Mustache Season!

Posted November 18, 2010 by paul c wagner
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

It’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s also when radio stations start playing Christmas songs WAY too early (and my mom listens to them anyway) and I’m assaulted by tv ads for Christmas deals and decorations before I’ve even thrown away my terrifyingly awesome jack-o-lanterns.

But it’s also the opening of mustache season!

What’s mustache season, you ask? Good question. My teacher friend Brad stumbled onto this charity called Mustaches for Kids NY, to which I took an immediate liking because the whole idea of growing mustaches for kids is simultaneously hilarious and creepy. Mustaches for Kids is hooked up with this great charity website called Donors Choose that allows people to donate directly to underfunded classroom projects based around location or subject. It’s great because you know exactly where your donation is going.

Now, I think that most of the readers of this very not-kept-up blog (I promise I’ll be fixing that) already know what I look like, but for the 2 of you out there that don’t, I am shockingly Caucasian: blonde hair, blue eyes. Some of you blondes out there are lucky enough to be able to grow excellent mustaches. I am not one of those fortunate few (a fact I find ridiculous because my dad has a mustache worthy of being on the 1974 Pirates regardless of his baseball talent). My mustache is weak and rather funny looking – it doesn’t really grow in the middle, but the ends are pretty rockin’ – that you can only really see if the light strikes it just so

But I grow it every year for charity. This year my mustache is named Agnes and I have high hopes that she’ll be my best mustache yet.

If you’re feeling generous and want to help some underfunded public school kids, please check out my giving page.

Growing Strong,



Stranger Excellence

Posted November 15, 2010 by paul c wagner
Categories: commentary, humor, Life in Transit

Life. In Transit.

Last Friday started out like most Fridays: Force myself out of bed to make it out the door before 6:40 to catch the train and head to work.

I was actually in a fairly foul mood, despite it being Friday. I had to work quite late pretty much all week on a series of projects and really just did not want to get out of bed and commute for an hour and a half. You know how it is.

Anyway. I was walking from the subway to the commuter rail, and just as I was about to cross the street, an older woman walking towards me makes eye contact, stops, grabs my arm and, with an ear to ear grin, enthusiastically says, “Happy Friday!” She then patted my arm and continued on her way.

I was totally taken off guard at first because of the randomness of a stranger touching me at 7:08 on the sidewalk in Harlem, but once she smiled and said “Happy Friday,” my bad mood lifted, the skies parted and I wanted to run back and tell her THANKS! for making my Friday 100% better.

But I thought better of it. She looked a bit crazy and there’s a chance she was homeless. Either way, this was the exact opposite of stranger danger. It was stranger excellence!

I now look for her often during my morning commute, but haven’t seen her since. She probably would have been helpful that morning when we didn’t have hot water…

Happy Today!

It Kills Me to Say It…

Posted August 27, 2010 by paul c wagner
Categories: Baseball, commentary, Sports

Tags: , , , ,

… but Wrigley Field has to go.

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m a devout Cubs fan. I love my Cubbies, even though I currently hate them.

And I love Wrigley Field – it has history, it’s gorgeous, it feels like home … it’s the Friendly Confines. But it’s killing the team, and here’s why.

The new ownership has no motivation to spend money and get the team winning. Wrigley sells out every game (even if there are currently empty seats, those seats were bought and paid for) and brings in truckloads of money to the owners. The Cubs are one of the worst teams in baseball and have one of the highest payrolls. A smart owner would see a devout fan-base, trade away the big contracts and re-build, investing in the team with the ultimate goal of becoming World Series Champions.

Instead, the owners poured money into Wrigley, making it a more fan-friendly place. Wrigley was ALREADY a glorified bar. A friend of mine once told me that Wrigley is the only stadium in baseball where you could turn every seat away from the field and still sell out games. At first I thought it was ridiculous, but the more I see Cubs “fans” away from Chicago, the more I think he’s right. People go to Wrigley for the stadium, not so much for the team.

And maybe a new stadium is what we need to really kickstart the team. It worked for the Yankees and the Cardinals (new stadiums brought them rings in their inaugural seasons), maybe it’ll work for us, too. Hell, maybe just threatening to tear down Wrigley and rebuild will light a fire under the organization’s ass because fans would riot.

All I know is this: the Cubs gave up on their season right around the same time I did: May. It’s been a painful year to watch, even more painful to think that the owner didn’t fire Jim Hendry, the worst GM in baseball, and I’m tired of a “fans” going to Wrigley to get wasted with their friends and ignore the game.

It’s time for a major change with the Cubs. I thought the new owners would do it, but so far they just seemed concerned with ticket sales.


Runaway Train

Posted July 20, 2010 by paul c wagner
Categories: Uncategorized

Last Friday I worked late. Well, I guess not late, but later than I wanted to work. Let’s just say it was sometime well after five. Anyway, I caught an express train back to the city. It was crowded. Inexplicably, my train car smelled like urine. I mean, this isn’t the subway, where I would expect this sort of stench. This was the Metro North, the subway’s cleaner, nicer suburban counterpart. Normally, these trains are relatively clean and nice.

On this day, though: urine.

But that would really be okay. I mean, the express train from Stamford to Harlem is only 38 minutes. This day, though, the travel gods were against me.

Not ten minutes after we departed the station, heading back to glorious Manhattan, the train stopped. Not at a station.

Fine. Okay. That’ll happen. Train traffic. Probably an Amtrak messed up somewhere. Whatever.

