Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Continued Adventures of Will Schuster: Hypothetical Ninja

I have a feeling that when I was younger, I was one of those children who would cause a scene in stores. Temper tantrums, knocking over displays, that sort of thing. Come to think of it, I have a habit of riding shopping carts down aisles, throwing loaves of bread into the cart from long distances with an arm that would make Joe Montana proud, and sticking my tongue out at small children when their parents' backs are turned.

Anyways, my Mom used to leave me in the car from time to time if she had to just make a quick stop in and out of the store, a habit which turned into my own personal choice. I enjoy music and talk radio much more than I enjoy Giant Eagle, so sometimes I choose to hang out in the car while she shops.

After a certain point in the car, my brain ceases to function like that of a normal person. Perhaps it is the sun beating down on the windshield. Maybe it is because of the long stretches of isolation. Whatever the cause, after about 15 seconds in the car, a change comes over me.

I become a ninja.

Yes, the primal urge to become a crime fighting vigilante, whose powerful attacks are always one step ahead of wrongdoers is too much for me. Nearly every person walking by the car becomes a potential figure in my crime fighting fantasies.

Not only do I save little old ladies in my head, but I create elaborate storylines in which an attempted mugging is simply a way of hiding the fact that Russian terrorists have taken over the Giant Eagle, and are attempting to blow it up. And yes, I have a lifetime undefeated streak.

But if something actually happened...

Perhaps I'm alone in this, but every time I see something that's actually about to happen, and will certainly cause head trauma to somebody, my whole body tenses up, I hop in the air several times, and I say "oh fuck, fuck, fuck!". I have the same reaction for whenever I drop my computer or stub my toe.

So that's the difference in how I want to see myself, and how I actually am. In my head, I'm John McClane from Die Hard, with a bit of Sherlock Holmes thrown in for good measure. In real life, I'm McLovin from Superbad.

In keeping with the theme of this post, I figure I should offer up a story of a time in which my badassedness was on display for all to see.

Sophomore or Junior year of high school, one of us saw the movie Fight Club, and decided "hey, let's have a fight club in George's basement!". I know that the first rule of fight club is to not talk about fight club, but that movie kind of sucked, so I'm talking about it.

On a side note, what is the big deal about that movie? It's shitty.

Anyways, I decided to join my friends in this foolproof endeavor, and was told that I'd be fighting Ryan Stockton, a worthy adversary. I put on the sparring gloves and headgear, because when you have untrained teenage kids fighting in a basement and telling people to "keep it down so that George's Mom doesn't hear us," safety is obviously the first priority.

We tapped gloves, as gentlemen should, and got ready to do battle. Now, I had never worn boxing-style headgear before, and as I learned, it eliminates your peripheral vision. I didn't see it happen, but almost immediately, something heavy slammed into the side of my jaw, which I ascertained was Ryan's hand. I shook it off, because I'm a badass, and waited for him to do it again. He did, and I ducked it and took his legs out. I then prepared to beat the shit out of him (because we're friends, and that's what fight club is for), but was told to stop because his headgear came off (safety first!).

We got up, were told to fight on, and I decided that my next point of attack would be to kick him. He also decided that I looked infinitely kickable. Only, he decided this a split second before I did, so when he connected on his kick, my leg was in mid-air, attempting to kick him back.

What should have caught me in the side ended up slamming into my testicles.

The fight, my hopes of being a baritone, and the chances of me being a father ended in one swift motion of foot on balls.

The world turned black, and all that existed was pain. And laughter. My friends are assholes. 

To wrap this all up, it's on film, because George was kind enough to tape it. At the moment immediately following testicular impact, there is a shot of me on my knees, mouth open in shock. In the background of the shot is Jared Englert, who for some reason was only wearing compression shorts, with his hands on his hips and a very satisfied look on his face. Due to the proximity of the two of us and pained look on my face, it appears as if I'm doing a sexual act, provided you pause the tape at that exact moment.

So if you're in high school and reading this, I implore you not to start a fight club. Do it for the children. Your future children.

And more specifically, your balls.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A New Sport

When you were a kid, chances are good that you were annoying, often got food on your clothes, and thought you were awesome, only to come to the realization that you are not, in fact, a special snowflake.

Chances are also good that if you're like me (and all of the above was and still is true), you often created games. The reasons for this are many. My main reason is that my Mom often said "make your own fun," which frustrated me, because children expect everything, including fun, to be given to them. Now I realize that my Mom did what any good parent would do, and sent me away while she paid the bills so that we could remain indoors. I will eventually do the same, provided that my "send them away as babies to be raised by other parents, then let them come home when they're old enough to skate and use a bathroom on their own" idea doesn't pan out.

Often, the games that lasted longest were the simplest.

There was rakeball, which was essentially field hockey, but with less emphasis on skirts, and more emphasis on shooting a ball into one of three stacked milk crates with a small rake. I think my brother, sister, and I played that for a month or two.

My personal favorite was called CurveBall, I think. Bryan Esherick and I came up with it in the winter one day. Played on one of those basketball courts with hoops and foul arc things width-wise, you and an opponent took turns whipping a racketball across the court, with one bounce in between. If you didn't catch it, you lost the serve. Points could only be scored on the serve. Really, it was tennis without rackets, and I think it could be highly profitable.

The reason I mention all of this is because during the NHL Lockout, we all need to "make our own fun". Some may choose crack cocaine, which I'm told would possibly extend past the lockout. Others will take up playing the bagpipes, which is a surefire way to get the neighborhood to hate you. Still others will do something completely nonsensical, like watch something else on tv. Ridiculous, I know.

I will be creating a new sport. And I will do it right now.

-All good sports have balls. Don't laugh. GREAT sports have pucks. However, pucks require ice, so this sport will have to settle for "good". We're trying to keep this simple and realistic. Ice is neither. Plus, if I create a great sport, it will be hard to give up once hockey has returned.

-That reminds me, someone in the kitchen at work over the summer was making meatballs. They asked the head chef "how big do you want these balls?" to which the chef replied, "they've got to feed a lot of people, so I'd say we need them to be pretty big". I laughed my ass off, to the amusement of everyone. Usually at work, jokes make me chuckle a little bit and move on. Big balls, however, made me giggle like a 5 year old watching Barney. Do 5 year olds watch Barney?

Barney will not be a part of the sport. Neither will big balls. We will use a small croquet-sized ball.

-Shitty sports (tennis, golf, chess) are individual competitions. Awesome sports (excluding basketball) have teams. This will be a team sport. Rafael Nadal is not welcome.

-There will be full contact. This is not some stupid "tap and it's a foul" game, like basketball. This will probably involve ambulances and visits to the OR to remove pieces of things lodged in other folks. After all, bleeding for the sake of recreation is what sports are all about. If you thought they were about "fun," go play tennis.

-For maximum bloodletting, there will be a stick of some sort, which may or may not be used to hit the ball. It could just be used for protection or as a weapon. I haven't decided.

