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Category: random

03/24/09 09:08 - 39ºF - ID#48183

Deconstructing...

It's funny how something can be lionized even after falling dormat. You could mount a pretty easy argument how the city screwed up Memorial Auditorium after the Arena was built. It and the surrounding land has sat there for 12 years doing nothing, just another abandoned property not generating anything, not unlike our city leaders. But the sale of its insides and the removal of the property sparked romantic notions. The place was a dump on its best of days. The long darkened ramps introduced you to your neighbor rather closely whether you wanted you to or not. The steps leading down to the seats into the oranges were vertigo inducing and the hand rails were a metal fabricator's practical joke.

I was walking downtown the other night and saw the gaping hole where the desconstruction had opened the building. Like I said, the structure was nothing special, but what it could contain was sometimes amazing: bunches of Sabres games, a few Braves games (as I am old), seeing Bob Seger, Rush, The Kinks, the Who, U2, Springsteen and many more. Okay, I was curious to go back and have a look. I didn't want a seat from the place or anything, but seeing the joint fall back into itself for the Bass Pro store that is never going to come. I took a stroll tonight to look into the abyss and could see into where my Dad and I walked under the rink one night by taking the wrong turn after a playoff game or the night I was part of the post game press corps with Ch.2 (where I covered up my college radio logo from Scotty Bowman's prying eyes ( for a little guy, he scared the crap out of me)).


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My little sister's first contact high, skipping the Senior prom with a van load of friends to see Eric Clapton, having Gil Perreault sign my jersey, getting a seat in the press box for part of a hockey game.

When the place was full and the asbestos was hiding quietly in the ceiling, it really didn't look much better or dramatically different, but what could happen inside fueled the imagination. I can still remember the peanut vendor/huckster who worked the events. He would sit outside and bark "Before you go in the door! Stop at the Peanut Store!!

It was a dump, but it was our dump
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Permalink: http://estrip.org/articles/read/mrmike/48183/Deconstructing_.html
Words: 422
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: random

03/23/09 09:08 - 29ºF - ID#48171

Wanderlust

Indulged in a little localized pointless travel on Saturday. The famous number one son and I schlepped up to Niagara Falls to play tourist before the tourists come back. Great day for a wander. There is a spot on Three Sisters Island where some maintainence has made another island for water pressure relief. That's resulted in some great, finely buffed skipping stones, but if you hit it right, a well skipped rock goes quite a ways thanks to the velocity of the water putting potential back spins. A nice day capped off by boston coolers (ginger ale over ice cream) at a ice cream place in the falls.

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My ace traveling companion after a well skipped rock.
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Permalink: http://estrip.org/articles/read/mrmike/48171/Wanderlust.html
Words: 131
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: music

03/19/09 04:55- ID#48125

It's a song by song world now.

This is floating around facebook, and it dates me a little, like I need help in that department. Well, dear reader, there used to be a thing called record stores, not just the music department at Target, sometimes two to three per mall. You could really lose yourself in the realm of album covers and what not. I still pile up lots of tunes, I or otherwise, but it isn't the same. This little exercise came through a friend of mine from our mutual days in college radio. He has a couple of years on me, but it is funny about shared experiences. There were certain albums that everybody had. The Cd era eroded this a little.

Think of 25 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world. It's funny because these are a few that transcend the medium, meaning I'm a sap and bought em on cd.

1) Rumours - Everybody we knew had it. It was like it got slipped through everybody's mail slot, standard suburban issue

2) Tattoo You- another one that everybody had. It was the last Stones album to matter, despite the fact they keep churning them out.

3) Tommy (first the movie, then the original album) - Elton John's version of Pinball led me to the Who, and my life-long mania began.

4) Who's Next - the album that started me working backwards through the Who's career.

5) Quadrophenia - I promise I'll stop at three Who albums. This one took me the longest to get into, but it became the deepest listen.

