Showing posts with label XMan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label XMan. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Celebration of "X"

The party is on!

Today is an especially meaningful day in my world as my father, the XMan, would have turned 70: 12-12-17. My mom is having a get-together to celebrate his life and our connection to him at his favorite restaurant, Mallorca, in downtown Cleveland.

Holiday. Celebrate. It's a celebration, and that's what certainly would have happened had he been here.

Ten years ago, the family also celebrated his birthday at Mallorca, and I came in from California without him knowing. I have an incredible memory with how excited and happy he was to see me along with our family and friends.

It's been a long haul, to say the least, with recovering and dealing with his passing in Feb. 2011. Anyone can read numerous posts on this blog and see the raw pain and mourning that transpired. Gut-wrenching. If anyone feels the need to go there, various posts on this blog will take you to that pain.

But I don't feel the need to go there today. I count my lucky stars that I have found my soulmate, Dina, and that my girls are growing into kind and caring individuals. I got a killer house and am into my education career more than ever nowadays. I am counting my blessings and would love to celebrate my dad and life with some tasty Mallorca paella.
What does it mean to be human? Well, death is certainly a part of life, and it's foolish to pretend that doesn't exist. Anyone who met the XMan quickly understood what a unique individual he was. Eccentric. Hilarious. Kind. Glorious. Polish. Mustachioed. Emotional. Hell, I'd love him even if he weren't my father.

But he was, and always will be, my dad. I guess I just thank the cosmos that I got to spend 37 years of my life with him. Gratitude. Maybe the best way to think about today, and all days, is that I was lucky to have him in my life in the flesh and now in spirit.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

'We are all shattered'

It is official. Every Feb. 16, the Snooze Button Generation and all of its subsidiaries will reflect on the world's absence of Fred "XMan" Stevens or at least do something connected to the absence of the XMan.

It now has been three years since the XMan mysteriously departed the planet, and I have somehow composed blogs titled "XMan's Death Ends Blog," "The Father of Garfield Heights" and "Two Years."

See, until the XMan passed away, I never understood the concept of unabashed, no-doubt-about-it pain. I had never experienced a profound loss. I guess I had never truly grown up.

With a backhand slap from strange odds and things I did not consider possible, the XMan vanished. So much difficulty in life surfaces when a major trauma happens that I must say I am proud of my mom, myself, my brother and extended family for surviving through this loss.

And, now, it is time to get metaphysical or in my way, Polish metaphysical.

I'm no different than a majority of the members of the Snooze Button Generation. All of my grandparents were blue collar. My parents were white collar. For me, it was predetermined that I would go to college. I feel fortunate that I could embark on two enjoyable and fulfilling professions journalism and education and feel content financially. And I have a feeling that most in the Snooze Button Generation have some similarities with that tale.

I created this blog, the Snooze Button Generation, mostly because I feel a lot of people in the ballpark of my age can look back at how pop culture has progressed in our lifetime and have a wry smile about it. I mean, seriously, is it wrong to be nostalgic when it comes to the Apple IIc or Apple IIe? What about missing the wonderful sounds of dial-up Internet? Or what about simply reminiscing about the Humpty Dance or understanding why Ol' Dirty Bastard was never Young Dirty Bastard?
This blog is all about pop culture, nostalgia and us looking at ourselves and having a chuckle. I never envisioned something like the XMan's ridiculous and painful death could derail the blog. How could fate have done such a thing?

But what I am realizing now is that there is a pretty darn good chance that any random member of the Snooze Button Generation has his own version of the XMan's death (and if you don't, consider yourself lucky!). We all have experienced our own personal tsunami. I'm 40 now. My main friends are roughly at that age, give or take five years. We've all had our major pain. It's just a matter of time when it came or when it comes.
And, now, back to my own personal pain ...

I moved out of my home in 2008, even though my daughters were only 3 and 1. I knew I had to do that to give them the best life possible and give myself a chance at some sort of happiness. My girls have been the focus of my life, and I am proud that they are two advanced, charming and healthy 8 and 6 year olds.

