A Few Open Letters

20 July 2010

Dear ABC Suits,

If you’re going to make a police show that blows like Kenny G’s horn, perhaps you shouldn’t include “Blue” in it’s name. The mental link to the great NYPD Blue only magnifies the spectacular suck that is Rookie Blue.

Dear Tryst Management,

I get that maybe you have suddenly decided to be the kind of restaurant that charges people for a refill of drip coffee, but not giving me a warning before my check appears and reads coffee-sandwich-coffee, is like pouring me a tepid cup of lamesauce.

Dear Interwebs,

The social contributions of Sarah Palin and Twitter are of questionable merit, however, the brilliance of the ShakesPalin and BardofWasilla Hashtags are beyond doubt.

Dear Former Major Client,

I know that you knew that I was getting fatigued with all of the travel, but trust me, you bouncing a big check wasn’t exactly the way that I wanted to free up some time.

Dear Tracy from the Vintage Vinyl Shop in Pittsburgh,

Not for nothing, but the Original Pressing of Coltrane & Hartman you sold me was only part of what made my day yesterday… if I was the kind of man who seriously considers the flirtations of married women, I absolutely would have danced with you in the store.


Settling an UnAsked Question

13 July 2010

I like small parties, the intimate gatherings with just enough booze and good friends to fill a room with laughter and maybe answer one of life’s great questions or two. One recent Saturday evening I was fortunate enough to spend a few hours with my dear friend the Disaffected Scanner Jockey, her fiance, and one more. Because we could… and maybe at my insistence, when the conversation drifted towards The Best Sit-Coms of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and Aughts, we recorded our findings.

To eliminate your need to have the long conversations (or give you a reason to argue with our conclusions) here are the winners and all nominees.

Best of the 70s – winners in BOLD

All in the Family


Mary Tyler Moore

Sanford and Sons

The Jefferson’s

WKRP in Cincinnati


The Odd Couple

Best of the 80s – winners in BOLD

Golden Girls


Cosby Show

Wonder Years


Best of the 90s – winners in BOLD





3rd Rock from the Sun

News Radio

Just Shoot Me

Sex and the City

Best of the 00s – winners in BOLD

The Office

30 Rock

South Park

Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Curb Your Enthusiasm



When a show crossed multiple decades, the best block of years determined the decade of inclusion.

While cultural significance was a deciding factor, it was never allowed to be the primary factor.

All ties between shows were settled by the question: which show would you rather watch again today.

After the nominees were initially selected, other shows that were worthy of notation may have been mentioned but were not necessarily recorded if it was determined that they would not have been among the winners… mostly because I forgot to write them down.

Some of the “hybrid dramadies” were included for nomination and considered for the top awards. However, the fact that none of them won is not inherently indicative of that hybrid status.

Argue amongst yourselves.

Illogical conclusions aren’t always unnatural

8 July 2010

Not to put too fine a point on things, but go fuck yourself. You, my former friend, should know me well enough to know how difficult it is to reach the ends of both my vocabulary and patience. Somehow all these years, it escaped my notice that you’re such an unfuckingbelievable douchebag that you could find the limits of my words and patience in the same fucking day.

In case I wasn’t clear enough, the point wasn’t fine enough, lose my number. Forget my email address. I’ll miss your dog, but you… can. go. fuck. yourself.”

For anyone wondering why I haven’t continued with NaBloPoMo activities for this month, or for people wondering about my general radio silence, I had a conversation that concluded with the passage above. I’m a little off kilter at the moment.

Red Flags, Red Dresses, & Recriminations

3 July 2010

For more years than I can recall, I have consistently made two jokes about my ex-wife:

The last time I saw my ex we weren’t able to speak… I was too busy crossing the street and she was too busy speeding up.
Before we got married I ignored every red flag even the really obvious ones. When I passed a bank, instead of the sign flashing the date and time it would say “Refugee, don’t do it.”

Like most jokes, there is some element of truth that under-girds both of those two jokes. The simplest distillation of the truth is that I married the wrong woman. The simple distillation of the reason why I married the wrong woman is that she was a rebound relationship that lasted too long (don’t scoff; that sentence took tons of cash in therapy to produce. I now use it frequently in an attempt to metaphorically amortize the cost over multiple usages.)

It is the rare day that she crosses my mind more than a decade since divorce did us part; but a confluence of coincidence brought her to mind today.

A newspaper advice column was the first with its discussion of compatibility. Then an obscure reference (two mental jumps, and a cerebral leap that only make sense in my mind) while watching Friday Night Lights on Hulu became the second. The final coincidence occurred while watching the ladies final at Wimbledon.

