Friends, Family & Dennis O'Connor: So today I decided to wear my Grateful Dead concert t-shirt (tie dye of course) from their last tour with a living Jerry Garcia - I'm wearing it in honor of Andy Goldberg who most of my college friends would know as "Flounder" a nickname he hated - ha ha. He was a classmate at Drew and he recently passed away via leukemia. You would think in Southern Cali a Dead shirt wouldn't be such a big deal but the reactions in and out of work have been hilarious...the best part is that my boss decided to wear her Hippie clothes to work today too, so the office suspects a conspiracy. I survived my trip to Dubai for the Rugby World Cup Sevens a couple of weeks ago. The lowlight of the trip was sprinting through three terminals trying to make my airline connections on British Airways (missed on the way there, just made it on the way back). Also all my teams, Ireland, USA and the All Blacks got stuffed - going half way around the world for that was tough - ha ha. Highlights were that I got the best tickets in the stadium, right next to the "Emir's Podium" - I don't know what you call the big boss of the place, but for this email he's the Emir. The best thing, other than being "on the 50" about those seats is that when any team wins their division they go up a set of stairs and accept a trophy from the "Emir" which means when the one person I knew who won anything won her event I could walk right over and give her a "High Five" as she collected the trophy. Imagine being able to give Coach Tomlin a "High Five" on his way to collect the Super Bowl Trophy - ha ha. I was sitting with mostly British businessmen, who while not blessed with winning personalities, were quite generous with their beer once they'd gone over their 4 beer limit. Just when you got to the point where you wanted to punch them in the face for saying something stupid, anti-American or just generally arrogant; they would hand you another cold beer - ha ha. The stadium was selling beers for about $10 and selling 12packs (in a leaky/zipped up plastic cooler) about $3 cheaper/beer. One funny/sad thing that happened was on the first day in my section, I kicked back talking trash to the Brits and this African dude comes straight at me (past about 80 white people) and says with a wicked smile, in an English accent, "You don't belong here do you?". In order to be in the section you have to have two color coded items one on your wrist the other around your neck...I lifted both in his face and while ignoring him spoke to the others and said, "it is so sad that some people are filled with such self loathing that they can't imagine anyone who shares their skin color being able to enjoy the finer things in life." On that note he slinked away like Gollum denied his "Precious" and I went back to enjoying life. There was lots of beer and lots of people in costumes. Women were allowed to wear whatever they wanted, no real signs of repression. I did get to tour Dubai but only for a day - saw the outsides of all the attractions (7 Star Hotel, the Palm Tree and Globe Shaped Islands, the place where you can ski indoors) including a quick tour of Dubai's History Museum and checking out a couple of beaches. Yes, there were Burkhas and Bikinis side by side on the beach. In conclusion: Work is fine. My health is good. There have been lots of layoffs in the Big Corp and even some internally so I'm quite happy just to be employed these days and with the recent passing of a younger college classmate (one of my law school classmates passed away of leukemia recently, too); I guess I'm quite happy just to be alive and able to enjoy life on mostly my own terms. Hopefully most of you are doing the same. Peace!!! -jcs PS. Just before I was about to hit send on this email all Wheel employees were all called into the conference room. Now because of the economy we no longer get limos (my favorite perk) and our wrap party was canceled and we don't really expect much of a/any raises this year...well the Big Boss called us together to have a little raffle since we didn't have a wrap party (where we would have a big raffle of prizes and trips)...long story short, guess who won a Sony Cybershot Digital Camera (DSC-W55 for those of you who know that stuff, I don't)... ...Life is good!
