Team Dick

A Taste Of My Mid-Life Crisis

Posted by @ 2:03 PM on Feb 19, 2012

Yesterday was haircut day for yours truly. I pulled out of my driveway and threw on the radio, ignoring sports talk, the wife’s pop stations, and the local college’s radio offering in favor of some nice rock radio channel-surfing. I tuned into what I thought was the local classic rock station out of Boston and settled in for some Boston or Bob Seger or Led Zeppelin. Maybe some Gimme Shelter, Feel Like Makin’ Love, or Somebody To Love (the Queen version, as Jefferson Airplane would be on the oldies channel). But I had clearly made a mistake of preset, because instead of the sweet riffs of Hendrix or the octopus-style drumming of Ginger Baker or Michael Anthony’s ignorable bass lines, I got an earful of…Slash.

She’s got a smile it seems to me

Reminds me of childhood memories

Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue skies

(Skies…skies…)

Well that couldn’t be right. My wife must’ve changed up the presets, right? Obviously I was too busy driving safely out of my street to pay attention to which station I hit, right? Clearly I had stumbled on the rock station out of Providence, RI, right? Classic rock wouldn’t be playing Guns ‘n’ Roses, right? Right? RIGHT???

But it could, and it did, and it had. And as I listened to the song that extended hair metal’s life by about five years, a few things occurred to me:

1) Guns ‘n’ Roses’ classic debut, Appetite For Destruction, is 25 years old this year.
2) The music that I listened to growing up and considered “classic rock” was between 15 and 25 years old at the time.
3) Which means, goddamn it, I am getting older…

*               *               *

Believe me, I don’t fear it, or try to fight against it. I’m quite comfortable with my age. On my 30th birthday, as I discovered strands of grey in my hair while getting ready for the day, I found myself smiling with pride and relief – grey hair on your head isn’t brown hair in the sink, and I’d rather be grey than bald any day of the week. I am exactly 20 years older than my niece, and 24 years older than my nephew, and I have had the joy and privilege of watching them grow and mature into people that I not only love as family but truly like as people on their own terms. The horror flicks I could only dream of renting as a wee lad are now part of my permanent DVD collection, to be savored any time I want. And I wouldn’t want to be a teenager again for anything – I’m not so far removed from those years that nostalgia colors the reality of those awkward, sometimes terrifying, rites of passage into adulthood.

But I will not lie to you. Hearing Guns ‘n’ Roses (a band that not only has its roots in the 80s, but in the late 80s, which makes it older than a college’s Class of 2012) on classic rock radio (which traditionally featured music from the late 60s through the 70s) was a cold slap of reality. The only 80s music that classic rock would play was (should be?) the later albums of bands with their roots in the earlier decades (Aeromsmith’s Permanent Vacation and Pump…The Police…Van Halen…AC/DC with Brian Johnson on vocals…you get the idea). Now I have to realistically expect music from my teenage years to feature prominently, though I pray it’ll only be true rock bands like Guns ‘n’ Roses, Def Leppard (up to Pyromania, please, as I was sick of the Hysteria album after the 3rd listen), Scorpions, Motley Crue…and not the pretty-boy “glam metal” of Poison, Warrant, Enuff Z’Nuff, Trixter, and what a female friend from my distant past referred to as “White bands” (White Lion, Whitesnake, Great White…). I don’t think my heart can take those slow-dancing pop standards (“Love Of A Lifetime,” “When The Children Cry,” “Fly High Michelle,” “Heaven,” and so on ad nauseum) being lumped in as “classic rock” alongside “More Than A Feeling,” “Seasons Of Wither,” “Unchained,” “Night Moves,” and so many just-plain-great tunes.

Which may be music snobbery on my part. I like those songs for the most part, but I don’t think they belong with the giants of my own youth. Put it this way: whether you love or hate Bruce Springsteen, Ozzy Osbourne (with Black Sabbath or solo), or the Rolling Stones, do you REALLY think Poison’s Open Up And Say Ahhh! album belongs  alongside Born To Run, Paranoid, or Sticky Fingers? Can you name a single hair band that belongs in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame? That music speaks to a time in our pop culture history, true, but so do the exploitation films of the 70s. And while I love Coffey, Foxy Brown, the Blind Dead series, The Devil’s Nightmare, School Of The Holy Beast, and the slasher flicks of the 80s, I have no illusions that those movies are not classics in the traditional sense. I’m not kidding myself by putting them at the same level of the first two Godfather films, Glengarry Glen Ross, or the majority of Hitchcock’s filmography. The exploitation genre, and glam metal, is junk food. And while I like junk food, I’m not eating it for dinner.

