Mike, the homeless billionaire

Logan Circle
I met Mike (not his real name) in front of the main branch of the Philadelphia Free Library, where he was sitting with his shopping cart full of other peoples’ trash.

“Hey,” he said, as I walked by, weighed down by shopping bags, “I’m a very rich man.”  That was the first story Mike ever told me.  Since that encounter over two years ago, I’ve gotten many glimpses into Mike’s world of government spies, messages from God, plots to keep him from his Canadian supermodel fiancé, and the impending Armageddon.  Tip: the world is going to end before the end of 2004, so don’t worry too much about your Christmas shopping.

I’ve typed and deleted countless Mike tales for Good Grief!  I’ve got a million of ’em because I see Mike often–on the Parkway, in Logan Square, at the library, and even one time out on the Main Line, in front of the Peace a Pizza (God had given him a coupon for a free slice).  His stories, though funny, are products of a mental illness, not fodder for a weblog.

So why mention Mike at all?  Because he makes me think, and for better or for worse, he’s one of the cast of characters.  Besides, he’ll never read this post.  John Ashcroft (who died six months ago and was replaced by a government double) doesn’t let Mike get on the Internet.

Double Down: 1812’s annual holiday show

Earlier this week, I saw Double Down, the 2005 version of 1812 Productions’s annual holiday show, and it was everything that a holiday show should be: a little singing and dancing, some gimmicks, a touch of improv, and lots of laughs. It’s the most fun I’ve had at the theatre in a long time, and even though the seats were cramped and the theatre was cold and the show started late due to a technical difficulty, the house was cozy and packed, and everyone left in a great mood.

Double Down stars Tony Braithwaite and the always-fantastic Scott Greer. Together they pay homage to famous comedic duos and try to discover the formula that makes these duos successful. Martin & Lewis, Abbott & Costello, the Smothers Brothers, Waldorf and Statler are all in the show, and it’s all hilarious because Braithwaite and Greer are themselves such a wonderful pair. The Smothers Brothers sketch was my favorite, but the Who’s on First bit, as interpreted through the likes of Penn & Teller and Cheech & Chong was a close second. Even the Batman & Robin segment was funny.

Boss-across-the-hall update: horse report

He is drowning in a .NET connection pool, which does not look like fun. But the big issue of the day is soulless office park basketball data.

Boss-across: I can’t figure out how to weight our horse statistics.
Becky: What?
Boss-across: As we play more games, the individual scores start dropping because of the way we run these reports.
Becky: What?
Boss-across: Scores can be anywhere from 0 to 1 minus the total number of players.
Becky: Oh.
Boss-across: It’s all in this Excel spreadsheet. Want to see?

Chinatown bus: pray for us

Chinatown bus
Because of some PGW love* that arrived in this week’s mail, I am feeling thrifty. Thrifty enough to brave the Saturday 7:00 AM Philadelphia to New York Chinatown bus, despite the warnings of Sassy J, Sam, and others.

So I am not sure what to make of Benny’s World: According to the Chinatown Bus, a new weekly feature on Philebrity:

Benny loves himself the Chinatown bus. Not only is it an economical means of inter-urban transportation, it also offers its riders critical insight into the workings of major social, cultural and economical phenomena. It is in essence the adult version of an Electric Company skit, replete with important lessons that we should all carry beyond our 2 – 5 hour Chinatown bus experiences.

Even as I type this, Superwoman is making her way to New York on the same bus. Godspeed, Superwoman. I pray for our safe reunion tomorrow morning.

* $277 for a month of gas in a one bedroom apartment?

Thanksgiving decorations

Fishtown Thanksgiving decorations
To Suzette and Tom and anyone else distressed by “Christmas creep” and the resulting lack of Thanksgiving decorations: know that the people of Fishtown are fighting the good fight.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Boss-across-the-hall update

He just got a polyphonic Hey Ya ringtone. I look forward to hearing it 50 times a day.

Boss-across-the-hall update

He just sent a private, ranting e-mail to the entire membership of a listserve. Heh.

Argentina – Arriving in Buenos Aires

In hindsight, it was a terrible, terrible idea to commit to writing a blog post every day for a month. I already missed a day after falling asleep too early on a Saturday night. This is the fault of the recent time change, I’m sure.

