Archive for the ‘Story’ Category

Beer, Shame and Breasts: My Christmas Vacation

Photo © 2006 Cassie Melnikow

Just like my Thanksgiving wrapup a few weeks ago, I find myself in the terrible position of having a lot to say but not wanting to write any of it down here. The inspiration well is just totally dry at the moment. But, I’ve been blogging for so long that I know it will be back sooner or later … I just have to force myself to continue onward instead!

The Killiam OrnamentThe Killiam Update
Richard – of Hibernation Sickness infamy – graced the United States with his presence this Christmas holiday and I was lucky enough to host the French gentleman for a couple of nights. Although he touched down on Monday the 15th he was super busy running around and meeting up with family that I didn’t see his beautiful face until Friday the 19th. UPDATE: We tore it up at a few places in Yorkshire including a comedy club (where we saw a comedian throw a guy out during his act), a bar where the cops came in demanding to know where a patron’s jacket was, and another bar where we saw a huge fight that consisted of basically everyone in the bar except us three. It was actually nice for once to not be involved in any of the Yorkshire bar scuffles! Though I did end up puking that night 🙁

The Netflix OrnamentDoing My Best Impression Of The 2004-Post College Me
We all took buses down to Virginia and even though I had to wait 45 minutes in the freezing wind to board it the Boltbus was worth every penny of it’s $25 cost! I got the absolute furthest seat back and slept for the entire 4-hour trip. When I had finally unpacked and settled into my mom’s home again I suddenly became the laziest motherfucker of all time. Basically, I reverted back to the 2004 version of me. Though I had packed my PS3, a whole list of creative pursuits a week off would do wonders for, and a phonebook full of old friends in the area, all I had the energy to do was go through my Netflix instant queue and my mom’s DVD collection and watch movie after movie. I guess I was a little more burned out from work than I had thought and needed to just veg. Anyway, for you stanus.nut completists, here’s the movie schedule:

The Fantasy Football OrnamentX-Mas Results (Subtitle: I Hate Brandon Jones’ Blind Batshit Luck)
In between all of this movie watching I slipped in some Xmas time with the ‘rents. Steve and I woke up Christmas day and opened gifts at my mom’s place first. The big gift was my college diploma frame … which I had unknowingly discovered a month previous! I’m not sure why my mom felt the need to still wrap it but it will look great on my wall besides my somewhat less classy giant Mavericks flag.

Then it was off to the Z-News headquarters for Xmas Round 2! There we exchanged gifts and met the new member of the clan: a huge, mean-looking but super-friendly pit bull named Amos who my stepbrother and his wife adopted recently. I was advised not to attempt to pet him or even look him in the eye until he got used to my presence! After we all became friends, we passed around gifts and found out that between three of us we had received four copies of the new John Lennon biography. Herr Z-News had the whole day off (he’s been quite busy recently) and after gift-giving we witnessed his emotional return to the virtual links of Tiger Woods: Ass-Play for the Wii. We laughed at this sad hobby of his and then headed back for Xmas dinner at mom’s.

… where I discovered that Brandon had won both of the fantasy football leagues we were in together 🙁 Sure, I came in last place in one of the leagues. Sure, I was in first place for the vast majority of the season in the other. Yes, Brandon missed one of the drafts completely and had to rely on Yahoo’s autodraft feature. But none of these were what stung the most. Nay, the shame was heaped upon me as I realized I made a fucking [stanus.net] banner about my previous fantasy football wins in the last two years. Ah, stats curse!

The Janelle OrnamentA Jan-Yell Afternoon
I had been such a bum all week that my body became accustomed to my behavior in just a few short days. In fact, Cassie had to convince me to go out and meet up with several of our high school friends in Arlington for lunch and drinks. Even though it was Janelle’s birthday celebration and would mean I know everyone there, I grumbled and had to force myself out of bed to show up on time (fun, not-so-surprising note: I was half an hour late). However, as soon as I arrived I wondered what made me think this wouldn’t be a fun time in the first place. It was cool to see old friends who now all lived multiple states away from me and exercise slightly more control over drinking with them! After a quick lunch, we all decided to stay and drink a couple of rounds and shoot the shit for a couple of hours.

The Jungle Bean OrnamentA Quiet Evening Out With Jeff C[removed] and Kachold
… but the drinking didn’t stop there! And the Jeff C[removed] was just starting! I had stopped by Jeff’s new Arlington pad for a total of five minutes at one point during Janelle’s lunch. Thinking I had to drive back to return a rental car I hurried out of there, but when I decided upon an alternate plan Cassie and I stopped back at Chez Jeff C[removed] after Janelle’s party moved to the hotel lobby.