-Finally, most professional sports leagues have complained at one time or another about the problems posed by "human error". This sport will remove human error completely, as it will have no referees. Calls will be based on an honor system, like any other pick-up sport. That way, if a bad call is made, it's not an error, it's just someone being a dick.

I have taken all of this criteria and put it into my computer, the very cost-effective and efficient Lenovo Thinkpad or whatever its name is. The end result is in. Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present to you the sport which will deliver us from the doldrums of the NHL Lockout:

Rhinoceros Polo.

It will be played 5 players to a side, depending on rhinoceros availability. Statistics show that there are about 17,000 white rhinos alive today, which isn't quite enough to fill up Mellon Arena. There are about 4200 black rhinos left. I think that it will be best to use black rhinos, because we could breed them and help bring them back from the brink of extinction, which would look great on our college transcripts.

Rhinos possess notoriously bad eyesight, which will eliminate human error completely, since 1. they are not humans (though Kate Smith, the former singer of "God Bless America" at Flyers games looked like one) and 2. their bad eyesight will suck so much that they will merely run around in circles, which will put the blame on them instead of the people dumb enough to be playing such a ridiculous game.

Finally, since rhinos have horns and whatnot, they will provide the full contact action required by the people of America.

Come to think of it, why not just watch the NFL? This idea sucks. I just wanted to draw a picture of myself playing polo on a rhino, and decided to come up with a story behind it.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Housekeeping Stuff

Ok, so here are a bunch of administrative things.

First, I totally dig saying that I'm in charge of administrative stuff. It makes me feel like this is a real thing, and not just a creation of my own.

Second, I apologize for ignoring this blog almost completely. Aside from my extremely heartfelt reflections on the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl tragedy, I haven't updated this blog since my personal rant against petting zoos (and more specifically, goats. I hate goats). Again, I hate goats. I know I'm not supposed to acknowledge the things I wrote in parentheses, but I really don't like goat. I don't like their cheese. I don't like their faces. I don't like their radical forms of government, which threaten to overthrow all that we, as Americans, hold dear. Goats suck.

Third, if you're checking out my blog and don't know about, check it out. It's a really interesting concept, created by people who comment on the Pensblog ( The idea is to create a sort of forum for the users of the blog to generate their own content, and have their voices heard. Random thoughts about the lockout? Covered. Photoshops of Sidney Crosby? Check. I'm looking forward to writing my first post there, and when I do, I will link to it. Right now, I'm considering several ideas, and when one of them works out, I'll let you know.

Finally, thanks for reading and being patient. I've been busy with other things, and I pushed this to the side. I promise I'll give it my best attempt to make you laugh a little bit soon.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Reflections on Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

Today (yesterday, by the time you read this) is the anniversary of the plane crash that claimed the lives of the KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.

Why do I care?

"Care" isn't even the right word.

Why do I obsess? Why do I watch every moment from every team in the league, to the best of my ability? Why do I read every tweet, from Bob McKenzie to Adrian Dater, and everyone in between?

I fucking love it.

I would censor myself, but it wouldn't have the same feel. It requires that level of sincerity that would make some uncomfortable. Deal with it.

I listen to podcasts, I research games from the past, I find out how hockey changed and why the hell it happened. I can't get enough.

It's the same reason why just a few minutes ago, while reading again about the tragedy that nearly overcame a Russian hockey team, I began to tear up uncontrollably.

Yes, everyone, save for one crew member, died in that flight. They say that the plane crashed due to pilot error. Apparently, the pilot used the brakes in an inadvisable manner, causing the plane to fail to properly take off. I refuse to blame an individual for the incident. Mistakes happen, and though in this case, many lives were lost, I cannot find it within me to blame the pilot. The flight was made many times before, and this time, it failed. The pilot lost his life. Blame is to be given only when the negative repercussions do not affect those responsible. As it is, the man responsible paid dearly, and is to be remembered equally for the tragedy the occurred, not vilified. I cannot fly a plane, and I cannot pretend to do so. Therefore, with the family of the lost pilot in mind, I cannot blame him. I hope that nobody else does.

A bumblebee is not made to fly. It does not know this, so it flies anyways. The same could be said for the flight that resulted in the loss of 44 people. Many of them were hockey players, all of them were people who deserved long, happy lives. The flight never should have happened.

Some people rushed to blame the KHL for providing an unsafe means of transportation. Others rushed to blame the airline, itself, for not accounting for all possible failures. I am not here to do either. I am here simply to reflect on the men who lost their lives in the pursuit of something they had wished for as kids. These men died in the midst of "living the dream," as it were.

Having been disassociated with the hockey world for a few years now, I can see things in a more panned-out manner. As a senior in college, one thing I see a lot is the other hockey players my age, discussing the idea of "living the dream". It is, to me, the most beautiful thing that hockey can bring to a person. Living the dream.

This idea is one I've known for years, even knowing of it back when I still played. To live the dream is to play hockey, to score the goals, to lay down hits, to dangle, to have sick flow, and to pick up chicks like nobody's business (seriously, a thoroughbred hockey player dominates any football player you know). You can even be gongshow to the max and still live the dream. Simply put, playing hockey past anybody's reasonable expectations is living the dream. Nobody believes in you. They want you to give up, to quit.

The hockey player says no. Many people play hockey, but few are hockey players. To play is one thing. To live it is another. I hope that people recognize my passion and realize that, as much as I lacked the skills, I cared more than can be quantified. I felt and still feel the passion.

That is why I cry when I think of Lokomotiv. Aside from a few NHL role players (players without considerable skill, who slipped into a specified role to help their teams win), I did not know the team by name. But I knew them as people. It doesn't take a long career of junior hockey, semi-pro hockey, and professional hockey to know them. They were players not given another chance in the NHL, who could have gone on to other careers, but who said "no, I'm going to keep doing what I love". I respect that more than anything.

On September 7, 2011, at around 4:05 Russian time, the plane crashed. Along with the plane went the lives of 43 individuals. Right winger Alexander Galimov initially survived the crash, despite burns to over 90% of his body. Overcoming his grave injuries, he summoned the strength to call to rescuers, "brothers, I am Galimov". He succumbed to injuries a few days later, despite a courageous effort to stay alive.

His words still resonate with me. "Brothers, I am Galimov". I cannot put into words the feeling that resonates within me at the reading of those words. Is it strength? Compassion? I don't know. I read it, and the strength and courage of that man sticks with me. He could have remained silent and waited for the end, but instead, he fought on, declaring himself, refusing to go.

Kind of like the team, itself.

Despite an announcement stating that Lokomotiv Yaroslavl would not be participating in the upcoming KHL season, the team continues on. Former NHL players, as well as international players have pledged their allegiance to carry on in the name.

