Monday, December 24, 2007

Tis’ The Newsletter Season...Bah Humbug!

By Guest Blogger, Josh Powers:

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing east coast mark for longer than I care to remember, so when he asked me to be a guest blogger for a special Christmas edition of east coast mark, I said “sure, why not!” I figured the topic was a slam-dunk: The Holiday Season.

I was all set to sit down and spin a feel-good tale full of holiday spirit and joy for all, but one evening after returning from my mailbox I had a change of heart. After sifting though the usual dozen credit-card applications and coupon books, I stumbled upon my first Christmas Card of the season. But this wasn’t just a Christmas card; it also included one of those family newsletter updates with the usual photo. After reading this particular one, I was reminded of why I dislike these updates so much.

You’ve probably all read these newsletter updates over the years. I don’t know how or when or why they got started. I imagine it used to be a tool to keep relatives in touch with what everyone was up to if they weren’t able to get together for the holiday season. Seems innocent enough. But times have changed. This isn’t the 1950's anymore. People can keep in touch across the world with the push of a button on a cell phone, a few clicks of a text message, or with the Internet - on blogs such as east coast mark. The main problem with the newsletter update is that it's not an update at all! It's turned into a contest to see which family has had the most accomplishments during the year. Is this what the Christmas spirit is supposed to be about?

Once you become parents it seems you fall into the newsletter trap. My parents religiously put together an update each Christmas season when I was growing up. Each year my accomplishments seemed to grow and the truth got stretched more and more in an effort to maintain that our family had the best kids in the neighborhood world. If my parents’ newsletter would have ever leaked to the national press, I’d probably have three or four Nobel Prizes by now.

Here’s a list of my childhood accomplishments:
· Top student in the school; ahem, make that the nation
· Star football, basketball, and baseball player
· Cured Cancer
· Started World Peace
· Stopped companies all over the world from making those plastic things that get stuck around the necks of ducks and geese.

Here were my real accomplishments:
· Passed all of my classes
· Squeaked on to the JV Tennis & Golf teams
· Honorable mention in a class chemistry project
· Freed the world & saved the Princess from the evil Bowser
· Bought cases of pop instead of 6-pack cans

When did the Christmas season become about bragging about your family? The holidays are about giving; making others feel good. If you’re constantly reading about how perfect everyone else’s lives are, is this supposed to make you feel good? New Year’s Day is right around the corner. How about this for a New Year’s resolution for 2008: Skip the annual Christmas update newsletter. You’ll save time, paper, money, and computer ink. No more sleepless nights wondering how you can turn your normal lives into something your friends will be jealous over. If they’re truly your friends, they probably know about all the big things in your life anyway. What about your buddy Joe who lost his job this year? Does he really want to read again how well your job is going? Happy Holidays from all of us, Joe! What about your friend Jane who just broke up with her fiancee? Hi Jane, we just wanted to remind you again that our relationship is going great. Merry Christmas!

Hopefully this is one New Year’s resolution that east coast mark and the rest of you will support.

Bah Humbug.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

But I Wanna be a Dentist!

I really just wanted to make another post to get that picture of Hillary off the front page. And since I'm on vacation for the next 10 days or so, I'm catching up on all the movies I've neglected over the last 6 months.

Since it's the Holiday Season - I'm starting with a few seasonal favorites. I'm a bit burnt out on 'A Christmas Story' - you know, Ralphie....shooting his eye out. I mean, TBS plays it for 18 days straight. It's enough already.

It may not keep with my hyper-masculine persona, but my favorite Holiday movie of late is 'Love Actually'. Clever, funny, and just romantic enough to melt even the most Scrooge-esque of hearts. And how can you not feel like you can conquer the world when that little red-haired kid says, "Let's go get the shit kicked out of us by love." Delicious Keira Knightley also makes a cameo.

Next on my list to watch is 'Elf'. I like to put on green tights while watching, just to set the mood. After I watch that movie, I'm always tempted to answer my phone with the greeting, "Buddy the Elf, what's your favorite color?"

And of course my all-time favorite is the claymation, 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer'. I was probably 13 years old before I could sleep through the night without the fear of that Abominable Snowman coming into my dreams and eating my soul. And furthermore - have we all concluded that Hermey the Elf was gay? I mean - an Elf who doesn't want to make toys, talks like a total pansy, and wants to leave a gumdrop forest to work in the challenging field of dentistry?

Seriously now. All Hermey had to do was hang out with the other elves, make a few toys, attend elf practice for an hour after work, and then knock off early to go have a beer with Santa. But no. This elf strikes out on his own, hooks up with that crackhead Yukon Cornelius, and finds himself on the freak-zone 'Island of Misfit Toys' (how about that lot of nut jobs!) Talk about your bad career moves.

This is how I picture a modern day version of this conversation would transpire:

Have a holly-jolly Christmas, Kids. And remember, if you've been naughty this year - not only will you get coal in your stocking, but the Abominable Snowman is going to eat your liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Does our Looks-Obsessed Culture Want to Stare at an Aging Woman?

Rush Limbaugh broached an interesting topic on his radio program earlier this week, talking about the importance of looks for any modern Presidential candidate. I've heard it said that if there was a TV in every home 50 years ago, FDR would never have been elected President...he and his wheelchair and broken body.

Think back to some of the tubby Presidents we've had. Is there any chance we'd elect a 300 lb President now? And to Limbaugh's point, is American culture prepared to watch a 60 year old woman age before our eyes?

