$Texas, It's in the vault, Me Myself and Ty

Just go out.

Beer just tastes better out of a glass to me.

I’m not pretending to have just discovered this, as I’m sure many of you are aware of the aromatic properties of certain glasses (see the Sam Adam’s glass for such an example) but it has been impressed upon me to use glasses as much as possible.

This has grown increasingly common now that I have a dishwasher that seems capable of ONLY correctly cleaning glasses (and somehow never getting that one pot lid clean) and I have taken to drinking even canned light beers out of a glass.

Yes, in those cases it is a 32-ounce mug that’s heavy enough to count as a weapon in certain cases, but it’s still an example of me always preferring a glass, even when the beer contained therein isn’t the greatest.

Of course this all has its roots in my preference for draft beer over bottled beer, which is truly what this post is about.

I live within walking distance of a handful of bars dotted along one of the main roads here that is marked by urban sprawl. Continue reading

It's in the vault, Journalism, Me Myself and Ty, Music

Ten Eleven Twelve

Today is a day I’ve been looking forward to for about 11 years.

I remember being in the 8th grade and writing an interesting date. Maybe it was Feb. 2, 2002, maybe it was 7th grade and it was March 2, 2001. I don’t feel like looking it up, because the important thing is, whatever date it was led me to think of all the cool dates I had to look forward to as this century was getting started.

9/9/09, 10/10/10, then 11/11/11 and finally 12/12/12.

I realized that would be the end for the repeaters, so I tried to put together an ascending date, one that counted up and immediately realized that one of them, Oct. 11, 2012, would be my 25th birthday.

I had no idea then that by now I would spend that day writing for a living at a newspaper, driving (driving!?) my convertible Mustang across town to meet a friend for a lunch/interview, listening loud to an artist with a dollar sign in her name and cursing like crazy, wearing a tie (how do you even tie one!?) with a pirate ship on it and an Oriole tie pin, because goddammit, it might be October but the Orioles are playing on your birthday and as soon as you get done watching the vice presidential debate (boring!) you’re going to go to a bar (drinking is a sin!) with your friends and watch the game.

I’m in love all right. With my crazy beautiful life.

That’s who I am. And I plan to do my best Ty Johnson impersonation today.

So take a second to enjoy my birthday. Write the date down just so you can say you did. By my 8th-grade figuring, today, Nov. 12 of next year and Dec. 13, 2014 are the only ones like this for a while.

And none of those are even my birthday.



It's in the vault, Me Myself and Ty

Buck the condomnation

In one of Seinfeld’s cold openings, when Jerry is doing standup, he talks about how purchasing condoms should be done through giving a knowing look with the pharmacist, who then places the goods into an opaque bag and rings you up.

It’s a clever solution to one of the most commonplace of problems.

At times, even buying tampons at a store has seemed easier because the narrative isn’t as interesting.
The cashier or other shoppers see you with the feminine products and make one of only a handful of essentially domestic conclusions: picking them up for your significant other because you’re whipped or picking them up for your significant other/sister/mother because you’re a good person.

Regardless, the unspoken question is “Why are you here buying these?” With condoms, it’s “What are you going to do with these?”

One of my friends at work was telling about how she was behind a man who was buying a pack of condoms and the cashier couldn’t get them out of the plastic box they were in. He made the most of it, though, making a few jokes about it before a supervisor finally came over to help.

It was then that it occurred to me that the condom purchase is one of those obligatory moments in life where anecdotes are plentiful. Continue reading

It's in the vault, Me Myself and Ty

A pirate’s life for me


Members of my crew advancing on the town I was to protect along with a handful of other members of the militia — thrown together, I imagine, like most militia units would have been during the time period.

To about a thousand spectators, it’s so anticlimactic they don’t even notice it.

The gun you’re holding didn’t fire, but you’re not surprised in the slightest. The blunderbuss you just aimed at the handful of pirates across the improvised stage was never designed to fire, which is why you’re not at the end of the firing line, with all the “real guns.”

So you pull your toy back into your chest and begin spectating.