It is not a pity team, nor is it a memorial team. It is a hockey team, looking to win a championship. A true hockey player does not wish for someone to grieve for them after their end inevitably comes, whether early or on time. Hockey players live in the moment, vying for a win, and nothing more. It is Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Not Lokomotiv II, or anything like that. It simply is what it is.

Remember those who lose their lives doing what they loved. Do not remember them simply because of what they did and why they lost their lives. Remember them more for the fact that sometimes, people meet their end, and at their end, they have no extra time. No time to make up for what may have been lost before their end. No time to right wrongs. Instead, they have only what has been accomplished up to that time. I believe that the people who died in the crash probably died at the happiest point in their lives. Grown-up men, playing a kids' game for money.

How much sweeter does it get?

Always remember:

Vitali Anikienko
Mikhail Balandin
Gennady Churilov
Pavol Demitra
Robert Dietrich
Alexander Galimov
Marat Kalimulin
Alexander Kalyanin
Andrei Kiryukhin
Nikita Klyukin
Stefan Liv
Jan Marek
Sergei Ostapchuk
Karel Rachůnek
Ruslan Salei
Maxim Shuvalov
Kārlis Skrastiņš
Pavel Snurnitsyn
Daniil Sobchenko
Ivan Tkachenko
Pavel Trakhanov
Yuri Urychev
Josef Vašíček
Alexander Vasyunov
Alexander Vyukhin
Artem Yarchuk

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Why I Hate Petting Zoos

I really hate petting zoos.

In fact, I think that the only people who detest them more than I do are the ones who work at them. Usually, you see a petting zoo at a fair or festival of some sort, and invariably, the people tending to the animals are farm kids. While the kids attending the festival/fair/bar mitzvah/whatever are enthralled by the novelty of incessantly jabbing a llama with a stick, the farm kids whose family owns these animals look miserable, as if there is nothing they would enjoy more than seeing the llama drop kick a child in the face.

Obviously, their hatred comes from growing up around these animals, and lacking the joy experienced by the other kids. That's how I know "Charlotte's Web" is bullshit. The little girl who fell in love with Wilbur the pig would have been more likely to lick her lips, eagerly awaiting bacon, or to sit and monitor it while dozens of screaming kids attempt to touch it.

By the way, Wilbur is schizophrenic. Hearing spiders talking is a sign that things are not well in that pig's head. He probably would have been better off as a ham sandwich, and I don't even like ham.

Back on track, I should mention that I have a bad history with petting zoos.

For one, I hate stepping in shit. This should come as a surprise to nobody, as it is unlikely that there is someone who actively seeks out crap to step in. I mean, I'm sure that somewhere out there, there is a person who spends his days walking behind horses, but I'm not that guy, and chances are good that you aren't either. At petting zoos, though, we all become that guy.

The second reason has already been mentioned. The people working at petting zoos always look dead on the inside, and I can't blame them. They have all of the horrible aspects of working with very young children, multiplied by all of the horrible aspects of cleaning up goat shit.

This brings me to the last part of why I dislike petting zoos. Goats.

I really do not like goats.

They have alien eyes, and they want to eat your soul. Have you ever seen "Drag Me To Hell"?

Now you don't need to see it, because I, being a nice fellow with great charm and a winning smile, have provided it for you.

The worst thing about goats is that THEY don't like ME. And they're allergic to me. I have been sneezed on by 3 goats, which is exactly the number of times I've willingly come into contact with them. I'm not talking about a polite, "oh, pardon me, achoo" sneeze. I'm talking about a green, sticky, mucus-paste. If you're reading this line, it means that you didn't close this post because of the mucus paste, so thanks.

Last time I was in a petting zoo with a goat was last fall at Trax farm. My Mom took my sister and I to the pumpkin festival, which is something I always enjoy, specifically because they have deep-fried Oreos.

 Fried Oreos make hot Dog Eagle Boner happy.

Somehow in the course of the day, my sister convinced me to go into the petting zoo, because she "WANTED TO PET THE BABY PEEEEEEEGY (pig)". I ended up paying a dollar for a cup full of corn with which to feed the animals. Bad idea. I was immediately swarmed by several goats and an extremely persistent duck. As soon as the animals had cleaned me out of my corn, they left. As I lamented the fact that I gave them all I had and received nothing in return (forever alone), one goat remained behind. While I was initially happy that I had made a goat friend, I soon realized that it was just stupid, and didn't realize I was out of food.

I attempted to walk away, but it followed me. I turned to look at it, and convince it that I was out of food, when it reared up on its back legs and kicked me square in the chest.


I shoved off the goat and yelled "you motherfucker!" in a petting zoo full of kids (not just baby goats, but human children as well). Not my finest hour. Meanwhile, my sister was happily petting a baby pig and having the time of her life. She pets a baby pig, I get kicked in the chest by a goat. That's my luck, right there.

the other day, I finally got to see a petting zoo from the other side of the fence, without being forced to go inside. I was at the 4th of July fair thing in Mt. Lebanon, and for some reason ended up standing behind the petting zoo fence. This petting zoo contained about 20 small goats, one alpaca, a mini horse, a goose, one turkey, and 2 ducks (one of which looked like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart). 

As a storm brewed in the hills behind us, the sky getting increasingly dark, the goats simulated the effects of a storm on the ground. They ran in circles as a large pack, terrifying children. They bit at peoples' shirts, demanding food, and causing little kids to break down in tears. The turkey walked around with a give-no-fucks attitude (by the way, turkeys are violent. Bad idea putting one in a petting zoo). The alpaca attempted to bite at a kid's face. Best of all was the horse, who seemed to take a continuous dump at the feet of one of the miserable workers.

All the while, the duck played selections from Don Giovanni, in order to truly encapsulate the chaos and terror of the scene unfolding before us.

Then it advised me to switch to Aflac, and was eaten by the alpaca, while the little girl working at the petting zoo looked on, unamused but not altogether concerned.

"I'm getting the hell out of this post"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Handful of Embarrassing Moments

Doing stupid things is second nature to me. Almost so much that I should probably just call them "things" and then things that aren't stupid should just be called "smart things".

The other day, I reached into the basin at work where the chefs throw their pots and pans, and I pulled out a 250 degree metal handle, completely cooking my hand. Unfortunately, nobody saw it, nor did anybody see my reaction of jumping up and down 4 or 5 times while saying "fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck". I feel like something of that nature must be enjoyed by all.

I've also done other stupid things.

-In my first game of high school hockey against Baldwin High School, I was hanging around in front of the net. My net. The puck bounced out in front of me, and I lunged....for a slap shot. Yes, my friends, I beat my goaltender top shelf on my second or third shift ever in an Upper St. Clair uniform. That's the story of how I scored on Ken Wregget's son to give Baldwin a 1-goal victory. School was fun the next day, but not quite as fun as getting changed in the locker room afterwards.

