Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This Just In...!!!

Sometimes, it just pays to put up a fight. For proof of this, you need not look any further than the following e-mail I received this evening at 11:46 PM...

Dear Hal,

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to the December 27- January 7th Israel Experience – “Hands-On” Israel/Koach Taglit-birthright israel trip (the official group name is IE-17-407. The gift of the Taglit-birthright israel trip includes roundtrip airfare from Logan Airport in Boston to Israel. You are responsible for the cost of transportation to and from that gateway. The Taglit-birthright israel gift also covers hotel, transportation, most meals and other associated land costs in Israel. Gratuities, personal purchases and supplementary travel medical insurance are not included. You are covered by an HMO-type medical insurance in Isra! el but it will not cover pre-existing conditions. We will request that you bring $60 in cash to cover gratuities to the guide and driver (we can’t mandate that you do so but it is highly suggested).


    1. Arkia flight # IZ636
    2. Departs December 27th from Logan Airport in Boston (this is a charter flight)
    3. Departure time is 11:00 AM

i. You are required to be at Logan Airport at 7:00 AM (If you are flying in from another city, please read the note below)


1. scheduled arrival time for your connecting flight can be no later than 4:00 AM

iii. Because this is a morning flight, you may need to arrange to be in Boston overnight to avoid missing the international flight.

  1. INBOUND TO Boston
    1. Arkia flight # IZ635
    2. Arrives January 7th to Logan Airport in Boston
    3. Arrival time is 9:00 AM


1. Allow yourself sufficient time to go through customs and immigration for your connecting flight

**PLEASE NOTE: THIS TRIP IS TRAVELLING ON A CHARTERED FLIGHT. Therefore, you do not have the option to extend your return ticket home.

Please check the My Trip page on a regular basis for updates of important information (suggested packing list, etc.). In the meantime, please let me know if any of you are on Facebook so we can set up a Facebook group to create the ‘group’ before you go!


If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact me!



I'll write more about this later, but I want to give a shout-out to those of you who told me not to back down and fight for this trip. Without your support, I most certainly would have just caved.

Anyway, so I guess that's that.

Long story short....


Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Reply to a Reply

I've decided to not go down without a fight with the Israel Idiots.

This was my response to my rejection letter. I honestly don't know if it will do any good, but the way I figure, at least I didn't just slink off into the shadows with my tail between my legs like an impotent dog. So, without further ado....


Thanks for your response. However, I would really like to know what criteria you based your decision on. After all, I did apply within the first week of registration opening.

I'm usually one to pick my battles, but I have to admit that I was troubled with Rabbi Cantor's line of questioning regarding the prescription drugs I take and the reasoning behind why I take them. I suffer from a minor case of OCD and as far as physical “disabilities” go, I walk slightly slower due to an illness I had as a child.

At one point, he asked me "so, are you going to see a psychologist for that?" A few moments later, he asked "how are you when it comes to hiking?” Despite my uneasiness answering such personal questions, I answered both of them honestly and politely. I do not see a psychologist for my OCD as it is a non-issue and I would be fine on hikes.

Not to mention the fact that he called me an hour earlier than when our appointment was scheduled, which left me feeling very uncomfortable as I had to walk away from my job to answer his questions. Apparently, there was a miscommunication regarding the time in that he was calling at 1:15 his time rather than my time; the latter time being one in which I had a half-hour break where I could talk.

Now, this is the last time I can participate in one of these trips as I turn 27 in March and I would hate to be excluded based on the fact that Rabbi Cantor thinks that I'm some sort of liability. I've worked very hard in overcoming the obstacles that have been placed in front of me over the course of my life.

Please get back to me regarding the reasons for this decision.

Thank you.





We shall see....

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Oy Vey

I guess I should be surprised, but these days, nothing really surprises me.

I am 26 years old and as many of you readers already know, I was afflicted with French Polio when I was seven, rendering me paralyzed from the head down. I also
suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive disorder.

Over the course of nearly 20 years, I have undergone overwhelming pain, emotional and physical, numerous surgeries and have won many battles, including the one for my mobility and strength. With that illness, came my fear of germs, getting sick as well as anxiety issues--my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

The latter, too, I have been fighting--and always will be fighting, I suppose--in order to function normally in my daily life; most recently, in the form of a medication called Effexor,

I strive, every day, to live a Normal Life and be healthy and happy and while I haven't exactly gotten that down to a science, I think I'm making leaps and bounds. In the course of 20 years, I am happy to say that I have never been discriminated against for my physical disability or my mental health.

That is, until today, when I was rejected by the geniuses behind the Taglit Israel Birthright program. Yes, that's right. I will not be going to Israel after all.

A recap: I applied for one of the Winter trips and, as I have mentioned, I did it about a week after registration opened. Like clockwork and as requested, I filled out the forms and surveys completely and efficiently. I was determined to go on my free trip to Israel. After all, it's the last time I'm eligible to participate in the program since I turn 27 in March and the age restriction is 18-26. I was ready to rock.

Which takes me to the interview with Rabbi Shalom Cantor (for all those Jews out there, there is definitely an inside joke with that last name, is there not?). He called me on Friday, October 26, when I was at work and could not answer the phone. He left a message, advising me that we needed to talk about "getting ready for the trip" and to call him back when I could. I called him back that afternoon and reached his voicemail. As expected, with it being the Sabbath and all, from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, he was unable to call me back. He didn't call me back until Monday evening at around 7:15 p.m. Again, I was at work. In his voicemail, this time, he said he had to get a hold of me by the next day around five. Again, I tried calling him on my 15-minute break but to no avail--I got his voicemail and told him I had a break at 1pm and got off work at 5pm.

The next morning, he texted me, telling me that he would call me at 1:15. And true to his word, he did. He called me at 1:15 to the P to the M. Except there was just one problem: He called me at 1:15 p.m. his time. Pacific time. Nice.

I had to get off the phones at work and haul my ass down to the breakroom, screwing my time up for the day, which really wasn't a problem, mind you, but it was just kind of inconvenient, but I wasn't about to bitch about it.

Turns out the Rabbi was a bit of an insincere, shady prick. Can I say that? Well, I guess I just did. A person--what some might like to call a "useful idiot"--once made the comment to me that even G-d makes mistakes. And while I would tend to think otherwise, this schmuck was really giving that statement some credence.

For starters, the man asked me if I took any prescription drugs. Not that it was really any of his business, I answered "yes." He went on to ask me what I took. Again, I answered honestly: Effexor and nasal spray for allergies. He then asked me why I took Effexor!!!!! I was taken aback by this line of questioning but I answered honestly. I told him that I suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive disorder and that I'm a bit of a germaphobe but its not really a huge deal and it would have no bearing on how I fair on the trip should I be accepted. There was a looooooonnnnnnng, tense, 30-second pause. He returned with, "so, uh, are you going to see a psychologist for that?" I told him that I had in the past but I don't see one any longer. I could hear him inhale sharply on his end.

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?! I thought to myself, what would you like to know next?!?! My sign (for the curious, I'm a proud Aries)?! My underwear size?!?! You prying asshole!!!

No, the questions he asked next were about my physical limitations. I told him that I move a little slower than the average person but I get around just fine. He then asked me how I was when it came to hikes ("Well, gosh...it's been a while since I climbed that tricky Mount Everest, but..."). I told him that I did a little hiking in Colorado several years ago and with the help of a walking stick, I had no problem. In fact, I really didn't even need a walking stick (truth be known, and I obviously would never admit this to the good Rabbi, but I just thought the stick looked fucking cool--like Splinter in the Ninja Turtles series. Ha ha ha!!! I made funny!!!). Again, there was another tense pause.