Limbaugh also makes the case that when male Presidential candidates age, they look "more authoritative, accomplished and distinguished". Remember in the last election how obsessed the media was with monitoring John Kerry's fake tan and reported botox injections?

Let's take a brief look of then vs. now....

Grover Cleveland

William Taft

John Edwards

Mitt Romney

Now go fix yourself up and use a little hair gel. Slob.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

east coast mark Endorses Mitt Romney for President

(AP) New Brunswick, New Jersey

In a press release this morning, east coast mark has formally endorsed former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, for President of the United States.

A few qualifications:

  • Romney attended Stanford University, but left to do missionary work in France for 2 years

  • Returned to the U.S., and graduated valedictorian of his class at Brigham Young University

  • Next attended Harvard Law School, and graduated in the top 5% of his class

  • Romney does not drink alcohol or smoke, and rarely swears

  • Romney married his high school sweetheart, and has 5 sons and 11 grandchildren.

  • Started Bain Capital, a Private Equity Firm, and built an estimated fortune of $250 Million

  • Left that job to resurrect the troubled 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Romney contributed $1 million to the Olympics, and donated the $825,000 salary he earned as President and CEO to charity.

  • Was elected Governor of Massachusetts, an overwhelmingly Democratic state

Below is a video to give a brief introduction to the man for those of you who might not be acquainted. What strikes me every time is his incredible poise, presence, and intelligence. My feeling is that if he is elected President, he has the potential to become the greatest President since Kennedy.

There are those who mock Bush for his lack of intelligence. There are those who can't fathom having a hot head like Hillary run a country. There are those who think Obama is too inexperienced to lead a nation. There are those who think Giulliani is a bit of a wild man.

For all those people, I present Mitt Romney as a candidate that is at least worth a look. Everything about him screams 'Presidential' - and thus east coast mark endorses both Mitt and his political views to lead our country for the next 4 years.

Over the next 11 months we'll periodically be presenting political commentary to help compare and contrast the various candidates - and help you become more informed on whom you choose to support. Republican or Democrat, intelligent conversation and discussion is the best way to raise the bar for all of us.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

An Open Letter to Bill Smith, Minnesota Twins GM

Please cease ripping stars away from my favorite team. Hunter was a jab in the side, but we dealt with it. But I really don't want to wake up on Tuesday morning and see news headlines on how the Twins traded Santana. Nothing ever good comes from trading the best player in a sport during their prime.

We dumped David Ortiz to the Sox. Now we're apparently going to dump Santana for Lester (a 2nd or 3rd starter at best), and Coco Crisp!? Please tell me this is all just posturing, and the Twins will come to their senses and keep Santana. The Boston people don't want to lose Ellsbury - but pitching is a premium in baseball.

I'd like to see owner Carl Pohlad, who is in the twilight of his life and probably the richest owner in American Sports, step up and cement his legacy for Minnesota Sports. Lock up Mauer, Morneau, Santana, and Liriano to long term deals. Take the field in your new PUBLICLY FUNDED stadium in 2009 with a premium team, and you'll be making that money back hand over fist.

If this trend continues, eventually Liriano is going to hit the free agent market, and the bidding and trade talks will start with 2 cold cheeseburgers and an ice cream sundae.

The one upside here is that I think Bill Smith doesn't want to start off his career as a GM looking like a goat. Thus, if he doesn't get an awesome deal - I think (hope) he'll have the smarts to step away from this 'deal'.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

NYC Traffic: Not for Claustrophobes

A colleague of mine was in town this week from Germany, and we had some appointments scheduled together all day Tuesday. Being that this was his first time in the U.S., I suggested that it might be fun for him to stay in NYC - see some of the sights, take in the city, etc. There's nothing sexy about going back to your friends in Germany and telling them that you took in 'Central New Jersey'. So he took my advice, and booked an expensive hotel room right in Midtown Manhattan. (Most hotel rooms in NYC this time of year are about $400-$600 a night, with all the tourists in town to see Rockefeller Center, etc.)

My fateful hotel suggestion came back to haunt me as I sat in traffic for a good 2 hours during morning rush hour on my way to pick him up. I left my place around 7:00am - and didn't arrive at his hotel near Times Square until about 9:00am - a drive that would normally take about 30 minutes. I have 150 XM Radio Channels - so passing the time isn't so bad, it's more the white knuckled, caged-in, and other-worldly experience of driving in New York City.

First off, there are only 4 types of vehicles you will see in Manhattan:
  • Taxi Cabs
  • Limos and Lincoln Towncars (basically fancy taxis)
  • Delivery Vehicles
  • and a distant 4th...normal cars like mine

If you happen to be driving during morning or afternoon rush hour, you also have an additional crush of pedestrians on their way to and from work. Surprisingly, the crowds are pretty good at only crossing the street when the traffic lights tell them to. But not all of them. People are constantly darting out onto the streets, and running across wherever they please. If I could write J-walking tickets, I could retire a billionaire in about a month.

I'm typically a fairly docile driver; about as far as you can get from road rage. But in the 3 or 4 hours I was 'driving' around the city - I probably hit my horn 10 to 15 times. It's true, and not just a cliche - there really are overweight guidos in delivery vans laying on their horns and yelling, "OH! What is this guy doin! Move it buddy!!!" Polite Midwestern drivers will get eaten alive in this jungle. You see an opening - you gotta take it, or 3 cars will zoom in before you blink. Also, if you don't like close quarters - you better stay away. Cars are wedged in so close - I was fairly certain I was going to be sideswiped about 5 different times. This fear is amplified when you're driving a fairly new car without a scratch on it.

