Thursday, March 27, 2008

Where Mike's At...

If anyone's around Southern NH this weekend, I'll be attending the Hooligans in a Darkened Theater production of Reservoir Dogs.

Apparently, it's the first time it's ever been staged (at least to the knowledge of one unnamed show member who gets to play a dead body on stage for 60 minutes). And it may be the last, since, they didn't get the rights to the script from Tarantino.

So, shhhh... don't tell anybody. I'm keeping it a secret. Which is why I posted it here. No one reads this anyway, right?

Shows are at 7 and 10pm on Friday and Saturday. There's no entry fee (they wouldn't dream of making money off of pirated material, but I bet they'd catch a few dollars if you balled up a wad of cash and threw it at them).

Play ball!

I had all kinds of great plans to do my first-ever running diary (a la Bill Simmons) for the Red Sox' season opener in Japan this past Tuesday. I was going to get up for the 6 a.m. start, make myself some scrambled eggs with feta cheese and hot sauce on a sesame bagel (recent favorite), crack open some Sapporo and start typing.

Alas, it was not to be. I caught that nasty flu that's been circulating the Northeast. Except that mine came accompanied by the flu's friend, Mr. Vomit. Let's just say that the beer wasn't happening and I spent more time with my toilet than in front of my TV. Blast. Not exactly how I'd planned Opening Day.

But at least Opening Day happened. The Sox are back. This makes me happy. Now I have a reason to be paying for cable again. I watched as much as I could of both Japan games live, watched replays of the games that afternoon and highlights later on SportsCenter while I attempted (unsuccessfully) to stay coherent and write productively. You could say that I missed me some baseball.

You'd be correct.

I'm excited about this season. Sure, it's extremely hard to repeat, but I like our chance. It looks like Manny remembered that the season doesn't start in July this year, Papi is healthy, Lester and Bucholz are a year older, Dice-K's celebratory handshakes are set, Jacoby is making ladies swoon left and right and Paps is still bringing heat from the 'pen. We're good to go.

Only a couple things have me worried. Schilling being out hurt for most of the year doesn't help us. But, I do think it could be a blessing in disguise. Don't forget that he's missed time each of the past three seasons anyway. This way, we could potentially get him back and have him fresh for a stretch run. We just can afford to lose another starter or Bartolo "The Blimp" Colon could be seeing major innings on our mound and that kind of scares me.

Our catching situation gives reason for concern, as well. Tek is still Tek - he's the captain and he'll be great with the pitching staff. It's just that he's 35 and is wearing down. And to back him up, we have... Oh, that's right, we don't have anyone. We cut Wakefield's batterymate, Mirabelli and don't have an adequate replacement. Anyone want to place bets on the date we re-sign him? I'll take April 25th...

As long as we stay healthy, I like this year's team. I'm glad we didn't tinker too much, since there weren't many dramatic holes to fill. Our outfield is stacked right now (Crisp and Moss are more than adequate backups), too, which is good since J.D. Drew still could get hurt sneezing or trimming his goatee.

Predictions? Well, can any true Sox fan not predict finishing first in the A.L. East and not winning the World Series?

Of course not... so, there you go.

Yankees Suck.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

It's a Trifecta!

I forgot to throw this is... Here's another download for you to enjoy - "Dance and Holler" from The Everyday Visuals.

Check out the bands website here. Or you could visit its MySpace. It's a Boston-based group that's starting to garner some national attention on the indie circuit. They're pretty good - I'd call them dance rock with heavy songwriting chops. Well worth a listen. If you like the track, please buy the album or go to one of their shows (couple coming up if you're in Boston or New York).

Random notes....

Couple random notes here... I thought I'd throw a LOTD at you and then tell you my tournament picks so you can laugh at how awful they are.

