Archive for November, 2007

The Captain Says Bah Humbug

In as much as I’ve usually enjoyed Thanksgiving throughout the years, I have pretty much always disliked this particular week of the year.  Originally the week after Thanksgiving used to be the biggest “oh shit” moment of the year during my school days.  I’d come back to school after a weekend of vegging out to find myself light-years behind in all of my classes.  Finals were now a mere two weeks away and I’d inevitably have 5 long papers due that I had not started.  The week after Thanksgiving was the start of three to four weeks of cramming and stressing out.

I’ve been out of school for two years now and yet I find myself dreading this week just as much.  Only now, I’m dreading the ever increasing onslaught of Christmas.  Maybe I’m getting cynical at the ripe old age of 29, but it seems that every year people make a bigger and bigger deal out of Christmas for no reason.  I’m not opposed to the idea of Christmas, but I find myself ever increasingly opposed to what it has become lately.

By this I am not referring to the popular assumption that “Religion has been removed from Christmas.”1 I’m not trying to offend anyone here, I’m simply trying to point out that the

religious aspect is not what I see as the problem.  The way I see it, the two biggest problems with what Christmas has become are:

  1. The rampant consumerism that takes place at Christmas.
  2. The watered-down pop culture drivel that is released this time of year.

The unbridled consumerism of Christmas has reached epidemic proportions lately.  Never mind that stores replace their Halloween displays with Christmas displays on November 1st.  What bothers me is the constant push towards shopping.  The original idea of “BlackFriday” always seemed silly to me.  Waking up early the day after Thanksgiving to stand in line for hours to go shopping seemed like a giant waste of time.  Also, the idea of ditching your family to spend time buying them gifts they don’t need seemed to be counterproductive at best to me.  That was bad enough, but this year all the news was about “Cyber Monday.”  Now the message has become “come to work on the Monday after a four day weekend and keep on shopping.”  This is ridiculous.

While this fanatical consumerism bothers me, at least I have the option of not participating in the madness.  However, it is not possible for me to avoid all of the Christmas nonsense that is produced every year.   December has become an all consuming force on the cultural landscape.  While I don’t really like it, I’ve gotten used to the idea of 24 hour all-Christmas radio station and the same crappy movies over and over on television.  I understand that some people get nostalgic this time of year and actually enjoy hearing the same 50-75 songs on the radio, at every store, and every other place with a speaker.  What really bothers me is how much new-yet-completely-unoriginal crap comes out every year.  Every two-bit singer now puts out a shitty Christmas CD , and every washed up actor and two-bit comic hack now put out a shitty Christmas film .

The lack of originality in modern Christmas makes me dread the holidays every year, and the week after Thanksgiving is when the dread really sinks in fully.  At least when I was in school, I was too busy studying to pay much attention!

Ok, I’m done with my soapbox for now.  Gotta mention two quick things.  First, how the hell is Mizzou ranked #1 in college football? Up until last year, I couldn’t give two shits about college football.  Watching college football seemed like the equivalent of watching minor league baseball to me.  Well, moving down to Florida last year brought with it a crash course in college football.  It’s the only sport people give a shit about down here.  Since moving to Tallahassee every sports conversation I’ve heard either involves:

  1. The Florida Gators
  2. The Georgia Bulldogs
  3. The Florida State Seminoles2

I’ve generally steered clear of these conversations.  The numerous times I’ve been asked who I cheer for I’ve given the same stock answer, “I don’t have a dog in the race.”  Thanks to Mizzou, I finally have a team to cheer.  Go Missouri!  Our team is number one, and we don’t even care about college football!

Finally, after all the bitching I did earlier about rampant consumerism let me be a huge hypocrite and tell you how much I love the new bar cabinet.  This is the most excited I’ve ever been about a piece of furniture.  I spent hours on Thanksgiving arranging the booze and booze related items inside this gorgeous beast.  Here’s a pic of my new best friend with our Thanksgiving feast on top.