If you're not planning to cruise Manhattan anytime soon, here's how you can recreate the experience in your own peaceful suburb:

  • Get 5 friends, and have them box your car in with their cars. As tight as possible.
  • Find an elementary school, and get 100 third graders to play a giant game of tag all around the area where your cars are parked.
  • Open a can of bees in your car, and keep the windows up.
  • Now, everyone inch their cars forward - one at a time, but never more than 3 feet at a time.
  • Try not to run over any children, and do your best to ignore the swirling bees.
  • If available, put in a CD with recorded sounds of horns honking and policemen blowing whistles.

In the end it was worth it - my customers ate up this guy and his German accent, and we closed 2 pretty sizeable deals. We Americans are suckers for a foreign accent.

When you finally get clear of the city traffic, every corpuscle in your body wants to get out on a freeway and drive 100 mph. I also had an overwhelming urge to go running when I got home. I can't help but think that if you lived in Manhattan, you'd have this closed-in feeling all the time....

Friday, November 23, 2007

Straight Chill

This weekend I stuck around the east coast - deciding not to make the journey back to the Midwest for Thanksgiving. Since most everyone I know is a couple thousand miles away - I tend to play the loner card really well. If you've never gone out to a random bar or restaurant by yourself - and just enjoyed your own company, I highly suggest it. I just get into random adventures, and start up conversations with all sorts of people. Enjoyable and educational at the same time.

Thanksgiving evening, I found myself in an upscale gin joint - with a great low key vibe going on. I was having my drink of choice - Glenlivet with one ice cube, chatting up the bartender - when a great song came on. I couldn't have picked it better myself, and if you've ever been in one of my houses or apartments - you'd know that this very easily could come drifting across anytime I'm around.

Stress is not an emotion/sensation that I experience, and I try and steer clear of people who are angst ridden and 'stressed out'. So, if this holiday season you find yourself a little too worked up and strung out....just put on a little Bill Withers, pour some wine, and chill out.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

See You Around, Torii

Ugh. I'm not sure I was quite prepared to have Torii Hunter gone from the Twins. The news rolled across the ticker early this morning that Torii had signed with the Angels. It was no secret that Hunter was testing the free agent market, but I guess I kinda figured there'd be a bit more back and forth - with the Twins making a last ditch effort to keep him. But now we have no center fielder, and I also now have an expensive autographed Hunter Jersey hanging in my closet that I can never wear again. I guess that's why I invest in stocks and mutual funds rather than sports memorabilia.

Hunter was labeled as the heir apparent to Kirby Puckett - even taking up residence in the locker next to Puckett during the one season they played together. However, Hunter never quite captured hearts like Puckett - but truthfully, nobody could.

Torii's defense has been the best in baseball for the 5+ years, but his bat never measured up. He chased too many pitches, and had a stigma for choking in key situations. Still, Hunter was the only consistent part of the '07 Twins lineup, and his charm and team leadership were second to none.

If the Twins don't find a way to keep Santana, I'm going to be even more disappointed...and I'd rather not complete my trio of useless jerseys: Randy Moss, Torii Hunter, and Johan Santana.

Thanksgiving buzz kill.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pucker Up....or Something

In an average week, I'd wager that I shake about 40 hands. 40 different people, 40 unique handshakes. Everyone has a different grip, different pressure, single pump or double pump... In general, the handshake is pretty straightforward: Extend hand, meet other hand, grip, pump. I still meet plenty of people that don't know how to shake a hand properly (and this annoys me) - but 99 times out of 100 you can pull off a handshake without any problems.

But on the east coast I've recently become cognizant of a different greeting - popular in more social environments: the cheek kiss. Specifically, this seems to be the popular 'hello' and 'goodbye' for any female outside of the professional business world. If you're not from the east coast or Europe, you've probably seen this most often on tv....when Posh Spice kisses Donatella Versace goodbye on some red carpet. It's not really cheek kissing in the Michael Corleone/Fredo sense of the word - more like cheek nuzzling while making a kissing noise. I think...

Now, this cheek kiss looks all well and good on tv, but when it is suddenly thrust upon you in the first person, as it was to me recently, I was terrified. Let me explain...

Tuesday night I was at a swank little watering hole with a few people, and a buddy introduced me to a young lady friend of his. A hot Asian by the way. But I digress. Anyway, we chatted for about a half hour, and then when she got up to leave - she came at me with the cheek kiss. I had an immediate momentary panic - is she going for the left side or the right side? Is it a single cheek or double cheek? Do I actually kiss the cheek, or just make the kissing noise in the air? And where do you put your hands during this whole affair? Do I do the ass-out, A-frame position?

To the best of my beer-fogged recollection, I think she really did most of the work. I pretty much just froze up, didn't move, and it was over before I knew what hit me - literally.

This greeting is clearly not something we practice in the Midwest, and the social norms of this greeting have never been bestowed upon me. Though, I guess this gesture makes sense in some regards - I've never really felt comfortable shaking hands with women friends/colleagues. Too formal; feels like we should be negotiating a contract and then signing some paperwork. But the standard 'hug' is a bit too cozy for most situations....and I'm not much of a hugging person anyway.

