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How People Are Able To Discover The Value In internet Friendship October 30, 2011

Posted by rengawman in humor.
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It is the era of the internet and sending text messages by telephone, the issue of friendships has become somewhat muddled. In the ancient times, when I was a kid, people could become acquintances with men and girls in their communities and schools. If these people traveled frequently, maybe they could have a pen pal also. Even then, they may have heard from that friend three or 4 times each year.

Even throughout the 1980’s, the era when I was brought up, finding friends outside of my own area mainly involved replying to a pen pal advertisement or paying ridiculously elevated long distance prices. Even if the person was blessed enough to have friends in another country, he’d have to pay a fortune to maintain it!

Now, I know about teens who may have nearly 80,000 Facebook friends before they’re seventy. And, these acquintances live across the entire world and can be reached now. Of course, these changes mean we have to reconsider the entire notion of friendships.

Most people ask if we really call someone a friend if we’ve never actually met them. If we just write on someone’s Facebook wall at intervals are we actually real friends? It is in reality an ordinary discussion among psychologists and other experts: is an internet friendship authentic or should a person have acquintances merely in the real world?

These same gurus note that one person can only have so many deep friendships. And, that number is lower than the Facebook friends list of most individuals. These gurus also talk of how knowing someone in the real world is more satisfying than an online relationship.

I’ll confess that real world friendships are preferable to online ones. After all, it is hard to embrace someone you love by way of a computer. I’ll also agree with the experts that it’s very nearly impossible to have a large number of intimate friendships with other people. However, the experts forget the benefit of social media.

I have more than eight hundred Facebook friends now. I’ve met most of them in person and use Facebook to continue to interact with them. I’ve added a few individuals I don’t know on Facebook too. A few of them are famous and some are people interested in attempting to meet me. I enjoy every one of my Facebook acquintances and don’t regret adding them.

The predominant reason I appreciate Facebook and online friendships is to connect with other individuals. I’ve been able to expand my business and have capitalized on opportunities that my acquintances have offered me. None of these would have happened without meeting individuals on Facebook.

I have a buddy who deleted her Facebook account since she believed the advice of the gurus. She basically removed herself from countless friends, acquaintances, and contacts. Sure, she didn’t have to hear the nonsense of other individuals. however she also could’ve missed bona fide opportunities for growth in her job. She neglected innumerable acquintances who could’ve helped her and made her overjoyed also.

I hope you found this article valuable. As you are able to see, I truly believe in the worth of online friendships. I hope you consider keeping your Facebook account and are able to use it for networking with different individuals and forming more intimate friendships.

The essayist of this account usually writes on peculiar themes. His interests include answering friends questions and friendship discussions.


The Real Moulin Rouge in Paris (The second duck, to love and to be loved) December 27, 2007

Posted by rengawman in humor, Humor with a point, life, travel.
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A Humorous Story :

A few years ago, of of my favorite movies came to the big screen: Moulin Rouge.  Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, and even that short guy that plays the creepy clown in Spawn was in it.  Man, as if clowns weren’t creepy enough, he had to go and play an even creepier clown in that Spawn movie.  Frankly, I just find John Leguizamo creepy, whether he is dressed as a clown or not.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, Moulin Rouge is about a burlesque house in Paris, France, near Mon Martres.  Mon Martres was famous, and still is, for many things, amoung the most notable are the artists.  Like many houses of ill repute, Moulin Rouge enjoyed a considerable amount of success for its time, which was about the turn of the 20th century.  The movie itself was about a particularly famous actress falling in love with a penniless writer.  There was a lot of singing involved, particularly of songs by Sting.

Anyway, I loved the movie, and around the time Moulin Rouge (the movie) was reaching the heights of its own popularity, I was taking a trip to France to see Paris.  We saw all the sites in that fair city, including the top of Mon Martres, and the glorious Sacre Coeur church that sits on top of it.  We ate a nice lunch, and saw some of the artists that hung around doing portraits of people.

Sacre Coeur, Paris

I was with my friend, lets call him Mitch (to protect the innocent).  Mitch had been having a tough week as they had lost his luggage in our trip from Rome to Paris.  All he had to wear was the clothes that he traveled in.  The airline was nice enough to give him a toothbrush though.