6) Born to Run - the title song defines that period of my life, giving rise to life-long Bruce fanaticism. Yeah, I got a ticket for his show in Toronto

7) The Wild the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle - again, I came to this one late but it became the deepest Boss listen.

8) Sgt. Pepper's - probably the first album I listened to end-to-end, when I was a child, reading along with the lyrics on the back. Come back to it periodically ever since.

9) Abbey Road - I remember tracking this in its entirety on a WSBU overnight shift.

10) Dark Side of the Moon - Almost an afterthought now, but another one everybody had and it is just great enough that periodic revisits can be a revelation.

11) All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes - makes me wish Pete Townshend would record more.

12) My Ever Changing Moods - The Style Council: defines a college period for me. Under-rated, and made me a big fan of everything Paul Weller (the Jam) attempts.

13) The Joshua Tree - my first great album on CD.

14) Achtung Baby - The follow-up is probably the last album I absorbed from beginning to end.

15) Avalon - Roxy Music made the most evocative rock ever. Honorable mention to "The Atlantic Years" compilation.

16) Hotel California: Title song made me want to learn how to play guitar

17) Moondance: Van Morrison, I'm not a fan of the title song, but the record as a whole grabs your soul like everything matters. It helps that Van gives a damn through the whole thing.

18) The Last Waltz: The Band did more than just back up Bob Dylan, they could play a little bit of anything from Blues to Country to Rock and do it with enough panache that you had to be impressed..

19) Tusk: much weirder and ultimately more satisfying than any of Fleetwood Mac's more famous, more commercial releases.

20) Kiss Alive I: as Dave Marsh once said, "It's great, f**k you!"

21) Physical Graffiti - nothing like listening to Led Zep on a cheap hi-fi at age 14.

22) Led Zeppelin IV - Still don't know what a "bushel in the hedgerow" means, still don't care. It's a great record.

23) Tug of War - McCartney's work after John died had a poignancy that matched his best Beatles stuff.

24) Scenes from the Southside - hard to choose one Hornsby album, there are three or four I love.

25) Live at Leeds - OK, I lied.

No clash or ramones, because I'd find out about those later. Looking at the list, I guess I'm an audio dork, but there was something liberating about putting the big old KOSS headphones and dreaming.

Old fart rant over.

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Permalink: http://estrip.org/articles/read/mrmike/48125/It_s_a_song_by_song_world_now_.html
Words: 756
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: work

03/14/09 03:01 - 40ºF - ID#48051

It's sometimes good to be the client

A large part of my job is taking meetings, more often or not, you take them for the sake of taking them, little consequence during the meeting. It's having the meeting that is actually worthwhile, largely because it can facilitate actual more notable get togethers.

One of the periodicals that I buy advertising from has a suite down at the Arena and invited me down for Thursday night's Sabres game. Of course, I said yes. A chance to eat, drink, watch the game from privileged areas, what's not to love? It is a whole nother world from the regular stands. If you get the chance, even if you aren't a sport fan, I recommend it. At the arena, you transverse some secluded stairs to a private elevator to the suite floor, where it's carpeted and smells like somebody cares about it not being gross.

My domicle for the night had it's own coat check, opposite its own "Private" bathroom. As you walked in to the living room, the taco bar and adjoining wing/finger/popper chafing dish was full to the brim. It was basically thanksgiving with pub food. Across the room on the opposite counter were the pizza, cookies, and nacho chips with appropriate fixings (I mean who doesn't love fixins') I should point out that all these are done infinitesimally better than the overpriced slop at the concession stands. The hostess took great pains to point out that the fridge was stocked already and I should feel free to help myself. I gazed upon all the Molson Canadian, lined up like lil' volunteers, and felt that freedom.

I have seen sporting events poor, wealthy, and from across the hall, and Thursday night's wealthy was best. Between periods, a very serious looking intern brought us stats from what we just witnessed. I could step out on the veranda and gaze upon the great unwashed at the concession stands below. That is the beautiful thing. You don't need to be hockey fan at that level. It is a festival of people watching. I helped myself to one of the leather backed seats and enjoyed the view.