Now that I have a proper wine cabinet, let me take this opportunity to raise my glass of wine and say cheers to all of my family and friends this Christmas season.  May it be more pleasant than I make it out to be.

Cheers,

The Captain

1  Christmas never struck me as a particularly religious holiday, I’d say quasi-religious as best.

2  Which are referred to as “The ‘Noles” in Tallahassee.  Seeing the words “Go Noles” on the back of sweatpants is beyond comical to me.

The Captain Gives Thanks

A list of things that I am grateful for, with a few things I could do without.

Today is the day before Turkey Day and I am feeling particularly appreciative this year.  So in the spirit of Thanksgiving I have prepared a list of things that I am grateful for (and a couple of things that don’t put me in the spirit of giving.)  I have phrased my responses as “Ach, Ja” if the subject is good, and “Nicht, Nicht” if the subject is bad.  If you don’t understand the joke to which I am referring, watch this clip:

Anyway, without further ado here is my list.

My Metabolism – Ach, Ja

I came back from my honeymoon and noticed that I somehow managed not to gain any weight.  This is pretty amazing considering my poor diet and lack of movement during the two weeks I was gone for the wedding/honeymoon.  I hope that my metabolism continues to stay strong; Turkey Day traditionally hits me pretty hard.

Boating – Ach, Ja

Two weekends ago I took a boat out by myself in Destin, and last weekend we took a boat out in Sarasota while we were in town for Megan’s birthday.  Both times I had an absolutely fantastic afternoon.  I would spend everyday on a boat in the gulf if I could; it’s equal parts relaxation and excitement.  The past two times I was out, I had a ton of wild dolphin sightings.  In Sarasota I actually saw a dolphin jump out of the water twice like it was performing at Sea World!  In Destin a group of 6-10 dolphins swam under my boat for about 20 minutes.  They were so close I snapped a couple of pictures on my camera with no zoom.  Dolphins make an already enjoyable activity like boating simple amazing.  Here are a couple of pics I took.

Davely Bob’s Song of the Day – Ach, Ja

My No-Co homey and fellow Coffee Den alumni Davely Bob started sending out a song-of-the-day email about a month ago.   It is fantastic, the highlight of my work day.  He’s introduced me to some new music, and reminded me of bands that I had forgotten.  Davely Bob just finished up the second disc, so now is the perfect time for anyone interested to email him at davelybob@hotmail.com and get on the distribution list for disc three.

The Trailer for There Will Be Blood – Ach, Ja

I have watched this trailer at least twenty times; I’m already obsessed.  I’ve loved the director, P.T. Anderson, since the first time I saw Boogie Nights.  Anderson directing Daniel Day-Lewis with a score by the guitar player in Radiohead sounds like a dream to me.  I haven’t been this excited about a movie in quite a while.

The Writers Strike – Nicht, Nicht

Just as television was starting to get good again, the greedy corporations that own the networks felt the need to ruin everything.  Writers are about as reasonable as a group of people can be, and they justifiably went on strike.  The portion of revenue that writers get from DVD sales is laughable, but it is generous when compared to the 0% share of revenue they receive from streaming content online.  The fact that the corporate network owners are unwilling to give writers a reasonable share of this revenue is ridiculous.  The corporations allowing network programs to shut down over this issue is beyond ridiculous.  Supporting the writers as they strike against this unbelievable corporate greed should be a no-brainer for everyone.

Zombies – Ach, Ja

I’ve been on a big zombie kick lately for some unknown reason.  The last movie I watched was about zombies and so is the book I’m currently reading.  Zombies have traditionally been Bill’s thing, but I’ve been slowly gravitating towards them for awhile now.  I find the idea of zombies truly terrifying; a faceless sea of humanity literally trying to consume itself.  However, it’s the story of how mankind reacts to the threat that I find most interesting.  Well, that and zombies getting their heads blown off.