Look, I know that there are liabilities that these people have to think about, but I find those types of questions despicable. First off, the doctor prescribed pharmaceuticals I take are none of your fucking business, alright?! And according to Federal ADA guidelines, you really can't ask me questions about my disability and you certainly can't reject me from a trip such as this one because of said disability. So, why ask them at all, you ass!! Look, if I didn't think I could make it on this trip--physically and/or mentally--I wouldn't have applied. Needless to say, he had me verbally sign a waiver by telling him that yes, all of the questions I had answered were true and if I was dishonest about any of them, I would be sent home on my own dime.

He told me that he would take all the information I'd provided him with to the Rabbis and I would be contacted within the next three business days--Monday, at the very latest--with "everything I needed to know about the trip." I asked him if I was accepted already. He said very tersely, "Like I said, you will be contacted with everything you need to know." I thanked him and got off the phone with him.

Shalom, my ass.

Wednesday passes by...Thursday...nothing. It wasn't until until Friday night that I got an e-mail from the trip coordinator, Rachel, advising me that they had not made a decision regarding my trip status and that she would contact me no later than Monday regarding my status.

Curiouser and curiouser, I thought. What was the hold-up?

Monday comes and still, no word. I e-mail the gal and tell her that I never received an e-mail from her and asked her to get back to me regarding my status. I waited all day today (or, at this point, yesterday) at work, constantly checking my e-mail, until finally, I decided to jot down her cell number and call her after work. She was at a concert when I reached her. I told her that I never heard back from her and she claimed she sent me a reply that same night (*cough!* bullshit! *cough*). I told her that I never received it. She then proceeds to tell me that I'm--wait for it!!--really high up on the wait list.

The motherfucking WAIT LIST?!?!

I told her to re-send the e-mail because I wanted a hard copy and not just phone call. This is the e-mail I received later in the evening.

Dear Hal,

I'm sorry to tell you that due to high demand for our Taglit-birthright israel trips, you've been put on the waitlist for our winter trips. I have no way to know if any spaces will open up but based on historical data, there is a significant chance that spaces MAY open up.

You have 3 options at this point:

  1. If you wish to remain on the waitlist, please let me know. I will retain your deposit and keep you as an active candidate. At this time, I have spaces available on our trips that leave on January 9th, January 13th and February 11th.
  2. If you wish to try to find another organizer that may have room for you, you can contact--

Blah, blah, fuckin' blah. What complete and utter bullshit. I am going to pull myself off the wait list for two reasons. For one, I need to know if I can get the time off from work. I can't just drop everything and get whisked away to Israel.

The second reason, however, is a little more complex. Look, I'm not stupid.
They were covering their asses. Like I said, I registered a week--maybe less--after registration opened. There is no way that I should have been rejected for the cock-and-bull reason I was given.

And the thing is, I'm not sad. I mean, I'm disappointed. I really wanted to go on this trip. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hurt. These people don't even know me and they just slapped some CRAZY CRIPPLE label on my forehead. And there's not a damn thing I can do about it because these people can make up any damn story they want as to why they're rejecting me.

If it had been four or five weeks ago, I might have been crying in my Life cereal about it, but I think the meds are helping. I'm not as emotionally unhinged as I previously had been. I mean, yeah, the whole situation sucks, but I'm not going to cry about it. If anything, I'm pissed. I'm pissed as hell.

But this is how I see it:

I will never apologize for who I am or the way I am. As I said, G-d has a plan and He made me the way I am for a reason. If these people already have a problem with me without even taking the opportunity to get to know me--aside from the shallowest of 15-minute interviews--as a person, if all they see is a big, fat walking (or, I guess, in their eyes, a hobbling), talking Liability and not a young Jewish individual who wants to explore his roots and spirituality, than they can keep their free trip, because, as I have learned time and time again, this year, I am worth so much more than that.

And they can
kush mir in tuchus

Look it up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Good Enough

When logic and proportion Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's "off with her head!"
Remember what the dormouse said: "FEED YOUR HEAD!!"
--Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit" (1967)

I talk a pretty good game when it comes to what I write in this blog.

Occasionally, my entries are more a call to arms for myself, my own pep talk. I've learned, though, that sometimes, making positive changes in one's life isn't as simple as saying "Yes, I will do this and yes, I will change that."


On Tuesday, I had a doctor's appointment to get a lesion on my leg tested to see if it was another ringworm. The outbreak I had before had finally healed and, up until a week ago last Thursday, I was sitting pretty, confident that it had blown over and the Ringworm Situation was over.

Then I took a walk, a long walk around my neighborhood, just to get a little cardio in, blow off some steam. Well, I got what looked to be a mosquito bite on my leg, right above the knee. It itched like crazy and yeah, I'm not gonna lie, I am all about scratching mosquito bites, the little fuckers! Eventually, the head of the bite got kind of dry and scabby and, like the idiot that I am, I pulled what looked to be the head of the bite off. Low and behold, it began to look more and more like a ringworm lesion. At the same time, though, I was pretty convinced that it was a bite. It started off looking nothing like the lesions from before, so I tried to remain calm--no easy task for me, as I'm sure many of you reading this can attest to.

Eventually, even my parents--bless their hearts!--were pretty convinced that it looked like a ringworm lesion. But we couldn't be sure, so I decided to finally take it to my doctor, Becky (love her to death!).

She looked at it and said it looked like a ringworm but because it started off as being more like a mosquito bite, the only way she'd know for sure is if she did a skin biopsy, an idea she quickly nixed ("Trust me...Ya don't want that."). Instead, she prescribed a lotrisone cream that contained a steroid to knock whatever it was out quickly. The End.


Believe it or not, all of the above is pretty much beside the point of what I want to talk about. During that appointment, I told her how I'd been pretty much freaking out for the last two months, how I've been constantly paranoid about the ringworm. She knows I suffer from OCD and has believed for a long time that I should be put on medication. And the truth is, she's right. Oh sure, in the past, I've been on different meds like Effexor, Lexapro, and Prozac, but they all had one side-effect that I couldn't live with.

I couldn't have an orgasm.

Now, don't go thinking I'm like this pervy sex addict who needs to have an orgasm 24/7, but come on, let's be honest, not being able to have an orgasm in the throes of passion or, while we're speaking frankly, by oneself is one of the most depressing and horrible things a person can ever experience (next to hair loss, but that's a blog entry all by itself, thank you very much). I mean, yeah, in the grand scheme of things, not being able to experience The Big "O" doesn't exactly rank up their with tragedies such as the 9/11 or the Titanic sinking, but it sucks major ass (no pun intended. Obviously. Ew!)

Anyway, my doc just looked at me and said, "Hal, you don't have to feel this way. This is your life. You don't have to live your life this way."

She's right. Dammit, she's right. So, I told her of all the meds I'd been on, the Effexor was, well, the most effective. The only drawback, besides what I've already mentioned, is that it increases my appetite and slows my metabolism; something I'll have to keep my eye on and be mindful of. I can't be eating every piece of chocolate that's shot in my direction (wait! What am I talking about?! I do that already!)

So, she gave me seven weeks worth of pills and told me to call her as soon as I start to run out. Since I have a history of just quitting the meds cold turkey without telling her, she made me promise her that I would call.


How do I feel about all of this? Well, it's a mixed bag.