So Mitch and I finished lunch and looked into the guide book for the next thing to see.  It turns out that St. Ignatius of Loyola had founded the Society of Jesus on that very mountain, so we strolled down Mon Martres, faithfully following our guide book to the street where the church was built. Since we both attended a Jesuit school in Rome, we figured that we had to pay our respects. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon so it was locked.

Disappointed we looked into our guide book for something else to do, and lo and behold, the Moulin Rouge was just down the street and around the corner!  I told Mitch that we had to go since I was rather enamored by the movie Moulin Rouge, and it would be silly to miss.  He seemed hesitant.  He never told me why but I was about to find out.

Now, something should have told me this was a bad idea, but images of Nicole Kidman were dancing through my head.  That something was that two older gentlemen, dressed as two older women, were standing at the end of the street waving at us.  Their faces looked like melted candles.  I pointed at them and said to Mitch, “hey look at those two.”  They waved back, and said hello to us.  I thought it was funny.  Mitch did not. 

I think we may have seen Dame Edna- melty face

That didn’t deter me though, as we took a left at the elderly cross dressers and went further down the mountain.  My face was buried in the book trying to make sure we were going the right direction.  We got to the bottom of the hill and turned right.  Mitch immediately let out a rather loud, oh no!  I looked up, and there it was.  More neon than I had ever seen in my life: we were in the red light district of Paris.

Mitch was scared.  I was frankly scared.  I have never been in a more disturbing place in my life.  It was all around us, like we had walked through the closet in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, but instead of appearing in Narnia, we appeared in a much scarier place.  Mitch told me that we should get out of here… I tried to act calm and I told him that there was a subway stop about a block ahead, conveniently placed right in front of the Moulin Rouge.

As we walked, there were people (fully clothed) standing in front of the various… establishments… trying to get us into the door.  I was trying to play it off as if it wasn’t disturbing, but Mitch wasn’t doing so well.  I said to him, “Mitch, they aren’t going to attack us!”  At that very moment, one of the door people grabbed Mitch by the arm, dragging him toward the door, and said- “You come with me sweety!”

Mitch let out a groan of terror.  I started laughing.  It was too much really.

So I fought off the door person, and we shuffled down what seemed to be the never ending block toward the Moulin Rouge.  I looked up, and there it was.  No Nicole Kidman, no Ewan McGregor- no creepy John Leguizamo.  Just a neon covered Red Windmill spinning in the afternoon sun.  It was still a burlesque house.  The guide book seemed to leave that whole part off of its description.

Mitch was ready to go, as was I.  The subway entrance was just a few feet away when I saw it- a candy stand.  I walked over and bought some gummy bears.  I got a bag full and then we got on the subway to whereever we ended up next.  I came to find Mitch wasn’t real happy with our adventure, but he eventually forgave me, as it was an honest mistake.

The Point:

There was a constant theme that went through the entire movie of Moulin Rouge- the Penniless writer, played by Ewan McGregor, came to Paris, not only to write, but to fall in love.  The constant theme throughout the movie was that there is nothing greater in this world, than to love and to be loved.  That brings us to the second duck that my spiritual director told me about last week.  It is absolutely on the money.  Of course, once Ewan McGregor expresses publicly his love for Nicole Kidman’s character, she dies of teburculosis.  I am sorry if I spoiled the ending for you… you had 7 years to watch it.

This is a fundamental human need that we have though- to love and to be loved.  Some people have a hard time with some aspects of this “duck” for various reasons. 

There are some people that are easy to love.  Some people that when we see them, it brightens our day, and it makes us feel good.  There are others, however, that are not so easy to love- sometimes it is a friend, or a co-worker, or a member of the family.  Love is not always an easy thing to do, but love is what we are made for.  As I have said in other posts, we are made in the image and likeness of God, which means that we have free will, and second, we have the ability to enter into relationships.  These culminate in love- love is the choice of willing the good of another person.

Sometimes willing the good of another person means that we have to give them up.  Sometimes it means doing something, or not doing something, that we might not want to do in order that we do what is best for our neighbor.  Love is very very difficult, but we have a need to love because it takes us out of ourselves, and is the basis for every relationship that we have, from friendship to family or even co-workers.  Love at least should be the basis for those relationships.  Love turns us away from ourselves, and improves the other person by letting them become the best that they can be.  Love hurts sometimes too- real love does, because it involved risk and sacrifice.  Risk that our gift of self may be rejected or mis-understood, and sacrifice, which is at the core of loving others- doing what is right for them and best for them, even if it is tough to do.

