April 28, 2005
AND I WOULD'VE GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT, TOO, IF IT HADN'T BEEN FOR THAT MEDDLING KID!
Now kiss my ring, bitches!
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April 17, 2005
ON THE CHICAGO BLOGMEET: ERIC OF STRAIGHT WHITE GUY
Perhaps one of the most eagerly anticipated meetings of my life, I finally got to spend time in the presence of Straight White Eric.
It was too long in coming.
I first bumped into him over at Madfish Willie's Cyber Saloon, where he was a frequent commenter. I liked him immediately, because he "got" what Willie's place was all about - good-natured misbehavin'.
He was a good fit there, displaying a great talent for unconscionable flirting with the ladies as well as for knowing how to get off a perfectly targeted zinger of a verbal shot at the fellas. Enough to make you laugh at yourself and yet still have you feel complimented rather than insulted. In the realm of male bonding, there's always that fine line between a fair hit and a black eye, but Eric never crossed it. Plus he could take it with the same good humor as he gave it out. Just a damn fun guy.
As an example of his perceptiveness, at one of Willie's comment parties, he dedicated a song to me (CTRL+F "Conga" or look for the comment dated March 9, 2004 05:13 PM) that fit so damn well with my own raw sense of humor that I adopted it as my theme song and named my blog after it when I crossed over to my new MuNu host.
Eric was the first blogger I ever talked to in a non-pixelated way. Seems I'd left the name of my hometown in some comment or another, and the stalking loon looked up my number and called me sans warning or invitation. It was especially weird for me, since I'd just finished listening to an mp3 of him flapping his yap, so I actually recognized his voice. Throughout the half-hour or so of friendly, comfortable conversation, I was dazed by the paradoxical twin sensations of talking to a complete stranger and a dear old friend. Quite disorienting, and Eric still loves to chide me over my "deer in the headlights" reaction.
I had hoped to meet him in Orlando during the Bad Example Family & Friends Reunion, but - since he's a jackass - he didn't make it down.
Chicago fixed that problem.
For the most part, you'd recognize him from his blog. You can actually hear the ellipses when he talks.
What you DON'T know about him just from reading him is how talkative he is. His posts are usually short & self-contained, but in person (especially after a few glasses of social lubricant), he can carry on endlessly. However, he's also an accomplished story-teller, so this is NOT a bad thing.
The other thing you don't realize is just how much that mischievous sense of humor pervades his personality. He just loves to play and tease & rassle around. Reminds me of my dog, Bandit, when she's in one of her roughhousing moods.
Not that I'm calling Eric my bitch, but... well, maybe I am. Guess he'll just have to pay me back for it later. Mheh.
Anyway, the thing I know about him but didn't get to see enough of while I was in Chicago is that he's also prone to deep thoughts and making non-obvious abstract connections. Like when I asked him why he liked playing pool and he compared the thought behind the game to the way a good blogger finds the subtle angles behind the words he uses to write a good post. Something I never would have thought of, but an excellent point. Sadly, he didn't have an opportunity to go too far into the analogy since he was too busy running the table. I'd love to see him write a long post on the subject someday.
So whether the atmosphere is barroom rough-and-ready, or sipping drinks and philosophizing, Eric's presence makes for good companionship.
Can't wait to hang with him again.
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Â» Straight White Guy links with: Busted...
April 12, 2005
ON THE CHICAGO BLOGMEET: GRAUMAGUS OF FRIZZEN SPARKS
I first met Grau (virtually speaking), shortly after he joined the Alliance of Free Blogs. His Filthy Lies were some of the downright funniest, coffee-out-the-nose shit I've ever read in my life. I knew I'd have to keep an eye on him.
Soon enough I was impressed with his talent to the point where I just HAD to blogroll him, and he's been there ever since.
And I'm proud to say that I knew him (again, virtually speaking) before his now-famous Retrosexual Code became a million-times-forwarded piece of spam. If I can duplicate that feat before I die, I'll be a happy man.
What you DON'T know about him from reading his blog is that he looks EXACTLY like little line-drawing on his sidebar. As soon as he walked into the bar, I recognized him from it.
The other thing you don't know from reading his blog is that he's quite cordial, polite, and civilized in public. Not that he didn't cut loose with his fair share of expletive-laden stories when appropriate, but he's a lot milder than I expected. Could've just been the setting. I'm hoping to get together with him soon under even more informal circumstances & find out.
