Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in the books, Bring on 2013

WHAT A YEAR.  2012 for me was one of tremendous adversity, some of the most incredible memories of my life to date, amazing times with both family and friends, and a little personal growth and reflection along the way.  Before we officially kick off 2013 I need to get a few thoughts off my chest about 2012, and then some of my hopes for next year. Some have to do directly with the pictures below, some are just random thoughts.

1.) My family is my inspiration. The family I have currently, my mother and father, brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles. All of the people that make up both the Kerkian and Bowler clans are so unique. Every one alike in the blood we all share but each owning such individuality that it makes for an incredibly dynmanic family tree. I love you all so much and take such great strength from what you mean in my life.

Also to the family that I have not yet found. My wife, and my children. I pledge to you that I will pour my heart and soul into being the absolute best human being I can be, personally and professionally. So that never, EVER, in our lives together will you not feel secure and protected. You are the true motivation for my work ethic.

2.) My friends, who are in every sense of the word, are also my family.  There is nothing that I would not do for this group. Literally nothing. The bond we have is forged from the memories we have made together, both good and bad.  Some of you I have known since I was little, some only in more recent years, but all of you share one thing in common.  You are in my heart and in my mind every day.  You provide so much happiness, warmth and love in my life and I am forever grateful for that.  We had some unbelievable times in 2012, and I know that 2013 will be filled with more of the same.

3.) HEALTHY LIVING - 2012 I continued my mission to live as healthy as possible. I feel amazing. I've pushed my body far beyond any place it has ever been, through barriers I did not think I could pass.  I'm 31 years old and I have never in my life felt as good as I do now.  I also worked to harder this year to share this mission with others, and I hope to do even more in 2013. We all need to make this planet, and this country especially, a healthier place to live. That starts with raising our children to eat vegetables, not McDonalds. To play sports or exercise more then they play video games, and about the importance of taking care of our planet. 

4.) Negativity - The older I get the less patience I have for it. There simply is no room for it in my world.  Bad things happen to everyone. Every day is not going to be full of happiness and laughter. But the way we handle adversity says a lot about our character.  Concentrate on the amazing gift of life that we all have, and not the trials and tribulations along the way. We are going to have good times and bad times, but the way we choose to react is 100% in our own hands. A choice you make. Be positive, move forward.

5.) I promise to be even more handsome in 2013 than I was in 2012. Although this probably goes with out saying!

6.) My work family.  2012 was a tremendous year for our business, especially the Monsters.  We took some major steps forwards in our culture, with our people, and inching towards our ultimate goals.  I LOVE what I do, I sincerely care for the people I work with every day.  I am so thankful that when I wake up in the morning I am thoroughly excited to go into the office and be with the team. I would run through a wall for them, and nothing gives me more satisfaction than seeing the people on our team have success. I take a lot of pride in what we've done the last six years, and there are some people in that building that hold a very special place in my heart.

7.) I love gin. I mean I loved gin before, but 2012 was a year where I think I truly began to understand the greatness of nature's most perfect drink. Thank you to my Grandpa Bowler and Dad for introducing me to marvelous creation.

8.) I got another tattoo this year, and it is one of my favorite memories of 2012. With 2013 will come two more, pretty substantial, and they are coming soon.  Stay tuned.

9.) 2013 I will continue to open myself to trying new things, no matter how outlandish or crazy they are. Be open to adventure and getting out of my comfort zone. Really important for me.  Trying something new is such a fun part of life!

10.) CLEVELAND - In 2012 I continued my mission as an advocate of our amazing city and worked hard to become a bigger part of the community.  This city, no matter where I'm living, will always be a part of who I am. I will continue to be relentless in helping bring Cleveland back to life.

10.) 2013 - I want to continue to live free in mind, body and spirit.  I never have, and never will play by the normal "rules" or "guidelines" that dictate so many of the decisions we all make every day.  I live to make memories with the people I love, and when I look back on my life know that I left absolutely nothing on the table.  That I laughed, cried, and loved as hard as I possible could. That I took chances, and lived passionately every single day.  I want to be a positive influence in the lives of others and a leader that people will believe in.  I will not be afraid to make mistakes, and I will never take for granted the opportunities that have been bestowed upon me.  I will continue to work hard to find ways to help other people.

Lastly - I will never apologize for being me.  That certainly comes with a lot of mistakes and with all my idiosyncrysies that drive some of the people in my life crazy. I don't always do what is perceived as "right", as I often make decisions based on my heart and not my head. I might hurt some people along the way, but never intentionally.  I'm wired differently, admittedly, but I don't apologize for it.


Friday, December 14, 2012

In Your Court

Since we're forbidden even to mention the words "gun control," lest we desecrate the sacrosanct lines that constitute our most holy 2nd Amendment, I put the onus firmly on gun lovers to find a solution to shooting sprees and dead schoolchildren.  Fresh ideas are welcome.

Your haste is appreciated,




This world is filled with unbelievable tragedy and we saw a numbing example of that this morning.  Our thoughts go out to all of those involved with the shooting in Connecticut today.  All of the strength and courage in the world can not prepare anyone for something as traumatic at this shooting. My thoughts also lie with those who in some fashion have experienced similar harrowing tragedies in the past.  I know that for so many an event like this will bring horrible memories flooding back to the surface, exposing wounds not yet healed. If I could take on some of your pain to ease the burden you carry every day I would do so without hesitation. 

I didn't really know where this post was going when I started.  I just knew I needed to write.  I could discuss gun control and the fact that this sick bastard found access to military grade ammunition for his automatic rifle.  But I won't.  I could discuss the moral dilemma we face every day in our country of having a 20 year-old willing to walk into a school, and gun down innocent human beings. Children. But I won't.

Instead I am just going to speak generally on how I feel finally having a few minutes at the end of the day to process this.

My feelings and my thoughts lay squarely with all of those who must face the horrific reality of these unthinkable crimes.  At Quicken Loans Arena there was an eerie feel all day following the news, including a spattering of brief conversations between co-workers about what happened in Connecticut, and you could see many drowning in their own thoughts, reflecting on their lives and their loved ones. Everyone confused, dumbfounded, shocked, and an almost universal sense of uncertainly on how to process the nature of what happened.  I'm sure many of you in discussing the shooting today at some point heard the question, "What would drive a person to the point of shooting a child, how is it possible?"  I know I certainly did several times.

The pain in my heart comes from thinking about those families affected in Connecticut. Tonight we will all be able to go home and tell our children, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers that we love them.  Those families, and that community however, will not.  They will be faced with coming to grips with the irreversible reality that a loved one is gone.  That the unthinkable has happened right in their own back yard. There are no words, there are no memorial services, there are no cures that will lesson the magnitude of their pain.  Only time will ease the severity of those permanent scars that this tragedy has left; which I know each and every person in that community will now carry with them for the rest of their lives.  I send you all of the strength, love and positive energy in my body. 

My final thought is what I began this post with:  I WILL NOT be scared.  My children WILL NOT be scared.  To all of you sick-minded, disillusioned murderous monsters out there: You will not intimidate me.  You will not alter the way that I live my life.  EVER.  I will go on living without fear, and my children will be raised to live every day to the fullest.  To experience everything that this wonderful life has to offer.  If at some point I come face to face with one of you, and you threaten my family, my friends, or my community; the only the fear that will be felt is yours. 

Love will ALWAYS conquer hate.  Love comes with strength, honor, courage, compassion, and bravery.  Hate is the characteristic of the simple minded, a pathway to cowardice.  Love will ALWAYS conquer hate.