It’s terribly disorganized. Well, at least the line you’re standing in is — in front of you there are a handful of actors who know what they’re doing, wielding swords and whips and talking pirate. It’s a wonderful show.

So wonderful, actually, that you realize you’re smiling from ear to ear.

It’s fine that you’re enjoying yourself, but your side is losing, so wipe that smile off your face!

The show goes on and your militia finally beats back the pirates, although you have to assume it’s only because the invaders don’t know that of the 16 members of the militia, only four have guns that truly fire.

Hell, you don’t even have shoes. A well-placed buccaneer boot onto your toe would probably be enough to convince you to surrender — especially since you wanted to be a pirate anyway, but that’s out of your control.
Continue reading

Eh?, It's in the vault, Me Myself and Ty

The best barbecue pork in North America, eh?

A lot of people would take their word for it. Not me.

It wasn’t like it was totally an impulse that led us to eat Chinese food while we were in Toronto.

We were tired. We were hungry. And Chinese food sounded great, especially since we were in Toronto’s Chinatown. We had been planning it for a while, actually, so when I saw the sign, it became obvious that our quest for food was over.

The daylight was fading, but the challenge beckoned. “Best B.B.Q Pork in North America,” it said.

Well that’s interesting, I thought. Here I am from a county in Eastern North Carolina where people can’t decide which of our legendary barbecue joints is the best, across the county line from the barbecue my family and friends have always thought was the best and less than three hours away from a city that (falsely) calls itself the Barbecue Capital of North Carolina — but these nice Chinese restaurateurs have canvassed not only Wayne County, not just North Carolina, but the entire effing continent and have decided they have the best in North America.

Great, I thought, this saves me from having to continue trying barbecue everywhere I go in the United States.

So I dragged Jessica in the cramped store and we ordered and left to eat on a park bench. I rushed inside a gas station for a Coke because what’s barbecue without Coke, but it seems that it didn’t matter.

Yes, it was pork, but — well, actually I guess that’s the thing I’m least sure about — anyway, at least it tasted OK. And there was plenty of rice beneath it and no Chinese restaurant can screw up rice.

By the time we labored through our meal, it was dark and we both decided that the 14-hour drive followed by only four hours of sleep had caught up with us, especially since we stayed up drinking and had been walking seemingly the entire day. And drinking more, but that’s just understood.

If we were going to make a go of it that night, we were going to need to take a nap, we decided, so we returned to the hostel.

Our room in the hostel was essentially a dorm room with two double bunk beds. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to visit Toronto and will definitely be staying there again if I ever find my way back there. A good traveler spends most of the stay exploring the city, so all that’s really needed is a bed and then strangers sharing the room doesn’t seem like a big deal.

Except for this guy who moved in mid-morning.

He replaced a nice European girl who was finishing up her Trans-Canadian trip on a separate bunk. He was nice enough, but he didn’t care for using the lounge downstairs — he had spread his stuff across the tiny room and was surfing the internet when we showed up.

It was a bit annoying because the light was on, but the real issue with our roommate was the smell. This was BBO. The towel I used to shower that day had acclimated to his smell to the point that I felt like my shower had served only to turn me into one of his body odor-carrying disciples.

I took one look (and whiff) of the room and decided I couldn’t handle it. Jessica climbed into her top bunk and I went downstairs to have another beer.

The Chinese “barbecue” was not settling well. Jessica’s food wasn’t either, so I didn’t anticipate seeing her for a few hours. While it wasn’t the best choice I could have made for dinner, however, you can’t argue with results… Continue reading

It's in the vault, Journalism, Me Myself and Ty, Politics

(Re)affirmation (re)visited

I recently followed up on a candidate for City Council who put down two separate addresses on his voter registration form.

One was the address at his recently purchased home in the district he was aiming to represent. The other was his work address.

I did due diligence, especially since I knew he was living out of district very recently, but N.C. laws concerning residency are very ambiguous. A formal challenge to his residency filed by a resident fell flat, as well, mostly because the challenger didn’t appear to read my stories, but to make a long story short, the young man is still on the July 17 ballot.

I know the guy well since he’s one of the young professionals in the area and we’ve shared quite a few beers before and since his candidacy. He’s a nice enough guy, but the story isn’t about him or his candidacy. Like nearly everything on this blog, this story is about me.

