Thursday, April 28, 2005

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right...

The odds are, if you are male, and you are reading this post...that you know what the title is, already. In fact, you probably not only know what the title means, but you've probably already began singing the phrase in your head, over and over again since you first read the words "up, up, down, down".

Ah, yes. It's time for a flashback, into the long ago relm of 8-bit video gaming systems. I am, of course, talking about the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Boys and girls from all over can relate some type of story or memory to Nintendo. They were simplier times back then, it seems like. After all, when the height of your weekend is weighed by the fact that you reached level 8-2 in Super Mario Brothers, and you still kept your fireballs...that's a simpler time.

For those of you who are a member of the "Old-School Gamers Club", you need no explanation to the title of this blog post. I will, however, explain it to those less fortunate souls, who have no idea what it is I'm talking about.

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start

It's a code. It is THE code, actually. The holy grail of old school gaming codes. It is the cheat code that every single NES player knew by heart, and still do know, to this day. Start saying that code around any male 25+ years old, and they will finish it for you, without pausing to think, or to remember. It has been burned into their brains, like some sort of cosmic ray of knowlege, shot from the cannon of Mario himself.

The code was used in the old NES game CONTRA, and if you did the code at the start up screen of the game, you would start the game with not the normal 3 lives, but 30. Every kid used this code to beat the game, because it was almost impossible, without it.

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start

It's like poetry, isn't it? It just flows off your tongue, like wine. For the girls who read this page, and who are curious to see how cool this is, try this: Find any guy you know who's at least 26 years old. While having a conversation with them, just start the code like this: "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right..." and then stop. See what happens.

Good times.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Can Apples Make You Sick?

As I sat at my computer today, doing my job like a good little worker bee, I began to feel quite nauseous. It came on me quickly, like a dark storm cloud over a small, helpless boat in the ocean. The waves of stomach discomfort washed over me, pounding my core and tapping the well of regurgitation within. I struggled to avoid the disaster, and steered myself away from my desk for a bit, and took slow, deep breaths while attempting to reach a state of anti-puke enlightenment through meditation and prayer. Slowly, with my eyes closed and my hands about my face, I began to feel the storm lifting. My urge to pray to the porcelain god receded, and I slowly found myself drifting back into the world of consciousness and health.

After this tsunami of nausea ended, and I began to feel like myself again, I began the inevitable quest of knowledge and discovery for which I am known, and tried to contemplate a possible reason for my sudden stomach storm. My first thoughts turned towards the most obvious culprit: my breakfast. I analyzed the contents of my first meal of the day, and found only nothing that would explain my current condition. I woke up and had a glass of orange juice, and a cereal bar. Then I came to work, and had a glass of water, and then a bit later, an apple.

Hmmm. Not exactly the unhealthiest breakfast ever created, now is it? So, if the breakfast as a whole was not the cause of my sickness, then perhaps it was one individual food item that was the source of my discomfort. I took aside each food item, in separate rooms, and questioned them individually about the incident. The orange juice was very suspect at first, with his dodgy gaze and his nervous ticks. Upon further interrogation, however, it was determined that the acid content of the orange juice was too high to invoke such a sudden and drastic change in stomach balance and order. Upset stomach would point towards orange juice in a lineup…but not nausea. The search must continue.

Next, I questioned the water but quickly dismissed her. Only water in vast quantities could cause a person to become physically sick, and one coffee cup full of water would not qualify as such a vast quantity.

I then chose to address the cereal bar, but with a heavy heart. I knew that this poor kid was innocent; he was too gentle and kind to be of any harm. But, protocol is protocol…and so I forced myself, through gritted teeth and closed eyes, to ask him about the possibility of his involvement in the Sudden Nausea Experience, or SNE. The possibility was there, of course. Traditional breakfast cereal bars do have all sorts of things in them that can cause stomach discomfort: sugars, carbohydrates, preservatives, dyes…but what bothered me was the fact that I had eaten this very cereal bar every other morning of this week, and never had I experienced a negative outcome. Not once. Why would it affect me today, but never before? I suppose there is a first time for everything…but that just seems too unlikely, to me.