I mean, I'm optimistic, intrigued and excited about it because it might help me be happy (with the right amount of counseling) and less paranoid about every little cough or mark on my skin. At the same time though, I'm a little sad, ya know? For the last couple of years, I've tried to fight my OCD on my own and, for a little while, it seemed to work. But what I have to remember is that it's not something I can turn on and off. It is a chemical imbalance, a mental disorder. I didn't do this to myself, no one caused it. It's no one's fault.

I know all of this. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't feeling just a little defeated, weak. And yeah, I'll say it: I going to miss having orgasms. I guess I'll just have to get over those feelings. What can I say? Sometimes, sacrifices have to be made.

And I know that I could just go on with my life and do as I've done for the last two years and try to push down the fears and the paranoia the best I can (which, at the end of the day, I'm not all that successful at doing really). I could just toss the pills into the trash (hey, they were free! Samples rule!) and live my life the way I've been living it. You know, leave well-enough alone.

But there's something I'm finally starting to realize. To be sure, it's a realization that anyone who wants to improve their quality of life probably has, sooner or later, whether it be a homosexual coming out of the closet, a spouse unhappy with their marriage or, like me, someone who has a disorder that is preventing them from functioning normally in their daily life.

Sometimes, "well-enough" just isn't good enough.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Secrets & Lies

For the most part, I've never been good at keeping secrets.

There. I said it.

If you ask me to keep it between us, yeah, I'll probably keep it to myself. But usually, one has to say something to the effect of "this stays between us..." or "Don't tell anyone this or I will gouge your eye out with my finger" for me to keep it truly private. My dad's the same way. Unless I preface something with "Do NOT tell this to mom," it's usually fair game for parental discussion and I will, in fact, hear about it later from my mother. When I have called my dad out on this (on more than one occasion), I have been met with a sheepish look and "Oh, was I not supposed to tell her that?"

Eh. Maybe it's a hereditary thing. Who knows?

Perhaps it's because I'm so open about myself, whether it be my experiences and emotions. Truth be known, I really don't censor myself and that does get me into a lot of trouble sometimes. I suffer from a chronic case of TMI-tis. And it might also be fair to say that I really have no shame.

Anyway, I've had quite a few problems, this year. As of late, my biggest problem has been my mouth. That is, it just doesn't know when to shut the fuck up. A secret that I told to, well, a lot of people came back to haunt me while driving home from some bars this last Saturday night. Basically, a friend--we'll call her "Sally" (who had no idea that it was supposed to be a secret)--blurted something out that made it pretty obvious that I had spilled the beans to her. See, it was a secret shared between me and another friend--we'll call them X. I had previously told X that I mentioned the secret to only "a few people," when it fact, I had told pretty much, well, let's just say it was a little more than "a few." So, when Sally made the comment in the car, it opened up a whole can of worms in the sense that X wanted to know just who and how many people I'd told.

I told X, well, "a lot of people, actually." But what I didn't tell X was that I told the
One Person I Really Wasn't Supposed to Tell. In fact, I can pretty much tell you that, in the History of Not Keeping Secrets, it was one of the worst disclosures of information ever.


The One Person I Really Wasn't Supposed to Tell should never have known and it was really a true Hal Moment (what else, right?) how it came to pass that they did find out. At the same time, though, X would never know that I told the person (partly because said person uses a lot more discretion than myself). So, why tell?

And that is where my guilty conscience kicked in. Dammit.

I really had a true case of the devil and the angel on my shoulder. I could hear the angel saying, "you have a window of opportunity to do the right thing and tell them the horrible thing you did!" On the other side of my noggin, I could hear the devil shouting, "ARE YOU FUCKING NUTS?! WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE?! ARE YOU RETARDED?!?! WHAT IS THE POINT, OTHER THAN TO UPSET A FRIEND?!"

Man, that devil had a pretty good fucking point. Other than to clear my conscience and make myself feel better, what would be the point of hurting this friend who, up until this point, had been none the wiser? The devil was smart. The devil was right.

Too bad the angel, like the house, always wins.

I told my friend that I told the One Person I Really Wasn't Supposed to Tell. It wasn't pretty. Yeah, we're still friends and I think we're good at this point, but it's going to be a long time before they can fully trust me again. Still, I'm not sure that telling them was the right move. As soon as I confessed, a string of thoughts crossed my mind: 20 seconds ago, we were sitting here, enjoying each others' company, not a care in the world, everything was just fine. And now? In the course of 20 second, everything has changed. Was it worth it?

Ignorance, as they say, can truly be blissful.

Which leads me to the following question: When is honesty not, in fact, the best policy, but the absolute worst?

I think if I've learned anything this week, it's that if friendships are to survive and trust is to exist, some secrets need to be had. And, in my case, kept.

Education truly is expensive sometimes.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Mr. Brightside

It just occurred to me today that I'm happy.

Hey, I guess there's a first for everything, right?

It's kind of funny. People keep nudging me to write a blog.

"You haven't written one for a while, man! What's goin' on? When are you going to post something new.

And the truth is, for a while, I was under the impression that I just had a really bad case of writer's block, ya know? It's like I've really been reeeeeeaching for things to write about. For the last few months, it's been really, really tough-going in Neurotica Land. And for the life of me, I couldn't think of a reason why. I mean, I was really on a roll for a while there.

And then it occurred to me.

Aside from the Justin/Underground thing, I don't have anything to bitch about. I mean, not really. And without anything in my life to write long diatribes--bitchfests, if you will--about, I just don't have that much stuff to write about.

Sad, but true.

The funny thing is, my financial situation isn't all that great, right now; I'm single (which is pretty much old hat for me, at this point, anyway) and still working at a job (close friends aside--and there are many relationships there that I truly do treasure) that pretty much makes me throw up in my mouth every time I think about it, much less enter the building. And, oh yeah, I tripped over a stick (It was DARK, alright?!?!), wiped out, and skinned the shit out of my knee. Again!!

And still, I'm happy. Not ecstatic (heaven forbid, right?), but I'm content. I'm finally trying to look on the Bright Side, which is no easy task for me. But I've been really thinking about it and the truth of the matter is, I'm not doing too shabby in the grand scheme of things.

I've got a wonderful family; a handful of some of the best friends that a hairy, portly schmuck like myself could ask for; a loving and very much beloved daughter (okay, so she's not, like, a real person...but hey, ya gotta start somewhere, right? A cat's as good a start as any.); a G-d that loves me and is watching over me, listening to my prayers (I believe, anyway) and, finally, a newfound sense of motivation, hope.

I feel good about myself, right now. For once, I feel like life is worth grabbing by the balls.

Well, maybe there is something in there worth writing about. I guess we'll have to see.

And in your case, read.

In the meatime, there is something I want to say.

I know I can be pretty self-involved and fairly narcissistic, but I really do try to be there for the ones that I love--and sometimes, even the one's that aren't even on the top of my list (if ya know what I mean). With that being said, as of late, there are a few people out there-said family and/or friends of mine, not to mention people that aren't really in my life anymore, but I catch up with or keep an ear/eye out for --that are hitting some hard times or feeling low and I really want to say that I will pray for all of you.

Each and every one of you.

I know, to many of you that's lame or stupid, but it has really helped me out a great deal this year: prayer, belief in a Higher Power. Hey, if it works, why question it and, instead, just go with it?

On the other hand, if the thought of me praying for you gives you acid reflux, then I will simply say this: You are in my thoughts.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: What an ego on this guy. Like I could give two happy horse shits if this guy prays or thinks happy thoughts for me.