After catching up with each other’s adventures who but old college pal (It’s) Rich (Bitch) showed up. He and Jeff were heading out to DC to see some rockabilly/burlesque show and I got talked into checking it out as well. UPDATE: Rich knew one of the dancers and demanded we go there to check her out. To tell you the truth, it was a hilarious night. For example, Rich got so trashed he was thrown out of the bar before he even walked into it. UPDATE: The rockabilly band was forgettable, but it was a strange site seeing 3 guys who looked like the Stray Cats in the middle of ghetto DC. The burlesque dancers were slightly better: Rich’s friend was attractive but the other dancer was HUGE! Unfortunately, their strip teases just seemed so out of place. I dunno. I really was more interested in discussing Jeff C[removed]‘s mole’s return than watching them strip. Unfortunately, I’m just not up to telling anymore of the night’s story right now. I do have a whole bunch of pictures from the night, however. Maybe I can put together a quick photo essay or something. Or not. Actually, bet on the “or not.”

All right, I hope everyone else had a great vacation, too. L8r!

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  • Cassie
    Monday, January 12th, 2009 at 00:45 | #1

    Yorkshire, home to such notable people as Emily Bronte and Dame Judi Dench! That is where we live!

  • Monday, January 12th, 2009 at 10:37 | #2

    Yorkshire … Yorkville. Same thing, right?

Turkey Wrap

I’ve done a lot in the past couple of weeks. And I don’t want to write about any of it! For some reason I have no trouble contributing to The Doh Drop or Project NBA Sim – my two other blogs I manage – but [stanus.net] is hurting for inspiration. But I’ll grip the bathroom walls tightly and try to force one out here.

Quantum of Solace
My dad came to visit New York City two weeks ago and (as Schumie would say) we had a ball! The first highlight of the weekend was seeing Quantum of Solace. We checked it out in the huge Lincoln Square theater (we were in the pyramid-themed room). I’ll try not to spoil the movie for you but … it sucked. The Bond girls were absolutely unnecessary (really … another female spy? This is getting old) and the villains were turds. It seemed like all of a sudden the director realized they were at the end of the movie so there had to be a fight and an explosion. How is it Bond was able to incapacitate three Mi6 agents … in an elevator … while handcuffed but had trouble defeating the lame, nerd villain at the end? I’ll suspend my logic for any movie but once the movie throws it’s own rules out the window so goes any respect I have for it as well.

The worst part was the comparison a week later. I watched Casino Royale for a second time a couple of days later and realized that Bond hardly says a word in the new movie. Sure, Daniel Craig’s Bond isn’t a dandy at all (which sucks … come on, let’s have a character flaw somewhere in this superman) but at least he had a style in Royale. In Solace all he does is say a quip and then shoots people. Ugh … every bad action movie from the 90s rears it’s ugly head again. That being said, I can’t hate any Bond movie because I’m FOND OF BOND so I give it 6 out of 10 sucked-in Daniel Craig cheeks.

I would like to note that I went to the theater two days before seeing Solace there to make sure it was the right theater that I thought it was. As soon as I got to the entrance I was surprised to see that … Daniel Craig was standing right outside the entrance! It was some film festival and 30 photographers along with a fence separated the two of us but it was still a moment to remember 🙂

Knicks vs. Mavs
My dad must have done some massive planning as his visit coincided directly with the Mavericks coming into town to take on the Knicks. I knew he wouldn’t be able to stay away from Madison Square Garden with the threat of entertainment of that quality so I decided to get tickets. Oh, that and I had already committed myself to getting rediculous good seats for the game, anyway. So we showed up for the slumping Mavs who had lost 5 straight. The game, unfortunately, was more of the same as the boys from Dallas never led at any moment in any of the four quarters.

… But they did tie at the last second and dominated in overtime! Huzzah! It was actually a great game though games where the correct team wins always seem to be better than those other unmentionable matches. And since Dirk and I were in the same building the Mavs have only lost 1 game. He just needed his inspiration back, I guess 😉 Alright, although there were several stories from the game, I’ll let the matter go since no one else likes the perfect sport of basketball 🙁

Thanksgiving
I had Thanksgiving and the day after off from work so I took an Amtrak train down to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the annual Mills Thanksgiving festivus. It was fun to see all the cousins show up (even with a new cousin-in-law!) and was just long enough where I didn’t go crazy. Seriously, when I am finally in charge of Thanksgivings they will be something very, very different (is it sad that I am a 27-year old man who still receives orders to do certain things on Thanksgiving?). The feature presentation form the night was when Stever went up against cousin Zack’s wife, Alexandra, in a heated Saved by the Bell trivia contest. It was kind of like the NBA All-Star game where both sides were just silly and goofing off at first but then the competition started getting serious. I don’t know if I could declare a winnner between them but I definitely declared a loser.

Before getting to my grandparents house in Harrisonburg, VA Stever and I stopped by the old stomping grounds at JMU where we walked, photographed, and (in my case) swiped memories. I grabbed a broken-off brick from my freshman dorm, Ikenberry. Maybe I’ll copy Stever and paint something on it, who knows. It’s interesting to note that – should I keep the memento – I will continue to bring a broken, dirty brick with me in each of my future moves.