The Tepr remix of Yelle’s “ACDG” – Ach, Ja

This video is currently my favorite piece of pop-culture.  It somehow manages to combine three notoriously terrible things, French singers, European house music, and Eastern-European style, and creates something truly mesmerizing.

Florida Drivers – Nicht, Nicht

St. Louis is known to have some pretty aggressive drivers.  Florida has the exact opposite.  The slow and timid nature of Florida drivers recently caused me damage.  I was sitting in the right hand lane at a stop light waiting for the car in front of me to take a right turn on to a busy street.  After a couple minutes of heavy traffic, a pocket clears up and I prepare to make my right turn after the car in front of me turns.  Just as we both accelerate to make the turn, the driver in front of me decides to slam on her brakes and my car bounces off the back bumper of her SUV.  Apparently she saw a car way off in the horizon and incorrectly concluded that she didn’t have enough time to turn.  She made this decision at the last possible second while attempting to turn, which was way too late for me to stop.  I hit her as a result of her unreasonable timid ness, and yet it’s my fault.  Luckily for her, my little plastic car didn’t do any damage to her.  Unluckily for me, my hood now has a huge dent

My car still drives fine, and I didn’t have to submit it to my insurance company.  So I guess it could be worse.  Still, my car now looks like shit.  I hate Florida drivers; this would never happen in St. Louis.

Larry David – Ach, Ja

As a fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm, I was quite worried when I heard the news that Larry split with his wife before season 6 started in September.  I figured the show would take a bitter turn1 and loose its appeal.

I was flat wrong.  This season dealt with the split in a hilarious way and wound up being one of my favorites.  The season finale was by far the best episode; the last two minutes are a comedy goldmine.  I sure hope being single keeps him bored enough to make several more seasons.

The Bar Cabinet – Ach, Ja

Megan and I have had our eye on a specific bar cabinet for a couple of years.  It’s big, beautiful, and makes storing alcohol seem glamorous.  After years of dreaming about this cabinet, it will be greeting me when I go home tonite.  Megan’s parents are driving down to Tallahassee to spend Turkey Day with us, and they are bringing our newly purchased bar cabinet with her.  This specific act of kindness makes them the coolest in-laws ever.  I’m so excited about this bar cabinet that I’ve contemplated sleeping next to it tonite.

And Finally, Shortcake – A big Ach, Ja

Shortcake is a blog that I’ve been reading since the beginning of the year.  This blog was a big inspiration for my return to writing.  It reminded me of all of the things that I enjoy about writing.  When it came time to create my new blog, I basically stole Shortcake’s format2 and put my spin on it.

I want to give credit where credit is due, so a big-up to Shortcake.  Imitation is flattery.

That’s it for round one of Ach, Ja and Nicht Nicht.  Hope everyone has a happy Turkey Day.

Ciao,

Raoul

1  Well, more bitter than usual…

2  In fact this column is just a rip-off of “Champs and Chumps” from Shortcake.

The Captain Sets Sail for the Caribbean

So it’s the Monday after the wedding and Megan and I have just checked out of our room.  Our luggage is packed, the car is loaded and we are headed for the airport to leave for our Caribbean honeymoon.  We are having a discussion about how the entire wedding weekend went off without a hitch.  In the middle of this conversation it occurs to me that I didn’t pack our passports.  I quickly discovered that Megan didn’t pack them either.  This is a problem.  Our passports are a 7 hour drive away, and our flight leaves in 5 hours.  This is a major problem.

Our honeymoon didn’t start out well.  We had to drive back to Tallahassee to get the passports, rearrange our flight schedule, and leave for the airport at 3:30 in the morning on Tuesday.  After a 5 hour layover in San Juan, we arrived in St. Lucia 6 hours after our original scheduled arrival.  Despite the ominous beginning, the rest of the honeymoon was smooth sailing.  Our 6 days on a tropical island were everything I hoped and more.