Believe it or not though, I believe that loving others is the harder of the two.  Accepting love is really hard for some people to do, because they don’t think they are worthy, or they have never really been loved.  Accepting love means admitting that you need love- it also involves risk- the risk of letting someone know you, and exposing what is in the deepest parts of your heart.  See, you can’t love what you don’t know, so often we reject love to protect those things in our hearts that we think are unlovable. 

This is what shame is- our whole culture is based around shame for a good part- shame is the belief that there is something unlovable about me- something we are embarrassed to show.   People who are abused often feel this- not only do they not let other people love them, but they have a hard time loving themselves.  Being loved involves even more of a risk than loving someone else, simply because in order to be loved you have to be open and honest with yourself and others in order for them to love you.

That is where God comes into the picture.  He loves us unconditionally.  There is nothing we can do to lose that lose, and nothing we need do to earn it.  God knows us better than we know ourselves, and always does what is best for us.  Sometimes that means saying no to us as well.  The key and the goal is to begin to see ourselves as God sees us- to let Him love us, so that we might imitate that toward ourselves and others.

There is no amount of shame that God cannot love away if we let Him.  Then we ourselves can be loved, and in turn, go out and love others- finding out what they need and their greatest good and willing that.  This fulfills who we are as human beings, allowing us to freely enter into a loving relationship with God, ourselves, and other human beings.

Hostile Hostels December 10, 2007

Posted by rengawman in humor, life, travel.
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Man do I love to travel.  Traveling, no matter if it is far or near is always a learning experience.  I love going to new exotic locations, or re-visiting old ones that I have been to… it doesn’t matter.

I always meet new and exciting people on my voyages, and thanks to years of experience living and traveling through Europe, I have a lot of know-how on how to make a traveling experience fulfilling, fun, and most importantly cheap.

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far away, I used to stay in Hostels.  Oh hostels.  One step up from a Maytag refrigerator box really.  The only hostel that I ever really liked was the hostel in Naples, Italy, ironically in the city that I liked the least.  The best part of Naples was the hostel where you basically got your own room (with the exception of the other stranger living in there, but it was better than most.)

Once in Ireland I got stuck in Gallway City, and so I went to a hostel.

Most hostels were just communal rooms with racks and racks of bunk beds, and smelled faintly (or not so faintly) of feet and body odor.  Then there were the showers.  You would think that as much as the showers were obviously used, the smell of feet and body odor would have been all but eliminated, but somehow it lingered.  The showers, no matter what hostel you were in, were always covered in mildew, and always had about an inch of standing water.  It didn’t matter if you let it drain or not, or if you let the water run all morning, there was always an inch of murky white water, mixed with soap, shampoo, and whatever.

Typical Hostel Shower

Sleeping in the communal hostel rooms was always fun too- it was always cold (and did I mention smelly?)  I was always afraid of getting my stuff stolen (because who wouldn’t want a collection of solid colored giant polo shirts from JC Penny?) so I slept in the rack with all my stuff pulled next to me.

  Hostels were nice in the fact that they were ALWAYS cheap- less than 20 bucks a night, and you always met interesting people… and they became your best friends for about 3 days.  You would eat together, travel together, then get mutually tired of each other, find another group to travel with, and go your separate ways, never to talk again. (Actually I did stay friends with a couple of people I traveled with for awhile).

Once in Gallway City Ireland, I was supposed to meet some friends from school that I was going to travel with for the rest of the week.  Unfortunately, my train from Dublin to Gallway, which crosses the whole island, caught fire, making me about 6 hours late.  (By the way… buses in Ireland folks, not trains.)  So upon arrival I mosied my way up to a nice looking hostel and I checked in.  I was shown to my room, a smaller communal room with about 4 bunk beds.  Relative paradise to the huge communal hostels I had stayed in before.

I was tired and needed a shower, so I began to prepare.  All of a sudden a pretty girl walked into the room I was staying in.  Usually in the smaller hostels, they would separate men from women, so I thought this was an odd occurrence that she was in my room.  We exchanged pleasantries, and I learned that she would be occupying the top bunk in the bed I had chosen.  Perplexed, I asked her if I was in the wrong place, and she casually said no.  I believe she was Canadian.  Maybe Canadians are cool with that sort of stuff.

