Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm now officially 30...

The big 30th birthday bash was Sunday, and I am overwhelmed by all the people that came, it was amazing! It was by far the largest party we have ever hosted, and perhaps the craziest too! The band played until about 2 AM, at which point I think the neighbor was ready to kill them. We put away two kegs, several hundred bottles and cans of beer, a bottle of homemade wine and about a dozen bottles of booze. Some people saw the sunrise, one person passed out on the front lawn with an empty wine cooler in each hand and we lost one cat for about 12 hours. I busted my knee somehow, and have a swollen hand from taking my anger out on my oil tank because of playing beer pong poorly (this is when things get fuzzy for me). This is also when about ten of us decided it was a good time to do the no pants dance around the basement. I don't understand either, but it made sense at the time. Nichole took a piece of cake to bed around 10, and then rallied later, which lit me up like a Christmas tree, as I was super excited to see her again!

The weather started out overcast and rainy, but turned out beautiful, and we were able to enjoy the outdoor games and the band rocked the backyard for hours. People were coming and going starting around 1 and lasting, to my knowledge about 12 hours later. My memory stops at around midnight, but made it to bed on my own, only after chugging the last of the Jaeger bottle, another great decision on my part. All in all, the party went well and I want to thank everyone that came, got me cards, played music or just simply enjoyed the day with me. I have the best friends in the world, and want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for helping me handle the milestone birthday a little easier!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Does it really have to be that time of the month already?

My big 30th birthday is quickly approaching, in fact less than a week away at this point. I have been dreading this moment for a couple of years now, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to avoid it. Everyone tells me not to worry, it isn't a big deal, but for some reason it is for me. I mean, I can't say I am twenty-something anymore. I remember, as a kid, thinking I would never be in my 20's, and now I am about to leave them behind. It just doesn't seem possible. In an effort to make me feel better about things, everyone keeps telling me 30 is the new 20. I appreciate the effort, I really do, but it is still 30.

This morning, as I was contemplating what to write about I got to thinking about things a little, and tried putting it all in perspective. I have a great life at 30. I mean, I have a beautiful wife and daughter, we own a house in the country with two cats and a dog, we have a ton of friends, a busy social event calendar, I'm still active and playing sports, my family is nearby. I guess what I am saying is that I couldn't have planned things better than they are right now. As a kid you always see your life going a certain way, and sure, there have been some unforeseen bumps in the road along the way, but shit, life doesn't get any better than it is right now! Not only have I accepted turning 30, I am embracing it, and will enjoy every second of it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

You know you live in the country when...

... you get a call from a friend who wants you to come over to help her with a "controlled burn" in her backyard. Now, I'm from The County, and I have heard every joke under the sun, and have seen pretty much everything that gets joked about at least once, but this was a first for me. In fact, when I listened to the voice mail I wasn't sure I was hearing things correctly, and made Nichole listen to the message to confirm that what I had just heard was real. It was. I was under the assumption that I was being invited over so that I could distract her husband long enough so she could toss her mother-in-law into the fire, or that I was gonna have a candle lit dinner with the mother-in-law to distract her while her son was tossed into the fire. Turns out my assumptions were completely wrong! Good thing, I've been part of too many body burning events in my life...

What actually did happen was the burning of several years worth of Christmas trees and several pallets and sections of old fencing that was falling apart. I was basically there to toss buckets of water if for some reason the barn, deck or house sparked up. I was also there for my muscle, to help actually lift all the wood items onto the fire. Used for my muscles yet again, it's getting old to be honest. HA! In the end, everything that was intended to be burned was, and nothing else, so it was a successful "controlled burn".

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What happened to Saturday morning cartoons?!