But the truth is the truth. Time passes whether you like it or not. The “latest” of our parents becomes our “classic.” The music that I remember as new and revolutionary is oftentimes dismissed as “old people’s music.” And so, in the end, I have to make my peace with the fact that I am…shudder…an adult. To be referred to as “Mr. Scheckland” by the kids in my neighborhood. To remember where I was and how I reacted to my first time seeing Guns ‘n’ Roses and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video on MTV. To chuckle at the memories of slow dancing with girlfriends to those wonderfully, awfully cheesy hair ballads. To grit my teeth and get used to hearing “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Rock Of Ages” and maybe “I Wanna Rock” on the same radio channel as “Rock ‘n’ Roll Never Forgets” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “We Will Rock You.” To accept my pop culture age with the same grace that I accepted my biological age. Hey, at least I have my iPod to help me ease into that particular tar pit with “Peace Of Mind,” right?

But I swear, the first time I hear “Wish You Were Here” segue-way into “Give It To Me Good” or “Talk Dirty To Me” or – God help me – “The Final Countdown,” I will tear my car stereo out with my bare hands and toss it out of my car…

And John Adams? I wouldn’t laugh. You’re less than five years away from Smashing Pumpkins being tossed in with the rest of us dinosaurs…

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Check The Fucking Label

Posted by @ 7:08 PM on Sep 26, 2011

Right, no fucking around. This post is for men, by men.

Gentlemen I tell you this, and it is a hard lesson learned, check the fucking label.

This is a message that has numerous applications to all facets of the male lifestyle, however trying to apply this message to all facets of the male lifestyle is too fucking hard and tedious. I speak to one specific application of this message: purchasing underarm deodorant. This is my story.

Continued on the inside…

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31 in 31: The Pre-Game Show

Posted by @ 3:12 PM on Sep 25, 2011

September 25th??? Jaysus, where does the time go???

We have so much to discuss. Books to review. Films to rave about and slag. I’m sure I have a fantasy sports rant in me somewhere. And I keep putting off my review of a nasty li’l (heh…) film called The Sinful Dwarf. But all of that needs to stay on the back burner for now. You’ll have to wait to hear my thoughts regarding the first two parts of Mira Grant’s zombie apocalypse trilogy. No time (yet) to convince you that Pirate Radio is a film that is very, very good for you. Amanda Palmer will dodge my loving ire for a bit longer. Because we are six days from October, and with that months comes Halloween, which has inspired two traditions in the Scheckland household: the reading of The Book of Lists: Horror and Stephen King’s Danse Macabre, and…

31 Films in 31 days!!!

The rules are pretty simple. Over the course of October, I will watch 31 horror/exploitation films (averaging – you guessed it! – one a day for 31 days), and post my thoughts and reviews in this very forum for your amusement. To make things more difficult or interesting, I usually set limits for my viewing – only films I’ve never seen before, strictly foreign horrors, a month of slashers, “It Came From My Cable Box,” etc. This year, to add a more interactive wrinkle, I will only watch movies I get from Netflix Online. While that will make viewing easier as far as my ability to actually find films, it makes thinks a bit more interesting in that anything I watch, you can watch. As always, if I don’t post it, I didn’t watch it. So, in six days time, please join me as I kill time, (probably) brain cells, and (quite possibly) the will to live.

31 Films in 31 days!!!

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August 16th, 2011

Posted by @ 9:20 PM on Aug 16, 2011

It’s a Sunday afternoon in July and I am mowing my back lawn. There’s a lot of ground to cover and it’s slow going thanks to heat that has permanently glued my T-shirt to my torso and humidity that makes breathing feeling inhaling lobster bisque. My glasses are smeared with the same sweat that is in my eyes. I’m mentally debating the pros and cons of saying “Fuck it” and going in for the day, but having to mow in the cooler weather is outweighed by the fact that the cooler weather is some weeknight after work. I push on, miserable, and barely hear the sound of my name coming from the deck. My wife is motioning me to come over. She has a plate of sliced tomato and a bottle of water. She asks me how it’s going and I tell her it’ll be another half hour before I’m done. Reading my mind, she tells me that it’s “pretty fucking nasty out” and I can hold off on finishing the lawn until a cooler evening. I half-smile, half-grimace and tell her that I’ll just bang out the mowing. She tells me that there’ll be tuna for lunch when I’m done and then takes the plate in. I put the water in my back pocket and finish the lawn in less than twenty minutes. The heat and humidity are long forgotten.

