Saturday, July 23, 2016

The other day just about the only thing I had to do for the entire day was put a baby crib together. How long could that really take? Well, little did you know I got a C- in Industrial Arts in Junior High, and I suck at this sort of thing. If there is anything that could have been done wrong, I did it wrong. Two different times I figured out way too late that I had put something on backwards and had to take apart just about everything to get it put on right. Believe it or not, I woke up all sore the next day from sitting on the floor in awkward positions screwing screws into stubborn bolts. 

This was my first real dad task, and I'm not going to say it was a complete failure. Sure, there were a lot of bumps in the road and a lot of swearing, but I stuck with it and got it done. I think it was a metaphor for what parenting is going to be like from what I hear from my friends: You have to figure it out as you go, you're going to suck at it at times, but you just stick with it and stay positive. And they'll be lots of extra parts. Okay, that makes no sense. I suck at carpentry and metaphors. 

I ran the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon last weekend. I have figured out that halves are plenty for me. No more full ones because those destroy perfectly good bodies. My good buddy, Night Train, and I run around 10 miles once every weekend, and it's been great for keeping weight off and gives us time to recover. Also, that way you don't get sick of running when it's just once a week. The race went really well for us, and they had live music along the way. They also had rock impersonators, and I tested the Blues Brothers guys and said to them as I ran by "Orange whip . . . Orange whip . . .," I was very pleased and impressed that they both responded with "Three orange whips!" and did the proper hand motion. The Elvis impersonator looked very hot, sweaty, and hungover, so I didn't engage him with any fun pop quizzes. He looked busy concentrating on not throwing up on himself. 

Hot yoga has been a great way for me to recover from running way too far and taking entirely too long to assemble things with seemingly simple instructions. Usually I'm just about the worst yogi (that's what they call yoga participants) in the class, and that's fine. You have to be willing to be the suckiest guy in the room before you can get better at anything. I'll tell you right now that I'm in decent shape but can't touch my toes. Not even close. Slowly I'm getting more flexible, and I always leave feeling refreshed and thinking with a clear head. However, yesterday right when the class ended, some country music kicked in and continued for at least four songs while I was in the locker room. I would prefer they play any innocuous new age wind chime music music that just blends into the background. That's fine and expected. But, I can't relax when I'm listening to a song about some guys drinking a six pack of beer in the back of a pick-up truck. Unless I'm right there in the back of that truck with them. Country makes me angry, and I can't tune that crap out. 

Always good to have a spotter
When I was in high school I left my alarm clock-radio alarm (I'm old) on the other end of the room and had it set on the country station. That way I knew I wouldn't lie in bed and listen to the music because I knew I would have to run across the room to turn it off or slowly lose my mind. So, it's been a long history of hating country music. I was thinking of leaving a complaint with the yoga studio, but I'll just complain to you guys instead because that's what I've always done.

So running, volleyball, and yoga have been about it as far as exercise goes lately, and I have been losing some muscle tone. I have been avoiding doing any kind of weight training due to an elbow problem, but today the elbow felt pretty good so I pumped some (really light-weight) iron. You know that debate kids have on the playground where they say "My dad could beat up your dad?" Well, what I don't want is some kid saying that to Kenny Jr. and poor Kenny is left saying, "You're probably right. My dad has pipe cleaner arms and can't even screw together simple wooden structures with directions that even a chimp can follow. He's hardly a man at all, but he can do a downward facing dog in his hot yoga class that will make your head spin!" That won't score him any points at all out there on that playground. 

No segue at all here, but I was at work not too long ago, and a coworker said, "Kenneth, I saw on Facebook that we have a mutual friend." She said the friend's name, and the name meant nothing to me. I looked it up, and it is a blog buddy. She was saying what a great dude he is, and it made me happy to hear that. I said he is an excellent writer, and she said that he helped everyone write their term papers in college. This pleased me too for some reason. I was proud of this dude I have never met. Then I had to explain to this coworker that I had never met him, and I'm a grown-ass man with pen pals. 

One blog buddy I have met is SO@24, and I was reminded recently of the time we first met in L.A., and for reasons I can't remember, we recreated the suggestive cover art from Hall and Oates' 1982 release, "H20." I thought of this because I went to an outdoor Hall & Oates show last night on a very hot and humid Chicago night with my sister, her boyfriend, and my very pregnant and sweaty wife. Believe it or not, we were actually just as sweaty as Daryl Hall and John Oates were in the picture! 

(Hall & Oates)

(Dr. Ken and SO@24. We should have got sweatier or just spritzed water on our faces. It will always be one of my biggest regrets.)

