Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friends don't let friends sing sober

Been jonesin' for karaoke lately, or so I've been saying. What does this actually mean? That I simply haven't been in a while, or that I recently discovered a great song I'd like to sing? It means nothing.
Wong made it up to my place in time to see both kids put to bed. We hit the streets at around 9:00, and headed straight for the Korean joint on 32nd St., which is apparently called "Chorus Music Studio." I'm still not entirely sure where it is, even though I've been there at least fifteen times.

Wong's a karaoke purist at heart, but always willing to slum it at second-rate K-joints for the sake of the song. This place is totally weird: complementary cheese balls, a communal sink, and a framed Before and After Science out in the hallway. One has the absolutely same experience every time one goes here, whether one knows it or not.

I showed up armed with several aces up my sleeve, including "Here Comes the Rain Again," "Cocaine," and "Money for Nothing," none of which were available to perform. I threw down a tenner for 6 bullshit K-tickets and started the utterly pathetic charade of looking for songs in the binder. Like the addict ransacking his dresser drawers for that miracle stash, this search is invariably fruitless. I settled on "Nights in White Satin" and a Springsteen and bought myself a Diet Coke.

We submitted at around 10:00, and were still twiddling our pickles at 11:30pm. To make matters worse, the same five or six lame-o's were prancing around singing about 85% of the night's material. I asked the KJ/barwench about where we were on the evening's docket, and she chop-talked something about "ten more songs."

What she didn't clarify is that we would always be ten more songs away from singing. The only thing keeping us from going on a murderous rampage through the karaoke complex was the presence of the Daily Show's Rob Riggle (pictured above) and John Oliver on the couch next to us. Rob sang a few numbers and was a generally good sport about things... he didn't seem to mind that I air-tazered him every time he walked by us. He appreciated my cleverness, no doubt.

After complaining like a couple of losers, we finally got our moment just before midnight. Wong spent most of the evening watching the two microphones like a hawk, performing endless sound-analyses comparisons between each mic. I had every confidence in his ability to not only identify and select the superior sounding microphone in a split second, but also to share his information. There was no way I was going to sing Bruce through a wool sweater.

Wong picked the wrong mic for his opening rendition of "Jump"-- this became apparent when his usually spot-on Rothian yelps came across like smothered gerbils. Wong commandeered the good mic right before the beginning of the second verse-- a point of no return if there ever was one. Wong salvaged the song, but moved our small group from "hey, those jerks over there that keep ruining our songs can actually sing!" to "those jerks aren't even all that good."

I did far worse than Wong, delivering an anemic "Dancing in the Dark" that actually left me gasping for air. I can't fucking believe how out of shape I am.

I broke the only rule of Karaoke that actually matters by not drinking all night. Alcohol is the best (although not only) way to mask the horrors of karaoke: sad and talentless people pretending to be happy and possess talent. And if you've ever been sober when a genuinely happy person that actually can sing gets called to the mic, then you're not reading this because you're being hospitalized for severe depression. Never, I repeat never, go to a karaoke bar without drinking at least five drinks. Never.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Yankees 7, Twins 1

Friday was one helluvan afternoon, to say the least. I snuck out of work early (2:45) and bolted for the bus. Ain't no bus, so I got on the F instead. I was already exhausted.

I was headed to the upper East for a series of exams, scans, and drugs treatments. First stop was the ___________ Imaging Center. I was thinking F to the V and get off at 53rd/Lex-- maybe a farewell ride on the soon-extinct V line (and good fucking riddance!). Passed a parked V at 2nd Ave that wasn't going anywhere soon, so I switched to the D at W 4th in hopes of passing another V before 34th. Didn't happen, so I stuck with the D until 7 Av, where I pulled a slick switch to the Queens-bound E for 2 stops to the aforementioned 53rd/Lex stop. Piece of cake, really.

53rd/Lex is one deep station, so I was all about the escalator. Painted-blue plywood surrounded the escalator entrance, which I took to mean "the escalator is out of order." I staggered over to the stairs and began what Anatoli Boukreev might have called The Climb. Seriously, this is a really long flight of stairs.

Unfortunately, the stairs give a nice view of the fully operational "up escalator" about ten feet to the right. I considered leaping across the 4-foot gap (perhaps inspired by the alleged heroics of Boukreev himself), but that seemed like a bad idea. About halfway up the flight (appr. 5000 steps) I came face to face with an urchin of an old woman heading down the stairs. BTW, I was on the right side of the stairs while she was on the left.

The bitch wouldn't move! We stood there for at least 15 seconds before I said, "Come on, lady, move." She said, "Get out of my way!" I said, "Just move to the right, OK!" She said, "GET OUT OF MY WAY!" I said, "Common courtesy dictates that..." She said, "GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!"