After dinner I drove my mom’s car back home where I finally played a Wii for the first time. In a turn for the cooler, my dad has gotten back into video games. He’s obsessed with the Tiger Woods golf game for the console and I got to experience the gay-mote … I mean wii-mote action in person!!! Instead of a full, natural golf swing he does a whipping motion at the bottom of his swing where he would normally come into contact with the ball. It must be seen to truly be appreciated. Anyway, I still find the wii-mote wand – in its current form – to be a bit gimmicky. I mean, I enjoyed playing the sensor games in the arcades (I remember one where you were a cop and depending on where you’d move your character would duck or dodge bullets) but only for a gag. Then I’d immediately go back to the skill games of Street Fighter II or the like for hours. For casual gamers this is obviously a godsend but for me, I dunno. I’ll try to keep an open mind but my first impressions didn’t do much to convert me. We’ll see how the next gen goes.

Virginia Tech vs. UVA
Over the weekend I was also given the opportunity to witness the craziness of division 1 college football in person. Now, I had actually been to a Virginia Tech game back in 1999 but the experience was worlds different. My view was from the marching band stands and I was rooting for JMU who never had a chance (and who got their asses destroyed). This time I was with Cassie (a UVA alum) and her sister (a Tech alum) so I got to see the full spectrum of insanity. I can’t say I understand it (I have many reasons why my love for the Mavs is different but I won’t bore you here with those airtight reasons of pure fact) but it sure was an interesting study in human psychology.

We (along with father, “Papa Mel”) arrived at the campus at the downright batshit time of 7:45 AM to an empty parking lot outside a really nice “frat” house. It wasn’t the type of frat house I was used to – this one was more of a social club. Very nice and nothing like the beer-drenched debautery I was familiar with. Slowly, the place filled up with Virginia Tech alumni – all in their maroon and orange glory – and all way over the age of 50! One man even pulled out a hand-cranked calliope that played the Tech school song (complete with bell-ringing Hokie statue)! It was fun for a while but I probably didn’t drink as much as I should have for when we made the trek to the game at noon I was freezing (it was so cold it actually started snowing towards the end of the game).

Oh yeah, I was also dressed as a UVA fan since Cassie demanded I root for her team (so far this always happens at away games where every giant man thinks I’m some huge fan of the opposing team and messes with me). Actually this time it wasn’t so bad since we were in the alumni section of the stadium. The game was close and (dare I say it) entertaining with the Hokies winning 17-14. Luckily, I thanked my amazing decision to not drink at the game for when we all finally got back late that night I was the only one not experiencing some form of a hangover!

There you go … a busy couple of weeks condensed into a blob of a blog. It was messy but I managed to get it all out! And don’t worry, I feel another one coming on soon 😉

    Site Updates:

  • Changed Netflix sidebar widget to show my latest movie reviews

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Cover Me!

By the time I decided to quit my band earlier this year, I was completely frustrated with my music situation. Every time I’d pick up the guitar it felt like work and I wasn’t happy with my limited role in the band. I still knew I wanted to play music and longed to get back to the productivity of years ago but I didn’t want to force myself into doing so. So, I instead chose to take a hiatus from playing and writing music. I spent the next couple of months throwing myself into NBA Sim and moving into the city.

However, I was also listening to new music constantly. I discovered old albums from artists I had always respected but never really explored. I gave new bands the old college try. I even listened to (and liked some of) a Mariah Carey album! I really just gave myself no rules and enough room to get excited about music again, to find what I liked it about it enough to dedicate massive amounts of my life towards pursuing it in one fashion or another.

About two weeks ago I finally found myself excited enough to start searching for musicians to play with again … ah, Craigslist. I talked to a couple of guys who had similar musical styles, but they both were only looking to play their own songs. My main interest is in songwriting so I had to pass on both opportunities. While trolling through the countless ads, I also came across one for a forming cover band. It sounded as though the guys (a keyboardist and singer) hadn’t played in a few years and were just interested in having fun – a zero pressure situation with no expectations. I felt it would be a cool way to ease myself back into being in a band so I responded to them and we decided to meet up (along with an Irish drummer!!!) last Saturday.

Though I had continued to fool around on acoustic on random nights of the week, I hadn’t really practiced since moving to the Upper East Side. So when I found myself getting ready to leave I suddenly realized I didn’t have my guitar strap! Now, I live in New York City: there are only three rooms in my small apartment so there are a very limited number of places for a guitar strap to hide. Plus, I had seen it just a month before sitting out. And yet I ransacked the place until it looked like I owed the mafia money … AND NEVER FOUND THE DAMN THING! Making things worse was the knowledge that I actually own a second strap and couldn’t locate that bitch, either. I finally ripped off the strap to my Rock Band guitar and headed out half an hour late.