And, ya know what? Perhaps you're right. I'm just a guy. What do I know? Who cares if I'm out there, wishin' and hopin' (and prayin')? But then again, tell me this: Is it so bad to have one more person thinking the Good Thought?

I mean, it can't hurt, right?

Hey, if a guy like me--of all people--can look on the bright side, then there must be something to it.

Now, I'll be honest, if you were to ask me if this miraculous transformation is a permanent thing, I could really only offer you one very simple response...

G-d willing and here's hoping...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night

So, there's something on my mind and I want to talk about it.

Who, me?

So, let me give you the set-up.

It's Saturday night. Three of my friends--Justin, Sergio and his girlfriend Amy (love her to death!! Such a sweetheart!! Way better than his bitchy ex-wife!! Sorry Kristin!! You know it's true!! Tee-hee!!)--are downtown, having some drinks at this bar called The Underground ($2 Long Islands--can't beat that!!).

At one point, Justin, a extremely well-dressed black man (there is a reason that I'm mentioning that and you'll understand why in a bit) who is puffing away on a stogie, is told to put it out by one of the waiters because the smell is "irritating other customers." We don't think anything of it and we continue on with our night.

For about five more minutes.

We're all having a great time, enjoying the scene--I'm singin' and dancing like a giddy schoolgirl to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'...and really, can you blame me? Helluva song!--when two giant-sized bouncers approach Justin. The medium-sized one with all the tattoos says, "bro, you've gotta go. You touched one o' my girls. Ya gotta go!!" Justin tries to protest, but the douche bag continues talking over him saying, "Look, dude! I ain't gonna argue with you. You need to get out now!! The other, even bigger bouncer (however the fuck that's possible!) with the long goat-like beard and slightly less-friendly demeanor moves in a little closer to Justin and pretty much grabs him and--how should I say this politely?--escorts him up the stairs and out of the bar. Sergio and Amy hand me their drinks for quick consumption (they know me all too well, apparently! lol!!) and follow him up the stairs. I guess, when he tried to call me outside, the bouncers shooed him away from the bar even further. Because, of course, he touched their girl.

Fuck. That. Shit.

I am sorry. My boy Justin may be one of the horniest horn dogs on the planet (second only to myself, thank you very much!!) and sometimes his decisions aren't always sound and he can be a bit of a klutz and he overdresses for everything (are you getting all of this down?), but he is a gentleman. And he's a sweetheart and just a Good Person.

A lot nicer than me...that's for certain.

What follows now is Justin's side of the story and ya know what? Something tells me that his is a far more accurate description of the events that took place.

Justin, who (he'd be the first to admit) was pretty drunk from the three drinks he'd had at the previous bar, saw a waitress drop her little back folder (the one that you put a customer's check in--sorry...can't think of the word for it, at this particular moment) on the ground and he picked it up, made a harmless little joke ("free drinks for everyone, I guess!"), looked for her and handed it to her. Instead of being a lady and saying fuckin' "thank you," she gave him a sour look, snapped it out of his hand and sauntered off.

Five minutes later, Thor and Mr. Clean approach him.

Okay, yeah. It makes me sick to my stomach that my best friend had to go through that kind of humiliation. It does. I was mortified for him. And I know it's probably not that big of a deal to him at this point, but it's been on my mind. I honestly think that this was a Race Thing. Or maybe they thought he was gay, which would be pretty fuckin' funny because, while he may sometimes wear clothes that the Joker might envy and has a voice as high as Betty fuckin' Boop (we play the shitty hands we're dealt, right? We've all had our fair share!), Justin is straight!! Period.

Even the cigar thing!! What the FUCK?! I've been there a million times and I always see people smoking their Black and Milds,
their stogies and no one has ever said a goddamn thing!!! And what about cigarettes, eh?! "Oh, the sickening stench of cigarette smoke is okay...but heaven help us if someone actually lights up a classy, expensive, well-made cigar!!!"

I'm sorry I'm going on such a rant. But it just pisses me off the more I think about it. These guys--fuckheads that they are--threw out one of the nicest, sweetest, most polite people that I know. And they don't even know him. I mean, he was wearing a suit, for Chrissakes!! He was the best-dressed man in the whole place. My guess? I think someone else probably bumped into that ho while Justin was handing her the bill thingy and Justin was just the easiest, closest person to point the finger at.

Sorry, Thor! Sorry, Mr. Clean! Y'all threw out the wrong dude!!

When we were outside, I tried to make light of the situation by making jokes ("Dude!! You popped your 'I-Got-Kicked-Out-Of-A-Bar' cherry!!! Welcome to the club!! High-five, bro!!" or "Man, you better not touch any waitresses at the next wine-tasting, because I ain't leavin, foo!!"). He wasn't particularly receptive to, um, humor at that moment, but it was really me trying to make him feel more comfortable. I've been thrown out of bars before (it was some basement peanut bar in downtown Minneapolis--I forget the name. I will say this, though. I tried to cleverly outwit the bouncer that time by getting back in, only to realize that I had sneaked into the bar next door instead!! Paid the cover as well. Hmmmm...)! It's really embarrassing. It's not fun. At all. Especially when you have no idea what you're getting kicked out for ("We have a stocky, curly-haired white mail coming up the steps and exiting the building. Possibly Jewish. Keep your eye out. Over!" Wow!! I think I was profiled!! Suh-WEET!! Mom and dad would be ever so proud!! Hmmmm...).

Needless to say, Justin--nor I--will never set foot in that establishment again.

Shame on them. That's all I can say. Shame on them.

Justin, you deserved better, sir. You deserved respect. For all your quirks, you're one of the best men I know. Period.

Don't let the bastards drive ya down, buddy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The (Still) Undiscovered Country

I did it!!!

I didn't think I'd have the balls to really do it, but I did it!! I am so EXCITED!!!!

I signed up for the Birthright Israel program that I had written about several months ago in a March entry entitled "Shul Ties."

Ya know, I was reading that particular entry and I have to say--I'm really annoyed by just how naïve I was. I mean, yeah, it's only been six months or so, but just read the following paragraph...

"So, with that, comes my big announcement (well, alright...maybe it's not big to you, but whatever): I have decided to register for the Birthright trip so I can go this Summer. It's not a lot of time and I'll need to work fast, but thinking about it now, this could be the trip--THE SPIRITUAL AWAKENING!!--I've been waiting for."


I can't believe how earnest I was. I really thought that by just hoppin' over to Israel, I'd suddenly be this amazing Super Jew.

BZZZZ!! WRONG (again!)!!

I have been going to shul every Saturday--I haven't missed one Shabbat service!!--since April 14. And I have come to love my congregation and I think--I hope--that they've come to respect my level of commitment toward my religion.

Truth is, I take my Judaism seriously, these days. Granted, Rabi Hillel may not be rising from the grave anytime soon to hand me a commemorative "World's Greatest Jew" T-Shirt (talk about fashionable!! Beats my "WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?! HAVEN'T YOU EVER SEEN A SLACKER BEFORE?!" tee right out of the water), but I've been sincerely laying the groundwork, a foundation for myself to grow on and become as good of a Jew as I can be.

I don't think I've felt as much Jewish pride (okay...perhaps a little arrogance, too) as when I came for Rosh Hashanah services with my parents [BLOGGER'S NOTE: Who really never come to services, for the most part, except for the high holidays, the occasional Bar/Bat Mitzvah and in honor of the anniversary of my grandma's passing--also known as a yartzeit] and the greeter, Michael, looks at me and says "So, I see you brought the whole family with you, this time."

