kids these days

Smokes: Multiple packs of Camel Lights, thanks to a truck stop in Lodi, Ohio … mmmm, cheap tobacco…

Tunes: On my way home from work, it will be the CD of the Phish show in Pittsburgh from last summer … just got my copy in the mail today.

Hm. I just read a couple accounts of what was apparently a pretty exciting weekend in Athens … it was Dad’s Weekend, when fathers converge on campus to buy groceries, clothing and cocktails for their children. There’s usually great potential for mayhem — The Wife and her friends used to stroll through the bars uptown grabbing Dad asses, pausing at the door to watch the reaction spread through the room and then leaving in fits of giggles — but this year the mayhem involved stabbings, gunshots and a Halloween-style police crackdown along Court Street Saturday night. I know things get out of hand on Halloween — I was there for like nine of them. But since I left, the kids at OU seem to have had a little more difficulty playing nice. This starts with the Daylight Savings Time Riots, which were funny the first year or two and just a sad self-fulfilling prophecy after that. There have been full-blown riots in conjunction with Highfest and Palmerfest (block parties created to fill the void left after the university killed Springfest) and then this. We had fights on Court Street when I was in Athens, but the scariest one I ever saw was a thing between two fraternities and pool cues outside Baker Center. Knives? Pistols, for christssake? What’s the matter with just being drunk and happy, folks?

I promised an explanation of the groundhog thing, but that’s a little involved, and I still have two weeks before we (and by that, I mean the Fraternal Order of the Groundhog) meet in Mansfield. It’s hard enough to explain to the two people The Wife and I are dragging into this thing … I’m not feeling up to explaining it to you, at least not yet.

And then there’s the sex essay/story/thing. Just as I completed the three projects I’ve been working on for the newspaper, I have this other thing on my plate … it promises to be as stressful, if not more so. A very good friend of mine from college publishes a zine called Bee (it’s widely available in the DC area I’m told), and she’s been asking me for a contribution. So I volunteered, unknowingly, to write something for the sex issue. Do I write something about my sex life? Do I make something up? This is teetering on the very boundary of my typical comfort zone, so I’m feeling a little stuck. Possibles:

— writing about how hard it is to write about sex

— sex and power. another friend of mine is enduring psychological abuse/stalking from an ex.

— write the raunchiest piece of fiction I can come up with.

— bag it and write a CD review.

Hm. I wonder when my deadline is….

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Smokes: We’re going to Columbus this weekend, so I…

Smokes: We’re going to Columbus this weekend, so I’m gonna stock up in the land of plenty. $3 packs of smokes for everyone!

Tunes: Not Ekoostik Hookah, even though we had tickets for a show at Mr. Small’s tonight — the weather’s going to get nasty in Central Ohio tomorrow morning, so if we’re going — and we are — we have to go tonight. And why do we have to go? It’s a groundhog thing, and I’ll try to explain that over the next few days. In short, our pledges need some help, and this is the last chance before Reduction Day.

Yes. It’s as bizarre as it sounds.

The real thing I wanted to discuss was my experience last night at the Boyce Park ski area in Monroeville, the subject of a project that has been torturing me for the last few weeks. The initial concept was solid — our county commissioners had kicked around the idea of a county-run ski area for a few years, and they’re about ready to get started on the first piece of that deal. Right next door, Allegheny County has been running their own ski area in a county park, so we thought it would be cool to see how Boyce does and conjectugate (if that’s not an actual word, I’m calling it right now) how the concept could translate here.

Only there wasn’t any snow. And Boyce missed its Dec. 15 opening date. And the holidays. And the first few freakin’ days of January, which took me past my deadline. So I gingerly explain to editors: Ummm … no skiing, no story … right?

But it finally got cold enough and wintry enough that Boyce opened, and I could make my first trip out there to talk with actual skiers … and do some actual skiing myself, for the first time in, like 12 years. I used to do this a bunch, but with a companion who only digs skiing of the cross-country variety, I let my habit slide. I was actually apprehensive about trying again, which was kind of a silly notion — can’t say if I was worried about falling and earning the abuse of a mess of 15-year-old pierced snowboarders or the moms and dads who stuff their tiny children into crash helmets and watch as the tykes bomb down the hill…

So. I remembered how. Didn’t let the chairlift crack me in the back of the skull. Remembered how to turn. How to stop. After a few runs, I felt years melt away. It’s such a freeing exercise anyway, and to rediscover it on an uncrowded slope, with a couple inches of fresh snow (Powder? In Pittsburgh?) … Pretty cool. I got my work done, talking with dad and daughter, momslashski patrol, a couple of derelict boarders and some others.

And I skied. Beautiful.

We’re all gonna die. At least that’s what they say…

We’re all gonna die. At least that’s what they say on the news.

I get kinda sensitive when people gripe about the media, being a member of the media myself. But, jesus, when you listen to local TV folks discussing the winter storm that’s headed towards Pittsburgh, you get the sense that the last great day has come and we’d all better have our shit together — or, at the minimum, have plenty of toilet paper and bread (seriously — head to a western Pennsylvania grocery store one hour after a winter storm watch has been issued, head to the bread aisle and watch the fun — it’s like that wedding dress sale at Filene’s) to sit out the horrible aftermath.

You know … until the snow melts tomorrow afternoon.

In other news, cigarettes are still expensive. Got gas on the way to work and bought a couple packs — just in case I get snowed in — and had to shell out $10. I may start driving the extra twenty minutes or so into Ohio and buy them in a state that still appreciates guilty pleasures.

Smokes: The brand (Camel Lights) is not as importa…

Smokes: The brand (Camel Lights) is not as important as the price. I left the newsroom to head to a borough council meeting I was covering, and realized that I had left my smokes sitting on my desk. I stopped at an Eckerd’s Drug store to pick up a pack.

Oh, it sounds so simple…

I knew that the Pennsylvania General Assembly had raised the state tax on cigarettes by 31 cents or something in that ballpark. In theory, I have no problem with that kind of tax increase, especially because Gov. Rendell stipulated that much of the money was to be given to public school districts, as an expansion of their regular subsidies.

So I ask the girl at the counter for a pack of Camel Lights.

She smiles, turns to the racks behind her and retrieves my smokes.

She punches buttons on the register.

She looks up and smiles again. “That’ll be $5.50.”

Five. Dollars. And. Fifty. Cents.

And then I no longer care about the goddamn kids and the goddamn schools and outdated textbooks and underpaid teachers. It suddenly occurs to me that I’m about to start paying upwards of $40 a week to pump carcinogens into my lungs.

Generally, I have no problem admitting that I’m a total moron.

Now, I have proof.

@@@

What I really wanted to say is that I’m going to spend the next day or two delving into the mysteries of this internet stuff. Specifically, I’m going to take a walk through Blogger’s help pages and see if I can’t make this page considerably more nifty. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sweet jesus — it’s nearly 1 a.m. I sat around for…

Sweet jesus — it’s nearly 1 a.m. I sat around for so long reading other blogs tonight that I apparently forgot that I’M AT WORK, and I had shit to finish before I head home. So I’m filing yet another project right on deadline, at the expense of sleep and all the other things you give up when you’re at work at 1 a.m.

Going home. Looking foward to taking a hot shower in my own house tomorrow morning.