Thursday, December 31, 2009

I reached my goal!

In August of this year, Google trending reported at least one person from every state in the US had visited my blog except three. I made it a goal on that day to get someone from those three states to come and visit the site, and I am pleased to say that has happened.



I want to thank everyone who has read the blog and checked out the other websites this year. I do this because I enjoy it and I hope you do too.

I guess next year is a completely green global map? Not sure if all of those white spaces have internet access regularly (but I am going to find out). I am glad people are out there reading. Thanks for a great 2009. Hope you stick around for 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Best of 2009 Entertainment

In addition to yesterday's Top 10+ Albums of the Decade, I am going to do a run down of the best of this year with both music and movies (I would do books, but I have no idea when half the stuff I read was published). Honestly, there wasn't much that really impressed me this year, so here it is - no specific order again.

[Best Albums of 2009]

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone


I struggled with not putting this album on the best of the decade since it is so fresh in my mind. I honestly do think it stacks up, but I am holding off (I did that with much of the 2009 output). Neko Case's voice is a fucking massive storm with breaks of light at the center vortex. This album is inventive and clever. Her backing band is fantastic. Great album from front to back and a wonderful concept tying the whole thing together.



The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You

The band's major label debut is satisfyingly restrained. When I heard Rick Rubin was going to produce it, I assumed he would put his stink all over it. He didn't. The boys are still staying true to their sound. I noted in previous blogs that there are a few questionable song selections that don't seem to fit, regardless, the output is wonderful.



Conor Oberst - Outer South

This album DID make my year decade list. The Mystic Valley Band is something special and I hope Oberst known what he has with these guys. Here is a clip I took MYSELF at a concert in Delaware (it sucks but you saw the good one yesterday).



Them Crooked Vultures - Self Titled Album

Take Led Zeppelin + Foo Fighters + Queens of the Stone Age and you have Them Crooked Vultures.



Ben Harper & The Relentless 7 - White Lies for Dark Times

Harper brings the rock and a back-up band.



[Best Movies of 2009]


I saw a ton of movies this year, and I have to say I was underwhelmed by most of them (I am looking at you Watchmen and Terminator: Salvation). Some showed tons of promise, but you had to overlook so much (District 9). In many cases, the acting was excellent, but the movie was just so-so (500 Days of the Summer). While I try to love horror movies, they always screw things up so badly they become unwatchable (Drag Me to Hell). So anyway, here are the movies that I think were outstanding this year.

Star Trek

There are a ton of plot holes and I don't give a shit. This movie was awesome. How do I know? My wife hates Star Trek and she liked it. JJ Abrams is the man. He managed to reboot everything without pissing off the geeks (FYI - I am NOT a Star Trek geek - I never got into Star Trek/Star Wars beyond watching it because it was on).



UP

This movie gives you a very unexpected punch in the gut in the first 20 minutes that I don't think many adults will recover from. Younger kids won't get it. Overall a delightful movie. Great for kids and adults, the animation is top notch as is the voice acting.



Inglorious Basterds

Totally alternative history with the way we all hopped WWII would end.



Up in the Air

I recently saw this movie, but it definitely belongs on this list. The characters are real, the problems are real, and the ending is real. The whole backdrop of the job terminations in the current economic climate puts the movie over the edge.



Zombieland

The Bill Murray cameo alone puts this movie on the list. Zombie Comedies are 2 for 2 (Zombie Strippers does not count!)



[Best Television of 2009]

Some of the favorites are still alive like "How I Met Your Mother", "30 Rock", and "Weeds" but here are some of the standouts this year (and some new things that I think might be worth your time).

The Big Bang Theory

It took me a few years to like this show. I thought it was stereotypical nerds doing nerd things. And while the nerds do nerd things - they are doing REAL nerd things. They aren't building bullshit flux capacitors, the science they talk about is real, the shows they obsess over are real, the comic speak is legit... the acting (especially the guy who plays Sheldon) is outstanding.



Life After People

Documentary series that tells what happens to the world after people are gone.



Dexter

Last year's season was a bit of a letdown but they stepped it up big time this year. I will say no more but the last episode of the season left me with my jaw dropped.



Stargate Universe

I liked the first few seasons of the original Stargate series, but it got overwhelming keeping track. I think the creators realized this and kept things simple on this series. 30 people stuck on an ancient space ship - they can't control it, and they don't know where it's going. The only supplies they have is what they had on them when they arrived. Less sci-fi geek, more survival character driven show.



Cooking with the Neelys


Pork in everything. EVERYTHING. I love this show.




[Best Comics of 2009]

This was one of those build up years in comics where story-lines are being set up for massive cross overs in 2010. As a result most comics from the big publishers felt a bit forced and formulaic. Some of the big expected payoffs this year underwhelmed while a few sleeper hits came out of nowhere. Overall, from a creative perspective, 2009 was a little weak, but I think there will be reward in the next year. With that said, I think there were a few shining examples.

1. The Mighty by Peter Tomasi and Keith Champagne

This limited series by DC takes the typical "superman" concept and turns it on it's head. The comic doesn't go the typical "superman is a bastard" route that has happened in other series. Tomasi keeps you guessing as to what the true motivations are for his Alpha One character and with one issue left in this 12 issue maxi-series, I am on the edge of my seat. The first 6 issues have been collected in trade format and I suggest you check it out.

2. Power Girl by Palmiotti, Gray, and Conner

Buy this book for Amanda Conner's art alone. She draws this typically busty character with an irreverence that is comical and heartwarming. The over-arching plot is typical superhero shit, but the snappy one liners and the character's interactions with the world are outstanding.

3. Green Lantern/Blackest Night by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi (and a host of others)


This comic should have been the no brainer best comic of 2009 for me. Writer Geoff Johns has been leading up to this event for 4.5 years and now that it is here, I am slightly underwhelmed. I feel like the story has to hit certain beats to move all the side stories along and meet deadlines. Because of this, the flagship comics feel over scripted and aren't given any room for character moments. While Johns is pulling the strings on this project, writer Pete Tomasi has been given the breathing room to tell a good story over at the Green Lantern Corp title, but that series feels like it is stalling for the other titles to kick into high gear. Overall the resolution of almost five years of story-lines is satisfying and is being done very well. It's just not mind-blowing.

4. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman

It has been one of my favorites since it started. This comic about a post apocalyptic zombie infested world isn't about zombies, it's about the people who have managed to survive. Always excellent for almost 70 issues.