I was just like, wow!! I can't believe he said that to me--of all people!!--the kid who used to beg--BEG!!!--his parents to let him stay home from services, even when it was the high holy days. And now, it's like everything has sort of come full circle, ya know? When the dude said that to me, it's like I realized that I was finally part of the inner circle. No, I don't mean the Beth El Synagogue inner social circle. I mean, I felt like I was finally accepted as a member of the congregation, not just some impostor who shows up and fills a seat. I was finally being taken seriously!

I can't tell you how wide the smile on my face was.

And I'm still learning each day.

My goal in the next few weeks, months is to really start studying the prayers that I read every Saturday, to better understand their meaning. Reading and chanting prayers is all well and good, but understanding all of them is truly what it's all about. Otherwise, you're just marking time during the service and that is the last thing I want to do or feel that I'm doing. I'm there for a reason and that is to be part of something bigger than you and me.

As for Israel, yeah, I can't wait. I hope I get accepted. It's not a Done Deal yet. Nothing is signed in ink yet, no dotted i's or t's crossed. I have a mandatory interview with someone to see how Serious I am about going.

But I hope to witness the beauty, the glory of seeing Jerusalem in the Winter.

Will me going to Israel be the "Spiritual Awakening" I so naïvely spoke about in that March blog of mine? Probably not. I do, however, definitely think it will be a way of me cementing my faith in Judaism, a way of re-establishing and rediscovering my Jewish roots.

But a Spiritual Awakening? Hardly.

My spiritual awakening began on April 14th, 2007.

And it is still happening...




My Special Present...

I bit my lower lip, curious when I saw the note sticking out of my apartment door. I read it quickly with a gleam in my eye, crumpled it up, and tossed it aside. The note beckoned me to enter.

I opened my apartment door, headed into the humble, dimly-lit abode...hungrily looking for the gift that was waiting for me within.

I found it tucked away in the in the bathroom, gleaming and, in a way, smiling at me.

I let out a squeal of excitement (Ooh, baby!) and lowered myself atop my new present. It was cold, causing me to shudder with delight. It was so smooth and supple, clean--this was so new to me. This was truly what I'd been needing for the past two years.

And it was finally here.

So, how about a big Thank You to the Royalwood Apartments staff and maintenance crew for the brand new toilet placed in my bathroom, this afternoon, in my absence.

I shall use it in good health.

Oh, and a big giant-sized Sorry to the folks below me. Who knew a toilet could leak below me, right?! I hope y'all caught me on one of my, um, better days. Honor thy neighbor as I always say!!

Wait! What did you think I was talking about?!?!


Yeah, thank G-d Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Atonement) is coming up on Friday.

I am so going to hell for this one...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

In the Land of Overcompensation

I know this really doesn't have anything to do with anything, but I just thought it was funny. As a friend of mine might say, suffer.

Some dude, on the way home from synagogue, was driving a beautiful, fire-engine red convertible with the following license plate:

"I Do OK."

Jesus H!!! And I thought that I was insecure!!! The guy may as well have a suction cup sign on his window that reads "Small Penis On Board."

Now, I don't know about you, dear readers, but if I were him, I would keep the top on at all fucking times.

Just sayin'...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

What If...

So, I got Ringworm.

It's a fungal/bacterial skin infection that causes little circular lesions on the skin. It's contagious through direct skin contact (basically, I'd have to touch the thing on my arm and then touch your skin. Luckily, the two that I have are in places that most people wouldn't touch. That is, my upper arm and under my left nipple.)
Essentially, it's Athlete's Foot writ large on the hairy canvas that is my body. The Good News is that it's treatable with anti-fungal cream.

Yeah, I'm not happy about it. I have no idea how I got it, really, but what are ya gonna do? Okay, before I get a bunch of you's shouting the same thing at me ("IT'S YOUR CAT, JACKASS!!!"), I will just say that I spoke with the vet and she pretty much said, "Honestly, Hal. You've had her for over a month. If you were gonna get it from her, you would have gotten it a lot sooner."

The truth is, you can get it from anyone or anything. And it is that fact and that fact alone that is proving to be both scary and liberating.

For those of you reading this who aren't familiar with who I am and what I'm about, I suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and I am terribly germaphobic. Normally, if I have any suspicions whatsoever that you are sick, I will basically steer clear of you until I know you are cured (I'm talking colds, the flu, the plague...anything that Yours Truly can catch). Nothing personal.

But what most people don't know is that my OCD stems not so much from the fear of myself getting sick, but rather, it's the fear of getting sick and getting other people sick. The thought of getting someone like my mom or my dad or any of my closest friends sick is a thought that is more than I can bear sometimes.

And I know all about sickness.

I was sick for a good portion of my life. See, I was afflicted with
Guillain-Barré syndrome when I was seven, which paralyzed me from the head down. No, it wasn't covered by the Polio vaccine. It's that rare. I lived in the hospital for over 18 weeks and had to undergo daily, excruciatingly painful physical therapy routines. And while I am pretty much able to do what everyone else can do (walk, run, play video games, etc.), I will never have the strength of a normal man and I will always have a slight limp when I walk. I have multiple scars on my feet and lower legs from all of the surgeries performed on me to keep my feet straight and prevent them from drooping down, due to the fact that all of the muscles in my feet had atrophied.

And how did I get it? Well, I got a cold. That's right! I stood next to some kid at Jewish day camp and caught his cold and it snowballed into something much, much bigger.

And yeah, I won't lie. I wonder what would have happened if I had just stood back a little farther away from this kid--even just a few inches, ya know? Would my life have been different? Would it have been easier? Harder? Would I have been a better person or a mean sonofabitch? Would I have played sports? Would I have had lots more luck with the ladies?
Who knows, right? Yeah, I think about shit like that from time to time. But only occasionally. Thinking about it tends to put me in a melancholy moods. I think if I dwelled on it too often, I'd be a complete nutter.

What's even more frustrating is that every once in a while, I bump into that kid that I stood next to, that day at camp. I see him living his normal life and dancing at the clubs and I think to myself...he'll never know. And ya know what? That's okay. I think it's better that way. Yeah, my life might have been significantly different had I not stood next to him that day, but it's not his fault. And it would be despicable of me to place that kind of blame on one person's shoulders like that. It was my immune system changed the course of my life...not him.

It has taken me a long time to come to terms with that notion. After all, it's only human nature to want a black and white, concrete, This Is How It Happened explanation. We want a body to blame. After all, gray area can be one of the most maddening places of all. Alas, though, as the old saying goes...

Shit happens.

Which leads me back to the topic of my Ringworm. I could have gotten it from anyone or anything. And depending on what effect you let that thought have on you, that can either be downright frightening or entirely liberating. For the last 20 years, I have lived in fear of getting sick.

And I gotta tell ya, I am so very fucking tired of being afraid. I am so fucking tired of not being able to function, to live my life to its fullest because I'm afraid of getting sick. And while I'm not exactly ecstatic about getting Ringworm, it's not the End of the World. I'm still alive. I'm not dying.

I think it's time to start living--really Living--with my eyes wide open; take risks and not worry about hypotheticals, Worst Case Scenarios so much. I've based nearly my entire life on What If. Fuck that!! It's time to start working on the What Is. The here. The now.

And it is not going to be an overnight fix. Twenty years of fear and paranoia is a lot to overcome. But I have to try.

It's like what Morgan Freeman said in "The Shawshank Redemption..."

Get busy livin'...or get busy dyin'.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bar Mitzvah Boy

I hate going to Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. They depress me to no end.