So, as they say - "When in Rome". I guess it's time to get on board and get used to this cheek kissing thing. There's really no other option here - because when the chick comes at you with the kissing thing - what can you do, thrust your hand out quickly and intercept her with a handshake? If I do that, I'm going to end up jabbing a whole generation of women in the gut, and I'm not sure that's the image I want to be putting out there.

Note: Man on Man cheek kissing is not allowed. Stubble burn from another man is not going to sit well with me.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fragrance Makes the Man

east coast mark doesn't have a 'Mission Statement' per say - but if we did, it would include a line about helping my fellow man move beyond the 'frat boy' stage of life. That said, it's time we discuss fragrance and cologne.

east coast mark feels you should never leave the house without fragrance. Your scent is a primitive calling card to those around you and lets them know you're around...and that you mean business. At a subconscious and animal level, your scent and pheromones telegraph a sense of vigor and prowess to the opposite sex. Long story short - you want to telegraph the right story.

Still, there's so much confusion amongst men about which cologne to wear, when to wear it, and how to apply it. I'm here to help.

First off, buy a decent cologne(s). That bottle your mom gave you in 10th grade is not going to cut it anymore. Spend some time at an upscale store - Nordstroms or Macy's - and smell 10 or 15 different scents. My belief is that you need two different colognes - a daytime and an evening. A fragrance you wear to dinner with a woman is not necessarily the same fragrance you should wear during the day closing an important deal, or meeting your key clients for lunch.

Secondly, how should I apply my fragrance? A common mistake is applying the cologne to your clothes. Many men think that spraying your cologne on your shirt will allow it to last throughout the day. This is actually the complete opposite of what you want to do. You want to apply the cologne to the areas of your skin that will generate heat, and allow the fragrance to mix with your natural pheromones. I recommend the neck, behind the ear, and on your wrist. These are areas where the skin is thin, and the blood is pumping. Picture a quiet dinner with a woman - and you lean in to hear her whisper into your ear....and in return, she gets a pleasant scent from the cologne gently emanating from behind your ear. You get the picture.

Some dont's:

  • Don't apply more than 2 sprays of the cologne. You're an upscale gentleman - not a frat boy with a collection of 30 Abercrombie T-shirts.
  • Don't think certain situations don't require cologne. A scent is your calling card - and better to smell pleasant than to smell like stank sweat sock. I never leave the house without fragrance. I mean, you never know - right?

Every time I go home to visit my parents, the same situation invariably repeats itself - almost verbatim: I'll typically spend the day with my family, but often go out to meet old friends in the evening. After a shower - I always apply fragrance and dress for the evening. When I say goodbye to my mother, she detects the scent and ALWAYS says, "Oh. So do we have a date tonight? I can smell you. You must have a date. Who are you meeting?"

If you can learn anything from my mother - it's that your scent means business, and it's time you get with the program. Me? I wear Polo Blue during the day, and Polo Double Black in the evening and winter. Grab a sniff of these two next time you're by the cologne section of the store - and you can take a little piece of east coast mark with you.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Unnecessary Force - Starring Me!

Some of you will remember the folks at Jib Jab who put together the political animated videos around election time. Well, now they have a way to insert yourself into the fun.

Here's a video of me kicking ass - and raining destruction down on a few of my 'buddies'. They deserve it, I'm sure.

Star in Your Own JibJab! It's Free!

And here's one more - for good measure.

Not that there's anything wrong with that....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Evolution, Morlocks, and Cold Spring Harbor

We don't often delve into the subject of Genetics and Science here on east coast mark - mostly because I spend all day talking about these subjects. However, this past week, James Watson was basically forced to resign from his job as Head of the renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in NY - following some recent comments he made while on a book tour.

For those of you not familiar with Dr. James Watson, he is half of the duo 'Watson and Crick' - better known as the two British blokes who discovered the structure of the DNA in 1953...ushering in the modern Genetic Age. Double Helix, eh guvna? Watson has been a pioneer and innovator in Genetics ever since.

The comments that caused the uproar were about the evolutionary and genetic differences between Westerners and people of African decent. These are the kind of comments that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson sit around just waiting to pounce on...and usually blow out of proportion. However, when I read Watson's comments from a scientific point of view - I can't help but see some sense in what he's trying to convey, albeit clumsily. Now, that's not to say I agree with ALL of what Watson had to say...specifically his comment about 'having to deal with black employees...' that is a generalization not based in any sort of scientific reality.

Watson was quoted as saying he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really."

He also asserted there was no reason to believe different races
separated by geography should have evolved identically, and that while he hoped everyone was equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true."

Despite the initial knee-jerk reaction to comments like this, what I think Watson clumsily was trying to say was that it's clear that Africans evolved separately from Caucasians. Dalmatians and Golden Retrievers are both canines - but phenotypically different, much like Caucasians and Blacks. Anyone who's ever been in 3rd grade has learned how Man moved out of Africa, into Europe, and eventually across Alaska and into modern day America. This took place over hundreds of thousands of years, and mankind evolved into numerous different races. What Watson is saying is, 'Why should we assume that man who left Africa should have evolved exactly the same as man who stayed in Africa?' Scroll back up and read his comments again - based on what I just tried to clarify for him.

In the dream worlds of the United Nations and Left Wing Think Tanks - they'd have us believe that 'we are all created equal'. But at a genetic level...are we? Why do Kenyans win all the marathons? Am I created the 'same' as Kevin Garnett? Isn't it possible that these same genetic evolutionary differences also relate to intelligence? This is what Watson was saying....clumsily. He is saying that governments make policy assuming that Bill from Boston is the same as Ndulu from Nigeria, and science is telling us this isn't necessarily so - and so we should address it.