I arrived at a building just three blocks from work (can I ever escape Union Square on the weekends just once????) and trudged up the four flights of stairs (didn’t realize there was an elevator) and knocked on the door. An elderly lady opened the door and asked if I was the guitarist. I suddenly was very nervous … what the hell had I signed up for? There was NO ONE else in the room with this lady but a large dog. She took my coat and dried off my guitar case (???) and then took me into another room. Apparently she actually lives in a music studio – the studio being the place where men my age were. Whew!

Everyone was cool and we jammed on:

  • Tonic – If You Could Only See
  • Gavin DeGraw – Chariot
  • Estelle – American Boy
  • Justin Timberlake – What Goes Around
  • Maroon 5 – Not Coming Home

Sure, I wasn’t the biggest fan of all these songs but it was way more enjoyable than playing the ultra serious, “dark” rock of my previous band. I actually played so hard I started to bleed … though that might have had something to do with playing the unfamiliar Parker – my 1995 Fender Strat – “live” for the first time (I can get carried away). The overall jam was pretty messy (as I’m sure most first times go) and I couldn’t tell the exact level of musicianship of everyone but we all got along well and decided to meet up again. I’ll keep you all abreast of incoming details!

Current Mood: Constantly Late emoticon Constantly Late

The Weekend of a Shitload of People

Photo © 2008 Cassie Melnikow

Obviously, before I go any further, let me mention the huge win for this country last night.

Yes, the Mavs destroyed the Spurs.

Oh yeah, and that Obama guy is going to be President. 😉

This past weekend was actually pretty crazy in itself. Friday was Halloween and along with it, New York’s annual Halloween parade in Greenwich Village. I was content staying in and watching basketball, but Cassie dragged me out to watch an insane amount of people dressed insanely, doing insane things. It was actually kind of fun.

Except for one part. When we first got out of the subway we found ourselves at a corner right alongside the parade route. Metal fences had been erected and there was still a walkway between the people watching behind these fences and the building behind them. Unfortunately, that walkway soon got jammed with way too many onlookers and people started pushing and shoving and suddenly we were being crushed. A lot of those around me seemed content with sticking it out to keep the excellent spot, but I was having none of it and started to work my way out.

Just as I started to do so, a voice from directly behind me said “it’s getting pretty crazy, huh, Stan?” At first I thought I had been crushed to death and this was god … or allah … or Bill Maher or whoever talking to me. But it turned out to be Mo, a guy who had rented out one of the rooms in my North Bergen house for a month or so. It was such silly odds of that happening we just started laughing. And kissing. Ok, just kidding about the kissing. Once we had extricated ourselves from the death trap (I feel so much like Batman!), the rest of the night was fine if uneventful.

Then, Sunday, I was awakened at 10 AM (hey, that’s early for me on a weekend) by the soothing sounds of the Spice Girl’sViva Forever” being pumped at an ungodly volume. The brought news both good and bad. The good was that it signaled the beginning of the New York City Marathon which was happening right along my street. The bad news was that “Viva Forever” would be played a mind-numbingly three more times that morning! Cassie and I stood out on our fire escape and got some great pictures. I saw both the men’s and women’s leading packs and got bored quickly after that but she braved the elements to continue snapping pics of people dressed like Minnie Mouse, a lizard, and a guy in just a thong.

There were actually so many people in the race that for several hours we were completely trapped on our side of Manhattan. We couldn’t cross the street because the line of runners were so thickly congested and unending. I took it as a sign to finally get some NBA Simming in … and sim I did!

Current Mood: I was a Halloweenie emoticon I was a Halloweenie

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I Farted … I Mean Voted

Photo Montage © 2008 Stan Syckes

Yep, I voted today. I expected a nightmare of a line outside PS 158 … and I was right! I got in line and estimated my wait to be an hour when all of a sudden an old man came and asked me if I was in district 42 or 46. I said yes and he said I could go right in! I live right on the cusp of two zip codes (my mail goes to 10075 but Time Warner thinks I’m in 10021) and for once this was a benefit rather than a burden as there were so few people from my district at my location. In fact, when I got in there was one person in front of me.

After signing in I stepped into the booth. Last time I was greeted by the friendly presence of a computer screen staring back at me. Before me now stood a giant lever and some small knobs. I felt like I was in the control room of the Titanic or something. I first had to pull the lever all the way to the right, then make my individual decisions by twisting knobs down, and then confirmed everything by pulling the lever back to the left. Memories of dimpled/hanging chads danced in my head so I pulled with all of my might during that confirmation tug and I was out in a total of 10 minutes!!!

Hopefully this time, the results are a little more in my favor. 🙂

Current Mood: Patriotic emoticon Patriotic

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  • Zepmoon
    Wednesday, November 5th, 2008 at 15:51 | #1

    Based on the Dallas 09 jersey above your post I assume for president you did a write-in vote for Dirk Werner Nowitzki. WERNER?????? What is he some kind of NAZI ????? You gotta be careful around people with “strange” middle names like Werner or Hussein or Lua!

