Monday, December 21, 2009

My Christmas Wish List

Since Christmas is just a few days away, I thought I'd share with you some things that I want to receive this year. If you're scrambling to buy some last-minute gifts and need some ideas, you should definitely read this. In no particular order, here they are....

1. Neosporin: This stuff is great. I'm always cutting myself, and it really does help wounds heal faster.... something like 50% faster. I'm not sure about that, but feel free to quote me on that statistic. I'm no doctor, but as I've often said, it can't be that hard.... I think I'd make a really great doctor. Just rub some Neosporin on whatever hurts and say, "Hey, kid. Here's a lolly-pop."

2. Replaceable toothbrush heads: These are for those electric toothbrushes. If you don't have one yet, you really need to go out and buy one. In fact, forget about getting this as a gift for someone else. You need this for yourself. And it comes with my 100% guarantee that you'll be satisfied. If you're not happy with it, I'll personally brush your teeth for a month.... so you've got nothing to lose. It's a win-win situation.

3. Modelo Especial: No, I don't have a drinking problem, but I do have an insatiable craving for this Mexican beer. Try one today, and you'll forget all your troubles.... at least until you finish the bottle. But guess what. You've bought a six-pack. There's five more of those bad boys for you to enjoy!

4. iTunes Gift Cards: I'll be honest. iTunes is the best thing to happen to me, since I met an Italian woman on a plane en route to Rome. No joke. Of course, she ended up breaking my heart. But I once urinated in a dark alley in Rome.... so I guess she and I are even. Anyways, iTunes is amazing.... Music, movies, television.... it's all there! My stupid podcast is even on there.

5. Lou Reed: I recently discovered the awesomeness of this singer. Just incredible songs. I would love to hear some more of his music.... or if it could be arranged for me to meet him in person, that would be cool, too. Whichever is easier.

6. Canned salmon: This one is pretty simple. I really like canned salmon. In fact, I may have already mentioned this somewhere in the past.... but I make an awesome salmon pasta dish. I boil some rigatoni pasta, and while it's still hot I add some shredded sharp cheddar and parmesan. Then I add some olive oil and some black and cayenne pepper. Mix it all up and dig in! It will rock your world. I guarantee it. It's cheesy. It's salmony. Enough said. If you don't like, please let me know because there must be something terribly wrong with you. Like seriously mentally and physically wrong with you. I mean, once again, I'm no doctor, but I think I'm standing on pretty solid ground when I make that claim.

7. Orbit gum: You can never have too much gum, and Orbit is one of my favorites. I once chewed a single piece for four days straight. Somehow my body automatically adjusted to having gum in its mouth at night. That was back when I was young though.... in my wild days. Back when I would do crazy stuff like chew gum for four days straight just because I could. I was a real rebel.

8. Rogaine: I'm not losing my hair, but I just want to be prepared. Plus, I have an experiment that I want to try out. It involves my back, a friend, and a bottle of Rogaine. Ok, I'll just tell you. I want to be a werewolf. Not like as a costume for Halloween or anything. I mean, I want to literally become a werewolf.

9. Cigarettes: I don't actually smoke. I think smoking is terrible, but (damn it) they're cool. I like to imagine myself as a young Marlon Brando when I'm holding a cigarette in my mouth. I won't actually light it.... or if I do, I won't inhale. In a world increasingly hostile to smokers, I want to be beacon of hope.... albeit a hypocritical beacon of hope.

10. World peace: Just kidding. I don't really care about the world. I just couldn't think of anything else to write.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Twenties Bucket List

As some of you may know, but probably most of you do not, I turned 29 the other day. Yes, I am now just one year away from being 30 years old. I've sort of shut myself up in my apartment for the last few days just thinking about what this means for me. It will be the end of my twenties.... and the end of an era really. I figure I'll have to finally grow up and start acting like an adult. So before I turn 30, I figured there's some things that I should do. It's my twenties bucket list.

My Twenties Bucket List

1. Win just one arm-wrestle match: I've never been very good at arm-wrestling, which is a shame because I love arm-wrestling. In fact, I'll do almost anything to win just one match. I'd even consider arm-wrestling a child just to feel the rush from slamming someone's hand down on a table.

