Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year to You! Happy Birthday to Me!

My birthday is on December 31st so I get to double party every New Year's Eve. It sounds exciting at first, but it's really not that cool. Everyone remembers my special day, but only for about a minute. Then they go on to their parties, celebrations, and drunkenness, and my brief moment of attention is gone.

Most of my New Year's Eve birthdays have been disasters. First off, I always seem to get sick on my birthday, and can't even go out. This has happened at least a half a dozen times. (Today included.)

When I do go out, things get worse. There was New Year's eve of 1998, my 21st birthday. We were in NYC, but were denied into our destination because we weren't on the list. I never even got to legally buy my first drink. Instead, a bouncer yelled at me and then we ended up in a hotel. People got drunk, coupled off, and I ended up by myself. Happy 21st!

Then there was New Year's of 1996 when I was somehow convinced to be the designated driver because my Mom's car was an SUV and it was snowing that night.

Then there was the infamous 2004 New Year's Eve birthday at the All-Asian Club. It sounds good on paper, but my friends and I were the only non-Asians at the party, and the Asians wanted nothing to do with us. We got shot down left and right, and received tons of "what the hell are you doing here?" looks. In fact, during the evening, several people asked me for drinks and to clear tables because they thought I was a bus boy.

Then there was 2002. I was at a bar in LA striking out as usual. (You'd think having a birthday on 12/31 would be good, but girls are never impressed. At least, not enough to hook up with me.) I finally met a girl intoxicated enough to talk to me. She was pretty lit, and would've talked to anyone, but somehow she ended up next to me. We were flirting hardcore when my friend Jeff interrupted and demanded I come with him. I tried to shoo him away, but he wouldn't leave me alone. I told the girl I'd be right back.

I was then brought to the stage, the DJ stopped playing music, and announced it was my birthday. Three people clapped, a few booed, and the rest chanted for the music to return. I absorbed the embarrassment, glared at my friend (who was trying to be nice, but it didn't really work out), and headed back to the one girl I had a shot with. I was gone two minutes, and she was now lip-locked with some other guy. Another New Year's Disaster.

But with all of the debacles, I save my favorite, most entertaining New Year's Eve birthday story for last:

It was a cold New Year's Eve night in Boston, Massachusetts. The streets were dusted with snow, and 20 mile per hour winds whipped through the air.

We bundled up in our coats, hats, and gloves, and finally made it to the apartment. We knocked and DEWICK opened the door with a burst of energy.

Dewick's apartment was stocked with people, music, and most importantly booze. Dewick, who is usually, tidy and clean, was letting loose, and was psyched to see his good college buddies. I was accompanied by CARMICHAEL, a skinny dude who wished he was a surfer and was always up for anything. MACPHIE, the nicest guy of all time who could do no wrong, except when he was drunk. And HODGDON, the Kramer of the group who was always doing something unexpectedly. We shed our coats, zipped into the kitchen, and began celebrating my birthday.

We caught up on old times, and increased our rate of drinking over a game of Kings. The party was a success. There wasn't even an issue when Carmichael's ex-girlfriend stopped by and flirted with everyone. I probably would've been mad, but Carmichael could care less; he was a pretty laid back guy, and it wasn't like we were hooking up with her.

After a few hours of debauchery, a few of us agreed that we needed to find a bigger party; a bar, a club, something. Dewick couldn't leave because it was his party, and he was having too much fun anyways. In fact, he spent most of his time chilling with Carmichael's ex-girlfriend.

So Carmichael, MacPhie, Hodgdon, and I threw on our layers, and headed into the great outdoors. We trekked to the closest bars on Landsdowne street. The only bar we could get into was Jillian's; a Dave and Buster's type bar only for adults. It was not our top choice; playing NBA Jam on my birthday was not my goal for the night (although, in retrospect, that would've been much better.)

But at least Jillian's was warm and there were a few girls around. At this point, we were feeling pretty good from our alcohol intake. The only exception was Hodgdon. He was close to passing out; and there was still an hour until the ball dropped. He was gonna drop much sooner so we had to do something. His classy buddy, Carmichael, escorted him to the Employees Only Closet and tucked him in for a nap.

That left Carmichael, MacPhie, and me. The three of us were drawn in by three young women. We introduced ourselves and quickly realized they didn't speak English (which could be a good thing at this point.) We conversed in broken Spanish and learned they were from somewhere in South America.

