Friday, January 30, 2009

Writer's Cramp? Me?

Wow; I am sitting here staring at the screen, not being able to come up with some new, punchy, snarky comment this morning and totally unable to remember the post I wanted to write last night.
I can't even remember if it had to do with the old standby, weather/snow, although I must state that one fucking day without an inch or more of snow to have to shovel would be damned nice at this point. Not expected, but nice.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not So Bad This Time

While the driving wasn't good, especially on the way home, Wednesday's snow fall, about 7 inches, didn't seem to have as bad an impact on things as previous snow falls or as expected.
In particular, people were very good about their snow plowing, shoveling and removal, with none in our driveway or for the most part in the streets (although one Delaware Avenue business on the way to Puppy Play Pen and work yesterday had a ridiculous amount, in height and distance, taking up more than a lane, plowed in the street).
Unfortunately, things were a lot worse for Val, who works on the Lake Erie waterfront, where plowing was apparently barely done on most streets and drivers didn't seem to take too many precautions.

Calgary Stampedes Buffalo, 5-2

The cheesy sports headlines continue as the Calgary Flames defeated the Buffalo Sabres last night, 5-2, in game two of the Sabres' western road trip.
The Sabres played good in spots, not good in others and Calgary appeared up for the game and a bit fresher in the legs, having not played a regular game in about a week.
Buffalo continues its road trip in Phoenix, with the game a 9 p.m. Saturday start.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Come on People, Now ...

With measurable, substantial snow falling this morning and probably afternoon, let's see how many of the snow plowing/clearing unofficial rules I ranted about recently are broken and how good or bad drivers are today.
Don't disappoint me, people.

Sabres Drill Oilers, 10-2

It was great watching the Buffalo Sabres just tear apart the Edmonton Oilers last night, 10-2, behind a hat trick by Drew Stafford and great games from Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Tim Connolly and Ryan Miller.
But it was made even better by just being able to watch the game, courtesy of MSG and the Sabres reaching broadcast agreements to carry the game here, despite no MSG broadcast itself.
Also, it gave me the chance to delve back into my past and be able to use a cheesy, macho sports cliche headline.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snow Annoyances, Part One

Now that we're allegedly halfway through winter, even though I don't see any signs of it ending, I have my first major complaint of the season.
For some reason, it seems like more and more people, whether homeowners, snow plowing/clearing businesses or business owners, are clearing snow into the street for no good reason, unless you consider laziness a good reason.
This really doesn't have anything to do with the snow plowing service that was pushing the snow into my driveway or car, because it was happening on a greater scale before that happened. People are just show blowing, plowing and shoveling the snow into the street right here on Norwood Avenue, Ashland Avenue, Elmwood Avenue, Richmond Avenue, Lexington Avenue, West Utica Street, Bryant Street and other places.
A couple of weeks ago, as I was taking Walker Evans on his daily neighborhood jaunt, I watched a woman at the corner of Norwood and Highland toss shovel after shovel full of snow into the street, near and at the intersection; yeah, that's a safe move. You don't want vehicles to stop at an intersection without sliding on additional snow, now do you? And no, the snow wasn't so high that she and others couldn't have shoveled it onto a lawn.
This is also a great way to block some sidewalks for pedestrians, both human and canine, making them more dangerous as well as more difficult to traverse. And hey, what better surprise when driving, particularly after a heavy snow, than to have a snow blower launch some snow onto your windshield?
As a shoveler, I shovel onto my lawn/the piles of snow now on the lawn, and do not shovel into the street for the simple reason that it makes things more dangerous and more difficult for other people, and heaven forbid, I was raised not to be such a schmuck.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Let There Be Light

After the alarm went off at 6 a.m., the first thing that I noticed, outside of not wanting to be awake/out of bed, was that the street light on our front lawn, the part that is a City of Buffalo easement, I believe, was working.
This is great news, because about 2 weeks ago, the light stopped working, and after a week of hoping it was temporary, I called the city's mayor's complaint line. I admit I didn't think to check for it after Saturday night, so I don't know for certain when it went back on, but it is shining now.
For safety's sake (Val gets home when it is getting dark as I am always nervous about her walking), this is the best news we've had in a few days.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Peter Case Recovering