Thursday, November 15, 2012


Someone very important in my life is going to be having a very signficant and serious surgery next Monday.  Triple bypass or apparently now it may end up be quadruple bypass heart surgery.  I am going to be sending every ounce of positive evergy I have to him and to his family over the next few days. I ask that you all do that same.

FAMILY.  That is the key word.  Because the Flanagans are a part of my family.  Maybe I am not connected by blood, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the relationship that we have with one another.

Ryan - AKA Ry-Guy, Flanny, Ballz, etc. etc. (I could write a four page post on just his nicknames) - My brother and comrade through good times and bad.  This guy is simply one the best people on Earth.  I will always be there to support him in everything that he does, even if that means living 3,000 miles away.  He has such a big heart which he gets from both his parents, he is a loyal and devoted friend, and there is literally never a time when we're together that we aren't having fun.  I love this guy and I am very thankful to have him in my life.

Denise Flanagan, AKA Aunt Dee, Mama, Mama Dee, and I'm finding out from her friends at The Bay she has about as many nicknames as Ryan.  Aunt Dee is one of the most unique and caring mothers I have ever met.  So much so that she has looked after about 25 of us since we were 12 years old.  "Looking after" of course sometimes translated to yelling, grounding us, scolding us, and most recently dancing with us at weddings.  Regardless the circumstance she was and is always there to make sure her boys are ok.  She lives with an unwavering spirit and energy that I can still have throughout the rest of my life.  Aunt Dee is unafraid to be herself every step of the way, and makes no apologies about who she is and what she is about.  This is one of my favorite things about her. 

Now on to Dr. Pat.  There is absolutely no coincidence that there is so much good in Ryan, because all you need to do is have one conversation with his father and you see where so much of it came from.  Dr. Pat has always been such a stoic, strong and compassionate figure in my life.  He is an amazingly talented Doctor who worked his ass off for many years to support his family.  However, he always found time to be involved in everything that was going in our lives, especially our sporting events.  No matter how old we were Dr. Pat would be there, camera in hand, taking pictures of us at our proudest moments.  I still have this framed collage that he made of me playing traveling baseball when I was 12 or 13 years old.  Those pictures mean so much to me as those were some of my favorite moments, and I spent them with so many people who are so important to me. 

Dr. Pat - You are an amazing person and have been a tremendous influence in my life. We are all there for you with strength and love.   I look forward to you being there to take pictures of me when I'm sworn in as the official Mayor of Cleveland.


Monday, November 5, 2012

The Case Against Obama (Yes, You Read That Right)

Last week I used some space to make a not-so-subtle plea to our Resident Aquarist to vote Obama.  Understand that he's no Republican, but he is, to put it mildly, disillusioned with the President.  So I, and several of our friends, attempted to work him over from the "lesser of two evils angle."  See, our aquarist lives in Ohio, where Romney and Obama have more or less established permanent residences.  He was unmoved.  His reasons why* bear repeating.  I maintain that a "not Romney" vote is a good one, but I find myself agreeing with much of what is written below, and look forward to the day that we toss out this worm-ridden 2 party system of ours.


I've thought long and hard about it and I will not be voting for Obama.  At what point is "the lesser evil" so repugnant that it can't be supported?  For me it breaks down to several actions Obama took in both international and domestic policy.

1. The Drone Strikes.  So far, the US has launched close to 400 drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan that have killed an estimated 3500 people, give or take a few hundred.  Drone strikes are notoriously inaccurate, and some stats I've seen talk about a 1 successful kill to 49 innocents killed ratio.  That's not a good thing especially considering we are not at war with Yemen, we are not at war with Somalia, and we are not at war with Pakistan.  I haven't even brought up his strikes in Libya, which were not only done without Congressional approval, but done in the face of Congressional disapproval.  I believe these conflicts were an unconstitutional overreach by the President and if so, this makes him a historic-level mass murderer. 

2. Disposition Matrix.  Let's call a spade a spade.  This is Obama's personal kill list that contains women, children, and U.S. citizens that he is attempting to codify to make it a permanent fixture in our foreign policy arena. Normally when military action seemingly goes awry you can make an argument that the President didn't have direct involvement.  That is not true in this case.  Obama personally approves every target on the list.  I have serious problems with summary executions being carried out without due process.  Can you imagine if this was Dick Cheney and not Obama with a personal kill list? (does it matter whose list it is?)

3. Lack of Transparency Part I.  What is the President's argument that all of the above is legal?  Nothing.  He has made no argument at all.  In fact, he refuses to turn over the legal memos justifying any of it despite the demands of Congress.  This whole episode has a Nixonian, "if the president does it, then it's legal" stench to it.  At least Bush marched out that legal hack John Yoo to make a case for waterboarding.  Secrecy is a worrisome trend with this administration.

4. Lack of Transparency Part II. This Administration has declared war on whistleblowers like none other before it.  Obama dusted off the Espionage Act of 1917 to prosecute double the number of whistleblowers than ALL prior presidents combined.  It's ironic because during his inauguration speech he talked about having the most open and transparent Administration ever.  He has gone on to use this tactic to threaten and intimidate journalists who's job it is to look into government affairs.  

Perhaps more concerning than those he prosecutes for whistle-blowing are the ones he doesn't prosecute.  Last I checked, Bradley Manning, of WikiLeaks fame, is still being tortured in some CIA black site and will be until he meets his demise without formal charges ever being filed.  The President can do that I hear because of the 2011 NDAA which authorizes indefinite detainment of citizens without judicial review.  When Obama signed it, he did so vehemently disagreeing with that provision in the NDAA, but from that moment has fought vigorously to hold onto that power.

I read an article in the Guardian about the worst civil liberty presidents in US history, and they did an interesting balancing test comparing the horrible actions taken, (for example Abraham Lincoln suspending habeas corpus rights for deserters and seditious elements in the population) with the justification used for those offenses.  In the Lincoln example, the entire nation was engulfed in an internal all-out war where half the country was fully devoted to the total destruction of the other half. The existence of the nation was in doubt and people were dying by the tens of thousands practically daily.  

Obama's justification is the war on terror.  You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than being killed by a terrorist.  The infringements on civil liberties are a delusional overreaction to the threat of terror.  Needless to say, Obama didn't score well in that article's view.  The fact that Obama argues it is lawful to be able to unilaterally snatch up a U.S. citizen and detain them forever with no trial or even charges is downright chilling.  Obama is no doubt a talented lawyer and it is dismaying to see him use that talent to be as big a creep as possible.

5. Lack of Transparency Part III. I'll make this one short.  The government is trying to pass a law where it is lawful for them to lie about the existence of records requested by the public under the Freedom of Information Act when in reality those records exist.  

Long story short, I just can't overlook this stuff.  I must sound like a pro-life person that just can't get over the whole abortion thing despite agreeing with a candidate on 50 other things. Seriously though, look at this shit.  He is killing thousands of innocent people in a war-crime-like fashion while suppressing dissent in the most horrific ways possible.  Lesser evil is pretty damned evil.  Fuck Obama.  He is the reason that a "not Mitt Romney" vote for the Democrats isn't viable.  Such a low hurdle too.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why Did I Do It?