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Nice view, huh? Sometimes it is good to be the client. A few moments of business that mercifully stopped once the game got rolling.

Nice way to segue into a long weekend. The halfway point of which finds me not doing a whole lot. Number one son turned 11 yesterday so all extraneous stuff is centered around him, as it should be. Let there be cake.
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Permalink: http://estrip.org/articles/read/mrmike/48051/It_s_sometimes_good_to_be_the_client.html
Words: 427
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: health

03/10/09 05:00 - 41ºF - ID#48008

Insurance grief

I'm beginning to think that Human Resources people and Insurance customer service people are in cahoots, to make actual healthcare providers look bad and drive policy holders out of their gourds with unnecessary angst.

Witness this little incident: The former spouse ("Splif" if you will) took our youngins to the dentist only to be told that GHI won't pay their part because I still have Met Life for a provider as well. I haven't had Met Life for anything since October of 200andfreaking7"!!!! I, incorrectly think, that it would make sense to go to source, Met Life and advise them of their error. Their pointless customer service line (that name must be a joke) kicks me to the agent on duty. I tell Jimmy Olsen my story and that thanks to privacy laws I need one company to tell the other that the first company no longer has an affliation with me. He supposedly goes to work on this, but I think he resumes working on his xbox. A series of phone calls and voice mail messages and a week go by. I call his scrawny little self (you tell from the voice) and he admits that he cannot get further access, because of the policy group. The policy group can't find me. (You think it's because I left a year and half ago?!??!?!?). I hang up (impolite I know) and call GHI, verify all my information, the splif's information, etc.

You would think that would be enough to get the Met Life crap off the files so we can get the dental costs taken care of once more. Oh, gentle reader, you'd be sadly mistaken. I have to fill out one more form and get it into the mail to finally get this shit over with. Said form is already in transit attesting to my lack of insurance in the mail.

The hoops you have to fucking leap through. If the president wants to bring down health cares costs, I know where he can start. Leave the medical pros alone and attach where it is really running amuck like bloating H.R. departments in cable companies that will not be named and semi-informed customer care people who aren't attuned to what is happening off the web page they are staring at while they should be working.

Had I known the cable pig screwed up my insurance, my Bell's Palsy battle might have been a little cheaper. Watch them all, because the billing people need to know they are being watched
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Permalink: http://estrip.org/articles/read/mrmike/48008/Insurance_grief.html
Words: 421
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: work

03/08/09 12:52 - 38ºF - ID#47984

Grin and "Bearing" It

Sunday, sunday, in the office -- Yee ha!

We've got a big cat themed day going on here at the house of fun so I had to be here to oversee some grad students who working on that but also I project I gave them to help marketing to older potential customers.

The newest attraction isn't officially out yet. I think he will make his media debut tomorrow, so you get a sneak peek. He is a big boy and the resident bear is practically throwing herself at him. Like a typical guy, it is taking him some time to get the hint. About an hour before these pictures were taken, I think he is getting the idea. I can only imagine what parents might have had to say to young inquiring minds had the place been opened.

Check out the post-coital bliss.

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The things you see on the way to getting a Friday off.
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Permalink: http://estrip.org/articles/read/mrmike/47984/Grin_and_quot_Bearing_quot_It.html
Words: 173
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: random

03/04/09 01:31- ID#47944

Breathe

It's been one of those discombobulated weeks.

I've actually escaped all the winter colds and maladies, despite the shrinkage inducing weather of late until last week. until last week. Work has been busy so I came home sort of wiped out and wimped out on class. The next day, it hit and that sucked.

Staggered through work and basically was a hermit over the weekend. I finally got rid of it with an old family recipe. When I was 17, and down with a bad case of brochitis, my dad got exasperated and regular meds and gave me a bourbon and seven up high ball, but filled in a root beer mug. Slept for 13 hours after that. Recreated that over the weekend and it worked like a charm. Only down side was that it made for a 9 day gap in yoga classes. So, I was dreading going back last night. You could feel regression coming, but I'm apparently tougher than I look. Only had to pause twice which was better than I anticipated.