5. The Boys by Garth Ennis

Violent, Graphic, and foul-mouthed. This comic set out to piss all over typical superhero comics and has succeeded. Originally under a DC Comics owned company, Ennis had to move it to another publisher due to some very controversial story-lines. Bad for DC, good for us.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top Ten Albums of the Decade (for me)

Thanks to Amazon's magazine section and Discountmags.com, I usually have a few magazines waiting for me every day. Tis the season for year end lists and "best of" compilations which is all just dandy. Here are my selections for the best albums of the decade. This is my opinion, if you disagree, that's fine - in fact, I hope you do. I am not going to put them in order. Here are my ten favorite of last 10 years:

Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

Once the novelty of "Rehab" fades, you are left with 10 more great fucking songs that honor Motown without imitating. Who would guess that a drunk, crazy, British woman in a beehive could kick so much ass? I hope she cleans herself up and gets back to making great music.



Conor Oberst - Outer South

Every song on this album is excellent - very little filler. Oberst channels the Flying Burrito Brothers, Dylan, and a little Los Lobos. I have discussed this album in previous blogs, so I will say no more. Excellent effort.



Feist - The Reminder

This is an outstanding album and once again - I like every tune front to back. She may have exploded due to the Mac commercials, but she still has her artistic soul.



Jack Johnson - On and On

Less artistically stunning and more the perpetual background music of my life from 2003 - 2006. Johnson got a little darker on this album and it fit my mood well... well dark for Jack Johnson (and me).



Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger

Ah - you all thought I was going to go for Heartbreaker....WRONG. Don't get me wrong, I love that album, but I can get tired of listening to it front to back. I cannot say that with this gem. The first 5 songs knock it out of the park, then we slow down and explore some other sounds, and then we get the introspective Adams. This album will get overlooked in favor of individual efforts and songs, but it is a complete package.



RIP Spacewolf

Tegan and Sara - The Con

Let's get past the "lesbian twin sister" information and focus on the music. Every tune on this album is good if not excellent. Yearning and sadness mixed with a uncompromising sweetness.



The Avett Brothers - Emotionalism

Old time and rootsy with a modern twist and relevance. This year more people have discovered the band due to their major label debut, but they have doing the DIY route for years which I admire a great deal.



The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls In America

Classic story-telling through music and classic American rock. Who can't love a song about a race-horse and getting high from the winnings?



The White Stripes - White Blood Cells

Jack and Meg White brought the Rock back to America. Thank you pasty ones.



Wilco - A Ghost is Born

I liked all of Wilco's output over the last 10 years, but this album mixes the electric ambiance of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with some of their traditional offerings of later years. There is alot to chew on and find on this album, which makes it great for repeated listening. I can always come back to this one.



Special Mention: John Mayer - Continuum

As I mentioned with the Jack Johnson album, John Mayer's music has been in the background of my life for a long time. When I think of the albums, the first few actually mean something to me. They are anchors in time, and when I hear them, it takes me back to my thoughts, fears, troubles, and joys during the time the memories were made. Mayer has struggled with living up to his promise. I appreciate and respect that. I always expect more and better from him and I anticipate he will deliver one day. I had to mention this album because it is actually intellectual and was a creative high point for him with his work with the John Mayer Trio.



Special Mention: Ben Harper - Diamonds on the Inside

You know what - this belongs in the list too. I don't feel like bumping anything but this is a great fucking album that went under everybody's radar. Ben Harper is a genius.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 02: Issue 07



Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! This week we will discuss the education system and it's financial flaws, Thai pasta, and Monkey vs. Robot? Let's open the fridge and see what's left over....

[The Back Window]




CREDIT: Kaleidoscope “A Beacon From Mars”

[RANT: Educational System]

I don't often have the urge to call into talk radio programs but I almost found myself doing so on Monday. I was listening to NPR (also a relatively new habit) and one of the talk shows was discussing the plight of recent college graduates due to the economy. The gist was that they are essentially screwed because they have school loan payments starting and working minimum wage jobs if they even can get those. One of the financial "experts" suggested that this would be a great time to get a masters degree since the job market was soft. And this is where I lost my mind...

An undergraduate education costs anywhere from 60,000 - 120,000 (and leaning more towards the 100k + direction), since most people don't have a spare $100,000.00 lying around, most students take out loans that they will be paying off for a good portion of their lives (once you pay off YOUR debt you can start with your kids). They (aka "we") put themselves in that debt for the unspoken expectation that this education will get them a comfortable, secure, job. A career. A better life than their "struggling parents". But this idea is becoming a fading beacon of bullshit. While I appreciated my college education for being mentally stimulating, it did NOTHING to prepare me for my job. NOTHING. The reason I picked Drexel was because of their co-op program, which most definitely was responsible for me find a job during and after college. In this example - going to college was worth it, but there are only 4 or 5 schools that have a co-op program like Drexel University. What the hell are the other people doing?

Without getting off topic, even with the co-op program, I had to invest my part-time-job money on infrastructure and books to teach myself how to do actual IT things like build servers, configure operating systems and database. We didn't learn anything like that at school. They taught us how to be "managers" and "executives" without teaching any ground floor humility. Looking back, it is completely elitist and created a group of early 20-somethings who didn't want to do the bullshit work that everyone has to do when they start a new job. So now you have a group of 21-year-old kids with no real job training with no companies that want to hire and train them to do their elected careers. They are now expected to start paying loans and have no money to do so and are competing for "low end" jobs with the kids who decided to skip college. So what does the financial expert say? Strap another $60,000.00 to your back and sit out of the job market for 2 more years so you be an even bigger elitist with no real job experience.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?

My father is a butcher. He didn't go to college. He learned his trade before he was a teenager. From what I am told, he is one of the best butchers around (if there is such a thing as a butcher scoring system). He never has to worry about losing his job and he doesn't. He may stress over other things but his career is not one of them. He is comfortable in his skill and the demand for it. How many people can say that? I bet alot of people without a college education can't say that. As we "elitist" "educated" people clog our sinks, need new windows installed for our energy credit, and get new electrical wiring installed - we call people who most likely didn't bother with college and opted to become an established laborer's apprentice and go to a finishing school. My friend's brother was an electrician and was making excellent money before he left that do something else where I think he is making more than me. This kid is skilled and will never have to worry about a job. And he doesn't have $100,000.00 of debt weighing him down.

I am not saying we should abolish the college system, but think about how much time you spent learning vs. getting drunk and stoned on your parents dime? We don't have a system in place anymore that can support that excess of cost and lack of real education. The solution is very simple: Cut the bullshit class requirements (getting rid of unneeded space and staffing overhead), reduce tuition so a student isn't in debt half of their lives, and focus on tangible skills. I imagine if we have people trained to do actual work and produce things, more small business would open and thus jobs would be created in this country.

Just food for thought.

