Saturday, October 24, 2009

Side Sleeper

Let me start out be saying that I would rather stick my eyes out with a sharp object or shave with a cheese grater before I do any sort of furniture shopping. That being said, you can understand why it's taken since July to get a bed to replace the one Oldest son took to college.

He was coming home for "fall break" and had no where to sleep so the jig is pretty much up and we had no choice. We had to get a mattress.

We decided that our 20 year old queen bed would fit in his old 9 1/2 by 11 room and that would make an excellent guest room if you could ignore the cartoonish "men landing on the moon" wall paper, ancient carpet and 3 inch hole his brother had apparently knocked in the wall sometime in 2003.

For us this meant a new King sized and it was off to the Mattress Giant near our home.

The last time we were here it was to replace a very worn out twin for Youngest son. I don't recall it taking that long and we were in and out pretty fast. What I do recall is that I had wished I had brought my camera since our salesman looked exactly like the Mattress Giant himself. Except smaller. He was like the son of the Mattress Giant, working in a small obscure store, learning the ropes until someday he would operate the Mattress Giant chain and star in all the TV commercials. I couldn't keep my eyes off of him, he was Mattress Giant Jr.

Junior was now gone and this time our salesman was man named Andrew. Andrew had a PhD in mattresses and knew just about everything about mattresses. We knew this because Andrew asked us what we were sleeping on now and we described it in the vague terms one uses to describe the steering wheel on your car or what brand your toaster oven is. Things you see everyday but if grilled about, you would have a hard time picking out of a police line up.

Andrew nailed it. First time. He said "You have a four seasons double pillow top".

I was impressed.

Andrew asked us if we liked hard or soft mattresses and then asked us to try out some mattresses. I find this unbelievably awkward. Here you are in the brightly lit mattress store with other customers around and you are getting into bed together to try out a mattress. It's just kind of weird.

So Andrew gives us our own pillows and off we go to bed.

If you haven't bought a bed in twenty or so years, the first thing you are going to notice is that beds are like 3 stories high these days. You need a step ladder to get in some of these things. I now understand accidents where people get injured at home falling out of bed. Of course you'll get hurt since it's nearly ceiling high and you are going to need a fireman and a ladder truck just to get out of the thing everyday.

We climbed into the tall bed and just sort of lay there staring up at the drop ceiling and florescent lights. We say "this is nice" while Andrew tried to coach us through the "what kind of sleeper" are you routine. Do you lie on your side? Back? Stomach?

I really have no idea but you can't say "I don't know" because you are fifty and by fifty you should know these things. I pick side. All your life they try to put you in groups. Are you a Christian? Muslim? Meat Eater? Vegan? Do you like Football? Baseball?

And now I have a new one. I am a side sleeper.

Andrew shows us mattress after mattress and we take our little pillows to each one like a pair of 5 year old children. "Don't forget your pillows" Andrew says after each mattress try out. Thanks Dad.

We finally decided on a reasonably priced one and then Andrew moved into the hard sell on "mattress protection". Andrew is trying to put the fear of stains into us, explaining that for $149.95 we can purchase a mattress cover that is so tough that if required we could re-enter the earth's atmosphere in it. This is usually where I lose it. Let me cut to the chase here Andrew, there is no way we are purchasing a cover for something THAT IS COVERED 24 HOURS A DAY.

On Tuesday they delivered our new King sized bed and we have been sleeping in it all week. It feels huge. I feel like my wife is miles away and I'm sure this was not an accident. I need an intercom to talk to her. "Hello? are you there?" "Did you fall out?" "This ceiling need painting"

On the bright side the thing is so tall the dogs can't up on yet.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

If you were in row AA of section 311 on Tuesday, those pants DID make your butt look big.

This past Tuesday was the long awaited Springsteen concert at the Spectrum. You may recall that in April I made absolute idiot of myself by blurting out something semi-obvious and yet oh so personal about the woman in front of me.

This time I was able to keep my mouth shut.

The seats were in the row one of the second deck on the right side of the Spectrum. Naively I assumed that row one was in the front of the section but to my surprise there was actually a row in front of the four of us. The row in front must have been an after thought way back in 1969 or so after the Spectrum was built because it looked low, as if it were and aisle in days gone by.