I tried with all my might to impress my girl, but it was my birthday, and I was officially cursed. Carmichael and his girl had nothing to say to each other. But MacPhie and his girl looked like newlyweds on their honeymoon. The ball dropped, and they were attached at the lips immediately. Carmichael and I only got pecks on the cheek, but at least they were still talking to us. And we somehow convinced them to go back to Dewick's party with us.

As we left, Carmichael was pulled from our group by the bouncer. "You know this kid?" He pulled a woozy Hodgdon from the closet.

I have no idea what happened to Carmichael next. But he somehow got Hodgdon somewhere safe to sleep and ended up with us just a few minutes later.

The wind blew us back to Dewick's place, and we slid into the apartment building. Our group was me, Carmichael, MacPhie, and the 3 South American girls. We knocked on Dewick's door. No answer. We knocked again. Nothing. We put our ears to the door; the place was dead and it was only 1 am. What could Dewick possibly be doing?

The South American girls looked at us for the next move. We have 3 beautiful girls and nowhere to go with them. It was a tragedy. The girls wanted to go dancing, but there wasn't a club in sight. And Dewick's place was not gonna work. We were screwed. I put my hands in my pocket, shrugged my shoulders, and was about to give up. That's when Latino music poured from another apartment. A big dude opened his door and said: "You guys wanna party?"

We flocked into his apartment expecting a huge fiesta. But nobody was there. It was just the dude. He put out cheese and wine, and blasted some fast paced Latino tunes. The girls danced salsa, and seemed to be really happy. But I kept thinking: who the hell is this sketchy dude?

But at this point, we didn't think about it too much. Instead, we learned the salsa steps, and things strangely seemed to be working out.

That's when I got dizzy, and I realized tonight was NOT gonna be a good night.

I bypassed the bathroom for the outdoors, and unloaded my birthday alcohol and dinner in the bushes in front of Dewick's apartment. When I glanced into the bedroom window, I swore I saw Dewick and some girl in his bed, but I was too sloshed to know what was going on.

I returned back to the dude's apartment, and just wanted to go home. Carmichael felt the same way. The random dude asked if we wanted to stay over for the night. You've got to be kidding me? We had no idea who this guy was. We didn't know a thing about him. The answer was obviously no. Without hesitation, MacPhie and his girl b-lined into the guy's bedroom and closed the door. And the dude didn't even blink.

The rest of us left. We hoped our friend would be ok and not end up in the news, but it was definitely time to go. I eventually made it back to Carmichael's house, regurgitated a few more times, and went to bed. Another birthday.

The Next Day

I woke up with a headache, and wondered how the rest of my buddies were doing.

MacPhie woke up alone in the random dude's apartment. The girl had left earlier. She had professed her love for him, and he faintly remembered giving her a phone number. Then she left to meet up with her friends. MacPhie slept again and woke up in the late morning.

His memory was so splotchy that he thought he was in Dewick's place. So he ate all of the food and used the shower. It wasn't till he left, and ran into Dewick in the hallway, did he realize that he had been in some random apartment. He then told what he could remember, and explained how nice Dewick's friend was for letting him stay at his place. But Dewick had never seen that guy ever before in his life. He was truly just a random dude.

Dewick then complained to MacPhie about the jerk who threw up in his bushes and woke him up in the middle of the night. The entire night was utterly bizarre.

When we caught up later in the day, we all learned a few things.

Hodgdon learned how to pass out in an Employees Only closet.

Carmichael learned that Dewick hooked up with his ex-girlfriend the night before (that's why the party had ended so early; and that's who I saw in the window!) Fortunately, there were no hard feelings.

Dewick learned that I was the culprit who decimated his bushes and forgave me.

MacPhie learned to never give out a phone number while tired and hungover. Apparently, MacPhie was such a mess that he gave the South American girl his parent's home number by mistake. When he got home she had called close to a dozen times.

And I learned that just because I had another terrible birthday, didn't mean it wasn't memorable.

Happy New Year to you!

Happy Birthday to me!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What Would the Colts Do?

The Indianapolis Colts entered Sunday's game with an unreal 14-0 record. Even the biggest Colts hater was drawn in to see if they could finish the season perfect. I'm a Patriots fan yet I was compelled by this Colts team. Could they pull of the perfect season and win the Super Bowl?

I've followed them most of the season and they seemed destined to pull off this miraculous feat…lucky break here, good call there, great comeback here, amazing defensive stand there. Entering Sunday, this team was 5 wins away from perfection. It seemed that the only obstacles left were the average Jets, the heinous Bills, and 3 playoff teams. But there was one other barrier that stood in their way---their organization!