That left the apple. That innocent, red-coated harlot of health nuts everywhere just stared at me. She licked her wax-covered body with obvious discontent as I began to talk to her about the SNE, and she laughed out loud. How could she, the perfect snack, have caused the incident? Apples don’t make people sick! People have loved her for ages, especially doctors. They hurl her maxim through the air like Frisbees, every chance they get. An apple a day, keeps the doctor away. As far as suspects go, she seemed to be the most innocent.

It was then, as my hopes to finding a cause to my stomach dilemma dwindled, that I began to think back to the incident, and analyze it more deeply. I had eaten the cereal bar when I first came into the office…and then a bit later, I had gone to get some water, and wash off my new Fuji apple in the sink. I had drank the water, and then I had slowly eaten my apple, and I chatted on the phone, and checked my email. Later on, when the nausea hit, there was only one thing that popped into my head as I teetered on the precipice of vomit-land; one thing that made the sensations in my stomach worsen with each breath…the apple.

It seemed crazy to me, at first. How could an apple make me feel nauseous? How could a healthy, fruit wonderful snack cause such horrible discomfort and sadness? I began to ask myself…can apples make you sick?

Perhaps it was the combination of the water and the apple, that caused my tummy to become too full, and caused some slight nausea. Maybe the apple was bad, or I ate it too slow? Perhaps the orange juice didn’t like the apple invading his territory?

Whatever the reason, I have decided to look into The Apple Question with more vigor, and hopefully discover some answers that will quell my thirst for knowledge about the SNE, and the possible apple connection.

If any of you have ever felt sick after eating an apple, please post a comment about it. I am here for you. Only together, can we find a cure...if there is one.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Here Comes the Pope

So, it has been decided. The Catholic church now has a new spiritual leader, elected through Conclave in a burst of white smokey delight. Pope Benedict XVI addressed the crowd below him from his new Pope balcony in St. Peter's Square, as they cheered and waved and gave thanks to God for a successful election....or whatever the official term for it is, in Vatican City.

The new pope's real name is Joseph Ratzinger from Germany, and he has recently celebrated his 79th birthday. Apparantly for the Catholic church, popes get better with age, as does the vino.

The conclave process only took 2 days, which tells me that most of the cardinals who were voting already had a pretty good idea who would be the next pontiff, so I guess that means Benedict XVI was a good choice? I really have no idea, as I am not Catholic. The knowledge that I have for Catholisim is based largely from movies and my Catholic girlfriend. Other than that, I'm in the dark. Unless of course, you count the the fact that I've read The DaVinci Code before? Does that count? I think that should count.

Well, congratulations to the new Pope! I have to admit, it was exciting to witness the historical aspect of the election process...I wonder if my kids will study this in school, or something? THen they can run over to me as I read the paper and say, "Daddy! Daddy! Tell us about how Benedict XVI was elected!".

Ahhh...good times.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Play in my wedding, or I'll break your legs

A while back, while I was in a particularly giving mood, I informed my girlfriend Jenni that I would play a duet with her in her friend's wedding. She had been asked by her engaged friend to play during her special day, and over the next few weeks, she began to drop very subtle hints about that fact that I should do the same. Eventually, I gave in and agreed to play with her at the wedding, because I thought it might actually be fun.

That decision has since come back to haunt me in a very real way.

The wedding is this Friday, and I don't think that Jenni and I are ready for our first offical duet performance. Not to mention the fact that I haven't played my violin in over 7 years, and I think I sound like a monkey trying to shove a banana up his butt. We've been practicing, and I have enjoyed doing that, I must admit. It makes me upset that I didn't keep up with my instrument all these years; it's a nice hobby to have.

Wait, wait I don't want to get side-tracked here. Look, this girl getting married has turned this friendly duet into a battle of wills. It's starting to draw on my nerves, and so far it has taken all of the fun out of this for me.

First of all, the girl requested 7 different songs for us to play. 7 songs! Jenni has played at weddings before, and the most she has ever played was 3. Requesting 7 songs isn't a "hey, wouldn't it be cool if you played a song at my wedding?" kind of thing. That's more like a "I'm too cheap to hire a professional, so I'm just going to use you two, for free" kind of thing. Jenni was able to talk her friend down from her lunacy, and they agreed on 4 songs. 2 of them are really easy wedding marches, so I'm ok with that. Except for the fact that one of the songs is "here comes the bride" or whatever it's actually called...and that made me nervous. So I asked Jenni. "Jen, are we like...playing this while she walks down the isle to get married?" and Jen looked at me for a moment and responded "Well...yeah."