Then, I read another article this week that discusses how 10,000 years from now Man will diverge into two different species. (It's worth a read - did you know in just 1,000 years we'll all be nearly 7 feet tall and live 120 years?) However, after that want to make sure you're on the right side of the selective breeding. Remember H.G. Wells' novel The Time Machine? Pretty much the book was right on, and we'll diverge into the 'haves' and the 'have nots'....the Eloi and the Morlocks. I mention this article to make a point: given how Man may diverge in the future, should we also assume that these two groups will be 'the same'? Created equally? In an ever shrinking world economy, we need to make policy, medicine, education...all specifically tailored to the different phenotypes.

The niceties of pretending that we're all created equally and identically is to ignore the differences written in our DNA. To ignore these literal inherent differences between Caucasians and Africans (and other races) prevents us from tackling issues that separate world cultures. Once we acknowledge and study what makes us different, we can create policy and solutions based on scientific fact - and not just politically correct policy that fail to address our differences.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Your Halloween HQ

Every year about this time, groups of young women all over the country come together and try to think of ways to make ordinary Halloween costumes more slutty. God bless them. Women see Halloween as an excuse to dress up slutty and get away with it. The truth is, they don't need an excuse.

The rest of us men sit around and try and come up with something clever. Typically we try and take things ripped from the headlines - to capitalize on current events, and play off our costume as both topical and witty. "Hey, look, he's dressed up like that know, that Senator guy that tried to have sex in the bathroom."

However, I propose a statute of limitation on how 'current' these costumes are allowed to be, and whether they're funny...or if the joke is already played. Thus, I have assembled a list of costumes that you might try to wear this year....but please, please don't.

This just isn't going to work. Everyone's going to wonder why you dressed as a middle eastern Bollywood actress. Also, you're going to spend $40 bucks on a flowing brunette wig, and you'll have to ask some chick you know how to feather your wig. This can only work if you'll be attending a party with lots of 13 year-olds.

Michael Vick
Too soon? This is last year's Steve Irwin costume. This could almost work - but unless you already own a Michael Vick jersey, you're gonna have to get it off eBay because they're not in stores anywhere. And how do you make this a 'costume'? Embed dog teeth into your bloody makeup? I'll bet you $100 there will be someone dressed like this at every party you go to - especially if you live in Atlanta, or if all your homies are down with dogfighting.

"Oh, you came dressed as....wait, what? I thought this was a costume party?" Nobody will get this costume either, because this costume is just a guy dressed like a guy. Granted, calling yourself 'McLovin' might pay off nicely around 2am in the basement of some Frat House.

Dead Anna Nicole Smith
This one's for the ladies. Too soon? Never too soon - but remember, there will be 100 slutty nurses and slutty Snow White's all around you....and you're going to have pills glued to your face and fake vomit on your chest. Topical, but also nasty - you freak.

Junk in a Box Guy
We all had a good laugh about this, EIGHT months ago. This will be huge with the typical college male - mostly because...well, you can imagine. About as unoriginal as you can get this year. You can carpool to the party with 'Michael Vick Guy'.

Anyone from The Office
Part of the point of Halloween is to actually wear a costume - and if you dress up as characters from The Office, you'll be wearing the same thing you do every day. Millions of cutesy couples around the country are going to go as 'Pam and Jim'. As these couples are getting dressed to go out to the party, they'll realize that they look nothing like the characters on the show. Then they'll resort to wearing name tags that say "Jim" and "Pam" - and then spend the rest of the night explaining to people why they didn't wear a costume. The Jim guy gets an extra bonus point because he gets to make that goofy face and act like he's looking into the camera.

Now - as I mentioned, for the ladies - Halloween is much simpler. Simply put the word 'Slutty' in front of any Noun....and Presto! Instant costume. Let's give it a try:

-Slutty Roomba
-Slutty Cardboard Box
-Slutty Clown
-Slutty Soccer Hooligan
-Slutty Spatula
.................It's all deadly.

Lastly, here's a little inspiration for the ladies:

Gold Digger
Notice the details with the miner's hat and gold shovel on the waist. Dare I say, Bling Bling?

Border Patrol
There are about 400 come-ons that I can think of right off the top of my head.

Sexy Ghostbuster
Nothing special here - just great taste in movies.

Now let's get hopped up and make some bad decisions.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Great Pizza Con

I can't find a decent Pizza anywhere in New York or New Jersey. There, I've said it.

Every 3 months or so the Food Network comes out with a different special that pits New York Style Pizza against Chicago Style Pizza. If you ever watch Food Network - you know this is true; it's like their go-to show when they can't think of anything else. Thin crust vs. thick crust. Usually they have an 'expert' panel of overweight firemen as the judges.

So, when I moved to the East Coast, I was looking forward to sampling some of this delicious thin crust pizza I'd heard so much about. In fact, the very first night I was in New York I ordered a 'pie' to sample the goods. Over the past 9 months I've been sampling different pizza joints - trying to find a decent pizza...and for the friggin' love of pepperoni I can't find a good one! It's like living at Blockbuster and not being able to find a decent movie.

These pizza places all seem to use the cheapest possible cheese they can find, cardboard crusts, and pepperoni that's on par with pencil erasers. And then there's the grease factor...