I remember growing up as a toddler thinking that Saturday morning cartoons were the coolest thing in the world. The Smurfs, Snorks, Scooby Doo and many others. These were good cartoons. Every Saturday morning my sister and I would run to the television to watch cartoons for hours, and they were entertaining as hell! Now what do kids have to watch for cartoons on Saturday morning? The FCC is what happened. They determined that there needed to be more educational information on for children, and mandated a minimum of 3 hours per week, and the programming slowly transitioned in the late 90's from mindless child entertainment to educational programs for children, some just a child portion of the Today Show or Good Morning America. The lone bright spot of this transition would have to be Saved By The Bell to me. Growing up we all dreamed about being one of the characters, except for maybe Screech. The babe, the brains, the fashionista, the nerd, the jock and the golden boy, you knew someone in your school that fit into each role. I still find myself watching reruns in the morning while getting ready for work. I'm pretty sure I have seen every episode, but I still love it. We recently watched High School Musical 3 with Kerrigan, and I'm almost certain that it is loosely based on Saved By The Bell. Characters are similar and the setting is obviously the same. There are some interesting parallels.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Road Trippin' to Hotlanta in June...

Nothing like driving 20 hours to the dirty south at the end of June, when it is hotter than hell outside, but that is what family does, right? My little sister is moving to Atlanta on June 12th, and has asked Nichole and I to drive her vehicle down for her when we get a chance. Well, it's a long drive, so we have to plan this one out a bit. Turns out the Red Sox are playing in Atlanta the weekend of June 27th, which is ironically about the only weekend we don't have booked already this summer! Sounds like we are gonna check another ballpark off the list (only bringing my total to 3, ha!). I'm certainly not looking forward to driving for 20 straight hours. Fortunately we happen to know a couple of people that live just about in the middle, which would be a great way to break things up a little bit.

Now, I am NOT looking forward to my little sister moving away. She has been one of my best friends for as long as I can remember, and hate the idea of her not being just across the bridge. I'm super happy for her, and think her new husband is great, just hate to see them leave town. The only good that is coming out of it all is that Nichole and I are inheriting two kayaks, a grill, patio furniture, entertainment center and several other items. Some, if not all, may only be temporary, but we will be sure to enjoy the shit out of them while we can!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Today is a sad day for this guy...

My favorite sports franchise lost their first ever game 7 when leading a best of 7 series 3 games to 2 last night. It was rather depressing actually. In fact, it was so depressing I can't write about it. Let's discuss something different today...

Every sports team that wins a championship has been invited to the White House for years now. This past years Super Bowl winner is no exception. The Steelers, having beat the Arizona Cardinals, are scheduled to visit President Obama on Thursday, but the Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL, James Harrison, won't be attending, and listen to his reason:

"This is how I feel -- if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl. As far as I'm concerned, he [Obama] would've invited Arizona if they had won."

Well... You are right big guy. That is what they do, they invite the winners to come visit. Another great quote from an overpaid, undereducated professional athlete. As far as I'm concerned, James Harrison is sort of a fool. If he doesn't want to go to the White House, fine, just don't make a lame excuse in an attempt to justify your decision.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Las Vegas revisited: Day 5 - Ewwww, cankles!

The Urban Dictionary defines cankles as the area in affected female legs where the calf meets the foot in an abrupt, nontapering terminus; medical cause: adipose tissue surrounding the soleus tendon, probably congenital, worsened by weight gain and improved in appearance only by boots. From the English "calf" meaning wide portion of the lower leg, and "ankle" meaning slender joint of leg with foot. Well, let me tell you something, it can happen to dudes too! More later...

Flight was scheduled to leave Las Vegas at 9:21, so we climbed out of bed early and finished our packing and cabbed it back to the airport, arriving shortly after 7, which in retrospect, was way too damn early! Oh well, we just sat around and tried to piece together all the fun things we had done over the past few days. As we are lounging there this tall dude walks by and my jaw drops. I hear Nichole say sort of sarcastically, do you think he plays basketball? Um, yeah, he does, he was professional basketball player LaMarcus Aldridge who plays for the Portland Trailblazers. He was catching a plane to his hometown of Dallas, TX. That was pretty damn cool, my first celebrity in an airport. Most of you probably don't know him, but for anyone who follows the NBA, he is a rising star and someone who I think will maybe be an All Star someday.