That's like the most important friggin part of the entire wedding ceremony! We have to play "Here comes the bride" as her friend walks down the isle! DAMMIT! Why did I get myself into this nonsense?!

Oh, it gets better. The wedding is this Friday, as I have mentioned. What I did not mention is that it starts at 3:00 in the afternoon. Who the hell has their wedding on a weekday at 3:00? That means everybody is going to have to get off work early to go to it! That means that I will have to leave work early to make it on time! That pisses me off, mainly because I am a temp right now, and and temps DO NOT GET PAID TIME OFF. So, not only is Jenni's friend getting us to play at her wedding for free...I'm actually LOSING money out of the deal.


I have decided that, while I enjoy playing the violin again, and will most likely continue to do so after this entire wedding fiasco is completed...I will NEVER play in a friend's wedding again, unless it is a close friend, and I only play a few a favor. Aw, crap. I'll probably be writing a blog entry just like this one, next summer. I'm just too nice for my own good.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Mr. Murphy in Europe

Today is Friday, and while that instills in me a certain undescribeable joy, it also makes me very lazy while I am at the office, attempting to work. This laziness stretches to many other parts of my day, including my blog update. So, today I've decided to do something different. I've decided that I will simply post the email that I mailed out, while backpacking Europe. My logic is, that for those of you who read this blog but were not on my email list while I was can now see what it was like to recieve my weekly email updates to friends and family, back in the USA.

Also, like I's much easier to copy/paste, than to write from scratch. Happy Friday! Enjoy. This email was sent, after Jen and I made it into Newbury, England for the first leg of our journey.

* * *
Hello all!
Well, Mr. Murphy has found us over here in Europe...things took a bad turn the other night. As most of you know, by now I SHOULD be in Spain, soaking up the rays and looking at beaches and speaking spanish, and having burritos with chicken in them, and drinks with little paper hats on them. But NOOOOO. Wanna hear about it? Ok, good.

Well, last Thursday, Jen and I decided that we were ready to leave Ireland, and start the adventure around Europe. So we pack everything up into our new funky cool travel backpacks, and head off to Dublin. Once we get into Dublin, we head straight for the bus depot, and up to the ticket booth. "We'd like 2 tickets to London" we said. "Sorry...that bus is full." said the guy behind the counter. Wonderful. But hey, good news! He told us that there would be an 8:00pm bus again, on Saturday. So we left Dublin, and went all the way back home to sit and wait for Friday to come. And to make matters worse, Jen wasn't feeling all that well, so Friday was a 'sit in front of the TV' type of night.

Saturday comes, and we get up at early o' sodding clock, so we can make it to the bus depot and buy our tickets before the bus gets full again. So along we trudge through the streets of Dublin, towards the bus depot...only to find out that the bus to London that night was BOOKED. Right about now, Jen started spitting profanities and twisting her head around. So I ask the ticket booth lady when the next bus to London was. "Monday night!" she cheerily told me. So, here it was Saturday, and we are stuck with nothing to do until Monday night...three full days away. Well, going back into Lucan to stay with her aunt did NOT appeal to us, besides the fact that the whole family was coming back that afternoon from their ski trip in France. So after much debating and internet searches, we decide that we will take a bus/ferry into Liverpool, England. Yeah! The crisis is averted, and the journey begins!

We did not yet realize that our troubles had only begun.

We hang out all day in Dublin, wasting time and checking the clock. We catch the bus to Liverpool at 9:00pm, and start the trip. The bus pulled onto the ferry (which is a light term...this thing was like a giant oceanliner, or something) and we were allowed to get up and wander the bar and the middle deck to check out the ocean.