Young Obamunist
Because he:

kept a recession from becoming a depression,

got the economy growing again,

invested in green energy,

saved the automobile industry,

knows women can take care of their own bodies,

thinks any two people in love should be able to get married,

ended the nightmare in Iraq,

is ending the nightmare in Afghanistan,

passed Obamacare, and

is our first president who can hit a jump shot,

I voted for Barack Obama today.

Was glad to do it.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why Not Jill Stein?

Maybe someday, Jill Stein
Some readers may remember back four years when I was an enthusiastic supporter of democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel.  I liked how the former Senator from Alaska didn't cloud his beliefs in obfuscatory language.  He wanted to end the war in Iraq immediately.  He supported marriage equality.  He knew the war on drugs is bullshit.  He railed against the military industrial complex.  I liked what I heard, and I wrote about him several times.  I vowed to vote for him, no matter what.

On election day, I voted for Barack Obama.

A few days ago I had a quick exchange with our official aquarist, someone whose opinion I greatly value, about casting a 'lesser of two evils' vote.  As frustrated as I am with the Republican Lite version of today's Democratic Party, my friend appears to be officially fed up.  We only traded a few messages, but it got me thinking about the way I use my vote.  If my views are more in line with the Green Party candidate, why do I vote Democrat?  People lament the two-party system all the time, but the fact is, we do have a plurality of parties: Green, Libertarian, Constitution, Prohibition (wtf?).  These are mostly marginalized and only seem to be relevant when they're siphoning votes from one of the major candidates (like when Ralph Nader drank Al Gore's milkshake).  But for those of us not entirely in line either of the two largely corrupted behemoth political parties, there is a way to more adequately express ourselves, and perhaps sleep a little better at night.  Very few of us have the guts to do it.  So, if I'm not enamored of Obama and his drone strikes and his incessant rhapsodizing of 'clean' coal and his plan to more or less maintain the status quo on military spending, my question is this: is a vote against someone a good vote?

I think so.

I think a vote against the GOP is a damned good vote.  It's not particularly controversial to say that things are better for the majority of people when a Democrat is occupying the White House.  That's a broad statement, but I think it's pretty plain that, for at least the last 32 years, that GOP largesse has been reserved for the extremely well-to-do, whose campaign donations and political movements have been repaid in the form of lucre (tax cuts), power (Citizen's United) and fawning adoration (all hail the job creators).  Are the Democrats any better?  Only marginally in some areas, but in others there is a great yawning gulf separating the parties.  Gay rights, health care and climate change are a few that come to mind. And then there's women's rights.  You can see ideological differences every time Todd Akin, or Richard Mourdock, or Paul Ryan, or Mitt Romney or any of these candidates from the neolithic age of American politics opens his mouth about the opposite sex.  There is a very real possibility that two new Supreme Court Justices will be selected in the next presidential term.  The thought of Romney wielding those picks makes me tremble for Roe v Wade.

And for me, that's the bottom line: I respect my wife, mother, sister and hypothetical daughter too much to ever consider voting R.  I dig just about everything on Jill Stein's platform, but Obama is staunchly pro choice, he's committed to protecting Planned Parenthood and he knows unequivocally that rape is rape.  Call me yellow if you want to, but I care enough about keeping these GOP assholes out of office that I'll keep filling in the D for as long as I have to and dream of the day that Jill Stein is a viable contender.

Obama/Biden 2012


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Paul Ryan:

Attended Miami University in Ohio.  Strike one for this Ohio Bobcat.

Was a Miami frat boy.  You know what?  Strike fucking three.

So, we've established that the Representative from Wisconsin is an incurable prick, and indeed he does come off as the cocky 18-year-old who after one semester of college and a Poly-Sci 101 class suddenly knows everything about the workings of the world.  A lot of us go through that phase.  The difference is, after reading some Ayn Rand and taking a few Econ classes, Ryan appears to be locked in this juvenile hubris for the long haul.

That wouldn't be such a big deal, except that he's a legislator who's ridden a meteor to the top of his party's leadership; Ryan has ambition and the attention of his party.  What's more, we keep hearing his name and the word 'intellectual' mentioned in the same breath.  Now that Newt's time is up, it  seems Ryan has emerged as heir apparent to the GOP's resident deep thinker.  This is troubling.  Where Newt always seemed most devoted to his own hedonism, Ryan is fit, full of energy and hellbent on making his mark on the country.  What's disturbing is that his fervor seems less intellectual than ironclad, like something out of the Westboro Baptist Church (and yes, Ryan does hate fags, for the record).  His prevailing belief?  Not that big government is bad, of course, oh no; he's voted for every giant spending bill to come his way.  In that way, he looks like just about every other Republican from the last 30 years.  Social beliefs?  Standard GOP playbook: anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-immigrant. 

No, what makes Ryan special, aside from his blue-eyed glow of phony geniality and veneer of erudition, is the abject cruelty at the core of his economic superstardom; it's brazen, nasty and dangerous, it encapsulates no kind of conservative ideology that I've ever heard of, and it can be parsed out thusly:

1) Your worth as a human is in direct proportion to your wealth.

Ronald Reagan, patron saint of the modern conservative, godfather of reckless tax slashing and exploding deficits--Reagan sacrificed fiscal balance in the name of swelling the coffers of the already rich.  He also sneered unabashedly at the poor, painting needy families as parasites and singling out poor black women as welfare queens.

George W Bush carried Reagan's torch for 8 years, compromising the future of our social programs by cutting taxes and ignoring the consequences.

Reagan and Bush Jr: that's Paul Ryan's pedigree.

There are euphemisms for enriching the rich.  'Supply-side economics.'  'Trickle-down economics.'  'Reaganomics.'  Whatever you call it, it doesn't work as advertised.  Ryan and the GOP know this better than anyone, because they don't want the wealth to trickle down.  They keep going back to the well because, to them, the only thing better than a rich American is a richer American.  Now they're trying to sell it again, this time on the strength of Ryan's intellectualism, as if this preppy economic savant has really thought it through, worked out the kinks and come up with a plan that's just too nuanced to explain to drooling rubes like us.  If Ryan had it his way, as outlined in his first budget proposal, there would be zero taxes on capital gains and dividends--that's the kind of income that people like Mitt Romney prefer, because it's already taxed at a lower rate.  That lunatic idea has since been ditched in subsequent Ryan budgets, but it does underscore the kind of men we're dealing with.  Men of wealth and entitlement.  You're rich.  You deserve more.  Treat yo self.

Of course, Ryan is not blind to our giant growing debt;  He seems to sort of genuinely want to do something about it.  You can forget about increasing revenues or cutting the military, but some program or other is going to have to cough up the trillions, which brings us to our second point:

2) If you are not rich, you don't deserve to live.

How else can you explain his attitude toward Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Pell grants?  These are the programs that stand to lose if Romney and Ryan win in November.  How about the Affordable Care Act?  The GOP calls Obama the 'Food Stamp President,' but let's get something straight: more people on food stamps means that people were still eating through the second worst financial meltdown in our nation's history.  These safety nets quite literally keep people alive, but the GOP sneers again.  Yeah, Ryan is that guy, the one making an example of the mom in the grocery store who uses food stamps while having the audacity to own a smart phone.

So what are the poor and needy to do?  Ryan says he wants to teach them to fend for themselves.  What he doesn't seem to understand is that so many people who need food assistance already have jobs.  You can talk about self reliance all you want; people with low incomes can't just give themselves a raise, can they?  They can't scare up college tuition, can they?  The reality is that unemployment is still high, organized labor is weak and wages for middle and working classes have stagnated since the time of Reagan.  Social programs are popular.  They work.  Ryan himself was able to attend college because of the Social Security benefits provided by his late father.  That was fine for him.  He made the most of it.  For everyone else, it's a Ponzi scheme.

