Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Influential Albums: Violator by Depeche Mode

Welcome to the first installment of My Influential Albums!
In each installment of this series I'll be highlighting albums that have affected me throughout my life. Why? Because I love music, and I love talking about music. Which albums have influenced you?

Violator - Depeche Mode

The year was 1990, I was 15, and this 9-song album had a profound effect on me from beginning to end. I listened to it so much I wore out 2 copies of the cassette, and it remains one of my top 10 favorite albums to this day. One review I read began "In a word, stunning." It was certainly that. It grabbed my 15-year-old mind from the first synthesized notes of "World In My Eyes," and didn't let go until the very last strains of "Clean" faded away. I was blown away.

It didn't feel like top 40 pop. It didn't quite feel like rock. It didn't feel overly dark or disturbing. It didn't feel too electronic or techno-y. 
It felt right.

Though this album produced four amazing radio singles in "Personal Jesus," "Enjoy the Silence," "Policy of Truth," and "World In My Eyes," my personal favorite tracks are the super underrated "Halo" and the utterly captivating "Blue Dress." The very first line of "Halo," for example: "You wear guilt like shackles on your feet, like a halo in reverse," drew me right in. And the chorus is one of my favorites on the entire album: 

"And when our worlds 
They fall apart
When the walls come tumbling in
Though we may deserve it
It will be worth it"

Of course, Dave Gahan's voice (and Martin Gore's in some cases) adds just the right touch to every song, and their harmonies are almost spookily perfect. "Policy of Truth" is like an eargasm.

For the purposes of this post, I just now listened to the enire album all the way through for the first time in ages, albeit on Spotify rather than a cassette this time, and I'm just as much in love with it now as I was then. Every single song. I'm not even sick of "Personal Jesus," and that's saying something. That, my friends, is one of the marks of an influential album in my eyes. "Violator" turned 23 this year, and it's stood the test of time for me. 

Here is the entire album. Listen and enjoy. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Other 30-Something Couple Who Mostly Keep to Themselves

It was nice out today, which of course brings all the annoying people out of the woodwork, so I wasn't surprised when I heard yelling outside the apartment. When I looked, it turned out to be the guy I call Loud Smelly Guy. That's when I realized that, aside from Upstairs Douchebag and one-half of The Nice Older Cuban Couple (I know the husband's name, but not the wife's), I know not one of my courtyard neighbors' names. Instead, I refer to them all by descriptive names I've made up along the way, such as Loud Smelly Guy, Upstairs Douchebag, and The Nice Older Cuban Couple. The other courtyard dwellers have been dubbed as follows:

Overly Tan Boat Shoes Guy
The Nice Old Lady Who Calls Me Nicole
The 20-Something Couple Who Mostly Keep to Themselves
The People Who Like to Stare in My Windows
The Old Russian Couple Who Hates Me Because My Former Upstairs Neighbor Was Their Friend
Cute New Guy With the Great Ass
One of the Maintenance Guys for the Complex and His Brother
The People Who Were Displaced by Hurricane Sandy
The Quiet Older Puerto Rican Couple
The Family of Indeterminate Race With Seemingly a Thousand Obnoxious Kids
The 30-Something Couple Who Mostly Keep to Themselves
Whoever Lives in the Last Apartment on the Bottom Level (because I truly I have no idea)

I'm sure I have a similar descriptive name in some people's minds (I actually heard someone call me "The Girl With the Big Dog and the Big Tattoos" once while I was walking Chuck).

Does it suck that I don't have one neighbor I'd trust enough to give my key to for an emergency, or even to ask to take in my mail if I'm not home? Sure. Is it sad that none of us feel the need to learn each other's names? A little. It might even be a commentary on today's society, but I can't be bothered to go that deep with it right now. Sure, I'd love to have neighbors Josh and I could be friends with, barbecue with, whatever. And maybe someday that will happen for us. Just not now, not here in this apartment complex. For now, we're The Other 30-Something Couple Who Mostly Keep to Themselves. And we're ok with that.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lauren Holly is kind of a bitch.

This past Saturday, Josh, Aunt Paula and I went to Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con and had an awesome time. Josh and I had been before, but it was Aunt Paula's first time and she had a blast, which makes me happy, because she originally had wanted to go to see Nathan Fillion, who was scheduled to be there but canceled due to "scheduling conflicts." Boo.

An actual working pay phone in Philly. 
I love conventions like this. I appreciate good cosplay, and if there's one thing there is an abundance of at Comic Con, it's cosplay, both good and bad. This was my favorite of the day:

I also love that conventions like this give fans the chance to interact with/geek out over their favorite comic book/movie/TV show celebs. Some celebs' lines were ridiculously long, but they were gracious and chatted with fans as they signed autographs. Case in point: Norman Reedus. His line was out of control before he even arrived, but he took the time to speak to every single person in that line.

