Friday, March 27, 2009

The Male Ego

The Male Ego is spoken word poetry given by a group guys from different cultural backgrounds. They share testimonies of self-love and self-hate, denial and insecurity, courage and resurrection. This show given by UrbinIntel Productions; went on at Trinity on Main’s Performance Arts Center in New Britain. The place was filled at twenty dollars a ticket. At the right hand corner of the stage there was a disk-jockey and in the middle of the stage just one microphone. Everyone seemed excited to hear about what these men were going to say.

The Male Ego is written and performed by Akil Dasan, Jamaal St. John, Buddha LuvJonz, Anthony Morales and Michael "Chief" Peterson and is directed by Buttafly Soul. Anthony Morales talks about his experience being a Latino growing up in New York City. Jamaal St. John poetically confesses that his genitalia makes him the biggest man! Buddha Love Jones sings to the ladies with his Laotian appeal and charming rhyme scheme. Chief finally confronts that grown men do cry and talks about how he grew up without his father. These men talk about their most intimate thoughts and are ultimately daring. The audience can feel sadness, excitement, and even laughter with the kinds of expressions these men use in their poetry. They introduce the Male Ego.

The show is hip and fresh, definitely worth buying a ticket for. Men and women were able to relate to the things that were spoken. For example Jamaal St. John stated that "Real Women Have Curves." He expressed how he loves women size 12-16, and that there is nothing wrong with women who look like the singer Jill Scott cause she is "so sexy." Everyone applauded and stood up after he was done. Plenty of the ladies seemed like they were impressed with his thoughts and concerns on how curvier women should feel.

You can know more about the Male Ego and when the next performance is by clicking Here you will be able to see interviews, pictures and poetry written by Michael "Chief" Peterson. It is an insight on the men themselves. The Male Ego should be seen by everyone. You will not be bored from the moment you take your seat!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Subliminal Messaging: A Hidden Art Form

On a warm Tuesday afternoon, I was outside enjoying the arrival of the spring season. Quickly flipping through the pages of this weeks issue of Sports Illustrated to get their predictions of the Stanley Cup, a particular advertisement caught my eye. I eventually turned back to the page that had captivated my interest and realized that it was only an advertisement for Canadian Mist, a popular brand of Canadian whiskey. I studied the page wondering why I was so intrigued to turn back. It was another classic example of subliminal messaging.

Subliminal messaging is a tool used by advertisers that works on the reader's subconscious by placing hidden elements within the advertisement. These elements often times are explicit in nature. This particular Canadian Mist advertisement pictured a horizontally tipped bottle pouring it's contents into a shot glass with two gold medals wrapped around the neck of the bottle. The advertisement read "Less Coin. More Medal.", saying that this whiskey had won a plethora of awards in its existence. The gold medals were strategically placed on the neck of the bottle to resemble a phallus.

I showed the advertisement to the group I was currently hanging out with asking them what they saw. After careful observation, they all came up with the same answer.

In our present economic time, this sort of activity is both clever and dangerous. Since subliminal advertisements work on the subconscious, the observer of this advertisement will later chose to purchase Canadian Mist because the subconscious has now placed that particular type of whiskey to the promise of sex. This will then turn profits for Canadian Mist because it's feeding on a human urge. This practice is extremely dangerous due to its psychological effects on the subconscious mind. In 1974, the FCC was made aware of this trend and deemed it to be "contrary to public interest".

The worst part about subliminal messaging in magazine advertisements: the advertisers can
completely deny it. In the case of Canadian Mist, they can contest that the advertisement depicts a horizontal bottle with two gold medals on it without any underlying messages because that's exactly what is pictured.

In all honesty, going to the liquor store later that day I was some what drawn in by the bottle of Canadian Mist but, seeing as though it was Saint Patrick's Day, I grabbed the Jameson bottle instead. Something about Canadian whiskey on the day of celebration of the patron saint of Ireland didn't fit.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Six great places to visit in New Britain - Part 1


Capitol Lunch is a New Britain landmark. If theres one place in this city to visit it would have to be this famous restaurant. Many will actually claim that they make the best chili dogs on the face of the planet. I definitely agree.