March 28th,2006 Friends, Family & Dennis O'Connor: I was supposed to go to Denver for "Wheel Business" last week but I got stuck on jury duty. Didn't think they would even put a lawyer on a jury and I know for a fact that they shouldn't. The case was a crack dealer - member of the Bloods Street Gang (and I've always been pro-Crip so he already didn't have a chance). Trial should have lasted 2 days tops but we had a surprise witness (laymen, you almost never have a surprise witness just show up in the middle of a trial - only in the movies) which took up a whole day of B.S. Jury deliberation was very interesting. I refused to be the foreman and let everyone discuss the case and figure out how to make a decision (meanwhile I was enjoying kicking back and observing the "non-legal mind" at work)... ...until it the discussion went into day 2 and I heard someone mention lunch plans (and it was only 10am). I then cross-examined every "reasonable doubt" every juror had and about 10 minutes later we had a verdict. See they all agreed that he was guilty as hell but they had a problem with the veracity of 3 of the 7 police who were witnesses... ...but believing the 4 "trustworthy pigs" was good enough to have all the facts in for a conviction. My strongest observation for you trial lawyers reading this right now... ...if the defense lawyer keeps harping on something, over and over again; even if it isn't relevant - make sure that you've proved to the jury that it isn't relevant because the jury will "make up" reasons to make it relevant if you don't "shoot it down" properly. Their reasoning, "it must be relevant because the defense kept bringing it up". So as for Wheel of Fortune, my co-workers actually had a cute little prank all set up for my arrival (unfortunately I never arrived). They put up signs all over the Colorado Convention Center, especially at the rest rooms that read "Joe Somerville's Office". I even have a photo from the Puzzle Board (that thing with the words on it that you see on the TV) and they have "Where's Joe Somerville's Office" spelled out on the board. I think I will have to keep a copy of that (if I get a jpg of it, I will share). Good to know my "professional family" was thinking about me. Now I'm in a weird place. Our season is over and we're getting ready for next season/for summer vacation (which hopefully will be another great adventure)... ...in other words, I ain't doing sh*t!!! Ha Ha!!!
Posted June 2005 Friends, Family & Dennis O'Connor: The quote in the subject line is what I've been saying all day; and will continue to say for the rest of the New Zealand trip. The Dominion Post (Wellinton, NZ's newspaper) came out with its article. It isn't availible online so I'm having it scanned and will send it out either Friday or during the weekend. The article (plus its photo of me with a beer in my hand singing 'Brown Eyed Girl'") has turned me into a minor folk hero in Wellington; it characterized me as the lone All Black supporter standing my ground against a boatload of Lions fans. How silly has it become? When I went up to Palmerton North for the rugby match yesterday, everyone on my train car knew who I was and since they were all Lions supporters, they gave my plenty of good natured ribbing. Even more crazy, when I got to Palmerton North, outside the stadium a guy was scalping tickets and he stopped mid transaction as I walked by to inform me that, "I know yew, yer da wun in der paypers terday!!!" Also in Palmerston North, a Maori gentlemen with his entire face tatooed Mike Tyson style walked up to me and did the traditional "pressing of noses together" that Maori Men use and a sign of great respect. It is extremely fortunate that I read up on a little Moari culture before I got here, because if that tatooed faced dude had tried to press his nose up against mine before I read that stuff; I would have assumed he was trying to kiss me... ...and that ain't happening!!! I don't have the official name of this greeting but we pressed noses against each other hard enough that I made him back away from me (ha ha); Maoris are very very macho, so you've got to push hard to get their respect. This morning my cleaning lady told me the story about the American who "stood alone and won against the Barmy Army" she heard the story on the radio (on the feckin radio!!!). Now I don't know what the heck I could have "won" on the 3 hour ferry trip to Wellington but my "winning" something seems to be the city's vibe. Every pub I go into at least one person grabs me and says, "yer da woon ferm der paypers!!! I saw yer in der paypers!!!" Today two women offered themselves to me because I was "their hero" (of course they were ugly and I turned them down - ha ha) and another women hit on me as she told me about how she's flying off to see her boyfriend tomorrow!!! Random people want their picture taken with me and even more random people are doing the only thing I like about this new development... ...they're buying me beer. My buddies are tickled pink about the whole thing and whenever someone walks up to me and says , "yer da woon ferm der paypers!!!", they begin bowing down to me and making asses of themselves. Tonight in one pub, I cursed out some little jackass for trying to talk shit to me; he later came back to appoligize, but I told his friends to take this little wanker out of my sight...