[Leftover's Leftovers]

I did quite a bit of writing this week, here is a quick summary if you missed anything:


[Recipe of the Week: Thai Spaghetti]
Credit: A lady my wife works with

INGREDIENTS:
1 pound thin spaghetti
1 cucumber sliced thin
1 bag Shredded carrots (Use half)
2 cans sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
1 bottle Thai Peanut sauce (I used Bangkok Padang peanut sauce for the version you had)
1/2 cup of crushed peanuts
(Optional ingredients)
Cooked Chicken
Scallions

DIRECTIONS:
(If you are adding chicken read step 4 first)
1. Cook the pasta as directed, drain, and put into a large bowl
2. Pour in the full bottle of Thai peanut sauce, carrots, cucumber, and water chestnuts
3. Get a 1/2 cup of peanuts and put them in a zip lock bag. Get a mug and crush them. When turned into a almost fine powder, mix into the pasta
(OPTIONAL)
4. If you are going to use chicken, I would suggest bringing water (with whatever seasoning you like - I suggested adding Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika) to a boil then shutting it off and putting in a few chicken breasts and let it sit for 30 minutes. Take it out and it will basically fall apart in your hands. Add the chicken BEFORE you add the Thai sauce

Serve

The beauty of this dish is that it can be served at room temperature and you don't need to worry about spoiling.

[DIY of the Week]

I was flirting with skipping the DIY in honor of the holiday season and even the idea of doing something is exhausting (we have been entertaining and coooking and cleaning... alot). But this is more of a nifty trick than a project.

Conceal Speaker Wires with Wood Trim



[Video of the Week]

Monkey vs. Robot.... Enough said.


[Conclusion]

This has been a looooooong week. I hope you enjoyed the stories and the rants. I hope you had an excellent Chanukah/Xmas/other holiday. Have a happy and safe new year! If you need to reach me, you can do so via email at: "blog at joeylombardi.com". As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Joey Lombardi | Create Your Badge

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Seasons Greetings Joey Style (2009)



Happy New Year (and new decade) friends! Can you believe a whole year has past since the last time I filled your in-boxes with nonsense? I am glad we are all here again this year, and I hope you are reading this in comfort and with a few moments of peace - because we are all certainly entitled to that. I struggled getting this little love note going this year - struggled not to repeat myself, but repetition helps us remember the important things. With that in mind, sit back, relax and let me kick it for you Soap-Box style....

[MOTIVATIONS]

I went back and read all of the Season's Greetings I could find (5 years worth) and my common theme seems to be motivation. Every year I try to motivate myself and my readers into some form of self improvement. This year I have been thinking about motivations, why do we "do what we do" instead of what we "want to do"?

What makes us get out of bed in the morning?
Why do we stress over those reports that the boss wants done ASAP?
Why don't we go all "Tiger Woods" and find ourselves a few billion extra-marital lovers?
What stops us from going on a shooting spree?

Fear. Fear is an enormous motivator for me. I am afraid that if I don't do well at work I will lose my job, if I am not a good person I will lose my wife or friends. I marvel at how the faint smokey taste of fear flavors my decisions. How much of your routine is planned with avoiding the consequences of bad decisions - the fear of "what if"? I don't think I am alone in the fear, but has society always been this afraid or is the abundance of information making it worse?

During Xmas festivities with my wife's relatives, I was talking with her aunt about an article I read about the lack of freedom children have in modern times. We don't allow children to ride bikes alone or go to the corner store (if they even exist) because we are afraid that someone would take them. But child abductions have remained constant at around 110-115 since the 1950's. Why are we suddenly so afraid to let children have unstructured freedom? My guess would be scary media reports, internet, reports from "experts".

Are we raising a new generation to be afraid of everything? Is that a good thing or debilitating? As technology improves, we aren't too far from never having to leave the house. It would be like that Surrogates movie except there won't be robots, we will just have empty streets. When I think about my own life, the best moments happened when I control my fears... fear of rejection, fear of what people think, fear of losing - sometimes what I feared actually happened, but it wasn't too bad and I am still here, better for having gone through it.

Now I am thinking of an "olde time" commercial... "Now you too can be large and in charge* with FEAR AWAY! Just take two shots of this brown liquid that smells exactly like whiskey and watch your fear vanish! You get the complete kit for a low $99.99! (* model prostitutes not included)"

[RESOURCES]

In last year's address I mentioned the global dependence on oil. I have expanded my thoughts to resources in general. America is a consumer and service based economy and the world is following our example. I see a short rope wrapped around our collective necks and we are getting ever so close to hanging ourselves. Let me see if I can break down my thoughts:

  • America is out of the business of production - we don't make shit anymore - we just buy it
  • Those production jobs left this country and are helping to develop a middle class in other nations
  • As we are seeing with India, once a middle class is established, those people no longer want to make shit either - they want to sit in air conditioned offices and do non-productive corporate work like their American counterparts
  • Now there are a lot more people who want to buy useless shit, so another country - like China - is making useless shit cheaply and dangerously to meet the demand
  • As China becomes more industrialized their demand for oil and coal rises, America and other develop nations need for oil does not decline - so there are more nations in demand for a dwindling resource - this will end well I am sure
  • All of this cheap, hazardous stuff that nobody really needs eventually ends up in the Ocean, the Ocean becomes plastic
  • As the Ocean becomes a toxic cesspool with broken toys and old Clorox bottles floating in the patina, the food chain becomes irrevocably broken
  • As this is happened the world collectively realizes that clean fresh water supplies are dangerously in short supply (don't worry America - we actually have a decent supply, you will just be paying major $$$ for bottled water)
  • Now we will need plastic bottles to ship the water - you need oil to make plastic - and someone to make the plastic cheaply - and somewhere to put the used bottles - and we are back to the beginning

America and the world collectively needs to get their shit together when it comes to renewable resources, waste management, CO2 in the atmosphere, and the careers that are considered valuable. The governments are not going to anything until we have reached the point of no return, so it's up to us. Vote with these topics in mind and don't get side-tracked by the bullshit issues. Encourage renewable resources in your town and don't be one of those "not in my back yard" assholes. Make sure the stuff you use doesn't go to waste (As I type that, I have 4 full trash bags of food I tossed from Christmas Eve festivities - so who needs to get off of their high horse?).



[2010]

I am going to repeat what I have said every year since I started doing these messages: Make next year better for yourself any way you can. Make yourself better any way you can. Last year I said I wanted to focus on guitar lessons - and I did. I got a little bit better and learned to play one of my favorite songs of all time. As an added bonus, I made a new friend and neighbor (HiGTT!). Good things happen when you try to improve yourself and get out of your little box.

