Holidays, Mall of Famers and more…

Happy Holidays to all of you. I could throw in the seemingly pre-requisite line that goes something like, “Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Qwanzaa and a great Festivus!” but that’s overdone. I think I heard this line about ten times in two nights in the Old Port last week. Even worse, I think I said it six of those times…

By the time some of you read this, I’ll be on the final day of my five-day vacation – a welcome getaway considering we’ve had at least one Friday, Saturday or Sunday game the past eight weekends. I’ve had so much time off that I honestly don’t know what to do with myself, but I do know I’m at what’s known as ‘That Point.’ You know, the point where being home is nice, but that it’s time to get out of your parents house and go back to the crazy, makes-no-sense lifestyle you suddenly miss? Being a child of divorce, I don’t really have a ‘home neighborhood’ where I can catch up with old friends and light things on fire while listening to stories of them working in-town for the new L.L. Bean outlet store and dating the ‘wicked hot’ girl we knew in 10th grade. Honestly, I think that would be pretty cool on this Monday night, but I’ll settle for my Portland Mafia and the afore-mentioned O.P. trip anytime.

Some of the things I miss about Maine or What I Wrote Down While Flipping Through Channels and Refusing More Holiday Fudge at 3 pm:

1 – Maine TV stations have more of a hand on the pulse of the state: Yep, I’m a media nerd. One of the things that stunned me when I first moved down to New Hampshire was the lack of major media outlets as the Granite State has just one big paper and one tv station. (The reason given is that a lot of NH’ers get their news from the Boston stations. I don’ t know if that means we have less interest in different points of view, but I’m not buying it.) Here, there are three stations in Portland alone, never mind the ones in Bangor and other areas. I usually bring this point up when in conversation with native NH’ers who claim that Mainers are hicks.

In catching up on some WCSH-6 the past few days, it struck me that these people have a more genuine feeling and involvement about their viewership than the stations we have. Some of this is caused by the Boston issue, but I just feel a closer connection to the Portland newscasts even thought I’ve been gone for almost five years. Like I said, media nerd.

2 – I don’t think it gets much better than Maine public access t.v. Between the Portland and Lewiston-Auburn versions, is there any less qualified group of people to run a station than us? I’m on channel 7 in Auburn right now that has been focused on a dark conference room somewhere in the city for a good few hours. On another channel is ‘Musicians of Maine’ whose participants don’t exactly deserve that title. So far, I’ve seen two different kids singing country songs, dressed up in gear that will make them hate their parents upon re-watching the show in 10 years. I need my own show here…it could be huge.

3 – Recently, I heard about some crazy tax on water that the state is trying to impose on Poland Spring that would basically drive smaller bottled water-based businesses out and hurt the water giant’s standing in Maine. Combined with the resistance to casinos and any other forms of taxable revenue generators, it’s pretty easy to understand why the state is in crisis financially. I appreciate the fact that everyone is trying to save the state’s reputation as a scenic wonderland, but let’s face it: there’s plenty of land for that purpose. Would a few casinos hurt that? No and they would actually keep mucho-bucks in Maine for those people staying in-state to gamble their Social Security checks away. Someday, I hope the Pine Tree State gets it, but I fear it might be too late.

4 – Trying to adjust to different cable channel lineup when visiting others can be like explaining the Dewey Decimal System.

In all, maybe I miss living here more than I thought.

—————-

-Over 200,000 were killed in last year’s tsunami. Combined with the mass destruction of Katrina and Wilma, the last 365 days were one of the worst for human tragedy in history. Just something to think about next time any of us complain about something trivial…

Personally, 2005 is a year I’d soon like to forget. Two friends of mine moved away to the Left Coast, which affected me more than I ever thought. Another friend went away in a different sense, while new friends made their entry into my rogue’s gallery. Yet another pal was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease and now faces a battle against physical and mental challenges that none of us can fathom but are ready to help him take on. Work changed quite a bit and has evolved from one of great heights and accomplishments (the All-Star game being the biggest) to one of constant challenge that I’m trying to get my arms around. On a positive note, I moved into a new one-bedroom apartment and have now fully adjusted to living the truly single life. I took several trips to new places (N.C. and Atlanta) and continued the eternal search for whatever my Holy Grail really is. I met some great people and had some great experiences. We had a Milleystock, a Simmons meeting and plenty of Sox games along the way.

