Jan. 28–30, 2005

Joined a bunch of my Avalon shore house friends for a fun winter activity, for a change: a ski trip weekend at Jack Frost in the Poconos.

The trip was much more enjoyable than the package deals that some of us had bought in the past. The condos that we rented in Snow Ridge Village were quite comfortable and very close to the mountain — as opposed to previous years, when we stayed in a cramped hotel that was a 30-minute shuttle ride away from the slopes.

We enjoyed clear weather and good conditions while skiing on Saturday. But after coasting through a few beginner slopes with ease, my friend Laurie and I wiped out pretty badly on a steep intermediate called Jane’s Lane. Our respect for challenging hills renewed, we returned to some of the more gentle beginner and intermediate trails for the rest of the day.

After a long day on the slopes, we all enjoyed a well-earned happy hour at the lodge, as well as a delicious potluck dinner back at the condo. On Sunday, we opted for a big breakfast and an early return home instead of a second day of skiing — but I’d love to get back out there again before spring arrives.

[ # 148 | Link ]

Jan. 27, 2005

Dear Female Acquaintance Who Shall Remain Nameless:

Here are several ways to make a really bad impression after I invite you to join me and my friends to watch the NFC title game at one of our favorite bars in Conshohocken:

• Upon arriving, complain that we weren’t sitting at a table.

• At the bar, attempt to order several obscure drinks (a winter brew of some sort, a strawberry cosmo, and a peach cosmo), learn that they don’t carry those beverages, and mutter, “I hate this bar.”

• Amid a group of Eagles fans, vocally support a few Falcons players who used to play for Virginia Tech (your favorite college team, even though you didn’t attend classes there).

• Before halftime, walk away from our group with the friend you brought and watch the remainder of the game from a pair of easy chairs across the room.

I had some reservations about you when we met a few months ago — you seemed a bit self-centered and starved for attention. But after this past Sunday, I’m certainly relieved that we never began dating. You acted like a petulant child all day, and I simply won’t tolerate such rude behavior toward me or my friends. The world does not revolve around you.

Just in case I haven’t made myself clear, we are not hanging out again. Ever.*

Hugs and kisses,
Mike


* Update: I received a lot of feedback and questions about this post. Some readers, especially those who had the misfortune of meeting Miss Cranky Pants at the bar that day, were very amused by this particular rant. But others sounded a little surprised that my wrath could reach such a stratospheric level.

Here’s the deal. On several occasions, she had invited me to join her and her friends at her favorite bar for happy hour, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed hanging out with her crowd. But the one time that I invited her to join me and my friends at my favorite bar, she didn’t even pretend to have a good time. Her insufferable behavior was so embarrassing that my friends kept whispering to me, “Who is that girl, and what the hell is her problem?”

Now, if she were a relative or a close friend of mine, then I never would have mentioned this episode on the site — I simply would have talked with her offline. But this casual acquaintance displayed some of the worst behavior I’ve ever seen, and I won’t stand for it. Something had to be said, people.

[ # 147 | Link ]

Jan. 23, 2005

The Eagles have finally done it — they’re heading to Super Bowl XXXIX!

After three straight losses in the NFC title game, the Eagles finally rose to the challenge and defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 27–10, to earn their first trip to the big game in 24 years. But considering the Eagles’ perennial failure in the playoffs, their convincing win seemed a bit surreal — in fact, I’m still wondering if it actually happened.

If they manage to win just one more game in Jacksonville, the Eagles will capture their first title since 1960, and the first title among any Philadelphia franchise since the 76ers’ NBA championship in 1983.

Bring on the Patriots — we’re due!

[ # 146 | Link ]

Jan. 20, 2005

The crazy weather is back with a vengeance in Philly:

Date
High
Low
Average
Jan. 13
66°
43°
55°
Jan. 14
66°
36°
51°
Jan. 18
19°
11°
15°
Jan. 19
24°
11°
18°

Source: AccuWeather

Hey, Old Man Winter, do us a favor and make up your mind!

Then again, I should give thanks that I don’t live in Embarrass, Minn., which recorded a low temperature of −54° earlier this week — and that wasn’t even the record for the state. (The nearby town of Tower hit −60° in 1996.)