Tossed From A Bar

This weekend New York got a rare celebrity visit as Brandon arrived to see a Mets game in the marked-for-death Shea Stadium. He originally planned to meet me in Union Square right after work but inbound traffic was crazy and his bus didn’t get in until almost 2 hours later than expected.

So Brandon discovered his way towards my apartment in the Upper East Side at around 7:30 and we immediately trekked back outside (in leftover drizziling rain) in search of food. We found a nearby bar/restaurant that actually turned out some excellent burgers, but was so loud we had to lean in really close just to hear each other (and kiss, of course!). After two or three beers each we decided we needed to find an actual bar … one that would include the mighty game of beer pong!

Luckily, this was the plan the entire time and I had the address of a place about 10 blocks away from the restaurant that hosted this sport of kings. Brandon and I arrived at this new place to find 6 beer pong tables and a room more empty than it was full of patrons. But, we dared to test our Virginia-honed mettle against these New Englander’s best. … And we lost our first two games! Ah well, it’s been a couple years since we were in our prime.

Anyway, as the time went by the place started to fill with pongers and we met and played against a few cool people. At one point I whipped out the end of my belt in a phallic distraction (which worked!). Sure, it was weird. But it wasn’t as weird as when, a few moments later, I got a group of guys to all do it in a circle. What can I say … I was pretty trashed.

I’ll skip the countless games we played as they were all pretty much the same (plus I can’t remember them). But at one point Brandon and I were off the table dancing to the crazy 80’s music, waiting for our next turn. All of a sudden a gentleman who we had played before came out of nowhere and had me held up against the wall, his hands around my neck. He screamed “if you touch my girlfriend again I’ll kill you.” He wasn’t hurting me at all, though, and it seemed so surreal I almost laughed thinking it was a joke. But this guy was not joking!

A kind bouncer decided to jump in and ask what was going on. I just stood silent not knowing what the answer was, myself. My attacker said I had touched his girlfriend’s ass. Seeing as there were multiple people between me and her I have no clue how this happened. Plus I didn’t do it. I recall several people saying I had nothing to do with it but the bouncer chose to believe this crazed guy and even said he could take a swing at me for free!

Brandon jumped in front of me and said that wasn’t going down (I always thought bouncers were supposed to end things not escalate them …) and we both immediately got tossed. The fun bouncer pushing me out by the neck the whole way kept saying how I thought I could go around touching whoever I wanted “because I was white.” I failed to see the connection and felt it best to just quietly exit and Brandon and I went on our merry way.

It was probably for the best we left when we did as we were both wrecked the next day and we still had that Mets game to go see. We toughed it out (though, one of us had to excuse himself to my bathroom at one point!!!) and actually had a great time at Shea with Brendan (Brandon’s friend who joined us). But every time we would tell the story or review the facts regarding the previous night’s incident I would find it harder and harder to hold onto the memories. The whole situation was just so surreal it started to feel like a movie I had watched a long time ago instead of something I had lived through. But, perhaps is just the price we pay for being with beer pong: a fickle mistress!

And as a final conclusion to the story, I felt immensely better as we watched some girl have an even worse weekend later that night. Yes, Brandon and I got to watch (and photograph) some girl get arrested after vandalizing a taxi right at my intersection! Huzzah!

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  • Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 at 01:45 | #1

    Let me see if I can fill in a few holes in this story since Stan’s memory of the night seems a bit…hazy.

    The gentleman that ended up (what looked like) choking our beloved blogger was wearing a shirt, tie, and slacks. He stuck out a bit in this semi-dive bar filled with mostly jeans, t-shirts, and polo shirts. He looked more like the clubbing type than the beer pong type. Let’s call him “Tie-man”.

    There were two encounters between Stanus and Tie-man that I witnessed that pissed this guy off. First, he was beating us on the table and used the non-Stanus approved bounce-shot that counts for two cups instead of one. Now for anyone that has played Stan in beer pong, there is about a ten minute conversation before the game starts to discuss rules, and this game was no different. We had already agreed to rules that differed from the ones posted on the wall. Bouncing may not have been discussed and when there was some debate between Stan and Tie-man, I checked the wall to find it was a bar-approved rule. Shortly thereafter we were defeated and Stan refused to shake Tie-man’s hand. This is when I knew sir Stanus had crossed well over the sober line.

    Incident number two occurred as Tie-man and his girlfriend were starting a new game of pong. Stanus did not know this (I think he was at the bathroom), but Tie-man had given us two beers at the start of our game because he was the challenger (something which had not happened earlier in the evening). So when Tie-man started his next game against new challengers, he told them they had to buy him beer. The challenger didn’t want to do this so Tie-man turned to Stanus to confirm to his new challengers that he had bought beers for us. Stan told Tie-man and his challenger that he never bought us beer. This was visibly pissing the guy off especially after their earlier exchange. After a bit of back and forth I told Stanus and Tie-man that Stan was in the bathroom at the time, but he did indeed buy us two beers. End of story I thought.