Not so long ago, families were intact. The surface was intact. ... I was married. My parents visited every January, and I had a brilliant idea that having a child would help my marriage. My cousin, Meathooks or Know-It-All or whatever goofy nickname we call him (pictured above in the XMan's tuxedo), bonded with my parents with his super-fabulous wife in Cleveland while I lived all the way in California. I pretended that they were surrogate versions of me. Through it all, we all loved each other's company, and no so long ago, we created a holiday commune.

Fast forward to today. Xman is gone. My marriage has been long gone, and Know-It-All's marriage has ended as well. In a strangely tender moment, playing Scrabble with Know-It-All and my mom this past Christmas break, I listened to Know-It-All explain how his divorce blindsided him, how he has had difficult times functioning and how he is in his own personal tsunami that he did not think was possible. I looked at my mom, thought about my own development and simply said, "We are all shattered."

We continue to evolve through the pain, just like the Snooze Button Generation, and maybe the unique XMan pain I have experienced is somehow something universal I never thought was possible.

Yeah, I'm writing about nostalgia and what I term "Polish metaphysics." Maybe all I need to say is: "You can tear a building down, but you can't erase a memory."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Subway: It tastes like air

The XMan would have turned 66 today, but he is gone. This is the third birthday he has missed because of his unexpected and ridiculous death. This remains a gaping loss in my life.

Today, I am not doing anything too spectacular to commemorate the XMan's birthday. However, I did recycle 24 bags from Subway that my daughters have received with kids' meals from the sandwich chain. I cannot explained why I collected these bags, except that the bags insisted they were "reusable." I failed to reuse any of them.

Strangely, I have not gone to Subway in at least one year. I simply do not like the place anymore. Wha' happened?

I remember when Subway opened in Garfield Heights, Ohio, and it was an exotic and tasty locale. I would go there with my pals Jason, Kevin, Alex, Doug and a few other sandwich hipsters, and we'd revel in Subway's fresh ingredients. I typically got a Spicy Italian, while Jason got the Tuna. I was even in the Sub Club. If I would eat 10 subs, I would receive a free one. Subway, you were generous!

Nowadays, I practically prefer anything to Subway. The store just popped up in way too many places, and I somehow had a couple subs that tasted like nothing and/or air. How does that happen?

Due to extensive Internet research, I have discovered that Subway has by far the most stores of any fast-food chain in the United States. There are 24,722 Subways, compared to the second most 14,098 McDonald's. Taco Bell seems like it's everywhere, but there are only 5,674. By my calculations, there are 20,000 too many Subways in America.

Many mysteries exist in life and with Subway. What the heck is going on with this place? You got too many types of bread, man. And I still can't explain why Laila Ali was on a bag my daughters received when they got a sub. I guess she's a role model or something. But I truly don't want to promote boxing with my daughters.
My newly developed hatred for Subway has even surpassed my dislike for McDonald's. At least McDonald's is conventionally known as evil, but Subway slowly became evil, kind of like Grimace.

It's real awkward being around Subway nowadays because I caught him taking $20 out of my wallet when I went to the bathroom. OK, that didn't happen. But that's the vibe I get from this Subway character.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Who am I to blow against the wind?

How am I supposed to feel on Father's Day? Sadness is a conventional answer. But others might say happiness because I will be with Sophie and Chloe today, and they are my happy pills. As a human being, my feelings are much more complex than that.

Miraculously, this is my third Father's Day without the XMan, and I majorly miss him. I've heard that time heals all wounds, and I have accepted the fact that he is gone. However, the XMan's death was my personal "tsunami," and anyone who's had a true profound loss may have an inkling of the overwhelming involuntary feelings one might have on, say, Father's Day.

One thing that tears me up is my newfound addiction to golf and the fact that I can't play with him. I guess every round I play, and every stroke I take, is a homage to him. I've advanced enough in the sport to play bogey golf, and there are a handful of things I do on the course that he did exactly.

One of those things is to frequently say the phrase, "Roll your buns off." I also harpoon the flag stick off the green, if anyone takes it out and leaves it on the green. I also make a crude comparison if I ever see a player putting with a golf glove.
So what is going on is that I am spending my third Father's Day without a father, even though he would be only 65 today. Obviously, the possibility of this occurring three years ago never entered my thoughts because the idea of it would be outrageous.

