Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Series of Uncomfortable Conversations

Strange today as I seemed to attract all kinds of crazy. I submit to you, in summary form, three uncomfortable conversations:

1. The unbelievably boring guy at the office

Periodically, I’ve been sucked into little chats with my office’s own version of Milton (I swear to you, they even look alike). Past exchanges have yielded real info gems… did you know, for example, that the word “checkmate” comes from the Persian phrase “Shah Mat,” meaning “the king is dead.”

These little bits of life-altering trivia have always come completely out of left field. We’ve never discussed chess or Ancient Persia, and we never will.

[DISCLAIMER: I did not pull that fun fact from memory; I had to look it up.]

But today Milton decided to stick around, blocking my only possible escape by standing in my cubicle entryway. Not to sound dramatic, but I strongly considered climbing on my desk and jumping over the wall or stabbing myself in the neck with a pen to get out of it.

I wish he had a story as interesting as the origin of “checkmate” to share. He didn’t. He told me all about his 36-year-old son and how he’s seeing a new woman – a stewardess. And no amount of “Ah,” “Yep,” or blank stares clued him into my pain. 23 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

2. An comfortable setting for what would be entertaining gab

In the afternoon, my neighbor from across the cubicle divide stopped by and informed me she had just quit. Well now, that’s interesting. Go on.

Problem was she went on at length about how terrible it is working here, and how much of a “raving nutcase,” (her words, not mine) our boss is. It made for extremely uncomfortable repartee since one of us still works here… I can’t exactly say “I know, she’s a maniac,” can I?

She’s saying things like, “I just can’t do it anymore. You should bolt too.”And I’m sure the other people on my side of the building were listening in, so I tried to nod a lot.

3. The raving lunatic at the supermarket

And lastly, on my way home from work I swung by Shaws to grab dinner. While picking out steak, a woman snatched some packaged rib eyes from right out of my hand. I was stunned. It wasn’t the last pack or anything. She held it up, inspected it, said “nah,” and threw it back down.

As I always shy away from confrontation, especially with potentially unstable individuals, I didn’t say anything and grabbed another pack. She put her hand on my shoulder, and here’s my best attempt at re-creating the strangest conversation I’ve ever had in my life:

“No. Not that one either.”
“Excuse me?”
“That’s no good. Like the other one.”
“What?”
“Don’t get that one. You shouldn’t even get steak.”
--stares blankly--
“Do you have any idea what red meat does to your colon?”
“Ummm… I’m getting steak. Thank you though.”
“Fine, but don’t come crying to me later.”
“I won’t. Thanks.”
“I don’t appreciate the attitude.”
“Ummm… this is weird. I’m gonna go.”
“You’re the one making it weird.”

Here’s a bad picture of the crackpot (taken from a safe distance under the cover offered by an end-of-aisle cereal display) >>

This dramatic retelling has been brought to you by Shaws, the friendly townsfolk of Northbridge, and marketfresh USDA choice beef rib eye.

Strange day.

***
A few random items:

  • It’s August 4th and I’m three meals into my 30-Day Challenge. All have been pretty good so far, meatball subs on Monday, pan-fried pork chops last night, and rib eye steak with maple cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes tonight. I’m cruising.
  • In case he’s a reader, congrats to Alex Rodriguez for hitting his 600th home run. It’s always a nice break from work to hear John Sterling launch into scripted hyperbole.
  • I listened to a lot of Beach Boys today… and found this: Johnny Cash’s earlier recording of “Sloop John B (I Want to Go Home).”

That’s more than enough for one day.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mangia!

My 30-Day Challenge: Cook four dinners per week.

Yeah, “learn how to play my guitar,” got the most votes but Emily, whose vote counts a bit more than most of you readers, said that that was her least favorite choice. So instead I’ll go with No. 2, the cooking one. This should be interesting…

I got started tonight. My first meal: Meatball Subs.

(Made with love.)

I used this meatball recipe, this marinara sauce recipe, slopped that onto a bun, and added copious amounts of mozzarella and romano cheese.