So I got my shower gear together, and walked over to the shower room- the girl was right behind me, and again I was perplexed that she followed me in. (A little flattered, mostly nervous…)  I casually checked the door, which simply said “shower.”  I went into one stall, she into the other.  Again, maybe Canadians are cool with that.

With a sense of propriety I got ready for my shower in the little ante-chamber which was about 4 foot by 4 foot.  I am a big guy- it was sort of like that scene from Tommy Boy when he is trying to change clothes in the airplane lavatory.  I was terrified that I was going to fly out of there in front of everyone, and all I could think of was the uncomfortable showering situation that I had unwittingly found myself.  I was nervous to say the least.  I was also nervous to see my pal “one inch of murky water,” waiting for me in the shower.

I got done with my bid-ness and got completely dressed in the shower, socks, shoes, everything, before I went out.  If I had a burka, I would have worn it.  I decided to go for a walk, where, thank goodness, I ended up running into my friends.  I checked out of the most liberal hostel in the universe, thankful that I didn’t have to sleep in some weird co-ed situation.

 While hostels would not suit me anymore, I have to say that they were always an interesting part of my traveling experience.  You would meet people from all over the world, with different beliefs and ethnicities, backgrounds and stories, and then you would shower with them.  If the world were like a hostel, maybe it would be a better place.  Nah… I would just prefer to have my own shower.

Piazza Navona’s Craptacular Festival December 5, 2007

Posted by rengawman in humor, travel.
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As I have mentioned in other posts, and in my bio, and well, every time I talk to someone just because I can, I like to talk about the fact that I lived in Rome for four years where I did all of my graduate work.

There are many many lessons to be learned in the Eternal City, which is a teacher all to herself.  Many of the things I learned about life I learned outside of the classroom in the streets of Rome.  One of my favorite things to do was to walk through the city and meet whoever I could speak to.  Once, I helped some Germans lift a Fiat 500 car a la that Mentos Commercial.  It is too bad I don’t have a photo of that great event.

That guy was a jerk in this commercial…

Walking through Rome was one of my favorite things to do- I never got tired of her streets or her people.  Everybody there remembered me, simply because there aren’t a heck of a lot of 6’3″ blond haired guys that regularly walk around Rome for 3 hours.  I would make my rounds, and say hello to Franco and Georgio, as well as my favorite coffee bars, and certainly, the sites of Rome.

I had hang outs that I like to go to where I could sit and watch the people, have a cup of Cappuccino, and meet the tourists and drink in the sights.  As I mentioned above, the city never lost that magic that it has from the first day that I arrived in August of 2000.

One of my favorite hang outs was the Piazza Navona.  It is one of the major sites of Rome- a huge elliptical shaped Piazza in the western part of the center of town.  There are great sculptures there by Bernini, most notably, the statue of the 4 fountains, as well as the Moor at the southern end of the Piazza.  There is also a church designed by Boromini called St. Agnes in Agnoy, which is also world famous.  (There is actually a great story that I used to tell about the relationship of these two artists and their rivalry which is expressed in their artwork in the Piazza.) (Some other time maybe).

Piazza Navona is elliptical shaped because in ancient times it was a circus, or race track.  As the level of Rome rose due to wind blowing dust up from Africa over the centuries, the track eventually got buried, while the shape stayed the same, and the Romans just did what they always did, and built on top of the remnants of the old circus producing for us the neat piazza that stands there today.

I know these guys

Piazza Navona was always filled with artists and characters.  The one that always comes to my mind was Marcello, the finger puppet man.  Literally, he did a show with finger puppets where his fingers served as the legs for such memorable characters as Can-Can dancers, Michael Jackson (where his fingers moon-walked), and even a sad Charlie Chaplain.  For four years I hung out in that piazza and watched his show.  It never changed.  Ever.  In four years.  He was there almost every day but Sundays.  I am sure that he is a millionaire by now.  I did get a copy of his comic book, called in Italian “The Hair Brush,” which featured his own adventures as a finger puppeteer.  Who knew they lead such active and interesting lives?  Why was the comic called “The Hair Brush,” and not something like “Finger Puppet Guy?”  Incidentally, here in Columbus I found a place that sells finger puppets at really great prices.  It is called the Global Gallery- located in German Village, Easton Town Center, and the Short North.  They are Bolivian Finger puppets.  They do not dance.