St. Lucia is in the southern part of the Caribbean and is a typical tourism focused island.  I was fascinated by everything I saw, the immense beauty surrounded by immense poverty.  The only other time I had left the North American continent was to travel to Hawaii, which is still the U.S.  The closest experience I’d previously had was visiting border towns in Mexico, but I still knew I was only a few miles away from America.  For the first time in my life I could actually feel what it was like to be away from the comforts and safety of America and it was actually quite refreshing.

The first three nites and days were spent at the Sandals Regency , an all inclusive beachfront resort.  After the hustle and bustle of the wedding, we wanted a nice relaxing couple of days with minimal thought and effort on our part.  Sandals had this in abundance.  All the restaurants and bars are free inside the resort, and the wait staff is not allowed to accept tips.  This was both good and bad.  Free bars are pretty friggin’ sweet, especially when they’re in the middle of the pools like this

The down side was the food.  The quality was mediocre, the portions were small, and the service was wicked slow.  Eventually we learned that the nacho bar was a better bet than the fancy restaurants and life was good.  Besides eating and drinking, we spent most of our time lounging at the beaches and the pools.

The beaches were gorgeous

The views were scenic

The pools were gigantic

And the bars were nearby!

We enjoyed our time at Sandals, but by the third day we had grown a bit restless.  Megan and I generally gravitate toward less populated areas, and Sandals was packed with honeymooners.  Knowing our love for exploring ahead of time, Megan found a small resort on top of a mountain and booked us for two nites.  This was by far the highlight of the honeymoon.  It began with an adventurous trip between resorts.

As you might imagine, the roads on a mountainous island are rather curvy.  I was expecting some tight turns, but this far exceeded my expectations.  Corkscrew roads, villages full of shacks, driving on the left and million dollar views added up to a hypnotic journey.  We were quite turned around by the time we arrived at Ladera , our mountain resort.  This left us unprepared for the magnificent view.  A frozen drink later and we felt right at home

Ladera consists of 20 villas, a bar and a restaurant built into the side of a mountain.  The resort lays in-between two tall mountains and overlooks the ocean.  It’s the ideal place to kick back and read a book while enjoying the view.

While the restaurant and bar are quite picturesque, the real star of the resort was our villa.  All of the rooms at the resort only have three walls, with the fourth wall completely open and overlooking the mountains and ocean.  It made for a brilliant view everywhere in the villa.  Here’s the view from the shower.

Here’s a view of the bedroom.

The other key feature of the room was the private pool and waterfall.  The pool is situated in the downstairs living room and directly below the second story bedroom.  Without a doubt the best view I have ever seen.

It felt like having a private pool in the clouds.  Not to be too graphic, but swimming naked in a pool overlooking a mountain is living the dream for me.  We spent two full days at Ladera enjoying the scenery in the morning, lounging on the beach at the base of the mountain in the afternoon, and watching the sunset at dinner.

After two days, we were not ready to leave.  The only thing that motivated us to leave was our enormous room charge.  We reluctantly piled in a car and headed on another rollercoaster ride to the airport.  Our fabulous honeymoon put us in such a state of relaxation that even the horrendous trip home didn’t dampen our spirits.1

There is lots more that I am leaving out of this story, but that’s what make a honeymoon a honeymoon.  Sufice to say the our trip as newlyweds met my every expectation and then some.  The maiden voyage of our marriage was a resounding success.  And it’s nothing but smooth seas ahead.

Ciao,

The Captain

1 But it came pretty close.  Normally I try not to complain about air travel because it pretty much sucks for everyone.  However, I can’t help but complain when incompetence on the airline’s part forces me to abandon two bottles of St. Lucian rum at security so I can catch a flight.  We’re talking about sacrificing two bottles of booze man!

The Captain Got Married

Four weeks ago today I woke up a married man.  I remember feeling an intense amount of happiness wash over me as I opened my eyes that morning.  I silently repeated the same three words over and over – We. Did. It.  I was amazed that we managed to pull the whole thing it off.  Considering the immense amount of planning that went into those 96 hours, it was incredible that we managed to make it through without any real problems.  But even more than that, I was astounded at how enjoyable the whole affair turned out.  Now that I’ve had a little time to reflect, I can honestly say that the wedding weekend was probably the most fun I’ve had in my entire life.