This year my plan is to take the GMATs and buckle down on a master's degree. I don't have the highest opinion of the educational system at the moment (hmmm.... got a good rant on that coming up), but I want to give it the chance to redeem itself. Perhaps redemption should be a theme in 2010 as well. New decade, bury old grudges and useless thoughts. Can you think of something or someone you have totally washed your hands of - is there a second chance in its/their future? Should there be?

2010 could potentially be the start of my immediate family's baby boom as my sister will have her first child. Seeing the restraint she has been practicing the last 5 months, ensuring every advantage she can for her child has been inspiring. I am excited and proud of big my sister and brother-in-law, and look forward to the changes their baby brings to their life and my own.

We have a new decade to define ladies and gentlemen. Let's try to do better than the last ten years of vapid reality-tv celebrities, economic meltdowns, upskirt shots, war, useless people cheating on their wives, lying media, and the biggest moron ever elected to office.

The bar is pretty low to make an improvement people - but we still have to give an honest effort.



[THANKS]

The thank you section of this address has as become a logistical nightmare. Simply put: Damned if you do and damned if you don't. I usually start this off by thanking my parents, and for an outsider reading this - it is simple and perfectly disconnected. I thought I would try something different this year: My father learned to use his cell phone this year. That might not be a big deal to normal people, but for a man that doesn't speak, this is a fascinating paradox. The first time he called me, I was in the middle of a tele-conference and actually dropped off because I thought something is wrong. He just wanted to know if I wanted any meat from the butcher shop. The man called me to see if I wanted something - old school doesn't do it justice. My mother is no slouch by any means - she calls me every day to see if I need or want something. It is mind-boggling to me to see how supportive my parents are in their own stoic and silent way: nothing flashy, just always there in the background. So in all seriousness - Thank You Mom and Dad.

Not trying to ignore my wife by putting her in second (the story about my dad was just a better transitional sentence). Allison is the person who is saddled with anal retentive insanity 24/7. She not only handles it with grace (most of the time) but she gets me out of crazy place. She is an endless source of entertainment and laughs and I am very glad she is my wife and for the life we are building together. YAM!

I struggled with doing mass thank yous because I don't want to take it away from people who deserve thanks. But I really don't want to turn this into the "10 minute thank you speech at the Oscars". Hopefully, I said thank you in person, and if I didn't, you have my full permission to call me a ungrateful asshole the next time we talk. With that out of the way, I genuinely want to thank the people in my life for being there:

Thank you for answering my phone calls and listening to my insanity for a few minutes
Thank you keeping me company on long drives and dealing with crappy blue tooth speakers
Thank you for giving me advice that I over-analyze to the point of nausea
Thank you for our daily IM conversations that make the work day much better
Thank you for coming over and helping me move stuff around my house and off the deck
Thank you for suggesting new books, movies, and music
Thank you India (Just making sure you are paying attention)
Thank you for the recipes, the cooking gear, and finding new ways for me to destroy my kitchen
Thank you for helping to find back-splash tile (and eventually doing the tile work) - Hi "Woody!" ;-)
Thank you for reading my blog because it really makes me happy that people do
Thank you all for allowing me to live a satisfying and meaningful life - because without you, it wouldn't be.

In 2010, be the master of your own destiny.

Love,
Joey



Previous Holiday Greetings:
2008 - Click Here
2007 - Click Here
2006 - Click Here
2005 - Click Here
2004 - Click Here
(Sorry before 2004, the Greetings were email based and I lost them all - so if you have them... send 'em my way and I will republish)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Florence & The Machine Version

Thanks to the creator of my favorite comic book character - here is another version of "Fairytale of New York". Thank you Ron Marz



This still has nothing on the original.

The Best Xmas Song Ever

Hands down this is the greatest Xmas song of all time.



Buy It - Because it does not suck

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stories: The Most Awkward Car Ride Too

NOTE: People seemed to love yesterday's story which got me thinking of a specific ride that had much more of an impact on me as a child. I hope you read it with the humor it is intended to have, but I think you need to know my father to fully appreciate it.

It was the summer of 1990, Philadelphia was typically hot, sweaty, and a little smelly for mid-July. Since it was the middle of the summer, my old man decided we should go on vacation. My family was hit and miss with vacation; Sometimes my father would take a week off, sometimes it would be a few days, sometimes not at all. If we did go on vacation, we ALWAYS went to the Jersey Shore (Southern Shore - Wildwood). That summer, I was nine years old and my sister had just turned 11 - my father announced to us that we were going to the Catskill Mountains for a few days and my head started spinning.



I had never heard of the Catskills Mountains. This was a massive break from the routine and was outside my "comfort zone" of South Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Reflecting on my youth, I developed a philosophy about the typical South Philadelphia upbringing: it is very insular - "the world outside South Philadelphia does not exist". Once the shock of change wore off, I started seeking information about our summer destination. My first source was my mother; she was trying to hide her own lack of enthusiasm, but managed to inform me that at one point in it's illustrious history, the Catskill Mountains was a hotbed for stand up comedy. This had me excited until someone told me that the good comedians don't go there anymore and was now a place that old people go to - I was not pleased.

As we packed our things into my father's 1983 Buick Regal, I wondered what this vacation would be like... I should have been wondering "how long is the car ride?"

To understand this situation, let us begin with a brief description of my father: He is a man of medium height and average weight. He works in the food industry (you may even catch him on TV sometimes) and doesn't talk. Let me repeat - He doesn't talk - unless you have managed to do something wrong. Over the years I have come to admire and appreciate his silent nature: most people can't shut up, but you can't get a word out of my old man. In addition to his own quiet nature, at the time, he enjoyed complete silence around him. This meant no radio (which he has since changed his mind about) and of course, no conversations in the car besides basic questions.



Having been around the man my entire life, I was used to his "modus operandi"; However, I was not prepared to be in a car in complete silence for 4 hours. Nobody told me this trip would take 4 hours as I would have most definitely stayed with a relative. Remember: This is before iPods and DVD players in the back seat of the car. You know what our back seat had? A big rotting hole in the car's floor - it was like that for months - I lost countless toys to that hole. He placed a metal plate to the floor before the trip to prevent any potentially fatal slippage. I was not a complete moron - I did have a walkman (with tapes) but of course after 2 hours - the battery ran out and the extras were in the trunk. At one point we stopped for refreshments and gas. My old man got me a Snapple Iced Tea. I remember this because after I finished the iced tea I was mindlessly clicking the cap until my father asked if he could see the cap. Out the window it went.