He also doesn't carry weaponry with him as a matter of course, which was a little disappointing, since I was hoping he'd give a hippy-stabbing demonstration.
Maybe next time.
He also has good taste in cigars. Can't wait to explore that aspect further.
In short, he's as pleasurable to meet in person as he is in pixels, and - at least so far - not an embarrassment to be seen with in public, so you can feel safe inviting him to your next blogmeet.
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April 06, 2005
ON THE CHICAGO BLOGMEET: THAT 1 GUY OF DRUNKEN WISDOM
A long time ago, T1G was just a comment... whatever the opposite of a troll is... at Frizzen Sparks. Noticing that he had a wicked sense of humor and no small amount of writing talent, I - along with Graumagus - pushed, prodded, and cajoled him until he got set up at Drunken Wisdom, where he made me proud with his wittily amusing goofballery and funny Filthy Lies.
I had hoped to meet him at the Bad Example Family (& Friends) Reunion in Orlando last February, but had to settle for a phone call, since the little leaker couldn't make it.
However, after his computer crashed in March, I - along with my partner in crime, Straight White Eric - exacted some revenge... uh... helped him in his hour of need with a few guest posts that trashed his virtual home and called his manhood into question.
Had I known I was soon going to meet him in person, I might have shown a little more restraint.
As I walked into that Chicago restaurant, a hulking mountain of a former Marine engulfed my tiny hand in his formidable paw and introduced himself as my blogson.
Showing remarkable bladder control for a man who was very likely to meet his maker soon, I made his acquaintance, although I barely recognized him without his trademark headgear.
Fortunately, T1G has a well-developed sense of humor, and let me live.
But you already knew that about him from reading his blog.
What you DON'T know about this towering figure of humanity is how reserved he is in public. Now, granted, it's not easy to get a word in edgewise with chitty & chatty in the room, but even when addressed directly, T1G is not given to loquaciousness. Not a waster of words, this one. Could be just his natural reserve, could be a slight discomfort with crowds. Hard to say, exactly, though I suspect the latter.
Meanwhile, I eagerly await the opportunity to explore the deeper running of T1G's still waters. Hopefully with a little more liquid yap-yap in him (he drank responsibly, since he had a bit of a drive ahead of him that night), and a smaller group setting, I'll manage to get some longer stories out of him.
I'll have to coordinate with Grau, who promised to show me the bliss of a local micro-brewery.
All in all, a pleasure to meet and an honor to tip a glass with. If you're planning a blog meet, make sure to put him on your guest list.
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April 05, 2005
ON THE CHICAGO BLOGMEET: BLAKE OF THE LAUGHING WOLF
I hadn't read The Laughing Wolf much before the blogmeet, but he came highly recommended by Tammi of Road Warrior Survival - one of her favorite reads. Mostly what I knew was that he had to be good people, since Tammi is more finicky that Morris the Cat.
I was not disappointed.
I walked into the restaurant & he introduced himself & started chatting away quite naturally. Like most bloggers I've met, there was an instant comfort level. When you have blogging in common, it's a solid platform to launch from.
Although I was a little surprised, I guess. He hangs around with wolves. I was half-expecting some sort of loincloth-wearing Mowgli character.
However, he was fully-dressed, intelligent, friendly, inquisitive & well spoken. A good sense of humor, as evidenced by the fact that he was willing to carry a foot-tall ceramic gnome around the streets of Chicago after dark.
So maybe he was a little loony, too, but who am I to hold THAT against him. Besides, he was the only attendee who thought to bring a laptop along. A regular "be prepared" little Boy Scout, he was.
Definitely on my list of "bloggers who bear further investigation", since he had more good stories than there was time to listen to during one short evening - especially given the presence of certain verbose & gregarious characters.
Therefore the plan is to infiltrate Blake's domain at the Wolf Park once the weather gets dependably nicer, after which I'll be able to give you a better report about the man behind the pixels.
Oh, and speaking of the Wolf Park, Blake is doing a little fund-raising for them. Details here.
Personally, I figure since the wolves make Blake happy, and I like Blake, the least I can do is buy a Guinness for that poor Beta wolf who got dragged around by his penis.
