Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ten Things That Happened in 2010

Inspired by Arleen's blog post recapping her 2010, I thought I'd be a copy-cat and do the same. So grab a cup of coffee, or a stiff drink, or just bypass the mixer altogether and grab the nearest bottle of booze, and join me as we take a journey down memory lane. 2010...let's see if I can even find ten things worth writing about!

1. I visited New York City for the first time.

I've been obsessed with New York since I was in the fourth grade. You know how I can pinpoint the exact grade I was in? My obsession was synonymous with my goal to become a writer, and when I was in the fourth grade, I decided that I wanted to be a writer. At first, the fixation was purely logistical: most of the major publishing houses were in New York, so it just made sense to move there at some point to get my writing career off the ground. It wasn't until I got older (and with the help of Sex and the City) that I realized what a cool town New York City actually was.

So why did it take me so long to visit? The usual crap: no money to travel, travel plans falling through, yadda, yadda, yadda. This year, it finally happened. Ever since she visited the city on her high school senior class trip, my sister has always wanted to go back, and this year was the perfect time to go because this was the year she turned 21. Since you only turn 21 once, why not do it with some flair and celebrate in one of the coolest cities in the world? So in March, we packed our bags and headed for the Big Apple.

It was a fun trip. We saw Wicked, got lost a few times, toured Central Park, reconnected with our inner children at the BADASS TOYS 'R US IN TIMES SQUARE, and Laura didn't get carded one damn time. I want to go back. And I still haven't given up on my dream of becoming a writer or moving there.

Laura (left) and I at Top of the Rock

Times Square, holla!

2. I visited southern California for the first time.

This is a bit of a fallacy, actually. I was born in Orange, California, but my family moved to Florida when I was a year old, so I don't remember going to places like Griffith's Observatory the first time around. Since I don't remember it, it doesn't count, so I consider this trip my first visit to Los Angeles and the surrounding area.

Back in July, my friend, Meagan, and her husband, Edwin, moved to Pasadena because Edwin was offered a job at Caltech. Prior to that, they lived in Tallahassee, which was only a mere four hours north of Tampa. I've known Meagan since we were thirteen, and considering that the farthest we've ever lived apart during our friendship was four hours, I was a little bummed that they would be moving across the country. The silver lining, however, was that it would give me the opportunity to explore southern California when I visited them, so in October I flew out west as a a birthday present to myself.

I. LOVE. SOUTHERN. CALIFORNIA. Honestly, I didn't think I would like it all that much. I had preconceived notions that all the people there were stuck-up and plastic and that L.A. wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. I'm glad I was wrong. The people I interacted with were actually friendlier than the people in Tampa, and we went to so many cool places (including Griffith's Observatory). One of the highlights? Seeing the Journey star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame IN THE FLESH.

Yeah, that's me with the Journey star. Jealous?

Even though I haven't given up on my dream of living in New York, after this trip, I now want to live in Pasadena and/or L.A. I face a conundrum of sorts: is it possible to live in two awesomely cool cities in one's lifetime? Guess I'll have to get started on my whole, "Marry Curtis Stone Plan" to find out (because if I married him, I could actually afford to live in both places--maybe Australia, too!).

3. I got a dog.

Back in August, my sister gave me Ava, a one and-a-half (now two)-year old, eleven-pound miniature schnauzer. The arrangement started out rocky, but we've made some breakthroughs and now I can't imagine not having her. I won't go into a whole diatribe about how she has enriched my life and how I'm not quite as selfish as I used to be since I got her, so I will just say this: she is bitchin'. And cute.

4. I completed Apartment Fivers.

2010 saw me finish my manuscript for Apartment Fivers, a novel about my friends, roommates and experiences in college. (The title is a nickname I gave to my roommates and to myself because we lived in Apartment 5. Yay, creativity!) It was a labor of love four years in the making. I still have to go back and edit it, but the hardest part is over with, in my opinion. Hopefully, 2011 will see me complete it for good and send it to agents.

5. Lover of Many, Father of None turned a year old.

I'm just surprised that a bullshit blog about Steve Perry has lasted for as long as it has--and that my reservoir of ridiculousness has not dried up. I started the blog in March of last year out of complete boredom and it's still going strong. Normally, my projects (writing or otherwise) don't get beyond the idea phase, or if they do, they fizzle out incredibly quickly. Not so with this one. This blog has been a blast to write, and I intend on keeping it up until I stop believin'. (See what I did there?)

6. My bad theme park karma continued.

When I say "bad theme park karma," I mean it in the best possible way. Honestly, I do. The little quirks I encounter at theme parks only serve to make the trips much more memorable, and I hope this "bad karma" doesn't run out. 2009 saw me projectile vomit at the Magic Kingdom, and in 2010 the hits kept on comin'. I'm talking getting stuck on rides and vomiting on rides, people! Good stuff!