Any rational person knows that we'll all have to chip in to bring down the debt.  Ryan and his mythical job creators don't see it that way.  Sacrifices will have to be made, but not by them.  As for the rest of us, if we die, we die.

We were formally introduced to the new face of the GOP at the Republican National Convention.  Paul Ryan made his national debut by delivering a speech that was riddled with lies.  His encore comes tonight at the vice presidential debate. 

Here's hoping Joe Biden calls him on his bullshit.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mr Chicken 2010-2012

Tonight we bid a fond farewell to our favorite fish, Mr. Chicken, whose ashen corpse was discovered on the bottom of our 29-gallon freshwater tank earlier this evening.

From the beginning, Mr. Chicken was a cantankerous fish, bridging no rival for food or turf, but his special brand of gritty determinism would grow on us before long.  I don't know if he led a particularly happy life, or if he had any hopes or dreams beyond the panes of his transparent cage.  I'm not even sure what kind of fish he was, but I do know this: Mr. Chicken was a survivor.  I could recount a dozen tales of his toughness, but one that stands out is a tank cleaning in the winter of '11.  On that January day, our bottom feeder slipped into the kitchen sink, through the mouth of the drain and into the teeth of the garbage disposal--mercifully disengaged.  For a hectic five minutes, Mr. Chicken flopped while my desperate but inept fingers attempted to rescue him from a slow and torturous death.  Only when he came to rest, on the verge of asphyxiation, was I able pluck him from oblivion and spirit him, gills swollen, to the more hospitable confines of recycled, oxygenated water.  He was shaken but alive, and an unspoken bond was forged between us.  We were no longer master and pet.  We were brothers.  From that moment on, we knew: I had his back, and he had mine.  Alas that I could not save him once more.

Aside from danger, Mr. Chicken enjoyed nestling into the holes in his favorite driftwood and devouring the funny-smelling flakes that occasionally rained down on his habitat.

Mr. Chicken was preceded in death by his spouse, Mrs. Chicken (née McDougald).  He leaves behind no known progeny.

A brief memorial was held toilet-side with friends and family gathered.


Friday, August 31, 2012

A Defense of Mormonism from an Atheist's Perspective

Mitt Romney accepted the nomination for Republican candidate for the presidency tonight.  He is the first Mormon to reach such high heights in the history of US politics.

There is no chance I will vote Romney in November, but I do take exception when his critics, particularly some of the more outspoken Christian leaders, refer to his religion as a cult.

From an atheist's point of view, a Mormon is no more cultish than a Roman Catholic.  Or a Baptist.  Or a Presbyterian.  Or a Jew.  Or a Muslim.  Or a Scientologist.  Or a Branch Davidian.  Honestly, is the Book of Mormon really that far fetched?  What's another testament or two when you've already bought into the virgin birth?  I know many of these denominations have the benefit time on their side, but they all seem equally made up to me.

So believe what you like and I'll believe what I like and we'll all let Romney believe what he likes, because that's how it's supposed to go around here, isn't it?


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Five Years, Ode To LC

Life is a crazy journey and if my first 30 years are any indication of what the next 30 will be like, well then, I am going to look back at age 60 and be able to say I've been a very lucky man. I have an incredible family, amazing friends and a career that I love. 

But reflection is very important to me and I believe very strongly in the saying that you can't know where you are going unless you know where you've been.  I am going to try and make this post short and sweet (not likely with my track record), but most importantly I hope I can articulate clearly some things I want Lauren to know.

I met Lauren Fairchild in April of 2007 as I was starting my career with the Cavaliers organizatrion. We actually started dating about two months after my first day and living together not too long after that.  It took me about 10 minutes to realize what type of person Lauren is, and not too much longer to fall in love with her. Now here we are more than five years later, and we've decided that we need to continue life's journey separately, on different paths.  However, that is not what this post is really about.

Lauren just in case I never said these things enough, or at all for that matter, here you go:

1.) You are a beautiful person both inside and out.  Pretty simple here.  Don't let anyone ever tell you different.  And if they do, give me a call and I'll take care of it.

2.) Forget being one of the most talented women I have ever met, you are one of the most talented people I have ever met.  Lauren you have accomplished amazing things already and you can do whatever you set your mind too.  Athletically you were an amazing gymnist, now you are running marathons, teaching health and fitness classes, and helping so many people live healthier lives. Professionally you achieved tremendous success in a male dominated sports industry and could just as easily still be flourshing working for us or any other team.  Instead you completely changed directions and will undoubtedly now dominate the financial sector.  There are not many people that I know who would even have the guts to do what you did, let alone be talented enough to have success in two completely different professions. Regardless, wherever and whenever you find your true professional passion I know that you will be a superstar.  Hint Hint: Open your own gym and be a full time fitness professional!!

3.) There are not too many people as competitive, driven, stubborn, and bull-headed as I am. But I met my match with you.  One of the many things that I really love about you.

4.) You are one of the most unselfish, put together, organized, and practical people I have ever met.  You truly changed the man I was and the man I will always be as I move forward in my life.  I am a total work in progress but there are things that I will never be able to repay you for teaching me.  I can't list them all, because this is supposed to be short and sweet, but you know what they are.  So thank you.

5.) HOME - We built a home together (with some initial help from Kalister of course) that is full of so many amazing memories, some nasty ones too, arguments, incredible parties, and a place that has always been a welcome place for the people we care about the most.  We lived, worked and played in one of the most amazing cities in the world.

Last but not least....

6.) Love, Respect, Family.  Love -  I will always love you, unconditionally.  Respect - I will always have a deep and profound respect for you as a person and what our relationship has meant to me.  FAMILY - No matter where we are in our lives you will ALWAYS be my family.  FOR LIFE.

Fairch - I know I am a handful and I'm well aware that I didn't always make it easy.  But the last five years have helped shape who I am as an adult, and I wouldn't trade our time together for anything in the world.

LIFE IS ABOUT LOVE!  Onward and Upward.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Toasting Twelve Years

Twelve years, one woman.  Remarkable, right?  I agree, and in the days leading up to the big date, it occurred to me that a cool dozen necessitated a really hot gift.  When I mentioned that a week in Monte Carlo might be just the thing, my sometimes-logical wife suggested that the casinos would probably be off limits to the McBonerito.  My lament that this kid was 'cramping our style' was largely ignored, though, and I resigned myself to the idea that the anniversary present would have to be smaller, perhaps something that could be boxed and wrapped.  But what to give the woman who has everything?

It was at breakfast that it hit me.  As my wife worked over the whites of a pair of fried eggs, she was faced with the weekly conundrum of what to do with the yolks.  With no efficient way of consuming the messy yellow blobs, she had adopted several clever ways of disposing of them.  But our dealer in aquaria recommended she cease plopping them in the fish tank, and our house plants, instead of thriving from the boost in omega 3 fatty acids, died slow, torturous deaths.  Cooking the yoke through was no kind of option, and yet how to sop up that pool of goo?  We needed something spongelike, and yet not quite a sponge.

Suddenly, like 1,800 watts of electricity, it hit me.  I hopped into the McBonemobile and was soon prowling the aisles of our local appliance store.  I spotted the silvery R-7 right off.  Like a muscle car of old, it sat there, a vigorous, latent thing.

The circling shark of a salesman smelled blood.

