Archive for May, 2012
It seems that there is a lot of hoopla in my close circle of friends regarding one of their friends that I stopped actively keeping a relationship with a while ago.
The individual in question isn’t a bad person per se, but she has never (in my opinion) fully understood the value of true friendship because she has never been a true friend to anyone. She would claim to be able to see both sides of every argument and navigate clear of any conflict by never aligning herself to anything. She is a person who would want to be friends with everyone but lived safely on the fence of each and every disagreement, thus never learning the value of supporting others and (in return) never experiencing the return from that value.
Have you ever watched the movie (or play) 1776?
Mr. Secretary, New York abstains, courteously – Lewis Morris
That pretty much nails it.
Like I said, the person I’m citing in this ambiguous blog post isn’t really a bad person. She’s always been kind (as far as I know) and she used to be an amazingly creative human being when I regularly interacted with her.
One day, a few years back, she caught a slight case of pregnancy. I had already severed my ties to her at that point, but my household (via Mrs. Croom) made investments in the usual gifts when the baby was born. I’ve met the child twice: once at a birthday party and once at a wedding. Both times, the baby seemed happy and loved which is the most you can wish for in that sort of circumstance.
And life went on.
Friends of mine kept connections with the friend that I opted to “step away from” for these past few years. Occasionally I would get a phone call citing “Oh, God, did you hear what so-and-so posted on her Facebook” and I would reply with the same answer:
“Nope. She’s not on my Facebook so I don’t have to involve myself in these things.”
Then I would listen to the latest story of actions taken and justified (over the years) as being “adult” and (my personal favorite) “for the baby.”
I’d shrug and point out that there is a reason I had stepped away from a relationship with that person, close the conversation, and move on with my day.
Now, it seems, this person is getting married to the father of her child. Word has it that she has made some decisions regarding the structure of the wedding that (not surprisingly) are ruffling the feathers of our mutual friends.
I still just grin as I hear these things and shrug in amusement. Then I reiterate my lack of surprise.
The “hoopla” in beginning of this post is in regards to statements made recently about being an adult and having to make adult decisions presumably instead of doing non-grown up minded things like playing dress up at conventions and watching cartoons.
I hear this sentiment from people from time to time and realize that the folks who feel the need to point these things out are usually trying to justify to their own existences to themselves.
People like that are generic.
I don’t want to be generic. Steven Spielberg never grew up and he has kids. John Lasseter has children, makes adult decisions, and still plays with toys. Dozens of actors, artists, singers, and writers each and every day continue to live their lives in the modern world make “adult” decisions and still never growing up.
They all refuse to be generic.
- I still collect and play with toys.
- I play video games.
- I like dressing up in goofy outfits and costumes.
- I watch cartoons.
- I still think that going to theme parks and riding rides is an adventure.
- Did I mention that I still play with toys?
I love life.
You know what, though? I have managed to somehow do some strangely “adult” things along the way: I bought and own my own home (without ANY financial support of parents or family.) I own a cool car. My wife owns the car she wanted (read: the one she desired, not the one she would “settle for.”) I have been to the top of the Empire State Building and the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
NONE of the above accomplishments were done “for the baby.”
ALL of them were done as an adult.
And YES: I still play with toys.
I have other friends: married, single, with kids, without kids, gay, straight, black, white, high school drop outs, and college PhDs.
They’re all adults, too, and they still play dress up with me.
So good luck, ma’am (and everyone like you.) Stay generic. Live a happy life.
Just don’t judge the rest of us who are enjoying adulthood without sacrificing our childlike fervor for living.
I’m sitting on Virgin Airlines flight 312 from LAX to MCO after an insanely productive weekend in Los Angeles. Seriously insanely totally mega productive.
It was great.
The low point, though, is sticking in my brain and annoying the hell out of me – so here I am writing about it.