Now, from time to time we're all prone to a little mouth watering over a greasy cheeseburger or a greasy pile of french fries. But out here when you get a pizza delivered and open it up - it's swimming in a good 1/4th of and inch of orange pizza grease...just waiting to drip all over your shirt. The pizza is so thin and floppy, that you pick up a slice and it immediately drapes down your wrist, so now both your shirt and forearm are soaked in grease. After the meal I have to take a bath in Windex just to clean up.

Furthermore, every pizza place has basically the exact same name - so it's getting tough to keep straight which one's I've tried. "Nino's", "Napoli's", "Vinny's", "Big Vinny's", "Pizza by Alfredo", "Alfredo's Pizza"....

I hadn't been eating pizza for the past several months due to marathon training, and quite frankly a body can only take so much salmon and fresh vegetables. So now I'm back on the quest to find a decent pizza; feeling determined. Some people search for meaning in life, some search for their soul mate....I search for bliss in mozzarella and red sauce.

If I don't find something soon - I'm going to start a job search in Italy or something. But then again, every pizza place there is probably named Vinny's as well - so basically I'm screwed.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I am a marathoner.

Sun. Oct. 7, 7:59am: Downtown Minneapolis
"Should we be sweating before the marathon even starts?" -I say to my running partner Josh.

Thus the tone was set for the Twin Cities Marathon - a fairly grueling, seemingly all uphill, sweltering jaunt through neighborhoods that would probably be lovely - if only you weren't dragging your tired ass through the streets on foot.

To cut to the chase - I finished my first marathon, and feel very accomplished and satisfied for having done so. Lots of people asked me what I was raising money for, or whom I was running in memory of - neither. Someone once asked Sir Edmund Hillary, "Why did you climb Mt. Everest?" His answer: "Because it was there." There's something cathartic about doing battle with your body, the pavement, and your mind.

Even though I'd done some training runs of 16 and 18 miles, the 26.2 miles of the marathon was a completely different animal. To start with, this was the warmest temperature ever for this marathon - pushing 80 degrees. The last 5 weeks or so I'd been training in temperatures around 62-72 degrees...and expecting the race to be even cooler. Mother nature went medieval on us....

People were dropping left and right. Looking back on it, I think watching a marathon must be a fairly gruesome thing to witness as a spectator. Runners limping, bleeding, dripping in sweat, pained looks etched into their faces. I had to slow up from my regular pace, but kept plodding along....downing the Powerade and Gel packs. As I hit mile 23, I was feeling really good mentally - sure I would finish...and then bam - my hamstring cramped and knotted up; stopping me dead in my tracks. I pulled up like Barbaro with a broken leg at the Kentucky Derby. A few of the spectators that were nearby watched it happen and had that, 'oh, dude, you're screwed' look on their faces. Luckily, I was able to massage it out, do some light stretching - and I was back on my way....albeit gingerly at first.

As I passed the 26 mile marker, I dropped into a dead sprint for the final .2 miles - and finished to a roaring crowd of several hundred lining the final straightaway. When I crossed the finish line, I threw both my arms in the air and thought 2 things: 'I finally get to stop' and 'Did all that just happen?' My finishing time was 5:52 - about a half hour slower than I was shooting for. I'll chalk it up to the heat, and the fact that until about a year ago I'd never run more than 3 miles.

I'll definitely run another one. Maybe the NYC Marathon or Grandma's Marathon next. I'm always competing with myself and trying to push things further, and now I just want to run another one to beat my time and improve.

In the meantime, I'm catching up on all the desserts and drinks I passed up over the past few months.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

1 Day Until the Assault

Sunday morning at 8am I'll be running 26.2 miles in my first marathon - The Twin Cities Marathon, defying all logic and common sense. The race starts at the Metrodome, winds its way around the Minneapolis lakes, finishing at the State Capitol in St. Paul. They bill it as 'the most beautiful urban marathon in the country' - and it's typically a runners favorite because of the cool temperatures and beautiful scenery of turning leaves and fall colors. However, tomorrow they're saying it might be a little steamy - 73 degrees or so, and a chance of rain showers on and off. Running with an umbrella tends to slow you down, so I'm hoping for just a light drizzle.

My main goal is just to finish the marathon with all my limbs and joints intact. Time wise - I'm thinking I'll finish somewhere between 4:30 and 5:30...but anything could happen. Considering my longest 'race' up till now has been a 5k (3.1 miles), finishing 26.2 is accomplishment enough in itself. I'm thinking the crowds of other runners should help pull me along and serve as semi pace-setters, plus the adrenaline rush of race day will give a boost. My old roommate Josh is also running the race with me, but we decided not to run together - because we go at slightly different paces.

I got my pre-race meal in today at Chipotle. Lots of marathoners go for the pasta dinner to carbo-load, but my dad used to run marathons - and he said the spaghetti would sit kind of heavy in his stomach on race day. Thus, I went for the burrito carbo-load at lunch today.

Live Race Tracking - Mark Roberts

If you want to track my progress between 8am CDT and 1pm CDT - you can click the link above, and it'll give you a tracking of my progress. All runners wear a little microchip attached to their shoe so they can track your time.

A bunch of my relatives are in town this weekend to watch the race, and they all want to go out for dinner tonight - pizza. I'll be ordering a glass of water and a toothpick.
When the race is over, results should be posted on this site.