I spent 12 years going to Catholic school and numerous masses, and like approximately 95 percent of the people I know in my demographic, I don't go to Church now and can't accept the Catholic church's antiquated social positions. I have no clear-cut answer of what I believe in regards to spirituality, but I do live by my Jesuit high school's motto: "Men for others."

The XMan is with me everyday. If you want to call that spirituality, that is fine, and I understand that all of us have deal with things we don't want to. I am only one of 7 billion people on this planet. Who am I to blow against the wind?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Father of Garfield Heights

The worst year of my life ends today as I reflect on the unexpected and painful loss of the XMan.

One year ago today, the XMan passed away from a heart attack in Hilton Head, S.C. Time got funky for me when I heard the news. For some incomprehensible reason, I vividly recall every detail of the hour before hearing the news and the hour after. Who knew the hour before would remain so vivid?

The good news about today's date is that my mother has succeeded with her first step to some sort of recovery: She has survived the year.

Yeah, I'm not very religious, but the majority of the members of the Snooze Button Generation aren't either. Most SBG members are "spiritual not religious." I guess I'm that.

This entire XMan fiasco has made me realize there is much more in the world than meets the eye. I do not exactly know what the heck is beyond the human mind and physical world, but something is there. We are limited as humans. Right?

Something else I've realized is that heaven exists.Heaven is being a 10-year-old boy with a 15-year-old brother, beating the heat of a humid Cleveland summer by hanging out in our basement and playing APBA baseball. At about 6 p.m., the XMan would come home, get out of a suit and have dinner with the family. We'd then play APBA, or other games, until we had to go to bed. I can hardly think of a better way to spend a day - or childhood.

For a long stretch of my youth, the XMan was practically "The Father of Garfield Heights." He was me and my friends' official quarterback in pickup football games. He coached our little league teams. If we were playing Yahtzee, he'd join in. My friends and I called my home, 9911 Garfield Drive, "The Establishment." It became a given that we'd have no more fun anywhere else.

Wow. The XMan has been gone a year. I have never had to go through anything close to as painful as this year. Yeah, I'm persevering through the days. I just hope I can be half the father he was to Sophie and Chloe.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy birthday, XMan

Editor’s Note: Fred “XMan” Stevens unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack on Feb. 16, 2011. The XMan had been featured on this blog many times during his lifetime, including when he was attacked by a killer cactus, suggested his son suffocate him because of the flu and taught life lessons about solving crime. This type of blog entry called “From the XMan Chronicles” is part of a periodic SBG series that recounts tales connected to him.

The XMan would have turned 64 today, and his unexpected and ridiculous death continues to be a part of the Stevens family and Snooze Button Generation founder and CEO Joe Stevens.

Today, Stevens will be consuming Boston cream pie to remember the XMan, who loved that dessert. Curiously, extensive Internet research has shown that Boston cream pie is, in fact, a cake and not a pie. It definitely tastes like a cake.

One of the traditions the XMan perpetuated was how he concluded dining out. Frequently, a server would ask, "What you like dessert?" The XMan would reply, "Do you have Boston cream pie?" That typically ended the night.

The other day at a restaurant, 4-year-old Chloe Stevens asked Joe Stevens this: "Daddy, aren't you going to ask if they have Boston cream pie?" It likely is just a matter of time before Chloe asks servers directly for Boston cream pie.We humans — man, we're strange beings. Although we may understand the possibility of death of hitting, the fact that it somehow hit the XMan was a mega-blast to those who knew him. What happened to him did not seem possible. Nine months later, it still is hard to believe.

Mourning comes in waves for Stevens. As it uncharacteristically rains in Los Angeles today on a Monday, it doesn't seem like an overly emotional day for him.