This trip was my first time staying at a Crowne Plaza Hotel. I’m willing to be that it also my last time staying at a Crown Plaza Hotel after the consistently failed service I received from that one hotel. Here’s the skinny:
I got in town last Thursday night and, after a short business dinner, checked into the Crowne Plaza Anaheim. I self parked in a spot on the side of the building, walked in, checked in, and went to sleep. I had to be up at 5:30 AM for 8:00 AM meeting at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Friday was filled with back to back meetings peppered with some locally touristy goodness. I was all over the place, and the evening was topped off with my driving to Los Angeles to have dinner with a friend and his wife and then driving BACK to Anaheim to meet my fellow work makes for a midnight showing of The Avengers because… you know. We’re geeks.
I got back to the hotel at 3:30 AM in the morning which, to my body, felt like 6:30 AM (YAY TIME ZONES.) I drove the rental car along the side of the hotel and discovered that their parking extended WAY back away from the hotel itself. It was literally almost a block away and I couldn’t find a spot. Thus I assumed I had gotten lucky my first night and realized I should just valet the car going forward. No worries.
Or it SHOULD have been “no worries.”
I pulled the car back around to the front and got out. There was no one at the valet stand, so I walked into the lobby to find someone to assist me.
There was no one there, either. I wandered around for a minute and finally hovered around the registration counter on the verge of calling out to see if anyone there. A young man in glasses finally appeared and asked if he could help me.
“Yes,” I said. ”I’d like to valet my car.”
He explained that valet was closed. At this point I was beginning to get a little agitated. His next comments completed my journey to “a lot” agitated.
After he told me that valet was closed, he informed me that was still a way to valet my car (implying he would be more than happy to charge me.) He himself couldn’t park the car, but *I* could park it in valet myself and leave him the keys.
Seriously? The hotel wanted to charge me $16 to let me park my own car in a valet space since they had no space in their own parking lot? I was fuming but not showing it. I merely told the guy at the counter that I would pass and got back in the car determined to find a spot.
I did – in the parking lot for the hotel next door on the opposite side of the hotel along another road away from the Crowne Plaza. Thus I trekked my ass across a long empty parking lot at 4:00 in the morning while exhausted and just “done” with it all.
I posted the following on Twitter when I got back to my room:
(1/4) Hey @CrownePlaza Anaheim: this was my first stay at a #CrownPlaza resort & it will also be my LAST. Tried to valet…
(2/4) park when I got back from a movie, but the front desk guy said he couldn’t drive my car – but would charge me valet fees…
(3/4) to move the cones & let me park it myself. Went to park in general parking instead: no spaces. None…
(4/4) So I had to park in the lot of the hotel next door. Seriously. @CrownePlaza #Service #FAIL
I went to bed. Annoyed.
The next morning I saw this post on Twitter from InternContinental Hotels Group (@IHGCare)
@TomCroom Pls let Duty Manager know or DM details(confirm #,hotel,dates)or email address on profile.We’ll respond.@Crowneplaza ^am
I sent my name, room number, and cell phone number to them via Twitter. Afterwards, I walked down to the lobby ready to start my day and decided to pass the word along to the Duty Manager as advised.
Or, I tried to pass the word along.
When I got to the counter and asked to speak to the manager, the young lady pointed out a woman to her right on the phone. I decided to wait for a moment and, while standing there, the valet employee for the hotel was also trying to talk to her about someone out front waiting for their car. The employee mentioned the make of the car and the last name Perez and I interjected, “are you talking about Marc Perez?”
The employee said yes and asked if I knew him. ”Yes, we’re both staying here while working together.” The valet pointed out that Marc (and Ann Marie) were sitting out front.
Since the manager was STILL on the phone, I walked out to say good morning and discuss our day since we were all heading to the same place. Marc looked annoyed and explained that they had waiting there for a while for the valet to get their car and (as a result) they were starting to run late for errands that needed running before our mutual noon meeting. At that point, I saw that hotel staff as a lost cause and opted to just leave without waiting for the manager to get off the phone.