2. Make an amazing meatloaf: I like meatloaf but have never been able to make my own. The solution is simple: make my own amazing meatloaf.

3. Start a bar fight: What could be more exciting than starting a good, old-fashioned bar fight? I'm talking like a good Western-style bar fight.... smashing beer bottles, breaking chairs on backs, and, of course, sliding bodies down the entire length of the bar.

4. Learn how to speak Norwegian: This just seems like a cool language. Very few people that I know speak it.... in fact, I think that very few people even speak it. Outside of Norway, who is speaking it? And Norway can't have more than a couple of hundred people. If I learn Norwegian, I'll immediately be the talk of the party.... and really, who wouldn't find Norwegian intriguing?

5. Quiet an angry mob by firing a gun into the air: I imagine myself doing this after the bar fight from #3 has gone on for too long and has gotten a bit out of hand. I'll start by trying to quiet people down by saying, "Guys, we need to quiet down." And then when no one quiets down, I'll yell real loud, "Hey, guys! Quiet down!" When that inevitably does not work, I'll pull out my pistol and fire a single shot above my head. And that will get there attention. Everyone will stop and turn towards me. I'll slowly put my gun back in its holster and looking down at the blood on my boots I'll say very calmly, "Party's over. You folks go on back to your homes."

6. Wrestle with a grizzly bear: I want to prove that it can be done and put all these Davy Crockett nay-sayers to shame. And I'll do it.... even if I have to dress someone up in a bear suit.... I'll do it.

7. Film my own reality show: This is a long-time idea of mine to film my own reality show. I imagine it as chronicling my daily routine.... just what I do in a normal day. Like one episode I might just sit in my underwear wasting time on Facebook for 30 minutes. I don't know.... maybe my phone rings, but I don't answer it because I don't recognize the number.... but then that person calls again, so I answer it. And it's an old friend who I haven't spoken to in years, and he wants to know what I'm doing these days. And I reply, "Oh, I'm a doctor performing surgery right now. Yeah, you just caused me to ruin the entire procedure. Thanks!" And I hang up and go back to Facebook.

8. Slap someone in the face: This is closely related to the bar fight. I'm realizing now that I have a lot of pent aggression. Oh well.

9. Tell a woman, "I'm just not into you": This one is going to sound a little bitter, and there's probably nothing I can do to stop that. It's been a long-time dream of mine to reject an attractive woman regardless of whether or not she's into me. For example, I picture myself in a bar (perhaps right before I start the fight) where there's the most beautiful woman imaginable. I just want to be able to walk right up and reject her. I don't know.... perhaps I'm just really bitter. Maybe her boyfriend will come over and ask, "What the hell is your problem, buddy?" And I'll say, "My problem is I'm about to kick your ass!" That's when I'll break my beer bottle and start going crazy.... bar fight ensues.

10. Become a father: This one might seem weird, but I'm only half-joking. It would be nice to get a girl pregnant, marry her, and then ask her out on a date.... something like that. If there's one thing I can't stand it's having society tell me what to do. I'll court a woman how I please. And I know what you all are thinking.... No, I'm not going to break any laws here. I'll just ask a woman politely, "Excuse me, miss. Would you like to be the mother of my child?" And eventually someone will say "yes." It's just a simple matter of probability.

I love synthesizing things, and I'm realizing now that my bucket list could be merged into a single, amazing event.... perhaps the day before I turn 30. Here's how it goes. I make an amazing meatloaf (#2) that I bring to a bar where I win an arm-wrestling match (#1). I walk over to the loser's girlfriend and reject her (#9). Her boyfriend comes up and asks what the hell I'm doing. I slap him in the face (#8) and bar fight begins (#3). Somehow in this bar fight, a grizzly bear attacks me, and I'm forced to wrestle him (#6). Realizing this is getting out of hand, I end the fight by firing my pistol in the air (#5). At this point the beautiful woman is impressed with what she sees. So I walk up to her and ask her if she'd be the mother of my child. She doesn't speak English, though, so I try asking her in Norwegian (#4). She understands completely. "Yes," she says (in Norwegian) (#10). Meanwhile, this is all being filmed for my reality show (#7).