Umm… Ok I realize how creepy this thing looks, but it is a good example of Marcello’s Finger Puppets.  I think that puppet needs a diuretic.

Every year though, around this time of year (December), the Piazza Navona would undergo a horrific change.  The wide open expanses, the beautiful fountains, and wonderful church facades would be overrun by tents and stands, and a bazaar.  The whole Piazza would be filled with Santas with horrible Santa suits, passing out really bad candy.  There would be pigs roasting at the porchetta’s that would be set up, and tent after tent of the most craptacular kitch in the whole wide world. 


I hated the “Crap-Fest,” as I liked to call it, as it was basically a big excuse for the Italians to bring out all the crappiest of merchandise and ruin the whole Piazza Navona until the 6th of January.  Even the Finger Puppet man didn’t show his face for that month, he was so embarrassed. What was worse was just after Christmas, all the kitchy items for Christmas would be replaced by Befana, the Christmas witch who brings the little girls and boys presents on January 6th.  That’s right folks… a witch brings kids gifts in Italy.  Not Santa.  I know.

Creep-tacular… I would never want presents if that was who delivered them.

It was always a breath of fresh air when the Crap-Fest folded up instantly on the 7th of January, and the Piazza went back to its normal wonderful glory.  I did miss the fact that the only place you could buy “carbone” wouldn’t return for another year.  (Carbone was a lump of burned sugar that resembled a lump of coal.  It wasn’t bad actually.)

 The only good thing about the festival, which I guess was a trade off, was the fact that it was always open and full of people no matter what day or what hour.  If there is one thing I like it is a good crowd!

21 Foot Banana Split October 30, 2007

Posted by rengawman in food, humor, life.
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They say that there are two perfect days in a boat owner’s life: the day he buys the boat, and the day he sells it!  I think grade school was the same way.  There were two great wonderful days: the first day, and the last day of school.  All those days in between I spent trying to convince my mom I had some kind of life threatening disease so I didn’t have to go.  She was a nurse.  It wasn’t easy.  I had only a 5% success rate, and that was probably because she didn’t feel like arguing with me.

The first day of school was a wonderful day indeed.  You had spent the summer reading (yea right) swimming in the community pool (actually when I lived on the farm, it was just a mud hole), and spending time with friends (see this post to find out who my friends were back then.)  The first day of school was a day of happy reunion with my friends that actually existed, and I was happy to hear about their summer trips and adventures since I hadn’t seen most of them over the summer.  You also spent the first day of school getting to know the teacher, and making your first impression.  Little Josh ALWAYS made a good first impression on his teachers.  Plus, rarely did you get homework on the first day of school.  Not that that mattered much, since I hated doing homework anyway.

Um… does this Big Bird creep anyone else out? I imagine that first day of school was unforgettable.

The other great day of school was the last day of school.  Glorious- triumphant- final.  In college we used to play the song “The Strife is O’er,” the battle is won… Every last day of school was great because you had made it through a whole year of math and science and english, and you had spent a lot of time with your teacher, and you were ready not to see some of your classmates for the next few months.  Plus, two wonderful things happened on the last day of school: we were allowed to wear shorts, and there was a big party.

Typical (obligatory) last day of school picture

That big party was always great- armies of room mothers invaded the school with freshly made cupcakes and sugary koolaide drinks made with love and care.  Nothing says fun like a bunch of kids hyped up on sugar.

The Army of Room Mothers

My favorite year end festivity was at the end of 2nd grade.  Mrs. Jackson was my teacher (and a good one at that- still one of my favorites ever!), and I had a kid in my class who later became of one my best friends: Craig Morris.  Craig’s mom was something else- she was sort of the Uber Room Mother.  She always participated in everything- you knew that if Craig’s mother was involved it was going to be over the top, or as the kids these days say: off the chain. (I found the chain, so now it is back on the chain… fear not!)

This particular last day of school, Craig’s mom went above and beyond the call of duty…  somehow she got a long length of pvc pipe- about 8 inches around and had it cut in half … LENGTHWISE.  This half pipe was 21 feet long.  She then lined the PVC pipe with tin foil, and filled it with something I will never forget- a 21 foot banana split.  I believe the secret ingredient was love… and bananas.