-In my senior year for the homecoming football game, I went to buy a blank white t-shirt at Walgreens so that I could draw on it with a sharpie. The guy at the counter gave me a very strange look, which kind of annoyed me. Dude sells cigarettes and condoms, but he's giving me a strange look for buying a t-shirt? Ass. After drawing all over the shirt and writing some colorful messages for Bethel Park on it, I was ready to put on the shirt. Then it hit me....I had bought a girl's size medium v-neck shirt. Needless to say, it showed off my flawless physique, but also was a girls size medium v-neck shirt.

-At James Baily's grad party, people were going down his zip-line in the back yard over and over, but I could sense danger. I kept telling myself "no, don't do it. You'll end up like Christopher Reeves without the money". Eventually, my heart won out over my brain, and I climbed the hill to get on the zip line. My friend Jake decided I needed a little boost, so he helped me out. By a little boost, I mean he grabbed me and ran full speed, letting go at terminal velocity. I couldn't jump off, so I prepared for the worst. The rope snapped when it hit the end of the zip line, causing me to soar through the air....and land directly on my back. Rather than care about my possible upcoming role in Superman, James's brother simply said "you asshole, you broke my zip line".

-I wave at people I don't know a lot, because I think they're talking to me. Instead, they're talking to a person right behind me. My Mom actually did this a few days ago, so I know I'm not necessarily the biggest loser on the beach.

-And my personal favorite. The house was empty one day, and when I got out of the shower, there was a knock at the door. I tried to ignore it, but the person kept knocking. Finally, I got annoyed and opened the door in my towel. Two Jehovah's Witnesses were standing there, eager to offer me eternal salvation or some such thing. Unfortunately, as my hand was on the doorknob and not on my towel, the lone piece of 100% cotton that was hiding the not-allowed-on-basic-cable parts of me fell off, exposing said HBO parts of me to these very religious gentlemen. I have to hand it to them, they tried to ignore it, but I could not, so I laughed and shut the door. So that's the story of how I flashed my junk at two door-to-door pilgrims.

But nothing happened that's quite as embarrassing as this. Yet.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Will Schuster's Fantasy Draft

As the sounds of the Beastie Boys' "Paul's Boutique" pump through my empty room (Tommy's at Mid-am camp, looking to take on the rest of the US at a national camp), I sit and think "hmm, haven't written about hockey in a while". Let's do this.

Congratulations to the Kings. I've already vomited about rooting for a team from California for over a month, so the less said about them, the better. I still recall being absolutely livid that the Ducks won a few years back because "NO TEAM FROM CALIFORNIA SHOULD EVER WIN THE STANLEY FREAKING CUP". 

On to more pressing matters. THE 2012 NHL DRAFT!!!! THE NAIL YAKUPOV SWEEPSTAKES!!!! From what I've heard, he's the only person worth drafting this year, but inevitably, the draft will produce a few all stars, and a legend or two. This post is going to be a look back at a few busts the Penguins drafted in the past, and some people they should draft in the upcoming NHL entry draft, coming to you LIVE from PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA on June 22nd and 23rd.

2005: the Penguins drafted Sidney Crosby 1st overall, missing out on the opportunity to draft absolute SUPERSTARS like Benoit Pouliot (#4 overall, Minnesota Wild), Gilbert Brule (#7 overall, Columbus Blue Jackets), and Marek Zagrapan (#13 overall, Buffalo Sabres). Obviously this one didn't pan out. I would have taken Zagrapan 1st overall. In his career, he scored 127 points in the AHL compared to Crosby's 609 NHL points. We missed the ball on that, but everyone makes mistakes.

2004: the Pens drafted Evgeni Malkin, a bum from Russia who can't even learn English well enough to speak coherently, and hasn't done much. Who did we pass up? Lauri Tukonen, that's who. Guy played 185 AHL games and scored 103 points. He's currently hanging around in Finland. I believe that he will be the next breakout NHL superstar.

2012: the Penguins will most likely miss out on drafting bath salts. I think that he could be a superstar in this league, but people are worried about his erratic behavior off the ice. People don't seem to be willing to look to his impact in a locker room, which could change a lackluster team into a face-eating monster in no time. Especially in pivotal games in against Southeast teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

2012: inside sources tell me that despite a few missteps in the last few months, the Greek Economy would be a pivotal addition to the Penguins blue line. History has proven that Greece tends to make huge comebacks, and their economy would be a great 3rd or 4th round, low-risk addition. If it doesn't pan out, the Greek Economy can just be dumped on Spain's or Italy's national squad.

2012: finally, I think that the real dark horse of this draft could be Will Schuster. The kid played a few years of high school hockey, as well as some years in the WPHL. a stay-at-home defenseman, Schuster is known to occasionally lead some rushes up the ice, and has several 2-goal games under his belt, as well as a few league championships at both amateur and high school levels. Veteran leadership, as well as a lack of run-ins with other potential draftee, Bath Salts, make him a possible late 2nd-early 3rd round draft pick.

Pictured: Future NHL superstar. See the t-shirt?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Thoughts on Starting My New Job

I'm beginning my job at Piccolina's restaurant on Tuesday. It'll be nice to finally have some money again. I haven't begun yet, but I'm already very thankful that they hired me when nobody else would. Most places won't hire you if you tell them that it's only for the summer. They'd prefer someone who will be sticking around, and understandably so, but it's caused me a lot of stress this summer. Once you've had a job, it really wears on you when you don't have one.

When I walked in to apply, I instantly got flashbacks to the first restaurant I worked at way back when I was 16, Delallo's cafe. The food there was spectacular. a few of the people were extremely friendly, particularly an old woman named Lynn, who had worked as a waitress there for 35 years, since the day it opened. Whereas most waitresses seem somewhat dead on the inside after 5 years at the same restaurant, Lynn had a sense of positivity and cheerfulness even when the place was packed out the door and everyone was losing their mind. I learned a lot from her about keeping a relatively cool head at work when shit was hitting the fan, for lack of a better phrase.

However, despite the two or three friendly people at Delallo's, there were more than a few people there who did everything they could to make it as unwelcoming an environment as possible. The worst of them all was the owner, who in moments of calmness could be a nice enough guy, who explained away his faults as coming from the stress of running a successful restaurant. In almost every other situation, however, he was a terribly unkind man, who barked orders out of his 5'6'' Mussolini-esque frame. At one point, he referred to me as useless, and kicked me out of the restaurant to sweep up cigarette butts in the parking lot. During my time there, I was miserable every day. On days when I worked, I dreaded going in. On days that I didn't work, I dreaded the next time I did. 16 was not a fun age.

Therefore, when I walked into Piccolina's, and saw that the setup was almost identical to Delallo's, I got Vietnam-like PTSD flashbacks of a horrible boss, angry patrons, and surly waitresses. Then I met the owner, and my fears subsided. When I met the owner of Delallo's, he told me to get a hair cut, then walked away. The owner of Piccolina's welcomed my brother and I with a smile, and offered us both drinks, then gave us a tour of the restaurant.