Monday, October 1, 2007

You can blame the Jews, I can be your Jim Caviezel

In my quest to keep you all on top of pop culture and comedic happenings; SNL had it's season debut Saturday night, and once again the Digital Short was the highlight. After Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg scored an Emmy for their Junk in a Box short last year - everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Here's an ode to a love that knows no boundaries - love for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I'm a sucker for a ballad.

And Iran, I Ran so far away....

I'd put this song on my iPod. And the cameo at the end by Gyllenhaal? - I always thought he was kind of a Streisand, but he earns some street cred with this one. I'm now thinking of growing a beard and maybe oppressing some people - we'll see how my week shapes up.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Letterman owns Paris

Regular readers of east coast mark know that I routinely praise the wit of David Letterman, and rail against the simpletons that watch Jay Leno. Last night was classic Letterman, as he had Paris Hilton on his show - and tore her to shreds. This is a must-watch. Kudos to Letterman for breaking the mold of the typical suck-up interviews that these Hollywood tarts normally get.

"Someone you met in prison?" Brilliant.

Letterman is my new hero. The robot that vacuums my floor and that water skiing squirrel I saw on tv are now second and third.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The People in Your Neighborhood


Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been spreading his brand of crazy across NY this week - speaking at the UN and Columbia University. Kudos to Columbia's President Lee Bolinger for calling him out as a 'cruel and petty dictator.'
However, the real enjoyment of the week has been watching every news anchor and political pundit trying to pronounce Ahmadinejad's last name. Katie Couric has been nailing it pretty well, and David Letterman actually had it roll off his tongue like he minored in Farsi. However, most of the time I'm picturing Ahmadinejad sitting around with his advisers, re-enacting the scene from Office Space where Samir Nagheenanajar is lamenting how no one can pronounce his name properly.

"No one in this country can ever pronounce my name right. It's not that hard: Samir Na-gheen-an-a-jar. Nagheenanajar. "

I think it was smart not to let him go to Ground Zero, but in the end letting him speak here in the US turned out to be a pretty savvy move - mostly because it let everyone see what a nutjob is running Iran. He commented that there are no gay people in Iran, the Holocaust probably never happened, and the Backstreet Boys' new album is super fly.

Erin Esurance
I'm not typically into the punk-rock dyed-hair look, but there's something about this pink-haired super crime fighter that catches my eye. Maybe it's the way she deftly battles interstellar aliens in games of basketball. Maybe it's the skin tight leather outfits she sports while defying another sinister henchman. Simply put, she might be the hottest animated character since Ariel from the Little Mermaid.
I had to see these commercials a good 20 times before I even realized they were selling online car insurance. You can forgive my ignorance, as these commercials have nothing to do with car insurance whatsoever. Either way, keep doing what you do Erin.

Hillary Clinton
Most of the polls this week are showing that The Hilldebeast is pulling away from Obama and the rest of the democratic presidential contenders. I hate to let the secret out of the bag, but quietly there's nothing we Republicans hope for more! The lesson the democrats refuse to learn - even after their Kerry debacle - is the lesson of electability. Even more confounding is the notion that a Clinton/Obama 'superticket' is even more unstoppable!
The truth as I see it is that the only electable democrat is John Edwards; but he has somehow lost all his momentum and drive from the 2004 election. I guess you can't blame the guy - his wife has pretty much been given a death sentence after her cancer recently returned.
East Coast Mark hasn't yet thrown his full backing behind a candidate - but we're leaning toward Mitt Romney. His voice hasn't completely gotten out to the general public yet - but when it does, he's going to turn a lot of heads. The guy is a brilliant businessman, Harvard graduate, former Governor of Massachusetts, and single-handedly stepped in and saved the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics after they were rocked by scandals. 5 kids, never been divorced...and I think he's done a pretty solid job of making his Mormon religion a non-issue.

Monday, September 17, 2007

east coast roundup

Things move pretty fast on the east coast....well, if you don't count the local jewish women ordering at a deli or the Garden State Parkway at 4pm. Here are some of the dabblings of the past week:

Scarlett Fever - Rutgers back in school:
My little city was pretty much a playground for the bridge and tunnel crowd over the summer. Easy to get a table at the outdoor sidewalk cafes, streets were pretty empty, and very few annoying 19 year old blondes running about. (I like to limit my 19-year old exposure to one or two per night. But I digress...)
Then suddenly 2 weeks ago a co-ed bomb dropped - and now we've got an additional 15,000 undergrads running amuk. They're easy to spot, I think they're issued all red clothing to wear for the first 2 weeks, and it must be mandatory to wear an iPod at all times. College girls at Rutgers seem to be either 5'1"/100lbs or 5'10" and built like that football player chick who won American Idol. "They some nappy headed...." Nonetheless, for the first time in my life I live in a city that has a college football team that one doesn't need to be ashamed of.

Here's my new favorite commercial - an ode to being back in school. [Mark mocks those who have to do homework]

It's Business Time:
I'm continually telling people that HBO is the best channel on tv, but it seems only about 1 in 20 people have it. Sad. When you meet someone who also watches HBO, it's like meeting a long lost frat brother - and realizing they know the secret handshake too.
The best show of the Summer was the comedy song-fest Flight of the Conchords. The rest of you will probably start hearing about it 3 years too late....kinda like The Sopranos and Family Guy. You're just not as cool as the people that were there first.
Anyway - the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm started last week (endlessly brilliant), and a steamy new drama called Tell Me You Love Me - jury is still out on that one, but everyone is talking about this one.

A little taste of Flight of the Conchords for the uninitiated.

