Wednesday, November 29, 2006

10 Best College Albums

Seriously, I can't do the 100 top CD's. I don't have the patience and halfway through, the whole list will just vanish and then you'll stop reading me forever. HOWEVER, I might be able to tackle something if I broke it down into smaller bits.

So I present to you my (random number) favorite (random category) albums of all time. Join me from 1985 to 1989 as I, the post-Footloose midwesterner, venture to Miami of Ohio for years of utter bliss, a 19 year old drinking age and a 1.7 average my 2nd semester sophomore year. Hopefully these will bring back fond memories.

10. John Cougar Mellencamp — Scarecrow
The best of Mr. Cougar’s in my book. This was freshman year of college…six hours of driving back and forth from Oxford, Ohio to Chicago. I didn't have a car and always had to mooch a ride with my friend Elizabeth. At the time, she was way cooler than me. (I didn't become truly funny until senior year.) Anyway, this tape along with #9 were the core of what we listened to, well that and Nikki F. who never shut up in the back seat.

Favorite Song: Justice and Independence 85’

9. Talking Heads - Little Creatures
This always followed Scarecrow; from the opening "Hey" of And She Was to the the ironic symbolism of Road to Nowhere, this anchored the 2nd and 5th hours of our journeys. This marked my evolution into the world of alternative music after years of Bruce Springsteen and Prince.

Favorite Song: Stay Up Late

8 . INXS - Kick
A staple for most of the other 'top 100' Cd's lists. This group proved my ignorance freahman year as I asked a group of 10 other guys "Who are (pronounced) Inks?" Ah yes, what a way to really have the other newbies embrace you. It's hard not to like this CD. The infectious rhythms and the incredibly innovative Mediate video put these 12 songs into gold status the day they were released. (Truthfully I only liked the first 10 songs. The last two did nothing for me.)

Favorite Song: New Sensation

7. Bryan Adams - Into the Fire
I've seen Bryan Adams in concert three times; more than any other artist. I honestly have never gotten tired of hearing his songs. Reckless was a great album but on this next effort, he really matured from your standad pop ballad to some deeper shit in both his music and lyrics. There is no real popular track, but the songs are more powerful than on any other of his CD's.

Favorite Song: Rememberance Day

6. Def Leppard - Hysteria
Sarah & Croutonboy would have my ass if there were no hair bands. There was no greater rock CD for me at college than this one. Marking my junior year as I moved into the (soon to be devasted) Chi-Phi house, this blasted from every room the fraternity. For those keeping tack, that would be 5 rooms and thus would lead to closing the chapter my senior year. (The legacies we leave.) There is no better college anthem than "I'm hot, sticky sweet, from my head to my feet." This also was the first album to prove you only need one arm to be a great drummer.

Favorite Song: Pour Some Sugar on Me

5. Indigo Girls - (self title debut)
My friend Greg won two tickets to the REM concert in 1998 and took me. As the stage got dark, the crowd started screaming. Out walks Michael Stipe and says, "We're going to open with a new group from Athens. I think you'll really like them. They are called the Indigo Girls." Twelve hours later, we both had bought the CD and were playing it non-stop. There is something both soothing and energetic about the Indigo Girls. Their harmonies rival no other and to think that partners could create such warmth together is comforting.

Favorite Song: Land of Canaan

4. The Alarm - Declaration
Sticky point... in theory this was released in late 1984, but it wasn't until August 1985 as I moved into Stanton Hall that I heard to rhaspy vocals of Mike Peters and was instantly mesmorized by the unique sound of the group. Their songs of passionate uprisings and valiant battles connect from the opening of Declaration all the way through the to the last track.

Favorite Song: Blaze of Glory

3. Erasure - The Innocents
This group exploded on the scene my senior year. I was a major player in the A-Phi-O chapter at Miami (definately bigger than Ava's husband). We'd have theme parties almost every other month. In between the silly lip-synch contests (which I won once), we'd go crazy on the dance floor for hours. All the girls were totally impressed that I could dance and wore gel in my hair. (How naive they were-and I was-back then.) I can listen to this today and the music still makes me dance.

Favorite Song: Chains of Love

2. REM - Life's Rich Pagent
Truthfully, my favorite compliation by REM is Reckoning but since that was high school for me, Lifes Rich Pagent is a damn fine 2nd choice. Superman skyrocketed them from indie band to superstardom as every fraternity on campus would blast this from their windows. Some of the best low-key but powerful lyrics ever written.

Favorite Song: Cuyahoga

1. 10,000 Maniacs - In My Tribe
I overplayed no other CD in my college career than this one. The first time I heard Natalie Merchant's voice, I fell in love with the Maniac's sound and obsessively bought their subsquent CD's the day they were released. It was a sad day when they split because independently neither has held the greatness they did together. And regardless of the Cat Stevens controversary, I love their version of Peace Train and think they were silly to remove it.

