I started paying attention to the Orioles again. That should add some much needed balance to the blessing from heaven that the rest of my life has been.

There's really no point in nitpicking what is "wrong" with the Orioles, because it would take up much less space detailing what is right with them.

Due to my abundant lack of cable/satellite television service, I don't get to watch the games on tv very often. Instead I get to pretend that I am living in the 1930's by listening to the games on the radio. There are numerous benefits, I've found, to listening to the games on the radio. Primary among them is that I am able to listen to the game while doing other things, like home repair. The secondary benefit is that whenever I bash my thumb with a hammer, I don't even notice due to the pain that my ears are already in.

Baltimore has been blessed with some terrific radio announcers. Joe Angel and Fred Manfra are engaging and very enjoyable to listen to. You can tell that they love the game of baseball and the Orioles. They are in as much pain as the rest of us fans. It creates a real sense of comeraderie.

My favorite part of any sports broadcast is when the inevitable "guest sports analyst" is invited to add some color commentary. Here's how it goes...every time ( this in the voice of Harold Letterman...esteemed boxing analyst for HBO):

In their good graces, Joe and Fred act as if Jesus Christ just descended into their booth and revealed the true meaning of the book of Revelation to them. In reality, they both just died a little bit.

So, I'm starting my own sports network. If a guest sports analyst can get paid to say those words and not get beaten up in the parking lot...I can start a sports network.

OSN. The Obvious Sports Network (copyrighted...boom!).
All sports, all day, with announcers who state the obvious...all the time!

"Jim, what Kobe really needs to do in this situation is throw that ball in the air and make it land inside that smallish, ball-sized hoop with a net on it. That would get him points. If the team that he is on gets more "points" than their opponents, they really should win this game."

"OH NO! Kermit just got punched! That's not what he wanted to do at all! What he should have done was punch the other guy instead of getting punched. If he keeps on getting punched instead of punching his opponent, he probably won't win this fight. We go now live, to Kermit's corner:

"(near-whisper with British accent) I have to admit I'm slightly confused by all of the clapping for Tiger after that shot. You see, Tiger's shot landed 15 feet from the hole, when he should have just hit it into the hole on the first shot. I don't understand why people clap when the players continue to hit shots that land numerous feet from the hole! If they would just hit the ball into the hole on their first shot, their scores would be so much lower...which is a good thing in golf!"

And so it goes.
Really all that sports announcers do today is figure out ways to confuse people. Why do I care how many hits Miguel Tejada got on the 3rd Monday after Labor Day each of the last 5 years? Do I need to know that Tiger shot his lowest scores only after visiting 2 mistresses in the same fortnight...but only on leap-years? Stats, stats, stats. It drives me crazy.

I say we start cutting through the crap and get down to brass tacks. OSN will tell you exactly what your favorite team needs to do to win the game, and it will have nothing to do with the kicker's percentage of disputed kicks over 47 yards during the 2nd coldest winter in the Mid-Atlantic region's recorded history (which only goes back to 1862) while in the middle of El Nino. Your team needs to do what it takes to score more points than the other team.

Let's start enjoying sports again by returning to our childlike belief that any team/boxer/golfer can win on any given night, with good old fashioned elbow grease and a "can do" attitude.

That's the stuff of life.

H.S. Jr.

Monday, April 26, 2010

To Kill a Mockingroach

There is an ancient and forboding song about them. "La Cucaracha," it warns, "La cucaracha, ya no puede caminar."

Ancient. Foreboding. If I were only married to someone who is fluent in Spanish, I might know what it means, but it can't be good. Scratch that, I don't want to know what it means. One thing I've learned from the Gipsy Kings is that I enjoy international music a good deal more when I don't understand what the words mean (all of their songs, my wife explained to me, are about love and food...destroying my notion that "Bamboleo" was some kind of ancient, Aztec war cry. No more listening to that at the gym).

I've been battling roaches for the last 3 weeks. As mentioned in my previous blorg, I recently bought a house that was a "short sale." That's a nice way of saying that someone who lived there before us thought of mold as "being green" and of roaches as a reduction in the "protein" category of the grocery bill. Suffice to say, the house had plenty of both.

I've never lived in a house with roaches, and I intended not to. Until recently, I thought I had broken that promise to myself. My initial approach was to declare war on the roaches.

Motivated by a sense of duty to my family (and my wife's threat to call me at work, belittle my masculinity, then call "a real man named Terminix" every time she sees a single roach), I charged in.

Surprisingly enough, roaches don't take themselves nearly as seriously as we take them. In fact, I've become convinced that they live to just tell a single joke. It's not a very good joke. If roaches were collectively more intelligent, they might work up some decent material. But if it's worked for them for this long, I guess I shouldn't knock it.

The joke has come to be known as "Playing Dead."

Allow me to relay the first time I fell victim to this classic prank.