    Besides the Tie-man, everyone we met was pretty awesome and I was having a great time (I was actually into some of the 80’s music being mixed by the live DJ). All I can guess is Tie-man was more pissed off at Stan than we had realized and as Tie-man drank more beer (and maybe took other substances?) he decided to do what any sane person would do…choke himself a redhead!

  • Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 at 09:50 | #2

    Holy Dohfight! I’ve been thrown out of a bar. And by bar, I mean strip club (although I was at the bar when I was thrown out.) I still have no idea why. My guess is because I reached for someone else’s Corona? But it’s very hazy. I definitely didn’t get into a fight or try to grab a stripper as I wasn’t near then at the time. Weird…

  • Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 at 09:59 | #3

    I remember everything Brandon says except for telling Tie-Man he didn’t buy us beers. At that point my brain had retired for the night. However, I do recall about 30-seconds after not shaking his hand (I hate it when people cheat) I actually did and told him I was just pissed off from losing. Oh well, what a stupid night.

The Red Butt

Photo © 2008 Stan Syckes

I can’t believe I was away from the blog for almost an entire month! That feels so Nate’s Noodle of me. There will have to be multiple catch-up-blogs just to get back to present day, I’m sure (I can just feel your excitement about that prospect)!

The last weekend in July Cassie and I moved all her stuff (furniture and all) that was left in her Jersey City apartment into my North Bergen house’s garage … by ourselves. And I nearly died. We toughed out the next fortnight and a half in my suddenly cramped house but August 15th finally came.

For the move into the city we made the right decision in hiring professional movers. Two Russian-speaking gentlemen (no word on whether or not Miss Melnikow understood their secret whispers!) arrived at my door (an hour late) and amazingly packed all of our shit into one giant truck. These guys truly were pros as they both had turns with my giant-ass tv – each picking it up and moving it by themselves! When I originally moved into the North Bergen house I moved the tv up two flights into my room by myself … and didn’t leave my bed the rest of the night I was so sore!

Anyway the whole process was over in just 5 hours and it couldn’t have ended at a better time as it started to rain (lighty) as we were unloading the last items. And the guys did such a good job that they only had two “incidents:” one of them dropped a bag that only contained a pillow of mine, clothes hangers and a fruit punch bottle; and they almost absconded with Cassie’s “if the shoe fits, buy it in every color” decorative pillow (they actually knocked on the door a few minutes after leaving to return it)!

For the next week (that I took off for work as a “staycation” … lo, I hate the word!) we moved furniture around, unpacked boxes, cleaned surfaces, and, most importantly, tried to come up with a name for the apartment. On the day Brandon and I moved into our Arlington, VA apartment we couldn’t stop saying the phrase “pink sock” – we must have used it in at least 60% of our sentences that day so it was the natural selection for the apartment title. However, forcing something just didn’t seem right and, to be honest, it wasn’t working either.

Meanwhile, New York is so busy (duh) that the earliest we could get Time Warner to install cable into our new home wasn’t for a full week after having moved in. Thus, we had to supplement our amusement from local and basic television with boardgames: specifically a Friends trivia game (which I sucked at but continued to play for some reason). I can talk a lot of trash while playing games and at one point I threatened punishment for losing with a “red butt” – a phrase for a spanking I must have picked up from my mom as she randomly mentioned it a while later. It was so spur-of-the-moment and complimented the old Pink Sock moniker so well that it stuck as the official apartment name.

Anyway, I’m sick of writing about all of this now that it’s half-a-month in the past. So I’ll just wrap up (without actually wrapping up at all!) and let you know there are some pics up of the apartment in the photoDB. Sure, it’s still messy but this will give you all an inkling of what’s going on up in the Upper East Side. L8r!

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  • Tuesday, September 9th, 2008 at 22:06 | #1

    You moved, blah blah blah. Let’s get back to those Olympic memories!

Lost Connection

Photo © 2008 Amy Ford

Tony was a kid in my classes during the one year I attended Robinson Secondary School. He was in all of my non-elective classes like English, math, science and history (or was it social-sciences … I can’t remember the name). He seemed to have everything going for him as he was intelligent (scoring 1600 on his SATs), talented (he could sing and play the guitar), athletic (played on the school lacrosse team), good-looking and popular (he was president of our class and every girl I knew and didn’t know loved the guy). I’ve known many funny people in my life and he might have even cracked that vaunted top ten list at times. Best of all he was the nicest guy I ever met – friendly to everyone from every social circle including this overwhelmed new-kid who had just moved from Texas.