It is finally time to board the plane, and sense we are in first class, we are the first ones on the plane. We have the flight attendant bring us several vodka and diet sodas to put us to sleep and we are on our way. We have a layover in Minneapolis for about an hour, giving us just enough time to grab a quick bite from the BK Lounge before reboarding and flying to Boston. Once back on the plane I happen to look down at my feet and notice that my left foot is freaking huge! Between the nasty sunburn and the changes in altitude my foot has blown up and I have a damn cankle! I am instantly a little freaked out, and Nichole is having the time of her life telling everyone about it. Thanks honey, you'll get yours! Some people suggested that I may be pregnant, which is cute, and not possible, I am on the pill! I mean, wait a minute...

Once in Boston we are quickly reminded that the weather is much different on the east coast in May, it is downright cold in comparison! We jump on the shuttle back to our car and fight with those douchebags for a solid 20 minutes, having to prove to them that we had already paid. I was more than a little annoyed with them, making us prove to them we did, when they have us in their system, just look it up fools! Anyways, we finally got it all figured out and were on our way home. We arrive home at about 11:00, exhausted from a wonderful vacation.

For those of you that haven't been to Las Vegas, we both highly recommend it. It isn't a kid friendly place, surprising, I know. It's one big party, all day and all night. You can drink anywhere you want, cabs, sidewalks, pool, wherever. You buy a beer at a bar, you bring it with you while you go shoe shopping, whatever. There is a ton of shopping, from Gucci, Prada and Tiffany & Co to Urban Outfitters and Gap and everything in between. There are more eateries than you could ever visit featuring every kind of cuisine under the sun. The weather is gorgeous every day. There are a bunch of golf courses, shows, concerts and comedy shows going on all the time. Best of all, if you enjoy watching people, this is the place to be, because you will see a little bit of everything! All in all, great vacation, and I can't wait to go on another already!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Las Vegas revisited: Day 4 - Arachnophobia

Arachnophobia is a specific phobia, an abnormal fear of spiders and other arachnids. It is among the most common of all phobias. This is probably Nichole biggest fear. In fact, she will no longer feed the dog or do laundry because she saw a rather large spider recently in the basement. Now I have sprayed in an effort to get rid of them, so hopefully this helps. What does this have to do with day 4 in Vegas you ask? Wait for it, it is coming...

Saturday finds us jumping out of bed and getting cleaned up quickly so we can meet my parents for breakfast down the strip at the Venetian, where they stayed. We strolled down the strip, checking out a few things we hadn't yet seen. We met my parents in their room, which was absolutely stunning. The view was less than stellar, but the room itself was amazing. We went down to the shopping area and had some breakfast at a little cafe called Tintoretto Bakery. After breakfast we explored the Venetian, Pallazzo, Caesars Palace, Bellagio and Treasure Island, taking pictures of all the amazing architecture, gardens and any other cool little thing along the way. We ended up meeting Pete Rose, the all time hit king in baseball, who was signing autographs at Caesars Palace in an attempt to make some money. Poor broke bastard, all he has to do is admit he bet on baseball and his entire life would change, but he is too damn stubborn. Oh well!

Having now walked several miles, maybe more (with a sunburn so bad on my leg and foot it hurt to walk) we made our way back to the Monte Carlo to shower and get ready for a fine evening to ourselves. We booked dinner at a steakhouse named Brand in our hotel and from there we were leaving it pretty open. Ended up making tentative plans with my sister and her crew to go Rok our chickens (or cock as the rest of us would have guessed) off at a rock nightclub at New York, New York. Nichole and I ensured that we would be dressed properly and I got us guys on the guest list so we would get right in. After setting this up we stopped into the casino to say goodbye to my parents before they left town and we were stopped by a couple that gave us tickets to Zumanity, which is a provocative version of Cirque de Soleil. Show was great, filled with lots of audience interaction, sexually explicit jokes, sensual dancing and BOOBIES! HA! We enjoyed the heck out of the show, and after ran to get our dinner reservation. This may have been the best meal I have ever eaten out at a restaurant, hands down. Nichole got the filet mignon with a side of mushrooms and gratin and I had a Kobe beef burger with fries and baked mac and cheese. Seriously, amazing! Topped off with a bottle of red wine, and we were in food coma heaven!