Imagine this… just 21 more feet of it…
This thing had all the flavors of ice cream that were available in 1985… red, and vanilla, chocolate.  Um… that was about it back then.  There was no Ben and Jerry’s that I knew of in Lima Ohio, so we were stuck with Neapolitan.  As long as you didn’t get red, you were OK.  It was covered in whipped cream and had cherries down the whole length of the banana split.  It must have been something to see 30 2nd graders attack this thing with all their might.  I took a position near the end of the giant tube and got to work.

It became very clear that the kids were eating around the empty calories of the bananas, and going straight for the ice cream and nuts and cherries.  I stepped up to the plate- I told them to send their bananas to me.  I wasn not going to let anything go to waste.

So I ate as many bananas as I could…  there were a lot of bananas in a 21 ft banana split.  Let me tell you all for future reference, there are limits to how many bananas a 2nd grader can eat.  I would not recommend pushing that envelope.  Ever.

I ate this many bananas. Do not try this at home.

After we cleaned ourselves off, as we were covered in banana split fixin’s, we went home and told our mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters about the wonders of the banana split that was 21 feet long.  Never have I seen such a wonderful confection!

The moral of the story is that as good as bananas are, you can have too much of a good thing!

Guitar Hero… October 29, 2007

Posted by rengawman in humor.
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I went to a movie with a friend the other day at a local dollar theater here in Columbus, a place that I actually worked for a couple of weeks, the Carriage Place Cinemark.  The movie we saw wasn’t worth the dollar by the way.  That is another blog though.

As we were pulling into the parking lot, I saw another friend of mine walking out to his car.  As I am a rather social fellow, I couldn’t just let someone I know pass me by without honking or screaming hello from my car (which sounds a lot like honking) (it’s a Lima thing), so I stopped and asked him how he was, and he told me he was just getting off of work.  I asked him where he worked and it turns out he owned a video game exchange place right beside the movie theater.

We decided to check it out, expecting to find all sorts of xbox games and PlayStation games, just like all the other video game places around town.  My friends, it was a different experience.  This store was like a cool museum of video games- they had Supernintendo, Nintendo 64, original PlayStation, and the list went on and on!  A little tear came to my eye as I relived Jr. High.

I have played my share of video games over the last 25 years of my life, but have recently taken a break (by recently I mean the last 10 years) simply because the video games have all become giant puzzles that takes way to much time to solve.  It was one of the reason I never like the Legend of Zelda.  My first video game system was an Atari 2600- the games were simple, but they were fun.  You could sit yourself down, play a little Chopper Command or Combat, and while away the hours with mindlessly flashing screens and low grade sound effects.  But the games were fun.  If I wanted to solve puzzles I would just go and read some philosophy or something.  Video games should be mindless and fun.

This game is stupid complicated… I don’t play video games to “think.”

Well, welcome back to the past!  Activision did it… they brought back the mindless fun video game!

Last December I had spent a long day at work and had talked for hours and hours to many many people.  My brain was absolutely fried, so in order to reboot a little, I decided to go to the local Best Buy.  I always go to look- to press the buttons- to dream of new gadgets.  Sometimes I even get out of there without buying anything, but I always feel guilty coming in and having to pass the cashiers without buying something… they just look so sad when you do that.

This was my brain that day in December

   By the way, I don’t really like gadgets- I just like the packaging.  You know, that krinkly plastic that electronics come in?  It is like a piece of Mozart or Beethoven… I love the way that stuff sounds.  The smell of new electronics… that is another sensory experience.  I guess that goes back to when I was a kid, and the box was more fun to play with than the toy that came in it…. but I digress.

Ahhh.. crinkly gadget packaging…

That is when I saw it… the greatest video game since Pac-Man.  There was a teenage kid playing it- he had on ripped jeans and a bandanna tied around his leg.  He was rocking a little tiny plastic guitar, staring mindlessly into a screen with flashing lights and sound, fingers flying over multi-colored buttons to the tune of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns and Roses.  I knew I had found something special.

I believe this constitutes cruelty to animals


He finished a rocking set, and we all raised our lighters into the air… well… I did, and once I assured the manager that I wasn’t crazy, and put my lighter away, (I don’t even know why I had a lighter, as I don’t smoke), I got my first crack at the greatest video game ever:

Guitar Hero.

I played it on Medium at first- Foo Fighters- “Monkey Wrench.”  All of the frustrations melted away like a Calgon bath.  “Guitar Hero take me away!”  And away it took me- at once I was transformed from Josh Wagner, into…. Josh Wagner playing Guitar Hero!  I blanked out for a few minutes- my fingers one with the little plastic guitar.  A crowd gathered to see my fingers of fury run over the frets and strum the virtual strings.  I knew that there was something special there.