But I cannot wait for 2006, tentatively entitled “Nason’s Revenge.” Already on the docket is my first participation in a wedding party as one of my best friends slips on that fateful band in July. Throw in a couple more random weddings, another Milleystock (?), pregnancy announcements (I’m guessing here), kickboxing classes and the usual/unusual occurances that happen with me, 2006 is the year I hope to really snap back into the reality that I want to live in. Nason’s Revenge, y’all…it’s on.

Until next Saturday though, it’s back to saltines and seltzer, baby.

–Look for a really interesting blog in about 7-10 days. The first female contributor to the Aces will be in the house as she and I will debate growing up ‘twentysomething’ and the male/female relations that lie within. We’ve done some prelim work and it should be good.

Finally, I am set to announce the first Nason Mall of Famer or an NMF’er. There is no criteria and no real rhyme-or-reason to these choices. However, each NMF’er is something that helped me become who I am in some strange form or fashion. At the end of the day, my goal is to make some of you go, ‘Holy shit…I remember that!’ You might be an NMF’er – who knows? First up…

1980’s Public TV for Kids

I am telling you right now there was no better time for public broadcasting than in the 1980s when it came to making cool kids tv. Cable was years away from truly being in every household and we were left with the major networks to provide us programming truly worthy of being our virtual babysitters. (In another blog, I’ll address cartoons…non-abused scout’s honor.) So, PBS had every opportunity to make a big impact with kids infatuated with Trapper Keepers, Transformers and doing stupid shit with their hair. Just look at this killer lineup of shows that made their way through the decade:

-Sesame Street: enough said. From the lone black inhabitant in Gordon to Luis and Maria’s Fix-It Shop to Muppets that were basically homeless (Oscar) to the ‘Mr. Hooper dies episode,’ ‘Sesame’ deserves its own section.

The Electric Company TV Show - The Electric Company Television Show-The Electric Company: Even though it began in the 1970s, the five-minute Spider-Man live-action segments had me hooked. Between Easy Reader (played by Morgan Freeman) and Fargo North, Decoder, the show was actually written by an actor that some people might recognize – Cheryl’s father on Curb Your Enthusiasm. And FINALLY, the show will be released on DVD in February of 2006. You think Morgan would consider a movie remake? What if it was a detective movie with Ashley Judd? Between Freeman and Laurence Fishburne as Kowboy Kurtis in ‘Pee Wee’s Playhouse,’ there’s a good Oprah show somewhere in this. Somewhere.

-New Zoo Revue: Another 70’s creation that got renewed life in the 80s, this show’s tagline is ‘a way of life through music.’ In other words, think of giant dancing characters that interacted with humans. There is talk of an animated movie, but nothing can truly get the taste of how trippy this crew was. (Side note: I’m surprised that the FDA never did a full-scale report on how drugs and kids tv could be interlaced. I would love to use my Super Mario pipe to warp back and see a show in the right…mindframe.
-Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood: If this show began today, parents would be up in arms. A neighborhood of ‘make believe,’ a mailman named Mr. McFeeley that was addicted to quick service, a land ruled by a dysfunctional king and queen with an obviously gay son, all run by an older man who owned this safe house located somewhere in a random neighborhood, stopping by from time-to-time just long enough to change his sweater and shoes. Uh-huh.

3-2-1 Contact TV Show - 3-2-1 Contact Television Show– 3-2-1 Contact: A show about science that I actually liked. These days, kids would be made fun of for watching shows about school subjects, but back in the 80s? This was the shit. The Bloodhound Gang were the major stars, but overall, this show kicked ass and can probably be linked to most of the scientists/engineers that now create bombs to kill people. Thanks PBS!