Is XMan in heaven? There may not be puffy clouds and stuff like that. It may look more like Ironwood Golf Course in Hinckley, Ohio. If heaven exists, Stevens would like to visit there to play gin with the XMan and joke about the killer cactus that attacked him.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

XMan remembered on 'Thanksgiving Eve'

Editor’s Note: Fred “XMan” Stevens unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack on Feb. 16, 2011. The XMan had been featured on this blog many times during his lifetime, including when he was attacked by a killer cactus, suggested his son suffocate him because of the flu and taught life lessons about solving crime. This type of blog entry called “From the XMan Chronicles” is part of a periodic SBG series that recounts tales connected to him.

Today is "Thanksgiving Eve." It is the busiest day in grocery stores across the United States, the busiest travel day of the year and a time when many of us should get busy.

In the Stevens family, it may be a difficult time because we are beginning a holiday stretch in which the XMan somehow will not be a physical part of things. Although the XMan's death was the worst thing that ever happened to Snooze Button Generation founder and CEO Joe Stevens, the death spurred on a couple successful household tasks including the installation of two towel bars (see above photo).

Of course, the biggest manifestation of grief through tasks is Stevens' magnificent Chewbacca collection, which ballooned as he grieved. There have been other successful tasks, too, including the procuring of a baby grand piano and 10-person poker table, installation of an outdoor dartboard in a cabinet, new shower heads, furniture and an underwear/sock upgrade program.

Yes, Stevens has been mourning through tasks and home improvement, and that may sound bizarre because he and his father are/were no handymen.

The faded photo above, for example, is a joke photo because once Stevens and the XMan put together an IKEA dresser. Obviously, they opted not to use the directions, which are for suckers, and put together a wobbly edifice featuring necessary spaces and slants between the drawers.

As Thanksgiving Eve continues and the holiday season kicks off, Stevens is hoping that this blog entry serves as a way for him to feel slightly better about the Stevens family's fate and not bring down those around him as he continually thinks about the XMan. The XMan loved the holidays as much or more than he loved the song "Love Shack," and Stevens will attempt to love them as well this year. He might even put up a few more towel bars, which he claims are perfectly straight in real life but the photo makes them look crooked.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Pills

Editor’s Note: Fred “XMan” Stevens unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack on Feb. 16, 2011. The XMan had been featured on this blog many times during his lifetime, including when he was attacked by a killer cactus, suggested his son suffocate him because of the flu and taught life lessons about solving crime. This type of blog entry called “From the XMan Chronicles” is part of a periodic SBG series that recounts tales connected to him.

I have an addiction, and I do not plan on kicking my habit. I'm addicted to my daughters.

Every moment that I'm with them, I feel warm and happy. I have often felt this way, but with Sophie now 6 and Chloe 4, I've never felt this way more. My mom has similar feelings.

Following the ridiculous and unexpected death of the Xman, my mom and I have been driving in a grief-mobile that has us united with how we cope. We both agree that Sophie and Chloe have transformed into something called "Happy Pills."

No matter how difficult it is for us to believe what has happened to our world, the Happy Pills cheer us up. Their childlike brilliance brightens our day, and we usually feel our best around them.In Cleveland, my mom resides in "The Polish Mansion," and as we drive in our grief-mobile, we are together emotionally and will be together much more in person. Yesterday, for example, she just concluded a three-week stay in Long Beach, and I was sad to see her leave.

Our grieving wounds remain raw. Signs of the XMan are everywhere. I never really believed in a spiritual world before the XMan's death, but so many signs are around me that I am now wondering more and more about spirituality. The glorious Chewbacca collection, fantasy golf windfall and random hail in Long Beach recently (see video below) all make me realize that the XMan's spirit may be communicating to me.

My girls and I will be visiting my mom next month, then my mom will be back in California soon after that. My mom and I will be using drugs - our Happy Pills.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fantasy world becomes reality

Editor’s Note: Prominent SBG enthusiast Fred “XMan” Stevens unexpectedly passed away on Feb. 16, 2011. He is profoundly missed. The following type of blog entry is part of a periodic SBG series called “From the XMan Chronicles” that will recount tales involving the XMan.

From the XMan Chronicles:

For the past couple of years, my father, cousin (who is like a brother) and I have played fantasy golf. Before that sentence immediately stops any reasonable person from reading, please keep in mind that actual money is exchanged in fantasy golf.