Saturday was ANOTHER crazy busy day and I rolled back in the Crowne Plaza Anaheim’s hotel about 11:30 PM. This time there was a valet there and he took my keys. I walked upstairs to chat with Marc for an hour then went to squeeze in a couple of hours of sleep before having to get up and drive to the airport.
During the day, I had received a message via Twitter from the Intercontinental Hotels Group:
Hotel Mngr. Brenda will be in contact with you today to discuss the situation. Sorry for the inconvenience. ^bj
When I got to my room, I saw the light flashing on the telephone there. My assumption was that, since I never got a phone call on my cell, I must have a message from “Brenda.” I picked up the phone to retrieve the messages and pressed the red button (as instructed by the words printed next to the flashing light.) Nothing. I tried messing around with it for a few minutes. Still nothing.
I went over to the other phone in my room. It was a simple model, but still had a flashing light on it. I looked it over and found no button for retrieving the messages.
I was dumbfounded.
Thus, I hopped in the elevator and headed down to the lobby to ask for help. The person working the registration desk? That’s right. The same guy in glasses from the night before. I explained that the phone in my room wasn’t working and that I had a message light. My hopes were that 1.) he have someone come fix the phone or 2.) he just retrieve the message.
Neither of these were the case.
“Um,” he said profoundly. ”I think you can check the voicemail by dialing 5656 on the phone.”
Close enough. I went upstairs to my room and tried this with the smaller handset. It told me I had no messages.
The light kept flashing.
I tried to dial it on the larger phone on the hotel room’s desk. It didn’t work because it didn’t use touch tone dialing. The phone operated on the old click system used to electronically replicate a rotary phone.
NOTE: Many of my younger readers will have no idea what I’m talking about here. That fact alone questions WHY this technology is set up in an allegedly modern hotel.
I gave up. I couldn’t get the messages. It was frustrating as hell.
The next morning (this morning) I was up an moving at 5:00 AM and down in the lobby ready to hit the road by 5:30 AM. I walked out front and looked for the valet who was NOWHERE to be found.
I wandered back into the lobby and walked up to the registration desk. A hotel employee came out from a back room and greeted me. I asked him where the valet was and he informed me that the valet wasn’t available. I explained that I needed my car that was parked in valet and the employee told me I could just go get it since the valet parking lot was “right there.” He grabbed my keys for me and I walked out.
“Right there” it seems means duck under the construction to go get your car:
(Mine is the bright green one.)
I ducked under the yellow tape, traversed the little construction zine, got in and left… or I tried. There was a series of cones and rusty valet sign blocking the way. Thus, I had to stop, get out, and grab the dirty grimy metal object and haul it out of the way to I could leave.
My hands were disgusting afterwards making a perfect symbolic moment of how this hotel had me feel.
I am posting this and passing the tale on to Intercontinental Hotels Group because (I would hope) this isn’t the standard for their hotels. Or maybe it is. Either way, it would take some sort of small miracle for me to ever consider staying at another IHG property based on my first exposure to their brand.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to relax and continue to enjoy my Virgin flight home since I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their brand.
Last Thursday night, I got to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in concert at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. That was something a LONG TIME coming. You see, Full Moon Fever remains, to this day, one of my all time favorite albums. Somehow, though, I never got the chance to see Tom Petty in concert… until last week
His opening act was a young lady named Regina Spektor. Shannon knew who she was. I recognized one of her songs from an episode of Veronica Mars.