First, the LOTD: check out Twitter. It's all the micro-blog rage (Actually, it has been for a year now, but I, of course, just found out about it.). Basically, it's a site where you can blog, post links or update your life in quick burst of 160 characters or less called "tweets." It's kind of like changing the status on your Facebook page, but with the notable difference that your friends can follow you. You can also reply to each other's posts easily, creating instant discussion in the blogosphere, which is sort of what it's all about. That, and self-deprecating photographs.

My Twitter site is in the links at the side or you could just visit anytime.

Tourney Picks

Every year, my dad, brother and I fill out our brackets for the Men's March Madness tournament. We play for bragging rights and a trophy. The trophy is really just an old bowling pin. Win the tourney and you get to keep the pin for a year.

It's kind of funny, since it's mostly just a pissing contest between three guys who really don't watch much college basketball. But hey, if there's any way you can humiliate your closest relations, you have to take it, right?

That said, I'm losing. But here are my picks anyway, in case you care:

Round 2
UNC over Arkansas
Notre Dame over WSU
St. Joseph's over Louisville
Tennessee over Butler

Sweet 16
UNC over Notre Dame
Tennessee over St. Joseph's

Elite 8
UNC over Tennessee

Round 2
Kansas over UNLV
Clemson over Vanderbilt
Wisconsin over Kansas State
Georgetown over Gonzaga

Sweet 16
Kansas over Clemson
Georgetown over Wisconsin

Elite 8
Georgetown over Kansas

Round 2
Memphis over Oregon
Pittsburgh over Michigan State
Stanford over Kentucky
Texas over St. Mary's

Sweet 16
Pittsburgh over Memphis
Stanford over Texas

Elite 8
Pittsburgh over Texas

Round 2
UConn over Drake
Xavier over Baylor
Duke over West Virginia

Sweet 16
UCLA over UConn
Xavier over Duke

Elite 8
UCLA over Xavier

Final Four
UNC over Georgetown
UCLA over Pittsburgh

National Champion

I don't have any of my major teams out, but I probably should've been able to call at least ONE of yesterdays four upsets. Blast!

My living situation...

So, I've talked here about moving out of Boston, but haven't yet mentioned much about my new digs on New Hampshire's Seacoast.

First, for clarification, my home state does have a sliver of seacoast. The 30 miles NH claims as its own is the smallest amount of any state that touches ocean. But, hey, that's plenty of room for us to fit in fat, wrinkled old sun-worshippers in bikinis and speedos and to fumigate the refreshing, salt smell of the sea with fryer after fryer of fried dough on the ever-classy white trash mecca that is Hampton Beach.

I've spent just over a month here and I'm liking it just fine so far. This is my first time living alone. I thought it might be weird at first, but there was practically zero adjustment time. From Day 1, I've been walking around in my underwear, talking to myself, keeping the heat turned down to the point I can see my breath and not changing the TV from ESPN like I've been doing it all my life. It's pretty awesome.

I have a one-bedroom apartment. After four years of city-living, it seems like I've moved into a palace or become an investment banker. It's huge. I'm bad with numbers, but my living room is approximately the size of an Olympic swimming pool. My bedroom is big enough so that my voice echoes. My bathroom is comfortable (just a stand-up shower in there). I even have enough closet space to fit all of my clothes (which is saying something, because when I move it looks like a Broadway production just hit the road for a 35-city tour). It's a pretty swinging bachelor pad.

The only drawback is that I'm not actually supposed to be living here. The place is zoned as commercial office space. The rest of the building is occupied by a bunch of 9-5 businesses. That means my kitchen is somewhat lacking. I have a full set of cabinets, some counter space a sink and a 3/4-sized fridge but that's it. There's no oven and no stove.

So, I'm now cooking on either a dual-burner hot plate (which sucks) or a plug-in wok (which sucks less). I also have full use of my tiny toaster oven, which actually cooks really well, but is about the size of a shoebox. No more roaster chickens for Mike. Actually, I've been able to make do, since I'm generally cooking for one (and, while I could eat a whole chicken, I am watching my hourglass figure).