 I played the last chord and the virtual crowd on the video game went nuts.  Truly I was a guitar hero… a medium level guitar hero… but the crowd didn’t care- they were programmed to cheer for me no matter what level I played.

I knew I was going to have it, so with some of the Christmas money I had received, I bought a PlayStation 2.  The problem became very clear though- everyone else had the same idea- there were no guitars to be bought, and all the copies of Guitar Hero were sold out.  I had to be happy with WWF wrestling superstars.

I had to drive all the way out to St. Clairsville Ohio to find what I was looking for… a black wireless guitar and copies of both Guitar Hero 1 and 2.  Now when I get stressed out and need a break, I just go and jam for a few thousand of my virtual fans who are always waiting for me to play a few hot licks on my virtual guitar. 

The controller that was packaged with the game, an approximately 3/4 scale reproduction of a Gibson SG.
Mine is wireless…

Rock on!

Not Caturday but…. October 25, 2007

Posted by rengawman in humor.
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Funny cats
I can has Cheeseburger?

Funny cats

My First Love… October 16, 2007

Posted by rengawman in cars, humor.
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You know there is something that happens to every young boy during his life.  It is something that he never forgets, and something that changes his life forever.  It is that first time he feels his heart palpitate in his chest- is breathe gets a little shorter- and his hands have the slightest, uncontrollable, tremble.  It is the first time that he realizes that he is in love.  The chemicals shoot off in his brain, and he hears music every time he sees her.  It may take awhile to realize these feelings for some, and for others it is instantaneous.  But a boy never forgets his first love- it characterizes everything after that.

I remember my first love.  It certainly wasn’t instantaneous by any means.  I even knew her years before I fell in love with her- she was with my brother before she was with me.  She wasn’t even the first that I took out on the town.  I really didn’t think anything of it.  I liked her and all, but until she was mine, and I got to know her and spend some time with her, I didn’t realize how great she was.

I didn’t even really know her name.  Maybe she never had one.

She was my grey 1987 Honda Accord sedan.

Sleek and Stylish

I’m sorry… I am getting all teary eyed… it is getting hard to type.

Oh the 87 Accord was in the family long before I got to call her my own.  My brother drove it for years before I was even able to drive.  It only had a four cylinder engine with 89 horse power, but for some reason she could get up and go- or so it seemed.  It wasn’t my first car- my first car was a 1982 sky blue Pontiac Phoenix- a K car.  It was my grandmother’s before it was mine.  I tell you what- sky blue grandmother cars- Chick magnet.


Actually, I did all my driver’s ed in the Honda as my brother had sold it to my parents before we had the blue phoenix- so I was already well aquainted.  I even took my driver’s test in the Honda.  It was meant to be. 

 I ended up with the Honda when the blue car went to my other brother.  Like I said, it was meant to be.

It had to cool pop-up headlights and sleek designed hood- sometimes it felt like I was in KITT from Knight Rider.  It was a great car- zippy. You could just hop in and zip around town in it.

I realize this is my second Knight Rider reference since I started the Blog… It is the ringtone on my phone too.

That car and I were inseparable- and she was indestructible.  While my brother Mark had her, she was in several accidents, one which almost tore the car in two!  She always came back from the dead though- even I had a couple of wrecks in her.  She always came back.

I drove that car for 6 years before I got rid of her just before moving to Rome.  I never really realized how much I loved her until she was gone… that is how it is though I guess.  You never really know what you have until it is gone.  Sometimes I still see 87 Accords out on the road, which is a testament to their durability.  She had grace for a late 80’s sedan.  Sometimes I check ebay to see if any are on sale- they are becoming rarer and rarer.

I have a couple of great stories about her that I will relay here- she was like Herbie from the Herbie movies- except not as corny.  Don Knotts wasn’t around either.

Herbie being towed- because he went Bananas

Certainly the car I have now is a much better vehicle.  229 horse power, red, fast- but she will never replace that 87 Honda in my heart. 

You never forget your first love.

Courage October 12, 2007

Posted by rengawman in humor.
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 I got an email from my brother Mark earlier today with this link to the dvorak.org website, which contained this video.