The four-day extravaganza started out with a bang.  Megan and I awoke on Thursday the 11th of October in our room at the Sanibel Harbour Resort.  The main hotel at the resort is located on Sanibel Bay and overlooks all the way out to the Gulf of Mexico.  The resort was the location of both the wedding and the reception.  We left the resort early and I met one my groomsmen Jamie at a boat dock.  I arranged ahead of time to check out a deck boat from my boat club for 72 hours and to keep the boat docked at the resort.

Jamie and I enjoyed a nice relaxing ride on the boat back to the resort before the day’s activities began.  At the resort we picked up groomsman Bill, the best man DJ, their girls, and a cooler full of Coronas.  We stayed out for several hours of drinking beers, driving the boat a top speed, and taking lots of dumb pictures like this

The highlight was when DJ jumped out of the boat at full speed and managed to land squarely on his man-parts.  Well done my friend.  When we returned to the resort, several friends and family members had checked into the resort and were there to greet us.  After socializing for a while, I went and changed for the evening’s activities.

I had arranged for a family dinner and portrait that nite while everyone was in town.  19 of us met for dinner at the always-reliable Red Lobster and then drove across the street for a never-ending series of family pictures.  The portraits turned out great, even though it is still a little strange to see Megan in a picture of my whole family.  There is a link on the side bar if you are interested.  Afterwards Megan and I returned to the resort and met several friends at the tiki bar for drinks.  A bar full of my friends on vacation was pretty friggin’ rad.

Friday was basically a non-stop barrage of friends and family.  Most of our guests arrived at some point during the day, and I managed to take most of them on a boat ride around the bay.  I’ve been taking boat rides by myself or with Megan for most of the year, so the chance to put my captaining skills to use with so many people that I love was quite a treat.  Since I had to steer the ship, I didn’t get a good chance to take any pictures.  My photographer friend Scotty managed to take some great shots, I will post them when he sends them to me.

After a day of boating, we set up for the ceremony rehearsal and then headed out for the rehearsal dinner.  The entire wedding party and our immediate family enjoyed a beachfront dinner right on the gulf.  30+ people were able to share a lovely gulf sunset with us.  When the sun started to set, the place turned into a Japanese press conference.  It was worth it, the pics turned out great.

That nite we enjoyed another go-round at the tiki bar.  I actually got to use one of my sister’s favorite phrases, “To the boat!” when the bar closed.  We packed about 20 people onto the docked boat and emptied the cooler.

I called it quits early that nite seeing as I would need all of my energy for the following day.  I woke up Saturday ready for a marathon.  I spent most of the morning and afternoon running around trying to finish all of the last minute things I could before the wedding.  In order to do so, I had to become a master of delegation.  As soon as a task would pop into my head, I would immediately think about whom I should ask to perform said task.  It felt strange behaving this way, but it was absolutely necessary given the amount of work that needed to be done.  I managed to get everything done and to get dolled up by three in time to meet my groomsmen.  We hung out for an hour in my uncle’s condo, and then headed over to the boat to take some pictures.  They turned out fantastic.

Once the pictures were done, I steered the boat towards the wedding beach and docked up for my wedding.  During the process of docking the boat came the weekend’s only casualty, Scotty’s camera.  He accidentally dropped it off the dock while disembarking the boat.  He managed to recover the camera from the water, but the prognosis did not look good.  We had a moment of silence for the camera, and then the groomsmen and I hightailed to the beach so I could get married.  The best way to sum up the wedding ceremony is to say that it was everything I hoped and more.  The location was beautiful, the weather was beautiful1, and my bride was drop-dead gorgeous.