By now, people were gawking through the gap between the escalator and the stairs, thinking (1) "what the hell is that idiot doing climbing the stairs?!" and (2) "that lady's a nutjob!" I was inspired by neither thought, and actually moved to my left, breaking every moral code in my body. Then I had to walk up the remaining fucking 5000 steps.

By now, my condition that necessitated the afternoon's exams, scans, and drugs treatments was much worse. On the bright side, I was actually on time! I stumbled into the MRI center looking like someone that needed one hell of an MRI.

I should mention that the ___________ Imaging Center is an absolutely top-notch operation, which is good considering the gravity of their work. An attractive receptionist asked me to fill out lots of paperwork, including a sheet with outlines of the front and back of a human body (they looked exactly the same) which I was supposed to mark according to my pain/symptoms. I circled both diagrams completely and submitted my clipboard.

An attractive nurse escorted me into the elevator and down two floors into the bowels of the center. I was given a key to a locker and told to store my belongings and change into a hospital gown. I asked the nurse if the facility had a restroom I could use before my MRI, which was probably the stupidest question of all time. Can you imagine an underground MRI center without a bathroom??!!

I was then led into a small room by yet another attractive nurse, who informed me that she was "setting up my port for the introduction of contrast agents." She was sticking a needle and catheter in my arm (which she did expertly and efficiently). She then led me down the hall and into the MRI room ("the tube").

A large man introduced himself and said he'd be my imaging technician for the afternoon, ending my streak at three. He was a dead ringer for Anton LaVey, which I took as a good sign. Anton asked me some stock questions, sizing me up for the ordeal ahead. I smirked and said something about this being my fourth or fifth MRI (this is true; I have had four or five MRIs in my lifetime). He smirked right back (and this guy knew how to smirk!) and said, "Well, today's session is a bit more... rigorous than you've experienced before." I replied, "How so? How long are we talking here?" Anton mumbled something about "55 minutes or so." Oh boy.

He gave me two cheap foam earplugs, which I immediately dropped on the floor. He helped me out with another pair, and strapped me in. Being strapped into an MRI with an IV tube in your arm is a little weird; I resisted the handful of death row jokes that floated through my transom. Once I was completely immoblized, Anton explained that I'd be getting MRI scans of my brain, and cervical spine, as well as an MRA of my neck, each with and without contrast. I asked him something about a "break" and he said something about "one shot."

Getting a closed bore MRI is exactly like listening to Autechre at maximum headphone volume on cough syrup, which I've done at least four or five times. The technician introduces each portion of the scan like a deadpan DJ, stating, "OK, this one's 3 and a half minutes" or "this one's about 2 minutes." The technician always underestimates the length of each song portion. That's the only way to make it through something like this (especially for almost an hour and a half!!!)-- to treat the experience like a little personal concert, brought to you by Warp Records. I totally dug the bass-heavy stuff, but couldn't stand the high-end BRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKK BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKKKKKKKK shit. I found out later that my right earplug fell out sometime during the scan, so my noise notch is now offically a noise ravine.

I'll also say that it was goddamn freezing in there!! I figured either (1) they have to keep the facility well ventilated for patients' safety and proper maintenance of the machinery, or (2) Anton was trying to neutralize my terrible farts.

I do have some suggestions that would improve the MRI experience for patients:
1) accompany each scan-series with a mini light show-- how hard would that be?
2) introduce each portion with a title, not just a length: "This one's something we like to call 'Gepetto's Waltz'" or "Here's 'Crunch Brigade'". That would really move things along.
3) they put a little tilted mirror above your head so you can kinda see out into the main room, like you're in jail or at a golf tournament. Maybe they could act out some interesting scenarios or at least walk around or something?! I thought I might see Anton eating a Subway sandwich or playing Klondike but I never saw anything move at all out there.

I was extracted from the tube at about 6:15pm, feeling and looking like a human Pop-Tart. I half-expected to be congratulated by the crew for remaining so perfectly still during the 90 minutes I spent in there, but only got a "Nice job, man" from Anton. I was so proud of my corpse-like performance that I actually began to fantasize about second careers that could avail themselves to someone with my special talent, perhaps in the fields of international espionage, escape artistry, being buried alive, etc.

My afternoon was only half over, as I still had to check in with my doctor about the results of my scans (they burned me a CD on my way out, furthering the music parallels I'd been working on all afternoon). I was really late for my appointment, but doc still took the time to study my brain, spine, blood, and whatever else they got on the damn CD. He gave me a "coulda been a lot worse" report, and then tossed around some pluses and minuses of the new treatment I've been considering. The therapy (let's call it "Ypsilanti") has shown remarkable results for most patients, but seems to have caused more than a few fatalities along the way. They've tightened up the ship in the last year or so, and the drug's been downgraded from "risky" to "might be sort of risky." I can live with that.