Norman Reedus being awesome.
Most celebs who appear at these things understand how they work. They know that people are going to geek out over them, and they are, for the most part, humble, nice people. Remember folks, they are just people. Not that I didn't turn into a total fangirl the minute I saw Marky Ramone, because I did. I'm surprised I didn't squeal. But yes, he is just a person like you and I. Well, maybe not exactly like you and I, but you get my point.

Henry Winkler - yes, The Fonz! - is truly one of the nicest people on the planet. He was chatting with everyone, and was so polite, even helping one woman navigate around the barrier, and he seemed genuinely happy to be there. Of course, he is an actor, and I'm aware that he very well could have been acting. But still.

Even Fonzie loves zombies/aliens.
Shawn Ashmore and Aaron Ashmore, who are freaking adorable, by the way, seem like genuine, down-to-Earth guys. After their Q&A, Josh approached Aaron to ask a question about Warehouse 13, and he could not have been nicer. Not only did he answer the question, but he put actual thought into his answer, named a specific episode from the previous season, and he spoke to Josh like a person, not a peasant.

Aaron (left) and Shawn (right) Ashmore. Lotta hotness right there.
There is, however, the flip side as well. Some celebs who appear are just not cool. At all. I've heard from other people who were there that Lou Ferrigno was a dick. I don't think I'm surprised. I don't care who you are, there's no reason to be a dick to people who wait in line to see you and then pay for the privilege of a ten second chat and an autograph.

Side note: 
Dear William Shatner,
As much as I love you, I'm not going to pay $75 for your autograph.
I'm just not.

Aside from Lou Ferrigno, I saw/heard nothing but good things about the other attending celebs...except for Lauren Holly. Lauren Holly, as it turns out, is kind of a bitch. She was one of the only people all day who had no line. And I mean no line. Maybe nobody wanted to pay $40 for her autograph. Or maybe she should learn to be nicer to her fans. Here's what happened: because there was no line, and Josh liked her, he decided to go over and see her. He made a comment about the way her character was killed off on NCIS, because he disagreed with it. Do you know what her response was? An incredibly snotty "You put too much thought into it. It's just a character." No shit it's just a character, bitch. Do you think he didn't know that? Do the chicks dressed as Wonder Woman really think they're Wonder Woman? No. Who says that to a fan? Maybe that's why she had no line.

See the Joker dude? He was the only other person in her line.
P.S. I think she's only smiling here because someone just handed her a beer.

Her Q&A, which we had originally been planning to attend, was scheduled for 6pm, but after that interaction, when I asked Josh if he wanted to go, his response was "No, fuck her."

Shame on you, Lauren Holly. Shame on you.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Celebrating Year One

Last Sunday the hubs and I did an overnighter in Wildwood in honor of our first wedding anniversary. Our anniversary was actually on Monday, so we decided to make Sunday and Monday our weekend. We of course started out later than we intended on Sunday, but it was nice to be in no particular rush. The weather was pretty crappy on Sunday, chilly & damp, raining on and off, generally blah. Once we finally got on the road, it didn't matter. There was just an immediate feeling of freedom. It may sound silly for only one night, but sometimes you just need a night to recharge.

We had to take Josh's car, since mine is officially dead. I haven't listened to actual radio in years, but given the choice of being subjected to one of Josh's CDs full of club crap or braving today's radio landscape, I chose sanity. I scanned the stations until I found some Billy Joel, and I left it on. We rocked out for a while to some surprisingly good music, but the station started fuzzing out as we drove further south. So I did some more scanning, heard a DJ say "Here's the new Phillip Phillips single," and left it on out of curiosity. After about 45 seconds, this conversation took place:

Josh: Are you leaving this on to torture me?
Me: What? No! It's Phillip Phillips...I was actually curious to see if his new song was as good as that song "Home."
Josh: And?
Me: Not so much.

More station scanning, and I stopped on a Taylor Swift song, on purpose. 

Me: I'm leaving this on to torture you.
Josh: Mission accomplished.

The rest of our little road trip continued in much the same fashion - sometimes screwing with each other, sometimes having actual conversations. I wish I could say "and sometimes just sitting in silence," but with Josh that was not even a possibility.