This year, 70 players ponied up a $50 entrance fee with additional side bets to create a total kitty of $5,200. Basically, how the fantasy-golf pool works is that you pick a golfer each week and you get his prize money, but you can't pick the same player twice. This year presented a strange fantasy-golf dynamic, though, because my dad unexpectedly passed away in February.

When that happened, I vowed to study fantasy golf as much as humanly possible to somehow win the pool in remembrance of my father. And get a load of this:

It worked. Today was the final day of fantasy golf, and I held on to win $1,300 for the overall crown and an additional $350 from other side bets. I've never won that much in anything.

But it wasn't about the money. It was about my dad.Throughout the day, I was stressing if I could win the pool because a top competitor had Luke Donald, who missed being in a playoff by a mere stroke. As I was stressing, a big problem was that I went to a 6-year-old's birthday party and did not watch the golf or see many updates.

Eventually, the news came via a text message that the final result was too close to call and I'd have to see the PGA Tour's prize-money distribution to see if I won. After that news, I walked back to the party and participated in a game of water-balloon toss with my 4-year-old Chloe.

During the balloon toss, I had an array of thoughts that nearly made me weep. Would XMan be proud of my fantasy-golf obsession? Could I somehow pay someone $100,000 for five minutes with him? Why isn't balloon toss at all parties?

Playing balloon toss with a loved one is a beautiful thing, enjoyable and pure. Could anything be better?

Strange things happened today to make me wonder if fantasy-golf spirituality exists. It ended up that the final result was too close to call because the person on my heels was the son of the golf pool's founder. The actual winner of the PGA tournament was Bill Haas, the son of famous golfer Jay Haas.

Today was all about fathers and sons, fantasy golf and balloon toss. Simultaneously to this, my brother Fred did his best Roy Hobbs imitation to hit three home runs in a softball doubleheader, and the lowly Cleveland Browns improved to 2-1 to have their first winning record in four years.

What would the XMan say about all of this? Well, that's pretty obvious. He'd simply say, "You got to be kidding me. It's all luck."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

XMan loosely connected to Ghoulardi

Editor’s Note: Prominent SBG enthusiast Fred “XMan” Stevens unexpectedly passed away on Feb. 16, 2011. He is profoundly missed. The following type of blog entry is part of a periodic SBG series called “From the XMan Chronicles” that will recount tales involving the XMan.

From the XMan Chronicles:

As a child of Cleveland, I have heard many tales of Ghoulardi. He was the host of a Friday night show called "Shock Theater" that aired locally from 1963 to 1966.

Ghoulardi made his mark in Cleveland, big time. Clevelanders of a certain era all know him, and Drew Carey even wore T-shirts of him on his show.

Apparently, Ghoulardi was extremely irreverent, candid and often made fun of Parma, Ohio. If Cleveland is the armpit of America, Parma is what Clevelanders make fun of.

But here is where this Snooze Button Generation masterpiece takes a turn. You see, both Anne and Fred Stevens knew Ghoulardi very well. So much so, that they both knew that he was the father of Paul Thomas Anderson, the popular film director of "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia" and "There Will Be Blood."

Obviously, PT Anderson peaked with "Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia" and will never again achieve the cinematic effect he did with those glorious films. I don't mean to put his other work down, but those two movies are awesome. He is quite an accomplished director. He is only three years older than me, and he directed those films while I was concluding graduate school in New York and was starting to work at the obscure Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Anyway, I rarely see movies in the theater. But in 1999, I did see "Magnolia" with the XMan and my mom at Marina Pacifica in Long Beach, Calif.

I cannot exactly put into words our movie reviews. Obviously, we thought the Tom Cruise character was exceptional. Overall, we liked the film.

My mom knew in advance that the Jason Robards character was based on Ghoulardi, who died in 1997 of cancer. PT Anderson watched his dad, Ghoulardi, wither away from cancer and then die. I never saw that happen to the XMan.Perhaps all death situations are different, but strangely, I feel some sort of affinity, or connection, to PT Anderson and Ghoulardi and me and the XMan.

The XMan and I also were cool enough in 1999 to realize that a singalong to Aimee Mann's "Wise Up" was totally appropriate and good.