So it's almost 8:00pm on a Friday night and he asks me if I want to hook up for a steroid IV. I say, "Sure, but right now?" He says, "Why not? I'm here for a few more hours anyway." Within five minutes I'm juiced up in a chair with the Yankee game YES broadcast blasting from the waiting room television. I was feeling better already.

The rest of the night's a bit blurry. I know the kids were both asleep by the time I got home, and I jabbered at my wife for about 45 minutes about Facebook, Twitter, and the Boston Celtics. I passed out at a respectable hour.

NEXT MORNING: Oh shit, I got a Yankee game today! I had a lousy morning trying to get Jr. to do just about anything besides watch TV, shat my brains out for a few hours, and made it up to the game by the third inning or so. Fun time-- not much to report at all. Apparently Michael Kay referred to Manny Ramirez as "Man-Ram" during their broadcast discussion of grand slams, which I gladly would have stayed home just to hear.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Live Post: Yanks-Sox!

7:05 - Yyyyyyyouch! Injection #614 goes into the books.

7:15 - Jr. just tore down the hall into the bedroom, screaming. Something tells me tonight's bath might not be so smooth...

7:25 - The boy just walked out on a full bath.

7:28 - Lured him in with a combination of Mr. Potato Head ("Toe-Head") and foam letters. Jr's first offering (besides ripping a fart) was a composite wall piece: "W  GOD  THOAMS  PERCY"

7:35 - At least he seems to be getting better at cleaning up. A joy to behold.

7:46 - Checked in on baby girl before reading to Jr. For some reason I keep singing Madonna songs to her... very strange.

8:35 - Jeez, this is taking forever. Knuffle Bunny Too, Thomas ABCs, The Prince's Bedtime, Bear in a Square (with counting in Spanish!), Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli. Maybe the Tylenol-4 was a bad idea.

8:50ish - Staggered out to bases loaded and one out. Apparently Beckett's losing his shit... Cano and Pyle left the game hurt. He looks wild.

8:58 - Wow, he's totally lost it. Beckett looks like he's laughing as he pisses the game away. Weird.

9:22 - I'd be a tad ashamed to be a Sox fan tonight. Jeremy Hermida? Awful.

9:34 - Al Leiter: (muttering, indecipherable)

9:37 - 9:49 - technical difficulties

9:50 - I'm back! Uh-oh, David "No Lead is Safe" Robertson just came in. This guy's a fucking disaster.

9:57 - Apparently Girardi's plan is to humiliate Robertson to the point of quitting, perhaps to save some money.

9:59 - This A-Rod v. Braden thing really is funny. Any time Alex gets in a war of words with anyone is great, especially when the other guy is a bigger kook than A-Rod himself.

"We don't do much talking in the 209."
I mean, does this idiot actually think he sounds cool? Are we supposed to get the impression that Dallas Braden doesn't do much talking?

"He plays for the name on the back of the jersey, not the front. I don't know if he's noticed, but he doesn't have a name on the back over there so he should play for the name on the front."

This might be the best quote of the year. Especially coming from a grown man that wears white pajamas to work.

10:12 - Well, that was fun!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Random Yankee Bullshit

I've barely written anything baseball all season... didn't even mention my first Yankee game two weeks ago.

I blew off today's game for a number of reasons:
1. felt like crap
2. Vázquez pitching
3. wanted to hang out with family unit
(in no particular order)

I managed to watch most of the game at home. Can't call the game disappointing, since disappointment implies expectations, which I had none of. The Bombers featured their three worst pitchers: Vázquez, Robertston, and "Dá-Marté." Dá-Marté is Felix Heredia all over again, Vázquez is Vázquez all over again, and Robertson is gone before Monday. Tonight's reading of one of Jr.'s Dora the Explorer books gave me a new name for these jerks: The Fiesta Trio.

Other thoughts:
Joba looks huge... what the hell has he been doing? (or not doing?)  He's pitching fine, but approaching Sabathian dimensions.

I haven't seen a white guy run as fast as Brett Gardner since my buddy got caught stealing at Tower Records at the Roosevelt Field mall...

I hate the pitch counter on the YES screen-- it makes me nervous. It's like having a "cholesterol count" follow you around, or a "countdown to your death" graphic on your bedroom ceiling...

I totally buy the theory that balls aren't flying out of the Stadium this year because of new wind patterns caused by the demolition of the old Yankee Stadium. Makes absolute perfect sense to me.

Grandy's out... where's Shelley "Slam" Duncan when we need him? You may be familiar with the name Greg Golson by July...

I figure our starting pitching should be good for 3 wins out of every 5 games, right? If so, we win 100 games for the season.