For all the ignorant, uneducated pricks out there, A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a rite of passage for a young Jewish boy or girl, respectively--usually at the age of 13--where they must, among other things, read a portion of the Torah (if I have to explain to you what the latter is, then I beg of you to discontinue reading my blog because, well, I don't know any other way to tell you this, but you're fuckin' stupid) in front of the congregation. Once a boy or girl has their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, they are considered adults in the eyes of Judaism. It is usually followed by a party--dinner, dancing and LIMBO!!--in the evening.

I remember my Bar Mitzvah all to well. After all, it was one of the best days of my life. It was like a roller coaster ride of kudos, smiles, pats on the back, handshakes, singing and dancing (and LIMBO!!). It was one whole day--nay, weekend--of family, friends, teachers...all there for me!! It didn't hurt that I flat-out nailed my Torah portion and just knocked the socks off the congregation with my angelic (read: still very prebubescent and high-pitched. Ya know what they say: The more things change...) singing voice.

It was truly a triumphant and happy weekend for me, the weekend of my Bar Mitzvah. It was like I was this golden child.
I, as well as everyone around me, was so full of hope for me; that I would be this successful, responsible Jew, let alone a responsible adult. And then the weekend ended. And then life happened.

As the saying goes, I never knew what hit me.

Let's see: There were the
the sexuality issues, the drinking, the drugs, the smoking and, yes, the meaningless sex (okay, so the last one wasn't nearly as frequent as the others, but still...!!!). I have done bad things to myself...no doubt about it. Things I know that my 13-year-old self would have never imagined doing. Things beyond his comprehension.

And I am embarrassed!!!

I wish I could go back in time and just talk to him, look at him and say..."I know things seem really cool, right now. And you're on the highest of highs, at this moment in time. People are just loving you, right now. But things can get dark in a second. You are going to have many, many fork-in-the road moments within the next 13 years. No matter how hard the choice is, no matter how much fun you think you're going to have, no matter how square and dorky you think you're going to be, just please....do the right thing. Don't be an idiot and just do the right fucking thing. We can be great. We can be so great. Just try your best. And oh, yeah...even if you think your parents are wrong about 99% of everything, just listen to them. They know what they're talking about and they know what they're doing. For the most part. I think."

But that's not a reality. It's a fantasy, a beautiful dream. We play the hands we are dealt. Sometimes, we have a bad hand and bluff and make our own luck. Sometimes, we have a good hand and we still lose. But my life has constantly been one long case of having these great, amazing hands...and then folding; sometimes, out of fear, cowardice and on other occasions, just out of shear stupidity.

But hey, I'm still in the game.

And I know that while my day of innocence as a Bar Mitzvah boy has long since passed, I will never, ever stop trying to do right by that young man standing on the bimah (pulpit) on April 23, 1994, smiling, taking that deep breath and ready to take that plunge into adulthood.

...And yet, as I mentioned, I still hate going to Bar and Bat Mitzvahs because, despite the good eats at the end (hey, what's not to like about bagels, cream cheese and lox after a hearty helping of Saturday morning prayers, right?!?!), they depress me.

I just look at those innocent, hopeful faces up there, standing where I stood, many moons ago, and I see so much of myself in them; when the glass was never a drop below the half-full mark. And each time, a single thought crosses my mind: when times of darkness and temptation fall upon them, which road will they go down?

And it's then, in that moment, that I pray to G-d.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Daddy's Little Girl

As crude and vulgar and crass as this is going to sound (and I'll be the first to admit that I'm pretty much All Of the Above at times), I was going to write a whiny blog about how I was sexually frustrated that I pretty much can't masturbate anymore, now that I have a kitten at my place.

I was going to.

That is, until I started watching her play as I was getting onto Blogger.

Oh, well. Maybe I'll write that one another time.

Right now, I just want to write about how I love my little girl. After all, it's not everyday that I'm able to write about something so utterly lacking in the way of cynicism and sarcasm. And that something would be my love for Miss Lillie.

I know that in my last entry, Hurricane Lillie, I came across as being a bit of an anal-retentive curmudgeon--think Jack Nicholson's Melvin Udall in "As Good As It Gets"--but in the course of three weeks, I have grown to love her as fiercely as I can love anyone or anything. Truth be known, she has become, in no uncertain terms, my daughter.

I love coming home after work and seeing her little head pop up from my easy chair, where she'd been previously sleeping. It makes me absolutely melt when she jumps from the chair and starts "meowing" at me and following me around. I laugh my ass off when she starts chasing the little carrying strap on my leather cell phone case or starts jumping up and down like a Mexican jumping bean. And yes, I am grateful for every single moment that she sleeps in my lap or curls up on my (chiseled washboard) belly while I sleep.

It's an amazing thing to have something so little offer something so great as unconditional love.

Yes, I may have moments where I freak out and I don't know to do. And yeah, I'd be lying if I said that I know everything I need to know about being the owner of a baby kitten. I don't. G-d only knows, my vet must love me. I called her at least five times, last week. Hey, she knows what family I come from!!

No, the truth is, much like so many other facets of my life, I tend to be pretty clueless when it comes to taking care of Lillie. But two things I do know: For better or for worse, she's the best thing to happen to me in quite some time. That, and she's stuck with me. Because I wouldn't give her up for the world.

You know, it's funny...for a while, I thought of her as a storm, throwing my whole world into total upheaval. And while having a cat has certainly been an adjustment, she's quite the opposite of a storm.

She may very well be my shelter.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hurricane Lillie

The storm has come...and its--or rather, her--name is Lillie.

Let it be known that I have never, ever been a cat person. I've always much preferred dogs. The latter are so friendly and affectionate; their love unconditional!! Cats, to me, have always been bitchy and confrontational; I've always felt like I needed to dance for them (no, not literally--that would be weird. And sad.)

So, it came as quite a surprise when, about a month ago, a dear friend of mine (you know who you are) suggested to me that I get a cat and I actually found myself quite open-minded about the idea. Yet, part of me was of an insincere, yeah..I should do that someday frame of mind, the ultimate "definite maybe."

If this were a movie, there would be a cut to black, with a white title card reading "Two Weeks Later."

Last Tuesday, I found myself reluctantly, cautiously taking Lillie--a black Tabby with gray stripes--home with me for the first time. On the drive home, I was all too aware, with each passing "meow", er, minute, that my life had just gotten a lot more complicated. A 20-Year Commitment complicated.

Needless to say, I was freaking out.

The first few days were rough-going for me. She would just get into all of my shit!! And for those who know me on a more personal level, that's a big no-no (hell, I get pissed off when people start drinking my fuckin' Simply Orange juice, let alone walking on top of my lap top, for crying out loud!!) She would wake me up, every morning, at 6 a.m. (oh, no! Not that!) and get all frisky on the bed (SHADDUUUUP!!!), scratching at my duvet (what would Tyler Durden say about that?!), trying to nip at me, scratch at me.

Think "Turner & Hooch," but with whiskers. Or don't. Wait! Better yet, think "K-9," that other '80s dog/buddy/cop movie with Jim Belushi--but with whiskers!! Or don't.

I'm going to be completely honest. As horrible and pathetic and irresponsible as this is going to sound, I wanted to get rid of her. I looked for every excuse in the book (her claws are sharp; she's biting; she tripped me and made me fall on my face!! You know...real somebody call the wahhhh-mbulence! shit) to take her to the Humane Society and put her up for adoption or just give her to a loving family. Last Thursday, the day I was originally supposed to get her declawed, as I drove off, I'll admit it. I was relieved to have her out of my hair, so to speak. And then the vet's office called me and told me they couldn't perform the operation because she had a cold. I was angry and really pissed that I didn't have a night off and I was going to have to sacrifice another night with this fur ball.

