As I mentioned in an earlier post, the boys and I had the opportunity to visit the San Diego Comic Con.  Having just returned with oodles and oodles of pictures of cosplayers, figures, and convention halls, I’m a little behind with my post about the con itself.  Luckily, while I organize myself and the details of the trip in my head, I wanted to post this little vignette from one of our afternoons at the con.  Rodney, Shannon, Kevin and I had just spent six hours in the convention center and eager for sustenance (as Thor would say), we left to grab a sandwich and a beer.  En route, Rodney relayed a brief story about a rather awkward party he had attended years ago.  Considering myself a seasoned dabbler in the storytelling trade myself, I could not stop myself from criticizing . . . a little:

“And that’s the end of the story?  You just left?”  I asked, juggling my backpack from one shoulder to the other.  “Lame.”

Continue reading

Care Package for Charlie

Nothing says Summer like minigolf . . .

Some Spoilers in this post about Suzanne Collin’s Mockingjay and the Hunger Games trilogy.  Just a warning for those still reading the books!

So . . . Charley, Shannon’s best friend and my adopted brother, has decided to stay in Ohio this summer after completing his exams to line both wallet and resume. And although we, his surrogate family, support his decision, a rather sizable chunk is missing from our usual cast of degenerates and reprobates. Shannon alone has taken to stumbling alone down the stairs and speaking in strange tongues, mostly because of the daily consumption of alcohol and his upcoming Russian exam; however, if Charley were here now, Shannon would have abandoned Russian to slurred English and celebrated the beginning of summer while mixing Irish car bombs downstairs with the rest of his brothers — see Mom, these are the kinds of rumors and tidbits you miss when you don’t read my blog.

Unfortunately, like most interns, Charles is bored at work, spending most of his morning scanning his browser for sites his company did NOT block, and mostly becoming really truly irritated with the results.  Through several text-exchanges, Chuck explained that his desperation had driven him to read anything.  Even my blog!  Clearly something needed to be done . . . Continue reading

Fools and Mortals

“So I understand why Murph is here . . .” Bree sighed, irritated that someone had plied her body away from both couch and television.

“Why am I here?” I ask curiously.

“Because you’re gay for Shakespeare and Renaissance crap.”

“Okay, continue,” I nod. This is true.

“. . . but I don’t see why you’re here, Ryan,” Bree asks. Last Sunday, the siblings and I piled into Mom’s Excursion (it has Sirius Radio) and drove off to Clarksville, MD to visit the autumn Renaissance Festival. All of us (well mostly) had anticipated the visit for some time, eager to don silly hats, hurl knives, and consume enormous portions of period foods (i.e. ye olde cheesecake-on-a-stick). For the majority of my family including Brigid, this encompasses the whole of their interest in the Ren Faire, since everything else is ‘useless history and culture stuff.’ Continue reading


The last line of the digital notice Pat and Tiff sent me prior to our blind double date read “have an open mind and no expectations.” I think that this was Tiff’s way of trying to assuage my fears and rising anxiety about the whole dating-process.

Dating and I are like oil and vinegar. We rarely mix well and end up tasting really bland on the dinner table over iceberg lettuce. Years ago, my first date involved the sister of a friend in college, who I only briefly knew, and judging by our short unappealing conversations, my friend thought that we might make a good couple. Though disaster hung about my head like a guillotine, I agreed after some persuasion, if anything for the sake of curiosity about the whole dating-process. I had witnessed individuals dating before – mostly on TV and in comic books – and I thus wondered if the ritual truly reflected the fun and excitement of these examples.

The short answer was “No.” “Please Lord, let this night end,” would provide an even longer but still pretty accurate answer. After picking up the girl, whose name I remember incorrectly as Alice, we drove off to a flick and some dinner afterwards. Alice knows little about movies, cares little about them, and possessed the personality of a clam. Every “Have you seen any good flicks this year?” or “Hey, what do you think about those previews? Anything look interesting?” or “How’s classes going? Have you decided on a major?” seemed to only draw her even further into a vegetative state. Now albeit I probably was a little annoying, trying every conversation topic possible to provoke . . . a pulse or two, yet nothing seemed to pry open her shell until I asked about music.

Apparently Alice loved David Matthews Band, to whom I occasionally listened on the radio, “Ants Marching” being a popular song at the time. Alice seemed to ready to stalk the man, citing every visit DMB made to the East Coast, which ironically enough coincided with various roadtrips she and her friends had made over the last few years. She knew every single, every band-member, every instrument, and CD cover. Over the few hours I nearly drowned in data about Matthew’s eating habits, dental records, and how if those bastards at the cleaners used less starch his clothes would not rip off so easily. It was around this time that I noticed the colorful necklace she wore and fingered while speaking seemed threaded with a plaid polyester dress-shirt.