I'm feeling good about this job, though I'm a bit nervous. I'm always nervous before I start a job. I never know what it's going to be like, how the people I work with will treat me, whether I will dread each coming day. Thankfully, each job I've had since that first one has been lightyears better in every way. I was fortunate enough to work at the Grand Residence for over a year as my second job, and it changed my outlook on working. I had, at one time, dreaded the rest of my life, thinking I would never be happy again, and that every job would be the same. I've never been so happy to be wrong.

Regardless of how this job turns out, I'll at least be making money. Plus, they hired my brother as well, so it'll be interesting having him around, even if we won't be working the same days. Kid's rolling in money right now from cutting lawns, but I'm kind of proud of him for finding a job on his own, despite not really having to. That's pretty cool, right?

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Call To Arms

Friends, I don't know what to say, really. I might start off by saying that I'm still dismayed over the loss dealt to the Penguins on Wednesday night. I might start off by saying that I really do not know what to expect tonight.

Instead, I think I will bring up a speech delivered by my personal hero, Theodore Roosevelt. Moments before the speech, the former President, governor, prolific writer, and war hero had been attacked by a man named John Schrank, who believed that the ghost of former President William McKinley had visited him and told him to assassinate Roosevelt. He succeeded in shooting Roosevelt, but did not succeed in killing him. As Roosevelt staggered onto the stage, he waved to the crowd, asking them to quiet down for him. 

"Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose," he said, firmly cementing himself as the most badass man to ever walk this earth. Roosevelt continued to speak for an hour and a half, despite promising to only give a short speech.

He deduced that he would be able to give his speech because, as an avid hunter, he knew that he was not in immediate danger, as he was not coughing up blood.

Fellow Pens fans, we must realize now that we, as a whole, are not yet coughing up blood. We will not merely back down and call off the fight. We will not promise to shorten the battle, but will instead rage on past the constraints of time expected of us, much as Roosevelt did on that day in 1912. 

People say to me sometimes, "why do you refer to the Penguins as "we," when you are not one of the men on the ice". This is a good question, but as is true with many questions, good and bad, it is easily answered. Without the fans, there is no team. The fans pay the money, watch the games, and scream in the crowd. As such, this battle is not won by the 20 on the ice, but by the thousands everywhere. 

I know of Penguins fans in Pittsburgh, Boston, Nashville, New York, San Jose, Washington, Erie, and yes, Philadelphia, among others. I also know of fans in Belgium, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia, the UK, and China. The fight for the Cup is not decided in one building, but in many. 

It is also not decided in one game. Teams will snatch victory from defeat, and will toss victory away at the welcome sight of a rest. That is what we got from the Penguins the other night. It is unfortunate that such a thing should happen in the first game of the playoffs, much as it would be unfortunate that it should happen in any game of the playoffs. 

When the Penguins lost the first two games against the Capitals in 2009, it seemed like that was the end. When they lost the first two games against the Red Wings that same year, the feeling returned. In the end, we were left with the image of Sidney Crosby lifting the Cup, handing it to Bill Guerin, and the final image of Mario Lemieux lifting it for a third time as the owner of the team. 

Do not give up yet. The Penguins have a lot of fight in them. Be loud, be optimistic, and be ready for anything. It's a long road to June.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


It was a long, long time ago. In fact, now it feels like a lifetime ago, walking out of the Mellon Arena that day, having just watched the NHL's newest phenom, Sidney Crosby, score his 98th, 99th, and 100th career points. It should have been a joyous occasion. In a way, it was. Everyone leaving the building that day knew that the Pens' victory over the New York Islanders was only a sign of things to come. It couldn't be entirely fun for the 16,000 loyal fans that packed Lady Mellon that afternoon. While there was one away game remaining (a 5-3 loss to the Maple Leafs, in which Sid picked up two more points), the feeling of a season ending without a playoff spot was a fresh, sore spot in our hearts.

The following season, the Penguins clinched their first playoff spot since 2001. Though they lost to the Senators in the first round, the buzz surrounding the Penguins was incredible to be a part of. The very next season, the Pens lost in the finals to the Red Wings. I remember a phone call I had with my Dad, who seemed unfazed by the loss.

"You have to lose one to win one," he said.

"They'll get it next year".

Enter 2009. Game 7. Sitting in front of the TV in Curtis Kennedy's basement, 20 friends all around me. They could have been talking, I don't know. As time ticked down, all that mattered to me was the Cup.

16 seconds. A whistle. Numerous false faceoffs and an audible "WHAT THE FUCK" from a fan. Pens up 2-1. Wings get the puck, send it into the zone.

8 seconds. 7 seconds. 6 seconds. Whistle blows, Brooks Orpik is on top of the puck in the corner. One more faceoff in the defensive zone.

Zetterberg wins the faceoff.


Shot on net. Brian Rafalski.


Puck's loose. Lidstrom has a wide open net. Gets the shot off.


Marc Andre Fleury, the goaltender everyone said would fall apart, the former number-1 overall draft pick who nobody but us believed in, dives. The puck hits his chest.


The Penguins won the Stanley Cup.

It had been several months of the most exciting hockey I can remember watching. Rival after rival stood in our way. The rematch with the Red Wings, arguably the NHL's best team at any given time. All of it was over, as Sid grabbed the Cup from Gary Bettman and raised it over his head.

Scratch that, it had been several years of the most exciting hockey I can remember watching. From that day Sid scored his 100th point to that moment, it all seemed like one continuous J.R.R. Tolkein tale.

And now, if all goes according to plan, we get to do it all over again.


This year is different. The Penguins are the favorites, something I have to admit I'm not quite used to. Sure, they've had the star power for years, but it always seemed like the Canucks or the Capitals who got the headlines. Not this year.

The Penguins begin their journey with arguably their toughest challenge, the Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins have only defeated the Flyers once in the Consol Energy Center. I don't think that matters. In a few of the previous matchups against them, it was not the Flyers who beat the Penguins. It was the Penguins who beat the Penguins. They allowed themselves to get suckered into the Flyers' garbage after whistles, which got them off their game. It's the same thing Max Talbot did in 2009, and it's the same thing he and his Flyer teammates do now. And it works.

If Marc Andre Fleury plays to his potential, the offense continues being a machine, and the blue line is not a revolving door, the Penguins CAN win this.

If the Penguins do not give in to the bullshit after the whistles, the Penguins WILL win this.

The Penguins are tougher (deny it all you want, Flyers fans). Simmonds and Hartnell are tough cookies, but the Penguins pack Dupuis, Asham, Engelland, Kunitz, Joe Vitale, and a whole lot of attitude from Crosby and Malkin. I'll take that crew into battle any day.

Penguins in 6.


Quick thoughts on the other series.