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April 02, 2005
ON THE CHICAGO BLOGMEET - MATTY O'BLACKFIVE
One day, many months ago, I posted a funny little entry about llamas & leprechauns at Bad Money. It didn't get a lot of response - mostly because I had hardly any readers - but somebody DID leave the following friendly, funny, playful little comment:
Nice one, Harv...especially the ref to that loser, Whittle. However, I challenge you to find a sober Irishman to not trust...being one (Irish and not sober and, therefore, very *hiccup* trustworthy), I take *hiccup* exception to your use of *hiccup* stereotypes - not trusting an entire *hiccup* group people because they are *hiccup* sober? Blackfive - The *hiccup* Paratrooper of Love
Turns out it was that guy whose New Blog Showcase entry I'd reviewed.
And so it began.
I liked the guy. He had wit & style.
He also had a Blogspot blog, which - at the time - meant slow loads & crappy broken permalinks. I encouraged him to get some decent blogging software, and he finally gave in & got himself a decent Typepad setup.
After that, I had the great pleasure of working with him as part of setting up the Alliance of Free Blogs project. He set up the Alliance Specialties page, told some brilliant Filthy Lies, supported the Alliance in the New Blog Showcase voting competetition, and served on the Alliance HQ editorial board, helping out with posts, input, and suggestions.
As time went on, I honored him by making him a character in some of my Filthy Lie assignment adventures, and we kept in touch.
Then came the Iraq war. And the elections. Matt's blog became more than a fun outlet. It became THE source for information on what was REALLY going on in the Sandbox. Matt had a mission, and it consumed him. To this day, he devotes the better part of his life to what he's created.
And rightly so. Although I *sorely* miss seeing his lighter side in his posts, and I desperately miss his comments, there are men and women who are putting their asses and sometimes their lives on the line.
They need Matt.
We ALL need Matt & what he's doing now at Blackfive.
But this Tuesday, I had the pleasure I've waited well over a year for.
I got to meet Matty in person. And I got to drink with him.
Bastard wouldn't let me buy him a beer, but I got to give him a cigar, so that'll have to do for now.
What you'd probably guess from reading Blackfive is that Matty is a great storyteller. He has an endless supply of tales from the war, the service, about his family, people he's met, places he's been. I swear, this guy must have not only kissed the Blarney Stone, I suspect he gave it a little tongue.
What you don't know about him is how low-key he is. He doesn't grab at attention. He doesn't need to. He exudes a gentle and convivial warmth. When he talks to you, he makes you feel important, like YOU'RE the most important person in the room.
He also has an air of personal confidence about him. When he speaks, it's with purpose and direction. He's not one to fumble for words. Even though he uses a LOT of words - SUCH a talker - they are not wasted. They all serve a purpose in making his point. Don't let yourself get distracted, because you'll miss something, and he doesn't repeat himself habitually, so try to keep up. Although he's quite polite about saying something again if you miss it.
His sense of humor is subtle rather than raucous. He'll slip in a little jest with the straightest of faces. Like I said, pay attention.
He's also quite lavish in his kindness and praise, but again, it comes off as subtle rather than brash. He collects names and places and drops them liberally in his conversation. It's a pleasant habit, making those around him feel that they're standing on common ground. And he knows he does it excessively, having been told by Jim Belushi that he name drops too much. (Or was it John? I'm not as good with names as Matty).
As a host, he's quietly charming, without being overbearing, making sure that his guests are satisfied with both the fullness of their glasses and the suitability of their surroundings. To be under his care means to enjoy yourself.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that he proposed a toast to Frank & Sarah's engagement. Just one indication among many of his thoughtfulness and class.
Something else I noticed was that, when he talked about other people, it was to praise them. He's habitually upbeat, and not prone to discussing those he doesn't care for. Outside of a brief look of disgust, he didn't have much to say about John Kerry, or the trolls who come to his web site to criticize and name-call. He spent most of his time talking about good people and the good things they've done, whether for him or for others.
Again, Matt has class.
Tammi described him as a "hero". The title is not misplaced. But like most heroes, he would reject the title with a simple "aw shucks, just doin' my job", and he'd get that look of abashed wonderment, since - in his own mind - he's just a guy, trying to do the right thing in a world full of trouble, just like he's supposed to. He'd just say that he's not doing anything special.
And THAT is exactly why it IS special.
In a world of egomaniacs hungry for adulation, Matt sits quietly (ok, not THAT quietly, but still...), doing the right thing because it IS the right thing.
He is a GOOD man. Higher praise I cannot give. If you get the chance to bask in his presence, take it.
Just be prepared to listen, though, 'cuz that son of a bitch will talk your ear off.
Which is a GOOD thing ;-)
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Â» BLACKFIVE links with: Harvey Must Have Been Talking About Someone Else