The main drawback is that it takes forever to do anything on the dual-burners. I can get away with cooking bacon or pancakes in the wok, but I do need the burners to do other things. Namely, boil water. It took me an hour to boil a water for a pot of spaghetti. That's just not going to cut it. I'll have to figure out a better way to do that... can you microwave pasta?

The other quirk of living here is that my neighbors don't know that I'm living here. They think I'm "Mike, a freelance writer and marketing consultant," which is half true. I am a freelance writer. But I had to throw in the "consultant" thing because it makes it sound like I actually make money and can afford an "office." Plus, I've found if you tell people you're a consultant, they don't ask any questions. Since no one knows what a consultant is or what they actually do.

But my landlord is pretty anal about people not finding out that I live here. He's put down a series of ground rules that I have to abide by (which, by the way, I'm happy to do, since I got a great steal of a deal). They are:

1) move in at night, on a weekend (so no one will see you)
2) keep blinds open during the day (so it looks like you work there)
3) close blinds at night (so no one will see you)
4) do not have parties (so no one will see your friends)
5) park your car at the far end of the lot (there are people that live in the buildings on that side. I'm supposed to blend in)
6) tell everyone you work there
7) keep silent at all times (so no one will hear you)

It feels a little weird to be sneaking around my OWN HOUSE, but the rent is a steal and I really don't want to have to move again. So, I abide by them as much as possible. Instead of parking my car in front of my door, I park 100 feet away, on the other side of the lot. I sneak down every morning at 7:20 a.m. to grab my newspaper, timing the snatch between the residents leaving for work and the early birds showing up to the office. I move my bags of laundry to my car in the dead of night, so no one will see me. I keep the TV turned down. And, when the cleaning people come to vacuum the hallway, I turn off all my lights, switch of any music and sit in the silent darkness, waiting for them to leave.

It's a little weird, but, hey, it's home...

I haven't quite finished unpacking. My prints and decorative items are still in boxes. Once I have those in place, I'll try to post some pictures.

Last note: NH is so rural that my address doesn't actually appear on Google maps. Good times.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Today, I'd like to have a beer with...

We're going to start a new, regularly re-visited topic for our website, here at Mike Nagel's blog.

(By "we," I mean the royal we. We like to refer to ourself like that from time to time. Apparently, since we've started living in our own apartment, we have developed multiple personalities out of boredom. You know, just like in solitary confinement.)

Anyways, the new bit we'll be shoving down your throats for Internet consumption (Yes, we know the previous statement sets off the NSFW filters on your workplace's firewall.), is telling you who'd we'd like to meet and share a beer with.

This is not, by the way the man-crush segment or the crush-crush segment. Those are coming and will give us ample opportunity to post pictures of Natalie Portman and Sawyer from Lost.
We'll leave it to you to decide which is which.

(I'm also stopping all multiple-personality typing and parantheticals...just...

Okay, so down to the drinking business... I would very much like to have a beer with Kate Nash.

For those of your unfamiliar, Kate is the latest female singer-songwriter to start making waves here in the States after hitting the tops of the British charts. And, as the Brits say, she's brilliant.

Parsing out perfect pop with a signature heavy London accent, Nash's debut album Made of Bricks is the best thing I've heard this year. So far, anyway.

Everything she writes is catchy, but not in the annoying song-that-never-ends way. She coats her lyrics with enough sugar to sweeten but not sicken. A distinctly Casio-sounding piano provides the base while Nash's vocals (simple at first listen, but continually surprising) dance and flutter through the songs' melodies.

The first single, "Foundations," has already hit my top-15 Breakup Songs playlist. Or it would, assuming I had one. I would like to start making some playlists, so maybe I'll do that one and post it here. But you can bet "Foundations" would be on it... its a perfect song that sounds happy and reminiscent, but underneath lies the decay and emptiness that brings all once-good relationships to an end. It captures the feeling of knowing something is over but feeling trapped and unable to escape. "Oh God, I hope I'm not stuck with this one," Nash tags in at the end - c'mon, ladies, you've all been there. I should know; I've caught you sneaking out at 6 a.m. many, many times.