*          *           *          *          *

It’s a summer night in late July of 2004. I’ve been at work since 2pm and, thanks to the Democratic National Convention, can’t even think of driving home until 1am when the roads out of Boston open up. I’ve been keeping busy, reading and watching the trouble reports coming in. I get word that Escape From Boston can finally occur and I rush out the door. I hop in my company car and push that little shitbox to about 85 as I race home, barely beating my own fatigue and 2 o’clock in the morning. My wife – girlfriend at the time – is waiting for me. I’m barely through the door when she’s taken my bag from me and led me back out the door. I’m too tired to be annoyed as she leads me to her car and drives us…somewhere, casually mentioning that she held off on eating until I was home. We do drive-through at the nearby 24-hour McDonalds, parking to eat and chat. I tell her about my night and she tells me about her day. We drive home and I end up sleeping like a baby. Later this week or month or year, we’ll do our grocery shopping at the local grocery store that inexplicably is open all night. We agree that this is the best time to shop.

*          *          *          *          *

We’re driving home from somewhere – our friends’ house, dinner with our family, the bank…anywhere – and we’re listening to a mix CD that she made. Most of the songs, for me, range from ignorable to somewhat enjoyable thanks to somewhat similar but mostly different tastes in music. She’s talking about her latest idea for a novel and I’m alternating between nodding as she talks and providing some initial feedback. The next song comes on, and as the opening notes play, I smile because I know it’s on this CD because I like it. I start singing along and when the female part comes my wife joins in. We’re singing a song we both enjoy, both smiling and ignoring the irony of it all…

The band? Stars. The song? “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead.”

*          *          *          *          *

It’s August 16th, 2011. 12:30am. I’m in bed with seven hours to sleep before work. My wife comes in and engages me in a Twitter-Feed-inspired conversation about the ten best Horror movies of the last fifteen years. I’m having trouble debating most of her choices, as mine are pretty much the same. I tell her I wish she’d watch The Abandoned because I think it’d make her list, although what she’d bump is a mystery to me. She asks me what I’d cut to fit The Descent onto my list. We’re deep into the conversation when she tells me, “I shouldn’t be talking to you about this at 12:30 in the morning…” and I realize that it’s now 1:30, actually. She lets me have my troubled sleep; I drift off arguing in my head whether The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity make my Ten, or if The Descent bounces both. My last coherent thought before sleep takes me is to wonder what year Ginger Snaps was made…

That afternoon, I get an email from her. She’s asking me what I thought of the latest chapter of her new project. As an afterthought, she wishes me a “happy anniversary or some shit.” I reply that I loved the chapter, and knowing what I know about one of these characters, I hate her for how much I loved the book so far. I end my note to her, “Oh, is our anniversary today? Huh…” To celebrate our two years as husband and wife, we order Chinese delivery and dork around on World of Warcraft.

You might ask, “Why aren’t you doing more to celebrate this blessed event?” I know that my niece’s view of romance may have been shattered when I told her what we were doing today. My wife’s offer to “juggle midgets” was little comfort. I could argue that these two years of marriage (that bwessed event…that dweam wiffin a dweam…) were preceded by ten years together. I could tell you horror stories of what we’ve been through together as well as tales that still make us laugh to this day. But it comes down to this simple fact: I love my wife, and what makes her happy makes me happy. Today, what made her happy was a PuPu platter and pork lo mein, knowing that I adore her new project, and the confirmation that she’s got some pretty solid taste in my favorite film genre.

Seeing The Ring with friends and the aftermath of it…

The length and shape of her nose, which she’s needlessly self conscious of (and will make me pay for even mentioning), but that I any crazy about…

The car ride where we named our first Basset Hound, and the fact that I came up with the name. Her response was a pause for thought and a half-surprised “That’s a pretty good idea for a name…”

The debate over the perfect album…

Trick ‘r Treat…

The negotiations of chores for DVDs or books…

Power-leveling a WoW character that I never planned on having, much less becoming attached to…

The Halloween we went in a theme costume…as each other…

Happy Anniversary, babes. I love you.

[“I love you too, asshole.”]

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My New Favorite Cooking Show

Posted by @ 11:55 PM on Aug 11, 2011

…is not on Food Network, not on the Cooking Channel, and not on Canada’s FoodTV. It’s on your friendly neighborhood YouTube and it’s called My Drunk Kitchen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLYxeJjxc8s

 

It’s nice to know, no matter what your cooking skill level maybe be, that you can always make the perfect mimosa.