Then I turn 30.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Bar Fight Sequel

Yes, it's true. I'm ceasing with Beard Challenge Fall 2009.... at least for now. Well, the truth is I don't feel like posting photos anymore. Plus, my beard has blossomed into maturity now and is ready to be on its own.

I thought, instead, that I might finish the story I began last week. If you'll remember, Ross and I had gotten into a bloody bar fight. There were darts and stools flying everywhere. There is one correction I'd like to make though. The young lady whom Ross knocked out with a bar stool was not a cute little thing as I had originally described her. In short, she was a hag. Just a real ugly person. I think society will be much more accepting of this scenario. So that's taken care of.

If you'll remember, at the end of last week's story, I had managed to drag an enraged Ross out of the bar. This is where things got messy. As I escaped down York Ave., I had Ross flung over my shoulder.

"Put me down, damn it! I can take her!" Ross was still screaming. I had forgotten that he was never one to give up a fight. I tried to calm him down before some cop noticed us.

"You gotta shut it. Easy there, man. This ain't no Western." But in my heart I knew this was exactly like a Western. I was John Wayne to Ross's Glen Campbell in True Grit. Suddenly, Ross got quiet. He was breathing fast and hard. "Finally," I thought, "maybe we'll make it out of here without anymore trouble." Just then I noticed some drops of blood running down my right arm - the arm holding Ross up on my shoulder.

"Dear God, no!" I whispered. Had I been cut? Was I bleeding?

I turned into the nearest dark alley and laid Ross down against the wall of an abandoned building. I pulled up my sleeve and examined my arm. Nothing. Ross grabbed the right side of his stomach. He was wincing and having trouble breathing.

"She got me, Mike," he said quietly. "While you were kicking the fat guy on the floor, the ugly one grabbed a broken piece of the stool and took a swipe at my side."

"Don't you worry, Ross. I can fix this."
"No. She got me real good. It's all over now. Get out of here before the cops come."
"I'm not going anywhere," I said. "I got you into this mess with my damn beard. It's all my fault. Maybe I should never have grown this stupid thing. Maybe the world would be better off without it."
"Don't you say that, you bastard!" Ross shrieked coughing up some blood. "Don't you ever say that.... not while I'm here. Now get out of here! You and that beard go make somebody happy."
But I wasn't going to budge. I had seen enough medical shows on television and knew that I could save him. I just needed to stop the bleeding and sew up the wound. But where could I find a needle and some string? Where?

Just then out of the farthest corner of that alley emerged a dark figure. He was a typical hobo - no teeth, grizzly gray beard, raggedy overcoat - except that he was carrying a medical bag. "I'll sell you this medical kit. It has everything you need," he said.
"Of course! Anything. What do you want for it?" I asked.
"Your beard versus mine."
"What? You want our beards to battle each other?"
"Yes," he said, "they fight, and if yours wins you get the medical kit."

This was absurd, but I was desperate. When you're desperate, you'll do some crazy things. So my beard battled the hobo's gray beard. I won't even try to describe it. There are just some things that words can not capture, where language becomes no longer adequate. Suffice it to say, my beard won the fight, and the hobo handed over the bag of medical supplies.

"Fine, you can have it," he said, "but why didn't you just got to the emergency room?"
"Because it's too dangerous. There'd be too many questions. The cops would find us for sure." In hind sight we probably didn't need to be so worried about the cops, but at the time it seemed like a real danger.

Everything that I needed was in that bag: needle, string, bandages, and even a bottle of whiskey. It was a very old medical bag. I rolled up Ross's shirt to examine the wound.
"Wait!" he yelled and grabbed the old whiskey bottle. He took a long swig and then poured some over the wound.
"I'm not going to sugar coat this for you. It's going to hurt real bad. But look at me.... you're going to make it," I said. Just then I remembered that I had been carrying a pen in my pocket.
"There. Now chomp down on this."
As I stitched up his side, Ross chomped down so hard on that pen that it snapped in two. By then the pain got so great that he just passed out. The stitching up went ok. But Ross was out cold, and not knowing if something was wrong with him, I began to panic.