Favorite Song: Verdi Cries

Join me again (on another night when Larry goes out for a dinner with his friends) as I come up with some other inane, but memorable list of music.


The Doctor is In

I know it's been a while since I featured a product. Overall, this strategy hasn't lavished me with hundreds of expensive goods, nevertheless, I enjoy sharing things with you that we've bought. (Larry finds it a tad creepy, but until he can discover my password, the ideas are yours.)

In the spirit of great holiday gifts, here's the latest toy that has kept Corey busy for hours: The Animal Hospital from Parent's Magazine.

This 'lunchbox-like' hospital comes with 6 colored cages that have a corresponding key which locks and unlocks each door. Three stuffed patients occupy those cages when not being poked or prodded by the 9 doctor tools that come with the kit. In addition to performing check-ups, Corey loves to put as many of his Little People in the cages and then open all the doors up again and start over.

This toy (for $19.99 at Target) also comes with a year-long subscription to Parent's Magazine.

Ironically, you can't buy the animal hospital on the web site, but since this is the holiday season, I'm going to give you a double dose of product placement. I just bought these canvas storage bins on Target's web site. They are fantastic and for only $18 (including shipping) they add a lot of storage to a play room. The bins fold completely flat and yet are the most durable canvas I've seen. They were also bigger than I had expected. Overall, a great deal.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Deck the Halls

Where does the freaking time go? I had a weekend of practically doing nothing and figured I'd write four to five incredible funny or meaningful posts and what happens... nada.

Thanksgiving was a blast. Two moms, two dads and a kid all got together, watched football (the moms) and Broadway performances (the dads) and ate a shit load of carbs. Honestly, I ate enough to feed a family of seven...or Sally Struthers; both rank as pretty good comparisons in my book. Corey wanted the standard Pilgrim food: ravoili.

By Friday at 1 PM, the OCD kicked and I had the house decorated for Christmas in less than 90 minutes. It's almost frightening how auto-pilot kicks in and then next thing you know you're in a Macy's display. Larry decided we should hang outdoor lights this year. We have a huge box of Christmas lights that his Jewish friend had. Her boyfriend (at the time) celebrated Christmas, so he insisted on the lights. She dumped him but oddly kept the lights, so we inherited them the following year.

The biggest problem is that our house was built in 1929. Outdoor sockets weren't really common in those times. A few years, we added a single outdoor outlet along the side of the house. So now four snowflakes light-sets are rigged up with two extension cords, nine nails and a dozen twist ties. It's beautiful in the dark...not so much in the morning.

Oh, did I mention that we have no on-off switch for the outside socket? We have to go outside at 11 each night and manually unplug the lights. Honestly, I don't care how bright they are, I think we're going to start leaving them on all night.

We received our first Christmas card yesterday...November 27th. Seriously, they had to mail this thing on Friday. Come on, people. (Jill, shush up because mine at least waited until Dec 1 to arrive.)

I've totally decided to cut back on my cards this year. Again, OCD at work, but I would create these one-act plays in which the three of us would 'describe' what occurred that year in a dramatic theater-like atmosphere. If there were any doubts on my sexuality, they certainly were answered with the holiday card.

Anywho, after three years, the playwright is retiring. What can say in a letter that hasn't already been said here?And frankly, if they're not reading me here, do they deserve a card? I think not. This year, will be a simple 1-2 paragraph note celebrating my departure from Imagine and then highlighting some other personal accomplishments (ahem, like my blogwriting). Larry and Corey will be mentioned somewhere, if not certainly by the signatures.

A few out-of-towners will get photos of the kid to see how much he eats now. And most relatives will get an altered letter leaving out the blog. (There's too much good shit about them to use so I don't want to make the reunions anymore awkward than they already are.)

Larry asked the other day when I was going to begin this year's mini-letter. I explained to him that I hadn't done a blog entry in five days and that must come first.

Priorities, you know.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thankful (And not the Kelly Clarkson CD)

My favorite holiday is here. I love Thanksgiving and not just because we've vowed never to travel. It has become OUR holiday; the one in which Larry & I celebrate the way we want to. Every Thanksgiving morning begins the same way: sleeping until 8:30, a canister of 8 Pillsbury Cinnamon rolls (I personally eat 6 of them and then get to lick the frosting container) and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Truthfully, I watch it for the Broadway performances from 9-10 AND because I think Matt Lauer is totally hot, but I've learned to apprecaite other aspects of the programming.

This year, the rules changed a little bit. We got up at 6:50 ("Daddy...I'm awake"), I only got 5 sweet rolls ("What's that? Can I have one?"), but we still watched the parade. ("I want to watch Rescue Heroes." "No, Daddy has a differnt hero we're watching this morning.") Regardless, still many reasons to be thankful.