There has been no real rhyme or reason to where this post has been headed, and I'll just end it here. Go ahead and leave a comment related to any of the scatter shot of topics I have run down in this rambling stream of consciousness, or just say hello to your insane pen pal buddy from Chicago. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to admire the glorious crib that big daddy built with his own. bare. hands! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

You Asked and Ken Answered!

A little while back I asked you, my beloved readers, to ask me some personal questions so that you can get to know your favorite blogger a little better. I was blown away by all the responses filling up my inbox. It looks like you really want to know more about what makes me tick, and that is very flattering. I chose some of the most interesting ones and put some serious thought into my responses. I hope you enjoy . . .

Okay, I'm full of shit. I never actually asked that you guys ask any questions because there are only like 7 of you that read, tops. Truth be told, I just scrolled around the internet for interesting questions to ask myself because I had no blog topic ideas today. So, now I do have a topic, but it's kind of a crummy one. Whatever, we will make the best of it here at The Gancer. Away we go . . .

1. What do you do if you can’t sleep at night? Do you count sheep? Toss and Turn? Try to get up and do something productive?

I usually read, but when I'm in between books or need a break from reading I play the name game in my head. For example, I'll pick a topic such as "heavy metal bands," and then I'll name a band for every letter of the alphabet. Usually by the time I get to N or so, I'm out cold. My dad also told me that when you are having trouble sleeping, get up to go pee even if you don't have to. That works sometimes too. Thanks for the pee pee trick, dad! You're the best. Also, it sometimes helps when I try to sync my breathing up to someone else's. Now that my wife is pregnant she is snoring like a snow blower (sorry to announce that to all seven of my readers, honey. You're still beautiful!) so it's really easy to get the timing of her breathing down given the volume of the snoring. Pretty soon we're both sound asleep, only she is far louder than me (Sorry again, darling. You're still the sex pot of my dreams).

2. Who performs the most random acts of kindness out of everyone you know?

That would have to go to my good buddy, Night Train. I went to a concert with him the other night, and we were partying in the parking lot with three random middle aged weirdos who were a little rough around the edges. When we walked by they said, "Hey, come hang out with us!" Odd that they wanted new friends so badly, right? We had written on our white styrofoam cooler full of beer that we were selling one concert ticket for face value that came with a free adult beverage. One of our new friends who invited us to hang out took it upon herself to help sell one of the tickets. She seemed to have trouble getting through any sentence without saying "motherfucker," and she didn't make exceptions even when it came to her sales approach. I for one wouldn't want to imply that someone had intercourse with their own mother as part of a first impression, but she had a style all her own. Someone would come around the corner and she would say, "Hey, motherfucker! We got a ticket here for sale, motherfucker!"*

*You see, MF'er appears in both sentences She never missed a chance.

(In case you don't know what a styrofoam cooler looks like)
We were all a little embarrassed by our new friend and were doubting the fact that she could help sell the spare ticket. As a matter of fact, we were convinced she was scaring the shit out of any "motherfuckers" who came near us. Nigh Train never doubted her for a minute, and he even offered her a $20 commission on any leads she brought in that led to a sale. Sure enough, she found someone who paid full price. After the transaction was complete and Night Train paid crazy lady her commission, he noticed that the customer had paid $20 too much. So, he ran after him to give him the money. Then it dawned on him that he forgot to get his free beer, so he ran him down to give him that as well. Night Train is just a solid dude, and that is all there is to it.

3. What are the top three qualities that draw you to someone new?

      3. Not selfish. The person cares about others, and the person actually listens to what others say - doesn't just wait for his/her turn to talk.

     2. An interesting conversationalist. If we've been conversing for the first time and over 5 minutes have elapsed without us extending things beyond the weather, what we do for jobs, where we live, and how many kids we have, then it's just not going to work out for us as new friends.

     1. Funny. It really helps if you're funny. Even if you're not actually saying funny stuff, it helps if you laugh at the super funny stuff that I'm saying to you.
How about you, Seven Readers? Do you want to answer any of these questions or just comment upon my wildly (mildly) entertaining responses?

Each of these men is either selfless (Andre), a good conversationalist (Wilt), and funny (Arnold). Wilt would have to be a decent conversationalist to bed 10,000 women, or whatever.

Friday, July 08, 2016

The Litter Box Bar League

A friend called me up and said he needed one more team to sign up for a volleyball league that takes place on a sand volleyball court outside of a bar in Chicago on Wednesday nights. I threw a team together and showed up that first Wednesday and couldn't believe that it was even worse than you would expect a court outside of a bar would be. At first I was pissed that I had committed my friends and I to playing in an unsanitary and unsafe environment once a week, but slowly all of these quirks have grown on me. I took some pictures to help you get a sense of just how crazy this whole thing is because I don't think you would believe me unless you saw it for yourself. 