Good God, "Wise Up" is a heartfelt, beautiful song. The beginning lyrics are totally applicable to mourning and life: "It's not what you thought when you first began it. You got what you want. Now you can hardly stand it, though, by now, you know, it's not going to stop."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Dewtini: Far from facetious

In my ongoing quest to be a bon vivant, Renaissance man and avant-garde mixologist, I have discovered a cocktail that refreshes and oozes class. It's the Dewtini (TM).

Inspired by the XMan, who often imbibed Mountain Dew with vodka, the Dewtini combines Mountain Dew and vodka in a martini glass with a fancy cocktail umbrella. It must be shaken, not stirred.

At a recent party featuring many Long Beach, Calif., elite, a handful of individuals recognized the Dewtini as a tasty treat. For me, the Dewtini has become my summer drink of choice, replacing sangria (2010) and siete tres (2009).

The Dewtini is a bit like a mullet or tuxedo T-shirt. Because it is served in a martini glass, it is classy. That is the case with the business-like mullet in the front and the formality of a tuxedo T-shirt. But because the Dewtini also features a popular soft drink, it says "I like to party," just like the mullet or tuxedo T-shirt.Some might wonder if the Dewtini truly is a magnificent cocktail or merely a fad. Well, Mountain Dew is high in caffeine, and vodka is high in liquor content. Therefore, it is sort of like the popular Red Bull/vodka, which has been around about as long as the Old Fashioned, which was referenced in the May 6, 1806, issue of The Balance and Columbia Repository in Hudson, New York.

Another impressive component of the Dewtini is that its signature ingredient, Mountain Dew, uses all the vowels just once, such as the actress Julia Roberts, hockey goalie Martin Brodeur and earth-friendly sequoias. It's a far cry from the word "facetious," though, which has all the vowels in order.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Chloe Stevens has a ball

Today is a momentous day in the Stevens family because of the symbolic exchanging of softballs.

Chloe Stevens also turns 4 today, and I am welcoming her to the time when, according to my Internet research, memories can stay with you forever. I now am making important points to Chloe by staring at her eyes and slowly saying, "Believe me. You will remember this for the rest of your life."

In the Stevens family, we welcome someone to age 4 with the giving of softballs and the terse message: "To ________, happy fourth birthday. Love, _______." I received a similar ball from my grandfather, Edward "Coach" Stevens, and on Sophie Stevens' fourth birthday, the XMan gave her a softball.As most Stevenses do, Chloe reacted to her softball gift with indifference followed by strained politeness. She preferred a package from Grandma that contained books, coloring books, temporary tattoos, four My Little Ponies, a dress, princess hair set, golf glove, symbolic golf ball, cash, airplane tickets to Sweden and a four-carat diamond necklace (only the final two items were exaggerated).

It will likely take Chloe 13 more years to truly appreciate her symbolic softball. But one day, she will.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

L.A. Zoo dazzles with bird show

Editor’s Note: Prominent SBG enthusiast Fred “XMan” Stevens unexpectedly passed away on Feb. 16, 2011. He is profoundly missed. The following type of blog entry begins a periodic SBG series called “From the XMan Chronicles” that will recount tales involving the XMan.

From the XMan Chronicles:

Back in early 2007, Sophie Stevens was finding herself as a toddler. Chloe Stevens hadn't been born, and the XMan and my mom figured it would be nice to visit the classy Los Angeles Zoo.

Anyone who knows the L.A. Zoo understands that it's a discount zoo. The San Diego Zoo reigns supreme as a tourist destination in California, and the L.A. Zoo is an afterthought. But what the L.A. Zoo doesn't have in resources, it makes up with frequent protests from animal-rights groups, debris on the premises and quaint cages.

The L.A. Zoo also has a bird show that the XMan absolutely loved.

The L.A. Zoo bird show started with the song "Oh Yeah" by Yello as birds flew to a stage past sparsely populated bleachers. The XMan applauded furiously to this display.Another part of the show featured the song "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred with a bird strutting on stage. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the XMan shaking his head in agreement to the performance, laughing at corny, Vaudeville-like jokes and again applauding vigorously. Basically, the show was written from the point of view of a clever 5th grader in 1993.