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Keeping Dad’s Computer Safe

Posted by @ 11:48 AM on Jul 18, 2011

Over the weekend I visited my father and, as is now tradition, I was tasked with cleaning up and fixing his computer. It had been running slow for while with 30-minute boot times not uncommon. However this is also an HP machine that had been built in 2002 and had never had the OS (Windows XP) reinstalled during all that time. Perhaps the slow boot time was simply because of its age. I dug in to find out and see if I couldn’t get things running smoothly like it did coming out of the box.

Continued on the inside…

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Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Posted by @ 1:44 PM on May 21, 2011

Wrestling is not fake. It is scripted, but to call it fake is to be completely ignorant of wrestling. There is real danger and real injury. There is also inspired story telling. Some matches may have every move choreographed while others are works of total improvisation. And, on occasion, there are “shoot” matches in which both wrestlers genuinely beat the hell out of each other with no predetermined winner.

I was sad to hear about the passing of “Macho Man” Randy Savage. He was a staple of 1980s wrestling and had an amazing comeback in the late 1990s. He was one of my favorites. He was involved in one of the greatest (and many maintain is the absolute greatest) wrestling matches ever filmed. This is an example of a meticulously choreographed match with Savage and his opponent, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat putting in hours of practice for this one. So as a little Team Dick tribute to the Macho Man let’s watch his match against The Dragon from Wrestlemania III.

And if you’re of the “wrestling is fake” and/or “wrestling is stupid” I challenge you to watch this and see if you don’t find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat before it’s all over. And I’m going to include one other match after the break to help drive home the point of how un-fake wrestling really is.

Continued on the inside…

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Forbidden Fruit

Posted by @ 4:23 PM on May 15, 2011

As I write this, my wife is away for the evening. She is at her mother’s house, tending to my mother-in-law’s hounds while I am left at home to fend for myself. I am sitting in front of my computer, typing out my latest series of random synapse firings and eating my dinner. No, that’s not entirely true. I’m not eating my dinner, I’m savoring it. I’m loudly devouring it, making yummy noises, as my two Basset hounds stare at me longingly. The older of the two is chuffing and woofing as if to say, “Hello father. We are here and we would certainly appreciate your generosity if you were to share whatever heavenly dish you are currently enjoying.” The younger is pawing at me – her message is more simple: “Daddy! Daddy!! Want some want some want some!!!” But they’ll end up disappointed, because I won’t share this delight. It’s mine…all MINE, I tells ya!!! And no one is getting any of this treasure! And what culinary godsend – what gourmet’s dream, you may ask – has me in a state of bliss usually reserved for the most hardcore of food porn?

Ramen noodles, my friends. But not just any ol’ ramen. Nissin Bowl Noodles. Hot & Spicy Chicken Flavor. That’s right: I have achieved nirvana at $1 per bowl.

 

You know you want it…

 

I am washing down my meal with a can of Pepsi Throwback. And, yes, I realize that it’s just old-school Pepsi, made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. And, yes, I know that this meal is neither “good” nor good for me. And, yes, if my wife were home, I probably wouldn’t be eating this at all, much less with the vigor and delight that I am at this moment. I am not “allowed” to have this type of junk food, not because I am “whipped” but because I am loved. My wife wants me to live a nice long life with her and the sodium content alone runs contrary to that wish. But that’s kind of the point isn’t it? I’m eating it because she’s not here to tell me I shouldn’t, and it’s deliciousness is based solely on the “verboten” factor. This is forbidden fruit and that’s why it’s so damned good.

Can you imagine how delicious that apple must have been to get Humanity kicked out of Paradise???

Perhaps you doubt what I’m telling you, that part of a food’s flavor and satisfaction value is tied into the fact that we shouldn’t, or can’t, have it. If that’s the case, I offer you this experiment. Go to a McDonalds with a friend, preferably one who prefers that you eat your food and they eat theirs. Order whatever you like but make sure your friend gets a large order of french fries. Go to your table and eat some of your own meal. Pretty good, right? You know you shouldn’t have McDonalds every day but this meal, in this moment, is pretty freakin’ good, isn’t it? Eat one of your fries. Yummy! Now wait for your moment, perhaps as your friend is reaching for a fry of their own, and steal one of theirs! As your friend asks you what the hell you were thinking, annoyed at the rudeness, pulling their food out of your reach, try convincing yourself that the french fry in your mouth ISN’T more tasty than your own. I guarantee you that you can’t, because stolen fries are always more delicious than our own.  And if you didn’t know it before, you certainly do now.