So there I am waiting for the announcement from the conductor telling me that we’re delayed due to train traffic and will be moving shortly. Then, before any kind of information is pumped through the PA, the train starts moving.


Okay, maybe we’re backing up to a switch to get ourselves around a stopped train in front of us. That makes sense. After a few minutes of waiting, still no announcement, we start rolling forward again. It had been probably 20 minutes since we originally stopped, and while I was annoyed, we were moving in the right direction and it was the weeken… and then we stopped. Again. For another half hour.

There was never any announcement.

I guess that’s what it must be like to ride the Amtrak all the time.


Life, In Transit

Posted July 12, 2010 by paul c wagner
Categories: commentary, humor, Life in Transit

Tags: , , , , ,

It’s been an incredibly long time since we here at The Very Important Things have posted anything, and for that I apologize. It’s been busy and, unfortunately, TVIP has been the victim of my lack of free time.

One of the reasons for this newfound timelessness is my landing of a new job. With an hour and a half commute (I know what you’re thinking: there’s your free time right there, paul! – and you’d be right. So writing shall recommence.).

I’m also going to add a new repeating theme/section: Life, In Transit. LiT will document some random thoughts, sights, sounds, ramblings, events, etc  from my life, in transit.

Here’s the first go.

Life, In Transit.

Today, on the final leg of my end-of-the-day commute, as I trekked up the subway stairs at 96th street, I saw a man, presumably homeless, asleep on the stairs. His sole  possession, aside from the clothes on his back, was a sword – a katana, really – in a sheath, in a garbage bag.

No part of that was hyperbolic in the telling.

A homeless man, asleep on the stairs, with a sword in a garbage bag.

Several things came to mind when I saw this:
1) What the hell is a homeless guy doing with a sword??
2) I bet no other homeless people mess with this guy.
3) I kind of want to steal his sword.
4) That’s a REALLY stupid idea. That could go REALLY wrong.
5) I wonder if he’s a homeless ninja…
6) A homeless ninja would be a really awesome recurring character in a book/story/tv show/blog…
7) Bob, The Homeless Ninja. Harry, The Homeless Ninja. Brian, The Homeless Ninja…
8 ) Crimefighting homeless ninja?
9) Nah, just ass-kicking homeless ninja, maybe a little down on his luck
10) This recession has been especially hard on freelance ass kickory.
11) I wonder if ninjas have a union…
12) ad nauseum

I guess my point here is this: Beware sword-wielding homeless men.


Baseball Needs Replay Flags

Posted June 3, 2010 by paul c wagner
Categories: Baseball, commentary, Sports

Tags: , ,

I hate to say. I don’t want to say it. But I think baseball might need to start using the replay more widely.

Photo: NBC Sports

Baseball has always been and forever will be a great game with human error, and I don’t think I’ll EVER say that replays should be used anywhere near the calling of balls and strikes, but after last night’s blown call, I can certainly get behind some use of the replay.

Here’s what I’m thinking: Each coach gets a replay flag, similar to the replay flag in football. This flag can be used once during the game to challenge a call made on the field (trapped catch, tag on the slide, safe/out at first, etc). The manager must throw the flag (or however this would be done – probably when he runs out on the field to complain about the bad call) before the next pitch is thrown. In extra inning games, the coach will get one flag for extra innings, regardless of the number of innings. The flag cannot be used to argue balls and strikes.

Had Jim Leland had a replay flag last night, Armando Galarraga would have a perfect game and umpire Jim Joyce wouldn’t have to live with his terrible mistake (I mean, this may have been the worst call ever. 2 outs left in a perfect game?! What was he thinking calling him safe ANYWAY?! In a situation like that, give the pitcher the benefit of the doubt. But I digress) for the rest of his life. It would be a win-win.

I normally defend the human error in baseball – it’s what makes the game perfect to me. I like that each ump has his own zone and that accurate pitchers are sometimes given an inch off the plate. I think blown calls are part of the game and probably should be. I mean, it’s just a game, right? And we’re all human – we make mistakes. Umpires can’t be perfect every call (though they’re damn near nowadays). But a badly blown call to ruin a perfect game on the last out leads me to think that maybe, in this age of high-definition video and replays galore, something can, and should, be done.

I will say this about the whole situation, though, Galarraga and Joyce have both handled it with class, and in an era of seemingly lawless athletes, it’s nice to see someone take the high road. But that high road traveler should have a perfect game on his résumé…


What the F*CK, BP?

Posted June 1, 2010 by paul c wagner
Categories: Uncategorized

I mean, come on! The explosion happened on April 20. There’s still 12,000 – 20,000 barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf every day. How were you not more prepared for this?! Isn’t it your JOB to be prepared?

Aside from the outrageous damages done to the environment, it makes more sense from a business standpoint to spend a bit more money to ensure effective prevention measures than to putz around with half-witted solutions to a problem that’s (likely) going to cost well over a billion dollars.

The top-kill method didn’t work, oil is still spewing unabated, and your next best solution is to RE-TRY SOMETHING THAT DIDN’T WORK THE FIRST TIME!? When reading about the new method to put a cap on the leak, the press release sounds like they don’t think it’s going to work. Apparently the only real solution will be to drill a relief well … but that won’t be completed until August at the earliest.

I just don’t understand how this scenario wasn’t predicted and prepared for. Perhaps I just have too much faith in the private sector. Or maybe BP just needs to stop the oil leaking into the Gulf. Before August.