As my mom and I realized the Xman's adoration for this show, it came to an abrupt halt when the zookeeper/speaker said, "We hope you enjoyed the show, folks. And just a reminder that many of these birds here today come from the tropical rainforest, where each year millions of acres of deforestation threaten the birds' survival. We must do our part to ensure a stable environment for these wonderful creatures."

Upon hearing that, the XMan fought back tears and then shed a few as he uttered, "Bird home. Gone. Why?"

For the rest of the day, I made fun of his bizarre tears and pointed out the flaws of many creatures' habitats until he said, "Come on. Why do you gotta make fun of me? ... And, wait a second, what did you say about the polar ice caps?"

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chewbacca collection balloons ... MMAO

The Snooze Button Generation and all its subsidiaries will remain on hiatus as SBG CEO and founder Joe Stevens continues to mourn the loss of the XMan, according to a news release.

"The entire corporation is not ready to commit to reestablishing its presence in the pantheon of pop culture," Stevens said in the release. "There might be periodic entries, but at this time, the depth of this loss prohibits us from coming back full-time. MMAO."

"MMAO" apparently is a twist on the popular text messages abbreviation "LMAO," sources said. LMAO stands for laughing my ass off, and Stevens has replaced the laughing with mourning.

When reached via phone, Stevens refused to be directly quoted for this article but sounded like his typical quirky self. He said to let his fans know he is hanging in there, although he frequently referred to the XMan's death as "a profound loss."

No silver lining exists with the XMan's unexpected death. As a side note, Stevens' Chewbacca collection has ballooned from 19 items to 41 Chewies, including a framed poster, 6-foot tall Chewy cardboard cutout and three figures that make sound."It's the best damn Chewy collection in the world, and you can quote me on that," Stevens said. "Yeah. Somehow going OCD with the Chewies is part of the mourning process for me."

Stevens says his Chewbacca collection is on hold, but he may somehow try to obtain the Chewbacca closet in the video below.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

XMan's death ends blog

The Snooze Button Generation blog and all of its subsidiaries will be taking an extremely long hiatus following the untimely, unexpected and earth-shattering death of the XMan today. The XMan was 63.

"I kid around a lot on this blog, and some people might think this is some sort of twisted or cruel joke," Snooze Button Generation founder and CEO Joe Stevens said. "But this is no hoax. My dad is dead. Can you (expletive) believe this?"

The Xman was vacationing in Hilton Head, S.C., where his focus was playing golf. It appears that he had a stroke while sleeping and was found dead in the morning, but details about exactly what happened are sketchy. He also might have fallen awkwardly - and somehow, fatally - in the middle of the night. This fact has emerged, though: He shot a 40 in his final nine holes.

"I'm not going to lie," Joe Stevens said. "All of this news is surreal to me. This hasn't sunk in. I spent the day pacing. My body doesn't know what to do with itself. Is this really happening?"Anyone who knows the SBG founder well knows the tight relationship he held with the XMan. Hell, anyone who knew the XMan knew how cool he was.

The Stevens family is simply in shock. This came out of nowhere.

Stevens will be traveling to Cleveland Thursday to be with his mom, brother, the World's Most Sophisticated Man, Meathooks and many others dear to him. Funeral arrangements eventually will be done with the Rybicki & Son Funeral Home in Garfield Hts., Ohio, but the XMan's body is still in South Carolina.

"I'm speechless," Stevens said. "I did numerous stories about death, pain and loss as a journalist, and when it happens to you, you realize how insignificant the stories are."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

XMan named 'World's Greatest Dad'

The XMan has been named the "World's Greatest Dad," according to a study by the Snooze Button Generation released today on Father's Day.

Although there are 6.8 billion people in the world, the XMan was an easy choice for "World's Greatest Dad" because of his love for his family, enjoyment of life, dependability and sophistication.