Late in the third hour a youngish drunk guy in a Giants Steve Smith jersey actually thought it was 1969 and stumbled through that front row as if it weren't even there. Maybe he was a time traveler and had not realized that a "new" row was there now. Any way he nearly took a header off the second deck as he stepped into the pit that was row AA.

The people in front of us in row AA had absolutely huge butts. I could not get past it. Ever time I turned forward I saw a big butt swaying to the music. I looked around at the crowd and thought there are a lot of big butts swaying to the music. Big Butts in huge Dockers.

I did not blurt out "That woman has a huge butt" this time. I dared not even speak it since I was sure that would be the point at which the music stopped for 10 seconds and all of section 311 heard it.

Bruce played over three hours. Non-stop. No break. Even at age 60 you have to give him credit for his stamina. One song would finish and it's a 1-2-3 count and new song and sometimes the E street band hadn't even finished the other song.

Tuesday night was absolutely the single best set list I have ever heard at a Springsteen concert.

The first six songs included the rare Seaside Bar, Out in the Street and Hungry Heart. There ere three "new" songs as well, two from Working on Dream and the newly minted "Wrecking Ball" which was reworked for Philly after being written for the Giants stadium shows. Oh and Outlaw Pete made the set list. Bruce, you have 500 really good songs. This isn't one of them. I didn't really like in April and liked it less now.

Next up was the live performance of 1976's Born to Run, in order and as close to the album as possible. It was strange to to hear typical encore material such as Born to Run and Thunder Road in the middle of the show and Tenth Ave Freeze Out did not have the old time Gospel spiel break in the middle. Meeting Across the River featured Curt Ramm on trumpet and Soozie Tyrell on violin.

Hearing Born to Run live was worth to price of admission.

The request portion of the show continues and this time it didn't look as rehearsed as Bruce and the band conferred before launching into Little bit of Soul.

And then I finally got hear the Philly favorite, Fever, live.

Finally, the last song was Rosalita. Like I said, the best Bruce set ever.

Blurry pictures here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Zone 3

By time we arrived at John Wayne, Orange County, Santa Anna, Britney Spears International airport brought to you by Disney and ESPN, I had a massive sinus headache. I was sure that I had brought along my over the counter sinus pills but after fishing through my carry on back pack/rolling luggage in a head pounding haze, I could not find a single precious blister pack with magic pills.

So you'll have to forgive me if I was just a little out of it when we landed.

We had boarded the plane by zones in Atlanta and we ended up being among the first to reach "zone 3" or as I like to call it, "the back of the bus". We were literally in the last seats. The only way you could be behind us is if you sat in the bathroom directly behind us.

The bathroom, by the way, has something seriously wrong with it since it stank worse than a Mr-Bob portopotty on a warm August night. We spent our time on the ground in Atlanta searching for "good air" and covering our noses with clothing like our shirts and scarves.

One of the final last row refugees to arrive was an oriental american who sat across from us. I watched as he tried stuffing his coat and TWO carryons into the few spaces left. At this point I must have had some sort of stink induced hallucination since I swear I saw him stuff his coat in front of my back pack/rolling luggage thingee in the over head compartment across the aisle from me.

I know I saw this happen. I would have sworn in court I saw this happen.

After our 5 hour flight, we landed and were "de-boarding".

SomehoweMr oriental american has somehow slipped out ahead of the rest of us last row victims and was gone.

When I went to grab my luggage, the coat was still there.

Now I had a choice. Choices are bad. I could:

A) leave the coat and hope that Mr Yamagocchi figured out that he left it and alert airline personal who would retrieve the coat.

B) grab the coat and find Mr Yamagocchi and give him the coat.

In my mind stabbing sinus condition, I chose "B".

My wife was of a different opinion. Surprise! she said "A".

So there I was, racing through the airport like OJ Simpson in the old days, dragging my wheeled back pack/luggage combo and carrying a strangers coat all the while watching fleeting shadows of Mr Yamagocchi as he passed through the crowd way ahead of me.

Now the airports these days have the secure zone and the unsecured zone and I was racing towards the unsecured. When I crossed the border into the unsecured, horns and lights went off like I was breaking out of sing-sing.

For brief second I thought "How do they know I have someone else's jacket" as TSA drones yelled at me in Spanglish waving their arms.

