Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The thing about emergencies is that there’s no hard and clear rule on when an “issue” escalates into a “crisis.”

A few months ago, a friend of mine and I were waiting for a table outside of a restaurant when we noticed smoke billowing out of a car. Watching it seemed only to fan the invisible flames, so I walked into the restaurant and informed the non-committal hostess of the event taking place outside. There, I thought, dusting it off my hands as I returned to my friend; not my problem. Yet that wonderful feeling of transference began to wear off as the minutes passed without a resolution. The restaurant was crowded, and as people began to take notice of the event, that sense of responsibility began to set back in. I mean, we did notice it first; didn’t that mean we had to take partial ownership, at least until the real owner of the car showed up?

My friend Jesse and I deliberated for a few minutes about what to do. “Do we call the fire department? It’s not very obviously a fire,” I said.

“I don’t even know the fire department’s number,” Jesse added.

“Isn’t it…9-1-1?” I pondered aloud. There is so much stigma associated with dialing the forbidden number that I hardly knew if we should have called. When the chef from the restaurant came out of the kitchen wielding a fire extinguisher and marched around the car scratching his head, Jesse however decided that it was time to phone in a professional. In a matter of minutes, the fire truck sounded its way over and with a shatter of broken glass and the gush of a fire hose, a car was destroyed along with the danger it posed. We never did get to see its owners, though. I wondered whether they stayed in the restaurant throughout the ordeal, whether from embarrassment or hunger.

And so a few months later, when I am moving into my new house and my father directs me to clean paint off the electrical outlets using steel wool and Goof-Off, I hesitate. Fire is bad. And real. And, I don’t know whether that sprinkler system actually works yet, and I’ve never much cared for finding things out the hard way. But this is my father speaking; surely, if there was any threat of danger, real or imagined, he would give me due warning. After a quick game of “are you sure? Are you sure-sure?,” I found myself mindlessly scrubbing away at the sage green paint residue on each electrical socket of the master bedroom. “What a lovely unexpected flash of light,” I thought, calmly, and looked down to find, in my palm, the homey glow of a flaming piece of Brillo. At least I had the sense to throw it down, and what amazed me more was what happened next.

As it sat on the brand new carpet, flaming higher by the second, I screamed “FIRE!” in the jazziest most soul-gripping voice I never knew I had. Of course, it was preceded by a string of obscenities, starting with holy and advancing to the opposite end of the spectrum, but that was requisite. At that moment, my mother ran into the room, demonstrating what can only be called a text-book example of the word “panic.” Before she could make a sound, involuntarily her elbows began pumping the air like a bellows (and, like a bellows, somehow made it worse), and her knees marched violently up and down like a redneck at a hoedown, but it was the look of shock on her face that startled me to my feet. Seeing nothing around that I could use to douse or smother the flames, I began stomping them with one Isotoner-clad foot. The flames licked upward and neared my hip, and I feared that my aged cotton sweatpants might ignite, so I ran to the bathroom in search of…?

A towel! I grabbed a towel, a slightly damp one at that, and spun around for the bedroom. I saw my mother, helplessly stomping at the Brillo with her foot, but three feet away from it. She had been stomping at bare carpet in her panic. Long story short, the towel sufficed where the sprinkler system, Isotoner, and panicking mother did not. The carpet looked a little worse for wear even after a good vacuuming; its singed tips had to be painstakingly trimmed, and the nap will forevermore be uneven. Yet somehow, the hardest part was after it was all over. “You ought to go downstairs and tell your father what happened,” my Mother said gravely.

Resigned to my fate, I solemnly walked downstairs to where my father tinkered with the garbage disposal. “Don’t panic,” I began, “but we had a little fire upstairs.” It took all my might not to laugh, and I extinguished the vision of my Mother the Scarecrow that danced in my head.

“Oh, you must have touched the electrical screw with the Brillo and it arced out,” he responded flatly. “I thought about warning you, but then I didn’t.” Hours later, after he had surveyed the damage and heard the full accounts of the only two witnesses, he added, “well, that sounds a lot worse than I thought it would be,” which in Dad speak means, “HOLY FUCKING SHIT, FIRE!”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Irony is a Smartass

I recently wrote a short piece for my creative non-fiction class about my new house. I decided to lead in by imagining Robin Leach narrating. You know, a little irony; the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous guy talking about my foreclosure townhouse purchase.

When we workshopped it, it turns out people hated that part. Some people didn't even know who Robin Leach was. Can you imagine that? I mean, he even had a couple of shows on VH1 for a while there.