Square One: This one was at the tail end of the 80s when everything in general started to dilute into the lovely neon mess called the 90s. But if you loved math, this 30 minutes was for you. Between Mathnet and the lovable Mathman, S1 was the last notable attempt of PBS to really put something interesting yet fun out there. While I still need a calculator to do the smaller of minor equations, I credit S1 with helping me attain a ‘Continental Mathlete’ award while I was in elementary school. Anyone from Maine compete in one of these?

The Letter People: Somewhere along the way, this program helped inspire me to write and learn words. The Letter People were great as quite simply, it was about characters based on letters. The scribe’s answer to shows like ‘3-2-1 Contact,’ Letter People was like G.E.D. for kids. Do today’s shows even bother teaching or is it all merchandise-driven now? Man, I sound old. “Come along with the Letter People…A-B-C and 1-2-3!”

-Reading Rainbow: The final notable entry of the 80s PBS revolution was my main man Lavar Burton’s claim to fame before all that Star Trek/Broadway jazz. I could say so much more, but my best memories were going to our family camp in the summer and asking to go to the library after watching Burton suggest some books at the end of a good ‘Rainbow’ program. It was a good way to break up the day’s other activities of swimming, more swimming and navigating the secret paths that ran through the woods. While flipping channels today, I caught a few minutes of an old program and almost shed a tear at Lavar’s high-fade haircut.

So your first NMF’er…1980s PBS Kids Shows!

su-fi,
nason

My Hollywood Minute(s)

Personally, nothing can top last week’s blog for a pure experience. Alas, I must try to pump something out this week, so here’s a mixed bag of pop culture easy-reading fun, all wrapped up with a bow and Scotch tape. (The Hall of Fame blog is coming, probably in a few weeks.)

–I reserved a good part of my Saturday aside and went to ‘King Kong,’ a three-hour long epic remake by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame. Yes, it’s a long movie and a lot of story to take in at once. But once you see it, you’ll understand that p.j. had to make this movie this way. There were times when you feel for this giant gorilla and can literally hear his heart break when Ann Darrow turns him down. I know – it sounds crazy but it’s true. The CGI special effects are pretty awesome, complete with a few ‘Oh, come on!’ moments like any monster movie has. A couple other questions/thoughts I had coming out of it though:
*At some point, I actually wondered, “Is she thinking about a long-term relationship with Kong?” I began to think of those logistics for a minute, shuddered and then went back to eating popcorn.
*Do women find Adrien Brody attractive? If so, I must smash my nose with a mallet because ‘ugly’ apparently is in.
*It’s always funny to see your friend hide his face in his jacket when giant bugs are on the screen. There’s no price on that comedy.
*Naomi Watts has this ability to just look terrified at all times. Where did she come from anyway?

In all, I would definitely recommend ‘King Kong,’ but get an aisle seat for bathroom breaks. There aren’t many, but ‘Kong’ is why people go to the movies: a grandiose story that must be seen to be appreciated.

—-You might have already known this, but a movie version of Miami Vice is hitting the big screen this summer with Colin Farrell as Crockett and Jamie Fox as Tubbs. You can peep the trailer at www.miamivice.com/main.html. I wasn’t a huge fan of the show growing up, but can appreciate that it would be perfect fodder for a major film. However, this brings up a good question – why has Hollywood become so unoriginal? To me, I can see how doing films on ‘Vice’ and ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ and remakes like ‘Kong’ would seem like studios aren’t coming up with fresh new ideas. I don’t know if I agree with that. Studios are about doing one thing: making money. Once, one idea hits it big and is doable for others, everyone will follow suit. That’s why you see so many superhero, dead singer and tv adaption flicks – they’re using an age-old formula to attract a new audience.

