-Football: Cue the inspirational music…

Posted in Believe it or not on July 21, 2009 by evanjm02

They called me Rudy -or Lucas, depending on whether you talked to varsity or junior varsity. I guess there was a slight generational gap. I knew both cinematic characters but preferred to be called, by my J.V. teammates “Stoyo” -the nickname of the at-the-time Miami Dolphins kicker, Pete Stoyanovich.

Rudy

Rudy

          I love football and always have. I suppose when you’re taken to Miami Hurricanes Games during the 1980s, when they won 3 championships, your view of football becomes favorable and slightly skewed. And my pro team, the Miami Dolphins, had arguably the best coach and quarterback in football. I was in my single digits, and my teams won ALL THE TIME. When you’re at an impressionable age why wouldln’t you think the good times will never end?

              In the meantime, we were years away from a pro baseball, basketball, and a hockey team. Who knew South Florida would land a hockey team? What’s a hockey team?

For the older players, Lucas

For the older players, Lucas

             I knew my strengths and physical limitations: I had no strength, and that was my physical limitation. Perhaps a position where I’d regularly have to tackle or be tackled wasn’t for me.

              But there was one position where physical contact was minimal. Heck, if you got hit most of the time, the barbarian who did it would be slapped with a penalty.

This position: punter/kicker.

              Sure, these were positions dominated by South American and European soccer players. But, since my feet grew at exponential levels (I was a size 8 in 8th grade), I figured this gave me some kind of advantage.

              My parents, however, had no interest in letting their flat-footed son play soccer or football.

              My scheme: I’d wait till high school, try out for the football team, and THEN my dad would HAVE to let me play.

              In the summer before 9th grade I went to the J.V. coach and asked, “Coach, is it too late to try out?” To which he answered, “Do YOU think it’s too late?”

              Not sucumbing to his mind trickery, I hopped on board, got my pads and found out soon enough that you don’t try out for the team like in the movies. You join the team, keep your grades at a C average or above, and try out to play in each game every week.

Still, I went home and said, “Dad, I made the team.”

“How far can you kick?”

I calculated about 10 yards below what good kickers did in the NFL and gave him that.

              He went along.

              I played as second string punter behind one guy and third string kicker behind him and another guy. They were both South American born soccer players and, unable or unwilling to pronounce my last name, referred to me as “Monkey Spanker.” They’d kick field goals and I’d run after them and punt them back. Sure it was hot, it was August, and it was Miami, but I had to at least try.

             One day, as we (or the rest of the team) was beating up badly on district neighbor Sunset High, our coach asked for the “short, white kicker” to go in and kick an extra point. My dad had come to the game but at that point had left. Another player gave me his gold chain to wear so he wouldn’t get it mangled since I never got playing time. And, I wasn’t the least bit ready for this.

              I responded, “Um, I can’t do it coach, I haven’t been practicing P.A.T.s (point after kicks), just punts.”

              As he, the other coaches and half the team laughed, and, for some reason I still don’t know, the J.V. cheerleaders cheered me on, I went up. The holder was on the wrong side, switched and missed the snap. I was frantically trying to figure out how to handle this unexpected turn of events and finally realized I should pick up the ball or jump on it. An opposing player beat me to jumping on it and I jumped landing on him.

          

Pic on the lower left, me on the upper right of it

Pic on the lower left, me on the upper right of it

   

              The cheerleaders cheered as I walked off the field and the guy whose necklace I had on told me how much he’d beat me up if I had broken it.

              The only other memorable experience that season was when we played North Miami and my usually distant and uncaring grandfather came to watch and sat down and tried to do pre-game stretches with us. Upon hearing that I wasn’t a starter he offered to “punch the coach in the nose.” The coach, also the school weightlifting instructor would have beaten him senseless. I should have told him to try give it a shot.

             

Big, bad "Papa" Morgenstern

Big, bad "Papa" Morgenstern

 

              After that, my loving mom would jump the fence with me during the off season at school and hold the ball while I practiced extra points. I even looked up kicking instructors and found one on a message board on Prodigy. We also got a kicking net.