Having purchased a home that I knew to have roaches, I began doing the requisite homework. I read every website on Al Gore's entire internet about eliminating roaches. Actually, my wife did. She is fluent in Spanish, so I thought she would be better suited to combine modern technological advances with the understanding of ancient wisdom contained in "La Cucaracha."

We were doomed. "You cannot eliminated roaches" the websites stated, "you can only minimize the nuisance that they cause." Apparently, roaches pre-date humans by eleventy-billion years or so, and will probably still exist after the earth has been sucked into the sun. They can survive a nuclear holocost. Rumor has it that even an entire Lady Gaga album has minimal impact on them (that was a bad joke...but I've had that song, "Telephone" stuck in my head for 2 days...and that is a bad song, deserving of a bad joke).

So I roach-bombed the house. I bombed as if the world depended on it. The package said the bombs would cover 2,000 square feet, each. So I used 8 of them in a 3,000 square foot house. One side note...and consider this me copyrighting an awesome idea...they need to make bug bombs that are designed like grenades. How satisfying would it be to hold the pin of a bug "grenade" in your teeth and say, "have fun in hell you cock...roaches" (in the vocal styling of John Wayne's "fill your hand you son of a b-word" from "True Grit," of couse). You pull the pin, toss the grenade into the house, slamming the door and sprinting away, only to dive as the simulated explosion and accompanying sound effects give way to the anti-climatic "hiss" of the fumigator spraying it's poison into the air. That, is an awesome idea, if I do say so myself.

The morning after the initial bombing, I gingerly opened the door and surveyed the carnage. It had apparently rained roaches. I had never seen anything like it. As I strode across the roach-littered floor, I felt like Jesus must have felt when He walked on the water...if the water was crunchy and made entirely of dead roaches. Gross...but entirely satisfying.

Or so I thought. As I walked into the basement, I was elated to see even more "success" littering the floor. "Fabulous!" I thought, "Who said these things are difficult to kill?" It was only the sound of what I would describe as "muffled chuckling" that caused me to lean in closer to the killing floor.

I leaned closer. I heard some snicking, and then, unable to contain himself any longer, one of the roaches began kicking his legs! The joke having been blown, all of them broke out into uproarious laughter and began to kick their legs like the first roach had done.

Unfortunately for the roaches, I was carrying a bottle of Raid in each hand, and their little joke turned into a massacre that will go down in the annals of roach history. This assumes, of course that Raid actually kills them. More likely, my spraying them with a poison similar to the stuff that had just failed to kill them was the roach-equivalent of my clapping and crying "Encore!"

But the experience left me with a nagging question: There were hundreds of them who risked death to play that little prank, and I bet they were fully willing to sacrifice everything for the satisfaction my child-like laughter. Why?

The best I've been able to come up with stems from our good friend, evolution. Roaches probably haven't changed much since their appearance on the planet. Neither has their sense of humor. This must be the only joke that they are programmed to tell. Their "roach-strategy meetings" must seem awfully boring to the non-roach eye. "I say we stick with the material that works! We just need to "sell" it more! They'll get it this time, if we really commit to the gag!" the passionate, but aging Republican roach will state.

"But 11,000 of our best men died yesterday," the dissenting, Democrat roach will cry, "we need to try something different! Let's give up and survive to play the joke another day!"

"But that would blow the punchline, dadgummit!" yells the toothless, old, gold-mining roach.

And on and on it would go.

All I can really say is that having played over that scenario in my head numerous times has made me feel a lot more sympathetic towards the disease-spreading little buggers. Not that I've stopped trying to slaughter them en masse or anything. It's just that each time I've tried to murder them, they've used their same material...just trying to bring me some joy with a simple joke.

Their numbers have dwindled lately. I only see the occasional straggler, wandering around the ghost town that once was the roach capital of Catonsville. Mind you, I don't believe that I've been successful in killing them in any significant numbers. Only that I was such a bad audience that they decided to take their act elsewhere.

In my dreams I can hear the roach-elders telling their grand-roaches about the good-ol' days. How people would laugh and laugh each time they told their joke, and it never got old. Times were good...back then. Then along came a bunch of young-uns who had no appreciation for the billions of years of history and planning that went into that joke.

"NO RESPECT!" the old roach would yell.

"Settle down, Grandpa," the little ones would say, "Doc says it's bad for your heart when you get your dander up (apparently roaches are stuck in the 1940's as far as roach medicine goes)."

While I feel some slight remorse for essentially heckling them out of the house, my wife indicated that I made the right choice. "Really," she said, "it was either them or you."

I try to rest easy in the realization that my attempts at humor don't make her scream and spray me with Raid. Or at least they don't make her scream.

Hopefully that was some stuff of life.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I've decided to mimic a very dear friend of mine. In order to exercise my atrophied writing chops, I've decided to plunge, headfirst, into the sphere of blogo. There is an above average chance that this will be a brief dalliance and my only entry. There is an even greater chance that I will attempt to write another entry but will forget my user name and password to this site and will just quit writing altogether.