So how did it all begin? The original location was actually a shoe shine shop. They started to sell hot dogs in order to attract more customers. Soon enough the hot dogs were so popular that Capitol Lunch was born in 1929.

The current location is 510 Main Street but it has several previous locations. Arthur Urnaris and Nick Sangeloty have been running it since the mid 1950's and "the hot dogs with the famous sauce" have remained the same. The cost of a hot dog is still only $1.60.

Capitol Lunch hot dogs have a way of bringing back good memories from my youth. The whole experience was a fun and bonding experience for me and my family. The first time I remember going there I would have been 4 or 5. Me and my dad jumped in the car and cruised downtown. This would have been the mid 1970's so I remember my dad's car being a gigantic boat of a vehicle. The trip down there was half the fun. My dad would sing along with music on the radio and joke around with me.

Walking up you could instantly smell the amazing aroma wafting out the door as you approached. Once you got inside your mouth would start to water. The beautiful smell of hot dogs frying on the grill and the sauce would fill your nose. I would hold my dads hand and wait in line. It was always filled with a very diverse crowd. You could hear a few different languages being spoken all around you. Typically they would be : English, Polish, and Spanish.

The anticipation would build until you finally got the the front of the line. My dad would always order a dozen hot dogs with everything and we would bring them home in two white boxes. "With Everything" in the language of Capitol Lunch meant a hot dog with mustard, onions, and sauce. And it still means that today.

Once we got the hot dogs home everyone would gather at the table. We would eat our hot dogs, talk, and just basically be a family.

A Slice of Summer

As I walked into our little white cape one night after going to the gym, I was greeted by an irresistibly sweet smell that led me to the kitchen. My nose was mesmerized and suddenly the chaos of everything going on around me stopped. I could no longer hear the dogs barking and running around the house, or the TV in the background. I was only focused on one thing...the kitchen.

Reminiscent of roasted marshmallows, the scent was light and the kitchen was warm. Even though it was a cool night and summer was still a ways away, once I smelled the pineapple angel food cake baking in the oven, I couldn'thelp but remember past summers.

Pieces of the past came flying back to me as I sat at my small kitchen table, unable to leave the room. The simple cake brought back childhood memories of running through the sprinkler, warm sand beneath my toes, and getting a well deserved ice cream from the ice cream truck on a hot day.The light cake had me craving warm weather and the simple pleasures that go along with it.

There is nothing complicated about the pineapple angel food cake that was still rising in the oven, it’s as simple as a popsicle on a summer day.There are four ingredients required: a can of crushed pineapple, angel food cake mix, cool whip, and coconut. The taste of the cake isn't complicated either. With the first bite, I felt the crunch of the toasted coconut mix with the moist cake. There were flavors of cream and pineapple, with a hint of cherry flavoring, which brought back memories of summer sundaes.

Even though I have long since finished that unforgettable piece of pineapple angel food cake, I long for more, just as I long for the summer sun.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Coco Key Indoor Water Resort

Coco Key a 55,ooo square ft. indoor water resort located in Waterbury Connecticut's Holiday Inn. This resort gives everyone a nice opportunity to get away from the winter weather and feel like you are on a tropical mini vacation. Walking in, the air is hot it is 84 degrees. Music is playing and there are lots of happy faces, including mine. I see a bar on my left, as well as Pizza Hut and A&W. On my right a first aid station that distributed towels for the guests. There was a bright red and yellow play scape called Parrots Perch right in front of me. This interactive play station was made up of different water splashing cannons and slides. A water bucket would dump hundreds of gallons of water every few seconds sending spectators a big gush of cold air once it hit the ground. This resort also has a mini lazy river that offers a movie as you float around, a spa hot tub for the older crowd and a fast paced water slide named Coconut Grove Adventure River. For those who like adventurous water tube rides. The twists and turns in this ride was enough for me to not want to go a second time. Birthday parties are also held here. Offering children with winter birthdays to have a summer like experience. Coco Key gave me a lovely summer day. I even forgot what the weather was like outside. I had good food, a tropical mixed drink called Miami Hurricane, and relaxed in a spa pool all in one day. This is a definite on the to do list for those who have the winter blues. You will definitely enjoy yourself and forget the winter weather beyond Coco Keys doors.

