Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Day at Penn State

Old Main, Penn State
This past Sunday I traveled up to the Penn State Main Campus in State College, PA.  John had some business up there and I tagged along to keep him company on the 3 hour drive up and back. While he was doing his stuff, I spent the morning and early afternoon wandering the campus reliving college memories from my own alma mater, Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.
 
Old college campuses are very similar in that they all seem to have that large stately main building on campus where it all began. There is a cupola on top and two wings of classrooms. Old Main at Penn State brought back memories of the Old Queens building on the Rutgers College campus in New Brunswick.  Friends and I would hang out in front of or behind it on the Voorhees Mall studying for our classes or just relaxing in the sun. Today at Old Main, students were doing the very same thing. Some guys were playing Frisbee, a couple here and there being romantic, and several students studying.
Old Queens, Rutgers
 
One of my favorite memories at Rutgers was starting off each new semester seeing your classmates and fraternity brothers again for the first time after the break. We would all wander down to the Rutgers Bookstore to purchase our books for the semester. I think, back in ... ahem 1988, I would spend about $200 on books. I bought the used ones to save money. I was extremely fortunate to have my parents pay for college. Believe me I realize how lucky I am! Their requirement was for me to pay for my books and supplies each semester. Uh... did that include beer?


Books, books, and more books.
$147.00 for a new book
I wandered into the Penn State bookstore, it is a temporary one as they are redoing the one in the HUB building on campus. I was in basically several connected trailer type buildings looking at books left and right. I asked one of the women if I could buy a text book even though I wasn't a student and she said of course I could. I was in heaven in the Art History and Architecture aisle. I found several I wanted until I looked at the prices. Used books were still cheaper than the new ones but they also now have "rental books" and "e-books" which are cheaper still. Wow, a totally different generation of college students.  We were one of the first classes at Rutgers to be assigned "email accounts." I said to my friend Sharon, "What the heck am I gonna do with an email address?"  I don't think I ever opened it up once.

Anyway I found an incredible architecture book, Buildings Across Time, which I just had to have ... until I saw the price:  $147.00 new and $110.25 used. SO much more than when I went. I could buy all my books for just double that. The only books that expensive in 1988 were the nursing and pre-med books and those were friggin' bibles! Oh well, Amazon here I come!  There are currently 104 used ones online starting at the cheap asking price of $10.00!

After my time in the bookstore, I decided I needed to get some coffee and write for my blog. I ended up at the HUB which is the student union and activities building. There are tons of meeting spaces, game rooms, a gallery or two, and a large food court. Unfortunately there was no food or coffee on a Sunday but I still decided to hang out, write, and reminisce when I was back in school. Undergrad students were studying left and right and lemme me tell you, even with the obviously older grad students, I still felt out of place. I even had some kid hold open the door for me saying, "Here ya go, sir." UGH. Gee thanks kid.

Schreyer Park
I retreated to a solitary park just beyond the temporary bookstore named Schreyer Park. It was really peaceful and I enjoyed my time there tapping away on my laptop. Several squirrels, REALLY tame squirrels, jumped about sometimes a little bit too close! There were also tons of ducks wandering around the grounds of Old Main and some rabbits, too. I was amazed at how comfortable these animals were with people around.  

Ducks hanging out around Old Main
All in all it was a really fun day. I got a blog article written (not this one. LOL) and some other boring miscellaneous paperwork which was made palatable with my collegiate surroundings. I would write, take a break, people watch, and then get back to writing. Truly relaxing. I met up with John later and we headed down to College Avenue for a bite to eat after some shopping. We had a really good late lunch at a bar called Mr. Pickle's Tap Room. Good food, good selection of beers, and friendly people. Oh and this picture below, actually happened BEFORE the beers and lunch.

Showing my team spirit for Penn State!
 
 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Annoyances in the Life of Marc

These are mostly everyday occurrences which I come across and either roll my eyes at, sigh loudly, or exclaim “UGH!” in disgust. Now before, my friendly reader, you tell me to get over it, I do recognize that these are pretty minor. Just chalk it up that I’m on my way to becoming a crotchety old man. Some of these are car related as my commute really sucks.

I was commuting last week on busy Route 78  and next to me was an older man drinking coffee out of a white ceramic kitchen mug. Ugh! It’s 2013, drive immediately to Dunkin Donuts and buy yourself a metal or plastic travel mug.

I hate it when the first clam in a heaping steaming bowl is the filled with grit!

I get annoyed by having to line up with others at the Southwest airline gates in the A, B, and C lines like we are cattle. I am usually in line C so that means I am a member of the lower class cattle.

I had brunch with John this morning at a diner in downtown State College, PA. They put out glass ketchup bottles. It was the bottle part that annoyed me. I thought places got rid of the glass bottle and now only used plastic. It took me forever to get the ketchup out. I had to do the old “get the ketchup out with the knife trick.” Give me a plastic bottle I can squeeze G-d damnit!