The level of obsession here scared me, yet any attempts to change the subject met with a cold glare and gloomy silence for the rest of the evening. Later the following Monday, we exchanged brief pleasantries about the evening and I wished her well in her studies, almost afraid to broach another subject. A week later, my friend told me that Alice had decided to try homosexuality for awhile. Even now, I never found out whether he was joking or not.

PS: In the end Saturday’s double date ended quite well. We all enjoyed ourselves albeit after a surprising turn of events at the Belmont Stakes (Pat and I were hyped for a Triple Crown victory). Even the 104 degree temperature which left us sticky and slow, gave me ample reason to break my no-coffee rule with a mint java chip frappaccino. Mmmm . . . nothing says summer like sweet chocolate drinks and shattered New Year’s resolutions.

Guy Talk: Part 1

On the way down the road, I take out my laptop and begin writing:

Ryan and I are driving down south this weekend to visit Ryan’s girlfriend at the eastern shore, where she currently resides until classes end in a few weeks. I know very little about her college; although I hear that the scenery overlooking a small inlet to the bay simply takes your breath away. Ryan’s girl studies environmental scien . . .

“Dude, she’s not my girlfriend,” Ryan interrupts from behind the steering wheel.

I look up. “Huh? What?”

“This girl, I’m seein.’ She’s not my girlfriend.”

“Well, you’ve been calling her for hours each night all semester long. In some countries, these long-distance phone bills are considered a legally binding marriage contract. Hold on . . . how are you even reading this?”

“I glance over now and then when no other cars are around,” he says, weaving the car slightly between the yellow and white lines.Oh and that’s what she told me yesterday on the phone. She thinks it’s too early to consider us girlfriend and boyfriend, that’s all.

“Oh . . .” I say.  Ryan remains uncharacteristically quiet for some time after that.  I assume that he is trying to translate the feminine “too early to consider us girlfriend and boyfriend” into guy-speak, which reduces the situation into two possibilities:  Is this good?  Or is this bad?

“Also,” he finally says, “she’s studying biology, not environmental science.  You might want to fix that in your story.”

“I did not even finish writing that yet! If you cannot keep your eyes on the road, let me drive! Reading and driving do not mix very well.” I of course spoke from personal experience on this one. One August two or three years ago, I attempted to dodge traffic while glancing through Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  This experiment nearly launched me off the interstate. Thank goodness for stop signs and red traffic lights.

“No I’m fine. And it’s not that she doesn’t like me. She says that she likes me. She invited me down so that her girlfriends could meet me.”

“Yeah, but meet who?” I interject.

“What do you mean? They’re meeting me, right? I suppose they could meet you too, if you’d like, as long as you don’t do anything weird . . .”

“Wait, weird stuff? What weird stuff?” I scoff. “At all times, I am a paragon of normalcy.”

“You bow, dude. Or you say stuff like ‘Good evening, m’lady.’ Medieval crap like that. It’s embarrassing.”

“It’s chivalrous,” I remind him. “Besides I don’t make a show of it, just a slight bow of the head upon meeting. ‘M’lady’is just a saying of mine. It simply sounds better than ‘ma’am’ or ‘miss.’ More poetic, don’t you think?”

“Whatever, but if you embarrass me, I’ll punt you into the bay.”

“Slow down, man. Speed trap up ahead.” Ryan is still quite new at this game. His attention span fluctuates at times particularly in the midst of conversation or a “truly awesome” song. Led Zepplin’s “Fool in the Rain” mere moments prior sent us careening into a small embankment, bordering a pottery farm. I was nearly skewered by a lawn gnome. We pass the cop, nestled behind a grove of small trees. Ryan drops ten mph in practically seconds.

“Gradual deceleration, man!”

“Okay! Okay!” We resume normal speeds (i.e. match the speed of other drivers), and I breathe a little easier. No lights. No cop.

“What were you saying before?” Ryan asks. His attention to my meaningless commentary belies his interest in this girl.

“What does she call you? How are you introduced? Are you, ‘This is my best buddy, Ryan’ or “My pen pal, Ryan?’ ‘Just this guy I know?’ If you’re not her boyfriend, then what are you? If you are not her boyfriend, why are we wasting eighty dollars in gas to visit her?!”

“I don’t know . . . I just want to see her, I guess. I want to be her boyfriend. I suppose that this is just one of the hurdles in the dating gauntlet, right?”