7. I got a promotion at work.

I still don't know what the hell I do, but I got a pay increase, so that's pretty awesome.

8. I got my very first taste of the coolest blues club ever.

I first visited the Bradfordville Blues Club during this excursion with Meagan and Edwin, and immediately fell in love. The BBC is the kind of place people write songs about. It's literally a little shack at the end of this long dirt road in north Florida, off the beaten path, and it has the best live blues music you will ever hear. It's the kind of place where you make friends with people on the dance floor, and where the musicians are up close and personal. Oh, and it also has bonfires.

As 2010 was coming to a close, I found myself in a social rut. I wanted to expand my social circle and try new things, but still wound up doing the same. Exact. Activities. My friend Ali mentioned Events and Adventures, I looked into it, and ended up joining. It's a social club for singles and it has something going on literally every day. Last week I went to an icebreaker event for new members, and tomorrow I'm going to a New Year's Eve party at a restaurant downtown, a restaurant I've always wanted to try but never got around to it. I've met a few nice people already at the icebreaker event, and I'm excited to see how many more I will meet, and how many stories I will come away with in 2011.

10. I started reviewing coffee shops for

I started writing for because I thought it would give me good exposure; however, I reaped an additional benefit that I didn't count on: it opened me up to meeting new people. Because of this gig, I met Dave and Susan Ward of Buddy Brew Coffee, as well as other coffee bloggers and enthusiasts. I got to try out new cafes and chat with the people that worked in them. I've tasted amazing coffee and stumbled upon a whole subculture that I never would have known about had it not been for this gig. It's been good to me, and I can't wait to see what will happen next year.

Well, would you look at that! Looks like I did find ten things worth writing about! And you know what? Looking back, 2010 was a pretty amazing year. 2011, you have big shoes to fill.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Joffrey's is Deliciously Quirky

New review is up. It's short and sweet and you should peep it out.

Joffrey's is deliciously quirky

I Have Committed Digital Suicide

Well, sort of. Last night, I digitally offed myself from both my Twitter and Facebook accounts. Ever since social networking took off, I've heard opponents of it cite various reasons as to why they don't utilize it: it cheapens relationships ("digital" relationships don't fulfill you like real-life relationships do), it's not cognitively fulfilling (let's face it, it doesn't take a whole lot of brain power to read a status update that says, "OMG Buffy marathon is on!"), and it's the first step down a slippery slope that will eventually lead to an Orwellian society a la 1984. For me, those factors played but minor roles in my decision to deactivate my accounts. The thing that made me quit cold turkey? It's all a bunch of bullshit.

Seriously. It's bullshit. Advocates of social networking say that it helps you reconnect with long-lost friends and family members. Bullshit. The cold, hard, truth is that it helps you stalk people with whom you used to go to high school because you want to see who turned out fat or bald before the ten-year reunion rolls around. Most of my Facebook "friends" were people whose lives I was curious about. I "reconnected" with high school classmates because I wanted to see what they looked like now or if they were pregnant, not because I was genuinely hoping to rekindle old friendships. Hell, I wasn't friends with most of them in high school! Why would I be friends with them now? The ones I honestly cared about keeping in touch with after we graduated I have. And you know how many that was? Two. Out of the entire Taylor County High School class of 2002 that was just shy of 200 people. Same thing goes for college classmates. Before I deactivated my Facebook account, I had 105 friends. Out of that amount, the people who I considered my actual friends numbered around 20 or so. The rest were people I wanted to digitally spy on.

Advocates of social networking say that sites like Twitter and Facebook can help you promote your blog, your business or your cause. Bullshit. Ever since promoting this blog, my Steve Perry blog and my Examiner stories on those sites, I saw no explosion in site visitors. To date, I've earned a whopping $7 on, an amount I probably would have earned regardless of whether I posted a link to Twitter or not. And I've had that account since spring of this year. Out of all three, my Steve Perry blog gets the most visitors, but I don't think it's because I shared it on Facebook. Judging from the reader emails I get, people either hear about it via word of mouth or they stumble across it as a result of a Google search. Facebook and Twitter played very minuscule roles, if they were even involved at all.

Advocates of social networking seem to ignore this fact, but most of the information on Facebook and Twitter is a bunch of mundane bullshit. Logging on and seeing status updates that were a bunch of emo song lyrics, or that were cryptic and said something along the lines of, "SOME people need to check themselves before they open their mouths" were starting to take its toll on me. I started to actually hate people and their exhibitionism, and what was worse was that I was no better. I figured that if most of what people posted online was frivolous and boring, I was no exception.