They were saying "come forward"... sort of. At least that's what I remember. I still had the sinus induced haze.

I had somehow gone backwards after moving through the border, back into the secure zone.

An obvious TSA no-no.

They let me go on without a strip search but now I had Mr Yamagocchi's jacket and no way to get to to him. Oh no. She was right again. Her track record on things like this is uncanny and you would think at some point I would start listening to her simply on the fact that SHE IS ALWAYS RIGHT, but no.

So now I'm standing there, waiting for my luggage to spring from the chute and then come out to place where I can't reach it because I have a bad spot around the carousel because of being detained by TSA. I'm waiting and waiting when a man I've never seen before in my life approaches me. At first I thought he said "is the the luggage for flight so and so" but no, that is not what he said. He said:

"You have my jacket".

It was not Mr Yamagocchi.

He was a big US Marine looking guy and he said it like "You stole my jacket" which technically I had, but with good intentions.

I never saw this guy on my flight. I swear.

I gave him the jacket and my wife said "Oh good we were looking for you". Which to her was true since she had no idea who I thought I was following. She thought we were following big Marine guy and not Mr Yamagocchi.

I just went with it and took a sinus pill.

IMG_1676:California Trip Mikes Pictures

In this shot I've captured "Ari" Falciani demanding that Vince gets a trailer larger than Tom's and fresh papaya and gorilla breast milk every morning.

Friday, October 09, 2009


I'm out back by the pool, it's 10 PM and it's 71 degrees out. It's a nice night for October in Jersey but it's not perfect. I'm listening to my California play list and I'm thinking about California where it is perfect.

Every single day the weather was perfect. My brother, never a big vegetable guy, keeps Coors Light in the veggie drawer of his fridge. where a direct vent from the freezer keeps the beer at a perfect 31.5 degrees. He actually measured the temperature. The beer - it's perfect. Beer instead of broccoli? Really perfect.

His lawn - it's perfect. His roses - the're perfect.

We went to Costco where I found perfect grapes.

Sunday we got up and headed to La Jolla where we found the perfect seaside, rooftop restaurant. Our waiter was perfect. There wasn't a cloud for 500 miles - the're actually illegal there because that would make it not perfect.

We went to our hotel in San Diego where we caught the ninth inning of the last San Diego Padres game of the season from the roof of the Marriott hotel where we were staying. The rooftop bar over looks Petco field where it was tied 3-3. Didn't get to see enough baseball? Of course the game went into extra innings, just make it more perfect.

The Padres lost when they gave up a Homer in the 10th. You would think that's not perfect but wait, they played the San Fransisco Giants. It's California on California so no matter who wins - it's Perfect!.

We went to Coronado island were we watched the perfect sunset from the Hotel Del Coronado sun deck.

Went went back to the hotel and found the perfect little restaurant where they made perfect little quiche and it was so empty - it was... wait for it ... perfect.

In the morning we had a giant breakfast. My brother knows the number two guy at the hotel so we got 50 % off. Coupon? No way! More perrrrrfect.


When we checked out - we got the employee rate. More perfect.

And where is the most perfect place on the planet Earth? Disneyland. Where did we go next? PERFECT, PERFECT, PERFECT!.

The next day we drove to Temecula where we found the perfect hamburger place. I swear. It was perfect. They even had grilled chicken - done perfectly. We ate out in the perfect weather. The waitress? She was perfect.

We went wine tasting and how was it you ask? Perrrr-fect.

Drive home? Perfect. Dinner on the grill? Low fat and perfect.

That night we sat outside where he has the perfect outdoor gas heater to make it .... perfect. Are there bugs? No because that would make it less than perfect.

When I came home and weighed myself? I lost 4 pounds! Perfect!

Now you think I am making this up. I am not. My hand to God.

The only way this would have been more perfect is if I secretly hit the lottery, the Eagles won the Superbowl, the Phils repeated as world effing champions, my oldest kid solved the middle east crisis and my youngest found a cheap sustainable energy source, my wife made 400k a year in a job where she worked 10 hours a week, I had the perfect boss and all our stocks went up.

Ohh, and all my neighbors suddenly loved our dogs. Well, they would if we lived in California because it is perfect.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Cailfornia Screaming

Let me start out by saying that if you were in row 5 of Tower of Terror yesterday at 1:30 in Disney's California Adventure and have bruise on your left thigh, it's not entirely my fault.