"Well life's a train, it goes from February on, day by day, but it's making a stop on April 1st."

"April Fools"
Rufus Wainwright
Self-Titled, 1998

"Cross My Heart"
The Rocket Summer
Calendar Days

Waking up to chill wafts of air from an open window instead of a dusty fan is revitalizing; spring is creeping around the corner and into my lungs.
After not bothering to pay attention to the weather forecast during the New England freeze (There's snow on the ground. Okay, sweatshirt and pants.) I find myself clicking the 10-day forecast profusely while sitting in a bathrobe, waiting for Mother Nature's word on what I am allowed to accessorize for the day.
Certain aspects of our lives change with the season; we slough off the long johns, bulky boots, restrictive mittens and gloves. Materialism aside, many even opt for a change of tune.
During the not so sunny days of darkness after 5p.m, the music in constant rotation was that of a more mellow, guitar twinged sound: M. Ward's 'To Go Home' had me longing for my father's rural home in Massachusetts, Matt Pond PA's "Halloween" reminded me of my isolatory ways in public situations (not being able to speak at parties where socialization is out of the question), with every song comes an accompanying thought.
Once the temperature creeps up to 50 degrees, it's as if that overthinking fold of the brain decides to go on a vacation, yet checks a Blackberry daily for updates on the body's functionality. Another section of the brain sits in for the other on leave, but this one isn't employee of the month material, this little guy wants to kick his feet up in the cubicle and have a nice drink.
This is when the musical maniac in me begins to crave lighter, flow-through-your-room airy delights; songs reminiscent of the better days. Even though I am constantly trolling the music industry for new artists, during the hotter months I tend to pull out favorites that remind me of past summer memories. As a certain smell can trigger a figment of something once thought forgotten, music has always been a major firecracker that helps one remember an ex-significant other, a childhood home, and even a deceased loved one.
There is a warmer weather memory I have thought of constantly recently, and have tried my best not to be too melancholy over: driving solo in a car with no destination in mind, with the windows down and the stereo cranked. The two songs at the top have found their way into my past automobiles during these months for the past four years, where I loudly sing along tit for tat, note for note. Being momentarily without a vehicle, this could pose a threat to my ritualistic pleasures.
For this, I have found a temporary solution of planning walks, hikes, camping trips, and I can still of course enjoy my upbeat selections while being a trooper and taking public transportation. I may have to resist the temptation of singing, a stranger would probably tell me to not quit my day job, and then I'd overthink the reasons I don't have one.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Shoes: More Than Just A Womans Guilty Pleasure

I can remember when I was a little kid thinking that no one was cooler than Michael Jordan. I can also remember when I was a little kid, thinking that nothing was cooler than having the newest, and freshest pair of Air Jordan basketball sneakers.

I can remember pleading my case every single basketball season to my parents. “They are the best sneakers,” I would say. “They will make me jump higher!” My parents would always respond, “That’s what you said last season, and you haven’t even gotten your old Air Jordan’s dirty yet.”

Although my parents were completely in the right, and bought me my fair share of Air Jordan’s over the years; I could never shake my addiction to having a fresh and perfectly fitting pair of sneakers.

While my days of wanting the coolest basketball sneakers has passed, my days of wanting the lightest, brightest, and most high-tech running sneakers has only just begun. I’m a down to earth guy who is easy to please, but when it comes to running shoes, I’m a real snob. I only buy Nike’s, the brighter the better. For some strange reason all of my running shoes are neon green.

Anyways, ever since I was a little kid, I had always felt a tad-guilty about having new sneakers. I mean, I didn’t exactly need them for performance; I was just a little kid who loved to play basketball at the park. Along with not exactly needing the shoes, I was one of the more fortunate kids in my group of friends growing up, while I had a new pair of Air Jordan's, I could see their toes ripping through the material of their sneakers, with this my sneaker guilt only got worse.

As the years past, my guilt for wanting, and often times attaining unnecessary new sneakers followed me. It followed me through high-school, and even more so into college; where as a football players at Southern Methodist University, we were given free Nike athletic gear from head to toe (including the most expensive football cleats and training shoes).