[ # 145 | Link ]

Jan. 12, 2005

Recent sources of enjoyment:

Bowling. I joined a large group of friends to bowl a few games last Friday night, and it was a refreshing change of pace. Facenda-Whitaker Lanes is a great venue — it’s very clean, well-lit, and open 24 hours a day (just in case you get the urge to go bowling at 4 a.m.). Best of all, the adjoining bar serves Yuengling drafts for just $2.25 each. We’ve gotta go there more often!

24. Amid the wasteland of mindless reality shows and pointless top 100 countdowns, the new season of 24 is completely riveting. I doubted that I’d set aside the time to watch back-to-back two-hour episodes on Sunday and Monday, but the show’s intertwined plotlines already have me hooked. Can someone tell me why I didn’t bother to watch 24 during its first three seasons?

My fireplace. I’ve never had one before, so I’m trying to make the most of it this winter. A roaring fire seems to change the entire appearance of my living room — the place looks like a home. I’m happy to report that I’ve built a few fires without covering myself in soot, but I’m starting simple — the Duraflame logs that I’m using are convenient to buy and easy to light.

[ # 144 | Link ]

Jan. 6, 2005

All right, I’ve made a genuine effort to keep Ashlee Simpson off this site for as long as possible, but her dreadful performance at the Orange Bowl has pushed me over the edge. If you haven’t seen it already, you simply have to view the video clip to believe it. (For more information, check out www.lipsync.us.)

You probably recall that last October, someone in the control room at Saturday Night Live played the wrong backing vocal track during Ashlee’s second song, and she was widely criticized as a lip-syncher and a fraud. So she tried to gain some credibility as a live performer by taking part in the USC/Oklahoma halftime show, but her tone-deaf yelping inspired the entire stadium to boo her in unison.

To be fair, is Ashlee Simpson the only performer who relies on backing tracks or resorts to lip-synching? No, but that doesn’t speak well for the rest of today’s music industry, and it’s no excuse for a lack of talent. My friend Paul pointed out that she probably wouldn’t last one round on American Idol, and he’s right.

Here’s what bothers me:

1. Singing isn’t Ashlee Simpson’s hobby — it’s her job. She is paid handsomely to sing in public, and she is miserable at it. If any of us performed that poorly at work, we’d be fired immediately.

2. There are thousands of amazingly gifted singers who work tirelessly for years to make a living in show business. But Ashlee Simpson — a no-talent ass-clown if I’ve ever heard one — gets to perform during a nationally televised halftime show. Why? Because she’s Jessica Simpson’s kid sister, and nepotism works.

3. Pardon me for sounding old, but there’s no accountability or shame anymore. When Milli Vanilli were exposed as lip-synchers back in 1990, they became blacklisted in the music world, turned in their Grammy Awards, and never worked again. But even after Ashlee Simpson has made a fool of herself on several occasions, she will continue to record albums and tour — and even worse, I’m sure that plenty of kids will still buy her music and see her in concert anyway.

[ # 143 | Link ]

Jan. 2, 2005

Ah, the promise of a new year — a blank slate, a fresh start, and for most of us, a collection of well-intentioned resolutions that will quietly fade within a few weeks. (But seriously, I really have to go running and visit the gym more frequently in 2005. Now that I’m 30, it’s nearly impossible to look respectable without adhering to a regular workout schedule.)

Speaking of ages, my family and I were talking about the upcoming year over dinner earlier tonight, and the topic of golden birthdays came up. I was reminded that one’s golden birthday takes place when your age is equal to your birth date. For example, if you were born on the 15th of the month, you would celebrate your golden birthday when you turn 15.

Anyway, we realized that both of my younger sisters and I will all celebrate our golden birthdays in the same year. Meg will turn 23 on Feb. 23, Jen will turn 27 on Oct. 27, and I will turn 31 on Oct. 31 — all in 2005!

Half of my undergraduate major dealt with quantitative analysis, and I’m still trying to sort out the probability of this. But it seems like a pretty amazing coincidence, doesn’t it?

[ # 142 | Link ]