Not feeling sufficiently motivated to come up with new material, I dug up 50 pages of writing from a trip to Argentina that Type E and I took to celebrate our five year anniversary. Take some excerpts from there, throw in a few pictures, and voilá — material for the rest of the month.

Argentina, June 8, 2013

After a delay, a panic, and another delay, arrived at Ezeiza International Airport after a long, uncomfortable flight.

First sign after exiting customs? It’s Miller Time. Hmmm.

Grabbed a cab into Buenos Aires, and the driver gave us our first Spanish lesson by pointing at other drivers and muttering, loco! Closer to downtown, we approached a tollbooth and heard an amazing cacophony of noises come from mostly 80s model American cars: beep beep BEEP beep beep beep beep BEEP BEEP BEEP beeeeeeep BEEEEEEEEP.


Finally, we arrived at our apartment in the San Telmo neighborhood.

San Telmo apartment

San Telmo apartment

San Telmo apartment

It’s actually pretty nice on the inside

San Telmo courtyard kitty

The courtyard came with a kitty

Our first outing was a walk up Defensa to wander in and out of the stores, which ranged from fancy kitchen gadget purveyors to underground mall-like spaces that sell everything from fruit to the Rocky soundtrack.

San Telmo, Buenos Aires

San Telmo, Buenos Aires

This kind of pre-dinner wandering became a theme on the trip — there’s always time to kill before Argentinians fire up the grills for the evening meal. Stop for a café con leche (frankly, I needed those to stay awake until dinner), window shop, people watch, have a glass of wine. Sometimes, you get delirious from having to wait so long for dinner:

Bar Plaza Dorrego

Bar Plaza Dorrego

Eventually we ended up at El Desnivel, a parrilla recommended by our host as an inexpensive and local experience. As promised, a carnivore’s paradise. Let’s just say that mushroom omelettes are not their strength, but Type E liked his pork BBQ dish well enough (though he claims not to remember anything about that night except for servers walking around with huge plates of empanadas).

El Desnivel

El Desnivel

When traveling, it’s important to visit the local grocery stores:

boogie pasta

Boogie Pasta

Sufficiently tired and full of food, we decided to recover from traveling by calling it an early night (at least by Buenos Aires standards).

Inflatable Mr. Stud in the hall closet

Mr. Stud

Mr. Stud

What is this inflatable, action motion Mr. Stud box doing in the hall closet? Fair question. I first met Mr. Stud in January of 2003. He was dressed in jeans and a hoodie, calmly occupying an old rocking chair in the basement, and I was coming down the steps with a load of laundry.

“Fuuuuuuuuck. Serial killer in the house. What the fuuuuuuuuck?”


“Blow up doll? Who the !#$^%^% *&!! dressed up an inflatable doll and put him in the ^&!! basement? ”

The ensuing investigation revealed that Mr. Stud belonged to the guy on the first floor, Industrious R. Industrious R runs a freelance camera crew operation, a job that entails lots of double parking and lots of parking tickets. The intent was for Mr. Stud to sit in the passenger seat of the illegally-parked camera crew van while Industrious R did his errands, somehow tricking the Philadelphia Parking Authority into easing up on the citations.

This plan, however, was never implemented. Mr. Stud lived in our basement until Industrious R and his wife moved to Collingswood. The day after they moved, I found Mr. Stud’s empty box in the trash and decided to keep it for future use in a practical joke. Unfortunately, I never did think of a good joke, and now I’m scared to throw away the box, lest the neighbors get the wrong idea.

Moral: think carefully before you take an inflatable, action motion Mr. Stud box out of the basement trashcan.

Format change

no more good grief
Recently-released Arbitron and Nielsen ratings show that the Philadelphia market can no longer support a weblog specializing in phony art reviews and complaints about the resurgence of 80s fashion.

Therefore, on Friday, March 11th, Good Grief! will go off the air, and the doesthisblogmakemybuttlookbig.com domain will be turned into a male porn site. Becky S and the rest of the Good Grief! staff have until that time to pack up and vacate the studio.