I had just arrived in Canada and it was 12:01 a.m. when I received a text message from the candidate whose campaign I had nearly stamped out. Continue reading

It's in the vault, Me Myself and Ty

Feets of Strength

I hadn’t seen Farrell or Jessica since I returned from Canada more than a month before, I was halfway through a pint of beer and talking with Farressica, Farrell’s dad and Zachary Tubb at Lilly’s Pizza on Glenwood Avenue.

And where was I? I was on the sidewalk, near some dumpsters, struggling to hear what was being said on the other line.

The beer was calling to me. And the pizza. But someone else had called, too and she was telling me all about her assignment.

The story was riveting, but I caught myself thinking about how badly I wanted to get back to the table. I fought it for several minutes, but I was ready to return to my beer.

And then there it was: a white convertible Mazda Miata.

It pulled up to the curb, but for whatever reason didn’t pull up into the definitive parking space behind a white Suburban.

The boy in the driver’s seat attempted to crank the car again, but it stalled.

“Hell,” I thought, “It’s a Miata. I could throw that thing over my shoulder and carry it the 10 feet forward into its proper parking space.” Continue reading

DRIVEN, It's in the vault, Me Myself and Ty, Uncategorized

Deer and loathing

A bit dark and gory after the jump, so proceed with caution.

Humanity has never gripped me like it did that night as I screamed into the lonesome night at a creature that had no more a mind to understand me than it did body able enough to escape me.

I had pointed my flashlight up and down the road at least half a dozen times, both praying no headlights would appear to guest star in my late night grapple with mortality and its intersection with morality while at the same time wishing some grown-up would show up — my dad preferably — to solve the situation I found myself in.

The road is a popular drag for speeders, especially since it runs right behind the high school. If you wanted to show off your car’s acceleration, this was the strip to do it. I vaguely remember riding along with one such crazy adolescent as we passed an assumed adversary on the road, topping 80 or 90 mph down the long, straight two-lane drive.

I, of course, wasn’t going nearly that fast on this night. Maybe five or 10 over, but mostly because this was the final two miles of a seven-hour trip and I badly needed to use the bathroom.

The first doe darted out confidently. I had no chance of ever hitting her, but I slammed on my brakes anyway to avoid what was sure to be the rest of her nocturnal grazing party.

And then there he was, taking a 45 degree angle to the road as if he was going to rush me off of the left side of the road.

I merged left to avoid him, but he refused to stop, choosing instead to barrel into the side of my car.

I shook the steering wheel steadily to keep myself straight, but hardly had to slow down at all.

I didn’t even stop. “No time for that now,” I thought, pining for my bed while looking over at my antenna, which now looked like a crumpled pipe cleaner tossed to the side from some craft project.

The radio hadn’t even skipped for a moment. That’s curious.

“Dammit my side view mirror is gone!” said the voice in my head, finally realizing there was something missing from my car like the final answer in some Sunday comics picture challenge.

I’ll have to go back for it.

But I knew there was one more thing I would need to go back to, as well.

This had happened before, of course. Continue reading

It's in the vault, Journalism, Me Myself and Ty

The War Between the States of Being

The sensation first came about late Friday night: Was I still walking the line of first-person journalism or was I now reenacting alongside my sources?

I was dressed in full Confederate garb, with the only evidence I wasn’t in the 19th century in my hand: a sweating can of PBR.

Hell, thinking back, the 1862 siege my comrades were reenacting was 30 years ahead of the very blue ribbon that won Pabst the right to its three-letter acronym. Continue reading

Eh?, It's in the vault, Journalism, Me Myself and Ty

Trouble at the border, Eh?

It was a 14-hour drive to the border.

The beer I drank in another country. It was an Amsterdam. There were many more.

We had planned to go to Canada for months, although you wouldn’t believe it if you asked us why we were going.

“I want to drink a beer in another country,” I told everyone. And truthfully, that was the extent of the longing to head north.

That’s also what made it so difficult when the border agent asked what we were planning to do in Canada. Continue reading