Here is the court. It is a bunch of sand poured into a giant plywood box, which is why we started calling it Litter Box Volleyball. The net permanently droops in the center, and there is no way to adjust it. You get the volleyballs from the bar before your game, and many of the balls have bite marks in them. Why, you may ask? Because when the ball goes over that wall you see pictured, it lands in a Doggy Daycare. When that happens, the ball either flies over the fence back to us right away and we say thank you to the staff, or it mysteriously flies back over 45 minutes later, or it never comes back at all and becomes a permanent chew toy for the doggies. Because this disrupts the game and because the balls are expensive, whoever is deemed at fault for having the ball get into the jaws of the hounds has to take an immediate shot of room temperature Malort, which is just about the grossest liquor you'll ever have. 

The sand is not nearly deep enough, and in some spots there will be two inches of sand with concrete underneath. I dove a couple of weeks ago and cut my knee up really bad. One of the Litter Box veterans then told me, "Oh yeah, don't dive." Don't dive? I can't help it. I just react and go if I see a ball about to hit the sand on my side. Right when it was just about healed from a week or two before, I dove again and opened the cut right back up, which is what you see above. 

So you got the DoggyDaycare on one side line, the other side line is a street, and then on one end line you have two very smelly dumpsters, as you see pictured above. It's smells terrible on that end of the court, so dumpster side always serves first. Seems fair. If someone spikes one past you that doesn't get stopped by a dumpster, then someone has to run down the street barefoot to fetch the ball. Sometimes it sort of veers down the street and just rolls forever downhill. This is why I have found that when I'm holding down the dumpster side, it's good to keep my flip-flops handy so that I can slip those on and run down the street more swiftly and safely.

On the other end line you have the back wall of the bar, and there is an apartment above the bar. Sometimes the ball will hit the satellite dish, knocking out the transmission on the NASCAR event viewed by the regulars in the tavern, or it will land on the upstairs tenant's porch. The guy up there has visitors that come by very briefly and leave, there are some strange chemical smells coming out of there, and other signs that make us think maybe he runs a "business" out of there. But would he take such a risk with all these yuppies in his backyard drinking beers and playing volleyballs in his backyard? Maybe so because the other night he had not problem drawing attention to himself by hopping on his bicycle/motor cycle, cranked up that engine, and went around the block to fetch two tallboys of Icehouse beers. It looks to me like this is what we called a "mini bike" as kids, only this one has an engine attached to a bicycle so he has the option of pedaling as well. It was loud too, let me tell you! A five city block radius is always aware when this dude is making a beer run.  

There is one little nook where a ball can go down this alley as well. There are rusty nails everywhere,  so this is also a good opportunity to slip on your sandals before venturing in. Tetanus shots should be given out as readily as Malort shots around this joint. I'm serious. 

We usually drink buckets of beer outside by the shabby court, but on one rainy night my friend and I noticed the fine array of beef jerky flavors prominently displayed behind the bar. In case you can't read them, the flavors from left to right are as follows: Jerk This, Tickle My Teriyaki, Pepper My Cornhole, Blowout Cajun Jerky, Fire In the Hole, and Hot Habanero. You'll notice that's my hand throwing out a pair of scissors because I was thinking it would be a fun game to play paper, rock, scissors and the loser has to try the jerky of the winners choosing. If a guy had already Doggy Daycared a few balls that evening and earned a few Malorts, some Pepper My Cornhole jerky could really push him over the edge to have a reversal of fortune, or at the very least have a very, very rough Thursday ahead of him.

What do you guys think of Litter Box Volleyball? Anyone want to sub in next Wednesday? Anyone play in any goofy leagues of any kind this summer that you want to share with us in the comments?

Friday, July 01, 2016

So I'm married with our first baby on the way, but did you guys know that I was married once before? It's true. I was actually married for a whopping 8 months before my wife at the time decided that she should start sleeping with a Chicago Cop. At the time I was totally devastated, but now I would like to thank that man. Not only does he risk his life every day, but he got me out of a horrible marriage. She and I couldn't be more wrong for each other, so he did us both a favor. He did my wife, and he did me a favor.  It's weird because at the time I was so messed up about it that I hated all cops as a result, but now I would shake his hand and thank him from the bottom of my heart. 