Other reasons to be thankful:
  • I don't work at Imagine any more.
  • Coffee makers that work.
  • I got to go to Hawaii this year...on the company dime!
  • I ran my first (and prolly) last 10K.
  • I become a BlogFather.
  • I love my new job.
  • My parents won't ever be moving again.
  • Francine's awesome pumpkin ice cream cake...and the green bean casserole.
  • I'm still in my 30's this holiday.
  • Anthony Logistics facial toner (so I'll still look in my 30's next year).
  • I have wonderful friends.
  • I'm going to go back to school this next year.
  • Trader Joe's moved in across from my building.
  • My partner and son are healthy and happy.
Here's wishing you and your family the same blessings I've been fortunate to receive this year. Enjoy your day to appreciate what you're most thankful for.

Friday, November 17, 2006

When you're sliding into first...

It's a good thing I'm not a NaBloPoMo writer this month, because I would have lost big time. More power to all of you who are doing it. I'm truly enjoying catching up with your lives.

So where have I been this past week? After Chicago, I jetted off to Tucson. I got back on Sunday and since then, let's just the shit hasn't stopped. Literally.

I must have picked up some intestinal bug during my travels and it's working a lot like a restraining order; you can only stray so far from the house or you're in trouble. This week, I've worked only one full day and nearly passed out because I hardly ate. I get approximately 5-10 minutes of peace after eating something and then must block 90 minutes on my calendar to be in a two-minute vicinity of a bathroom.

I've been pretty good about eating 'restricting' meals. To say I've consumed my fair share of rice and bananas would be an understatement. We did had pot stickers on Wednesday night. For the record... a misnomer. They totally did not stick.

Now a smart man would go to the doctor at this point. That is not me. I like to self-diagnose my illnesses and then treat them with either advil or theraflu. Yes, I'm keeping myself hydrated (as best I can). Yes, I'm washing my hand constantly. But I just feel like it'll end on it's own soon enough.

My biggest worry is that any nutritonal value coming from a meal has less that 4 minutes to do it's thing before getting purged.

On the plus side, I'm going to look really thin for the holidays.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Key Word Search

I love this feature of stat counter. It makes me laugh not only on what people search for, but that they also get connected into my blog using specific phrases.

Lots of traffic has come through the site due to my hot pepper incident, but this week's winner is definitely Leather Tag Team Dads.

I can only guess what they were looking for, but I'm happy it wasn't on my site.


Monday, November 06, 2006

The Mini Bar Heats Up

For these past two days, I've been staying at the Intercontinental Hotel in Chicago. Let me just tell's nice to go swank. This place is beautiful and nowhere have I eaten such a delicious $19.50 burger. (Yeah, I know you folks in NYC do it all the time.)

When traveling, I always like to settle into a hotel. The clothes get unpacked into the drawers. I set the radio to my favorite stations. And I totally check out the goods, both in the bathroom and for sale in the room.

For the record, the hotel has a nice assortment of Crabtree & Evelyn products that frankly, make me smell like my great aunts. The Intercon also has a fairly well stocked mini-bar.

I'm too cheap to eat from the mini bar, even when travaeling for work, but I love to see what they have to offer. In addition to soft drinks, liquor, a huge array of cookies and candy, you can also buy personal goods. Right in your room, they sell a tooth brush with tooth paste and razor & shaving cream. Plus, you can buy an intimacy kit.


They sell a kit that contains two condoms, two obstetrical towels (wtf are those?) and one package of lubricating jelly. Now, I'm all for convenience, but there seems to be a whole different need for the average Intercontinental traveler that I'm not aware of.

I mentioned my discovery to one of my co-workers. She just laughed.

"Don't you think most guys would have issues buying a condom from something called a mini bar?"

She has a point there.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Checking off the next box on the application

Have you known that you needed.. no WANTED to do something, but you're petrified to start it?

In our house, we refer to that as "the Steve your mother wanted." That's the Steve that would have played it safe.

I love the chance to step out and do something that is totally not me. I don't go hiking... but I did it last year. I don't like heights... but I went zip lining. I don't like traveling by myself... but I got on a plane, went to Guatemala for two weeks and lived with a family that spoke no English.

I hated school.. with a passion. So now I've been going strong at this job for nine months, I'm about to turn 40 and what have I decided would be a great idea? To get my MBA.

Seriously, WTF am I thinking? I've spent the last two day going to MBA open houses; examining traditional programs as well as the Executive MBA programs. My problem is that I really liked the first one I saw...which it turns out is the most expensive program around.

Last night, I went to the Wharton Executive MBA informational reception. This is like taking a woman to the Ferragamo section for her first pair of shoes.

Holy crap, was it impressive. And for the first time, I was totally passionate about getting this MBA. OK, true I haven't really taken into consideration the GMAT (which I haven't done a standardized test in 18 years) or the price tag (we bought a rental townhouse 5 years ago in Arlington, VA for less money than this tuition). But I actually felt like I could do it.

I look ahead at this hurdle before me and want to shrink in fear, but at the same time, I know it will make me stronger. (And richer, would be a nice benefit, dear future hiring companies.)

Not that I need talking into it, but am I crazy to pursue this at 40?