Look at ‘Dukes’ for example: young MTV-made stars (Stiffler from Am. Pie and Johnny ‘Jackass’ Knoxville) with an ultra-hot female (Jessica Simpson) in a car chase, dirty humor type of movie. This wasn’t meant to attract the old ‘Dukes’ fans, but kids who they hoped would adopt these new ‘Dukes’ into their personal ‘Hot’ lists. I can definitely see why Hollywood would try and create this with other shows and remakes. It’s not unoriginality as much as throwing darts at a board and trying to hit something big. And as far as ‘Kong,’ I see it as being able to use the current technology to make an even better movie than we could have ever imagined. Now, how did ‘Godzilla’ go so wrong….

—-Some other movies coming out sometime soon. You can check out most of the trailers at www.apple.com/trailers:

-Lady In The Water: The new M. Night Shyamalananananan movie (The Sixth Sense guy) debuts his new flick this July. I thought The Village was awesome, so I’m pretty excited about this one which stars Paul Giamatti (Sideways, dozens of other great roles) and Bryce Dallas Howard (who was the blind girl in Village).

-The Davinci Code: Great book which hopefully translates over. If so, this movie will be HUGE. I’d highly recommend the book to anyone, especially those who aren’t ‘big’ into reading. It’s fast-paced and so well done that I’d gather anyone would like it.

-X-Men III: Also next summer, the final X-flick looks pretty sick. Of course, I’m a comic book nerd so most movies of this ilk appeal to me. For example…

-V For Vendetta: A flick based on a DC book that is getting some good buzz. I’ve never read it, but the previews look good.

-Transformers: 2007 is going to be nuts for Nason-approved flicks like this one, Spider-Man 3 (working title: The Greatest Film of All Time) and Ghost Rider. I’m a big T-Formers guy (gotta love Optimus…got to), so this should kick ass. Steven Spielberg is even involved. My guess is that Thundercats won’t be too far behind, which I’ll have to see with T-cats fan and overall good guy, Clyde.

-Superman Returns: Yeah, yeah. Super-this and super-that.

—-CK wrote another blog today – his first since May. Wow, he is an angry guy. Read for yourself at http://champkind.blogspot.com/. Definitely a good read if you want to get out of the holiday spirit.

—-Here are some other things that you should know about:

1) Wrestler Diamond Dallas Page is suing Jay-Z for allegedly stealing the diamond gesture he makes with his hands. I mean, everytime Hova or someone in the Roc-A-Fella posse throws that up, you think DDP vs. Goldberg at Halloween Havoc in ’98, right?

2) Chappelle Show is back! Kinda. They took whatever Chappelle threw together before he decided that his new $50 million contract was just too much and made a few shows that will debut in 2006. Comedy Central has a preview up on their site, which I can’t seem to access. Anyhoo, we’ll all get some new Dave next year.

3) Speaking of Dave, I have a few things to say about Dave Matthews that I’ll probably save for another week. I went to a show last week and didn’t come away that impressed.

4) The Sultan of Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond – is hot again, thanks to a new album produced by Rick Rubin. I haven’t heard it, but it’s getting raves. I think the true test is if you pop it in and a girl muckles onto you immediately, making you say something like, “Jeeeeeeeeeezzuusssssssss!” (Inside joke, y’all. Like Stuart Scott, I’m just playin’.)

5) From the ‘What the f**k are they making that for’ file: a sequel to Van Wilder is being filmed, focusing on the Taj character returning back to India with his knowledge. Lame. I also saw an ad today for an American Pie spinoff with Eugene Levy going to band camp with Stiffler’s brother. Just garbage, straight-to-DVD stuff. That’s it – no one gets Christmas presents this year. I’m pissed!

Thanks for reading,
nason

Nason Meets The Sports Guy

To quote WWE wrestler Kurt Angle, “It’s true! It’s true!” I can now say that I have officially met, shaken hands with and said a few words to one of my idols, Bill “The Sports Guy” Simmons. I’m going to let that sink in for a minute…

Ok…still awesome.