              The next season I went out prepared. This time I’d be in the two months of two-a-day practices. That’s 4 hours a day of 200 kicks and 300 punts with no shadow under humid Miami Summer heat in July and August. The coach even got a soccer player from the girl’s team to offer kicking competition for me. Being the tough guy I am, I instead told her she could kick and I’d just punt. I heard the murmurs from other players: “The kicker (referring to me) can’t even kick like a foot or something. We’re going to be a laughing stock with a girl kicker.” I didn’t change my mind. I was punting. And, at least I had someone to talk to out in the field.

              Near the end of two-a-days, when I’d finally get some real playing time, seemingly, I hurt the soft tissue at the top of my plant leg (the one you lean on while the other kicks.) I tried to fight through it, but the heat and injury made me quit. I told the coach I had hurt my achille’s tendon because I thought soft tissue damage was too lame. He laughed and said alright.

              I don’t like to regret, but sometimes I think I should have stuck it out. Maybe I could have gone on to play punter in college, get a championship ring, and earn the NFL league minimum at the time, $200,000 a year to punt or even back up punt and travel for free. (Out of practice I still emailed the NY Giants when I moved up here but try outs are not open to the public. The Jets I don’t care for.)

              Having dropped out of the drama club (the teacher was a dick) and having dropped out of J.V., I moved on to be an editor on my school paper.

              The real Stoyo went on to miss a kick that cost the Dolphins a playoff game, and the kids who’d given me that nickname banned me from talking in my math class.  Stoyo then went on to get a D.U.I. and was eventually cut from the Dolphins.

Former Miami Dolphins kicker Pete Stoyanovich

Former Miami Dolphins kicker Pete Stoyanovich

              I never punted after high school.

              I never kicked.

              I never played again.

              Still, the picture of me in oversized shoulder pads and my team uniform remains prominently displayed on my parents’ bar in the living room back home.

"Glory days..."

"Glory days..."

-Purell commercials I’d do for a lifetime supply

Posted in things that scare me, why I am weird with tags , , , , on May 15, 2009 by evanjm02

These are all things I’ve done or continue to do:

Me at work
Me at work

“When I’m on the sidewalk and hear someone 20 feet back sneeze it feels more like they are a foot behind me and sneezing right at the back of my head. In times like that, I use Purell wipes on the back of my head.”

 “During the Summer it’s a little too hot to wear gloves on the subway. That’s why I carry Purell.”

 

“At a public bathroom, I’m not going to wash my hands. Hey, I don’t know if that hand soap is anti-bacterial or anti-microbial. But, I do know what is: Purell. …Don’t get me started on door knobs.”

 

“Odds are someone won’t break into my apartment while I’m sleeping and stick my finger into a baby’s mouth rendering that baby sick and possibly killing it. But, unpreparedness could make for a dead baby. That’s why I keep Purell on my night stand. I can’t stop break-ins but I can help prevent baby-finger-death.”

 

“Masturbation leads to microscopic drops of semen on my hands that can get on the DVD remote when I turn off the DVD. That can lead to a woman touching the remote, then going to the bathroom and accidentally impregnating herself while she goes to clean up down there. That’s why I wipe down my remote with Purell. Purell: when you can’t afford Planned Parenthood.”

-You’re supposed to do WHAT in college?

Posted in Uncategorized on April 28, 2009 by evanjm02

As someone pushing 30, I still continue to be amused by the little things in life. I’m glad to have found someone who can do the same. A weekend night at home, watching DVD reruns of “The Wire” or “How I Met Your Mother” with a bottle+ of wine is all my wife and I really need.

Bunk and McNulty

Bunk and McNulty

Still, though, it’s been years since I’ve lived on my own, without much of a social life, entertaining myself with whatever I had. I was never used to having someone be such a huge part of my life, so it didn’t bother me. I could sit in my college apartment and watch TV and dream of becoming a star one day, lay in bed and throw a tennis ball at the wall (easier on TV; in real life it bounces all over the place and you have to GET UP to get it,) and just listen to music and finish an Entenmann’s banana cake over the weekend.