And the concept of forbidden fruit doesn’t just refer to food, mind you. Think of the toys you wanted as a child, the ones your parents wouldn’t buy for you right at that moment. How many times were you reduced to a raging hurricane of temper tantrum? Or the cars you stare at longingly, knowing you’ll never even test-drive them, much less buy. Is there REALLY a difference between a Mustang and a Toyota on a highway during rush hour? I had zero desire to attend this year’s Rue Morgue Festival of Fear in Toronto thanks to the lousy time I had the last time thanks to (convention organizer) Hobbystar’s hideous excuse for organization and fan treatment…until Rue Morgue magazine (whom I love) announced one of the bands that would be playing this year. Now, even as I know I cannot (and still really don’t want to) go, part of me would kill and/or steal to be able to attend.

I know my wife is going to read this. And she’ll inevitably give me that look of mild-to-middling disappointment mixed with a good portion of empathy. She’ll tell me I shouldn’t be eating that crap and I’ll shamefacedly agree. And not too far from now, she’ll email me at the office, asking me to grab her a pint of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream on the way home. I’ll grumble and grouse, telling her she doesn’t need the damned ice cream any more than I need to be sidetracked from coming home after a long day of work. But we both know I’ll buy it, just as we both know that the first spoonful that goes into her mouth will be the most satisfying. Because nothing fuels our desires more than the words “no” or “shouldn’t.”  Because we want what we cannot, or should not, have. And at the end of the day, no salad or fat-free heart healthy anything holds a candle to a single forbidden fruit.

So what are your “forbidden fruits?”

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On buying a new car

Posted by @ 2:06 PM on Apr 8, 2011

It’s amazing what one learns when they research into buying a car.

There’s sticker invoice price, MSRP, and the real price the dealer pays.

There are various websites, like Edmunds.com on the internet which offer a statistic known as True Market Value. The True Market Value is the average price people in your area have purchased the car for. In some cases this is lower than the printed sticker invoice price. How is this possible?

If you’re thinking about buying a car, do lots of research. Lots and lots of research, not just on the car you want, how much people have paid for it, how to negotiate for it, what tricks car dealers can legally use to inflate the price.

What exactly is dealer prep? In many cases it’s just removing the plastic off the seats, vacuuming the inside and attaching your license plates. Takes a couple hours at most. If the dealer prep fee is $500 you just paid $250 an hour for those minor tasks. In this modern day of electronic information transfer, is the price paid for filing fees really covering the effort to file your title or financing? Should you, the car buyer, pay the dealer for the money they spent to advertise the cars on their lot? Come prepared, bring along your credit history. Bring along online quotes for the car you’re interested in. Bring along estimated values of your trade in.

I’ve come across many recommendations that you should attempt to negotiate the price of the car to 5% over the real dealer cost. Before you can determine the real dealer cost you need to learn if there are any Factory to Dealer Incentives and how much Factory Holdback there is on your car.  Factory to Dealer Incentives is money paid to the dealer by the factory when the car is sold. Factory Holdback (generally 2-3%) is the amount extra charged the dealer by the factory which is then paid back to the dealer after the car is sold. So the Factory to Dealer Incentives and Factory Holdback are really money that the dealer makes on top of what they sell your car for.

So in equation format: Dealer’s Actual Cost = (Invoice Price – Factory to Dealer Incentives – Factory Holdback).

This moves your offer to being Dealer’s Actual Cost + 5%

Not every dealer will publish those values, some will pretend that you’re crazy for even asking about them. Walk away from those dealers.

Remember when you’re buying a car. Until you sign something you can always walk away.

Websites where the information above has come from:

Using the tactics above I recently purchased a new vehicle. In fact just coming armed with the information above lead my sales rep to avoiding discussing those items.

There was a heavy push on the after sale items – additional warranties, paint coating, but I held firm.

The last tip I can offer, arrive at the dealership knowing your credit score and how much local banks will pre-qualify you on an autoloan. My credit score is nearly 800 and the dealership tried to get me to accept a 7.5% interest rate on a loan. Since my bank pre-approved me a 2.99% (for the same number of months) the dealership was forced to either offer me a better interest rate, or risk me walking off the lot. In the end they offered me 2.94% and I drove off the lot with my new Ford Fiesta.

Good hunting!

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Welcome To Team Dick

Posted by @ 8:45 PM on Jan 30, 2011

This is Team Dick.

This is also very early in our internet existence. As such there’s not much to it at the moment, but we’ll get around to doing something.

Probably.

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