We made pretty good time considering it was raining the whole way down and there was an accident on the Parkway (because why wouldn't there be?). Once we entered the city of Wildwood, this happened:

Josh: Ok, now where?
Me: What?
Josh: Where's the hotel?
Me: You don't remember? Right across from the Convention Center.
Josh: No, I know that, but how do I get there from here?
Me: I don't know...just drive towards the ocean.
Josh: Worst.Navigator.Ever.

Hotel located, we checked in and were pleasantly surprised to see our wedding picture on the wall behind the front desk, along with the thank you card I had sent them.
They are the nicest people at the Oceanic Hotel. As we were checking in, they let us know that we literally had the entire hotel to ourselves, no other guests that night. Rock on. We chatted about Hurricane Sandy; they told us Wildwood had gotten lucky and didn't have much damage at all. Yay Wildwood! Then they went to dinner and we dragged our stuff to our room - the very same room we stayed in the weekend we got married last year. So cool. 

Still no phones in the rooms though.
Josh wanted to shower & change before heading out, so I ran into the bathroom first to quickly pee. 30 seconds later, I'm looking at a clogged fucking toilet. ALL I DID WAS PEE! I tried to flush it again and the water just rose higher. What.The.Fuck. After a ridiculous amount of time, I finally opened the bathroom door and told Josh I thought I clogged the toilet. 

Josh: I thought you only had to pee.
Me: I DID!
Josh: (skeptical look) Then how did it clog?
Me: How the fuck do I know? Can you go ask them for a plunger?
Josh: (laughing) Why do I have to go ask??
Me: Because, dude, I don't want to. We just got here and we're already asking for stuff??
Josh: Oh, so make me do it.
Me: Come oooon (yes, by now I was whining.)

After he tortured me a little bit longer, he headed downstairs to ask for a plunger. But they didn't just give him a plunger and send him on his merry way. No, the guy had to come up himself with the plunger. Gah! Embarrassment city. Before he left, he asked if we wanted him to leave the plunger there for the night. Wow, just when I thought it couldn't get worse. 

Me: He totally thinks I clogged the toilet.
Josh: You did.
Me: You know what I mean! 

By the way, it's a damn good thing he did leave us the plunger, because after we got back from dinner that night the stupid toilet clogged again. Happy Anniversary! Here's a plunger. 

Anyway, we decided to check out the boardwalk first. I asked Josh if he thought I should bring an umbrella since I wasn't wearing a hoodie. He said "Nah, it's not even raining anymore." So we walked across the street to the boardwalk, and by the time we got there, it was drizzling. I gave Josh a look, which he correctly interpreted.

Josh: (laughing) You want me to go back for the umbrella, don't you? 
Me: Well you're the one who said it wasn't raining anymore.
Josh: Yes, but you're the one who wants it. Nope.
Me: Please? Come on, my hair is frizzing as we speak. 
Josh: Then we'll buy you a hat. Let's go.

I guess making him ask for the plunger was his limit for the day.
It was a damp, chilly, foggy night, but it was wonderful just to be near the ocean again, even if I couldn't see it. It restores me. I was in a pretty great mood, frizz and all, so we walked for a little while, talked, took some pictures. 

Eventually it stopped drizzling and started actually raining. At this point I told Josh we needed to check out some shops so I could buy a hat. First of all, you wouldn't believe how hard it is to find a plain baseball cap in a shore town. Second, not much was open because it's off-season, making choices even more limited. Beggars can't be choosers, however, so I was pretty sure I'd end up with a hat that said Wildwood on it. Which would have been fine. But when I picked up the one I disliked the least, lo and behold, there was a whole stack of plain black baseball caps behind it. Hallelujah! 5 bucks later my hair was safe. 

Me: Does it look ok?
Josh: You look hot. You should wear hats more often. 
Me: I guess it looks ok then.

We walked and talked some more, Josh did his usual scoping of crane machines and of course he won. He won a Brainy Smurf, but still. 

Next thing we knew, we'd walked nearly the entire boardwalk. So we turned around and started discussing what we wanted to do for dinner. By the time we got back to the car, it was around 9:30pm and we still didn't really know what to do for dinner, so we figured we'd drive around and see what was open. Unfortunately, being that it was a rainy, chilly, off-season Sunday night, not much was open. We were just about to give up when Josh spotted Alfe's, an Italian seafood restaurant we had eaten at before. You'd have thought we won the lottery, we were so excited to find someplace not only open, but familiar and yummy. 

After a great dinner, we went back to the hotel and hung out for a while. After our wedding last year, I told Josh I thought it would be fun if each year we tried to get each other anniversary gifts based on the "traditional" anniversary gift list, and he agreed. The first year is paper...we got each other scratch-off lottery tickets. Hey, it doesn't have to be fancy, just fun.
At midnight on May 20th, we cut into the wedding cake we'd had frozen at my mom's house since the wedding, and YUM. We had completely forgotten what flavors we'd chosen for the top, but after we tasted it I remembered it was called the "Elvis," and it was chocolate, banana, and peanut butter. So good. 