It was gooooood.


Emily’s review: “Well, he might have bought more fresh parsley than Mario Batali uses in a year, but I was very happy with this first attempt. I was spooning the sauce from the pan after. Not sure I’ve had a sauce this good in a while. Not sure I’ve seen a cuter cook, either.”

The plan is to cook four meals a week for August (4 and ½ weeks = 18 dinners). I told Emily she can pick whatever she wants once a week.

I won’t be posting every meal here (that would probably be obnoxious), but I may highlight any major success stories or failures. I’ll recap at the end of the month.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

He didn't.

Look you’ve already paid. Your money is as good as mine. I could come out for two minutes, and shit myself on stage. I’m still getting paid. You’ve taken that chance.

Emily surprised me with Louis C.K. tickets as a one-year anniversary gift. Pretty cool, right? It was unexpected since when I saw he was touring and suggested we go, she said, “nah” (she’d already bought the tickets).

Anyways, we capped off a very eventful day (see below) by driving down to Newport, barely making it after I wolfed down a chicken parm in approximately eight minutes. He was hilarious – the perfect combination of masturbation humor and stories about his two daughters (usually separate topics).

Over the last few months, Emily and I have seen several of our favorite comics live. We saw Ricky Gervais late last year, Jerry Seinfeld in May, Conan O’Brien a few weeks back, and now Louis C.K.

It’s nice to have a chuckle.

***
A couple other weekend tidbits:
  • On Saturday, the wife and I met with a real estate agent for the first time. It went well… I mean she didn’t take one look at us, say “not today you ain’t,” and send us away laughing.
  • Watched Following, Christopher Nolan’s 1998 neo-noir debut. Two word review: real good… It’s easy to see Nolan’s somewhat raw talent and his fondness for non-linear storytelling. I have seen 6 of his 7 movies, and thus far he’s got a 100 percent Schaible approval rating. I need to see Insomnia.
  • I started reading The Girl Who Played with Fire… Damn Steig Larsson. Dude has completely thrown off my reading list, pushing other stuff off until later.
  • The other big Sunday event was the Red Sox-Tigers game, with Emily, Alex (her brother), and Bruce (her dad). We had, I am not exaggerating, the greatest seats ever. Right behind home plate, six rows back, right next to a scout from the Phillies. I was pleased.

Side note: While Emily and I were chatting up the scout, the dude (who is rocking his 2008 World Series ring, mind you) peppered my wife with questions about her job. Think about how cool that is: this guy, who may have the most awesome job in the world, is interested in what she does… He didn’t ask about my job.

In other news… I like ellipses.

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Hate List"

In Emily’s last (ever?) blog post, she shared her “hate list.”

Since imitation in the sincerest form of flattery, here is my list:

  • The collective works of Tyler Perry.
  • “Shirts and skins.” Dude, you’re all sweaty and you’re posting up. I have zero interest in guarding you and having my shirt sop up all your nastiness. Pop a shirt on.
  • Religion as driving force behind violence, bigotry, or as an obstacle to science/logic.
  • Skinny jeans + dudes.
  • That people dismiss all the good in Rocky V, just because Sly’s son wines for most of the movie. Fast forward all the scenes with the kid and I promise you, it’s the best 35-minute movie around.
  • The New York Jets.
  • Writing unique cover letters.
  • People who clap at movie theatres.
  • Captchas. You know those stupid challenge-response tests that are required on sites all over the place? I understand their purpose, but it always takes me multiple tries. I hate them.
  • Car mechanics.
  • Drivers with dogs in their laps.
  • The way my wife swoons whenever Tim Riggins brushes the hair from his face.

And last but definitely not least, my biggest pet peeve. It absolutely drives me nuts…

  • When people say that they “could care less.” Really? So you care then. Good, I’ll continue telling you my five-year plan for fantasy baseball keeper league dominance.