So when today "Juicy" by Biggie came on my iPod, one line reached out and slapped me in the face: "I made the change from a common thief, to Up Close and Personal with Robin Leach."

Irony, you are a smartass.

Monday, September 14, 2009

When the SATs Meet the VMAs

Anger over West's disruption at MTV awards
By Lisa Respers France CNN

(CNN) -- The reaction to
Kanye West's hijacking of the microphone from Taylor Swift during her acceptance
speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards came quickly and

Kanye West took the microphone from Taylor Swift during
her speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

Celebrities and fans alike
expressed their disapproval of West interrupting Swift's win for Best Female
Music Video to tout his appreciation of nominee Beyonce.
"Taylor, I'm really
happy for you," West said after grabbing the microphone from a clearly stunned
Swift. "I'll let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!
One of the best videos of all time!"
Elliott Wilson, founder and chief
executive officer of
Rap Radar, sat in front of
members of West's entourage at the live Sunday night awards show and said the
mood quickly turned from one of surprised amusement to anger.

"At first, people weren't sure if it was kind of like a
gag," Wilson said. "You could feel everybody being nervous and not knowing if it
was a prank or something. Then people started booing him really

Wilson said he believes that West -- who he said bounded
on stage from his seat in the front row near Beyonce -- intended to have his say
before allowing
Swift to continue but said the rapper became
angered by the crowd response in a moment that wasn't captured by the MTV

Kanye West : Taylor Swift :: Joe Wilson : Barrack Obama

Main thoughts:
1.) If the only way you can get people to listen is by stealing someone else's spotlight, then your message just isn't good enough.

Seriously -- you're going to argue over who deserved to win the Best Video award? Does it really matter who wins? I thought the trophies were just a formality. Even so, show some respect to the professionals around you that you claim to be a part of.

2.) Your opinion really isn't important to me or anyone else, just because of who you are.

Kanye West, you are no better than anyone on the stage. In fact, you're worse -- you lost. Now get off the stage and let the winner make her speech.

3.) If you can't form an intelligent argument then keep your mouth closed.

And you don't have time to in a 10-second blurb. So take your thoughts and save them for an outlet that you can make a point through. Like a blog (Hello, Kanye), or an Op-Ed piece (Joe Wilson).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

House Hunt

So, I've been looking at houses lately. This week I'm going to look at one in Bel Air, but I'll need to consider one very important factor:

B: House

A: Yarn Store


Thursday, July 23, 2009

When Life Imitates 1990s Technology

Yesterday my Mom came for dinner. I made chicken fajitas on the grill, and my mom made some lime cilantro rice. It was all so very good. I had some handmade tortillas from Trader Joe’s that made all the difference.

So after dinner, I walked my Mom down to show her the retaining wall they’re putting up by my apartment complex… right near the water line (I believe that would be called the “shore”). Standing there for a few minutes, we started to hear music – apparently there was a band playing at the park, so we decided to walk down and check it out.

The closer we got, the more apparent it became that it was marching band music. My mom broke out her best march, and I broke out that move where you kick your legs out behind you all while chopping your arms in front of you. Down the street. In public. As one does.

Anyway, the closer we got, the older the demographic grew. All down Commerce Street old people, in groups of one or two, were dragging lawn chairs and shuffling across the street. As we neared the park, we saw that the growing audience formed a sea of white hair.

…this is about to take a turn for the Nerdy...

Do you ever have moments where your life turns into a video game you used to play when you were a kid? I used to play Super Mario so much that when I had to stop for dinner, I would get really freaked out, thinking that some goomba was going to jump out at me or something on my way up to the kitchen from the basement.

So, there was this game for Super Nintendo called EarthBound, and I used to play it CONSTANTLY. It was like a precursor for the Sims. You’re this little kid that has to go through all of these “quests” through his neighborhood and beyond to beat some aliens. There’s this one part where a town is overrun by zombies, and you have to find “zombie fly paper” and put it in a tent. Overnight, the zombies come to the tent and get stuck to the fly paper, thus ending the zombie problem.

If there was ever an “old people problem,” I might suggest an Army marching band.

It was unreal. Everywhere old people were coming out of the woodwork. I didn’t even know there were so many old people in Havre de Grace. It was like they couldn’t help themselves but to find the source of this glorious noise, because anything else would be unpatriotic.

But for me, I had the opposite reaction, which is to say I walked FASTER, right past the spectacle, making certain that my feet weren’t accidentally moving in time to the music. Only when I was past it did I turn around to tell my mom to HURRY IT UP! Not sure why, but I wanted out of there.