For those of you who haven't heard yet, singer, songwriter and simply fantastic musician Peter Case, originally from Buffalo/Western New York, is recovering from emergency open-heart surgery about 10 days ago. Val and I had this confirmed to us through word at the Pine Dogs' show last night; Peter grew up with Pine Dogs singer/songwriter/guitarist Jim Whitford.
In a January 25 post to his blog, Case, best known for writing and singing "A Million Miles Away" with the Plimsouls and for a series of great solo CDs, explained that while the surgery was successful, he will be recovering for a while: "In other words, I'm glad to be alive, but it really kicked my ass."
Case has postponed his tour of the United Kingdom and Europe, and the McCabe's "Peter Case 25th Anniversary Show," marking his 25 years as a solo artist, will be rescheduled for April 3.
Having enjoyed his music live and recorded for more than 25 years. and having gotten the chance to interview him several times and photograph him at least as often, Val and I wish Peter every good fortune to a complete and healthy recovery.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Socks, Bags and Confusion

Can someone, anyone tell me why the new six-pack bag of Hanes white socks I just opened comes in a resealable plastic bag that the packaging brags about? Am I to worry about the freshness of my socks, not counting laundering them?

Morrissey and the NFL?

The National Football League, possibly the most violent, aggressive major sports league (by definition and game rules) is certainly taking an interesting step for its self-conscious self with its new television commercials for the NFL Channel.
For those of you who, like me, had heard these commercials on the NFL playoff games the last few weeks, you've noticed that the song in the commercials is "Everyday Is Like Sunday" by Morrissey. Yes, Morrissey, the former front man for the Smiths, a proud gay man who used to refer to himself as a celibate gay man.
For a sport with too many homophobic players and attitudes to overly project how strong, tough and macho the players are, despite incredibly tight pants and uniforms, lots of hugging, huddles and ass slapping, the use of Morrissey's song is either a great step in the right direction, a rather sly joke or incredible cluelessness on the part of whoever made the commercial for the NFL.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What the Hell, Wisconsin?

Our beloved University of Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball team lost its third straight game last night, dropping a 73-69 overtime loss to Iowa after leading at the half, 24-20. This lowers Wisconsin to 12-6 overall, 3-3 in Big Ten play.
This is the second overtime loss in the three-game losing streak, but considering the Sabres lost last night to Tampa Bay, 5-3, Wisconsin should have won; when the Badgers lost the overtime game last week, the Sabres came from behind to win in an overtime shootout over Minnesota, 5-4.
So much for the Buffalo/Wisconsin win/lose curse.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Holy Grail, er, Working Air Hose Found

After journeying oh, so far and overcoming mountains of obstacles, I located another working air hose for public use nearby home yesterday.
On way home from work, I decided to check the Mobil station at Elmwood and Lexington, the second-closest service station to home, after I found the air hose at the Sunoco station at Elmwood and Hodge still blocked by a penny jammed in the coin slot.
Well, to what to my wondering eyes did appear but a working air hose, also costing 75 cents per use, but with nothing blocking its coin slot or any other damage. Another revelation was that by some miracle (or at least 30 seconds of plowing or 2-3 minutes of shoveling), the area was clear of snow and one could not only drive his or her car up to the pump, but could walk to and pick up the hose without needing a sherpa guide.
Driving is much better and feels safer now, and there is even a Tim Horton's takeout outlet inside.

Another Ex-Bill Was in Playoffs

I asked about the presence of former Buffalo Bills playing in the National Football League conference championship playoff games last week. I knew that Willis MacGahee and Jim Leonhard played for the Baltimore Ravens, and Frank Quebral pointed out that John Dorenbus played for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Well, if you were paying attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat Baltimore for the AFC Championship Sunday, you heard and saw another familiar name during the game, former Bills defensive lineman Justin Bannan, who plays as a reserve lineman for Baltimore.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Less Than Five Hours to History

It still seems amazing and I virtually feel like pinching myself, but in less than five hours, the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush ends and President-Elect Barack Obama becomes President Barack Obama.
Besides history being made as the first African American becomes president (anyone who tries to say/explain otherwise should stop reading here and probably just go away), the end of an administration that defied and pissed on the U.S. Constitution as well as many of its leaders and citizens, and still believes in a wrongful war that has killed thousands of Americans and apparently at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians, can't happen soon enough.
For the first time in eight years, to a certain extent, I can again write: Let freedom ring.