I find those jarring lime green shirts that construction workers are now wearing very annoying. I prefer the Tang orange ones, thank you.

Windows 8: enough said.

I hate getting gas on me the first thing in the morning while pumping gas.  I have to work the entire day smelling like Texaco. There is nothing that gets out that smell.

The cats just have to desecrate the litter box immediately after I clean it. Can't you wait 5 minutes? No, I swear they hide right around the corner waiting for me to leave the bathroom. As soon as I walk out, I imagine them fighting over who gets to go in the clean box first.

Speaking of the cats, it really annoys me when they are scratching the couch and just staring at me as if they are saying, "Yeah I'm scratching. What are you gonna do about it? Even if you make me stop now, I'll wait till your gone!"

You are listening to satellite radio in the car singing at full volume and it cuts out. So even if you are alone, you stop singing immediately and look around embarrassed. It is then you realize how badly you actually sing.

Individual coffee creamers at restaurants that are curdled and then ruin that first cup of coffee.

You pop a bunch of fresh grapes into your mouth and bite down on that one small sour grape that escaped your sight.

I sometimes get sidetracked doing the wash and walk away - for hours. Before I know it, I have a smelly pile of laundry festering in the washer now smelling like a wet Labrador retriever. Hello REWASH!

Peach fuzz which is why I am an avid summertime nectarine aficionado.

I get so annoyed when I write down a long ass confirmation number from a bill I just paid on the phone and realize that I went off the paper and wrote half of it on the kitchen table. Example:  CF# 3735960056940182597014. REALLY???

You are driving on the highway in the fast lane behind someone driving UNDER the speed limit. They eventually either move over into the slow lane or you pass them and see them on their cell phone talking or texting, eating or drinking anything, applying makeup or shaving, or drinking coffee out of a ceramic kitchen coffee mug.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Making of the Mole Hole AOL Interview

The video link for the AOL video "The 'Mole Hole': Price of Living Alone? The Worst Apartment Ever":

http://realestate.aol.com/blog/on/cheap-rental-became-worst-apartment-ever/

A couple months ago, I was fortunate enough to receive an email out of the blue from an AOL producer concerning one of my blog articles that I posted, “The Mole Hole”. Annie Carroll was interested in filming a video interview of it for an AOL series on bad real estate experiences called "My Next Move." It would document the horrible experience and what you learned from it. How excited was I! After “checking out” the producer (of course from the advice of my big sister Sheryl), I determined she was legit and I emailed Annie back saying I was very much interested in it.

For those that don’t remember or haven't read my blog post, “The Mole Hole,” it is about my worst apartment experience. It was such an odd little trashy studio that my sister Sheryl openly sobbed about it when she walked in, quickly asking if I could get out of the lease. I proudly said that I could not. She sobbed again. After months of living there, it gained the moniker the "Mole Hole" for various reasons including the windowless back room which slanted underground.

Annie and I emailed a couple times about the project and I decided I was definitely into it. We set up a phone conference with her and the associate producer, Kelly, and discussed the Mole Hole blog at length.  The AOL gang would come down to Philly, interview myself, then my sister and I, and then film location footage.  Lastly Annie reminded me not to wear anything too crazy or loud as it would not look good on camera.  I would later choose the perfect boring beige shirt.  I knew I saved that boring shirt for some reason.

I called my sister Sheryl who was initially excited but then subsequently freaked out when I sprung on her that we would be interviewing at her house. "WHAT?!?!" I clearly remember her screaming over the phone. The rest of the initial conversation I can't print. Luckily, the excitement of the news crept back in and Sheryl was all for it. 

Annie, Kelly, and camera woman Rhiannon all traveled down for the afternoon from NYC. Once in Philly, they scouted the Old City neighborhood where the studio was located, recording footage to use for the video. Upon arrival at my sister's home, they were offered beverages and pastries by my sister, ever the gracious hostess.  The ladies set up in Sheryl's dining room. Annie would interview me.  Kelly would assist her taking care of sound and Rhiannon would be on camera.


Annie coaching me along in the interview.
Sheryl and I were so impressed with the three women. These young professionals were so on point with their equipment, sound, lighting, and the entire interview process. After set up and several adjustments to seating, lighting, etc, we began the interview. Annie led me through while coaching me to speak about the "mole hole" in response to various questions.

I began to get bored with myself (believe it or not!) constantly talking about this apartment but Annie reassured me that I was doing fine and giving her great material to use.  It  is definitely a lot harder than it looks. I told the same story over and over again but Annie was a trooper, encouraging me and laughing along the way.  She really put me at ease.

