Thursday, May 28, 2009

Man vs. Wild

As you may have expected, I occasionally leave the confines of the United States for various international destinations frequented by the rich, powerful and jet set of the world. This weekend I headed to the clear waters of the Caribbean for the wedding of my dear, old friend Kim. The wedding also served as a wonderful cover for me to get to the islands to set up some secret accounts with which to launder my myriad sources of illegal income.

Once business and the wedding were in the books, it was time to cut loose and enjoy all the Bahamas had to offer, including conch, which I ate in massive quantities. I can’t tell you how much conch I had in my mouth over the weekend.

One of the group’s excursions was a snorkeling trip, which is the sort of thing nobles like myself enjoy doing when there are no foxhunts or falconry establishments to be found. On this particular trip, we visited a coral reef where I literally off of the boat and into a school of fish, as well as an underwater plane wreck and well-known shark feeding area.

We started out with wonderful weather at the reef but it quickly went south on us as a storm moved in. Now you think this would put a damper on the trip but the foul weather was actually a lot of fun. We entered the water at the plane wreck under rainy skies with thunder and lightning in the distance. The choppy water and rain actually added to the fun as it reminded me of my days as a Navy SEAL. The weather did stir up some of the local species of sea life, all of who attempted to put a damper on my good time.

As near as we can figure, a sea wasp, or box jellyfish attacked me. These creatures are noted as being the most poisonous of all jellyfish species. The merciless attack was witnessed by my swim buddy Xani, who confirmed the offender as it swam away. The sensation provided by the sting was akin to being stuck with a stickpin and then having the stickpin hooked up to a car battery. I let out a great, manly yell of surprise and then tried to find the creature to kill it, but was stymied by the decreasing visibility. After this, 

I got back onto the boat and we proceeded to the third and final snorkeling stop after off-loading half of our more squeamish associates, who I assume were paralyzed with fear after witnessing the attack in the water.

At the next stop, the party was to enter the water and view the sharks as they swam beneath us. Normally, the entire ship slides into the water and holds onto a buoy line, making sure not to move their hands as this is shark body language for “I have some fish” and all but ensures you will have a sweet pirate hook in place of the lost hand. This time was different though. After a quick scout swim, out brave captain Clee-J (I love that name) came out and informed us “because of the way the sharks are” we would be going in three at a time.

When my turn came, I was the first one in the water and looked beneath me as the sharks swam closer and closer. They got about two feet away before our time was up and I returned to the boat. Soon after I toweled off, I heard that the sharks were getting far too close and aggressive and that no other parties would be allowed to enter the water. I can only assume that this behavior is a direct result of my being in the water. Its foolish to think that you can put an apex predator like myself into a foreign ecological system and there not be any consequences. My guess is that the sharks were swimming closer to me as a sign of respect and worship and became agitated when their new god left them. I am apparently a king of the seas as well as the land.

But I digress. The rest of the trip went off without a hitch and I bought two totally boss t-shirts (Xani bought this weird cupcake box thing at the dive shop. Seriously.) before heading back to the resort for a shower and another meal of conch.

If I can backtrack for a second, I would like to address the personal affront that I received while in the water. I’m sure you’re all stunned at the temerity of the jellyfish for assaulting me. I was too, at the time. But if my regal upbringing has taught me anything, it is that quiet reflection is a necessity of life.

After filling my belly with banana daiquiris and guava cake, I put myself in the super-deadly creature’s shoes and realized it was just doing what came natural. I think we’ve all shot home intruders before and the jellyfish was just doing the same. My rage was soothed by the fact that my Wolverine-like healing ability had reduced the wound to little more than a scratch.

I will add that I still have not ruled out an Ahab-like quest to eradicate all Cnidarian life on the planet just on principal. I mean, if I give jellyfish a pass what else gets one? Grizzly bears? Dragons? Yetis? I can’t go soft now.

If this story has a moral, it’s don’t F with me. I took Mother Nature’s best shot and responded by laying a steamer right on her face. Nice try. Matt: 1, Earth: 0.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Here Thar Be Monsters!

One of the best – and worst – shows currently airing on cable has got to be MonsterQuest. Its great because, as you may have guessed, each episode deals with the search for one monster or another. Past subjects have included old cryptozoological standbys as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster (the sea serpent, not the roller coaster), the New Jersey Devil (maybe the only good thing to come out of Jersey) and a ton of other creepy things that may or may not exist.

Each show enlists guides, trappers, explorers, scientists and others to the cause and they canvas the suspected areas in search for their elusive prey. They show is notable for having never found any monsters whatsoever. Despite this alarming trend, I watch each episode convinced that this will be the one where they totally catch a Sasquatch or werewolf on camera. I even get excited when the cut to commercial right as someone on the expedition yells “What’s that!” and we hear a rustling in the bushes. It always turns out to be a deer or chipmunk in the end and I am left disappointed. You’d think I would have learned by now, but then again I’m not that bright.

One of the issues the series is dealing with now is the lack of good monsters to quest after. Pickings are getting slim. One episode was spent looking for big dogs. Then another went after big cats that were running wild in America. It turned out to be jaguars sneaking across the borders from Mexico. Damn illegal aliens.