For those of you unfamiliar with Bill, he’s a columnist for ESPN’s Page 2, a Massachusetts-born sportswriter that first gained notoriety as the Boston Sports Guy through his website of the same name. He was discovered by ESPN and what started out as an occasional column turned into his own page on the Page 2 site. Long story short, he mixes sports with pop culture and mixes it with some of his own self-depracating humor. You can see why he might be an inspiration for my writing, eh? Simmons recently wrote his first book, “Now I Can Die In Peace,” which, via columns written during the BSG days through the current ESPN pieces, chronicles the mental hardships and joys of being a Red Sox fan born in the 1970s through their 2004 World Series victory. With updates done via sidebars, it still manages to stay current while giving the reader a good sense of what ‘growing up Sox’ really is all about.

I first got turned onto Simmons years ago when the Page-triot randomly emailed me a funny column he had written. He had gained such a cult following that if you were a card-carrying Bostonite male in your early 20s and not reading the Sports Guy, there was something wrong with you. Seriously, it was like a litmus test of how much of a Sox fan you were. Years later, Simmons expanded out and now writes on a various amount of topics that includes ‘The O.C.’ and ‘Anchorman’ mixed with the sports stuff. I’ve written him various emails through the years to which I’ve got a few brief replies. The one I regret is when he thought I implied that he had ripped off a ‘Royal Rumble running diary’ idea I was going to do for a wresting site I used to write for. I was trying to imply that it was a great idea and that he had beat me to it, but he didn’t seem to take it that way. I still wish I could take that email back, but so is idol worship. I’ve admired him on so many levels, not the least of which includes being turned onto one of my favorite authors, Chuck Klosterman.

ANYWAY, back to the reason I’m writing this blog. With any book comes what? A book tour! But when B.S. went through his first East Coast run a few months ago, I couldn’t make any of the Boston dates. Even more disappointingly, no one else I knew made any of them either, despite my email updates to anyone within a T-trip or cab ride to their local bookstore. Apparently, it was going to be up to me to make some sort of Bill sighting happen and to relay to him how much his writing has meant to so many people I know. So on Sunday, the stage was set: a 3 pm signing at a Barnes and Noble in Kenmore Square. Would I finally meet Bill Simmons or could fate interject and deter me from the path?

After navigating the Orange and Green lines to my destination without problem (an AMAZING task if you ask people that know me. My ‘directionary’ ability is as solid as the Bruins’ chances of winning a Stanley Cup.), I spotted my destination which glowed like a cop car in an inner-city neighborhood. I’ve never been to a book signing, so I assumed I would encounter a line that would culminate in handing the book over, saying ‘Hi’ and being disappointed after realizing that it was signed with no personalization. (I experience this with former Celtics ‘star’ Dee Brown back in the 90s at a card show. Very disappointing, but I think I make more money than he does now.) However, I was really going for the experience, so if this was the reaction I would get, so be it. Simmons doesn’t strike me as this type of guy, but I was definitely intrigued as to how accurate the down-to-earth persona really was.

I walked in around 4 pm, an hour after the signing began. Holy shit…what a line! It stretched all the way around the store to the Starbucks area which was off near the front. Having cut off autograph lines before, I was hoping that karma wouldn’t come back to get me. A B/N employee asked what I wanted inscribed in the book, via a Post-It note she would write on and attach to it. Going with the standard ‘To Josh,’ I began to realize that this was actually going to happen: I was going to meet Bill Simmons! It might be in the early hours of Monday A.M., but I could wait. After a slight bit of advancement past the muffins in the coffee area, the same B/N employee said, “Looks like you’re the last one in line today” as there was no one else behind me. Stunned at potentially being the last guy Simmons saw that night, I was immediately floored. I actually had a legit shot at an actual conversation! Unreal! Amazing! Showing my enthusiasm, I said, “Ok” followed by the Philip Seymour Hoffman character in ‘The Big Lebowski’ look-alike in front of me muttering, “Last? Kind of a dubious distinction, huh?” Instead of making any small talk, I replied, “Ahhh…whatever” and thought about what I would ask or say to Bill. But within 34 seconds, a line formed behind me and my hopes were dashed. It was fun while it lasted.