(and they did - ha hs). I might actually play a little rugby tomorrow (I doubt it since I have no cleats, but I've been invited just the same). __________________________________________________ Previous Message: Just a quick update. Had a great time yesterday travelling to Wellington via bus. I had reserved tickets on the train but my Lions Supporting friends convinced the very drunk "Coach Captian" (each bus has a manager that handles logistics) that I was "needed". They had the space so at 5:45am the bus took off for Picton. I took his first assent and drunkenly coerced so it didn't count. By the way the Coach Captain reminds me of the really violent guy from Trainspotting, the one who beat up the whole bar for fun (think his name was Bigby or something like that). Well the next day, I got the sober confirmation and we were on our way. Interesting factoid that only Pat Connoly would care about: going from the South Island to the North Island of New Zealand, you actually travel South from Picton to Wellington. On the ride up our driver drove like a madman (we were getting tossed around on the back of the bus - like a roller coaster) and most of the time the lanes were just one lane on the side of a mountain and extremely curvy (sp). We had a great laugh on the bus, just bullshitting (my buddy Kearney is a world class bullshitter - English raised but with a proud Liverpool Irish heritage and a love of the Guiness). He brought his wife, kid, best friend and the best friend's wife with him so its a real classic family affair. The wife is scared of flying, sailing, pretty much moving faster than you legs can take you, so she's been a source of constant entertainment, his kid is 12 and a soccer player who is always up to something; the best friend is funny as heck...when you can understand his accent. The New Zealand country side is beautiful (Lord of the Rings was filmed here) and unusual because the mountains come right up to the ocean. There was a time when we were speeding between mountains and 2 seconds later we were speeding along the beach. Most of New Zealand is mountainous (from what I've seen) with cities and towns carved out where ever the land is flat. We saw a bunch of Seals on the beach and had Crawfish for "brunch". Crawfish are huge like a lobster and cut in half with a big knife and eaten like Lobster tails (pretty good stuff but hard to get over the whole - looks like a giant insect thing). On board the Ferry in Picton (a 3 hour boat ride); we may have had a few beers which head to a massive sing-a-long in the Ferry Bar (Brown Eyed Girl, Motown, and Irish folk songs, etc.). About 40 of us just having a great time. There were reporters on the bus and we were both filmed and photographed as well as your's truly giving an interview at length (ha ha). I really poured on the "this is what rugby is all about" sound bites; "give" the media what they want (ha ha). I think the paper is the Dominion Post in Wellington; I'll have to pick it up and see if we made the cut for the "Lions Are Coming" headlines. From what I've seen of Wellington, its a bit more cosmopolitan (sp) than Christchurch; meaning the women have discovered shampoo and makeup here - which makes the Wellington girls a major improvement on the Christchurch girls. Wellington is a college town and its city center is very commercialized - It could be in downtown of any major college town in the USA - but it has a special character because it is a coastal town that barely has room for itself because the mountains are only about 10 blocks away from the coast. So what little city they could squeeze in, is in the flat part and houses populate the surrounding mountains like the Hollywood Hills on steriods. There's a match today in North Palmerstown, about two hours away. I think I have a deal on tickets and transport (the Coach Captain is working on it, he's a good fella); if so I have a busy day ahead of me. Anyway, take care everyone... -jcs PS: In my dreams last night/this morning, everyone had a New Zealand or Brit accent (ha ha) ___________________________________________________ Previous Message: Well Saturday started with freezing temperatures, then the rain came down in buckets and if freezing temps and tons of rain weren't enough...a full blown hailstorm came down in the middle of the second half!!! It was a beautiful day for rugby!!! The All Blacks put thier foot so far up England and the Pips' asses; surgery is scheduled for early this afternoon. The stadium was filled with obnoxious England supporters (they call themselves Barmys Army) half of whom just seem to have come halfway around the world just to get drunk and hurl insults for a couple of hours. The other half of them are true rugby fans who play and enjoy the whole spectacle (and encourage the other half to get drunker and hurl more insults). Since I was sitting in the middle of the bunch of them (me and on other local fella who was even bigger than me) you can imagine the opportunities for witty conversation. Of course as the scoreboard changed their insults switched targets...which means that many of them came halfway around the world to get drunk and hurl insults at guys they could have insulted locally all year. Now the Barmy Army is the prefer opponent for the Kiwis because the people of New Zealand have a sort of relationship with the English which makes beating them in anything feel like the Servant getting to punch the Master in the face... ...in front of a worldwide audience. The Big Kiwi and I laughed as with 10 minutes left the entire rows in front of us and behind us emptied and only a couple of older gentlemen in our row remained...I bet the hailstorm, freezing rain and general pain of losing were a great combination last night...it definitely put a gag on a few thousand mouths. The Barmy Army has a chant "Lions, Lions, Lions" that sounds like a loud siren when they all do it at the same time. Well that certain group of them I mentioned earlier tend to do the chant at inappropriate times...like during the host nation's national anthem. They also did the chant in Australia during "Waltzing Matilda" which is just plain disrespectful... ...but not as disrespectful as doing it during the HAKA. So it was nice payback in the end that the All Black supporters ushered the Barmy Army out of the stadium with their