There's Snow Business, Driveway Style

Yes, the idiot who snow plows the driveway directly across from ours plowed large snow and ice chunks into our driveway again yesterday, blocking about half the width of our driveway for several feet back.
I am taking the proper, lawful measures to rectify this situation, and have called the company as well, but the calls were never returned, so the city has been contacted. Let's see if things get worse or the word gets to the right people.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Air Can Hurt You, Too

My left front tire occasionally gets low on air (no puncture or other damage has been found), so I have to fill it now and then, usually at the Sunoco station on Elmwood Avenue at Hodge Avenue.
I went there today to do so, and some nimrod had forced a penny into the coin slot, jamming the machine. I had several errands to run on Elmwood Avenue, Delaware Avenue and Grant Street, and I could not find one functioning public air hose, even for a fee.
I sometimes wonder if I should map out where these air hoses are located on Buffalo's West Side, and thanks to the Talking Heads for today's post title.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Amazing, But True

I just had to take a moment this Saturday to let everyone know that, believe it or not, the temperature in Buffalo has finally hit double figures.
Yes, the official temperature as of 3:54 p.m., as reported by the National Weather Service, is 12 degrees here, the warmest it has been in days. Of course, the wind chill factor is below zero, but hey, I need to look at the bright side a little bit.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Nothing Surprising, Hopeful or New

No big surprises from President George Bush the Way Lesser's final address to the nation Thursday night; he basically admitted to no errors, missed the point on the pain and suffering he and his administration and policies have caused and made the vast majority of viewers confirm their optimisim in Barack Obama becoming our next president Tuesday.
There is no guarantee Obama will do anything, but it will be so nice not to have a president who appears to sneer at intelligence and resembles Alfred E. Neuman way too much, except for Bush's lack of humor and brainpower.

Better Hurry 'Cause They're Going Fast

Tickets are all but gone (and may be gone as of this writing) for the Pine Dogs Private Concert Series Show at the Sportsmen's Tavern, scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Saturday, January 24, at the club, 326 Amherst Stret near Grant Street in Buffalo.
All of the previous shows by the Pine Dogs at the Sportmen's Tavern have sold out, and I thank Ken Biringer from the club for letting me know how low the number of tickets left was earlier this week; I bought the tickets for Val and me after work Wednesday, and there were about 4-6 remaining.
The tickets are only $10, and if you still want to go and need tickets, call the Sportsmen's Tavern at 874-7734 or stop into the club; Ken has said that there will be no admission at the door, so act accordingly.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bush's Last Chance at Verbal Insults

President George Bush the Way Lesser will get his final chance to punish the English language and all viewers at 8 p.m. tonight, Thursday, January 15.
The president has set a high standard for himself; let's see if he can match the cluelessness, audacity, dishonesty, hubris, attitude of insult for the media and citizens, classlessness, stupidity and disdain that he showed at his last news conference a few days ago.
The speech is expected to last about 10-15 minutes, apparently partly because President Bush doesn't know any more words or nicknames.
And Vice President Dick Cheney's last circuit of the (mainly conservative) media? Well, telling the truth has never been his strong point or even his inspiration, so the less said/written about our governmental Darth Vader without the personality or sense of humor, the better. And my apologies to all Darth Vader or Star Wars fans.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Temperature Drop?

At this time yesterday, the temperature in Buffalo was 32 degrees; it did not fall into the mid-upper 20s until mid-late afternoon, and was down to 12 degrees by 10:15 p.m., when I took out the garbage and recycling.
This morning? I just checked the National Weather Service, and the temperature is a crisp 4 degrees; yes, 4 degrees, with no digits (at least in the number) missing. With the winds only 5 miles per hour, the wind chill is a surprisingly not-too-low -5 degrees.
Regardless, you can bet that besides going to and from work, as well as any necessary stops on the way, that my outside activities for the next couple of days will be limited to dog walking, shoveling and bringing in the garbage and recycling containers. I will enjoy cooking dinner to be close to an in-service oven.
In the long run, I doubt much will change around here, because after a day or two of this stuff, most Buffalonians/Western New Yorkers will say to hell with it and go right back to their everyday activities.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Football Question Time

Can anyone give me a more conclusive answer compared to what is coming off the top of my head on this topic: How many former Buffalo Bills are still playing in the NFL Playoffs?
I am aware of Jim Leonhard and Willis McGahee on the Baltimore Ravens, but can anyone tell me who else is involved that used to play here?