Advocates of social networking also seem to ignore the fact that reading through mundane bullshit and creeping on strangers' profiles day after day isn't fulfilling. My life wasn't enriched after I saw a friend of a friend's wedding picture or someone commented on a photo I uploaded. It wasn't enriched when someone happened to change their status to lyrics from a Passion Pit song. I didn't see anything spectacular on an old high school classmate's profile. Facebook and Twitter didn't add anything to my life, so I sure as hell am not losing anything by quitting them. For the past six years, I've wasted countless hours on a task that ultimately didn't benefit me in any way, and I'm tired of it. I'm about to embark on a new year, and it's time I got off my lazy ass and worked harder on making and maintaining real world friendships instead of letting a computer do it for me. It's time I finally buckled down and organized my bank statements and bills instead of getting distracted by Facebook. It's time I finally proof-read my manuscript instead of reading someone's "Note" about their 15 favorite albums. It's time I started doing something to enrich my life and well-being.

My online presence isn't gone for good. I'm done with Facebook and Twitter, but I'll still be writing for and keeping up with my blogs. I still have email and Gchat and Google Reader. I still have my BlackBerry. Most importantly, I have the phone numbers and email addresses of people who are actually my friends, and they have mine. Maybe now I can devote more time to having actual conversations with them instead of finding out information on a profile. Maybe now I can get back to being real.

Edit: I have since re-opened both my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Yeah, I'm a hypocrite, blah blah blah.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Theme Park Karma Strikes Again!

I have an interesting history with theme parks. At first I thought the randomness/weirdness was limited only to Disney (see here and here for examples of what I'm talking about), but on Saturday, I discovered that it extended to Universal's Islands of Adventure as well.

I love theme park rides, but I've always had this fear of getting stuck on one, particularly during a part in which I'm hanging upside down, going down a steep hill, going up a steep hill, or at the top of the highest part of the ride. So when my friend Arleen and I got stuck on the Jurassic Park river ride, I was a little concerned. To be fair, the ride is pretty calm, the most exciting part being the drop at the end, but what had me worried was that it stopped a few feet before we dropped. I automatically assumed it was experiencing technical difficulties, and was a little uneasy at having to go through with the drop after it just broke down. I mean, what's to stop it from breaking down again while we're in mid free fall? I could just imagine the scenario: going over the edge and being in that moment where you experience a bit of weightlessness, your heart jumping into your throat. All of a sudden, there's a loud SCREEECH! and the ride comes to a jolting stop, slamming you forward into your lap bar. You get the wind knocked out of you, and find yourself staring straight down to the bottom of the pool, feeling like you're going to fall out of your seat, and white-knuckle the lap bar like it's the only thing separating you from death.

Okay. That might sound a little far-fetched, but still. I wasn't looking forward to going down a drop right after the ride had just (presumably) broken down. Being the awesome friend that I am, I couldn't keep these worries all to myself; I had to bring someone else into my world of irrational fear. So I voiced my concerns to Arleen, whose face then clouded over with anguish as she considered possibilities that had never even crossed her mind before I opened my pie hole.

Luckily, when the ride started back up after about thirty seconds or so, we went over the drop without any problems, and continued our theme park journey. It was at The Hulk roller coaster where we got another surprise. It was our second ride on that coaster and we were in the second row. We had just boarded and were about to buckle up, when the employees manning the ride told us we had to get off briefly. Turns out there was a "Code 5" (hand to God, they used that phrase), which meant that someone puked in the first row. Not only was the puker in the first row, he (or she) was in the seat directly in front of Arleen. We frantically checked our clothes for any sign that we had sat in splash-back, and watched as workers cleaned up the first row, filling a whole trash bag with Code 5. We held our breaths to see if they and their cleaning equipment would migrate to where we had been sitting, but luckily our row was bypassed. However, we still had to sit out that particular trip while the first two rows aired out.

Theme park karma. Gotta love it. Until next time...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Need Your Vote!

What do I want for Christmas this year? Your "like." Seriously. I entered a writing contest in which I had to make up a fake Christmas movie and then write a review of said movie. The winner gets a movie poster of their movie, money, and some other crap. I should mention that my movie stars Dolph Lundgren, so if you want to see this glorious bastard on a movie poster, please "like" it! The three entries with the most Facebook "likes" automatically get added to the shortlist. And if you're in the spirit of giving and want to give (see what I did there?) this link to a friend so they can vote, I'd be much obliged. Thanks!

Click Here to vote.

P.S. If I win, you can bet your sweet bippy I will post pictures of the movie poster. It will be glorious.