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The Young Man and the Sea

“Then the fish came alive, with his death in him, and rose high out of the water showing all his great length and width and all his power and his beauty. He seemed to hang in the air above the old man in the skiff. Then he fell into the water with a crash that sent spray over the old man and over all the skiff.”   -The Old Man and the Sea

A moonless night hung over the sea giving the water an unnatural blackness. A deep, solid blackness. Intimidating and impenetrable. In contradiction to the lifeless overcast, I knew that there was an abundance of life under the dark blanket just below the small waves.

I cast my line, heavy from the squid who selflessly gave his own life to serve as a temptation for the creatures lurking under the sea. It splashed on top of the water and quickly disappeared. The weight of the squid pulled my line deeper and deeper into the depths, until there was no more sea to dive. Now, it was time to be patient.

This is when a man has the time to contemplate the small idiosyncrasies of life and death, to ponder, to slip into a lucid dream as he waits for the majestic sea creatures of the depth to cautiously take to his line. And that is what I did, as all men are to do when they wait. I thought. I dreamed. I drank a beer. The sweet malty taste contrasted to the overwhelming salty taste that had penetrated my taste buds. The beer was cold, refreshing and almost completely gone.

I needed another.

But I dared not move. I moved not for the fear of falling into the dark sea underneath my feet. I moved not for the anticipation of another quick jerk of my fishing pole. I sat motionless, waiting. Excitement overcame me. I could feel it quickly moving throughout my body. I had felt this feeling before, long ago. During a time I can’t quite remember.

I could sense a monster looking at my squid cautiously. Nothing had happened to the monster the last time he had taken a small bite of the squid. In fact, he remembers vividly the joy he felt the last time he had the taste of squid on his palate. It had brought him back to his days as a small child fish. It had brought him back to days when his father would be standing in the kitchen of the small two bedroom apartment that he and his twelve fish siblings lived cramped as if they were sardines living in a tin can. His father sautéing squid, just the way he liked it, with garlic and a little bit of olive oil. The fish’s mouth watered. He wanted another taste.

He took another small nibble. It was unsatisfying. He was not happy just to have a small piece. He wanted more, and he greedily took the entire squid into his mouth. A rush of euphoria overcame him, the same way euphoria rushes over a heroin junkie after he depresses the plunger to the syringe. Memories raced through his mind. The joy and happiness he had felt when he was a child fish have returned with that last bite.

That is when I moved. I yanked back on the pole and felt the added weight of my catch. Temptation had gotten the best of the monster, the same way it had gotten to Eve that day in the garden. My squid was the forbidden fruit. My hook was the snake.

A battle ensued, a battle that would test both the limits of my perseverance and the fish’s determination to live. He would pull, and I would allow him to run away if only for a second just to reel him closer and closer to the surface. We fought for what seemed like eternity. And in the end, I would win. But, it was a bittersweet moment when the fish had broken the surface tension of the water. I was happy to have won, but I felt much respect for my competitor. He had displayed courage and a willingness to live so strongly, I could not kill him. I would not kill him. He deserved to live.

He was a great warrior. He had earned my respect and admiration. I let him go… but not before I took a picture first to capture this historic feat.

A huge thank you goes out to three really cool people, Chandler, Briana and Michael. I probably would not have been able to complete this list item or at least had as much fun as I did without your instruction and patience. Your parents did an awesome job with you guys. I wish you the best of luck with everything you do in your life. And If you ever need any help with anything on your own list, let me know. I will see what I can do.

From left to right… Michael Couture, Briana Knop, Mr. Fish, Danny, Mr. Fish II, Chandler Knop.

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October 27, 2010   2 Comments

Another Trip. Another Beer. Another Stamp. Part 1

Just what the title of this post implies, Kit and I went on our 9th trip so far this year. The destinations this time? The beautiful and lush landscapes of Cleveland, Ohio and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Maybe Cleveland wasn’t as beautiful or as lush as Bora Bora, but maybe just as interesting.

I didn’t actually accomplish any list items during the trip per se. What I did do though is work closer to my goals of filling up my passport and having a beer in every state. And both places are interesting enough to merit their own postings. So, here is part 1. My travel guide to Cleveland.

Cleveland ROCKS!!!!… Kinda.


Driving through Pennsylvania on a major highway is a test of one’s ability to cope with an insane amount of utter boredom. The scenery, rest stops and almost endless amounts of exits defy all that is great about road trips. Go ahead and picture yourself and your closest friends out on the open road, listening to great music, the wind in your hair. Picture the endless fun you and your friends are having on this road trip.

I can almost guarantee interstate 80 was not part of your idea about what a fun road trip is. But it’s not interstate 80′s fault. It’s not even the good people of Pennsylvania’s fault. It’s not even your fault. I blame the monotonous drive on truckers. Maybe not truckers so much, but the corporations that need trucks and roads to get products quickly to other places.