Barney and Ted

Barney and Ted

Precedent was set when I was a little kid sitting in my room, listening to my record of the Rocky IV soundtrack, pitting a disproportional plastic King Kong vs. Godzilla, trying to fill the void till the movie itself came out on video. (King Kong was Rocky because he’s a mammal and I’m a mammal and mammals are the best species of animal in the word ever!)

Evil commie, Ivan Drago

Evil commie, Ivan Drago

Sure, I had more of a social life with the neighborhood kids, but when we moved when I was 8 the kids in my new neighborhood and I didn’t have as much in common. For instance, I did not enjoy shooting bb guns at frogs and then pouring bleach on them. I did not like sticking firecrackers down the throats of lizards, or taking WD40 and a grill lighter to ant piles. Nor did I enjoy playing with the kid who’d take us to his house and show us his parent’s gun collection. (You’d think drug dealers would be more discreet.) I had my select group of nerd friends at school and, until I could drive and got my sister’s old car, I didn’t get out too often.

 

My TV viewing varied from whatever Comedy Central was showing to crappy movies late on the movie channels, including such gems as “Warlock: The Armageddon,” “Dee Snyder’s Strange Land,” and anything by Clive Barker. I could MST:3K these films in my head and amuse the shit out of myself.

Warlock: The Armageddon (this guy look like he should be a Die Hard Villain?)

Warlock: The Armageddon (this guy look like he should be a Die Hard Villain?)

When I finally did start driving (and became the only friend with a car), I’d pick up the few and we’d hang out at bookstores, watch Simpsons reruns, and occasionally go see a movie. I recall a particular evening when 4 of us were walking around the shopping center where the re-release of Star Wars: Episode IV was playing, and the bizarro 4-some that walked past us gave a quick look and muttered, “Nerd patrol.”

Once I finally met some people I roomed with in college, it was no longer necessary to MST:3K in my head. One of my friends was even big and kinda cool and there were no more taunts of “nerd patrol” or at least not to our faces. And, eventually, I moved up to NY and met my wife. One of my biggest fears growing up was that I’d meet the right woman and she’d ask, “hey, don’t you ever go out with people?” And, I’d have to give her Pee Wee Herman’s “I’m a rebel, Dotty, A loner…” speech from “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.” But, I found someone who doesn’t care. Although, we never do watch crappy horror films.

People say that children take away your social life. No more partying. No more going out. But, as long as our hypothetical kids are willing to commit their toys to being Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago, I think I’ll be just fine.

 

 

-Reefer Dadness

Posted in why I am weird with tags , , , on March 20, 2009 by evanjm02

I am not a big pot smoker. For a variety of reasons, I have never been that into it. I will smoke occasionally with friends who offer me a toke. I don’t condemn it, although my recent discovery of construction workers at a site near my work passing around a joint left me concerned. There are certain things you probably shouldn’t be doing on the job.

 

Also, I am bad at inhaling. I can never get the pipe thing down, and my swollen, allergy-ridden air passages only feel worse when I smoke anything. The same goes for snorting. I am just not meant to be a habitual drug user, unless you count Paxil, Allegra, and alcohol.

 

I think what has “scared me straight,” however, is my father’s frequent use of pot. He is 58 years old and has probably smoked for 40+ years.  He has no short term memory and very little long term memory. He is also obese and diabetic. Surely, this can also be attributed to his 9-prescription-pill daily regiment, his lack of willpower, and the fact that he buys things he is into eating or drinking in bulk. When Snapple stopped selling Cherry-Lime Ricky in South Florida, he went to the manager of a local grocery store and got him to special order 300 bottles at a time. But part of me thinks the munchies and THC have played a large part in his physical and mental deterioration.

 

 

Once? Ha!

Once? Ha!

 

 

 

I was not very social in middle and high school. I’m sure I unknowingly smelled weed many times. In fact, I never even put it together when I smelled stuff in the hallway at school that smelled like what I could only deduce was my father’s “incense” at home. My father is a briefcase carrying, Infiniti driving, white collar guy who used to smack me over the head for biting my nails, less the outside world see what uncongenial children he was raising. So, to me, growing up and seeing the types of characters portrayed on TV as pot heads made me think pot is for hippies, slackers, and high school dropouts. If my father did anything, it would be only the finest straight-off-the-boat cocaine that Miami had to offer.