That's the model I'd choose, he said.  I caught him sizing me up.  Perhaps he was appraising my skinny frame when he said, of course, a machine like that isn't for everyone.

This happens to be for my wife.  Anniversary present.

The portly gent exhaled a fume of pastrami and mustard.  Probably too much toaster for a woman, he chuckled.

Five minutes later he was loading the R-7 into the McBonemobile.  The next morning, my sometimes-observant wife found the device sitting on the counter.  After calming her tearful euphoria, we started toasting some toast.  Six-slice capacity, stainless steel chassis, 'top brown' setting...truly, this toaster had it all.

I fired up the skilled and gave the shells a good crack.

How do you want your eggs, my dear?

Runny, she purred.

Happy anniversary, babe.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Paths of the Damned

As promised, my moustache stopped by for a visit tonight.  He was weary from travel and thirsty as hell.  I poured him a double bourbon to cut the dust and we set straight to catching up.  He told me of the paths he's trod and the towns he's seen.  Seems like there was a lady or two along the way and a couple of hard knocks, too.  I could hardly blame him for nodding off for an hour, just long enough for me to whip up some biscuits and gravy--his favorite.  Well, we ate and talked and even chomped on a cigar for the better part of the night, and then, all of a sudden, it was time for him to go.  My moustache never lingers long in one place.  I asked if maybe he'd like to spend a couple days, get to know the McBonerito, but he just handed me his flask to fill and shook his head.  'Not my style,' he said, and, with a tip of the hat and a wink, he was gone.

Friends, as you travel the highways and byways, remember me to my moustache.  He'll be the lonesome drifter you see, collar turned against the rain, wandering the endless roads to nowhere.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Black Keys/ White Menace

The Black Keys.  They're from West Akron.  We're from West Akron.  I'm happy for the guys, and I'm proud of their success.  While it's true I've got a small ongoing beef with one half of the duo, my respect for the Firestone High School grads grew exponentially after reading this, from their recent Rolling Stone cover story:

They had turned down a six-figure opportunity to use a song in a mayonnaise ad the year before.

The passage relates to their struggle to gain financial footing in the early years of their recording career.  As tempting as those dollars must have been, they knew mayonnaise has no place in Rock 'n' Roll.  Cheers to you, lads, for not losing your souls on the way to stardom.


Gettin' it Back

I've never claimed to have deep reserves of that mysterious, mystical force called 'mojo.'  First of all, I'm about as white a white boy as you will find.  OK, maybe not Young Republican white, but I'm pretty goddam white, so that's one factor against me.  Also, I don't play guitar.  Unless your instrument is the triangle or you happen to be this guy, musicians generally have mojo to spare.

At one time, though, I did have a modicum of mojo.  You may counter that there is no such thing as 'blogger mojo,' but I disagree.  I have fun with this medium, and I daresay that Stabbone and McGraw has been better than the average blog (read: didn't quit writing it after 2 posts) since my idiot brother and I started this business back in 2007 with nothing but a dream, two laptops and a sizable grant from the NEA.  For five years McBone has kept my juices flowing.  You, gentle McBoners, have patiently indulged me.

Lately, though, you can hear the crickets chirp.  While it's true that I:

a) have a kid now,


b) have two jobs now (surprise, coworkers!),

I cannot say that those are the only reasons why my work here has declined in quantity and quality.  Yes, time is in short supply, but these days just beginning a post seems a monumental task.  I'm not lacking in ideas, really, just steam.

I'm not given to depression, but this is depressing the hell out of me.

I could stop fretting and call it a day, I suppose.  After all, it's just a blog.  Roughly 0 people would notice if I up and quit.  But I don't want to stop writing this thing, and anyway that wouldn't help.  I need an outlet, so instead of bitching about the McBone's decline and fall, I'm going to try and find some energy.  I won't get back to 10-15 posts a month anytime soon, but what I can do is write a little every day.  I'd be fine with that.

So there you have it.  We're making a comeback of sorts.  Rising from the ashes.  I don't know how this initiative will affect my output, but 15-20 minutes a day of creative exercise will do wonders for my mental well being.

As ever, we remain committed to:

Cleveland sports
Liberal politics
The eradication of mayonnaise

I will close by saying I regret my previous comment regarding triangle players and humbly withdraw it.  Triangle players have crazy mojo.

You still suck, Kenny G.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Trials and Tribulations of a Cavaliers Fan....

Today, Sunday, June 24th brings with it a brand new reality for Cleveland Cavalier fans and the people of Northeast Ohio.  Our former hero and sports "savior" has now won an NBA championship for the Miami Heat.  Crazy right? The guy we thought would finally take one of our teams to the promise land instead left his hometown to take his talents to South Beach. The city of Cleveland has more die hard sports fans living in any given apartment complex downtown than Miami has in 300 square miles surrounding the city.  The last nine years and our journey with Lebron still almost seem surreal.  I can't even begin to imagine all the different emotions and feelings running through the hearts and minds of Clevelanders the last couple days.  There are a lot of opinions I'm hearing that I don't agree with, but I would never be obtuse enough to think that everyone is going to react the same way. We are all entitled to express our opinions however the hell we want, especially based on what has transpired the last couple years.  But today I need to make sure that I at least have the opportunity to put down in writing the way that I feel.

I've thought about it for the last two years how I would react when Lebron won a title for another team, for another city.  As I, like many, knew that it was inevitable. There is no question that my feelings have changed as each month passed after "The Decision".  Sometimes you are so blinded by anger, frustration and the feeling of abandonment that you can't clearly express your emotions. That was certainly the case for me anyway.  I think about how my dad and brother are feeling; both having lived through more years of Cleveland frustration than I, and what this means for them.  In Nate's case I am fairly certain that there is still not an ounce of him that does not want to knock Lebron on his ass, and I'm sure that he woke up on Friday morning with a sick feeling in his stomach.  My dad, on the other hand, I believe has secretly taken solace in watching Lebron perform at the level he did, and finally winning a title.  One thing is for certain, despite the performance of LBJ, all three of us are completely disgusted that the Miami Heat as a team have won another title, and the Cavaliers are once again still searching for the answers.

For me personally it is very difficult to put into words the way that I feel at this moment, and really what the last nine years of this saga have meant.  It started with Lebron coming to Cleveland and bringing an excitement to the Wine and Gold that will probably not be replicated again until we win a title, if ever. From the 03-04 season to the 10-11 season the Cavaliers gave me the best seven years of my life as a Cleveland sports fan.  The Q was packed every single night with 20,562 screaming fans creating the best home court advantage in the NBA. We built a team that was eventually rolling over the competition consistently during the regular season.  Downtown and the buzz around the Cavaliers was so electric that it became difficult to think about anything else.  You couldn't miss a game, and when they had off days you wished they were playing. The offseason seemed like it lasted for a year. All I wanted to do was watch Cavaliers basketball.  It was so special to be a part of and to see the people of Cleveland able to take so much pride in one of our sports teams.  Some of the best memories of my life with my friends and family are a direct result of those seven years.  It was an incredible journey that I will never forget.