People have their own way with dealing with silence - I tend to get lost in my head which I managed to do successfully for a few hours, but not everyone takes that approach. My sister kept it under control for a few hours but then she started to get bored. As children, my sister was very much the alpha personality and I was much more passive (that has probably flip-flopped at least outwardly). She also takes after my father a little bit in the fact that she can hold a grudge and she can be a world class ball-buster (I mean comic villain ball-buster, it's pretty admirable when you aren't on the receiving end). By the third hour my sister was ready to enact revenge for some past transgression. Make no bones, my sister was an expert at setting traps to get me in trouble. She knew exactly how to push my buttons to make me lose it. I don't remember what she did exactly, but her move was to always ask a seemingly innocent question to my father which would highlight a recent screw-up on my part. I would immediately attempt to defend myself which of course would break the silent harmony that my father craved. She managed to replicate this trap and like an idiot I fell for it every time. Looking back I think my father knew exactly what was going on and was playing his part to entertain himself for 4 hours.

My sister's traps ate up the remaining time and when we finally pulled into the parking lot of the "resort" I almost kissed the ground. That is until I noticed that this place had obviously seen better days. Rusting fence around the tennis courts, buildings in need of paint, and of course the rooms had a medicinal smell similar to a hospital ("Of Course!" I thought - "Old People"). My father was more silent than normal. He would usually be making some comment how he was going to spend his time. He was just walking around eye-balling the place. My parents friends met us in the lobby and it was then that I discovered where my father got this bright idea - his buddy. His friend reminded me of Jack Tripper's neighbor Larry (from Three's Company). While his friend went on about how great this place was with the tennis, the golf, and the streams, my father walked around with a disgusted look. That disgusted look remained during dinner (which was infested with the elderly). When we got back to the room, he made the announcement: "Pack up your things, we are getting the hell out of here tomorrow". And that is exactly what we did. We hopped in the car the next morning and drove the 4+ hours in silence to... The Jersey Shore.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stories: The Most Awkward Car Ride Ever

I spent a few days with "Woody" from the story last week; being in his company make me think of this story, which I had to capture while still fresh in my mind. Some facts, places, and people might have been changed to protect people's identities and to make the story better. Deal with it.

[Background]

The events of this story took place on Sunday, August 10th, 2008 in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. My friends and family rented a house for my bachelor party. Through the course of the weekend one of the guys whom we shall call "Gambo" took offense to the antics that were taking place in the house, especially one that indirectly-directly impacted him. This one specific event caused Gambo to mope around the house and not talk to anyone. On Saturday evening, a minor confrontation broke out between Gambo and a gentlemen we shall call Woody (actually a confrontation between me and Gambo also broke out). Woody was one of the principles in the act that caused Gambo to freak out and stop talking to us. Woody took responsibility for any damage and called in a specialist at a very low cost (a fraction of the deposit on the place). Gambo, who booked the house, wasn't satisfied for some reason. Gambo came out of his funk on Saturday night, but still wasn't talking to Woody. This leads us to Sunday Morning...

It had been decided after the specialist repaired the damage to the house (outstanding work I might add), we would all go out and get lunch. I picked a local Indian place to piss off my friend "Nuesbaum" who doesn't like ethnic food. The pressure from the last few days had lifted since the damage was fixed and the security deposit was coming back (which nobody expected to be returned except for Gambo). Woody and I got into Republicaster's car. As we were pulling out, Gambo got into the back seat next to me. The next 6 minutes won't ever be forgotten.

[The Ride]

{Scene: Republicaster, Woody, and I are in the driveway of the house, getting ready to leave for lunch. Gambo is looking at the car.}


Woody: I hope he doesn't think he is getting a ride with us.
Joey: I doubt he will get in the car, Gambo is non-confrontational, he knows better than to come in here with you.

{Gambo gets in the car. I hear Republicaster saying "Oh shit" under his breath. The car is silent for a full minute}

Joey: Man I can't wait to get me some Indian food. I wonder if Nuesbuam is going to make it through lunch before he ruins himself.
Gambo: He isn't coming, he is going to get Burger King with some of the other guys
Joey: What the hell...
Woody (to Republicaster): Man, that specialist did a great job today.
Republicaster: No doubt man, we got lucky finding him. Good work.
Woody: Gambo, you like what he did?
Gambo: Yeah it looks fine.

{Woody nodds}

Gambo: I just want to let you know that I am not paying you for the specialist, I don't think I should have to.

{Woody remains silent}

{Woody turns around to face Gambo}

Woody: You don't think everyone should pay for the damage. Everyone was down there laughing and half the people in the house were in on it. It's a bachelor party - everyone should pay. It should just come out of the deposit money.
Gambo: I don't think I should have to pay for that damage.
Woody: That's because you are a rat.

{Silence from everyone. There are much nastier words in the English language, but when Woody called Gambo a rat, it sounded like the absolute worst thing in the world}


Woody: Republicaster, can you believe this guy? He can't relax and be part of the group, he needs to create a problem... needs to act like a RAT

{Gambo is looking at me with pleading eyes, I just look back with a a sad nod. I felt bad for the guy, but he got on the crazy train, now he need to sit back and enjoy the ride}

Woody: I can't believe I am sharing a car with a rat. This guy has a been a complete jerk all weekend. A total RAT. You ever see a rat chew a hole in a wall? Then he climbs in the wall and makes more holes. And then he gets in your kitchen and eats your food and poops all over your counter. That's what Gambo is doing. He is crapping in my kitchen!
Gambo: You think I should...
Woody: RAT!
Gambo: Why should I be expected to...
Woody: RATS CAN TALK! When a Rat got into our house, my mother made me chop off it's head with a shovel....

{Woody is now sweating with rage and the thought of rats. Republicaster and I are fighting the urge to laugh.}

Woody: I am done with this guy. Nobody should talk to RATS, it's bad for your health.

{Republicaster nods in agreement as we pull into the Indian Restaurant's parking lot, Gambo is just staring out the window like nothing happened}



[Conclusion]

Lunch was a curry flavored session of tension. The other guys didn't know what happened, but they knew something was up. Gambo and Woody stayed away from each other and when the meal was over he did not join us in the car ride home. Actually, I think we just got in the car and left knowing that Nuesbaum's car had room (they met us after they got back from BK). Woody and Gambo kept their distance until the car ride back to New Jersey as they were both in my car. Gambo put on his earphones and listened to his iPod the entire ride home not saying a word to either of us. Woody made a few Rat comments, if Gambo heard them, he didn't react. I didn't speak to Gambo for a few months (actually not until days before the wedding). That is another topic to be covered in another place.