I learned alot about the interview process along the way such as how easy sound travels. I was tapping my foot ever so slightly out of nervousness and Kelly would calmly say "I can hear your foot."  or when Sheryl was being interviewed, "The mike is tapping your necklace." And then her mike fell completely down her shirt. Just the little things that one doesn't think about which can disrupt an interview.


Are you capturing my good side Rhiannon?
I fumbled over words, stopping and asking to restart. After a bit, I was started to get more comfortable and would just stop and after a pause begin speaking again, knowing that Annie could edit out the mistakes.
And then there was the sweating!  We had lights on us but they were not THAT hot. My nervousness (What do the commercials call it? Stress sweat?) took over and I tried sitting on my hands to avoid raising my arms. I also sat on my hands because apparently they oddly gravitate towards my neck when I am being filmed.  Uh, don't ask.
 
Sheryl and I then interviewed together and we felt our banter was great. After all, Sheryl was a major figure in the blog article. We laughed, talked over each other as usual, and completed each other's sentences. This is normal for us. Throw in our brother Adam and sometimes the conversations become so seamless it is scary! I love how close we all are.

I have to say that my sister's house, inside and out, never looked better.  We were also happy to see so many pictures of our family present in the background of the video.  All of the panicking getting the house ready paid off in the end. Although Sheryl became obsessed with the outside footage at one point, trampling her own garden to remove a pot that I swear no one would see! Several lilies fell that day. God bless them. I just stood staring at her grapple with some hanging pot she was forcibly trying to remove from her railing. 

Unfortunately they were not able to use the interview footage with Sheryl and I. They took almost three hours of video and condensed it down to just over three minutes. I can't even have a conversation in that short of a time span! There just wasn't time in the arc of the video to bring her portion in. We were disappointed. I think I was more disappointed than Sheryl but she took it all in stride.

Me attempting to act and look like I know what I am doing!
Sheryl did though, make it into the beginning in a photo of she and I from the 90's as well as in the B-roll footage they took after the interview. Annie wanted us to look like we were "apartment hunting."  I think it came out great, even with the "disapproving sister" shaking her head no at my apartment choices!

The acting part was weird. I felt completely out of my element and self-conscious walking up and down my sister's outside stairs. (Sheryl's house stood in as a potential apartment building.)  Again, our producers and camera woman put Sheryl and I at ease reassuring us we were doing great. Didn't they just see me walking stiffly down Cambridge Street several times like I was wearing a cast on each leg?

Can I try that stiff walk again?
All in all, it was truly a wonderfully eye-opening experience into the world of filming and video production. Annie, Kelly, and Rhiannon's professionalism in the filming and interview process made for a great afternoon and memory for Sheryl and I. And in the end, their seamless editing could make even this monkey look good. Check out the video below through the link. Eventually, towards the end of June, the video garnered over 250,000 views. Not bad for this frazzled and bumbling blogger!

If you haven't seen it, here is the link again for the video:

http://realestate.aol.com/blog/on/cheap-rental-became-worst-apartment-ever/

And by the way, I never realized that they use stock video footage in videos like this such as the art gallery opening and the toilet footage. My toilet was never that quite dirty. My mother would have been mortified! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Bad Tattoo Ideas

For some reason, I have had a case of writer's block the last couple weeks. I have started 4 separate blog articles but haven't seemed to take them to completion. They will remain as drafts for now, until I get the urge to finish them up. In the meantime, I passed one of my clients in the hallway at work and something green caught my eye. He was a big burly dude and had these two tattoos on his calves:

The first, New Jersey, is not that bad. I hail from South Jersey and love the Garden State. I am very proud to be from Jersey although I would never have thought to get a tattoo of my state across my calf. The second tattoo is a little more disturbing. It is the logo from Monster Energy drinks. Are ya kidding me? You would really mark yourself permanently (let me repeat PERMANENTLY) with a corporate logo?!  There was no mistaking it is the Monster Energy logo and get this, even crazier … it is upside down so that when he looks behind at his calf, it would appear right side up!  I am surprised he didn't flip poor New Jersey on it's head as well.
This took me back to my 20's when getting tattoos was the rage amongst friends. But if you weren't getting tattoos, you were getting piercings. I had each ear pierced multiple times and at one time, each nipple pierced. Damn those hurt. I liked how it looked though. These days, the nipple rings and earrings are gone, having been stashed in some jewelry box for memory's sake to remind myself of those crazy days.
My tattoo fiasco is well documented. Check out my blog post:  http://frazzledatforty.blogspot.com/2011/09/my-embarrassing-tattoo-story.html for that embarrassing story.  I had a couple of other bad tattoo ideas which I THANKFULLY I never followed through on. Among them:

The Bacardi Bat:
I loved this logo and used to drink Cuba Libres (Bacardi and coke) throughout my twenties. Thank G-D I didn't get this tattoo. I would be like the guy above with the Monster Energy logo tattoo! And why a bat? What would it symbolize of me? That I could possibly actively carry the rabies virus?? Just kidding Bacardi, I still like my Bacardi Cuba Libres.