Yeah, I know I sound like an asshole (more than usual!!), but keep reading, 'kay?

Another habit I got into was having
friends come over every night to hang out so I wouldn't be alone with Lillie, as if having people over would alleviate my fears and anxiety of having to take care of something other than my own damn self. And it worked.

Until Friday...when it didn't.

Friday night was definitely the turning point for me 'n' Miss Lillie Pad. That was the night where it was just she and I...all by ourselves. I decided to just have a night of relaxation and watch a movie. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, popped in "Fight Club" (speaking of Mr. Durden) and turned the lights off. I grabbed Lillie, put her on my lap and pet her while she slept and we just chilled. I watched the movie. She slept in my lap.

It was just about perfect.
It was really quite a lovely night.

At 6 a.m., the next morning, I was lying on my side when she woke me up and started going into Ape Shit Mode like she always does around that time when, for about 20 seconds, she stopped...and looked me in the eye. It was like she was studying me. I met her eyes and held her gaze. It was then that I realized, I love this little girl. She's mine and I am not going to let anything happen to her.

It was just so clear to me. It was like some of the other epiphanies I've had, as of late. I knew in that moment, when she and I looked at each other, eye to eye, that if I just fucking learned to get over myself, this 20-Year Commitment could be one of the best things that ever happened to me. Or the worst. Who knows? Either way, I knew that this cat wasn't going anywhere!!

And then she scratched my cornea with her claw. But that's beside the point.

I will tell you this, in the last few days, what with her crawling up my suit pants, up my shirt and perching herself atop my shoulder, playing with her catnip mouse toy and trying to eat my beard (a shiny nickel to the person who can find the most jokes out of that last one), I have found myself smiling and laughing out loud by myself for the first time in a very, very long time. Usually, I'm an avid brooder when I'm by myself. Not so much in the last week, though. I've been smiling much more often than not.

And that, dear readers, is nothin' but good news.

A couple of days ago, on Tuesday, I took her in, once again, to get declawed. When I left her, this time, I couldn't help but feel sad and regretful and worried. I wanted my baby back. And, of course, I will. I visited her today (er, technically, yesterday) and the vet did an amazing job and I'll get her back on Friday afternoon.

Without a hint of irony or insincerity, I will say the following: I cannot wait for my baby to get home.

Yes, the storm has arrived and is upon me now...and her name is Lillie.

I can't wait to face her head on.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Happy to Be Negative

Yeah, it's been a busy couple of weeks, so my apologies for not writing as frequently.

I guess I've just been fairly pre-occupied with Hal issues. Remember the storm I was talking about? Well, it came. Or, at least, one of them. More on that, er, her later...

So, by popular demand (you know who you are... ;oP), I will address the following issue from a few weeks back: I got the STD results back from the doctor's office and they said, well, there's only one way to say this, folks. They said (for all of you "West Side Story" fans, out there)...


Yes, that's right!! I am free to have as much sex as I want now, without the sweat-inducing fear of injecting diseased DNA into my partner. Woo-hoo!!


Actually, I can pretty much guarantee that I won't be having sex again for awhile. After all, as I mentioned in "Ewwww La La," the future Mrs. Hal is out there, somewhere, and sex is never, ever going to be the method to my mad search.


Okay. Perhaps I'm being a bit too hasty in saying "never, ever." Listen, I know I've taken the "No Sex" vow--very Josh Hartnett of me, no?--but maybe, I dunno...maybe sex isn't so bad. I mean, yeah, I don't need sex, but who really does, right? I mean, besides nymphos. And nuns.

And yeah, I know it's pretty lame that I'm backing out of my own self-imposed rule, but what can I say? I'm human and I have needs and desires just like everyone else. At the same time, though, I plan on using a little more discretion in terms of who I choose to do the deed with (as opposed to bumping uglies with the first broad that's ready and willing--which, admittedly, isn't very often at all. And yes, I realize I just used the word "broad." Because apparently, I've time-traveled back to the '30s). It's like the old saying goes, just because ya can...doesn't mean ya should. Or something.

Then again, on the flipside, that doesn't mean ya shouldn't. Sometimes, doing the wrong thing can absolutely, positively be right!

But for fuck sake!! Be careful when you're doing it!!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

"Monster" Loving....


Yes, the moment I've been waiting for since the arrival of DVDs finally occurred on Tuesday, April 27, when I purchased the two-disc 20th Anniversary Edition of "Monster Squad."

Feel free to go "huh?" at any moment now.

You wouldn't be the first people to scratch their heads when I drop this title. In fact, I must have gone up to at least a good 200 people that I know (gosh! I know a lot of people!! Who knew?!) and told them in this giggly, giddy voice, "FREAKIN' MONSTER SQUAD, MAN!!!! IT'S COMING OUT TODAY!!!" This was met with eye roll after eye roll or "What the fuck is that?!?!"

Hey, one man's obscure 80's bomb is another man's cult classic. And I, fair readers, am a proud member of the cult that is "Monster Squad." Hey, some people have their "Goonies," (and don't get me wrong...I love me some fuckin' "Goonies") but some of us have "Squad."

Essentially, the movie is about a group of monster-obsessed kids who find themselves in over their heads when the--Dum, dum, DUMMMMM!!!--Forces of Evil (i.e. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Mummy, and The Gill Man) come to their town and wreak havoc. Cheesy right? WRONG!! This movie, co-written by Shane Black (screenwriter of "Lethal Weapon" and "The Last Boyscout") and directed by Fred Dekker, is pretty rough and tough for being a PG-13 movie from the '80s. The creature make-up was done by the brilliant Stan Winston ("Predator," "Terminator," "Edward Scissorhands," etc.) and the awesome, rousing score is by Bruce Broughton ("Dances with Wolves").

Anyway, this disc is pretty much a "Squad" lover's wet dream. The fact that the movie itself is finally on DVD--with two separate audio commentaries from cast and crew--is amazing enough! That it has a whole second disc with a feature-length retrospective/making of documentary, deleted scenes, original trailers puts me on a whole new plane of nostalgic euphoria.

So, Thursday night, I made myself a drink, stuck the DVD into the player, plopped myself backward onto the couch, and watched the film. I have to admit, though, that I was afraid I was going to hate it, this time. I was. I was truly terrified that when I watched it for the first time in 18-19 years, I was going to feel embarrassed and depressed when I discovered that it was just another craptastic '80s movie.

Thank G-d, that those fears were unfounded.

By the movie's end, I was hugging myself, in tears. I mean, yeah, it's a fucking monster movie, right? I know, I'm a cheese ball. But I just remembered the power it had over me in my youth and how happy and energized it use to make me feel whenever I would put on the cable-recorded BETA (lol!) copy we had. [BLOGGER'S NOTE: One thing I noticed is how it seemed like such a longer movie when I was eight or nine. The movie has a fairly short running time of 86 minutes. It's so funny how time seems to stretch everything out when you're young. Like, riding the car on a family trip seems to take forever when you're little and now it's like--BAM!!--you're there] As I watched it, I shouted out lines ("I'm in the goddamn club, aren't I?") at the TV as the characters recited them in the movie. It was like my own private midnight movie and I loved every second of it.

And that was before I even watched the joy-gasmic documentary about the movie!!!