When my ex and I had bad times in our marriage, which is to say about a cup of coffee after vows were exchanged, the tennis court was the one place we always got along.

One random afternoon I went to the racquet shop to get one of my racquets re-gripped. While I waited, I saw a crimson tennis dress that I thought my then wife would look great wearing. Without much forethought, I grabbed the dress and plunked down a credit card. I was so pleased with myself for having done something nice for my wife just because. It never occurred to me that she preferred to play in old gym shorts and ratty t-shirts. Later that evening I gave her the dress and she feigned appreciation for it.

The following night we met at the tennis courts near our house for a few after-work sets. She wore her usual shorts and old t-shirt. I made the critical mistake of asking her about the dress and if she liked it. An argument ensued in which she accused me of trying to change her (maybe a kernel of truth,) that I didn’t think she was good enough for me (patently false,) and that I was being selfish when I bought the dress (true but only in the way that a man who randomly buys lingerie for his partner is being selfish.)

That was the last time we ever played tennis together.

About a year later, I ran into my ex-wife on the tennis court. She was with her new boyfriend and wearing that crimson tennis dress. At that moment, I concluded that it wasn’t that she didn’t like the dress, she just didn’t want to wear it for me. The lesson was at least as valuable as all of the therapy to explain all of the others.

Insomnia Friday – Thoroughly Random Thoughts

2 July 2010

Insomnia’s been intermittently kicking my ass for the better part of the last 20 years. I cannot recall a stretch that has been as bad as the last few months.

…in other news, Netflix on Demand has been a friendly and faithful companion lately.

…in still other news, the movie TAPS somehow has endured the years quite well.


My Week in Bars…

To the lovely barmaid with the pixie cut who kept me in good beer at Fat Heads in Pittsburgh, you’re the kind of restaurant professional who makes me wish that I still ran a restaurant just so I could hire you.

To the blowhards sitting next to me at The Uptown in Chicago, I appreciate the very strong feelings you so loudly expressed about illegal immigration. By the by, I wonder who picked the avocados for that five dollar guacamole you were eating?


So here’s a question for you all…

Recently I found myself in the company of a woman whose professional acquaintance I had just formally made after several email exchanges. After the business portion of the evening, she invited me to join her and several others for cocktails. The preponderance of the others were men, and it was evident that most of them had a more substantive social relationship with her than I, and I also suspect that most of them were quietly interested in her. At a certain point in the evening, this woman began to be less than delicate in concealing her knickers given the length of her skirt. I presume that the booze was the primary factor.

How does one discreetly tell a woman that she is being less than discreet?

How does one discreetly tell a woman he does not know well that it might be time for her to go home… especially given that she is surrounded by closet suitors who have known her longer?


Get well soon, Tracee Hamilton. You are my favorite WaPo sports columnist these days, and I will miss your voice.


The One Question Meme: if you could create a version of Netflix that would enable you to have short term rentals of something on a revolving basis, what would it be?


Something you should know about drinks…

If you’ve ever had a Bellini, chances are you’ve not had a good one. The Bellini is perhaps the simplest of all classic cocktails with only two ingredients, prosecco and white peach puree. It is also one of the most commonly mishandled where people substitute fresh peach puree with something from a can or even worse – fucking wretched Peach Schnapps. Invented by Giuseppi Cipriani in 1948 at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, the Bellini, when made with fresh and honest ingredients and poured into a proper champagne flute, immediately evokes elegance and sophistication.

  • 3 white peaches peeled and diced
  • 1 bottle of champagne
  • In a blender, puree the peaches. (If you’re like me and sensitive to pulp then run the peach puree through cheese cloth after blending.) Pour 1 ounce of pureed peach into a flute and top with 4 ounces of champagne.

I have also made variations on the Bellini with pears, green apples, and mangoes. The most import thing is to get good and in-season fruit.


This post is tacit acknowledgement that there is a small chance that I am going to participate in NaBloPoMo for July… I gotta do something to get myself above my non-writing / non-blogging rut.

The Alternate Ending

1 July 2010

It’s not that I dislike weddings.

It’s that even my reckless brand of optimism cannot pierce the too real veneer of impending failure that accompanies most invitations I receive.

Or maybe that’s just what I tell myself because there is a not insignificant corner of my mind that wishes for a woman who inspires this carelessness.

This, however, was a good wedding… which is to say that there was a small batch bourbon behind the bar, less than 100 people, and a DJ who could be bribed to play a song. Also of note was the fact that the bride and groom were long time friends and their pairing made sense to anyone who’s met them for more than five minutes.