Bruins - Capitals

  • Yawn. The Bruins will win, the Capitals will choke. I feel like I've heard this story before. No way in hell Washington wins. If they do, I promise to chance the background of my blog to Alexander Ovechkin for a week. Bruins in 6.
Rangers - Senators
  • Again, yawn. the Rangers bore me. The Senators bore me. The Rangers will win, because the Senators suck. I'm less sure about this one, so I'm not making a bet here. The Senators have an excellent record in Madison Square Garden, so they could play spoiler here. Daniel Alfredsson is a unicorn, and Jason Spezza is so bad that his team's fans had a rally to support him last season. It drew about 30 people. Not making that up. Rangers in 6.
Devils - PANTHERS?
  • Before the season, I picked the Panthers to make the playoffs, so suck it, "experts". Honestly, the "experts" are never, ever, ever right. Why do they ask them their opinions? They're all failed coaches, anyways. Ask me, instead. I'll tell you who's going to win.
  • This is the most boring series of all time. I may be pleased that I was right about Florida, but I'm not pleased that they'll be on tv sometimes. I think even the fans in the arena will be hoping that other games will be broadcast on the jumbotron. I won't watch a minute of this. Devils in 7.
Canucks - Kings
  • The Kings appear to have the tools on offense. They just aren't that good. The Canucks, on the other hand are a machine, and will win this series easily. Just kidding. The Kings have Johnathan Quick. That dude's awesome. He's going to make a ton of saves, and cause the advil supply in Vancouver to plummet. Still, the Canucks are winning in 6. A very difficult 6.
Blackhawks - Coyotes
  • Sweep. Blackhawks. Next season's premier of "Portlandia": "Moving In," in which uHaul trucks ironically move a hockey team to a town that couldn't care less. Hipsters need a job and a shower. In fact, this really solidifies my pick, since the Coyotes will soon be associated with those morons in Portland. Blackhawks in 4.
Blues - Sharks
  • Go Blues. TJ Oshie is awesome.
  • I don't know why, but the Sharks have always been a team I love to hate. I think it's because I enjoy their reputation for being bigger chokers than Mama Cass. For the record, Mama Cass did not choke to death on a ham sandwich, as the legend would have you believe, but it's still funny.
  • Go Blues. David Backes is awesome.
  • Blues in 7.
Red Wings - Predators
  • If you're not aboard the Predators bandwagon, now's the time to get on. I've been there for two seasons now. What can I say? I'm a Weber fan. As a former defenseman, I can't help but love a team that chose to build around a goaltender and a core of defensemen. Their strategy is bold, but logical: can't score many goals, so don't let the other team do it either. This is probably the final ride for the Predators for a bit, as Weber and Suter are most likely on their way out. They'll be back, though.
  • This is probably the final run for the Red Wings. They haven't missed the playoffs in my lifetime, but their are rumblings of Holmstrom and Lidstrom retiring at season's end. If so, two of their biggest weapons are gone. the Red Wings seem to follow Ozzy's advice to never say die, but time does eventually run out. Like a gambler holding on to his last shot at winning, the Red Wings will go all in. This is the series I'm most excited for, aside from our own. This SHOULD be like Rocky vs Apollo Creed. Except it's real.
  • Ironic that it's the Predators who had a fossil on their uniform, since they'll be playing at least 4 games against a team that could be used to build Jurassic Park.
  • Predators in 7.
Get excited, people. If you're not, then I can't do anything for you.

Me? I'll be running around like mad, scaring my friends. 


Let's go Pens.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Playoffs Preview. Episode 1: The Flyer Menace

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....

It's almost time for game 82, but really, the playoffs have begun. Possibly 8 games in a row against the Philadelphia Flyers. A lot of things come to mind when I think of Philadelphia. Let's do some word association, shall we? Ok, I'm going to think the word "Philadelphia," then I'm going to write down the first word that comes to my head. 4 times, I think.

Philadelphia: cheese.

Philadelphia: sewer lids.

Philadelphia: Grimace from McDonalds.

Philadelphia: hookers.

As a (I loathe the word "buff"), I'm surprised nothing involving the American Revolution popped into my mind. It's a testament to how crappy that town is, that I can unequivocally deem them the cheese, sewer lid, hooker capital of the world, home of Grimace from McDonalds. Surprised it's not Mayor McCheese. I've even made a handy collage to give you a good image of what I think of when I hear "Philadelphia".

Believe it or not, the hooker is the first result when you google "Philadelphia hooker"
I skipped the cheese part, because cheese is not funny.

In all fairness, I've never been to Philadelphia, but then again...I've never been to a Garth Brooks concert. The point is, I don't have to go in order to know that it sucks.

Plus, I saw "National Treasure". That should be enough.

I found this today. It's Tony Granato and Dan Bylsma with KISS.

That's the coolest thing I've seen in a long time.

Let that picture sink in.

Gene Simmons. Paul Stanley. Those two replacement guys, aka fake Peter Criss and fake Ace Frehley. Disco Dan. Tony Granato.

Bonus appearance from Mike Yeo and Gilles Meloche. 

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have met in the playoffs five times. The Penguins lost to the Flyers in 1989, 1997, and 2000. However, the Penguins defeated the Flyers in both 2008 and 2009, en route to the Finals in both years, winning the cup the second time around. Gotta hope that streak holds true in 2012, with the Penguins defeating Philly and making it to the finals. 

The Flyers have not won a cup since 1975. 

Some other things that were popular in 1975: Stevie Wonder, "Chico and the Man," and "the Rocky Horror Picture Show". "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" sucks. Worst movie I've ever seen.

If you like that movie, buy a Briere jersey.

Point is, that's a long time ago, and it's only getting farther and farther away. They still think it's 1975, though, and continue to play hockey like morons.

Actually, '75 also had "Jaws," the film for "Tommy," and Led Zeppelin's "Physical Graffiti". Those are some pretty cool things...still, 


This series is going to be annoying, it's going to be violent, and it's not going to be easy. Players will do stupid things, some will get injured, possibly badly. Coaches will snipe back and forth at each, maybe just one will. Players will whine, but they won't be the ones you're always told are whiners.

It'll be Little Debbie Briere.

Goalies are going to be the deciding factor of this series, as they always are. Flower's one of the best in the league, and I don't really doubt that he will continue to be. When he's on, nobody is harder to beat, and I'll stick by that no matter what. Still, the possibility exists that he could....nah, he's the man. Ilya Bryzgalov, though? The space cadet is going to get lit up like Heartwood Acres at Christmas time, he'll say some ridiculous thing to the media, and then he will become every Penguins fan's best friend as he lets in goal after goal.
Here's Bryz talking about his five-hole.

But remember, Bryz....when all is said and done, when your team is shaking hands with our team, and golf courses around Philadelphia are kicking it into high gear to prepare for your arrival; when you're watching the Penguins move on to the next round; even before that, when Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and Sidney Crosby are ripping you to pieces in front of a bloodthirsty Consol Energy Crowd (though I'd prefer Hawaiian Punch or RC Cola to blood, myself)....just remember....