Thus, here is the updated list:
*NSYNC (@ Universal’s CityWalk)
Ashlee Simpson (at Sunfest)
Barenaked Ladies (@ Universal’s Mardi Gras)
Faith No More
Fiona Apple (at Sunfest)
Guns & Roses II aka “Axl & Friends”
Guns & Roses (2 times)
Ice Cube (at Lollapalooza ’92)
Joan Jett (@ Disney’s Pleasure Island)
Journey (2 times)
Jimmy Buffett (7 times)
Metallica (2 times)
Ministry (@ Lollapalooza ’92)
Nine Inch Nails
Pearl Jam (@ Lollapalooza ’92)
The Ramones (@ Lollapalooza ’96)
The Red Hot Chili Peppers (@ Lollapalooza ’92)
Right Said Fred
Sheryl Crow (at Sunfest)
Soundgarden (3 times)
Sponge (@ Lollapalooza ’96)
Squirrel Nut Zippers (@ Universal’s Mardi Gras)
The Spice Girls
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Tori Amos (2 times)
Van Halen (with Sammy Hagar)
Voltaire (@ The Nightmare Before Thanksgiving)
“Weird Al” Yankovic (2 times)
Acts listed in bold have a link to a blog post or photos from the show. There are other posts, too, but that will have to wait for another concert list update in the future once I finish retroactively categorizing my past blog posts.
You know that fear that wells up inside when your parents dig up embarrassing old photos and videos of you and shows them to your friends? I have found a way to combat that fear.
I show them to the Internet before they can.
In 1991, my friend Dave DeRosa and I got decided that Martin County High School was sorely lacking a “Motion Picture Club.” I mean, they had clubs for everything else – so why not one for nerds who like to MAKE movies. (Back then, it wasn’t as commonplace as it is now.) Thus, we got off our respective asses, found a teacher to sponsor the club, and started shooting movies with my old VHS camcorder. A number of short films were created in my back yard and various other locales in the sleepy beach town of Stuart, Florida. Most of these gems from my childhood have been lost forever in various moves and changes in formats.
Our most ambitious film project we plotted for our newly formed high school club was to create a full length motion picture: Dave & Tom’s Excellent Adventure. As you may have guessed, Dave and I enjoyed a fascination with two popular film dudes and based our parody on their exploits. My Keanu voice impression wasn’t half bad back then.
In retrospect, this video makes a clever time capsule of our shared home town town from twenty years ago.
(Sweet Jesus, we’re fucking old.)
I’m sure I’ll sit through all forty eight minutes again one night a draw out of more detailed list of “look for this!” sort of stuff, but for now – keep an eye our for a cameo from an actual DeLorean AND footage of the old Martin Square Mall movie theater (that no longer exists.)
Things have been busy, but I’m picking up where I left off on my post back on April 9th.
When we were last reading about my zany adventures in Japan, I had just left the Imperial Palace with Rob and Jason and the three of us were on our way to check out the world famous intersection at Shibuya Station.
When we got there, the bustle of people lived up to the place’s reputation. See?
Still not buying it? Maybe this will help: I took a video of us walking through the crowd when the lights changed and the pedestrians all crossed the road:
Crazy, right? I know what you’re thinking; you’re thinking, “Tom, why do you use the phrase ‘mass of humanity’ so much when narrating?”
Great question! I was tired, less than articulate, and (honestly) it’s a really good descriptive phrase when talking about the mass of humanity that the population of…
Dammit. I did it again.
We walked around the town for a bit stopping in various shops. I took a photo of this in a movie store because it seemed funny to me (and because I really, really like those movies:)
Every once and a while we’d see some super cute Japanese girls in fashionable outfits. My wife asked me to try and get photos (she LOVES Japanese fashion) when I was near Harajuku. The problem was, though, that I didn’t want to be “that creepy American guy” with the camera. (We have enough of those at American anime conventions already; you know who they are.)
Solution? Rob would volunteer to act like he was posing for a photo. Notice him to the right of this shot:
As we continued down the street, we hard a lot of chanting and noise and walked towards it expecting a parade or something. It turns out that we stumbled upon a nuclear protest in Shibuya. People were walking through the street (a LOT of people) protesting with signs and chanting.
We ran into the crowd again later that day when we made it to Harajuku. Before making it to the world famous fashion district, though, we saw some interesting things. Things like a McDonald’s and (what I assume to be) a member of the Japanese version of ZZ Top:
COLORS. The city around the Shibuya are is just a blast of advertisements, signs, and architecture:
Holy crap. A PHONE BOOTH!