Standing in lines with random strangers is always good for spotting some unusual characteristics and mannerisms. The guy directly in back of me was getting a book signed for a friend and loved to talk on his cell phone, especially to his girlfriend roaming around the store. This little jerk decided to stay on his phone while the B/N lady came around with more Post-It notes, replying, “I’m all set…I have a pen” and then saying afterwards to his lady, “I’m not going to let someone else write down what I want signed!” On principal alone, I wanted to drive my Simmons book up through his nasal cavity and toss him into the foreign newspaper rack but I was making some good progress in the line. (He would later leave as he had some party to get to. Jerk.) Another person was asked by another ‘line-mate’ to have their book signed because they had dinner reservations. C’mon! If you can’t wait, don’t get into line! This poor girl not only had to get her own stuff signed, but now, someone else’s? How awkward!

Side note: Here are some various text messages I sent to Papa Greg (my recently transposed Manchester-to-Santa Monica friend) while in line. I found they somewhat convey my mental state:

Me: Going to meet Simmons – very nervous.
Him: Find out where he drinks
Me: Working on ‘hi’ right now

Finally, the moment of truth was mere feet in front of me, separated by about five people. Dressed in a basic light-blue striped button down with jeans, Simmons appeared to be as relaxed and cool as he comes across in columns. (Four people in front of me.) Got your camera? Good. Ask if he seems cool. It shouldn’t take too long. (Three people in front.) Oh my god. What should I say? Should I tell him how much he’s inspired me? Why am I shaking? (Two people in front.) Stay cool…stay cool. Just get it signed and walk way. Don’t do anything embarrassing. Stop shaking! (One person in front.) This is really going to happen…holy shit! What the….my cell phone! Page is calling! Silence! Silence! Oh, god damn it!!!!

Then, at 5:18 pm on Sunday, December 11, my time in line was up.

I felt like Ralphie on the lap of Santa Claus in A Christmas Story, thoroughly engrossed but also mortified. What do I say? What do I say? I started out with ‘Hi,’ always a good choice when you’re trying to introduce yourself. He asked how I was and took my book to sign, never once giving away an ounce of attitude that was probably well-deserved after having signed for the previous hour-and-a-half. He then asked, “Anything specific you want me to write in here?” I froze. Here I was, standing in front of my hero and I was drawing a blank. Me – the same guy who was can talk to pretty much anyone and make them laugh while doing it – standing there in Kenmore Square in Boston, MA, in a random Barnes and Noble with nothing sparking in the gray matter. Then, it came.

“I dunno…you can write anything you want. You’ve been such an inspiration to me as a writer. I wrote you an email a few years ago telling you that and you actually wrote back. I thought that was pretty cool. Thanks.”

I think he said, “Aw, no problem. That’s great. Here you go” but at this point, everything sounded like radio static to me. With that, Simmons handed me the book but we weren’t done. I nutted up and pulled out my camera, asking if we could take a picture. 30 seconds later, I had a keepsake that I will always be proud of.

Nason (left) and Simmons (right). You could have figured that out though.

A few things of note here:

1 – My nerves were going ballistic to the point I was worried about dropping my camera. I don’t know what my deal was, but the fact I had waited for so long didn’t calm me down like I had previously thought. It’s funny, you know? I’ve met varied celebs before – The Hanson Brothers, Adam Vinatieri, WWE’s Kane and Scotty 2 Hotty – but I can’t remember being this out of my element.

2 – Bill had no interest in the usual celeb pic move of putting a hand on the shoulder or anything of that sort. His body language is actually quite the opposite. I won’t hold that against him unless he becomes a Yankees fan at which point a horrific tale will emerge. Should I have tried this move myself? What reaction would I have got? Should I have flashed up a gang sign? Chalk this up under ‘Things I’ll Try in Future Celeb Photos.’

3 – My blank gaze is pretty much summed up by everything I wrote about above. Again, think Ralphie asking Santa for a ‘nice football’ when all he wanted was a Red Ryder b.b. gun. You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!