Despite leading only 15-10 in the 3rd quarter, the Colts inexplicably benched Peyton Manning and the gang. Within seconds, the momentum shifted, and the Colts were annihilated the rest of the way. It was an embarrassment, and the home crowd rightfully booed the Colts backups as they fumbled and bumbled onto the field (what an awful and unfair way for back up QB, Curtis Painter to get his first NFL action.)

As an objective fan, I was absolutely pissed off…was this a joke? Sure, it was fun seeing the Colts lose (I am a Pats fan, after all), but watching them lose like this was an embarrassment to the players and fans. It ruined the integrity of the league and the sport. It's a great lesson to teach--if a game doesn't matter, don't try. It also changed the entire playoff picture as the Jets were basically gift wrapped a victory while all the other teams fighting for a playoff spot actually had to earn one.

The Colts organization responded to the outcries after the game. They benched their starters because of fear of injury. They benched their starters because the goal was a Super Bowl, not a perfect season.

But there's a few things I don't understand. If they were really afraid of injury, why did the starters play at all? And if they clinched home field advantage 2 weeks before against Denver, why did the starters play the entire game last week versus Jacksonville? I actually spoke to the Colts organization and they stated that Peyton Manning will be placed in a self contained bubble until the playoffs begin. He cannot leave his home, he cannot practice, he can't even tape any commercials. What the hell is the guy gonna do? He's started 191 straight games, and suddenly, out of nowhere, he's an injury risk. It makes no sense.

As far as goals are concerned, can't a team/player have multiple goals, and can't those goals change throughout the season? Every pitcher in baseball wants to win the game, but if he has a chance to pitch a perfect game, can't he go for that too?

And for those that say people only remember champions, let me ask you this: who won the Super Bowl in 1968, 69, 70, 71? Any idea? If you're a hardcore sports nut, maybe you know, but everyone else is shrugging their shoulders right now.

Now who was the undefeated team who won the Super Bowl in 1972? Every fan with general sports knowledge knows the answer to this: the Miami Dolphins! Why? Because they went undefeated that year. If the Colts win the Super Bowl, they'll just be another team on the list. Sure, they'll have their place in history, but how many people will remember them in 20 years? If they finish perfect, and win the Super Bowl, they would've been remembered and revered forever. Why would the Colts not want this?

Lucky for us, I have a good friend who works for the Colts organization. I passed on several questions that were sent to me about sports, relationships, and life. The Colts organization respectfully agreed to answer these questions. I call this section:

"What Would the Colts Do?"

"Yesterday, I was eating the best hamburger I've ever had. But I was saving that middle bite, the perfect bite, for last. As I was about to sink my teeth into it, my stomach rumbled. I immediately threw out the perfect bite in fear I might get a tummy ache. My friend said I was a pussybag. But I was going to an all you can eat buffet the next week so I wanted to be ready for that. What do you think?" -Finkle, Framingham, MA

Colt Organization: Smart decision. You could've got a stomach ache, and then not be ready for that buffet. Some idiots would argue that you could've done both (eat that last delicious bite of perfection, and still be ready for the buffet) but I don't think so. You have to play it safe.

"This is kind've personal, but a few nights ago, my fiance and I were having amazing sex. It was incredible. The best session we've ever had. It was going wonderfully, but I suddenly stopped in the middle because I wanted to be prepared for our honeymoon in a couple of weeks. Good call?" -T-Bone, Columbus, Ohio

Colts Organization: Another great decision. You could've pulled a muscle or sprained your back. You've got to be healthy for that honeymoon.

"If Kobe has 98 points, we are winning, and have the ball with 5 seconds left, should I have him on the floor to attempt that record breaking 3?" -Phil J., Los Angeles, CA

Colts Organization: Absolutely not. Nobody remembers groundbreaking records like that. And maybe he gets hurt in that last play. All that matters it that he's healthy and ready for the playoffs.

"Did you know that Ted Williams played in both games of a double header at the end of the season so he could hit over .400. What an idiot, right? He could've got hurt and ruined his career..." -BIF, Glastonbury, CT

Colts Organization: Another brilliant thought. Nobody remembers that Ted Williams was the last player to hit .400. They only remember who won the World Series that year. I don't recall the team, but I'm sure you guys do.