New Weather Woes for Whining

While the snow won't be so bad for the next few days (1-3 inches yesterday, 1-3 inches today), Mother Nature has decided to turn on the cold air; the current temperature of 31 degrees here in Buffalo is expected to fall to 4 degrees tonight.
The cold weather will get worse, with the daily high not expected to rise above 11 degrees Wednesday and then only up to 3 degrees for a daily HIGH temperature Thursday, with the Thursday night low temperature pegged at -5 degrees, all according to the National Weather Service. Yes, that's minus-5 degrees; winds will start average and get stronger by Thursday.
But as long as the snow doesn't increase and the car starts each morning, I'll be able to get where I need to be, even with a bit more shivering, teeth chattering and swearing. Let the games begin.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Needless Snow Shoveling Fun Continues

I have written a lot, some would say more than often enough, about snow shoveling adventures here in Buffalo, but I have been getting some unwanted added fun due to a nearby private contractor.
A snow plow driving for a private company I will not name (so far) has been repeatedly plowing snow directly into and right in front of our driveway from the house across the street since the deeper snow falls started. If I am actually out there shoveling, I give the driver a glare and he barely makes sure not to do so, but if not, I expect some blockage.
As well as plowing snow into our driveway, across the bottom of it and into the street at the exit, this either clueless or unprofessional plow driver also has a fine habit of plowing in our and other vehicles parked on the street and leaving the snow as an obstacle to parking, taking up a space or spaces.
Well, it appened again Sunday morning, so I finally had enough and called this business' two telephone numbers; while I wasn't overly friendly, I wasn't threatening, angry or swearing, mostly annoyed but business like. I left a message telling them what had happened, how many times it had previously happened and that if I did not receive a return call from them, I would call the propert City of Buffalo offices, including the police department, as well as the Better Business Bureau and possibly the State Attorney General's Office.
I haven't received a return telephone call yet, and if I do not get one this morning, I will be taking the proper next steps.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Annoying Song in My Head Time

OK, for the last 12 hours or so, the only song running through my head, and doing so repeatedly, is "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" by ABBA. I am a serious ABBA fan, but that song is absolutely one of my least favorites by the band.
Worse, not only is "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" blotting out any other music, it knocked out a song running through my head that I liked and can't remember the name of at this moment (bad song in head or senior moment?). A couple of weeks ago, the song stuck in my head was the Beatles' "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey," so some good music can creep into my head.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tight Lip, er, Keyboard

Like many other Buffalonians/Western New Yorkers, I am quite weary already about the effects of winter; the temperatures have been colder than normal for the fall and winter so far, started to get cold earlier than normal, and of course, snow fall has been heavier than normal up to this point.
But, also like many Buffalonians and Western New Yorkers, I am tired of complaining about the weather and its effects, as well as shoveling and how tired it makes me/us feel (and of sweating like crazy and feeling it almost freeze against you while shoveling).
So, you can imagine my excitement and happiness with the 2-3 inches (or so, I am not sure how much) of snow lays outside, and will remain there until I get back home from work and another commitment. Yay.
UPDATE: Of course, I could be wrong; the 5:53 a.m. temperature update on the National Weather Service web site for Buffalo was 82 degrees for the current temperature as of 7 a.m. It must be a REALLY dry heat.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

RIP Ron Asheton

Ron Asheton, the freaking amazing, searing guitarist for the Stooges/Iggy and the Stooges, died early Tuesday, January 6, at his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. So I am doing the only thing I can right now, listening and banging my head and fists to the classic "Fun House" CD, at this moment to the song "Loose."