But back when that whole thing was going down with the ex, I was an absolute mess. I was losing weight and couldn't sleep. One friend saw me and said I looked like death. Thanks! He was right. I almost laughed, but I couldn't. I'm a man who loves comedy, but nothing could make me laugh at the time. "Da Ali G Show" was new on HBO during that time, and he was the only guy who could get me laughing. This was a major revelation. If I could start laughing again, I could be myself again. Ali G, Bruno, and Borat became my therapists.

The second part of the puzzle was meeting other women, and I couldn't even think about that. I was fixated on my failed marriage and my depression. I moved out of our apartment downtown and back with my parents in the suburbs. My parents are wonderful people, but I was losing my mind and had to get the hell out of there. I would work and sleep all week in the burbs and then pack up a backpack to stay back in Chicago all weekend with friends. I would try to talk to women, but I was not in a good place. They don't want to talk to the sullen brooding guy. When you get dumped and you're young and stupid, you don't think you'll ever meet anyone again. Then one night an amazingly hot Asian Indian chick struck up a conversation with me, and I got her number. I don't think anything tangible came of that, but it gave me the confidence I needed. I remember when I packed up my car with my handful of belongings to move back into the city, I thought to myself that I would meet plenty of women and would be just fine. I remember gazing at the skyline on my drive in, and it was the first time I was really optimistic. My thinking at the time was: This will be a new chapter in your life, Dr. Kenneth Noisewater. 

I went out to the burbs yesterday to visit my dad because my mom is out of town for the week, and driving back to the city on the very same highway that I did so many years ago, I saw the skyline and was reminded how I felt that day. Moments like that are why this is my favorite city in the world and why Chicago's skyline has been at the top of this blog for so long. Thanks for listening, friends. Ali G and Associates were relieved of their duties of their duties as therapists in 2005. That role has been filled by you, seven readers. Thanks for listening, and have yourself a super-duper weekend. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

3 Quick Items . . .

1. Being a Hater: I was out to dinner with my sister and her kids, and would you believe my oldest nephew is going off to college in the fall? I can hardly believe it myself. My sister was saying how he hates random things that no one else hates, like Matt Damon, and he is just like me in that respect. I got to thinking that of all the things I would like to pass onto him or have him emulate, being a hater is not one of them. Then it occurred to me that if I wouldn't want anyone I care about to be a hater, then just why in the heck do I think and act in such a way? It was an eye opener for sure.

2. Ikea: But can I just hate on one more thing? Ikea. Boy do I hate going to that place. It's enormous, and you have to walk through the whole place to find what you want. Then sometimes you're looking for the name of something, and it's in Swedish, you're looking for something called Ummergolongousmnaou with all those little Motley Crue dots over the vowels, and all those crazy long words look the same. Then you make a note of the bin location to find them in the giant warehouse by the check out area. Why don't they just have little computers where you can search for the stuff, put them all in your electronic cart, and then print out a list of all the stuff you want with the corresponding warehouse locations? Well, guess those greedy Swedes want me to find other stuff to buy. Well, I won't! Well, maybe a meatball and a Mountain Dew. But that's it. Then I have to go home and snap together their shoddy particle board crap furniture, and they always give me extra pieces!* God, do I ever hate Ikea!

3. The Demise of the Walk of Shame: Remember when you hooked up with someone, woke up the next morning in a strange house with a strange person, and you had no idea what part of town you were in? So you walked out the door, tried to get your bearings, you looked around for what train or bus to take or where you might catch a cab. Oh, the excitement! But even better, oh the laughs we had spotting someone who clearly had their clothes on from the night before, her high heels and mini skirt at 10AM on a Sunday, and the look of embarrassment on her face. That was fun, right? Well, now with Uber, she orders up her ride from the dude's apartment and steps right into a car. We only have that brief 15 second window of the house door to the car door to spot a modern day walk of shame, and I saw one last Saturday before my buddy and I started our jog. Funny, because we both knew it was a walk of shame and realized we hadn't seen one in a while, and Uber is why.

That's all I got today, friends. Have yourselves a tremendous weekend, and try not to hate, even when it's funny.

*That was a joke. I know there are only extra pieces because I'm bad at figuring things out, even with instructions.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Updates, Some Written On the Wall

I saw this picture inside a Port-O-Potty the other day. Hey, what do you call Port-O-Johns in your neck of the woods? I know a guy from St. Louis who informed me that everyone out there calls them Johnny On the Spots.

Back in the day you had to call for a good time. Now you just text. I don't think "Jenny (867-5309)" would have been a hit had Tommy Tutone been advising people to text Jenny for a good time. Come to think of it, why in the heck was that a hit to begin with?