“Yeah, I guess so.” What other answer is there? “Well, here let me change this paragraph then . . .”

Ryan and I are driving south this weekend to visit his . . . uh, platonic female friend and her equally platonic girlfriends for dating evaluations. If he manages to pass, he gains the title of boyfriend and man. If not, we eat eighty dollars in gas money, snacks, and tissues. Either way, it should be an amazing trip. Sun or storm, no place on land captures the savage beauty quite like the seashore. Waves crashing and breaking against rocks, liquid thunder, the pulsating heartbeat of a vast monster, an ageless world without remorse or light . . .

Clouds the light of the love that I found . . .

Digital soul mates

My sister-in-law suggests that I write up a personal description on this blog for dating purposes, to which I am thoroughly opposed. Personally, I never saw much dignity in such stratagems. Personal ads to me are like pinning “For Sale” signs on your forehead for buyers who are given free reign to criticize the peeling paint and giggle at the shoddy workmanship. No, methinks to continue posting random thoughts and stories, topics important to me. However, if you find that sexy, are female, and were born between1980 and 1985, then feel free to drop me an email.

Katie on a whim just recently signed onto an online dating service for young people with faith;, I believe is the name. Usually I avoid online dating sites, preferring my love life to reside in the 3-D realm: face to face and with as few masks as possible. Being quite foolish and odd by nature, I feel obliged to provide my date some level of honesty, which online sites always mar in some way, being easier to remain forthright with a live person than a computer screen.

Yet religious sites frighten me all the more, though not for any intrinsic conflict with my faith. To me any dating or matchmaking service centered on any religion, philosophy, club, or cult make me uncomfortable, as if haunted by some ghostly spoken mantra: “Come join us. Be with us. Breed with us.” Of course, one might simply argue that possessing similar values and beliefs is the foundation to any successful relationship, to which I would grudgingly agree, though I’m still not drinking the Kool-aid.

Anyway Katie signed onto a free account, whose main objective was to wet the appetite with a few stud-ly Catholic guys so that you fork over money to activate a real account and thus obtain addresses and phone numbers to these religiously-minded and hopefully lonely hunks. Jokingly she filled out the questionnaire with such entries as “. . . and I love drinking Pina Coladas, walking on the beach, and getting caught in the rain.” Overnight my lil’ sister found three guys who took an interest in her (or her memory for song lyrics): a father of three in Michigan, a 40-year-old guy in Ohio, and Jose who lives in Ecuador.

“What’s with all the old guys?” Katie shouted, after the third guy, Jose, asked if she liked to travel.

“I wish you’d stop visiting that site,” our Mom would call from the kitchen, “What kind of late 30-yr-old guy would hit on a 22 year-old girl? That Catholic site is full of dirty old perverts.” I’ll be sure to mention that to our pastor this Sunday.

Not wishing to be left out on this considerably robust dating market, I repented of my former provincial opinions and signed up for my own dating account. The opening screen showed a few pictures of beautiful young Catholics, smiling like sharks to a young guppy. A few more clicks later and I found myself stumbling over an appropriate opening line. Sheesh, what do you say to a bunch of sex-deprived Catholic singles? “Hello” came to mind, as did several other witty bits of blasphemy, but I decided with “Hey everybody, how are you doing?” until I could test out the humor-levels of my fellow singles.

Scanning through the other intros, I saw that most of the female members possessed about as much imagination as I did, “Hi” being the most numerous. Only one honestly answered that conjuring up an opening line for a Catholic singles site seemed pretty ridiculous. Personally I would agree. After years of extensive corporal Catholic schooling, I am pretty sure that flirting constitutes as a sin somewhere in the Bible – a fact often lost amongst all the begot-ings in Deuteronomy. Nonetheless, I recall the sharp thwack of ruler on bare skin and the reprimands of Sister Dorthy during our school mixers.

“Too close! Too close! Young men and women should keep a Bible’s distance from one another while dancing!” Her voice resounded off the gym walls like the edicts of the Metronome. Her Bible was the size of the Guttenberg. “Kevin Coolin, if you move another centimeter closer to Ms. O’Bryan I will duct-tape a ruler to your forehead!”

Earlier tonight Katie was surprised to receive among several emails from 50 and 40-yr-olds, an email from someone in DC. Someone young. And single. “Probably, another pervert,” Mom murmured. After several excitable screams, I realized that the site somehow emailed her my stats. We laughed at the absurdity and turned off our computers. So far, I have received no emails myself, which is fine. As I said before, if any of these posts excite you, drop me a line – but for my Mom’s sake no 50-yr-old perverts please.