I walked away in a daze that didn’t truly clear until I was at the Sullivan Square T-stop 45 minutes later with a Dunkin’ coffee in hand. I pumped my fist and grunted – the typical guy way of celebrating a good occasion. There was so much more I could have said and so much more that I wanted to say, but that is the way celebrity meetings go, I guess. A dream of mine would be to have lunch or go to a Sox game with Simmons, so I could ask things like, “Do you ever just sit back and say ‘wow’ at what you’ve accomplished?” or “How proud was your family when you hit the New York Times Best-Seller list?” Someday, I’m confident that will happen and it will be one of the greatest experiences of my life. For now, I’m left with the following:

“To Josh, SALVATION LIES WITHIN. Bill Simmons. P.S. GOOD LUCK W/ THE WRITING!”

Indeed, Bill. Indeed.

Thanks for reading,
Nason

p.s. more blog later this week.

CASH, Jagger and Milleystock

Before we begin, a few random notes:

–I saw ‘Walk The Line’ last night, the biopic of Johnny Cash. Definitely worth the money as Phoenix and Witherspoon are awesome in telling the story of a rock and roll couple that followed the almost paint-by-numbers tale of how messed up superstars get together. You know, without drugs, alcohol or any of the other pratfalls that rock stars have to deal with, we wouldn’t have good movies. Thanks heroin!

With the success of ‘Line’ and ‘Ray,’ it got me to thinking about who could next on the big-screen blockbuster list. My Top 5 in no particular order:
-Bob Dylan (entitled ‘Blood On The Tracks’)
-Bruce Springsteen (entitled ‘Born to Run’)
-Mick Jagger (entitled ‘Street Fighting Man’)
-James Brown (entitled ‘Awwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!’)
-Dolly Parton (entitled ‘Twin Peaks’)

(side note: I’m guessing that the Man in Black wouldn’t be happy living on the East Coast. You know, all that road salt and all during the winter would get all over his clothes.)

–I’ve been bouncing around Rhapsody listening to some random new releases and listened to the Rolling Stones’ latest new album, A Bigger Bang. Surprisingly, it’s pretty damn good. What makes me laugh though is how awesomely ridiculous some of the lyrics are and what a guilty pleasure it is listening to Jagger sing them. I give you the opening lines to “Rough Justice,” the first single off the disc, complete with his drawn-out accentuation:

“One time, you were my baby chicken/Now you’ve grown into a foxxxxxxxx/And once upon a time, I was your little rooster/Am I just one of your cockkkkkkkkkkkkkkssssssss?”

Ladies and germs, a new worldy poet.

–Are Christmas cards for those people that want to say Merry Christmas to friends and family, but don’t think of them as gift-worthy?

–As another great HBO series wraps up another season (Curb Your Enthusiasm), another one prepares to return after a long hiatus – The Sopranos. Somewhere along the way, I lost track of this series because a) I didn’t have HBO and b) everyone said that the show sucked in recent years. Honestly, I have zero idea what I saw and what I remember, so I’ve decided to use my OnDemand to rewatch EVERY episode so I can be caught up in March. Looking back, you can see what caught on with the American public as the first season features some fantastic character development and writing. You know a show is good when you hate to see the end credits. Having said that, I’m preparing myself for immense disappointment with future seasons. I am interested to see exactly how this show translates into syndication with all of the violence and language.

–Staying in the boot of Italy, I caught about 30 minutes of another great mob spectacle, GoodFellas. I can’t remember when the last time I saw this was, but I was hella young and found that I was way more interested now than my first viewing. It got me to thinking about what other movies would rank high on the ‘Rewatch When Older’ list. ‘Heat’ would be up there, along with ‘Basic Instinct’ which I saw when I was 14 years old after tricking my mom into renting it for me when I was sick. (I distinctly remember being the king of the school bus for the day after revealing the plot.) Then, there are those movies you wished you hadn’t rewatched (i.e. most movies with special effects or your ‘favorite’ movie which ends up not resembling anything that made you like it to begin with).