Remember in my earlier post when I mentioned I saw an El Camino in Japan? I was telling the truth. See?
No, this isn’t photoshopped. It’s a REAL Tower Records store still open.
Speaking of “towers,” we passed this shop along the way:
The closer we got to Harajuku, the more crowded it got. The most interesting thing about this photo is the fact that you can see not just one, but two (TWO!) Caucasians in the crowd. While this sounds like sarcasm, it’s not. Seeing other non-Japanese people in Japan was a rare sight.
I took this photo to illustrate a point. In Japan, it is considered impolite to walk and eat at the same time (unlike America where everyone in the city is gulping a cup of coffee or chewing down a hot dog.) Thus, the Japanese will stop and eat before continuing going somewhere:
Spelling “softened” in Engrish since 1977…
And then we finally arrived at the street made mainstream at Target shopper friendly thanks to Gwen Stefani:
Walt Disney was a lying sack of shit.
Allow me to explain.
About seventeen years ago, my father got remarried to a woman named Sharon. At that point in my life, though, I was fully grown and had moved out on my own so he, she and I never lived under the same roof. My immediate expectation, though, when my father entered into this new chapter of his life was that I was allegedly getting something that years of Walt’s animated films had taught me to expect: a wicked stepmother.
It took time to learn that the propaganda perpetuated by the House of Mouse was grossly misinformed… at least in my case.
First off: Sharon Croom wasn’t my stepmother since she never raised me. More importantly, she never tried to be. She respected who I was in relation to our shared family connections and never attempted to impose more than a very close and loving friendship. She loved my dad and (by extension) expressed her love for me. She was genuine, honest, and a very caring person who loved me without knowing me more than the occasional communication and visits and through the stories from my dad.
She was an amazing woman.
Aside from not being (or trying to be) my “stepmother” – Sharon was far from being a wicked person. The moment she met my girlfriend over a decade ago (now my wife) she embraced her as an immediate part of the family. Sharon had a gift of being family without the need to impose the actions for forcing a family relationship on me.
Here’s my favorite example/memory of this: Each year, Sharon would make it her mission to impress me on Christmas. She did so not by the seeking out the most expensive or gaudy gift she could, but by genuinely putting time, thought, and research into something she honestly believed I wouldn’t expect and would (at the same time) be impressed by.
Before they were commonplace technology, USB drives (originally called a “disk on key”) were rare and hard to come by. Sharon knew I was a tech nerd and had stumbled upon this new gadgetry.
That Christmas I opened a 128 MB (yes… MB) “disk-on-key.” I had no idea what is was when I opened it, but when I read the documentation I was amazed, impressed, and thankful.
This was the type of woman she was; a person who shared her love by understanding the complexity of love and relationships. She was an amazing woman and I am glad that she was a part of mine and Shannon’s lives and (most importantly) the woman who loved my father.
A couple of weeks ago, my father called me while I was in a business trip to Atlanta and informed me that Sharon had cancer and it was diagnosed as terminal. No one expected things to move as quickly as they did, though, at that point.
Last Thursday, dad called me (before I left the country for the weekend) to let me know that hospice was on their way to the house to assess Sharon’s condition.
When I got back in the states on Sunday, I got word that the doctors had given Sharon less than two weeks. I made arrangements with my office and drove to St. Petersburg, Florida (where they live) the next afternoon. By the time Shannon and I got there, Sharon had already been moved to a local hospice center.
The doctors had shifted her time frame to less than 48 hours.
We spent Tuesday with her, my dad, and her children (Jack and Whitney.) Sometimes, when you know there’s nothing that can be done, just being there is the most important thing in the world.
I’m sitting in their house typing this and sharing in the memories of a woman who touched my life, my father’s, and countless others. Being here you can feel that this house was always one filled with love thanks to her.
May she rest in peace.