Jury Duty: Day 1 and Only

I reported for jury duty at the room in the county court building at 25 Delaware Avenue at around 8:45 a.m. yesterday, Tuesday, January 6, and had an average day for jury duty, getting excused following jury selection at about 3 p.m.
There were few real highlights during the waiting period; the jury selection video was narrated/hosted by several anchors from CBS' "60 Minutes," after which announcements for the first people to start their voir dire (jury selection process) were made and CNN was broadcast on the screens. I started reading "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War" by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, a Christmas gift from my brother-in-law (in-law) Brad Dossinger and sister-in-law Tricia Dunne-Dossinger; I read about 60 pages of the book.
The few people highlights during this wait included a woman about age 35-40 wearing cream/white cowboy boots, a pink ski vest, pink pants and a heavy, bright pink sweater with an enormous collar that dwarfed most cowl-neck sweaters. Another woman about age 35 was dressed in basic business casual with dressy jeans that would have seemed comfortable if they didn't appear vacuum-sealed to her and the 4-5-inch stiletto heels she was wearing. I laughed to myself at the sight of an unshaven man, about age 40, who seemed to be wearing his best mechanic's grime sweatshirt, sweat pants and ski hat.
Eventually, at about 10:45-11 a.m., my name was called among about 20 others to report for voir dire in jury selection room 1; we lined up in the order our names were called, as told, and went into the room to face questioning from the two attorneys, who were representing the plaintiff and defendant on a civil medical malpractice case.
After about 90 minutes of questioning, after which three people were dismissed from our jury, we broke for lunch, and I went to my office, which is in the building adjacent to the court building, and after reporting back, went through about 75 more minutes of questioning, after which about 6-8 other people were dismissed, before the attorneys came back from a mini-conference and told me and another juror thank you for your service and that we were dismissed.
I went back to work for a bit (I also went to work before reporting for jury duty) and came home, and I am apparently out of the selection pool for 8 more years.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I Am a Juror Today

Yes, my number was called when I checked with the Erie County Commissioner of Jurors' telephone number last night, so I am reporting for jury duty this morning. It is the third time I have been called in general for jury duty and the second time my number actually came up and I had to report.
The last time, in about 2000, I had to report and was almost selected for a jury. There was a case some of you may remember where a person was murdered in an apparent drug deal gone bad, and the deceased was shot by two guns by two different people and the prosecution brought cases against both suspects (both were found guilty). I made it to the final 16 in one case, from which 12 jurors and 2 alternates were chosen; I was one of the last two people let go, during my time as a proint journalist, and the other person let go was also in the media industry and still plies his trade at 97 Rock.
I will let you know more, if I can, later today.

Musical Pennace?

I must have pissed of the musical gods; while I was on hold for the Rite Aid Pharmacy yesterday, the hold music I was subjected to was ... "Nights Are Forever Without You" by England Dan and John Ford Coley. Egad.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Not Yet, But Close

A few weeks ago, I got a piece of mail from Erie County notifying me that I was being called for jury duty for the term starting January 5, 2009.
Like the dutiful citizen, I called after 4 p.m. Sunday to see if I would have to report Monday morning; my juror number is 845, but the recording said that jurors number 1 through 599 had to report, while jurors 600 throgh 1,400 are to call back after 5 p.m. tonight, Monday, to see what their disposition is.
Some people may wonder why I did not ask to be brought up a bit later and not be eligible for this term, and others wonder why I do not just try to get out of jury duty altogether. It is simple civic duty and responsibility, and I wish it wasn't thought of as such a tough or undesirable job or something to be avoided and only encompassing those, as the cliche goes, who are too dumb to avoid it.
I never got assigned to a jury the two other times I was called, so let's see if this goes any different.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Sports Conflicts

The University at Buffalo Bulls will take on the University of Connecticut in the International Bowl in a few minutes, and Val and I will definitely be watching that, so that means we will be DVRing the Buffalo Sabres-Boston Bruins hockey game at 1 p.m.
This came about schedule wise mainly becuase the Sabres and Bruins, and the NHL, did not want their game to clash with the NFL playoff games starting at 4 p.m. today, as well as a couple of college bowl games later. No one expected UB to have such a good season and make it to a bowl game the same day and virtually same time, causing this happy conflcit.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Oui*73 at Mohawk Place January 2

One of my all-time favorite Buffalo bands and of the best, Oui*73, will perform at about 10 p.m. tonight, Friday, January 2, at Mohawk Place, 37 East Mohawk Street at Ellicott Street in Buffalo.
Blend hard, fast, tough melodic rock kind of a la Oasis with distortion and some approach from Sonic Youth and lots of shoegazer rock influences and you basically get the sound of Oui*73. The band is made up of: Tony Christiano, lead guitar and some vocals; Richie Coffman, vocals and bass; Holly Christiano, guitar, and Craig Voigt (back home on leave for a little more from the U.S. Navy) on drums.
There is a serious, basically confirmed rumor that Oui*73 has or will enter the studio before Voigt reports back to record some new songs, so stop out and catch the band and hear some great old and new songs, including from their (certainly my opinion) classic CDs, "Princess" and "Sex, Guns and Fire Engines."