The ferry ride was great fun, and the next thing we know, we're back on the bus, heading into Wales. After our fun passport checking, Nazi-style questioning, we leave Wales and head into England, towards Liverpool (the Beetles, baby!). We arrive in Liverpool at 3:30 in the @*&%£$ morning, only to be literally dropped off, with our backpacks and nothing else. Very quickly, every other passenger picked up their rides or cabs, and headed off home. The bus driver did his last checks, and then he took off, as well. Until finally, it was Jen and I standing there in Liverpool, at 3:30 in the @*&%£$ morning, with blank faces and non-functioning brains (beers were only £3.00 on the ferry). We look around, and find the telephone so we can call a few hotels or hostels and find a place to sleep for the night. We didn't have another bus ticket yet to take us further into England, so we were going to have to buy it the next day. So Jen grabs the phone and tries to make a phone call to the first hotel....but WAIT! England doesn't accept the Euro over there, which is what Dublin uses, along with the rest of Europe. All we had were Euros...we had no English money.


So Jen rummages through her bag to find her one and only Pound, which she uses to make a phone call to the first hotel. Oh, surprise...the hotel is booked. It turns out that there is some type of big football (soccer) match going on in Liverpool that weekend...and every single hotel in it would most likely be booked up. So Jen hangs up the phone, and begins to have the look of a woman on the brink of tears and collapse. So we grab our backpacks (which were now as heavy as a bag of bricks to us), and begin to AIMLESSLY WANDER around Liverpool, England hoping to find a hotel or hostel that will accomodate us. Oh, and let's not forget that we had to find an ATM, so we could get some English money and PAY for the hotel room. So we wander around, at 3:30 in the @*&%£$ morning, until we find out that EVERY single hotel in Liverpool is booked for the night.

So, Jen and I walk back to the bus depot, and SIT ON THE GROUND LIKE HOMELESS PEOPLE to wait for the bus depot to open, so we can buy a bus ticket out of there. So I turn to Jen, and say the dumbest thing I've ever said: "Well, at least it's not cold or rainy, or anything." God heard me...and laughed at me...and thus it began to POUR RAIN AND WIND AND THE COLD CAME DOWN LIKE THE ALMIGHTY SMITE OF THE LORD. So there we were, freezing, and wet, and homeless, with no money, in a new country...alone.

The bus depot opened around 6:00am, but HAHA FUNNY we couldn't buy a new ticket until 8:30am. So we had to sit in that wonderful smelling bus depot waiting to buy a ticket. It's not like there were pigeons walking around our legs, or something...oh, wait. There WERE. Jen began to get dizzy and I started to see things....not happy. I think for awhile there, Jen was pretending to be the Queen of the birds, and I was her idiot man-child servant.

So eventually, we get to buy a ticket that will take us to our ORIGINAL destination of Newbury, England. But we have to take 3 buses to get there...and the travel time was a total of 8 hours...and the ticket was £30 more than we expected to pay.

But we took it, and we waited for the bus, and we rode the 3 buses for 8 hours and FINALLY got into Newbury, England where we PROMPTLY found a hotel. We bathed and rested and slept in a real bed, and now today we are heading to our destination, a mere 10 miles away.

So far, the trip has been...just what Jen expected.

Anyway, hope all is well, and please wish me luck, because I think I'm going to need it!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Uh...I Think I'll Have a Salad?

This weekend, Jen and I rented some movies from Blockbuster in an attempt to quell the boredom that was beginning to surface as we settled in to a relaxing Friday night at home. One of the movies we rented was Super Size Me , which we rented out of sheer curiosity. Both of us had heard good things about it, and it was supposed to help people see the evils of fast food. Since we are both trying to maintain a more healthy diet as the summer time for swimsuits and shorts quickly approaches, we decided this movie could be beneficial.

We sat down on the couch and watched the movie, not sure what to expect, but sure to be somewhat entertained. Neither one of us had any intention of watching a cathartic movie with undertones of general good health and wellness, and I certainly did not think that the film would inspire me to make changes in the way I looked at food.

I was wrong.

The movie is basically a documentary about a guy who decides to eat nothing but McDonald's for a period of 30 days to see what will happen. He gets all sorts of physicals and tests and such at the start of the film, and then the next day he begins his 30 day fat triathalon. He eats Big Macs and cheese burgers and Chicken McNuggets. He eats the fries and the hot apple pies and the breakfast biscuits. He does it all, and we watch him as his journey through the world of McDonald's changes him.

Every week he goes back to the doctor to see what has transpired within his own body. Now, everybody who has enough intelligence to open a door before they walk through it knows that fast food is bad for you. However, I'm not sure that people know just HOW horrible it is for you, and that it actually effects your body in very measurable and negative ways.