I believe that this is the definition of courage my friends. 

Now I am naturally a ham-it-up type guy, and I have even made a fool of myself a few times in front of an audience, both intentionally and unintentionally, but this lady takes the cake.  I have to say though, she does the whole performance with a smile on her face.  Even her movements made me believe, if for but a second, that she was being chased by Stormtroopers.  Maybe not.

The great part is that I had an outfit very similar once upon a time myself.  That is a different post I think.

 It is my sincere hope that she won the contest that she was in, simply based on her courage to go out there and perform.  I did notice the creepy lack of sound that was coming from the direction of the audience at the conclusion of her perforamce.

Good or bad, if you have the bug to perform, you have to perform- there is something exhilereating about getting up in front of a crowd and giving it your best, even if your best is a funny dance and a really off-key trumpet solo.



Recapturing the Magic October 8, 2007

Posted by rengawman in humor, Movies.
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I thought I would take a little break from my deep philosophical posts for the next couple of days.  I figure that I owe some people some Excedrin headache medicine.  You ought to hear me actually talk about this stuff… I go on and on and on… blah blah blaaaahhh…

 I grew up in the 80’s.  I was a very lucky child.  VERY lucky.  I look over the past couple of decades, and while there are certainly some defining moments in cultural history, I don’t think that there will ever be a time as wonderful as the 80’s in terms of movie and television programming.  I mean, Punky Brewster had TWO shows- one featuring an irish gremlin that could grant wishes of some sort.  I would put that up against Rugrats or Spongebob any day as quality programming.

Not only that, but there were such great shows as Knightrider, the A-team, Airworlf- do I need to go on?  I don’t think so. 

Of course two other great animated series came to the limelight- three really- Transformers, He-man, and of course, The Simpsons. 

The 80’s were a special time for a young boy.  A time when he could hear his brothers playing bands like Twisted Sister, Van Halen, and any other number of hair bands that rocked the stage.  The country was truly coming out of the haze which is known at the 70’s.

What were they thinking?

As a side note, a lot of people that were around in the 70’s don’t actually remember the 70’s.  Even those who didn’t do drugs really don’t have much to say about it.  I was there myself but don’t remember.  If you have something to say contrary to this, leave a comment.

Finally, I will mention two movies, among MANY, that were landmark movies for me, and may other people who grew up then.  That is not to say that they were the best movies ever made, but they certainly hold a special place in my heart.

The first was the Princess Bride.  If you have ever seen this movie, I don’t think I need to tell you why it was so iconic.  It has been 20 years since that movie came out, and Jenny from Forest Gump is still pretty!  I think that this movie actually deserves another post all to itself.

The other defining movie moment for me, well one of the others (I guess the death of Optimus Prime in the Transformers movie was pretty important) was the Goonies.

Ahhhhh the Goonies.  Sloth still loves Chunk.  The Fratelli brothers (and their mother from Throw Mamma from the Train) are still clumsy oafs that can somehow thwart police with guns and cruisers, but can’t outsmart a group of nerds.  There is Corey Feldman, Samwise Gamgee, and a bunch of other people you never ever see in other movies.  It was a great adventure because these kids were pretty much like us- that meant it was possible that we could have an adventure like their and live to tell about it!

Sloth loves Chunk!  Baby Ruth!

Sometimes I still wake up screaming lyrics to Cyndi Lauper songs.  Doctor said a few more sessions and I might be cured of that particular ailment.

What was SHE thinking?  Well if it’s good enough for you… I guess it’s good enough for me.


The reason I am mentioning this particular film is that I read on the Internet today they are planning for a Goonies 2. (The Revenge of Sloth?)  I dunno… I am not convinced that they will recapture the magic which made the first one so memorable.  I mean, where is the box that Cyndi Lauper has been living in these past 2 decades?  How will they find her?  Or Chunk?  I am sure he had a heart attack or something.  Are these people still alive?  I know “Throw Mamma” Fratelli is herself joined One-Eye Willie in the pirate ship in the sky.

RIP Mamma

Probably the sequel will do what all sequels do, and that is to ruin the original a little bit for a us all.  Still it will be good to see them all again, even if it isn’t cute or relatable.  I am sure it will be more like sitting around the table discussing the stock market.  Maybe they will have kids of their own and only make cameos.

All I know is that they had better not make a Princess Bride 2.  Andre the Giant is irreplaceable.