When the ceremony was finished, we took the prerequisite family and bridal party photos while our friend enjoyed the drinks at the cocktail hour.  Some of my favorite pics:

With the bulk of the photos completed, it was time to party.  The reception was by far the most expensive party I will ever throw and by far the best as well.  It was held in a circular room that overlooked the bay, which made for some great photos.

The food was fantastic, the music was fantastic2, the drinks were fantastic, the sunset was fantastic, and having almost everyone I’ve ever been close with in the same room to share it with was the best of all.  I did not want the nite to end, but then again I didn’t want to leave my friends with an open bar for too long.  We called it quits around 10:30 and retired to our suite to enjoy being newlyweds.

Sunday was full of goodbyes.  We arranged a morning brunch at a pavilion by the beach so we could see everyone once more before they left.  After another round of pictures, we said our goodbyes and headed back to the resort.  I managed to hang out by the pool for a couple of hours before I recruited Scotty to help me return 13 tuxedos.

That evening we went to dinner with two couples that were still staying at the resort, DJ and his girl and Meg’s friend Marissa and her man.  We turned in early so we could open a few presents and get a little rest after 96 hours of running.

I have to take this moment to say thanks to Amir for officiating the ceremony, Eric for DJing the reception, Rob for designing our wedding logo, Julie for setting up the décor, my father for taking care of the rehearsal dinner, my mom for taking care of the Sunday brunch, and especially Paul and Trudy for making the whole weekend possible.

And that my friends, was my wedding.  Check out the link to my flickr account if you want to see all the pictures from the weeknd.  Speaking of pictures, if anyone has some pictures they would like to share, please drop me a line and let me know.  Also, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what your thoughts on our wonderful day.  Thanks to everyone who helped make October 13th the best day of my life.

Ciao,

Raoul

1 Well, it looked beautiful.  It was actually in the high 80’s, which made for lots of sweat.  I guess that’s the price you pay when you get married on the beach.

2 Of course I thought it was fantastic, I created the entire playlist.

Where It Begins

It’s official, I’m a blogger.

Well, technically I’ve been a blogger all year.  In January I started keeping a blog on myspace .  As you may or may not know, the focus of the myspace blog was the preparation for my upcoming wedding.  I always assumed that getting married would be the finale of the myspace blog.  I figured I would write a recap of the ceremony and the honeymoon and then call it quits.  As you can see, this was not the case.  The last ten months of blogging really rekindled my love for writing.  I didn’t want to stop writing, but I felt that what I started on myspace had come to its logical conclusion.  That has led me to The Captain’s Quarters.

While I did enjoy the myspace blog immensely, it occasionally felt restrictive.  I created the myspace blog so I could stay in touch with all of my friends and family before they attended my wedding.  I tried, albeit unsuccessfully at times, to steer clear of random thoughts, stories and ideas.  By creating the Captain’s Quarters, I am in a sense giving myself the freedom to write about whatever is on my mind.

From a practical standpoint, the myspace blog also felt restrictive based on the simple visual layout of the website.  It was basically a glorified word document with a random picture.  I decided to check out the other blog websites on the web and after an exhaustive search, I ended up here at blog-city.  If I am going to create a visual journal of my life, then it damn well better be appealing.  I want the blog I keep to look, feel, sound, and act just like me.

This brings us to the Captain’s Quarters and my official designation as a blogger1.  Accordingly, I promise to live by the unofficial rules of blogging, i.e. I will never blog about

  1. The act of blogging2
  2. My current emotional state
  3. My job/coworkers
  4. The mundane details of my daily life
  5. My love life

I will try to make the Captain’s Quarters an interesting and/or entertaining way to share ideas with friends and family.  In return I ask that you please share your ideas with me by commenting on my writings whenever possible.  With that being said, it’s time to shove off from the dock and set sail on this little adventure.  Feel free to stop by the Captain’s Quarters whenever you get a chance.

Ciao,

The Captain

1 Even though I acknowledge that the word “blogger” is ridiculous.

2  Well, after this post…

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