Professionally I started my career with the Cavaliers organization in 2007, just as we were laying the foundation as the preeminent force in the Eastern conference.  The team's success was a huge contributing factor to the birth of the Lake Erie Monsters and professional hockey returning to downtown Cleveland.  I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that Lebron had a direct impact on my life and my ability to achieve my professional goals.  Would the Monsters even be here?  Probably not because Dan Gilbert would have never purchased the Cavs.  The Cavaliers, in fact, probably would no longer be in Cleveland, but that is an entirely separate discussion.  Our business flourished in those years and my opportunities to advance were in part due to that success.  Don't get me wrong, I would have been successful no matter where my career path had taken me, but I was getting to do it all in the city that I loved.  I am fulfilling my lifelong professional goals in Cleveland, the city that I have always dreamed that I would live and work. 

My friends will point directly to my very clear bias for Cleveland, and especially the Cavaliers; but I always believed very strongly that Lebron was going to be the greatest player in history.  His skill set is one that has never been seen before in the NBA and may never again.  Certainly there may be players that come along that will be in the "greatest of all time" conversations, but I don't think there will ever be another player that is able to do what he does on a basketball court.  I was also always optimistic that he would be here for his entire career. My optimism, admittedly, has been misguided at times.  Until the very seconds before the Chosen One announced to the world that he was leaving, I still believed with all of my heart that he would stay.  I wanted so badly for it to be true that I simply ignored the writing on the walls.  It was a blow like nothing I have ever experienced in my life as a sports fan, but despite all of that I was still quietly hoping Lebron would play well throughout the 2012 playoffs....

Surprised?  I would venture to say that is probably not the most common or popular stance from Clevelanders. For years I defended LBJ against the critics who first said they he wasn't a good shooter, than they said he wasn't a great defender, than he wasn't a so called "clutch" player.  The list was endless of people who made a living analyzing Lebron's game, and trying to find any semblance of a weakness.  Never before in my lifetime has a superstar been under the microscope like he has been.  God forbid someone actually become a better player than Michael Jordan.  So yes, he left Cleveland, but how could I then so hypocritically flip to the other side and criticize him for the exact same things I so passionately argued against?  That answer is simple, I couldn't.  It drove me crazy to hear the same people who cheered him on with every fiber of their being now calling LBJ "LeBum" or "LeChoke".  What a complete joke. The fact of the matter is Lebron can shoot, he can pass, he can rebound, he is (and always has been) a clutch player, he is the best defender in the NBA, and he is probably the most unselfish superstar I have ever seen in any sport.  He did all of that here, and he just continued to do those same things in Miami.  He has improved every year since he became a pro.  Undeniably. 

I can't stand the Miami Heat.  I hate the Oklahoma City Thunder.  I had absolutely no vested interest in who won this NBA title, because the Cavaliers were not competing for it.  It was a lose lose situation as it always is if my team is not competing in the championship.  However, the notion that Clevelanders were adopting the opposing teams playing Lebron in the finals just to spite him made me sick to my stomach.  Not because they were cheering against him specifically, but because they were actually passionately supporting another team.  I was shocked to walk into bars and hear roars from the patrons as if they were watching the Wine and Gold playing for the Larry O'Brien trophy.  The "Mavaliers" and "OKCLE" slogans in my eyes are a complete embarrassment.  I will never understand how any self respecting Cleveland fan could put on a shirt in OKC colors and with those stupid tag lines.  I can wrap my head around rooting against Lebron, but not for another team altogether.  I am still mad at Lebron for the way he left, and at the NBA for allowing "The Team-Up" to happen.  In my mind, however, he did what many others would have done.  He went to play with two of his friends who just happened to be two of the best players in the NBA, and did it legitimately under the NBA rules, (which by the way have since been changed to prevent this).  Unfortunately he broke the hearts of his hometown, in which I will never fully forgive him for, but I blame the NBA just as much for creating a system where this was possible.

I suppose none of that is really the point.  The point is that despite everything, during these playoffs I found myself hoping that Lebron's jump shots would go in, and that his passes would be finished by his teammates.  I honestly tried not to but it became sickening to hear the constant misplaced criticism. I was so unwaveringly certain that Lebron could and can do anything that he wants on a basketball court. Selfishly I wanted him to prove to the world what I had always thought about him. It was only a matter of time before he won an NBA title, and now he has.  Unfortunately it had to be in Miami when I am equally as certain he could have done it here. He is a freak of nature and I'm fortunate to have watched one of the best of all time play for my team for seven amazing years.  Of course I wish it would have been more, but it wasn't.  That ship has sailed.

I have one more thought before my "move on" statement because there is something else that has driven me crazy. All of the people that have just been sitting and waiting to send a message to Dan Gilbert.  It just seems sad that for two years there are people that just couldn't wait to send him a tweet saying, "Hey Dan, how did winning a title before Lebron work out?"  Dan Gilbert sent a message to the world in an impassioned moment showing how much he cared about the Cavaliers and the city of Cleveland.  None of us can even begin to comprehend what he was going through as that moment.  DG was the principle owner of a franchise that  he had invested millions of his own dollars to try and bring this city what it wants most in this world.  At that moment that goal took an enormous step backward, and it happened in a unimaginable way.  Was it worth it? What satisfaction did it give you to throw something back in his face that he said under unbelievable personal and professional adversity?  The amazing part is that many of these people were from Cleveland!  What the hell?!? As if we wouldn't all be screwed if people recorded the things we said under similar circumstances and threw them back in our faces. Anyway Dan, I've said it before, but I'll say it again.  I am very proud to work for a man that is as invested and passionate about downtown Cleveland as many who were born here.  I am even more excited to have someone in our city that is not afraid to lay it all on the line and who wears his heart on his sleeve.  All in the interest of helping this amazing city reach its potential.  Thank you.

The reality is Lebron is a champion and there is nothing any of us can to do to change that.  He had one of the greatest sustained playoff performances in history from round one through the NBA Finals.  He carried yet another team on his back.  My hope for Clevelanders is that they can see what the best part is of all that has transpired. IT DOESN'T FREAKING MATTER. There is absolutely not one thing about any of this that has any relevance whatsoever to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lebron plays for the Miami Heat now.  Until we play them in the playoffs it has absolutely no significance to us as Cavalier fans.  There are so many amazing things happening right here, right now in our city and I'm not just talking about our sports teams.  Why in the world would we continue to expend so much energy hating when there is so much to be excited for here.  We are going to win a championship.  We are and it will be very soon.  I am not asking anyone to stop hating LBJ, as everyone is entitled to feel and react however they would like. I'm also realistic and I know that people will continue to go out of there way to criticize him. All I am asking is to reinvest some of that energy into the incredible things happening right in front of your eyes.  And to be prepared to one day ask yourself a question.  With all of the hatred, all of the bashing, if Lebron does in fact decide to come back to Cleveland one day, will you love him as you once did?

Because if he does play for this team again it will mean not one, not two, not three..........


The O Word

A few days ago my mother said the 'O'-word to an employee at the athletic club she belongs to.  The woman's response?  'Obama is a Muslim.'

And on and on it goes, this perfect alloy of ignorance and stupidity when it comes to our president.  But then it's more than just ignorance, isn't it?  And it's more than stupidity.  Oh yeah, we know what she really meant.  Muslim is just one of the polite ways people are calling Obama a n----r these days.  Here's some more:

Illegal alien
Chief Wahoo*

They all mean the same thing, and in that context they are equally vile.  Leading up to the election of 2008, John McCain, with no shortage of exasperation, ordered his supporters to knock it off.  McCain was running for president.  He was taking it seriously.  He wanted to talk policy, but he was surrounded by people with tapioca for brains.