own chant, slightly altered to..."All Blacks, All Blacks, All Blacks!!!" I've done my laundry and I'm getting ready to leave Christchurch early in the morning tomorrow; just wanted to let you know how it went. It went awesome!!! I'm off to Wellington next... ...but if you're ever in Christchurch remember to have a steak at Sophie's. -jcs __________________________________________________ Previous Message: Friends, Family & Dennis O'Connor: Today I successfully complete the "mostly" sober half of my vacation. Starting today in a few hours sobriety will no longer be an option. Those of you not in the loop, I'm following "The British and Irish Lions" as they take on the Mighty New Zealand All Blacks in rugby's ultimate touring competition. The Lions have assembled an All Star team of the best that England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales have to offer and they are throwing them in against the greatest rugby nation of them all and I'm here to witness the first and second matches of the best 2 out of 3 series. Today is when the majority of the Lions supporters are to hit town (which is why I'm getting this message out before I voluntarily lose my sobriety). There is an estimate that as many as 30,000 fans will hit Christchurch in the next 24 hours. Since I believe the population of Los Angeles is bigger than the entire population of the country New Zealand, it should make for an interesting spectacle. I went on the Lions tour to Australia 4 years ago and it seemed like Melbourne was completely over run by Lions fans (all dressed in red and ready to party) but Sydney held its own. I don't think Christchurch is nearly the size of Melbourne so this should be interesting. I don't have any great adventures to report. New Zealand food is similar to English food, only better (more meat, better meat, not as bland) and they also have the Asian/Indian stuff, cheap and of course with more meat than you'd get in Asia (Kiwis are carnivores, like me!!!) New Zealand chicks are kind of similar to rural Pennsylvania chicks, big shoulders not very feminine (sp) and even the cute ones are pretty rough around the edges (of course coming from Los Angeles few places will be able to compete). One thing most of them are is nice and loquacious (sp) they aren't shy. More chicks you want at the bar with you drinking; "one of the fellas" types. I've already gotten a taste of the English fans, stuffy, average age of 55; walking around with thier hands behind their backs, generally disapproving of whatever they see. The Scots and Welsh tend to blend into the background with the younger England fans (glazed smiles, just happy to be here)... ...and then there's the Irish... ...average age 25, in love with every person they come into contact with and not necessarily drunk (yet). They really are the best people those European Islands have produced. I've already had some great informative, intelligent rugby conversations with the English and got great advice of where to party from the Irish. Yesterday I went to a rugby match that featured Andrew Mertens (the Joe Montana of Christchurch, which make Dan Carter - Steve Young) in his final game before moving off to the UK. It was great (they won easily) and sad at the same time. Its very strange that all my rugby heroes are actually younger than I am (Lomu, Kronfeld, Mertens, Greg Somerville, Cullen, Umaga, etc.) At the end of the match Mertens took a quick jog around the field waving at the fans and at the end of the jog faked as though he pulled a hammie; so even on his last day he was "the joker". The beer at the stadium sucked (DB Draught) but they had the best meat pies I've ever tasted (they actually had meat in them which beats Hong Kong and Warrington, England already). I haven't discovered anything about the beer here worth dancing over, I forget the brand (starts with an M) but they have one beer that comes in several styles including Black (near Guinness but better) and a Lemon/Lime version that tastes like Sprite. I've mainly tried a local beer first and then finished with a Stienlager (its Kiwi too, but tastes like home). Belmont people copied, I flew to Auckland with Lee P. and his wife and child...never really spoke with him before but he's a really really nice kid (he promises to bring back a flyhalf next year - ha ha). Its pretty cold here, which is a shame since I won't be able to show off my cool and shit Green Lions Training Jersey at night. I've already been the envy of all because you can't find them anywhere in Christchurch (and trust me these people are selling at least 6 different kinds of Lions jerseys alone - merchandizing for this tour is crazy out of control)...I've got Keith Wood's name and number on the back - which has already earned a few free beers from Irish fans (12 more and it will have paid for itself - ha ha). One minor adventure was that myself and another American (a basketball player, playing pro in NZ) wandered into Sophie's a local restaurant chain and the owner was there and had us "brothas" take pictures with her for her wall (caption, "Sophie likes her men...All Black")- so I may be right up there with my All Black heroes soon (ha ha)...Sophie's' serves a steak with bacon and eggs on top of it - good good stuff. She's a youngish, plump Maori chick who is half entrepreneur (sp) half stand up comedienne and all her ads and signs are filled with sex jokes and general silliness - not too P.C. sort of like me. Okay well that's it for now, I'm rooting for the All Blacks to stomp the Lions!!! On Saturday I will be living one of my dreams when I get to see the New Zealand All Blacks do the Haka on their home soil!!! Maybe then, I'll finally be over this silly rugby stuff (well maybe after Summer Sevens - ha ha) Life is good, people, Life is good!!!
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