But enough excuses...onward we press!

In the wake of "Earth Day," I thought it appropriate to discuss being friendly to nature. In having recently purchased a home that was a "short-sale"(a nice way of saying it was filled with roaches and the smell of feet), I've been spending a disproportionate amount of time at the local home repair store. In my wanderings through the countless aisles, I've noticed a rather sizable variety of "earth friendly" cleaning products. The front of the labels indicate that they are made entirely from "plant and mineral" products and are, hence, "friendly" with the environment (an appropriate kind of "friendly," I assure you).

At first glance, I thought, "Oh how nice! A product that solves my dilemma of choosing between my hatred of dirt and my love of nature!"

Normally, my thought process ends after the first thought that I have, and I move happily on to the next, entirely unrelated thought. In this instance, however, there was a glitch in the Matrix and I looked at the cleaning solution again. As I looked at the bottle, I realized that I would be using dirt (mineral) and that which lives in dirt (plants) to attempt to rid my house of dirt and whatever was causing that foot-like odor (probably plants).

My thought process having been stimulated, I continued down the rabbit hole. Humanity, in the year 2010 is beginning to realize that we've had it wrong for the last clip. Everything that we thought was "progress" was actually killing the earth. Cars, factories, computers, Cheese Puffs...all crimes against the very environment that sustains us. Heck, even the gas that we breath when we exhale has been labeled a pollutant by the EPA. Our very existence brings irreparable damage to the environment, we are told. To try to reverse this damage, we must revert back to when we lived in caves/trees and cleaned our earthen vessels by smearing them with dirt and rinsing them out.

Here I was, numb-skull that I am, thinking that I needed to purchase chemicals in order to kill the dirt and plants that were living in my bathtub, toilet and on my counter top (it was really dirty). As it turns out, all I had to do was buy a bottle of liquid dirt. I blame my ignorance on my high-school chemistry teacher. He was bad. Bad enough that he had to curve our grades to the point that the 38% that I got on my final exam was graded a "C." I guess I should thank him. I'd probably still be in the 10th grade if not for that curve.

But I digress. I was standing in the store, holding this "earth-friendly" cleaning solution...and it became the cryptex from The DaVinci Code. I saw the entire history of cleaning products, suspended in the air and illuminated before me:

Cleaning logic began simply: "If unwanted dirt and plants (nature) are growing in my home, I will use an unnatural chemical to kill it! I will buy bleach and acid!"

All well and good, until...

The scene shifted to the present where we have realized that the manufacturing and usage of these chemicals is harmful to the environment. Our current logic is: "I love the environment! If unwanted dirt and plants are in my home, I will use plants and dirt that have been processed into a clear liquid to clean it! Excelsior!"

And then, I saw the future. Fast forward 5 years, to just after Al Gore makes his next Nobel Peace Prize winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth 2: Inconvenienter!" Nature has given us the blueprint and I will reveal the next line of cleaning products, soon to be found in stores around the world (netting me a tidy profit, I might add!). No processing of any kind. I am proud to bring you:

"Nate's Natural Cleaning Products: Nature in a Can!"

"Vultures: In a Can!:"
Have unwanted animal carcasses lying around your house? Forget using glacier-melting plastic gloves and baby-seal-killing disinfectants! Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of "Vultures" directly onto the unwanted debris and watch as it disappears before your eyes! "Vultures" come with razor sharp beaks and a lust for decaying flesh, making them the only choice for your carcass-removing needs!

"Opossums: In a Can!"
Hate taking out the trash? Does your back ACHE every time you bend down to empty a garbage can? Not anymore, with "Opossums: In a Can!" Apply a liberal helping of "Opossums: In a Can!" directly onto your undesired refuse! Watch with amazement as "Opossums: In a Can!" gobbles up every last piece of garbage and then glares at you with scary, reflective eyes...hungry for more! "Opossums: In a Can!" is the solution to your refuse-disposal needs!

"Fungi: In a Can!:"
Do you hate doing the dishes after a meal? Are your plates covered in gooey food residue? Don't murder mother earth by using harmful soaps! Don't cause bowling-ball-sized-hail-storms by using plastic gloves that will sit in a landfill for the next 10,000 years! Apply "Fugi: In a Can!" directly to your plates and watch the magic begin! After 3-6 short months, the fugi will decompose all of that unwanted food and your plates will be as good as new! "Fungi: In a Can!" is the only choice for your dish-washing needs!"

Suffice to say, I expect to be extremely wealthy within the next 5 years or even if you hated this first blog entry, I recommend you try to stay on my good side. Otherwise you may find yourself having a closer-than-desired encounter with some "Vultures: In a Can!"

And that, my friends, is the stuff of life.