Happy Anniversary to us!
We munched on cake and watched Movie 43, which ended up being the most confusing, strange movie I've seen in quite some time. I don't even know. It was fucking weird. 

Monday morning dawned bright and sunny, and considerably warmer than the previous day. I was so excited to be able to actually see the ocean! We took our time getting our shit together, got sucked into a M*A*S*H reunion special on TV while we were getting ready, then went down to the boardwalk. As soon as we got there I realized it was much warmer than I'd thought, and I certainly didn't need the light sweater I'd brought to throw over my tank. As we started walking...

Josh: Did you bring any sunscreen?
Me: No, why?
Josh: Because you're pale as hell and the sun's pretty hot. You know you burn easy.
Me: Nah, I'm not spending twenty bucks for sunscreen on the boardwalk, and we're only going to get something to eat anyway.
Josh: Are you sure you're sure? You're winter pale.
Me: Can we go eat please?

Maybe a half an hour later, we saw that Stewart's was open and decided to eat there, upstairs on the deck level. It was a beautiful day, there were awesome oldies playing, and the food was exactly what we'd wanted without really knowing it. 

Root beer float!

Full and happy, we headed back down the boardwalk in the direction of the car, again not in any particular hurry. When we reached the car....

Josh: Wow, you got color.
Me: (looking in mirror) No I didn't.
Josh: No, not your face. Your arms and your chest. 
Me: HOLY SHIT. That's not color. That's fucking sunburn. Dammit! 
Josh: I told you you needed sunscreen. 
Me: Shut.Up.

Evidently while dining on the upper level of Stewart's my face and my forearms had been shielded from the sun, but my upper arms, shoulders and chest had not. And they were bright fucking red. Awesome. Now I was sunburned and annoyed. And I really, really didn't want to stop in Atlantic City, but I knew Josh wanted to and I refused to be that girl. I will never be that girl. So I sucked it up and put on a happy face, and ended up having a pretty good time while were there. It helped that we found the new Family Guy slots, because they were fun, and they were hitting. 

We left the Borgata up 50 bucks (we're not exactly high rollers) and had a relatively uneventful drive home. That night we topped off our weekend by seeing Star Trek Into Darkness, which was awesome. And the theater had the new luxury reclining seats which we didn't have to pay extra for. Win. 

Overall, we really had a great time. But then, we always do when we go places together. We crack each other up and we enjoy screwing with each other, but most of all we love each other. And as long as we've got that, we can always make our own fun.

Friday, May 17, 2013


I just plucked a long gray hair that dared to appear in one of my eyebrows. This is completely unacceptable. I mean, I knew it was already starting in the hair on my head, but now my eyebrows? Fuck no. And this is one of the many reasons why...

Being 37 sucks.
Even the number itself is unimpressive.

NOTE: I know there are some of you out there saying "Pffft, 37's nothing, imagine being (insert age here)." To those people I say: hush. This is my blog, and I'm 37. Everyone has their own reasons why being their age sucks. If you wanna bitch it out, start your own blog. Now let's move on.

37 means I graduated high school 20 years ago. It means I graduated college 14 years ago. It means I remember when AOL was the most awesome thing ever. It means I had a beeper. It means I remember when MTV played actual music videos. It means I'm older than the entire cast of Jersey Shore. It means I remember when Axl Rose looked like this:

I refuse to post a photo of what he looks like now.
37 means both of my siblings are also now in their 30s. Both younger than me though, the jerks. It means I call 25-year-olds "kids." No, really. I did it the other day and immediately wanted to kill myself. 37 means there's a good chance I'll never pass for under 30 again.

37 means some of my friends' kids are already teenagers. It also means that I've very aware that my baby-making window won't be open forever. Biological clock, set to warp speed.

37 means I'm over the club scene, though not necessarily the bar scene (two different animals). Getting stoned and watching something funny on TV sounds way more appealing to me than doing body shots and rolling on Ecstasy in some random club-slash-warehouse. It means I stopped going to the Warped Tour like 10 years ago. It means 95% of Warped Tour attendees are young enough to be my kids (I think that just sounds nicer than "I'm old enough to be their mother," don't you?).

37 also means I'm at a weird place in my life. I'm an unemployed-but-still-fucking-looking (thanks, job market!) childless newlywed. I rent an apartment, I still have student loan debt, and according to this guy, "if you are under 40, your generation is getting utterly screwed compared to mine, and you should be in the streets." Awesome.