The Ravenswood Vineyard Ravens:

OK, this one was a little better. I grew to love this wine while working at the Ritz-Carlton Philly as the beverage purchaser. This logo reminded me so much of Haida Indian artwork from the Pacific Northwest. I looked up the symbolism of ravens but didn't really think it fit me. Online websites say that ravens can mean dark magic or trickery, but also seen as a teachers or protectors.  I passed on the raven as my "symbol" but still actively drink and enjoy the wine.  I think I liked it more because the logo had an endless connection from raven to raven.




The Buddha Infinite Loop: 

For awhile in college, I completely freaked out my Mother and follow Buddhism. I really didn't convert but instead, sought spiritual enlightment and meaning to my life in between fraternity parties and avoiding classes. Mom sighed relief when I convinced her I would not renounce Judaism and become a Buddhist. She wasn't too thrilled though when I started calling myself a Jew-Boo. Aaaaa, only in college can you freely mesh religions and ideas without any worries in the world ... except the worries of a protective Jewish mother. 














The Mobius Strip:

This tattoo was along the same lines of the infinite loop and the Ravenswood Ravens. I kind of connected to the idea that everything and everyone was ...  connected. Yeah, I was thinking  really DEEP in college. I later nixed this idea after I saw some hippy chick that I couldn't stand get this tattoo before I could. It ruined it for me. I guess I wasn't connected to everyone as much as I thought I was.




Barbed Wire:

I liked the barbed wire idea  around my arm but figured Mom would object to this one as well considering the barbed wire motif. If you can't figure out why, remember I am Jewish and my people were in concentration camps surrounded by ... barbed wire. Hello?





Greek Key Design:

This was pretty cool. But I heard tattoos really hurt when they went around the underside of your arm or your wrist. Fear of pain nixed this idea. Although I still like the design, just not where it would cause me undo pain. Hence, me having only one very small Buffalo nickel-sized tattoo.



Albert Einstein:

I was SOOO into the theory of relativity that I wanted to get this as an homage to the greatest physicist ever! 




Oh who are we kidding, I am more of an Abe Vigoda (FISH) type guy:





Now if YOU have any of the above tattoos … (snicker snicker) … they aren't THAT bad. I have seen much worse. And I actually wish I had more tattoos then my Chinese symbol tattoo which is supposed to mean something great but means something else (see blog post link above for further embarrassment to the blogger).

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

TWO RECOMMENDED BLOGS: Film and Travel!

My faithful readers, I wanted to introduce you to two blogs that I highly recommend.  The first is a blog by a well established blogger who has been blogging for many years, since 2005.  The second, by a young travel blogger who also happens to be a good friend and family member.  Her excitement and thirst for travel writing leaves me inspired for my own blog.

The first is written by a friend and former classmate Thomas Lobascio. Tom's blog is "The Last Reel,"  http://thelastreel.blogspot.com/ .   Tom blogs, as he puts it perfectly "about movies so that you don't have to. I will post industry news and opinion."  Tom writes reviews and posts trailers for the hottest up coming movies that you have heard about and a lot that you have not heard about but will be happy you now know.  Tom is an incredible blogger. I wish I posted as many articles as he does!  The information, posters, and trailers show an impressive up to date knowledge of what is being currently released in the movie industry! 

The second blog is written by my cousin Diane Condon.  Her blog is "The Road to Bacon,"  http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog/thequestforps/2/tpod.html .  Diane and I met and realized we were fellow bloggers when I visited my brother in the beginning of June this year. We immediately connected and I feel I have found a good friend for life!  Diane is documenting her travels up the West Coast through California, Oregon, Washington, possibly Vancouver, Utah, and then finally onto Colorado to watch her nieces show their pigs at the Archuleta County Fair. Hence the blog name, "The Road to Bacon." :o)  Very cute name.

This is Diane's 1st large scale blog under the name "Thequestforps" for Travel Pods website: http://www.travelpod.com/ .  Check out Diane's travel blog for a refreshing view of a single 20 something traveler exploring the world.  Soon, she will be off to Europe and be blogging about that as well! It will make you wish and yearn for adventures of your own. PLUS, she includes some pretty awesome pictures and videos.  Diane posts pictures how I feel a travel blogger should: some artistic, some touristy, and all are fun and give the reader a great oversight of her experiences during her travels.

Fellow writers/bloggers share a sort of kinship. We want to "share" our views with you, the reader. These two bloggers are dedicated to their blogs. I would appreciate it and of course so would they, if you check out and support their blogs. Thanks!