Even though my days of black-top basketball glory, and days spent on a college football field have passed, I continued to buy expensive sneakers, for recreation leagues and touch football games. Even though my sneakers are purchased with my own money, and at my own discretion, I still felt guilty; I can't help but feel, I just don't need these sneakers.

I never thought I'd find the cure, but about 3 weeks ago, I shook my personal battle with sneaker guilt. I had been having tremendous foot, and ankle pain following my runs. I took my Nike running shoes to a specialty running store, and asked if they had any suggestions. The salesman who has run more than 25 marathons, asked me how long I had had my sneakers. He also asked me how many miles I had put on them. I told him about 3 months, and about 300 miles. He looked at me and casually said, “Well there’s your pain.” It turns out that my shoes were worn out, and no longer could provide the support I needed. He suggested I get a new pair, and I continue to do so every 250 miles. Long story short, I no longer feel guilty about purchasing a new pair of sneakers, as long as I’ve run 250 miles in them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I could smell that familiar smell. It crept its way up my nose and haunted my senses. I could compare my feelings at that moment to either waking up in a cold sweat or to taking a beating from a group of guys. Maybe it was a little bit of both. 

To me it smelt like death, but others would say the smell was a combination of coffee, cigarettes, eucalyptus plants and marijuana. It's a smell that has stuck out in my mind all of my life. Every other weekend I dreaded this smell as a child. The one that would make me feel nervous, sad and sick all at the same time. When it enters my head now I can feel it lingering in my nostrils. 

The last time I smelt this particular scent was more than two weeks ago. Though I've returned to the house that contains the scent many times, it has never bothered me as much as it did on my last visit. My last visit, however, was far different than any of the others. 

The last visit reminded me of what it was like to be a child again. The last visit broke me, shattering what was left of the little respect I had for the man living inside of this house. 

I could handle being slapped around and bruised, certainly, it's all I've known. I could handle being called a faggot and an idiot too. I could handle the fiercest abuse 20 years had to offer. The one thing I couldn't handle, after countless attempts to reach out to this man, was the fact that he couldn't accept my love. He will take my company these days, but he will always reject my love.

For the past six months, every time I've told him that I love him it's been returned with silence. When I confronted him, he said he couldn't tell me that he loves me. 

Maybe it's his guilt. Maybe it's his selfishness. Maybe he just doesn't know what love is, I often struggle with the concept myself. Whatever the reason is, whether it's good or not, the fact that he can't use the words "love" and "you" in the same sentence towards me crushes my heart. 

The scent of my father is still strong beneath my nose, and that's why I can't answer when he calls. That's why I won't visit. That's why I'm not around to help fight his loneliness and depression. This is my vengeance. I don't care if he dies before I ever see him again. I need him to tell me that he loves me, and when he says it I want to hear honesty in his voice.

Until then he'll just be a ghost to me, the fading stench of evil. As twisted as his mind and soul,  he's knotted my emotions, and I won't be free until he unties them. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

GQ Magazine: A Good Read, For Any Guy, Anywhere

I was very skeptical when entering into my monthly relationship with GQ magazine. After all, I’m a 24 year old college student who lives on about 100 dollars per week (This drives the women wild); what information, or pleasure could I possibly attain from reading a publication whose motto is “Look Sharp + Live Smart?” However, after picking up my first issue of GQ at the suggestion of a close friend, I found I couldn’t put the famous men’s magazine down.

I quickly discovered that GQ was far more than a monthly men's bible for millionaires and flashy dressers. Instead, I became privy to a plethora of information that any man, of any age, budget, or background cold relate to. In fact, many of GQ’s articles are based on using what you already have, to get what you ultimately want.

In addition to an endless stream of self-help advice, GQ boasts some of the most provocative, and illuminating articles found anywhere. The world of sports, politics, fashion,food,human interest,dating,and human nature, are all tended to in a professional and entertaining manner. The March, 2009 issue of GQ (still on newsstands) features articles ranging from “The Low-Priced, High-Class Business Wardrobe,” to “An Outrageous Tale of Sibling Rivalry.”

Next time you find yourself at the newsstand, pick up a copy of GQ. After all, it has something for every guy.

-Matt D’Annolfo