Following dinner we explored New York, New York, Excalibur, Mandalay Bay and Luxor a bit, waiting for Kelly and crew to get out of their Cirque de Soleil show so we could go clubbing (it sounds weird to me too, trust me). Well, turns out they had other plans and decided not to call us or even text us, but we made do. We had our best night there, strolling around the strip sipping beers for hours. We made it back to Brand to have a few vodka and diet sodas before retiring to our room. The bartender here didn't seem very nice and we thought she poured our drinks rather light. Nichole was NOT impressed with her at all, not to mention the fact that she had a giant tarantula tattooed just above her right ass cheek! Well, we sucked the two drinks down and left a little discouraged. Wait, nope, we were drunk! Turns out those drinks may have been a little stronger than originally thought, and put us over the top! We side stepped back up to the room and what happened next can't be written down properly, or maybe even legally. Let's just say we didn't get a whole lot of sleep and I was ripping tequila shots out of Nichole's belly button. I think that pretty much tells you what you need to know!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Las Vegas revisited: Day 3 - You know what really burns me?

Friday was the day we were looking forward to. We planned to sit poolside all day and sip margaritas while taking an occasional trip around the lazy river. Well guess what... that is exactly what we did, just substitute Miller Lite for the margaritas. It was the greatest way to spend the day. It was 97 degrees, slight breeze poolside, we had a perfect location amongst 250 or so other people, and there was a DJ blasting out all sorts of hits, from Sweet Caroline to that damn song about boots with the fur, or some damn thing. Regardless, it was a perfect day, and we were kind of in heaven. We lounged for about 4 hours as our skin slowly crisped up nice and red, you know, a nice slow burn. Around 2:00 my sister and her crew showed up to take over our spot so we could go get cleaned up to watch the Celtics game at a local sports bar. While we had a blast, this should have happened at least two hours sooner, as we were toasted! We went up to the room, and upon exiting the shower I realized just how burnt I was, seeing my beat red chest! Oh well, I will just put lotion on it and it will be fine, no worries, right?

We finish getting ready and meet my buddy Ryan and some of his friends at a place called Blondie's for dinner and the Celtics game. Place was cool, with at least 8 games of beer pong going on at all times. A couple of buckets of beer and an ass-whooping later (Celtics lost the game really bad!) we were lighter in the wallet and on our way to the MGM Grand to check out the Jason Mraz / Dave Matthews Band show. If you haven't been in the MGM before, it is very nice. It is also ginormous! We kept following signs leading us to the back of the place. It felt like we walked miles in this place, and it just kept going. Finally reaching the back of the building, which also happened to be the MGM Grand Garden Arena, we had out tickets scanned, grabbed a couple of beers and made our way to our seats. Now, keep in mind we bought these tickets off somebody who lives in Vegas, and we paid less than face value, so we had no idea where our seats would be. Well, we were in the very last row off to the right side of the stage. Not the worst seats in the house, but far from the best! Well, we saw most of the Jason Mraz show, and he was good, really enjoyed his interactions with the crowd, plus we got to see I'm Yours, which Nichole and I walked out of our wedding to, so that was nice. DMB was up next, and they did not disappoint! As soon as the show started a sea of mary jane smoke started pluming up all around us, to the point where Nichole and I were getting pretty high! Remember, smoke rises, and we were in the last row, so we were basically sitting in it. People all around us were hitting away, and we were drifting off further into a happy place, until suddenly Nichole started to lose her balance and turned to me and dry heaved on my shoulder! Now, I love this girl more than anything in the world, but I quickly straightened her head out so she didn't puke on me! I talked her into going out to the concourse to get some water and some fresh air, and she started feeling better almost instantly, thank god! We ventured back in to our seats next to Dino (dude from CT who was at his 126th show, can you believe that! I was at my 8th and I thought that was cool!), and danced the rest of the show away. Great setlist and we had a blast.