———-

Around this time of year, it’s always good to give thanks. At least, that’s what religion, the media and Hallmark tells us anyway. There’s one bit of business that I always give thanks for, right around the late summertime. An 11-letter word, its definition is fun, hazy and just plain ahhhhhhhhwwwweeeesome:
M-I-L-L-E-Y-S-T-O-C-K.

While just a party to some, for others like myself, it scratches an itch that can’t be itched by anything else in the whirlwind of life. It’s hard to explain to non-Milleystock alumni members, but let me see if I can sum it up in a few paragraphs:

It started as a simple statement by a not-so-simple person: Ronald Atkinson Milley, the man who was Van Wilder before the movie ever came out. (Really, he spent seven years in college and never got more than a bachelor’s degree.) The spring before our final summer as undergrads in 1999, Milley and I were hanging out in the three-bedroom place we stayed in talking about nothing in particular. He casually looked over and said, “Dude, we should do a big party this summer,” to which I eagerly said yes. He reiterated, “Dude, a REALLY big party.” I’m paraphrasing here, but anyone knows R.A.M. can probably imagine the glint in his eye – similar to how Ashley Judd looks at a doing a detective movie with Morgan Freeman or how Nicole Richie views a toilet after eating. This wasn’t going to just be a party – this was going to be AN EVENT.

Getting together a group of college kids to come hang out at a sunny lake during the summertime might not seem like a tall task, but let me tell you….it actually was. But while Milley was the grinning face that put his social stamp of approval on the party, there was plenty of behind-the-scenes work to be done. I bought into his vision of doing something big, so I got involved by putting in a lot of cell phone minutes and word-of-mouth. During those long summer months, I was working at an Enterprise in Rockland, ME, as a intern renting cars, smoking Marlboro Lights and sleeping on a friend’s couch in a one-bedroom place with no computer. Not to mention, his girlfriend loved to watch Growing Pains and Escape From Witch Mountain. Needless to say, I needed something to pour myself into and this party – coined Milleystock – was it.

After the first one became a huge success, we were all-in for the next one which became a bit more challenging with everyone’s recent graduation. The next one was even more difficult to get solid commitments on, but we still had big numbers as anywhere from 100-125 people attended the three-day fests at a small lake house in the woods. But after three big Milleystocks featuring everything from bands to boats to babes, it was time for a break as Milley got married and our summer get-together turned out to be the wedding/bachelor party combo. While we had an awesome time, you also got that feeling – like Tony and the bosses talking about the good old days of the Mafia – that we had probably seen the last of the ‘Stock events and that Ron and his wife Leigh would settle into the married lifestyle, satisified with remnisicing rather than putting on another one.

Then, 2005 happened and Milley said, “It’s on.” The summer event returned successfully and once again, became the most-talked about weekend of the summer. We hope to keep it going and constantly evolve into something that could even be *gasp* passed down to our kids? Well, not my kids, but I promise I’ll contribute a dog or llama to the festivities.

You might be asking what this has to do with anything. Well, as one of the guys that helped co-found this thing, I tend to think of it as more than just an excuse for a bunch of people to get drunk on a weekend. There is something that we’ve been able to instill in people when talking about the Milleystock ‘brand name’ where they get excited just talking about it. And the reason they get excited? A few reasons: this weekend is about reconnecting on a level which you only experience once in your life with a certain group of people. It’s about an extended form of family that is excited to see one another and disappointed when one of their ‘brothers or sisters’ can’t make it. It’s about not forgetting the past, but embracing a time and era when all we cared about was staying out late, sleeping in and being within just a few miles of everyone you really ever needed. To take another page from The Sopranos, it’s family. Redefined.

So it’s on this cold December night that I give thanks for what I consider my real family reunion – Milleystock – and all of the fun, light stress and anticipation that comes with it.

Thanks for reading,
nasonostra

p.s. In Blog Icon Lavar Burton’s infamous words, “If you want to read more about Milleystock, you can go to www.milleystock.com and check it out for yourself.”

Next week: The Hall of Fame.