We are on vacation with my two brothers and their wives and yesterday was the Disneyland portion of the trip. My wife had been talking up Tower of Terror for a week in anticipation. She was trying to overcome the inertia my family usually has towards amusement parks, but as we approached the ride yesterday it wasn't working. I was her only taker even though the ride had an unheard of 15 minute wait.

I was doing it for her. I'm OK with rides but eventually the engineer in me comes out.

Maybe it's a difference in philosophy about rides in general. My wife thinks that rides are a thrilling adventure about speed and G forces, meant to excite you and make your heart thump for a brief 2 minutes and 25 seconds. I'm thinking "holy crap, what can go wrong?" and imagining a roomful of guys that are good at math and have more things strapped to their belts then Jim Kirk on a away mission saying "Oh, here it is, the frabistat disconnected from the whojisabar sending the whole car right out the top of the ride". It happens.

And so I found myself standing on a bronze square marked "5" with my wife and two heavyset women. We were among 21 getting on the ride together. I didn't really notice how heavyset they were while we were waiting in line together. My mind was on other things. Like flying out of the top of the ride or crashing to the bottom because some knuckle head used a uninitialized pointer in the code for the ride control.

The "Elevator Operator" called row 5 and off we went. The heavyset woman on my immediate right approached her seat and pulled her seat belt fully out before getting her seat saying something about "otherwise I can't reach it". It was about then that I noticed that "heavyset" actually meant "Ass as big as all of Wisconsin" or "A lifetime around cheese"

I sat down in my seat and pulled my seat belt on. It looked like something from a '65 Impala since it was single lap belt without the shoulder straps that any Smart Car has. These antiquated belts were also my wife's sole reasoning as to why the ride "isn't so bad". She said if it were a bad ride, they would restrain you in with a heavy metal bar. Yes, I thought, that's true OR it could be that the guys with all the pencils sticking out of their breast pocket of their short sleeved, button down shirt UNDERSIZED IT. I want a restraining bar. A big metal restraining bar.

Looking to my right only reinforced the whole "undersized" concept.

After buckling up, I got familiar with my environment. We were in metal theater type seating with our Don Draper era seat belt secured across our laps and each seat had a metal handle on each side. I'm sure those handles had reassured many a white knuckle that "everything is going to be OK".

At least that was true on my left. I could look down and see the handle between my wife and I.

It was a different story on my right. I'm sure that the pencil necked geeks put two handles for every seat, but since the woman next to me was pouring out of her seat and into mine, that right handle was buried somewhere under her fleshy thigh.

I looked down and to my horror, saw her thigh actually completely covered the handle. I reached down, hoping the my eyes had misunderstood only to feel blubber.

I elected to only grab my left handle out of politeness.

After a brief last minute safety check which consisted of us tugging on our own lap belt to make sure it was buckled, we started the ride.

At first it wasn't so bad. The ride went backwards to move into position and then went upwards at normal "elevator" type acceleration. Then the doors opened to a hallway right out of "Haunted Mansion" where there were spooky ghosts and a narrator that continued with the back story. I find that when faced with ghosts or stomach emptying acceleration, I'm much more frightened by the acceleration.

The doors then closed and some guys in the back row that apparently had spent the day on this ride started counting down.


The next thing I knew, I was hurtling towards my death and the roof at breakneck speeds.

Clearly, the time for politeness was over.

I reached around my new best friend's thigh and grabbed that handle as fast as I could. My grip moved her thigh out of the way and tightened around the brass handle before you could say "Twilight zone".

The ride went up and down like that for what seemed to me to be an hour and half. Each drop and rise getting faster and straining the clearly undersized belt. I was out of my seat a couple of times and could only imagine what was happening in the seat to my right. I hung on to my handles for my life.

I could only image because I had closed my eyes after the ride opened up it's doors at the top over looking the park at an altitude normally reserved for airliner cruising.

And then, that fast, the ride was over and we were getting out. The lady next to me and I did not make eye contact.

On the way out we bought a souvenir photo - a 5 x7 for $96.50.

In the photo, you can not see my right hand.
Tower of Terror Oct 5th 2009