So, there might hope yet.

Been listening to the new U2 album and am letting it grow on me. They've been a favorite for a long time and it was a kick watching them laugh a little to start their week long residency on Letterman
After shoveling the Manhattan snow, they did get down to work a little later.

Fun to see and all, but my mental jury is still out on the album. Should be fun live if they come this way.

Just got back from lunch after hiding from the many conservative republicans here. In their eyes, the economy didn't go into the dumper until January 20th, we didn't have a deficit until then, and the acceptable war bill suddenly became a bad stimulus bill we couldn't afford. Hindsight is not only 20/20, but apparently prone to myopia as well.

Hey, this is my 500th journal. This is my longest continuing dialogue with anything that I didn't have to give an allowance to. Hopefully there has been something worth reading along the way. Just noticed that.

Gonna go apologize to Rush Limbaugh because that seems to be the thing to do these days.

Happy hump day, peeps


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Permalink: http://estrip.org/articles/read/mrmike/47944/Breathe.html
Words: 372
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: work

02/26/09 10:09 - 36ºF - ID#47890

Baby Monkeys

Sometimes it's hard not to bring your work home with you. This is one of newest residents of the Rainforest and is disturbingly cute.
Say hi to Mochiba. He's a baby Howler Monkey.

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About three weeks old. This is a good gig. I saw the new polar bear yesterday. 1000 pounds of bear is a lot of bear. Picts to come.
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Permalink: http://estrip.org/articles/read/mrmike/47890/Baby_Monkeys.html
Words: 62
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: work

02/25/09 12:20 - 33ºF - ID#47885

Paczki dreams and other strange things.

For lent, this lapsed catholic is giving up mortal combat, being nice to stupid people and any pretense of saving the Mets bullpen. I don't take the lenten season like gospel (pun intended), but it does sort of feel like a nice karmic rewind, kind of like new year's resolutions with some actual gravitas.

My own contribution was to go to Wegman's early yesterday morning and load up on enough Paczkis for everybody in the office. For $10.00 I think I improved my office karma. There is a drop dead gorgeous woman who works in the accounting office, who never seems to be having the best of days, who appeared in my office doorway with as close to a delighted look on her face as I've ever seen her. (I know what you are thinking but remember the axiom of "Fishing off the company pier.")

Had a tough time keeping a straight face through a couple of meetings yesterday. I love the show Entourage on HBO and last season Martin Landau was on, playing an aging out of touch producer. His reoccuring phrase was always something along the lines of "If___________, would that be something you would be interested in?" One of our new ads reps is that guy. He spent the first 30 minutes of a meeting pontificating about wines and what scotches are best, eventually moving on to direct mail. As he is talking, I had already mentally cast in him Martin Landau's role. It was uncanny. The other person in the meeting is an Entourage fan and thinking the same thing. It was like watching a doppleganger in action. She handed me a note and I could feel my face forming a tell-tale stupid smirk. He was a very nice man, but then he said it: "if I can get that price, would that be something you would be interested in?" My colleague had to excuse herself. It was too on the money, and I took the deal. Moral of the story is that Mr. Landau does his homework. And that I kept it together as my silly grin went no further until he left. The guy brought me a bottle of wine, so I got to work with some respect.

After that moment of high comedy, I got dragged into a presentation from an ad agency who is trolling for business and offered to do something for free. Never mind that we have an agency for media stuff and for creative things we have well, me. Good soldier that I am, I went along with the uberboss and my boss to listen to the high shenanigans. The agency creative director was already in my dog house. It is our second meeting and both times he has crapped all over concepts whose biggest sins were that he didn't think of them. They worked so there. The uberboss brings her dog to the office which is cool because the dog is a border collie and say hello to everybody, but spends her time behind a gate in the boss's office. That's where we met with these guys. Woman's best friend wanders the table during the meeting. I'm doing my best to be polite as the bosses ask some questions of the presentation. The creative director says something unkind toward our campaign from last fall (which worked). I hear something sounding like growling. It was coming from the dog. Turned out she was playing with a toy and trying to free it from the table, but she was snarling right under the director type, which scared the pompous right out of him. I couldn't help it, I laughed. Seeing a guy taller than me jump rather,well girlishly, from a dog that was paying him no mind at all, was comedy.