After the dinner and the numerous toasts but before the party had begun, I was making idle conversation with the bartender when I saw Genevieve headed towards me as quickly as her four inch heels and above the knee cocktail dress would allow. Absent the cover of other people at the bar, and lacking clean routes of escape, I decided to hold my position and hope for the best. When Genevieve was within earshot, I said “the lady will have champagne” to the bartender.

I thought you were going to ignore me all night” she said by way of conversation starter.

Ignoring you hasn’t been that effective of a strategy for the past three years, but I am not sure I am changing tactics as much as I am just getting you a drink.”

Ferfuckssake, Refugee, must it always be so, so, difficult with you?”

I wasn’t sure if my half smile was the product of having gotten under her skin, or a defense mechanism used to extricate from what could be a difficult conversation. Either way, I partly curled the corners of my mouth, handed her a glass of champagne and said “enjoy the party Genevieve.”

About an hour later, I was standing under a patio umbrella smoking an H. Upmann Petite Corona while an early summer rain – more annoying than refreshing – steamed the air. Backlit from the doorway, I could only see the frame of the woman walking towards me, but I knew it was Genevieve.

Stalking me now?” I chided.

Shut up and give me light” she snapped back, her words having the distinct feel of bitter candy with a sweet and sour shell.

Whatever you wish, Lady Genevieve.”

Why do you always insist on using my full name when everyone else calls me Genny?”

Our history is sufficiently complicated that I gave real consideration to ignoring the question, providing a meaningless answer, or telling uncomfortable truth. Uncomfortable truth won.

Genevieve, despite my general feeling that your parents did you a disservice by rearing you to be spoiled, overly self-indulgent, and enamored with the belief that the world owes you far more than you have actually earned, I believe that they blessed you with a beautiful name. Lyrical even. And that name should not be truncated for the linguistically lazy who would sacrifice poetry for the saving of a syllable.”

The courtyard lighting was dim, but I could still see Genevieve’s cheeks get flush. She took a long drag of her Parliament Light, and exhaled – not quite in my face but close enough for effect.

Did you enjoy that” she rhetorically began. “Do you take some pleasure in being mean to me? It was one fucking date… years ago. And you’re still hanging on to that grudge like toddler with a rattle. Are you so pissed off because I didn’t just melt in the presence of the mythical Restaurant Refugee charm? Would we be friends right now if I’d been one of those cliché chicks who lets you talk your way between her legs just so you could leave like you always do?”

No, Ophelia, there is not some grand scheme or lingering grudge behind this. I don’t trust you, and I haven’t since that one date of which you are so casually dismissive. It’s the ease of your deception, and duplicity that drives my general discomfort. I know, from too real experience, that I could be as sweet as Chess Pie to you and somehow, someway, faster than you could buy another pair of shoes with daddy’s credit card, the story you would share with our friends would be twisted to paint me a spectacular shade of asshole. So let me add one more problem to the list, you lack discretion.”

Genevieve took a deep breath, a half step towards me, and gently placed her left hand on my right hand that was holding a glass with couple of drams of bourbon. She took the tumbler and downed the contents before saying “You don’t know anything about me” and walked away.

There was a wounded note buried in her tone.

No matter how certain I was that I spoke truth, and spoke in a voice she had earned, I felt a measure of guilt for causing that pain. I took two more puffs of my cigar, extinguished it and went back inside.

Genevieve was standing at the bar closest to the entryway and I chose not to avoid her. As I reached the bar, she looked at the bartender and said “the gentleman will have a bourbon.” The look of fighting back a tear was all over her face.

Looking away from me, she said “Don’t look at me. I hate this. I’m not crying because of you. I cry when I get really angry and you, Mr. Refugee have really made me angry.”

Are you sure you don’t wish to follow that with ‘and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry?’” I teased trying to lighten the mood and assuage my guilt for causing both the hurt in her voice and the tear in her eye.

I’m tired of feuding with you” Genevieve almost whispered as she dabbed at her eye with the linen handkerchief I had placed in her hand.

Then stop” I said in the same hushed tone.

An hour later, the last dance had been completed, the bride and groom had retreated to their suite, and six revelers piled into a cab to search for a place to continue imbibing. Though Genevieve and I had been true to our promised civility, it was an awkward accident that had her sitting on my lap as we clown-carred to the bar the concierge suggested.

Once inside the somewhat crowded bar, Genevieve and I stood slightly closer than the crowd necessitated as we waited to order drinks for our crew. Just after requesting two bourbon’s, three chardonnays and a glass of champagne, my once nemesis placed her cheek against mine to say “I like that you call me Genevieve.”