Seriously, though, Kate's written some great stuff. So, that alone would make me want to have a pint with her. The topper, though, is that thick accent. It's captivating (in a non-sexual sort of way). I could listen to her read the newspaper in a pub for 30 minutes and be fine with it. Plus, if anyone is to judge from her MySpace pictures (which, of course, is what MySpace is all about), she looks like a girl that knows how to have a good time.

So, Kate, cheers to you. Let's grab a Carling sometime...

Since I'm so good to you, I'm giving you a free remix to one of Kate's tunes - "Caroline's a Victim." If you like it, visit her site and sign up for the mailing list, which is what I had to do to get it. Ha.

You'll need Pando to download it. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'm using drugs in the bathroom...

This is a deeply embarrassing, intensely personal story about my private life and intimate details of my health.

Why of course I'll share it with you - people I know and love and random internet browsers who assumed I was the Mike Nagel of, who appears to be an aspiring, German soft-core porn star. (I assume the relation, if any, is distant at best... but, hey, I may turn down the same career path if it'll pay).

I was out in Boston with my friend Julie (see note below) almost a month ago. It was a crappy evening to be outdoors. It had snowed the day before, probably about 3-4 inches or so. Then, that day, the snow had changed to pouring rain, turning the city of Boston into one giant, messy bowl of slush.

There were puddles everywhere. And I mean everywhere. I walked from my apartment to the T that day. During one four block stretch, I trudged ankle deep in the icy soup. There wasn't a single dry inch of cement for me to step on.

My feet got soaked. And, as I was out for the entire evening, I wasn't able to change into dry shoes and socks. I knew what was in store for me the next day... Yes, it was the itching, the burning - I'd have myself a nice, fat case of athlete's foot.

Sure enough. It was there in the morning. It happens to me pretty much every time my feet get wet for an extended periodof time. It's not fun, but I deal with it and it always goes away after a day or two.

This time, though, it was different. The itching didn't go away. The burning didn't lessen. The opposite happened. The tops of the three outside toes on each foot turned red. I found myself constantly jamming the heel of one foot onto the toes of the other, hoping that the itching would go away. It didn't.

I bought a couple different creams from my local Rite Aid. There are a handful of medicines for athlete's foot - Tinactin, Lotramin, Lotramin, Baza, Lamisil. They come in shiny, brightly colored packages. Next to them on the shelves, were plain, white boxes. Those were generic medicines named after their respective active ingredients.

Being thrifty (or, as they say in Chinese, "dirt poor"), I picked up a tube of the generic stuff. The medicine is all the same, right?

Here's the problem... printed all over the box AND the tube are the words "Anti-Fungal Cream" in big, bright letters.

Yup, that's right... athlete's foot is caused by a fungus. And you need an anti-fungal medicine to get rid of it. But by trying to save a couple bucks, I wound up purchasing an extraordinarily embarrassing product. If caught with that stuff, I'd look like the smelly kid who infected the whole school with lice, the scruffy homeless guy that smells like cheese and someone with oozing facial blisters all rolled into one.

What is worse than fungus? It's just disgusting to think about... Lice can be washed away with shampoo, herpes can be protected against by a little rubber member sleeve, and sometimes that cheese smell is acceptable (ie: at a fondue place or a pie joint).

But fungus? Ewwwwww... even I'm disgusted and they're my own feet.

I'm a clean person. I showered twice today. I get my nails done. I buy quality soaps and shampoos. I have an array of cosmetic products that fill my bathroom mirror. Cleanliness is next to Godliness and I like to chill with J.C. I'm one clean mofo.

And yet, my feet are still killing me. From fungus.