What would Crockett and Tubbs have done to my dad???

What would Crockett and Tubbs have done to my dad???

 

 

 

 

One night, during what was already a very surreal tenth grade year, I found out. My sister was home, my father had recently had what could be described as a mid-life crisis, and I was at the point in my teens where I was getting horrible upper respiratory infections on a semi-monthly basis. After watching TV, my sister asked my mom, “Is Dad out smoking?” My mom concurred. Now, I knew he smoked cigarettes occasionally and, denying myself the inevitable conclusion to be met with on my own, I asked my sister, “um, cigarettes?”

 

“Nope.”

 

From then on I saw my dad in a different light. Not that he was some crazy character out of “Reefer Madness,” but a more human-like person than the authoritative cloud sitting man I previously perceived him as. He has a type-A personality and maybe my mom’s support of this (she’d buy him traditional tobacco pipes at drug stores) was her way of keeping him mellower than he could have been. And, the past 16 years started making a lot more sense. A LOT more sense.

Was he stoned? Hard to tell...

Was he stoned? Hard to tell...

 

 

 

 

Yes, he would come out of his room at 1 a.m. in his underwear and, as if guided by a mechanical force, eat stroganoff leftovers out of Tupperwear with his hands. Yes, he would ask me about my night the next morning after asking me about my night that night. No, the smoke in the hallways at high school WASN’T incense. No, my dad wasn’t eating all my snacks just as some sort of “I’m the dad” power play.

 

In addition to this new view of my father, I made a few adjustments. For one, I would keep a secret styrofoam cooler in my bedroom closet with sealed bags of chips and snacks. I would keep stories of my evenings to a minimum at night and elaborate more the next morning to save myself too much repetition. But also, as per my sister’s advice, it was time to have a little fun. One of the things my sister (and she and I were still in that “I don’t know if you know, but we don’t talk about it” place with my dad) would come home late at night and ask/say: “Hi, Dad!(?)”

 

When my family took me up for my freshman year at college, my dad took us and my roommate out to dinner. When my dad and my roommate started comparing the prices of weed, the cat was officially out of the bag. The week of my wedding, after the rehearsal dinner, my parents, sister, brother-in-law, his brother, his brother’s boyfriend, and my to-be sister-in-law were all packed into my parent’s hotel room to hang out. In awkward silence, with no radio or TV to disrupt it, my dad took out some weed and a pipe and passed it to my brother-in-law’s brother’s boyfriend and my sister-in-law, who politely took puffs in what might be one of the most painfully sigh-worthy moments of all of our lives.

Well, if I did learn it from my dad I'd probably do it better.

Well, if I did learn it from my dad I'd probably do it better.

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-Elr5K2Vuo

My dad has recently asked me outright if I smoke. I told him I’m just not that into it. What I wanted to say was, “But it’s OK that YOU do, Dad. It’s kept your type-A personality more manageable, and we all appreciate that.”

-Our success with the first show with The Tank!

Posted in SNC with tags , , , , , on March 4, 2009 by evanjm02

The SNC show last Friday was a great success! Thanks to the comics and audience who came out to it. Sorry to David Cope for accidentally hitting him in the nose. And, a special thanks to Mark Normand for overcoming a taxi accident to still make it. And, to the out-of-towner who kept falling asleep in the front row, thanks for being a good sport. Getting off a plane from across the pond, seeing a comedy show, and being called out on it within hours can’t be easy.

I can’t make the next show (next Wednesday, 7:30, at The 45th Street Theater for those who can) but Jay will be hosting and I’m hoping we get another great crowd.

-Chemical warfare

Posted in Uncategorized, why I am weird on February 19, 2009 by evanjm02

In 5th grade, under the other Bush, during a different Iraq War, we were told one day to bring in care packages to send to members of our armed services who were serving out there. Now, at 11 years old, I had only 2 views of the desert: the trips to Las Vegas my family had gone on, and fictional depictions from movies and cartoons that painted a picture of a vast, middle of nowhere sea of sand, with no stores, food, or supplies anywhere to be seen. I was also under the impression that field duties for the army consisted of being far from base, wandering through wilderness, and pooping in the bushes (or cacti as the case may be.) 