Then they went on the hunt for Hogzilla, the really huge-ass pig that’s already dead. The show wanted to see if 700 lb. mega hogs are legit and running wild in the Southeastern U.S. They didn’t find one of these guys either but I suspect the locals just BBQ them up. I wouldn’t mind getting a little bit of that South in my mouth.

The best show in recent memory detailed a search for vampire evidence in Rhode Island. They ended up researching the Mercy Brown case, which was fun because it dealt with actual monsters even though they found none.

They should stick to that. I think they should do an episode where they hunt for Blaculas. That would be fun. They could interview William Marshall (aka The King of Cartoons) as well as Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes to see how they were able to inhabit the character of the Blacula.

They would also be doing the people a service if they went on the hunt for Bunniculas. The last thing we need is vampire bunnies draining our vegetables of their juice. I would tune in if the crew spent the evening in a vegetable garden with a bunch of tiny wooden stakes. It would be adorable if they caught one.

Also, the crew is more than welcome to use the homestead in Severn as a staging area for an investigation of Maryland Bigfoots. That would be a fantastic episode, especially with the history of Sasquatch activity in the general Arundel Mills-area. (For the uninitiated click here.) Most people mock the idea of a Maryland-based Sasquatch but I think its because its just too real for them.

In summation, there is probably no such thing as monsters. At least not on this show. Its a small consolation that this show seems more professional than UFO Hunters, which ascends to grand new heights of crackers thanks to the guys huntin' for the truth.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?

Since switching to Verizon's FIOS we have had very few problems with the service and now have a shit ton of channels, both regular and hi-def. This part rocks. The problems arise due to my lack of familiarity with the channels. 

I invariably miss out on some really cool show because there are so many channels to sort through while browsing. This doesn't bother me that much. 

What really pisses me off is something that is entirely my own fault. Every now and again while browsing, I come across a show entitled Cougar Diaries. Like any red-blooded American male, I tune in expecting to find some nice Skinemax softcore featuring some more mature ladies, but am greeted with sports highlights from Brigham Young University. Not cool, man.

What really bothers me is that this has happened at least five times. You think I would learn by now or at least notice that its a sports channel right in the middle of a bunch of other sports channels. I think it might just be the hormones.

PS I guess you guys now know why I liked The Graduate so much.

Clean As a Whistle

So we're done. Finally.

There was lots of wax and a bit of blood but I don't think anyone can argue with the result. For those people who think it would be cool to shave a gorilla to see what it looks like, take a gander. I think this is as close as you're going to get in this PC world we live in.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The King of Pain

As my four or five loyal readers know, I have a very hairy back. Its not like I can help it or anything. Its just there. I didn't grow it out to be in style or anything. Get off my case.

In anticipation of my trip to the Bahamas, my sister offered to help me with my decidedly ethnic problem (damn Polish and Italian DNA!) and wax my back for me. As I type this, the young Princess of Dundalk is busy ripping the hairs from my body, follicle by follicle. 

This isn't my first time doing this. It hurts like hell, but after a little while you just get used to it. Last time it took my sister two and a half hours to get me nice and smooth (in addition to a half a can of wax), so this time out we decided to break it up over two sessions. Tonight is session #1 and after about a 45 minutes a good chunk is clean. I'm told we're about a third of the way done at this writing.

Something like this takes a lot of planning. Kendra had to order extra wax this time out as well as cut a ton of muslin strips. Additionally, there had to be a preliminary trim in the shower with my hair clippers.

This is still a work in progress, so I'll be sure to let you see the finished product. I'm sure my friends will appreciate it when they see me struttin' my big ass on the beach in a few days. In closing, here is the first strip ripped from my back. That's not even close to being the hairiest of the bunch.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Very Special Award

This evening fortune smiled upon me and my companion for the evening, Xani of Black Coffee and a Donut fame. While at a local watering hole, we bore witness to one of the most genuinely moving gestures of love that these tired old eyes have ever seen.

So without further delay, I present the award for the "Lamest Couple in the Bar" to the newlyweds at the Sly Fox on Fort Ave this evening!

After joining her husband at the bar from some other event or wherever the hell she was, the wife decided it would be a good idea to sit on his lap on a bar stool, while there were plenty of other seats available. This made for one of the most uncomfortable-looking PDAs that I have ever seen and really kind of got on my nerves. Which is pretty rare because I absolutely love rom-coms and all the saccharine bullshit that comes along with them.

Anyway, nice job jackasses. If I had had the trophy on me I would have held a small ceremony and reception. Instead they must toil in anonymity.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hershey Has Done it Again!

As you all know, I am a man who likes his candy and fresh breath, so it with no small amount of excitement that I introduce you to the latest from Hershey's Ice Breakers line of mouth-freshening mints.