"Why, God?! Why?!" I screamed with hands raised to the night sky.
"Don't you die on me, damn it!" I scooped him up in my arms. "Don't you dare die on me, Ross! Don't you die on me!" By now I was sobbing heavily. This continued for 45 minutes as Ross was out cold.

A few days later I realized that my medical care may not have been as skillful as first thought. The wound had turned black and, according to Ross, felt like a burning coal had been placed inside of him. So I ended up taking him to the hospital after all. It turns out that the needle was the last thing that should have been touching anyone's blood. The doctor thought it best to run some tests to make sure Ross hadn't picked up any diseases. We're still waiting for the results.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Showdown in the Upper East Side, or How Ross and I Defended the Honor of My Beard

Well, another week has passed, and my beard is coming in nicely. In fact, I think it's fair to say that this is a full-grown beard. I actually surprised myself a bit this time.... wasn't sure I could pull it off this quickly. It's a personal best for me. My last record in beard-growing was back in the winter of 1990. I was 10 years old, and it was an especially cold winter.... perhaps my body just knew to kick it up a notch. I don't know.

Anyways, my old college buddy, Ross, was in NYC this past weekend. And, of course, Ross is also one of the co-hosts along with Greg and myself on the podcast Fourth Time Around. You should have been there.... the two of us were inseparable as we traipsed across Manhattan.... through the hectic Times Square, across a gorgeous Central Park, and in the upscale Upper East Side. Oh, and we also got in a bar fight.

There we were in a quiet little Irish pub.... up around York Avenue and 84th Street. Ross and I were relaxing over a tall beer after a long day of taking in the city. Some college-age hooligans were over in the corner throwing darts. Lousy bums. One fat guy and one cute little gal who couldn't have been older than 17. They started heckling me. "Hey, beard-guy, where's your blue ox?".... and "Hey, Paul Bunyan called. He wants his beard back." You know, real kid stuff. Still, I won't lie.... I was itching for a fight. I just sat there silently sizing them up. But I couldn't hide the rage that was swelling up inside of me.

"Easy, Mikey," Ross whispered to me. "Those two are trouble. One of them's got a blade."
"Thanks, Ross, but I think I can handle it." Ross always did have good eyes. That's why we used to call him Scout back in the old days.
"Just take it easy," he said. "I don't want to get arrested on this trip for putting those kids in the hospital."

I told him that I'd keep my cool, but the kids wouldn't let up. We ordered a couple more beers and two whiskeys each. There was a storm brewing, and I was preparing for the worst. Suddenly, the fat one threw a dart from across the room directly at us. It landed in my beer spraying the stuff all over my face.

I turned to Ross and calmly whispered, "I'll take the fat one. You take the short girl." He nodded. I grabbed the dart and walked up to the fat man. Ross sidled up next to the little girl. She looked cute, but I knew she could be dangerous. The cutest ones always are.

"I believe this is yours," I said to the fat guy. I could see his right hand slowly reaching for the blade in his boot.
"Yeah, well maybe it is."
"Well, maybe this!" I screamed as I jabbed the dart into his side.
I gave him a quick punch to the groin. He fell like a baby.
"Nobody makes fun of my beard!" I cried giving several round kicks to his stomach as he lay on the floor.

Seeing me stab the fay guy, Ross nimbly grabbed the nearest bar stool and swung it around hitting the girl on the back. Boom! Down she went next to the fat guy. Ross was livid, and I could see that this was as personal for him as it was for me.

"His beard is a national treasure! You hear me! A national treasure!"
"Ross, that's enough! We gotta get out of here. The cops'll be here soon," I tried to calm him down, but I could see the rage in his eyes was growing. I finally had to throw him over my shoulder and haul him out.