Finally, one last little vignette for you. In the aftermath of cleaning up the convention center from last week's benefit, one of the restaurants was headed out with one of the signs we printed up for them. To keep costs down, we recycle. The benefit in theory is put on by this board. The board men complain about the board women (who work) and none would do anything without the actual staff leading the way. Anyway this board member comes running up to me saying this restaurant was taking their sign. Keep in mind, this same dithering soul was stuffing his face all night long. I simply told him, ask for it back. Their staff wasn't anything to be afraid of. That didn't stop him from sounding alarmingly like Barney Fife at the prospect of actually talking to people. Annoyed, I went over and recovered the sign. Flash to last night and the review of the event. I earned more laughs, but probably his anger when talking about vendors, I took out the two stainless steel balls that (e:Ladycroft) bought for me two christmases ago and told the nebbish "You might need these more than I do for talking to vendors."

Reactions in the room were the perfect cherry on the cake that was my day.
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Permalink: http://estrip.org/articles/read/mrmike/47885/Paczki_dreams_and_other_strange_things_.html
Words: 847
Location: Buffalo, NY


02/20/09 04:23- ID#47826

"Feeling about half-past Dead."

Getting too old for this shit. We had one of our big fundraising events last night at the Convention Center. Staging those things is an exhausting process.

After all the cajoling, bemoaning, planning comes the time when you have to come out behind your desk and get er done. That is the serious work and largely why my knees aren't speaking to me today. We had 45 restaurants, wineries, and breweries set and spread over the main two rooms of the Convention Center. Whenever something like that happens, the six of us in the marketing and development offices turn into roadies. Watching the spectacle build always intrigues me. With a group of volunteer board members we invaded the center on Wednesday night and arranged tables and set things in place. Yesterday during the day was spent getting water, pop and whatnot setup. We got some necessary things arranged. Then it was watching the parade of vendors.

Zoo staff tries to sample a little, but it is hard because you have to do a lot of glad handing. In my case, talking to the new vendors and gauging their interest and making sure things are working okay, dealing with account reps from our media partners, answering questions from event guests and just generally putting out fires before they turn into a thing.

At 5:00, the below was covered with tiny Chocolate Penguins shapes filled with Peanut Butter. Had to have a second to make sure the tastyness of the first wasn't a fluke.

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It's a lot of running around, so it probably wasn't the best idea to head to the Wine Thief after the event, or to Faherty's after that. I would have figured after a decent amount of alcohol, being on my feet for 13 hours, sleep would have come a little easier. When you are running around a lot, most of the time you get passing glances at stuff, all of which llooked good and a few actual nibbles. I did take a second pass at the animal cracker themed creme brulee. The chocolate whipped cream was a little sloppy in terms of presentation, but after two days at the convention center, I was just glad for its inclusion.

You'd think sleep would be easy, but I got into bed a little after 1 and was a little too awake. And pretty soon the alarm clock sang a little too loudly this morning and the hours on the convention floor, wine thief and Faherty helped me to realize that I'm not getting younger.

Despite the aches, it was cool -- a good party and lots of suprising treats.
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Permalink: http://estrip.org/articles/read/mrmike/47826/_quot_Feeling_about_half_past_Dead_quot_.html
Words: 436
Location: Buffalo, NY


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paul said to paul
No we went to the bakery....

tinypliny said to paul
Wait you ordered these online?! ...

tinypliny said to paul
LOL, who needs these when you have a terminal?!...

tinypliny said to paul
WHOA! I want those!...