18 Miles:
I had my longest run yet this past weekend, 18 miles. It helped immensly that the weather dropped to 65 degrees - down from the 85 degrees that I have been training in the past 2 months. I dropped a good 20 minutes off my half marathon pace, and easily could have made 20 miles had it not gotten too dark to continue.
I haven't had pizza or fast food in about 3 months, no alcohol in a good 5 weeks, and I now know 4 good ways to prepare salmon. About 3 weeks to go until race day.

east coast mark will be in D.C. the first week of October, in Minneapolis the second week of October, Vegas the first week of November, and Florida the first week of January. If you'll be crossing my path, I'd be happy to dazzle you with my new skills at impersonating Boston and New York accents. It's kind of Matt Damon meets Giuliani. Irregaaaadless, Fuhgeddaboudit.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In a New York Minute

This will be my first September 11th here in the realm of NYC. As an outsider, I think on this 6th anniversary of the terror attacks it's worth remembering more than just the victims that were lost...but also worth remembering the raw emotions we felt that day - namely terror. It's easy to gloss over this anniversary by reading the words 'Never Forget' or watching some news footage of a memorial service going on. But when I think back on that day, I remember feeling rage that these faceless cowards had done this, and the unfathomable terror of people literally running for their lives.

I looked around the Internet for a good tribute video - which there are plenty. However, so many of them are backed by a sappy song by Jewel or Sarah McLachlan. Now, that's a very nice way to memorialize those we lost - but in my mind it doesn't really portray the way I remember feeling on that day. If this country wants to stay on guard against those who wake each day and plot to kill us - we can't get complacent or lulled to sleep by 'moving on'.

So - I found this piece, which in my mind is worth watching for everyone. Hopefully it will strike a chord (and a raw nerve), and help to truly remember how viciously we were attacked. There's some poignant current stuff at the end - so it's worth a look.

I hate to bring politics into a memorial piece - but I truly think our country is just in taking the fight to our enemies, and blocking those that lust to kill Americans with every breath they take.

The picture below might be the most lasting and haunting memory I have of 9/11. To think that whatever fire and hell was going on in that building, a leap to death seemed like a better option.

And lastly, here's a quote that might be of some interest to the Islamic Fundamentalists out there with a sense of history:

"I fear that all I have done is awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve."
--Japanese Admiral Yamamoto after the Pearl Harbor attack, December 7, 1941

And I think we know how that worked out for the Japanese.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Summer Lag

East Coast Mark hasn't had nearly as much time this summer to post as I'd (you'd) like. I'm working about 12 hours a day, and when I'm not doing that I'm usually out running in the last month of prep before the marathon on October 7th. Nonetheless, I've got some good rants lined up for this fall - no one is safe.

Last weekend I had a 16 mile run, and this Saturday is 18 miles. Physically I haven't run into any major injuries - which often can set back marathon training programs. A few strains and aches here and there, but nothing that can't be overcome. Advil and Icy Hot have become my two best friends. As Josh put it, "You smell like a medicine cabinet", after I lubed up before a training run we did last month.

The Twins all but dead for the year, so I'm throwing all my baseball energies behind the Yankees. Partially to spite my colleagues in Boston, and partially because I look stunning in pinstripes. I'm thinking playoff tickets to Yankee Stadium might be a valid way to wine and dine some clients....conveniently timed to coincide with a Sox/Yanks ALCS championship game.

Lastly, here's a family picture taken a few weeks back. Might be a few years before I start sporting the bow tie like my dad....but tell me that's not ice cold.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Appalachian State

This video made the rounds on the Interweb about a year ago, but in honor of Appalachian State's major upset over Michigan in football today - it's worth another look. And as I write this, Bowling Green is all over the we may need to hunt for a Bowling Green promo video before the night is up. 1980's video editing equipment is HOT HOT HOT!

I guess this is the first time a division 1-AA team has beaten a ranked 1-A team. It puts the lotion on it's skin or it gets the hose again.

Monday, August 20, 2007

In Memoriam: Millie Roberts (1923-2007)

Had some sad news from back home this weekend, my Grandma Millie Roberts passed away unexpectedly Saturday morning. It appears she had a heart attack during the night - very sad.

She was 84, but was still very sharp and living an active life. Grandma Millie (as we called her) would golf during the week, and often hit up the casinos with the ladies on the weekends (as old ladies like to do). She twice won over $1,000 playing slot machines - and I always gave her grief cause I could never leave a casino with $10 in my pocket.

Her favorite place to be was at her cabin on a lake outside of the cities - and she spent most all of her summers there for the last 40+ years. Fittingly, she was spending time at her cabin with her daughter and family when she passed.

My last memories of her were from earlier this summer, when we had Josh's bachelor weekend up at her cabin. She was so genuinely thrilled that all the guys got together - and everyone was able to enjoy her cabin, spend some time on the lake, and genuinely enjoy the weekend. 2 of my buddies got to meet her, and they couldn't stop talking about kind she was.

She is survived by my dad and 2 of her other children, as well as 7 grandchildren. I'll be flying back to Minnesota this week to be a pallbearer in her funeral.

I'm not sure if there's a heaven or not - but it's kind of a nice thought to think she'll be welcomed into heaven and met by my Grandpa and her daughter, who both preceded her in death. I can kind of picture her saying, "Well, this is too fancy for me...but very nice. Mighty fine."

There's just never enough time. Rest in peace Grandma.