The boys didn't get their deposit money returned for months, but none of them said anything to me about it - not even Woody, who told me after he got the check that he wasn't expecting to get one. Eventually Gambo stopped talking to the group and after some initial questioning from the guys, they stopped asking about him. I have no doubts that this incident had something to do with his previous self-imposed exile.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 02: Issue 06



Howdy True Be-loggers - Welcome to a very snowy edition of Sunday Leftovers. For those readers not in the American east coast, we got hit with 20+ inches of snow. Since you are all watching Jersey Shore you probably think New Jersey is a year round Guido paradise... not so much. While this is one of the biggest snowfalls in recent memory, Jersey still gets cold. With that in mind there is nothing in my god-damn fridge this week because we didn't go to the stores to get supplies - so I am reaching deep to find what is left over.

[The Back Window]


CREDIT: No idea - but I will love them forever for taking this picture


CREDIT: James Brown - "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto"

[X-Mas]

Since the snowy weather has everyone talking about a "White Christmas" and it took me 4 hours to shovel 40 ft of driveway, it is time to put on my Grinch cap and restart my anti-X-Mas rant.

REMINDER (from past rants): If you are wondering why I am calling "Christmas" X-Mas, it is quite simple: There is no Judeo-Christian origin for what is occurring this time of year. Christ was not born in December - it was most likely March or April. Christmas was picked in December due to the Romans merging Christianity with the Pagan belief system. December 22-24 is the Winter Solstice which I have read was one hell of a party in ancient times. When Christianity became the flavor of the century, they renamed the old gods saints and changed the Pagan celebrations into Christ-friendly versions. So anybody who says we need to keep the "Christ" in Christmas needs to shut the fuck up.


From a strictly economic perspective I am pro X-Mas. The X-Mas time period keeps small family run retail stores open - they make most of their money this time of year. For that reason alone, I am in favor of this ridiculous pastime. My cold evil heart is also melting a little bit for the kids. Seeing my cousin's three year old freak the hell out for the tree is a heart-warming site. With that said, I am tired of everything else. I don't have kids and I don't want to decorate my house. When I have kids, I will buy into the bullshit, but for now, I should be able to enjoy my quiet time. Nope. The wife calls me the king of the Grinches and I can see my neighbors looking at me funny so the lights and the tree come out. Thankfully I am not up on the ladder yet, but I know my time is coming....

My main issue is the presents. I am a generous dude - I gift people up year round when they are in need, stressed out, or because I see something I know they will like. I feel a ton of pressure right now to find meaningful gifts for everyone in my circle and it is totally overwhelming. I am sure you are saying "just keep those gifts you buy until Christmas". No. I am not a storage house and if I see something for someone I think they should use it now. Fuck waiting. Plus the thing might not work and then I can't return it. The Italian in me says just to give money. Which works, but I am getting to the point that an exchange of dollars seems somewhat insincere.

SIDE STORY: My buddy calls me this week asking my opinion on a gadget he bought for his wife. There are a few versions of this tool, but it is all still first generation stuff and pretty expensive. I suggest to him that the first generation tech + the kids + the questionable support model at the moment - he should return it, which he accepted but he was so worried about what to buy his wife. I told him to chill out, keep the money in the bank and wait for something she really wants. That simple. My wife said she needed something recently and it was something she could use during this time of year, so I bought her want she needed. But if that didn't come up, I would have just said - Your gift will be the next trip we having coming up (which with this weather will be quite soon).

Couple that need for sincerity with this manufactured "X-mas spirit" that greeting cards and Coca-Cola (The modern version of Santa Claus with the red hat was invented for Coca-Cola in the 1930's - hence the red and white color scheme) have created to make you go out and buy more shit and my head explodes. But that takes me back to the whole "go out and buy stuff for the small business so they keep their doors open" and we are back to square one.

Fuck you X-mas.

[Recipe of the Week: Beef Stew Too]

I know I have done a beef stew recipe somewhere before, so I am calling this #2. It was easier than the last one that I can't really remember doing.... I don't mess around with flour because I think it kills the flavor. Everyone really liked this version.

INGREDIENTS:
2 lbs of beef chunks (the store sells them chunked - you don't need a super great cut since it will be cooking for a few hours)
6 Cups Beef Stock
3 Cups Water
6 carrots (cut any way you like them - I do 1 inch pieces)
Half a stock of celery
2 large Spanish onions
3 bulbs of garlic - crushed, diced - any way you like it
2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
1 small can of tomato paste

SEASONING PACK
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon of sage
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
1 teaspoon of oregano
2 Tablespoons of Sea Salt (you can add more or less to taste)
1 Tablespoon of black pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. In a large soup pot, splash some olive oil in the pot, heat it up, and add the meat chunks. Allow it to brown.
2. Remove the beef and then add the onions, allow them to cook for a few minutes (soaking up all the beef juice).
3. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery. Let that all cook down for 5 minutes - give it an occasional stir.
4. Add the tomato paste and mix it in well
5. Add the Beef Stock, Water, the seasoning pack and Worcestershire Sauce and bring it to a boil.
6. Add the beef back and drop down to a simmer.
7. Allow it to cook for an hour (up to 90 minutes).
8. Take the bay leaves out.

[DIY of the Week: Cardboard Laptop Stand]

In a pinch and don't have the means to get to the store to buy a stand? Check out this surprisingly study laptop stand:

Green Upgrader: Cardboard Laptop Stand

[Random Coolness: Hobbit House]


I have always had an odd fascination with underground houses. I am not a huge Lord of the Rings fan (the movies were awesome, the books were written poorly - Yes I said it) but this house (whether it was inspired by LOTR or not) is fucking awesome:

Inhabitat.com: Hobbit House?
NOTE: The picture about is hosted and provided by Inhabitat.com - control freak Joey normally downloads the pictures, but I felt I shouldn't for this one, so if it disappears, blame them :-)

[Video of the Week]

In keeping with my pissing on the religion origins of X-Mas, here is a Secular song that was donated to WorldVision.com (Charity that gets third world countries self-sustaining supplies like livestock)



[Conclusion]

Okay, I have pissed on your beliefs enough today (and I am really cold). I actually wrote a few more things for this week's blog that I am going to break out and make their own articles. I will spread them out throughout the the week. If you need to reach me, you can do so via email at: "blog at joeylombardi.com". As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Joey Lombardi | Create Your Badge

Monday, December 14, 2009

Works Progress Administration Sampler

I heard some of my favorite musicians got together and made an album on their own dime and released it independently. They want fans to put the word out, so I am doing my part.