    Oh, you don’t care? I’ll shut up then… it’s “COULDN’T care less” people! I am 100 percent certain that the world would be a better place if we all remembered this.

(Yeah... that's two blog posts in one day. So what? I'm a blogging machine).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I’ll keep this brief because I don’t have anything new to add to the discussion; the Stieg Larsson thriller is a NY Times bestseller and, as is so often the case, I was late to the party…

“How can you be sure of that?”
“Because this isn’t some damned locked-room mystery novel …”


The mystery is rather conventional: murder, isolated area, a wealthy/eccentric family with skeletons in the closet, etc. The characters were not, with Lisabeth Salander -- kick-ass rebel heroine and gothic symbol of female empowerment -- and the twisted Vanger clan leading the charge.

As advertised, it’s an addictive, "I-can’t-put-this-down-before-I-finish" novel, but it’s worth today’s morning drowsiness.

I give it 4-out-of-5 Schaibles.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

30-Day Challenge: August

One of the blogs I read fairly regularly has a regular feature he calls a 30-day challenge.

It’s such a good idea, that I am going to rip it off. So what do you think, which of the following should I try for August?

(These may seem tough, but they’re supposed to be challenging).

  • Read 10 books
  • Cook dinner four days per week (four more times than I currently do)
  • Run 90 miles over the month
  • Go vegetarian (except for at a wedding I am going to since I already RSVP’d for steak)
  • Spend as little money as possible
  • Actually learn to play the guitar that’s collecting dust in our second bedroom
  • Go left-handed instead of right
What do y’all think? I am open to other suggestions.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sail away on the Block Island Ferry...

The wife and I, to commemorate the one-year anniversary of our nuptials, spent the last four days on Block Island.

This was my third time visiting Rhode Island’s Jamaica. Emily has family there, so we had a place to stay and a chauffeur. They’re good people.

Highlights:
  • Four days of perfect weather
  • No work
  • Emily on a bike
  • My first taste of lobster
  • Good chat
  • Many beers
  • Meeting Macy (Emily’s second cousin), a ten-month old heart breaker with jet blue eyes
  • Achieving transcendent knowing/ nirvana
Lowlights:
  • I go back to work tomorrow

Sunday, July 25, 2010

One year ago...

Married. One year and counting.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Che Guevara

Che GuevaraI’ve always been a bit of a history buff, but would have had to plead ignorance on Che Guevara’s significance, and why militant hippies don his likeness on their t-shirts.

I can’t remember him even being mentioned during high school. If he was in the curriculum, it was skipped by my teachers or ignored by me.

To figure out what all the fuss is about, I read Jon Lee Anderson’s massive biography Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life.

So after 900 pages, what do I think of Che? Well, he’s a bit of a paradox. He’s both someone whose social indignation and passion, I can emphasize with and understand, while also someone whose rhetoric and cold actions were terrifying.

I won’t be rocking a Che Guevara tee anytime soon.

Well, that subject matter was a bit heavy for a blog where I usually share ill-informed movie opinions or trite observations.

We now return to our regular programming…

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Jeff’s Movie Review: Inception (2010)

OK… I’m going to keep this short and sweet since it’s been months since I’ve last blogged, I’m probably rusty, and I wouldn’t want to bore you.

The wife and I saw Inception yesterday, and loved it.


Quick hits:
  • I’m not really getting all the “you’ll have to see thins more than once” talk. I mean, there’s a lot going on sure, but I thought it was very clear. I will be seeing this again, but not because I didn’t get it… because it’s great.
  • I wish I could dream as lucidly as that.
  • When it went to black before the credits, the entire theatre groaned. If you can get that sort of reaction, you’re probably doing something right.
  • Christopher Nolan has done plenty right… dude has made some fantastic movies: Memento, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, and now Inception? These are some of my favorite movies… I guess I need to check out Following and Insomnia.
For the DVD cover:

“The most intellectually and viscerally engaging film in years. A masterpiece from Hollywood’s most innovative dreamer.”

Rating:

Five “Schaibles” - yeah, that's right.