"On Sunday night, my 4 best friends who I see once a year were in town. We were drinking, telling stories, and having a great time. It was perfect. Unfortunately, I could only hang from 8pm--830pm because I had a big work meeting a few days later, and I didn't want to start off the week tired. My friends said I was a c-bag (cunt-bag) for not spending more time with them. Did I make the right decision?" -Chris, SF

Colt Organization: Absolutely. You needed to be well rested for that meeting. Doing well in your job is the main goal. Who cares what your friends think? You'll see them next year.

"I'm in high school, and my main goal was to get into the state college. I finally got accepted last week and was so proud. Amazingly, I also got into Harvard University with a full scholarship. All I have to do is complete a few interviews, and fill out a few applications over the next month, and I am officially in. But Harvard was never my goal; the state college was. So what do I do?" -Feldy, Hampstead, NH

Colts Organization: Of course you should go to Harvard. You can have more than one goal. And what's an extra month of hard work for an experience and memory of a lifetime? Have some balls! Don't be a pussy like us. I've enclosed a signed Curtis Painter jersey to inspire you further.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas songs that won’t make you gouge out your eyes with a candy cane

The loop of adult contemporary Christmas songs that begins the day after Halloween and ends after the national championship game is going to kill me. But before that happens, I owe Mr. Cooley, who was Tripper to my Rudy at Camp Tel Noar in the mid-1990s, a favor. So for my first contribution to the Corner, I present eight non-lethal Christmas songs.

(And for the sake of this post, please ignore the fact that anyone with my last name is more likely to be on Santa’s legal team than on his nice list.)

8. Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

How beloved is this song? At the request of a fan, the Boss played the fucker at Bonnaroo. In June. In the crunchy spirit of the Woodstock knockoff, this is how he addressed the crowd: “It’s 259 days to Christmas. Have you all been good? You haven’t been taking any brown acid?”

7. 2,000 Miles, The Pretenders

Despite the fact that Chrissie Hynde is a year older than my mom – 58, Jesus – and that this is probably the whiniest tune on the list, and it was covered by Coldplay, it’s still awesome. Watch the video and tell me that Catherine Keener isn’t the only choice for the lead role in a possible Hynde biopic.

6. Father Christmas, The Kinks

Wikipedia’s description: “It ostensibly tells of a department store Santa Claus who is beaten up by a gang of poor kids who tell him to give them money instead of toys.” Hey I want to try that. Oh that’s right, I’m Jewish. Santa doesn’t believe I exist.

5. Merry Christmas (I don’t want to fight tonight), The Ramones

The couple bitching at each other at the beginning of the video is priceless.

Man: “What do you think you’re doing?”

Woman: “I’m reading A Christmas Carol.”

Man: “Since when did you learn to read?”

Proves that having a Jewish lead singer doesn’t preclude you from putting out a Christmas song.

4. Frosty the Snowman, The Ronettes

This one is a bit out of place, but I blame Martin Scorsese. There’s a memorable scene in Goodfellas, right after the big heist, when all the mobsters arrive at Jimmy’s bar for a Christmas party. As Frosty’s blaring on the stereo Jimmy serenades Henry with, “HEY COME ‘ERE YOU, COME ‘ERE! LOOK AT THIS GENIUS!”

3. Christmas in Hollis, Run-D.M.C.

I think this sums things up quite nicely. Best intro of the bunch: “It’s December 24 in Hollis after dark/When I see a man chilling with his dog in the park/I approached very slowly with my heart full of fear/Looked at his dog, oh my God, an illin’ reindeer.” See also: Die Hard.

John McClane: How ‘bout some Christmas music?

Argyle: That is Christmas music.

2. The Chanukah Song Vol. 1-3, Adam Sandler

A revelation when I heard the first version in 1994. I GET MY OWN HOLIDAY SONG! It’s also easily updatable:

We’ve got Seth Rogen and Sacha Baron-Cohen

Don’t forget about Jay Fiedler, he was pretty good at throwin’

(Really, he used to kill the Patriots.)

1. Fairytale of New York, The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

The most depressing, heartfelt, booze-fueled Christmas song ever. Lead singer Shane MacGowan, a man whose egg nog recipe probably calls for a punch bowl full of Jameson with a pinch of nutmeg, is at his drunken best here. I’ll leave you with his words of wisdom: “The most important thing to remember about drunks is that drunks are far more intelligent than non-drunks. They spend a lot of time talking in pubs, unlike workaholics who concentrate on their careers and ambitions, who never develop their higher spiritual values, who never explore the insides of their head like a drunk does.”

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