After the show we sauntered back to the Monte Carlo for a couple of beverages and quickly went to our room to crash, it was a great day, but again exhausting. Had to get rested up for our last full day in town, who knows what it had in store for us!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Las Vegas revisited: Day 2 - Headin' to a weddin'

Thursday brought us another beautiful day, 97 degrees, which I am told isn't bad because it is a dry heat. I say screw that, it is hotter than hell regardless! We get up fairly early, shower up and get ourselves looking rather nice, as it is my sister's wedding day! We meet the crew at New York, New York at 10:45 and head on out to The Grove, which is right outside of town. We rented a shuttle to take us since they told us a limo was unable to take 8 of us, and it was a nice, scenic ride. The Grove was a cute little setup, with water, flowers and birds singing all around. A perfect spot for a Vegas wedding, unless you are in to the whole Elvis thing. Ceremony took about 15 minutes from start to finish and we were on our way back to, fittingly, an Irish pub called Nine Fine Irishman back at New York, New York. We toasted the new couple (several times over) and decided to ride the roller coaster that surrounds the hotel. Having not been on a roller coaster of any kind since Disney back in high school, it was a decent ride, but finished quickly (that's what she said!). Following the ride we made our way to the Hard Rock Hotel for a bite to eat, as well as sobering up a bit, we still had dinner plans at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant for the reception at 9!

After lunch Matt, Crystal, Nichole and I catch a ride back to Paris, on the strip, and do a little shoe shopping for dinner, then grab a drink at the Hawaiian Tropics bar. This would never work in Maine, as the waitresses were only wearing a bikini, and I'm pretty sure in ordered to be employed there you need to be a size 00 with large boobies. Anyways, we enjoy our drink and head back out to the strip and walk back in the direction of our hotel to take a quick rest and get ready for dinner. As I mentioned before, dinner was at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris, located about halfway up the replicated version of the famous Parisian landmark. Our table had a great view of the water show at the Bellagio, an incredible wine selection, and some great food choices. We all looked great, all dressed up, and had a wonderful meal, laughing and telling stories. After dinner we all ripped shots of Tequila down in the casino (Marcole brought a bottle to dinner, you know how we do it) and went our separate ways for the evening, just checking out the sites and sounds the strip had to offer on Thursday night. Another exhausting day, further proven by Nichole falling asleep with me rubbing her tired feet back at the hotel. Gotta rest up for another day tomorrow!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Las Vegas revisited: Day 1 - Vegas, the scenic drive

Flew first class to Las Vegas, and let me tell you something, it is worth every penny. Not only do you get served drinks for free, but you have more leg room than you would ever need. Honestly though, it is nice having your first beverage in your hand before everyone else even starts boarding the plane. Anyways, Nichole and I do our part to help them clean out their canned beer rations and arrive in Vegas around 3:00 local time. We take a cab to the Monte Carlo, check in, run up to our room, get settled in and head over to the ESPNZone at New York, New York to meet up with some friends and watch a little of the Celtics game before playing some night golf at nice little par 3 course just outside of town. We stick around long enough to see the Celtics pull out a win in game 3 and hail a cab to the golf course. Well, let me tell you something about our cab rides, we got completely f'ed in the a! The course was 13 miles from our hotel, and I expected it to get a bit pricey. Well, we roll into the place and the meter reads $39.90. Cabbie was nice, he did take a couple of wrong turns, and knocked the fare down to $35, not too bad, I guess. We did get a good deal playing golf thank god. We each played 9 holes, rented clubs and got a cart and it was only $70, which is an amazing deal. The course was cool, modeled after famous holes from around the world, but all shorter than 130 yards each. We get to hole one and find rabbits all over the place! The course must have had more than 100 of them running around, it was crazy! Never seen anything quite like it before, Nichole LOVED it.