Using "natural flavors" (whatever the hell that means), The Hershey Company has captured one of my all-time favorite beverages in caplet form. Its like The Jetsons or some noise. The little mint tastes very much like a candy designed to taste like lemon iced tea should taste and is a very refreshing change from the regular old peppermint. Plus, since they are sugar-free, they have 30% less calories than sugared mints. Thanks to the handy math on the back of the container that works out to 2 calories per Ice Breaker as opposed to 3 per sugared mint. The nerve of those bastards with their sugared mints!

Thanks to these, I am now moments away from feeling like I'm relaxing pool side at any point of the day. Even while driving! If they figure out a way to make Half and Half flavored mints (1/2 iced tea, 1/2 lemonade) I may lose my mind.

Additionally, the container is also a source of great entertainment. It comes with not one, but two openings with the Shakespearian phrases "to share" and "not to share." But get this. The "to share" opening is small, while the "not to share" opening is far larger, suggesting that by not sharing you will just horde them or dump them all into your mouth! How cheeky!

In any event, these mints rule hard. I've had like 15 while writing this post. If I make my way up the road to Hershey, PA this summer, I intend to let the powers-that-be know that these should be a permanent addition to the line. I'm not sure that Hershey Park admission ticket gets you a sit-down with the CEO of the company though. I guess I can check at Guest Relations.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

First Burgers of the Season

"There is no disguise which can hide love for long where it exists, or simulate it where it does not."

Francois de la Rochefoucauld

I feel that the above quote perfectly illustrates my deep, true love for the hamburger. Despite recent attempts to reduce my meat intake and eat healthier, I always fall back into the arms of my first love. While she may be a harsh mistress, she is mine and I couldn't be happier that she is back in my life.

It was with great anticipation that I fired up the grill last week for the first backyard burgers of the summer.  I decided to go no frills for the first time out, making normal All-American burgers. (I'll sometimes experiment with marinades, Juicy Lucys, etc.) Using my secret recipe for the ground beef ( salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce, but you didn't hear that from me) I whipped up my heart's desire.

One of my favorite summer pastimes is grilling so it was like slipping into some old shoes.  The smell coming off the grill was pure heaven and once I got the burgers dressed up with cheese, I was ready to rock.

I went with plain mayo for the first burger. It was nice and juicy.

The second was ketchup and mustard. It wasn't quite as good because I was a little full at this point. Apparently there is a limit to how much meat I can consume. I did eat a lot of fries too.

In any event, the first foray into grilling has gotten me totally stoked for the rest of the summer, where I do the majority of my creative cooking. I'm looking forward to making my old favorites like Beer-Butt Chicken and maybe looking into some new ideas. I'm toying with the idea of buying a smoker. That way I could slow cook ribs, pork shoulders, etc. over the course of several hours. This may mean that I would have to sleep next to the smoker all night and check it every hour, but what are you going to do? 

We suffer for our art.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Look at this Little Bastard

To paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart when speaking about hardcore pornography, its hard to define, but you know it when you see it. I think the same goes for art and there is no denying what you are seeing right now.

This photo has it all. Its got a fat squirrel, a picnic table and a McDonald's ketchup packet. You have to give it to the little guy. He knew there was a spicy treat inside and he was working hard to get at it. 

Later on during our "hike" in Downs Park located in the 'Dena, Kendra came face to face with a deer, which scared the shit out of her. I reminded her that they were herbivores and we quickly got out of there just in case.

Anywho, there you go. Boom. Bazooka Joe. Consider your horizons broadened.

Welcome to my Stately Manor

Hopefully this is but the beginning of a very prolific blogging career that will culminate with my accepting the Pulitzer, Nobel or some other prestigious award for my work towards the betterment of humanity. I'm pretty sure this is how Dr. King got his start so I'm in good company.

First, a brief note about the title. For those that don't know, my father is quite literally the King of the storied burg of Dundalk. As lead guitarist and falsetto singer for the very popular local Top 40 band Gazze, he made a name for himself and his family through a marathon-like playing schedule of weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, festivals, crab feasts, bull roasts and more. This fame yielded many great things for me and my sister, including, but not limited to, free french fries and Cokes from local vendors.

In addition, my dear sister and I were given almost reverential treatment by the citizens of Dundalk during the annual Heritage Fair, the town’s yearly Independence Day celebration. Gazze would begin playing at the main stage every Sunday beginning at 12 noon and waves of people would begin filing in as soon as the gates were opened in an attempt to get prime spots for their lawn chairs in the shade. As “band kids” we had been there for hours, wandering the craft tent and getting the first fresh-squeezed lemonades of the day.

At 3 p.m., Gazze would surrender the stage to Zim Zemerel (spelling? Like any of you guys would know) and his weird teen orchestra or some shit like that. After the show, we would always retire to Squire’s for a kingly meal of pizza with everything and cheeseburger subs. My father, being a local celebrity, would order “the usual” and actually have the waitress know what the hell he meant. It was very impressive to a ten-year-old boy looking for a hero.

But I digress. This is but a small taste of the preferential treatment that turned me into the lordly snob you all know and love today. Growing up in Columbia didn’t hurt either.

P.S. Its my hope to actually write about stuff that people will care about so take this entry with a grain of salt. Consider my blog cherry popped.