But 37 can mean some good things, I suppose. It means that I'm closer to my family and my friends than I've ever been, and I treasure those relationships more than ever. It means I've lived through some major historical events I'll be able to tell my children about (there's that biological clock again). It means I was raised on some of the greatest music ever made, which in turn means I like everything from Pink Floyd to NOFX to The Doobie Brothers to Streetlight Manifesto to Tori Amos to The Ramones to Billy Joel to The Doors to Pantera to The Beatles to...well, you get the point. It means I've met some amazing people and I've had some unforgettable experiences. It also means that there are more to come.

Most of all, though, 37 means I'm no longer just "in my 30s." I'm now in my mid-to-late 30s. And the fact that I'll be turning 38 later this year? I can't even.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

RANT: Neighbor hell

My upstairs neighbor is a douchebag.

The man is in his mid- to late-40s. His 18-year-old delinquent son went to jail in December for two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and won't get out for 3 years. One might think the noise level would lessen, or at the very least, the amount of foot traffic would decrease. Turns out, not so much. UDB has surround sound, and uses it every fucking chance he gets. At all hours. At a ridiculous decibel. He falls asleep with his bedroom TV so fucking loud I can hear every word - and explosion - quite clearly. He's too lazy to walk his yappy little dog, so he just lets him out on the balcony to piss. There's constant walking/stomping. You live in a one bedroom apartment, where the fuck are you walking to?

As I mentioned, Upstairs Douchebag (UDB for the rest of this post) is in his mid- to late-40s. Yet from what I've observed, he has zero friends in his own age group. His son is in jail, yet UDB has the kid's friends and girlfriend over almost every single night, and sometimes when he's not even home. They use his shower, do their laundry, have sex on his son's bed (my computer desk is directly beneath the kid's bedroom. Awesome.), run up and down the stairs, bang on the outside door when UDB doesn't hear his doorbell, or, if they're desperate, they ring MY doorbell. Well, they used to. Believe me, they won't be doing that anymore. Not if they want to keep their fingers.

Most of these kids aren't even 18 yet, and they're up there drinking, smoking, hanging out on the balcony and not being at all discreet about it, and apparently having sex all over the apartment. The outside hallway we share constantly reeks of weed. And before you ask "How do you know that's not from you?" - it's not. I can contain my shit.

I'm not saying I was some sweet, innocent thing at that age. I wasn't. However, I didn't broadcast the shit I was doing, and I was definitely not a rude little asshole like most of these kids are. What's pathetic is that UDB thinks these kids are his friends. Dude, no. They talk shit about you before you answer the door; I can hear everything they say in that hallway. They know you're a loser and you have no friends, so you'll let them do whatever they want. You're the old dude with the party house, that's all. As I write this, some kid is on the balcony upstairs coughing his fucking head off and someone is running back and forth in the living room for no apparent reason.

ALSO - UDB is a creepy, creepy scumbag. 99.9% of the time I see him he has no shirt on, and I honestly don't believe he owns one shirt that is not a wife-beater. One of those guys who makes you feel like you need a shower just from him looking at you. So I wouldn't be surprised if there are even more inappropriate things going on with the kid's girlfriend and/or other female friends. Not trying to be shocking, just realistic.

My previous upstairs neighbor was an old Russian lady who screamed at me every time Chuck barked more than once and actually called the cops on me one night because I was having sex too loud. No, I'm not making that up. The cops who came were quite amused at the whole situation. And yet, I'd still rather have that bitch back upstairs.

End rant.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dear Chuckles, Part 16: One Year Later

Dear Chuckles,

Today it has been exactly one year since I lost you, and I still miss you every day. Me without still just feels wrong. Off-balance somehow.

Christmas without you was very sad for me...and the first time in years I didn't have to try to wrap a basketball for you to open on Christmas morning and immediately hump. Trixie, of course, had to knock down the ornaments herself because you weren't here to knock them down for her with your tail.

Some days, like today, I'm overwhelmed with sadness, and my heart clenches when I think of how much we went through together, and how very much I wish you were still here. I know you couldn't stand to see me sad, so I try not to dwell for too long, but I'd give anything to have you here, yapping at me at 3AM, trying to herd me into the bedroom, my insomnia-busting pup.

Oh Chuckles. It took me nearly all day to bring myself to write this post, to mark the occasion somehow. I love you, and I miss you and your wonderful, sweet spirit. You'll always be my big furry baby.



These are the last 2 photos I ever took of Chuck, on February 17, 2012, just 4 days before he passed. I miss that face.