I was in a completely different world – still getting accustomed to my new setting and making friends – and I never considered us close at all, but I sat second chair trumpet to his first through the entire year of band and, for one class a day, we were good friends. I can only remember a few specific snatches of our conversations, but I always had a great time joking around (I do recall focusing on trying to impress him and the other guys a lot of the time). Being funny and smart and fun and cool all came so naturally to him that it never felt like he had to water-down any of those attributes in order to converse with me, making me feel completely comfortable in my new surroundings. He was just the same person he was with everyone else and I admired him for that and many of his other qualities.

Well, I left rather suddenly the next year to attend Jefferson – a magnet high school in a town several cities away from Robinson. I didn’t keep in touch at all except for running into him here and there at district band competitions and even then I stopped going junior year of high school. I went to JMU and he went to Duke. Then he graduated and went to medical school to become a doctor. He had everything going for him and I considered him to be one of those people in my life (however brief the occurrence) who would go on to really do something meaningful.

… He died four days ago of brain cancer, a young man of 27 stuck down in the prime of his life. I was only notified when Steve randomly came across his memorial on Facebook (how surreal). The amount of members to the memorial group hasn’t stopped increasing at about 5 every half hour (273 at this moment) because he obviously touched so many lives in his short stint here. The guy was super special and even though I knew him for only a year I am deeply saddened by his death and will miss him. Even if the feeling is fleeting, life has become so much more … real and palpable since I found out, knowing it’s a day spent that he will never experience.

I think the proper ending to someone’s life is to remember the moments where you were able to glimpse into what was really going on inside them and connect … or when they were able to do so with you. I’m sure hundreds of people have more descriptive, accurate and numerous occasions of these moments with Tony as I was just an 8th-grade kid who looked up to him. But I still have one of those moments and here it is:

One winter break during college I was back home at my mother’s townhouse in Burke. It was after midnight and the only thing open was a 7-11 so I trekked through the harsh winds and snow to hit it up for some much needed, sugary sustenance. As I walked in and paid for my usual (slurpee, mamba) I turned and saw another person had had a similar craving at the same hour and place in this cold, barren environment. I knew instantly who it was. Now, Tony having gone to four years of high school and marching band with my identical twin brother turned to me and started to say “Hey, Stev-” but caught himself. There was a flicker of something immediate in his eyes and then he corrected himself and said, laughing:

“Hey, Stan. I haven’t seen you in forever. How have you been, man?”

Being a twin, the defining mission in my life has been to form my own identity as scores of people – including my own mother – have constantly confused my brother and I. Tony, who I hadn’t seen in six years, in a second, knew exactly who I was.

Tony was a special guy and made an impact on so many people’s lives. I knew him for just a year and I’m amazed now to feel how big an impression he made during that time. I’ve never forgotten about him since and I hope I never shall.

Goodbye, Tony Milin.

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  • Lisa
    Wednesday, August 6th, 2008 at 15:06 | #1

    Hi Stan,
    I remember you and Steve from Robinson, so although you might not remember me, I just wanted to thank you for writing this. I wasn’t close to Tony but, like you, we were in many classes together, and because of his outgoing and easy personality, his life touched many of ours back in Fairfax. Just… thanks for sharing your perspective. It’s helpful at times like these.
    Best,
    Lisa

Yet Another Weekend Spent in the Commonwealth of Virginia

Photo © 2008 Stan Syckes

I’m starting to fall behind in my super-important blog postings and I know it. I really need to switch priorities and start blogging about stuff I do instead of actually doing them … but I won’t! I can only continue to break this and all other rules because of my rebellious ways!

A Wedding So Grand Wikipedia Must Be Updated Because Of It!
It’s a good sign that the SteverOnline is starting to scoop me again when we attend shared events. For a while I was worried I was the lone blogger left in my community … but I digress! I took the 11th off to (once again) drive down to Virginia. I rented a small car and checked out my cousin Zack’s wedding to long-time girlfriend, Alexandra. And, yes, in case you didn’t notice the gentleman in question has a Wikipedia page. Very cool. The whole affair was very traditional and classy with a Penn State flavor – the mascot even jumped out of nowhere during the reception to start the dancing. Congratulations you two, though the number of single relatives is whittling down quickly … scary.

Reclaiming One’s History And Sorting It From All The Other Crap I’ve Saved
Since I was in the area for the wedding I decided to drive down to my mom’s house in Woodbridge, Virginia to finally tackle a long neglected project: go through the 25-30 boxes of my shit in her basement closet. Steve – along with his sidekick Tom Tom GPS doodad – joined me for the ride (though I still managed to take a wrong turn right off the bat). We dumped out all the boxes and I picked out the items I absolutely needed to have for my New York apartment. The fun of coming across so many items and memories I had totally forgotten about far outweighed the work (I estimate we put in 5 hours or so). Then, all “jazzed up,” we dialed-a-Toine and played some basketball (in an eerie mirror image of an earlier match, I won both of our games). The sad part of that last sentence was how I wasn’t able to link Toine to the DohBlog as it is looking more and more likely the site is down for good. 🙁

Getting Lost In Philadelphia
… is not that cool. Don’t know how I did it but I found myself on the wrong road on the trip back to New Jersey. Ah, well. Even though my phone’s battery and blackberry were both dead I managed to locate directions back (hint: it involved my laptop and a Dunkin Donuts establishment). Perhaps the thought of the Jones’ moving to Philadelphia was in the back of my mind and I subconsciously made my way there in hot anticipation. That, or I just took the wrong exit on 95.