And here we are--2012, and still we see Obama posters with postage-stamp moustaches.  Mitt Romney, does it bother you that these votes are coming your way?  Don't they smell kind of funny?  Don't they embarrass the hell out of you?  They should.  Why not do something about it?  Start by telling our Birther-in-Chief to shut the fuck up.


*OK not really

Saturday, June 23, 2012

On Jerry Sandusky

Just the idea of someone hurting my boy makes me want to believe in hell.

Jerry Sandusky, there is not enough misery and pain in the world to sufficiently punish you with.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Stay Classy, Ivy Tech Community College Smokers

I understand that smokers must feel increasingly marginalized as the spaces in which it is acceptable to light up shrink daily, but come on, smokers of Ivy Tech Community College:

The edge of Ivy Tech's non-smoking campus.

One foot outside the non-smoking campus.

Defile yourselves if you must, but throw your billion fucking butts in a container.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Amendment II Switcheroo

Last week our friends at Idle Musings got us thinking about guns and gun control and those who would literally rather die than give up their firearms (and wear toupees rather than give up their youth).  As I read the excellent post, I started wondering, what if it was the other way around?  What if the 2nd Amendment forbade us to keep and bear arms?  Would that make any difference at all?  Would all the star-spangled patriots out there rally to the cause of gun control?  Would Trayvon Martin still be alive if our Constitution prohibited George Zimmerman from owning a handgun?

I doubt it.  Because, for all their noise, I don't think NRA types give two shits what the Constitution says.  Hell, they're already ignoring it.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Ever notice how they sort of skirt around the 'well regulated Militia' part?  That seems like a pretty significant condition for gun ownership to me.  I don't think I know anyone in a militia (aside from our Poet Laureate), and I know TONS of people (37 facebook friends and counting).  Oh, and have you ever noticed how the very idea of regulation gets the gun lobby foaming at the mouth?  No, I don't think it would make much of a difference at all, except that, in that my Bizarro version of America, where people are proud to pay taxes, Cleveland always wins and the Constitution prohibits citizens from owning guns, I'd be the one pointing to Amendment II, while they would be the ones deconstructing it, searching for loopholes, finding them and, ultimately, getting their guns.  Or else they'd just own them illegally.  Either way, Trayvon Martin dies.

So I won't entertain the hope that guns will go away, but I could do without the rhetoric.  I wish the gun nuts would stop pretending that weapons are somehow good for us.  I wish they would ditch their silly justifications and admit that they love guns for the same reason babies love to bang pots and pans together.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

O, What a Difference a Day Makes

Remember how I was complaining about yesterday being total shit?

Exact opposite today.

Obama 2012!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Recap: Shittiest Day Ever

Today was one shitty day.  Epically shitty.  Let's recap, in order of shittiness.

1) Maurice Sendak dies.  There will never be another like him, and 82 earthly years was far too short a duration for such endless, otherworldly imagination.

2) North Carolina voters ban gay marriage.  Someday the US Supreme Court will take this decision out of the hands of ignorant, imbecilic  voters.

3) Richard Lugar loses his primary challenge to Tea Party-backed Richard Mourdock.  I did something today that I never did before and will likely never do again: I cast a vote for a Republican.  Yes, I voted for Richard Lugar, which felt a bit like five minutes swimming through bilge-water, but also reminded me fondly of when I was a Republican for a month.  I did it because Richard Lugar is one of the few remaining Republican legislators not guided by raging hysteria and blind obstinacy.  I did it in the name of compromise.  And I did it because I just can't abide this new breed of conservative, who touts his brand of patriotism as supreme and won't stop waving the constitution in our faces, as if to say 'if you'd just read it, you might actually get it.'

4) We spent about 10 hours cleaning this godforsaken house, and it's still a freaking mess.

So that's it.  Five minutes to go for May 8th, 2012.  When I get the Delorean up and running, remind me not to revisit this goddam shitty-ass day ever again.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Glory on the Floor

Fellow Akronites, Firestone High School Grads, McBoners one and all!

One of our missions here at McBone is to support our friends and family in their creative endeavors.  My old high school pal and cross-country teammate (State Champs in 1991, as I recall...) Kim and her collaborator Brian (alas, not from Akron), who together form the musical duo Glory on the Floor, are raising funds for the launch of their debut album, Asheville Skyline.  Like folk?  Bluegrass?  Country?  Blues?  Anything with an upright bass?  So do we!  Take a listen, and you'll hear why we're stamping it most emphatically with the McBone Seal of Approval:

Making it as a musician is a struggle.  Travel, production and promotion add up.  But music is among the worthiest of struggles, so won't you make a modest donation in support of this project?  The drive ends Sunday, Apr 29 at 12:01 AM, and they are nearing their goal.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Peanut Butter and Folly

I accidentally bought 'low fat' peanut butter last weekend.

Just a mental lapse, but, good god, what a mistake!  And good god, what the fuck is wrong with us?

The peanut butter I like to spread on my toast contains but two ingredients:

Peanuts, salt.

Yes, the time needed to stir together the separated contents is like eleven seconds in hell, but the simple, delightful taste of roasted peanuts and salt and perhaps a drizzle of honey makes the chore worthwhile.

This peanut butter, if it can be called that, checks in at 17 ingredients:

Peanuts, corn syrup solids, sugar, soy protein, salt, fully hydrogenated vegetable oil (rapeseed and soybean), mono and diglycerides, molasses, magnesium oxide, niacinamide, ferric orthophospate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, folic acid, pyridoxine, hydrochloride.

That's a healthy alternative?  I mean, what the fuck is half that stuff?

And there's still 12 grams of fat per serving to go with the chemical infusion.

Oh, and can we talk about the taste?  Since when is peanut butter supposed to have metallic undertones?  Have you ever tasted a penny?  I'm not crazy about the aftertaste either, for the same reason I don't care for a mouthful of drywall.

Honestly, JM Smucker Company, isn't it better to keep things simple?  And come on, people, just buy the regular stuff.  The peanut butter isn't hurting you.  Seriously, it's the tacos made of Doritos with a side of no exercise.

I have to believe George Washington Carver dies another death every time a jar of this shit is opened.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Five Magical Seasons - Just The Beginning

Our first five years are in the books, but I can assure you that this is just the beginning. The Lake Erie Monsters have built a franchise in Cleveland that is going to have a lasting impact on our community for years to come.  We are going to be an institution in this city and one of the marque entertainment options for people in Northeast Ohio that are looking to come downtown.

We've won awards in professional sports for our in game entertainment.  We've grown our attendance every single year since we started.  Five years ago it was "Who are the Lake Erie Monsters" and now it is "Have you heard how much fun the Monsters games are?"

I'm sure there are many out there that still question who we are and what we are about.  To those of you in that category I challenge you. Call me personally, any time, and I'll bring you out to a game.  You will not be disappointed.  I am a die hard, lifelong, Cleveland Cavaliers, Browns and Indians fan, but as I've mentioned there is something very special, something very different about coming to a Monsters game.  Five years ago I couldn't have cared less about hockey and I had no interest in going to a game.  But once you see this sport in person, and you feel the emotion and energy of the Monsters brand, you will wonder why you haven't been coming to these games since the beginning.

 For me the last five years have meant so much more than wins and losses, sports, and far more than all the accolades and accomplishments that we have achieved.  It has been about the journey.  It has been about all those countless hours that our team has spent busting our asses to move this business forward, an inch at a time.  It has been about all the times where we had to take two steps back to take one step forward.  The two hour meetings where some of us left dejected, frustrated, crying, and wondering how we could possibly accomplish the goals we were tasked with.  It has been about building a culture that makes this one of the most enjoyable and rewarding places to work anywhere in the world. A group of people that truly believe in each other, and believe in the vision of our organization.