<a href="http://wpamusic.bandcamp.com/album/wpa">Always Have My Love by Works Progress Administration</a>

WPA is:
Luke Bulla (Fiddle, Guitar, Vocals)
Glen Phillips (Guitar, Vocals)
Sean Watkins (Guitar, Vocals)
with:
Davey Faragher (Bass)
Greg Leisz (Pedal Steel)
Benmont Tench (Piano, Organ, Vocals)
Pete Thomas (Drums)
Sara Watkins (Fiddle, Vocals)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 02: Issue 05


Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! This week we will discuss Nazi sales people, Shaving cream, and Potato Latkes? Let's open the fridge and see what's leftover...

[The Back Window]


CREDIT: My Favorite Planet


CREDIT: Two Hours Traffic

[Poster Bitch]


A few months ago I found an excellent video of Ryan Adams and the Cardinals that the BBC recorded. I managed to find a poster on Amazon for that exact concert and bought it, knowing it would look very cool in my music area. Two weeks ago I decided to play catch up on my vendor reviews for Amazon. I freely admit - I mistook this vendor with the business who sold me Ryan Adams' book Infinity Blues. That business delayed the book twice so I thought I was giving THEM at ding with ONE star off (but I didn't recall destroying anyone with a review or rating).

On Wednesday I get an email from the poster company:

I'm really perplexed why you left us a "4" for the amazon.com feedback? We deliver exactly what we promise- and fast too. We also offer a no questions asked return policy. Before your feedback- we had perfect 100% positive "5" feedback score for hundreds of sold items. bummer. please refrain from buying our items in the future.
Sincerely,
(Name Removed)

This guy doesn't identify himself and his email is from an AOL account, so my first thought is - who the hell did I give a 4 out of 10 to? I email him to figure out what transaction this is for and his response is:

you purchased one of our posters. i'd be willing to bet that it was exactly as described, packed well, and arrived on time. we also offer a return policy. having said all of that, one can only wonder why we deserved a less than 100% positive feedback? If a less than 5 score seems like no big deal- well, i'd say that it is the first we have received after hundreds of transactions on Amazon.

well, we're a small shop. we had all positive feedbacks up to your 4 and someone else's unfair 3 on Dec 7. now our feedback score for this week is 89%.

your two unfair feedbacks have tubed our account and made us look like a bad seller for what should be our best week of the year- 2 weeks before Christmas. we're about to close our amazon account now.

it is a shame how many folks don't consider how simple feedback can adversely impact a small business on the internet.

PS - I am copy/pasting this directly from email, so all of the punctuation errors are the business owners.

This guy gets to me with his whole small business argument. Reflecting on the transaction, it came fast and without damage. I had no issues with their service, so I now feel obligated to correct my "mistake". When I log into Amazon and realize it is out of 5 stars - I immediately think - "What is this guy's fucking problem?". But my feeling was that the guy deserved the correction if it means that much to him. So I take time out my ultra busy morning to figure out how to remove the 4 rating. I email him back:

Sorry - I did bulk reviews and mistook you with another related transaction. I have removed my feedback and score.
I will add that you don't have to be so confrontational. In this situation, it was a mistake - perhaps - since you are exerting the energy - you should just asked the customer why they reduced the score from a perfect 5 and work with them on a correction.

He then responds with:

no one is being so confrontational, I just told you my thoughts and assessment of your feedback.

I appreciate you removing your feedback.

When I got back to the hotel that night, I started thinking about this interaction: A few key words popped into my head "hundreds of items sold" and then "someone else's 3". If they had hundred of transactions rated at 5, my 4 wouldn't have done a damn thing to their rating. I came to the conclusion that this guy is a total rating Nazi and I started to wonder how many other people he bullied into better ratings. I looked at their amazon account again this company didn't have "hundreds" of 5 star reviews, they had 78. Which means he was lying about his customer base or they abused their customer contact information quite often to get people to remove their scores (I don't think you can go in a change them, you can only remove).

I am going to give the company a pass and not mention their name or the owner's name - in case I am off on my judgment about the situation, but I will oblige the owner's wish and never use them again. I am sending them a copy of the published link so maybe they will think twice about contacting customers who gave them good reviews. Not everything is perfect and nothing perfect stays that way forever. Tell me your thoughts about this situation readers - I am wrong to be pissed off about this guy contacting me with the tone he used or was he in the right?

[Tech Rant: iTunes]

Going to make this one quick. I hate iTunes. We are at version 9 and the software is just beginning to get syncing for the iPod device right. It seems like every time I open the program there is an update which takes 5-10 minutes to download and install. With so many updates - why does the software suck so bad? The program never syncs my songs correctly. Sometimes it works just fine, other times, it just sits there. With the implementation of genius, I finally signed out for the last time. I downloaded VLC player for my mp4 files and never looked back. I also I bought myself a cheap-ass Sansa that windows treats like an external hard drive, so all I have to do is drag and drop my songs into the device. Full control, no mess.

A few years ago I read about a Mozilla-based project called Songbird. Songbird has a iTunes-like interface and can manage iPods and other MP3 players. It runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux. The software has a built in web browser and will manage online music content like embedded mp3s and streaming services like Last.fm. The first versions were a little buggy, but with the 1.0 release - it featured easier interfaces and I finally feel comfortable recommending it to people. VLC is a much faster, smaller program that will play just about anything, so if you have an older PC - I'd recommend that, but if you just can't quit iTunes, give Songbird a try.

[Recipe of the Week: Potato Latkes]

Since this is the holiday season, I figured I would present this classic staple of Jewish cuisine. My father brought me a corned beef sandwich from Famous Deli in Philadelphia two weeks ago and the Latke comes as a side dish. So good.

INGREDIENTS
5 potatoes, grated
2 onions, grated
3 eggs
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Nutmeg (to taste)
Oil for frying

DIRECTIONS
1. Mix up the potatoes and onions
2. Get all the moisture out the mix (give it a good squeeze in a towel). Add the eggs, breadcrumbs and spices and mix again.
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Heap spoonfuls of the mix into the pan and pat them down to form pancakes.
4. Fry for 2 minutes, turn over and fry for another minute until golden.
5. Drain on paper towel

[DIY of the Week: Make your own Shaving Cream]

MATERIALS:
1/2 teaspoon of sunflower oil
1/4 cup of unscented glycerin soap
Double boiler
A cup or mug for the cream

DIRECTIONS:
You can follow the directions from Planet Green

[Video of the Week]



[Conclusion]

That's all I have for you. I hope you enjoyed my week of Wilco Haiku while I was off traveling for work. I am reading a lot of year-end/decade-end lists which is getting my brain churning for my Season's Greetings post. If you need to reach me, you can do so via email at: "blog at joeylombardi.com". As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Joey Lombardi | Create Your Badge

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wilco Haiku: South Jersey Mike

South Jersey Mike

The man who loves you
The heavy metal drummer
He just broke your heart

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wilco Haiku: Are Ghosts Really Real?