Mrs. Noisewater is still pregnant with our first kiddo, and we're around 6 months along. I think this kid is hyperactive like me because he/she is kicking the bejesus out of her - right in the colon! I feel bad if I passed my AD/HD onto this poor little person. Or maybe he's just anxious to come out, and he's trying to kick his way out? Early would be fine, actually, because the poor girl is going to be pregnant as hell through the heart of a hot, muggy, Chicago summer. Come on out early, Star Scream! (That's a running joke between Mr. Shife and I)

I've been running around 10 miles every weekend. I did a little over 11 today, and I feel great. It's good to get back into running because it really does clear my head. There was a race going on, and I was trying to high five people when they were running in the opposite direction of me. Hardly anyone wanted any part of it. Strange. They all looked too worried about their times to get a high five. But I love a high five on race day. Different strokes, I suppose. Different strokes for boring folks.

I was at work the other day and asked a little kid what the crummiest thing to happen to him was all school year. He thought for a minute and decided it would be the day he got hit in the penis six times with a soccer ball. This is awesome for a number of reasons.

1. I love that he knew the exact number of instances.
2. Most kids would say they were hit in the balls, but he opted for penis.
3. I like that he didn't swear. He went with the biological term.
4. He had a slight lisp, so he said "penith."

See you later, Seven Readers. And may soccer balls be nowhere near your private parts.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

"Where's the Next Block?"

I came across some $20 tickets to see Kevin Nealon at a cool venue in Chicago, so Mrs. Noisewater and I couldn't pass that up last Sunday evening. I love thast late 1980's cast of SNL, and Kevin is in my all time top 5 along with Phil Hartman (also from that era), Dan Akroyd, and 2 other cast members at four and five. I guess what I like about those three is that they're team players and terrific actors. They let everyone get their laughs and don't take over a scene, but by fitting into a sketch so seamlessly with their character, they subtly steal the scene to a careful observer. One other thing Kevin never did is break character by intentionally cracking up laughing and breaking the fourth wall. And while Nealon remained very aloof and silly with his topics and avoiding taking an actual stance or getting political in any way through out his set, he did point out that he never broke character because he was a professional. I thought that was awesome that he came out and said that because Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sans giggling through a sketch like a couple of nit wits all the time just really pissed me off. 

Just watch him in the infamous Chip and Dales sketch. Nealon keeps a straight face while he has to act like it was a tough decision to choose between him and the chiseled Patrick Swayze character. And you know what's really sad? He pointed out that everyone in that sketch is now dead except for him and Mike Myers. Swayze, Hooks, Farley, and Hartman all died tragically and prematurely. 

So that about covers why Kevin is funny. What I'm more here to tell you about today is the drunk that sat next to us. Remember, this is a Sunday evening and a quiet winery spot, and right when we're wondering who we will be sharing our table with, an inebriated 20-something fella stumbles his way in with his date who didn't appear drunk at all. Mrs. Noisewater and I are sitting at one end of the table for four, and Drunk Guy says he can't believe they sat us like that and suggests that we sit across from our dates. I thought this was odd, but what the hell. Maybe he was onto something, right? So we made the switch. 

Drunk Guy was telling us all the spots in the city that he likes to see comedians, which I thought was strange because he talked through all the comedy. When I gradually phased him out when he tried to talk to me, he moved onto the table next to him. We thought maybe he knew those people, but he actually just met them in the lobby and thought he would continue to annoy them during show time for the sake of continuity. Drunk Guy also got up to pee a number of times, which I can speak from experience can be the case when you drink a lot, and by his third or fourth trip he was growing into full blown shit-canned drunk status, bumping into everyone on his way through the aisles. 

Late into Nealon's set, Drunk Guy leaned in to apologize to me, and he asked that I let his date know that that he was just fine and didn't annoy me too badly. This seemed like something I would have a hard time convincing anyone, considering he annoyed just about everyone within 30 feet of him, so one would assume that anyone sharing a table with him would be irate with his behavior (especially considering that some may be assuming that we knew the guy). Well, I never got the chance to smooth things over with his date because she had enough of him and left him there. When he attempted to go chase after her, security grabbed him and escorted him out. The management offered us a free round of drinks the next time we came out (because unlike Drunk Guy, we weren't on a Sunday Funday mission quite on his level by that point of the evening). 

Then while we're in the lobby calling up our Uber, we see Drunk Guy trying to get back into the venue and get thrown out again! He starts to light up a cigarette, and the bouncer says, "Get outa' here! Go smoke on the next block!" And this is when I knew Drunk Guy was completely obliterated because his response made no sense at all. He said, "Where's the next block?" I tried to help him out because in his drunk mind I had been his biggest supporter that night. I advised him, "The next block is the next block that way. Or that way. Either way, you really have to get out of here fast."