We've made a lot of mistakes along the way.  I've certainly made my fair share personally. But there is not a single thing that I regret or would take back if I had the chance.  Success can't happen without first experiencing failure.

I will never be able to put into words how much this organization has meant to me personally. How much the people on my team have impacted my personal and professional life.  When you wake up in the morning you can only hope that you are driven to give everything you have for the people you work for.  I have been fortunate enough to feel that way every single day since April 1st of 2007.  No matter where my path ahead leads no one can ever take away from us what we have been able to accomplish. The tattoo I have represents all of this. It represents the journey we have all gone through together, our history and our future.  An ambigram that reads Cleveland one way and Monsters the other.  A perfect blend of the two things that have meant so much to me in my life.

To My Monsters Family - The memories, relationships, the battles, and our live first, ask questions later way of life will always be our bond.  The Clevelander, the staff trips, milestone achievements, underdog mentality, our passion, and our obsession with building our brand are why that once you are a Monster, you will always be a Monster. 
We will never except anything other than becoming a success in this city.  If you bet against us, you will lose.  Every doubter, every article that says we won't make it only fuels our fire.  So please, go ahead.  Tell us hockey won't make it in Cleveland.  I dare you.

- jab

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Five Magical Seasons Cont'

It didn't take me but two or three weeks after my first day to realize that I was exactly where I belonged. I was in a place where amazing things were going to happen and I felt perfectly at home, even if I didn't know the first thing about hockey.  It is a little strange right?

You see there is something very unique about the Monsters and the people that work for our team. There is a undeniable bond that permanently ties us all together.  It creates an environment with energy permeating from the walls, and passion pouring out of the people that work within them.  Our culture is one that manifests itself in the successes that we have accomplished together. We're a team, from top to bottom, which is the only way we know how to be.  We achieve success individually only through the achievements of our team as a whole.  We love each other, plain and simple.  That doesn't mean we're all best friends, but we have a profound respect for what we all have to go through every day to have success. That is how I knew so quickly I was in the right place.  And even though we had crazy challenges in front of us, we were going to make magical things happen inside Quicken Loans Arena and in the Cleveland community.

How does it happen?  Could it be great leadership?  You better believe it. Since the day we started we've had leaders running this business that cared just as much about the success of our team, as they did of themselves in their personal careers.  But that isn't everything.  Could it also be talented team members?  there is no question about it. None of our accomplishments would have even been remotely possible if we didn't have some of the best in the business working for us. But again, there is just more to it.  There is something else that has driven this franchise to successes that most in Cleveland thought were impossible, just a pipe dream of a rich owner with money to spend.  It is a really difficult theory to articulate, but I'll do my best..... 

You'd think in a town full of such passionate people that a new team, albeit hockey, could attract some of that undying love from the people for their sports teams.  But we're "minor league".  We're not the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Cleveland Browns or the Cleveland Indians.  We never will be.  Those teams have been here for decades and have an unbelievably loyal following in this region.  A group that is unwavering in their support of the home town teams. It's one of the things I love about this city.  Thick and thin, win or lose, we are all connected through the support we show our teams. The Monsters could never possible crack into that category, right? We're minor league, in a major league town, and we're a hockey team.  Undoubtedly the least popular sport of the four majors.  (Aside from all you die hards! You know who you are.  I know how much you guys love this sport!)

Let's talk about a couple more things working against us. The Monsters resided in a building where the mother ship was and always will be the Cleveland Cavaliers.  At that time there was not a more popular team in town.  Sorry Browns fans, it is true.  Lebron James and the Cavs packed the house with 20,562 fans night in and night out.  Our staff and front office were focused on capitalizing on every single ounce of energy that followed this team during the Lebron era, and trying to make our business the best it could be.  Along with, of course, trying to win a championship.  So how the hell were the Monsters going to get any attention in a town where there are three beloved sports teams, and one with an otherworldly superstar who dominated the headlines every single day?  Well the answer was simple, we didn't.  Not even really in our own building, and not even from some of our own team members that weren't working directly on the Monsters team. (No names, please).  At least not at first.

So guess what?  It just might be that we all quickly developed a, "small", chip on our shoulders about doing everything in our power to grow this franchise. You could even probably call it a complex.  Maybe we feel like we are on a mission to prove every single doubter wrong about how successful a minor league hockey team could be in Cleveland.  Maybe since our opening night on Saturday, October, 2007, we've expended every last ounce of energy we had in our bodies to build this team into what it is today?

None of those things are a maybe......

Every single time from the day we started this thing that someone has doubted us, we have used that as fuel.  Honestly we didn't give a damn whether or not people thought we could make this work.  We've heard it all before.  In fact, just to give you an idea, here are some of my favorites that we heard repeatedly:

"Hockey has no chance to succeed in Cleveland"
"You're minor league, I'm not interested in minor league sports"
"Call when we get the NHL"
"Who are the Lake Erie Monsters"
"I have no interest in hockey"
"I went to a hockey game in Cleveland in 2005, there were 500 people in the stands, no thanks"
"This is a three horse town, and we don't have a racetrack so their is no room for a fourth" (actually I just made this one up but I wish someone would have said it!)

Well....Five years later and it is difficult for me to sum up what we've been able to accomplish, but these statistics should give you an idea.

Year One - We finished 11th in attendance.  Our first year.  Expansion franchise. 
Year Two - We finished 9th in attendance.  Already a sign of growth after only one year
Year Three - We finished 6th in attendance.  Still doubting us?  Good.  Keep it coming.
Year Four - We finished 6th again. Leveling off?  I don't think so. We fought through a year where our entire leadership team changed, and our business still grew.
Year Five - WE FINISHED 3RD IN ATTENDANCE.  That's right. 3rd.  Guess what our goal is?

Just for a little perspective, there are 30 teams in the American Hockey League. Some having been in operation for 60 or 70 years. We routinely have crowds of 10 to 12 thousand.  Sometimes I look at those numbers and I don't even believe them myself.  How did we possible make this happen? 

Belief.  We never for one second had doubts on whether or not we were going to make it happen.  Man did we go through stretches where it was tough.  I can remember distinctly walking out into the bowl in our first year and there were probably 1,500 bodies in the building.  I said to myself, what is going on? What are people going to think?  But we just kept driving.  Along the way we fought each other, sent nasty emails, yelled at each other in conference rooms, but all the while we maintained our focus on the goal.  To be the best AHL franchise in the league, and have one of the best organizations anywhere in sports.  At any level.  That belief is what carried us through all the adversity we have faced.

It is what has allowed us to become an integral part of the community. We donate thousands of tickets back every year so that the less fortunate can come out to a game and take their mind off every day life. Our players and front office make hundreds of visits out in Northeast Ohio every year to try and give back to the community that gives so much to us. It's not just about selling tickets for us. It is about building something special in Cleveland that we can all be proud of, and something we can all have pride in. A place where you can create memories with the people that mean the most to you, and not have to break the bank to do it. An environment that you can come to just sit back and have fun. Novel concept right? A sports team that allows people to simply enjoy life spending time with their friends, family or coworkers.

I could write for days, and pages upon pages about everything that has happened over the last five years. But I'll spare you the painful details, and I can assure you, they were painful....
A short (I promise) conclusion coming tomorrow......