Are ghosts really real?

A Ghost can be born
At least that is what you said
But less than you think

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wilco Haiku: After the Break-Up

After the break-up

Wake Up! Shake it off
I know you must hate it here
Find me either way

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Wilco Haiku: What's that on my Shirt?

A few weeks ago, Wilco's website (Wilcoworld.net) announced a contest for a Gibson SG Guitar signed by the band. You just had to submit a Wilco related haiku poem. While I am not one for poetry, I wanted that fucking guitar. The deadline was a few weeks ago and I haven't heard anything, so I am assuming I lost. Since the effort was made and and I won't be able to post this week, I am going to publish some of the better ones I came up with every day. I hope you enjoy my attempts at winning a free guitar.

What's that on my shirt?
Started war on war
Ash from American Flags
Staining my clean shirt



ADD: It dawned on me that people might not know what Haiku is. From Wikipedia:
Haiku: is a form of Japanese poetry, consisting of 17 moras (or on), in three metrical phrases of 5, 7, and 5 moras respectively.

[1] Haiku typically contain a kigo, or seasonal reference, and a kireji or verbal caesura. In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English usually appear in three lines, to parallel the three metrical phrases of Japanese haiku.

[2] Previously called hokku, haiku was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of the 19th century.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 02: Issue 04



Howdy true be-loggers - welcome to Sunday Leftovers! This week we will discuss discuss how Tiger Woods uses his penis, an update on last week's bass/this week's Dell rant, and much more. Let's open up the fridge and see what's leftover.

[The Back Window]


CREDIT: No idea


CREDIT: Little Tybee - Building a Bomb

[Tiger Woods]


Allow me to start this rant by saying: I don't watch golf, I don't care about golf, I don't put professional sports players on a pedestal, I don't want to be like Mike (or Tiger).

The news has been dominated by Tiger Woods' alleged affairs with several high class skanks. As the media pontificates on this subject, I am scratching my head and wondering if any real news is happening. It is the holidays and people want things to be quiet; but who gives a shit about Tiger Woods? Is Tiger going to solve world hunger? Is Tiger going to cure cancer? Is Tiger going to fix the economy? Tiger is a dude who hits a small ball with a metal club really well. The end.

There has been remarks made about "Men with power cheating". People cheat. PEOPLE. MEN AND WOMEN. I know men that have cheated on their girlfriends, and I know women that have cheated on their husbands - nobody has power in those situations. Nobody knows what is going on between Woods and his wife and if he did cheat on her the world isn't going to end. It's his problem.

We like to see rich and famous people fuck up. Everyone is secretly hoping Woods loses his endorsement deals because of this story because it then becomes and even bigger story. Woods didn't break the law. Woods didn't take some chemical substance that makes him play better. As long as the dude can hit a little ball better than everybody else, his endorsements will remain in tact (or he will get other lucrative ones) because people love a winner as much as they love juicy gossip.

Someone might say that Tiger is attempting to solve world problems with his tax write off aka charitable foundation. You will see lots of pictures in the months to come of Woods coming in out and of that office as some PR genius fixes his "broken image" - how convenient. While I don't have a problem with the guy, don't bullshit the public and make it seem like you care. When you have a billion dollars, you need to find ways of protecting it, ala a charity.

Bottom Line: People cheat, not just men. Who gives a shit about Tiger Woods. Merry X-Mas - go buy your kids some toys.

[Customer Support]

I figured I would update everyone on my shipping issues as of late....

Tis the season for online shopping and I have been doing my fair share. In addition to doing Holiday shopping, I have been taking advantage of the poor economy to score some good deals for myself. In the last few weeks I bought myself a bass amp and a large monitor. Both of these big ticket items had damage in shipped and I have had various issues getting them re-mediated. You all read the Dell rant; but I am getting pretty pissed off about the amp.

Thanks to my friend Jack, I am pretty sure we fixed it, but since the shipper insured it, I want to get the amp inspected for damage at a music store and have a standard tune up done. I want UPS to cover this. Getting them to do that has been a huge pain in the ass. First they came to take the amp away - I didn't give it to them. Since I got such a good deal on it, I don't want them to "credit me" for the amp because it is worth more than I paid for it. When I told the driver (nice lady), that I just want it to be inspected by a professional repair tech she said another UPS employee has to come out and inspect it.

I called to schedule that, and didn't get through. Thanks to my neighborhood driver, somebody did call me to set something up, but they never set a date and nobody has called back and I haven't been able to get someone on the phone again. What a pain in the ass! That's what you get when you find deals online I suppose.

A quick note about the Dell monitor fiasco - I got a new monitor the next day and it worked. And the dude who processed my return called me on Friday to make sure everything was okay. So it might have taken three hours to find someone good, but he was an excellent customer support representative. I still have reservations from ordering anything from them due their failure to process a simple request.

[Recipe of the Week: Vegetable Chicken Soup]

I wanted to make something healthy this week with peppers but with protein - I decided on a soup with what I had lying around the house. I think it came out well. Feel free to experiment and add what you want.


INGREDIENTS
1 lb of chicken breast (if it is one piece you might want to chop it up to a few large piece - you don't need to dice it)
2 cups of quinoa
2 spanish onions - diced
2 green peppers - diced
2 red peppers - diced
1 tablespoon of crushed garlic
9 cups of water
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 chicken bullion cube
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon (or as much to taste as you want) of sea salt
1 bay leaf

DIRECTIONS
1. Splash some olive oil in a large soup pot and allow it to heat up (medium heat). Add the onions and cover for 5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and red/green peppers. Cover again and allow to sweat for another 5 minutes.
3. Add 6 cups of water, the bouillon cube, the Worcestershire Sauce, the bay leaf, the red pepper, black pepper, and salt and bring the soup to a boil.
4. Once at a boil - Add the chicken and bring the stove top down to the lowest setting or off for 30 minutes.
5. After 30 minutes, take the chicken out (and the bay leaf) and bring the soup back up to a boil. The chicken will basically fall apart to the touch. Shred it up well and set it aside.
6. Once the soup is at a boil, bring it down to a low simmer and add the quinoa and stir. You can also add the shredded chicken back in. Allow the quinoa to cook for 15-20 minutes.

Season to taste

[DIY of the Week: Kid's Playhouse]

This really doesn't look that hard if you have the right tools, you can easily modify the design to make a shed too.


Pallet Playhouse - More DIY How To Projects

[Video of the Week]



[Conclusion]

That's all for this week friends. I will be in CT for a portion of the week, so hopefully I will come back with some good stories. If you need to reach me, you can do so via email at: "blog at joeylombardi.com". As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Joey Lombardi | Create Your Badge