And that's how Ross and I got in a bar fight and defended the honor of my beard.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beard Challenge Fall 2009: Day 11, or the Day Chivalry Died


Well, I'm already on week 2 of my Beard Challenge. As per the advice I received from Greg and Ross, I've posted this week's photo in color. On last week's Fourth Time Around episode they both berated me for having a creepy, black and white photo that made me look like the Unabomber. I don't know what all the fuss is about. Still, I thought it might be a good idea to take their advice for once. As it turns out, I don't look so bad in color after all. You'll also notice that there's nothing creepy about this photo. It captures me deep in contemplation of some philosophical dilemma.... perhaps how I'm going to seduce my Hispanic laundry lady. So, no, not creepy at all.

I've been feeling a bit unproductive lately. The one day of class that I had last week was rescheduled due to Columbus Day. While I would like to tell you that I spent that time doing school work, I'm afraid that most of my time was spent watching shows on Hulu.com. If you haven't discovered this yet, you should definitely check it out: www.hulu.com. You know what I really hate? I hate it when people ask me, "Are you working hard, or hardly working?" Whenever someone says that to me, I give him a swift jump-kick in the stomach. This can be difficult for a man of my small size, especially on people several feet taller than I am. But it is so worth it. The initial shock of having just been jump-kicked usually gives me enough time to run away.

And, yes, I do this to both men and women. I always treat both sexes equally. This is why I never hold hold doors open or stuff like that for women.... but children are different. I'm not an animal. I'll hold a door open for a child, but then I'll slam it shut on the mother. I also don't walk on the traffic side of the sidewalk when with a woman. I don't quite understand that one, and I refuse to adhere to it. If you think I'm going to risk getting hit by a car, you are very wrong. In fact, ladies, if you are walking with me, I am much more likely to use you to protect myself.... that's just fair warning. I'm not sure how exactly.... probably just grab you and throw you in front of me.

I know this all must sound harsh and ungentlemanly, but I wasn't always this way. I used to be a knight in shining armor.... like the shiniest, brightest armor you've ever seen and riding on a snow-white stallion.... the strongest, purest bred white stallion ever. Do you understand this metaphor yet? But all those chivalric ideals came crashing down one day. I was in Italy.... a perfect setting for disillusionment. An American friend of mine was visiting the Rome Campus of the University of Dallas.... I know, blah blah blah blah. Anyways, short story a bit shorter.... we were walking outside in the rain, so I offered to hold my umbrella over her so she wouldn't get soaked. Well, she refused the generosity of the Mikey train. Can you believe that? She said something about how she was liberated in the '70s. So, from that time forward, I've kept a vow to treat men and women equally.

By the way, I hope you'll check out Fourth Time Around.... episodes are in the sidebar. Just do me a favor and at least listen to episodes 3 and 7. They're my favorite so far. And if you're not satisfied, I'll personally come to where you live and give you a massage as compensation for your time. So those are your options.... listen to the podcast or receive a full-body massage from me. It's what you call a win-win situation.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Beard Challenge Fall 2009: Day 4

Here it is finally. Mike for all the world to see. Fully exposed. This is both the most awesome and saddest thing I've ever done.... Well, besides that one time I punched a 9-year-old boy in the stomach because I thought he was making fun of me on the subway. It turns out he was just waving to his mother.... she was sitting next to me.

You'll notice that I'm using a black and white photo. Everything looks better in black and white. Trust me. You really do not want to see this face up close in color. It's kind of like a baby's diaper. Not used or anything, sickos.... just a very white, unused diaper.... like my face. That metaphor is actually much more applicable than I originally had thought.

Anyways, I missed my chance to post a clean-shaven photo of me for Day 1 of the beard challenge. Oh well.... maybe a clean-shave photo of me does not exist. Perhaps, it's just one of those mysterious things in life that you could swear you have seen but just can't remember exactly when or what it looked like. You know.... it's like Bigfoot or Val Kilmer. What happened to him? Wherever he is, I can almost guarantee that he has a nice, full-grown beard right now.

Now, I'm already getting some nay-sayers out there.... some who are saying that Mike Maiella can't grow a beard anymore.... that I've lost my manliness.... my mojo, if you will. Well, I'll admit.... I've lost a lot the last few years, but I'll be darned if I can't still grow the fullest, manliest, most God-blessing American beard you've ever seen. It will be the most perfect beard that it will replace the idea of beardness itself. We'll just yank that right out of the sky and replace it with my beard.