After golf we had planned on calling our first taxi driver for a return trip to the strip, but he turned his phone off, thanks buddy! We called around and finally got ourselves an older Japanese dude that had just moved to Vegas 15 days ago and didn't know how to get anywhere yet. GOOD! He took us the longest possible way ever back to Monte Carlo, laughing and saying "I so sorry" over and over again. $49.50 was the damage this time, and Nichole was having no part of this! She explained how much we paid on the way out, and he wouldn't listen, wanted to call somebody and ask how much it should be. After getting no help from his little "phone a friend" attempt, he asks for $40, we toss him $45 and climb out swearing and angry. We spent $100 in car fare our first day in Vegas when you factor in the trip from the airport to the hotel, and we were kicking ourselves for not renting a car, would have been cheaper! Day one is in the books, we are upset at cabbie number 2, but are on vacation and had a fun day, so we went to bed happy and exhausted.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

First class I am not, except for today!

Well, in Detroit Rock City finishing up another beer. Flew first class from Boston to Detroit, and will do so from here to Vegas as well. Turns out you drink for free in this massive leg room, pillow and blanket filled heaven. Knowing this, rest assured Marcole will drink our weight in Lienenkugels and Hieneken from here out! Grabbing a quick bite at Diego's in the airport before catching our connecting flight to Sin City. The nachos were good, and were necessary to soak up some booze. Thinking a nap may be in order shortly...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I would like to cover a few things...

I was speaking with good friend, and 30th birthday party musician Adam yesterday, and we were discussing the musical selections for the upcoming party. We had thought that having he and his band play about 10 of their own tunes, along with the same number of cover songs would be a good plan. Obviously they are responsible for coming up with their songs, but he wanted me to come up with 10-12 cover songs for them to play. This is no easy task, as you have to decide between a number of factors. Do you simply want your favorite songs played, which may not be party favorites? Do you go with a mix of your faves and party tunes? Well, I can't decide, and I need help from you. I'll toss some ideas out there, and I want input from you to help me fill out the playlist. Here we go...

Journey - Don't Stop Believin'

Bon Jovi - Livin' on a Prayer

Jane's Addiction - Jane Says

Sublime - What I Got

There are many others I would like to hear, including some rendition of Bust A Move or Baby Got Back or something fun like that. I think people would enjoy some sort of 80's or 90's rap cover songs. Anyways, give me your input and let's see what kind of list we can put together for the band!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Getting down to crunch time...

Our big Vegas trip is quickly approaching, as we leave bright and early Wednesday morning from Boston. Now, many have asked us why we decided to fly out of Boston, why not Portland. Well, this is an easy answer. First Class flight from Boston to Las Vegas, round trip, $420 per person. If you can beat that, please let me know. Anyways, we are due to arrive in Vegas around 4 PM local time. Next question is, where do we begin? We have discussed playing golf, checking at the Grand Canyon, of course a little gambling, lounging poolside, checking out the sights and sounds, and fitting in some time to hang with the family. Weather is supposed to be at 95 and above the entire time we are there, so it couldn't be better! I will be sure to update everyone with stories and pictures soon! I may even blog via the phone during the trip, stay tuned...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Are we witnessing history, and better yet, will we all survive it?!

Another epic battle took place last night between the Celtics and Bulls in Chicago. The two teams battled back and forth for 48 minutes, only to find out that wasn't enough time. Three overtimes later, Chicago ended up squeaking out a 1 point victory. Ray Allen scored a game high 51 points, including 9 three pointers, while Rondo nearly had another triple double in the loss. It all comes down to game 7 in Boston. Nichole and I tried hard to get tickets all morning, both through some connections we have, as well as via ticketmaster (they dropped some new tix for Game 7 online today) and craigslist, but found nothing that was reasonably priced, and by reasonably, I mean less than around $150 per ticket, in the nose bleeds section. We were able to find a suite that could hold up to 18 people for $3000, but we would be hard pressed to find that many people willing to drop that kind of cash at the last minute. Needless to say, sounds like we are watching it from home. What an amazing series it has been though!

Gonna be a wild and crazy weekend, with the Bruins playing tonight and Sunday, the Celtics playing tomorrow night, and the Red Sox and Rays playing all weekend. I hope to get a little sleep leading up to our trip to Vegas next Wednesday!