It's only hockey. It's only game. Why you heff to be maed?

The time has come.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pens at Isles. Gameday 78.

The Islanders got the better of the Pens last game. Thing is, they could also beat the hell out of the Pens in golf, because they haven't missed a tee time since 2007. 

The Pens had the opportunity to choke the life out of the Islanders two nights ago, but forgot to show up. The Pittsburgh offense shelled Evgeni Nabokov worse than Berlin in 1945, but the defense got lost on the way to the arena, perhaps because somebody stole the GPS off Paul Martin.

I actually like Paul Martin, and I could have put the blame on any of the defensemen for that game. PaulMatinPowerball just happened to finish with the lowest +/- on the team, except for Craig Adams. I refuse to talk smack on Craig Adams.

While it was not the Penguins who landed the death-blow to the Islanders, they will be attending the funeral tonight.
And will be kind enough to leave a 9-iron and a Titleist.

It feels almost redundant to go over it again, but I'd be doing a disservice to anybody reading this if I didn't at least cover the basics. Here's the rundown:

-Flower's tied with Pekka Rinne for the league lead in wins, with 41.

-Geno's 9 points ahead of Steven Stamkos with a league-leading 99 points. He's getting 100 and 101 tonight. One goal, one assist.

-James Neal is 5th in the league with 78 points. Ray Shero got him AND Matt Niskanen for Alex Goligoski. The only thing I miss about Goose is sitting in front of the tv and screaming, "NO, YOU IDIOT! YOU ARE THE WORST THING THAT WAS EVER BIRTHED". I was wrong, though. The worst thing that was ever spawned on our lovely earth was Sarah McLaughlin, for those sad commercials. Sorry for being so harsh, Goose.

-Sid's points per game is off the charts, with 25 points in 16 games. He'll have 28 points by the end of the night. Why?

Pittsburgh's going to crush the Islanders 5-1. 

I have nothing more to say. Make this happen, gents.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Blog, All Music, All the Time

Hello, there.

When I started this blog, I had mentioned that I wanted to discuss three things: hockey, random stuff that makes me a fascinating fellow, and music.

Hockey? Check.

Randomness? Check.

Music? Not quite.

I wrote a few posts about a few different musical things. One was about heavy metal as a genre, another was about Avenged Sevenfold's album, "Nightmare," and the other was about my favorite album of all time, The Who's "Quadrophenia". None of them really fit with what I'd been doing previously on this blog.

Because of this, I'm creating a separate blog for divulging my deepest, darkest thoughts on music. This one will still be going, but I feel that not being able to write about music would be a mistake for me, so I'm doing this, as well. I feel that I know a lot about hockey, but I also feel that I know twice as much about music.

I'd like to eventually turn writing into a career of sorts, or at least have it make up a large part of my career, and I think that making a second blog about music, where I can sort of challenge myself to be serious, is a good idea for practice. It's difficult for me to do that, and most of my posts on this blog look like a snarky college student's attempt at talking smack on everything around me, or an attempt to just make fun of myself.

Therefore, I've created "Over The Wills And Far Away," which is my extremely lame attempt to turn a Led Zeppelin classic into a cheesy name for my blog. I'll admit, I took the idea from a blog I used to read, called "Houses of the Hockey" ("Houses of the Holy," by Led Zeppelin (1973), was the inspiration there). What a terrible name I've given this new place. It'll change, but that's what I'm going with for right now, so deal with it.

The URL for the site is

Don't go there yet, because there's nothing to see right now. I have to set up, format, and write a post first. I'll let you know when that is. EDIT: IT'S UP AND RUNNING

Anyways, thanks for faking interest for my sake! Or maybe, just mayyyyybe, you really enjoy my writing. If you're in the latter category, you're probably my Mother, but it's nice all the same.

And remember....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pens vs. Jets

Holy cow's udders, it's Spring! What should I listen to? "Seasons of Wither" by Aerosmith? No, that defines Fall. Metallica's too dark. I know what'll do the trick...

You're damn right it's a great day for hockey! My window's open, I've got lame-ass plaid shorts on, and I can smell burgers and hot dogs being grilled up at the small park above me. When it comes to hockey, that means only one thing: PLAYOFFS!

In a few weeks, I'll write an enormous and unquestionably awesome post about how the NHL playoffs are the greatest thing since sliced pizza (sliced bread is overrated). That's what I do....nonstop awesome posts. Except the times they're not very good. First thing's first, though: get two points tonight.

What do the Penguins do? Win.

If I could describe the last month of the Pens' season in a picture, it would be this:

Yeah, Yukon Cornelius with lightsabers making an appearance.

How about a .gif?

Ticklefrog knows what's up.

Perhaps a song?

That's right. The Pens have grabbed their lightsabers and ticklefrogged their way through the nhl, as they have sought and destroyed everything in their path. Ticklefrogged isn't even a verb, but I made it so. Guess what?


Oh yeah, there WAS this one little problem. The Philadelphia Flyers. They came back from out of nowhere the other day, as the Pens bought into their garbage tactics and lost focus. Can't take it away from Philly, they fought back hard, and Scott Hartnell caused my jaw to drop for at least two minutes as he scored with seconds remaining in overtime, thus rendering me speechless for the first time in 21 years.

The boys in the black and gold will get 'em back later on in the Spring. I have no doubt their space cadet goalie will return to Mars, and will leave a humayyyyyyngaas beeg hole for Sid and Geno to fire pucks into the net through. 

Tonight, though? Winnipeg.

Guess what?
An attempt to give the middle finger to Winnipeg.

First thing's first: it took me until the 9th page of google images to find ANYTHING relating to the NEW Winnipeg Jets, even though I typed in "Winnipeg Jets".

Perhaps something else would've been more appropriate....


The Thrashers Jets are currently 8th....wait, no. 10th in the Eastern Conference. So much for my preseason prediction that they would make the playoffs. They sit behind a dreadful Sabres team, and a hilariously awful Capitals team, and need five points to make it into the playoff picture. They're not getting two of them tonight, and probably won't make it at all. Guess how much I care?

Sid's back, Geno hasn't slowed down, James Neal is scoring goals again, and Matt Cooke is all of a sudden a dominant offensive force (chalk that one up to Sid dragging 3 players on his back so that Cookie has some room to move).

With this win, I'm told the Penguins can secure a playoff spot. Let's get those points, boys.

Gotta get some Maiden in here somewhere.

Despite the good time I had making fun of the Jets, I can admit that they're a great team at home, playing in front of a crowd that wishes to drink the blood of their enemies. This game should be more of the.....wait...

Pens are winning this one, 6-3.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Blog About Nothing

Blog blog blog blog blog. I need something to write about.

I've been 21 for 3 days now, and so far, I've not died. In fact, I didn't even get legitimately drunk this weekend, so I guess I'm a bit of a loser in that sense. My friends took care of me on Wednesday night, though. I had no idea rum and coke comes in a pitcher. I also had no idea how fast it can disappear. Hi, Mom!