For example, during the month of his new McDonald's diet, Morgan Spurlock gained around 25 pounds. 25 friggin pounds, yo. He also ended up ingesting 30 pounds of sugar during that time. If you do the math, you will see that averages out to a POUND PER DAY. Also, during the course of this little adventure, Morgan found himself feeling bad and getting headaches for no reason whatsoever. He was lethargic and run-down, and most of the time he just looked sick. He also noticed that after a while, he would feel good only after he ate his McDonald' in, he was starting to get addicted to it. Addicted to McD's, man. Damn you, Ronald McDonald!

Basically, I'm not going to go through everything I learned while watching this movie, because that would take too long, and I have better things to do. I will say this, however: After watching what fast food did to this man's body, and his cholesterol, and his general health...I can honestly say that I will never eat fast food on a regular basis, ever again. To be honest, I don't think I'll ever eat the stuff period.

After the movie was over, Jen and I went into the kitchen; and during a moment of psychotic anti-fatty food rage, we proceeded to fill up an entire garbage bag with food that we felt was very much bad for us...and thus worthless. We went to the store the next day about bought healthy food and fruits and stocked our fridge with all sorts of good things. Now, to be honest we never ate that badly before...Certainly not enough to put us into the unhealthy side of the wellness spectrum. But now we eat better than we did before, and that's important.

So, anyway...I guess I just wanted to let y'all know that there is a movie out there that will scare you out of eating McDonald's ever again...and so if you think you eat fast food too much, or if you think you want to become a more healthy eater...I advise you to go out and rent Super Size Me and see if it does for you, what it did for me.

Please note: I am not a moron. I understand perfectly that while it's obvious that fast food is bad, it's not like any of us eat it as often as this guy did, for the movie. I know that most of the weight gain and health problems that arose from eating nothing but fast food were greatly magnified for the purpose of proving a point about obesity and fast food corporations for the film. I understand that most people do not eat fast food as often and Morgan did in the film, and that any health or wellness issues that arise from eating fast food must also be coupled with other factors, such as lack of exercise and genetics.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Worst. Horror Flick. Ever.

I like scary movies. I do not like blood and guts movies, with slashers and knives and idiots who wear hockey masks. Those movies are for children, and I have put away childish movie things. I like movies that scare me, which usually means some sort of psychological mind-fuck or disturbing plot twist. Just a few of my favorite scary movies, in no particular order:

Now, I wouldn't call myself a great horror movie buff, or anything. However, I do believe that my taste is somewhat acceptable when it comes to a movie that can rattle you, or at the very least make you want to turn the lights on before you head off to bed.

Having said that, I feel it is my duty as a fan of scary movies to try and dissuade anybody from seeing what I consider to be one the of the worst scary movies I have ever seen, not counting the horrible Bones incident a few years back with Snoop Dogg.

The name of the horrible movie in question? Exorcist: The Beginning

Last night, Jen and I watched this movie. After 15 minutes, I knew I was in for a long night. I won't bore you with in-depth plot details or actors, or anything else. I'm not a critic. What I will tell you, is that nothing about this movie was scary, whatsoever. The acting and plot were cheesy, and the only thing that they had going for them was good use of LOUD MUSIC at appropriately climatic times. Now, that doesn't necessarily make a movie scary, just because they raise the level of sound during tense moments...that's just good marketing, if anything.

The story jumped around a lot, and they would fill voids in the script with flashbacks that (in my opinion) had nothing to do with the story, and did not help to explain the depth of the main character any better. The LOUD MUSIC was hokey and 1970's porno. Whenever they felt the scene wasn't scary enough, they would just add maggots and flesh boils and blood. Great combo, guys! Because we all know, THAT is the winning formula for any scary movie.


The movie ended as abruptly as it began, and questions remained unanswered...which always bugs the crap out of me. All in all, I had more fun last month at the dentist, than I did last night watching this stink of a horror flick.

So, be warned. If you are going to see this movie, despite my review...good luck to you. I have done all that I can, to help others avoid the path I chose.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


This is my first day back in the office this week. I've been sick since Saturday because Jen gave me her chest cold.

I just wanted to tell you that.