So, why in the hell would people send our brave soldiers magazines (who has the time to read?), candy (and get dehydrated in the desert???), or little games that would just burden their already heavy load?

Happy soldier with "good" care package

Happy soldier with "good" care package

 

I had seen many M*A*S*H* episodes. There was no time for dispensing medicine, just emergency surgeries with witty banter and deep discussions.

Being the only kid who seemed to actually care about the comfort and basic health of our troops I packaged together the best I could loot from our house medicine cabinet.

My thoughtfully compiled care package consisted of:

-Sudafed

-Chewable Pepto Bismol

-Extra Strength Tylenol

-Band-Aids

-Q-Tips

and, most importantly…

-Immodium AD

Help is on the way!

 

 

Sorry, to whoever received this package. My only hope is that you at least got to concoct some Speed or Meth to trade/sell for something good.

-Leery of Leary

Posted in things that scare me on February 6, 2009 by evanjm02

One positive thing about OCD is that you get stuff done. (Or, in my case, I underachieve if it’s something I’m not that interested in because I’m lazy and don’t want to commit.) But apply OCD to a fear you might have and you begin to see every conceivable way this fear can come to life—and act frantically.

As long as I can remember, I have had a paralyzing fear of LSD. I don’t know why hearing the stories and urban legends has hit me more than other people. I’ve often theorized that if there are past lives, maybe I died during a bad trip. I think it’s more a combination of getting it beaten into my susceptible brain at a young age from all angles.

First, there were those fliers passed out at school (or, in my case, Hebrew school) with the warning, “people are passing around decals to kids with blue stars and red pyramids. Don’t let them take them! It’s acid!” This was assuming that drug dealers would pass out drugs for free. Not so much, but as a kid that scared the crap out of me. So much so that I stopped getting boxes of Cracker Jacks. Who knows if those removable tattoo “prizes” aren’t switched out by some disgruntled factory worker with tabs of LSD?

Snack or poison?

Snack or poison?

Throw on a very weirdly plotted episode of Beauty and The Beast that consists of Vincent having a bad trip most of the time and that’ll mess you up. I mean, really? They couldn’t just allude to it? They had to show it through his eyes? Sigh.

 

 

Why???

Why???

 

 

Finally, there’s the trauma from one of the teachers in the gifted program I was in. Twice a week I’d be bussed to a school for “gifted” classes and one of the teachers—let’s call her Mrs. P—managed to incorporate graphic stories of her friends in the ’60s having bad trips and mutilating or even killing themselves into any subject. She was sweet but why? Sure, I mean, why wouldn’t you include a story about a woman burning her face on the flame of a stove when flashing back and thinking it’s a flower when you are teaching a class called “Young Astronauts” about space and NASA? There’s no better time to throw in a story about someone flashing back and driving off a cliff than in a class called “Cuisenaire Rods” about making art with blocks.

Then, during my teenage years, when I thought I could get past it, I was horrified during an episode of SNL when Helen Hunt was hosting, and they show a clip of an after school special about the negative effects of PCP. BTW, the person who posted this mistakenly thinks it’s about crank. Psh! If only…

I get to college, and, among other uncomfortable things my roommate did, he brought in a variety of drugs to sell to people (many of which he didn’t know and would bring in off the street) including LSD. Before Purell—that I’m not sure would have done any good anyway—I washed my hands profusely every time I touched something that was dorm room property in case he had been handling his stash while using the phone or refrigerator.

Now, I’m a lot less petrified. Oh, I still have issues. I mean, I didn’t even watch all of the links I posted here. I’ve taken to being more fearful of germs, not-turned-off stoves, and unlocked front doors. But still, part of me still watches my drinks at bars. You never know when you might end up coming back from the bathroom one minute and driving off a cliff, possibly made of colorful blocks, the next.