That's what I love about the DVD format. They can do so much with movies that are all but forgotten. Now, I can expose this terrific flick to anyone and everyone who has yet to see it. For that, I am truly jumping for joy. Well, okay, maybe not jumping...but frolicking (yes, you read that right--I said "frolicking") about in my apartment. The act of jumping causes me to wheeze like a motherfucker.

Anyways, go. Buy it. Now. It's only $14.99. You'll have a blast!!

I guess all I need now is a two-disc special edition of "Fright Night" ("YOU'RE SO COOL, BREWSTER, AH-HAHAHA!!!!") and I'll officially be the happiest man alive...

...and "Adventures in Babysitting"...

...and maybe, just maybe, "Howard the Duck."


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hal vs. Hal

The only thing I can say to warn you about this entry is the following: Buckle up!! It's gonna be a bumpy ride!!

Lately, I've found myself becoming more cynical and angry and emotional than I've ever been. And this is coming from a guy who is always on. Normally, I'm this big ball of hyper kinetic energy; a walking, talking shot of pure adrenaline to the system. Lately, though, I just don't have any energy. I've taken up this what's the use? mentality that seems to be concerning some while causing others to flee in droves.

As I've mentioned, I'm just really unhappy at the moment. It's true: I'm a wreck. In the last few weeks--hell, months--I have felt like that action hero in the movie where the earth around him is eroding and crumbling beneath his feet, revealing a river of hot, molten lava. Eventually, it's just me standing atop a sliver of rock, waiting for some sort of salvation, perhaps in the form of an outreached hand or a rope from that hovering chopper above me. But no, it's just me and the lava and the flames beneath, with no rotating blades in sight.

Ain't self-pity a bitch?

In the last couple of weeks or so, I've found myself wanting to smoke a big fatty in the most major of ways. And the thing is, it would be so easy to just talk to My Guy, slip him a fifty (or, as I use to do, a hundred) and smoke myself some motherfuckin' kind bud. And for some, it wouldn't seem like such a big deal. Hey, if ya wanna smoke some pot, go for it!! It's no biggie!! And for most people, that'd probably be spot-on. But moderation has never been my thing. And my personality, while being both lovable and sometimes larger-than-life, is a very addictive one. I can't just do a little of anything. I'm either on or off. I am a man of extremes and absolutes. Whether it be my bad habits or my bad moods, I can never be Mr. In-Between.

For the record, I am not going to smoke pot. The moment I get high again, everything that I've been working toward (writing again, getting into a relationship, finding myself, getting a better job and moving) will all be for naught. My love for ganja is fierce; enough so that it would ruin everything and render the actions that have proceeded my moment of clarity on Nov. 18 of last year (see 12:01) pointless. And that, I could not bear to have happen.

So, I'm unhappy. Life is really sucking at this point. And my problem--what my problem has always been--is that I immerse myself in the suckiness. I bathe in it and let it overtake me (think of the black Spiderman costume and you'll get the picture). Let's face the facts: I let it happen. And from there, my life gets put on hold, once again, and when I finally emerge from the wreckage, I have to start from scratch and rebuild my reputation and my life.

Happiness has never come easy for me. As I've mentioned, there have been individual moments where I've been happy, but I've never been an all-around happy camper. I'm not a happy person. But I must say, I desperately wish to be. I'm tired of walking through this life, people watching, looking at The Happy People of this world. It's my turn.

So, what do I do? Well, I fight.

This is my life!! If I can't fight for my happiness and save myself, who's going to?! Cooking, being self-sufficient and not going to mom and dads', every night, is clearly not going to cut it. Doing those things are a start, but they aren't going to make me happy. A better, more independent person? Perhaps. Happy, though? Probably not.

I know: I need to fight for my happiness is pretty vague. And I can't tell you in all honesty what I'm going to do to get me there or that I know how it's going to play out. Right now, though, the best thing I can do, whenever I'm about to shatter, is to close my eyes and concentrate on all the good things that I've got going for me in my life. It's a cliché, I know. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the concept of close your eyes and think happy thoughts is about as cliché as you can get. But for once, I'm going to roll with it.

After all the bitching, the moaning, the crying, the whining...after all this time, it finally occurred to me, today, out of nowhere: At this stage of my life, there really are no helicopters in sight.

And amidst the chaos of my internal war, my private Armageddon, the only outreached hand I can see in the distance is my own.

The fight for my life, my happiness is here. And it's mine and mine alone to fight.

Let the battle begin...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fakin' It...

If there's one thing in this that I absolutely can not stand, it's insincerity.

Throughout my seven years with the company I work at, I've come to learn that there are a lot of fake bastards in this world. And, ya know, I won't lie: I have my moments where I simply don't give two shits about how your great nephew is having his Bar Mitzvah ("Mazel Tov!!") at a hotel in Maumee or how your wife cheated on you and need a place to have revenge sex ("Oh, um, I'm very sorry to hear that, sir. But I was told that you needed a mini-fridge in your room to store medication for your Diabetes...") with some hot bitches in a hot tub with spray jets, but I'll still give you service with a smile.

Truth be told, it's not easy trying to maintain my "phone smile" at all times (riiiiiiiiiiight). Sometimes, I just want to say to them, "yeah, you're a fucking moron and you're parents should be shot for having such stupid-ass, useless, impotent offspring.

It wasn't always like this.

I remember when I was first hired, seven years (shoot me, please...someone!!), the HR dude who was interviewing me asked me what the phrase "customer service" meant to me. My answer: The customer is always right!

Sigh. So young. So naive.

I'm surprised my interviewer didn't throw his head back and cackle maniacally. After seven years, this is what I've learned: The customer is wrong. Always. Wrong. The customer is evil and will lie, cheat, steal, rape and pillage to get what they want out of you. And then they will spit at you for being their bitch after they've used you as far as they can. Their worst offense, though, is insincerity. My least favorite customers have always been the ones that act all pleasant as apple pie until you say "no." And once you tell them "no," they bare their fangs and eat you alive.

Truth be told, I would much rather have a guy or gal who is a dick or a bitch from start to finish as a customer. At least they're consistent and I know that no matter how much I try and amp up the neurotic, Jewish (read: self-deprecating) charm, they're going to treat me like the worthless, pathetic piece of shit I know they think I am (whew!). At least they're keeping it real!! They hate my guts. I'm absolutely indifferent about theirs. It's a rock-solid relationship, if you ask me.

The biggest irritation I have of all--and it's like an oversize, swelling hemorrhoid in my ass--is when a customer--or anyone for that matter, asks me how I'm doing and (RRRRRRAWWWRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!) continues talking without even giving me a second to give them the insincere (and let's face it, flat-out untrue) response of "I'm terrific!!!" or "Very well." It's gotten to the point where I will actually start talking over them really loudly with my answer and they'll be like, "what's that, now?" and I'll say, "well you asked me how I'm doing, so I was telling you." It's kind of fun listening to them getting flustered over the phone. They're robots and I've thrown them a bit of improv that they don't have a built-in response to. Nice!!

Look, I know they don't want to hear that I'm unhappy with my current station in life, at the moment. I mean, shit! I wouldn't wanna hear that bullshit either. How fuckin' awkward, right?!?! I'd be like, dude! You don't need a reservation! You need the help of a good psychiatric professional!! I mean, I get it. You're calling for a service that I provide you with. I give. You take. That's how it works.

But fuck, man! Would it kill you to stop for two seconds of your busy, ass-kissing, social-climbing, philandering life to let me say the following words in response to your half-hearted attempt to get to know me:

"I'm working on it. Thanks for asking."

All's I got.

Now, is there anything else I can help you with? No? Well, you have a terrific day and thank you for choosing Neurotica!!