Yes, you read that right. I didn't stutter. This beard and I are going to be like one of those famous duos in history.... like the Lone Ranger and Tonto, or Turner and Hooch. I know what you all are thinking right now.... and, yes, my beard and I are going to be fighting crime. My beard will be like the scout. When he sees the bad guys coming, he'll signal me.... and then I'll come running in to arrest them. You're probably all saying, "Mike, you can't just arrest people! You don't have the authority." You'd be wrong though. I will have the authority. Every man in this country over the age of 25 who has a "full beard" has the right to own and carry a gun "anywhere and at any time." They also have the authority to arrest "bad guys." I'm using quotation marks so you can clearly see exactly how it's worded on the books. Technically, I think this is only applicable in Texas circa 1878. This would explain why I would also be entitled to my neighbor's eldest daughter in marriage.

So, maybe I'm not actually allowed to arrest anyone or shoot guns whenever I want to.... or force my neighbor's eldest daughter into marriage. But if I've learned anything from the television show Heroes, it's that time and space are no obstacle for a hero. As my old friend Walt says, "So when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong. And you'll finally see the truth.... that a hero lies in you." I can never tell if he's giving me advice or just singing to himself. He's funny like that.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Beard Challenge Fall 2009

As some of you know, I periodically grow a full and lustrous beard.... one that really makes the ladies take notice. In fact, my beards have had more success with women than I have. I'll just let you think real hard about that one. For those of you who have paid attention.... really way too much attention.... to my beard, you know that I tend to grow them in the fall and winter and go baby-faced in the spring and summer.... a baby with a five o'clock shadow.

Fall officially started last week, and the days are already getting cooler here in NYC. There's that magical fall feeling in the air.... it's a mix between swine flu and matzah balls. Yes, soon the children will be leaping through piles of fallen leaves, and the homeless will get relentless in their pursuit of my money.... money I don't have by the way. In all fairness to homeless people.... I don't like them. "Beat it, old homeless man! I wouldn't give you a single hair from my awesome beard!" That's not actually what I yell at them, but I think it. I don't give the homeless anything for free. I say make those guys earn it. As my old friend Walt says, "You can teach a man to fish, but getting him to fish for you feels so much better." I totally agree, Walter, and I've put your advice into practice for once. And, no, I'm not talking about buying pirated CDs and DVDs like some homeless sell on the street. I can buy those anywhere. What I want is something that I can't buy in stores. For example, I once gave a homeless guy $10 for walking in front of an oncoming bus. Why would I do that, you ask? Because I looked like a bad ass when I jumped in the street to save him. Now who's the idiot for giving a homeless guy $10? I just became an instant hero.

All of this points to only one thing: the beard is back. Now, read that statement again but with the song "The Boys Are Back in Town" playing in your head. And replace the words "boys are back in town" with "the beard is back on Mike's face".... just in case some of you couldn't figure that part out. This season, though, I'm offering the world something unprecedented. I'm going to document the growth of my beard by posting photos.... daily might be too much but maybe weekly. As Greg pointed out on the podcast, no one has actually asked me to provide this service. But, as I also mentioned on the show, I can't imagine a single reason why anyone wouldn't want to experience this with me.

All you'll have to do is come to my blog, and you'll be able to track my beard's growth into awesome, American manhood. Yeah, I like to think of it as similar to tracking the growth of a baby inside the womb. I can already tell what you're thinking.... yes, it will be like I'm pregnant and, yes, I am expecting to receive special treatment. So.... aren't you excited?! It'll be like you're right here with me.... watching our little beard child grow.... this is not to be confused with a bearded child. That's something completely different.... and entirely inappropriate in my mind.

You'll notice that there is not yet a photo of me up here. Well, I'm having to delay the actual Beard Challenge until next week.... I have a wedding to go to Saturday, and I've got to look my best. Clean-shaven is a good look and beard is a good look.... but in between is not really a great look. Again, it's like being pregnant.