So, what this means is, for the last month, I've been buying different types of ANTI-FUNGAL CREAMS trying to find something that will make this disappear. I apply them liberally throughout the day - every couple hours or so. That's all well and good when I'm in my apartment, alone. But it doesn't work so well when I'm out in the real world.

I've taken to locating the solo-stall public restrooms when I'm out. Those are the johns that are made for just one user. They've got a lock on the door so you can ensure complete privacy. Once I find one, I slip a tube of fungus-fighter into my pocket and duck inside. I'll strip off my socks and shoes and slather up a coat of cream on my toesies. Then, I'll flush the toilet for effect and scrub my hands clean, trying to not only clean off the medicine, but also take with it the disgust and self-loathing that I feel.

The latter doesn't come off.

Thankfully, I procured a tube of industrial-strength, over-the-counter medicine without having to visit a doctor (I know a guy who knows a guy who knows people). I would have visited one myself, but since my current insurance policy includes the words "charge this guy $200 if you even look at him and both legs are still attached," I couldn't afford to. This new stuff is working... I'm even able to associate with the regular public without having to slink off to the bathroom for a fungus fix. The AF should be cleared up in a few more days or so, toes crossed.

Thank God that I won't have to furtively sneak into the bathroom anymore. It's a good thing I don't use cocaine or something... that lasts longer than fungus and you have to spend equal amounts of time in anonymous bathrooms.

Just say no to drugs, kids...

Editor's note:
Julie (mentioned above) is a writer and a good one. Check out her latest column, which ran in the most recent issue of the Weekly Dig. She didn't ask me to post this and she's probably dying of embarrassment because I did, but frankly, she wrote a great piece and I wish I had thought of it first.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'm not dead yet...

No, my friends, I haven't kicked the bucket yet. Nor have I been eaten by a moose in the nether regions of New Hampshire.

I was suffering from an absolutely horrible case of writer's block. You see, I'm working on my thesis (I think I've mentioned it here, but it's the culmination of three years' work, 60 grand and the capstone on a completely non-marketable MFA). It's due to my reader and adviser in about five weeks. Ten days ago, I completely conked out - I was sick of the project, didn't know where to go with it next, out of ideas and couldn't string together two coherent paragraphs.

For my subscribing faithful, you'll probably ask, "How is that any different than your writing here, Mike?"

In which case, I'm smack you in the face. But point duly noted.

Anyways, I felt like if I wasn't working on the thing that I've left my job to actually work on, then the last thing I should be doing is writing about the miscellany in my life that appears here. It's not that I don't love you readers (yes, all 2 and a half of you), it's just that I am a man of principles. Sometimes. And my principles said that I had to churn out another chapter of thesifizing before I posted another blog to destroy your workplace productivity.

But good news. I sat myself town and told myself, "Mike - now I don't like you and you don't like me - but we're going to lock ourselves in this room and not come out until you have 10 or more pages written that don't look like used Charmin." And it worked. I'm on a roll now (which is like unused Charmin).

Alas, this is not the long-awaited, genius post that you've come to expect, nay demand, from my thoroughly unprofitable site. Those are coming. For now, I've got a meeting that I have to get to, so you're just getting this update, a LOTD and two YouTube videos I've become obsessed with. See, I can make sure your productivity plummets even without writing.

You're welcome.

---Link of the Day---
Check out My brother alerted me to this site. It's a way to send large files (up to 1 gig) for free. So, basically, we're using it to illegally share music. Can I get an "Amen!"?

Also, it has a handy function that will allow me to post files here. Once I figure out how that works, I'll probably post some sample tracks that you can try for free and then go buy the album so I don't get sued.

---Videos of the Day---
Okay, so over 15 million people have already seen these on YouTube, but in case you haven't, I enjoyed them. You will, too. Both are from Jimmy Kimmel's late night show on ABC, which I don't watch, but do enjoy every time I happen to flick through it.
"Sarah Silverman - 'I'm doing Matt Damon'"

...and the response...

Talk soon!