Kit and I spent the entire trip out to Ohio looking for the worlds’ largest ball of twine, or the worlds’ largest ham sandwich. Or any other horrible roadside tourist trap. But, they don’t exist on I-80. Nothing but Pilot truck stops or nothingness that is rural Pennsylvania. Our dreams of experiencing the wonder that is a piece of toast with the image of Jesus next to the petrified forest will have to wait til the next road trip.

Arriving in Ohio was nothing short of exhilarating compared to Pennsylvania. A whole new world, a new fantastic point of view. Even though at first glance it looks remarkably similar to Pennsylvania’s landscape, Ohio has a 65 mph speed limit and encourages slower traffic to get the hell out-of-the-way of faster and more manly speeding cars.

After 11 hours of driving and a few close calls of running out of gas trying to find a rural towns one and only gas station (BTW Newton Falls, Ohio is a nice town. Build another gas station please. One that is not 13 miles away from the highway. Thank you, Danny.) we arrived safely and exhausted in Cleveland’s downtown district only to find out the Cleveland Indians had just finished a game and had told all of their fans in attendance to leave at the same time as we were driving down Prospect street. Thank you very much members of the tribe! That’s why Jack Parkman was happy when he was traded to the White Sox.*

I know many of you are wondering what exactly is there to do in The Cleve. Well, according to tripadvisor.com, aside from visiting a museum or taking a small tour around the city not much. Well, not much compared to other big city like Sandusky, or Kalamazoo. But, a glimmer of hope is found when you learn that the same house that was used in the filming of  “A Christmas Story” still exist and is in fact a museum in present day Cleveland. So, that’s what we did. We went on a tour of the Christmas Story house.

And by pure luck, we visited the same time Ian Petrella was on hand to answer all of our Christmas story questions. (I know, I had no idea who Ian Petrella was either. He played Randy in the film. I would have much rather have met Ralphie, but an out of work actor gotta eat right? The highlight of the tour for me was about half way through “Randy’s” speech about working on the set of A Christmas story an elderly women stood up said,”ok, that’s enough” and walked away. The look on “Randy’s ” face was priceless, the look on the rest of tour groups face was even better and the look of embarrassment on the faces of the family members she was with was über-priceless.

The tour is definitely worth it. It’s cheaper than the Rock and Roll Hall of fame, which is a rip-off and visiting the house in the morning and then spending your afternoon in the Great Lakes science center is a fun-filled day for the entire family.

What I wanted to know about Cleveland was what’s the drinking scene like? Is it boring? Is it awesome? Will I meet some celebrity? What will the discoteca be like? Creepy? sleazy? Babe-o-licious?

Yes.

The drinking scene in The Cleve is a lot like the drinking scene around most of the country and maybe the world. It is what you make it out to be. If you like your drinks served in a dark neighborhood bar where no one is going to bother you, The Map room is the place for you. If you are a 20 something year old Romanian club rat and enjoy getting hit on by men 3 times your age wearing 6 times more perfume than yourself, The Velvet Dog is your oasis.

Kit and I partook in both scene. It’s worth it to step out of your own comfort zone every once and awhile even if it’s for some quick people watching in the latter bar.

This was my attempt at recreating a school portrait shot.

Highlights of the trip:

Christmas story house.

Meeting Greg Proops (Very nice guy, even after me badgering him for 20 minutes to admit/agree that Drew Carey ruined “Who’s Line is it Anyway”)**

Watching no less than 15 guys take turns hitting on the same 2 girls seated next to us in The velvet dog.

Meeting a few new friends out on the road. (Ola we promise we will send you the pictures of yourself and Greg. Luke I promise I will mail you the rugby shirt I stole.)

So, Cleveland might not rock as hard as some may thing, and the heart of rock and roll might not be beating as strongly as Huey Lewis might like you to think, but for all its worth, Cleveland is a chill city with some down to earth party people. Worth the trip.

*It’s a Major league 2 reference. Sadly that movie and all its baseball players are all I can tell you about a Cleveland sports team.

** Greg is too nice of a guy to even admit Wayne Brady sucks.

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September 4, 2010   No Comments

Where would you like to see a wedding?

I created a new poll. Kit and I need some help picking a wedding destination spot. So, where would you like us to go? The pink sandy beaches of Bermuda? Or the black volcanic sand of Vic, Iceland? Where would you be willing to travel too? Here is the poll.

You can vote for up to three places. And you can revote once a week, just incase you change your mind or the BP oil spill ruins your top choice. Also, you can add your own answer. Get creative people!

(Updated. Thank you everyone for all your imput)

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July 6, 2010   No Comments