Great Toine-blogs! there is just so much excitement in my life, eh? I will continue to post as there are a lot of occurrences this past week that need to be shared. Next up: Cassie and I almost get killed at a busy intersection!

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Fireworks in my Pants at Yankee Stadium

The 4th of July is “supposed” to be spent doing things of a patriotic sort: grilling out in backyards, hanging flags outside of your house, eating apple pie, etc. Well, Cassie and I decided to up the stakes and be uber-Americans by doing what is perhaps the most patriotic thing to do of them all. We went to see a YankeesRed Sox game in Yankee Stadium!

We secured a couple of super nosebleed tickets from Stubhub and arrived at the 161 St station in The Bronx which empties out right outside of the stadium. There were several people on our train wearing Yankees merch but I really wasn’t prepared for wait awaited us upon exiting the subway. Along the entire stretch of the stadium were mini-shops and bars – all packed to beyond capacity with Yankee and Red Sox fans spilling out into the street. We decided to stop in one of the stores and I bought a Lou Gehrig (local son of Yorkville – my soon-to-be home!) shirt. When we got out Cassie noticed the store nextdoor was called “Stan’s” and I kicked myself for not purchasing it there. Then we suddenly realized that every single restaurant and store on the block was named Stan’s. It was a weird experience and I’m still not sure what the deal is behind this … but I’ll find out someday. Or I won’t. I could go either way on this, actually.

Though the exterior of the stadium was iconic to see up close I didn’t truly feel like I was experiencing history until we were herded through gate 4 into the inner halls. These cramped, damp, winding tunnels screamed 1920’s as they made little sense, didn’t maximize space for stores well, and generally felt built to hold way less people than were present. Luckily, Cassie and I easily found our way to Tier 15 where we would be witnessing the game from a little behind (and way above) 1st base.

There’s not much to say about the game itself. At least, I have trouble putting the whole thing into words that seem worthy. I’ve been to many a baseball game but all of them seemed infantized when compared to the Yankees game. There weren’t any mascots, the old jumbo screen used graphics from the 1970’s, and the walking vendors threw your food at you from at least 10 rows away. This wasn’t the kiddie spectacle/adult picnic I was used to. This was baseball: the sport! The vicious, historical rivalry I was expecting was so over-hyped though – I only witnessed 1 real case of heckling and it was tongue-in-cheek and lasted a minute, maybe. Meanwhile they ratio of Boston fans to Yankee fans was about 1-3 and it was mainly dueling choruses of “Let’s go Red Sox” verses “Let’s Go Yankees!”

Right at the middle of the seventh inning an unwelcome guest arrived: rain! The teams continued to play through the bottom of the inning but gave up when the water wasn’t stopping so once again I got to see a giant tarp pulled out. Cassie and I braved the elements (ok, actually our seats were luckily under a giant overhang) but eventually ducked out after an hour of waiting.

Avoiding the rain as best we could we managed to “find ourselves” inside Planet Sushi – our favorite sushi place (and, yes, I still can’t believe I’d ever be saying that phrase). There we ordered baseball themed dishes (I got a Boston roll and she got a Bronx roll) and watched the disappointing conclusion to our game on tv.

Then walked to the East River to witness the Macy’s fireworks display!!!!!! All of those exclamation points are sarcastic except the first one which should be a frowning face 🙁 because … I just don’t get what the fascination with fireworks is. It’s just colors exploding in the sky. Well, I am definitely in the minority as there were thousands of people set up along the river to “experience” the “show.” Even a helicopter – holding some unknown rich celebrity – hovered overhead to take in the view. There were some cool fireworks – one blew up into a smiley face while another blew up into a cube – but that really was about it for my excitement.

Ah, well … happy cuatro de julio! And here are the photos to prove I wasn’t fibbing!

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  • Zepmoon
    Thursday, July 17th, 2008 at 15:04 | #1

    Way cool, I remember going to Forbes Field in Pittsburgh as a kid to see the Pirates play. The stadium was built in 1909 and was very scary in its lack of OSHA approved construction. You know little things like railing on the top floor boxes that where low enough to topple over! Make the wrong move and you’d be five floors down.

    Glad you had the Yankee Stadium experience – it’ll be a parking lot this time next year.