Speaking of my Mom, she provided me with the best laugh I've had in a while. She called while we were at Quaker Steak for dinner and told me to wish my friend Alex a happy birthday as well. Alex replied that my Mom beat her to it, which is both sad and hilarious (to me).
I was in a sour mood today, probably from lack of sleep the last few nights. My roommate, John, got really sick the other night, so I stayed up til 6 or so waiting for news about him. He reads this, so feel better, double J.
I created a solid new insult today. The Penguins lost in Overtime to the Flyers, on a goal scored by Scott Hartnell, who is the hockey equivalent of syphilis. My jaw hit the floor, and I was without a proper insult. My mind searched through all the bad words I know, but I was unable to think of the proper thing. Later in the day, I got in an argument with someone I loath, and it came to me: "go fall on an open box of lightbulbs". Had I been in the right state of mind, that's what I would have said as I watched the winning streak die in the lat seconds of overtime.
Check this out:

Yeah, those are the footprints of two people a'doin' it, caught in the act by the Marauder's Map from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Happy birthday, Bruce Willis.

That's about all I've got to say. I just felt like I should write something.

Happy Kashubian Unity Day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reflections on 21 Years of Strange Activities

As I sit here writing this, a mere 22 hours before I am officially 21, I am forced to reflect back upon my life, and what occurred in the 21 years prior to this very moment.

I am told that I was born in grotesque fashion, as 100% of everyone on this planet was. I apparently was not willing to enter this world, and the doctor used a suction cup to yank me out. That's right, I got plungered out like a clogged toilet. That's why I look the way I do, I think. It's a good thing I don't remember.

Perhaps my earliest memories come from Westminster Church, where I attended daycare for several years. Apparently, I left quite an impression upon the people who worked there, as there are some who still remember me at least 15 years later. What can I say? Even as a toddler, I was charming as could be. Serious 5 year-old game with the ladies, too.

One time, a girl named Christine vomited what appeared to be gray mud in the corner of the classroom. Then she did it again. And again. To this day, I associate "Christine" with "projectile vomit". I could meet the hottest girl in the world, and strike up a conversation with her. Things could be going real smooth, and perhaps I'm showing her how I can hold a straw or pencil in the space directly between my eyeball and my skull. Then, I ask for her number. Smooth move, Will. The eyeball trick is a winner. I get her number, and then I say "oh man, it's been a solid 30 seconds since I had this stupid idea for my blog! I need your name!". Then, with a wink, she says in a very lovely voice, "Christine".

And proceeds to throw up all over me.

Three times.

Another early memory includes Alex Billak, who was one of my friends in my very early years. The story is rather short...we used to sit at Westminster and eat chalk dust. Many of you are probably feeling pretty Christine-ish at that, and I don't blame you. I didn't enjoy it, but he did, so I thought perhaps I wasn't eating enough of it, and had to double up to get the full flavor experience that only chalk can give you. In the end, I probably consumed more chalk than a sidewalk crevice.

Skip ahead a year or two to Kindergarten at Eisenhower with Mrs. Friedman. I used to annoy the shit out of this lady, though I never knew it. Looking back, I was a real bastard, but it's funny. I used to go to her desk while everyone else was working, and take stuff out of it. Then I would proceed to ask her what each thing was...every single day. I think she probably took pity on me, because she thought I was retarded. How else could I not understand "those are scissors" after the 50th day in a row? But I wasn't retarded...I can't remember now, but chances are good that I knew I was being obnoxious, and I enjoyed it.

I have made several trips to the emergency room, most of which were for stupid reasons. One year on Easter...or was it perhaps a different holiday? Whatever the case, we were at my grandparents' house in Baldwin for a celebration of some sort, and my Dad, my uncles, and I were playing catch with a football in the backyard. I ran to make a catch, and drove my face straight into a pole that held up the clothesline in the back yard. Holiday ruined. ER.

Three Christmases ago, I punched through a pane of glass in a fit of rage. I won't go into the entire story, though in truth, it's more justified than it sounds. The end result was 6 stitches, presents being delayed until about 2 p.m., and emotional trauma for my family. Once the spirit of the holidays re-entered me, I spent the entire time at the hospital making jokes, attempting to get the man who was stitching me up to laugh. He did not, and I still think he probably got nothing but shit in his stocking as a kid. How else could you avoid even smiling at the hilarity of a kid hitting his stitched, slightly bleeding hand off things, because the Novocaine made it feel as if it was a block of wood? Oh right, my Mom wasn't laughing either. Holiday ruined. ER.

The most bizarre trip to the hospital was not holiday-related. I used to put coins in my mouth, because as Mrs Friedman had realized before any of us, I was retarded. I enjoyed the taste of the metal, and a layer of grime and germs only added to that flavor. I have also heard that there's cocaine on all our money, so perhaps I am a cokehead? Regardless, I swallowed a quarter one day, and was taken to the hospital. They told me there was nothing they could do, and I'd just have to wait for it to "pass". I'm convinced that it never did, and that if all else fails, I'm worth 25 cents (adjusted for inflation).

I would like to be able to say that in my 21 years of life, I have learned things. Valuable things, invaluable things, and trivial things. One thing, two things, red thing, blue get it. And I can say that yeah, I have. I'm a pretty decent writer, if I do say so myself. I also have a knack for making people laugh when they don't want to, and laugh harder than normal when they do want to (except that time Bri Buczek punched me in the face last year, which turned out to be the funniest part of an already hilarious evening). Perhaps you're reading this going, "he's not that funny," to which I say..."shove it up your ass". It's my damn birthday almost, and I'm going to brag. I never do, and if you ever catch me doing so, it's a joke. I'm not really the bee's knees, the cat's pajamas, the kitten's mittens, or an ox's socks. None of these animals wear clothes, and bees don't have knees. That would be preposterous.

And I made up the ox thing. Nobody else has ever said that before, and with good reason. Oxen live in muddy areas, and socks would simply slip off their feet into the mud. I'm sure at one point, a cat wore mittens or pajamas, and a bee with knees was born near a nuclear reactor. An ox would never wear socks.

See what I just did? That's called beating a dead horse.

Or like putting socks on an ox.


Tomorrow night, I shall embark upon my first journey to a bar that didn't result in a quick "get the hell out" (just kidding, it'll actually be my first time entering a bar for anything other than a burger). In conclusion, and in light of all of this reflection, I shall promise to remember all that I have learned in my past. As I move forward and grow older with each passing moment, I will remember what scissors are, I won't punch any glass, and I will not eat chalk. There may be a few other things that I should take with me, but those are the most important three.

Oh yeah, and I won't even go "Christine" and vomit on anyone.

Time to party like it's 1996.

This is not me, but the little bastard stole my dance moves.

Thanks for reading.