"This is a prestigious award, and I love the XMan," Snooze Button Generation founder and CEO Joe Stevens said. "With 6.8 billion people in the world, I would estimate that there are 2 billion dads out there. X simply is No. 1."
Sources say a potential controversy with XMan's title of "World's Greatest Dad" is that the award is subjective and he is Stevens' father. Sources also say a better choice could be a well-known humanitarian or philanthropist who happens to be a dad, such as Nelson Mandela.

But was Mandela a world-class little league baseball coach and family gamer? Mandela might have been instrumental in ending apartheid, but could he have founded the Polish Olympics? And what kind of dad spends 27 years in the hoosegow as a political prisoner?

The XMan and I share a lot of indisputable philosophies that guide us and have helped us live great lives. The Xman has told me:

"We are all going to die!"
"Don't wear a golf glove when you putt. It's like ****ing with a ******."
"Your mother is a saint."

I couldn't agree more with all three of those guiding philosophies. Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The 37th Annual Polish Olympics

If I had won a debate with the XMan 17 years ago, this would be the date for the 37th Annual Polish Olympics.

Instead, I am looking back in nostalgia at one of the greatest events created by mortals - the Polish Olympics. It took place every second Saturday in February in Cleveland from 1974 to 1993.

In 1974, when I was 5 months old, the XMan gathered approximately 25 of his closest friends to play games, eat kielbasa and drink beer in my basement. It was the first Polish Olympics, in which I believe John Sondej, who often wears shorts in wintertime, won. However, it might have been that my Uncle Steve Warner won the first Olympics. I don't recall the exact champ. I was only 5 months old.

The Polish Olympics took off because of its gorgeous blend of Polish cuisine, beer and games. Having more than 40 entrants was the norm, and in the mid-1980s, the event had to be moved to a hall called the Mary Rybicki Building.

The event developed a life of its own and culture, in which some competitors vaguely changed identities for it. I remember that Chuck Withrow, a successful ad man in Cleveland, won the Olympics multiple times and was the Babe Ruth of the Polish Olympics.To win the Olympics was a feat; to win it more than once was godly - partly because luck was a huge factor. In the final Polish Olympics in 1993, the events were darts, dice toss, Facts in Five, penny pitch, poker, Polish bingo, putting, Skittle Bowl, softball throw and Yahtzee.I loved Facts in Five and Skittle Bowl the most because 1) those are cool games and 2) it was the only time of the year anyone would play those games. My least favorite event was putting, and in retrospect, putting was a sign that my parents were transitioning from Polacks to golfers. Also, in retrospect, the running of the Polish Olympics coincided with the running of my childhood. Soon after the Olympics, I graduated college, moved to New York, then L.A.

When the XMan ended the Olympics after 20 installments, I implored him to keep it going, but he said 20 were enough. Maybe it was time to move on.

This many years later, I yearn to bring back the Olympics but do not know if it's possible. I might try some sort of Olympics in Long Beach, Calif., but I don't think the perfect blend of competition, kielbasa and ridiculousness will ever match that for the original 20 Polish Olympics. Na zdrowie!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's hard to kill one's father

Numerous moral dilemmas typically pop up during my parents' annual two-week stay in California. I often find myself saying things like this: "Mom, stop it. I'll make my own bed," or "Hey, I can do the laundry!"

I guess the parents are just trying to help, but the other day, I was faced with a moral decision that tested me and my role as as a son. My father, the XMan, asked me to kill him.

Philosophically, I am all for the right to die - and die with dignity. But when the XMan bellowed, "Put a pillow over my face now!" I didn't have the heart to do it.You see, everyone in my household has a vicious version of the flu. It knocked me out of two days of school, and that is unheard of. Last year, I missed one day from illness the entire school year.

Anyway, the flu was so rough that the XMan desired a quick, painless death with me smothering him with a pillow. Because I thought there was an outside chance that he'd recover, I opted not to kill him.

I am happy because of my decision. He, and I, are feeling better today, and if I murdered him, I might have regretted it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I wanna pop. I wanna Shasta.

Even though I am an adult, I am still learning. I guess we're all lifelong learners, and for me, I always discover a lot during my parents' annual two-week stay in California.

Just a few days into the trip, I have learned something invaluable from my father: Shasta soda pop is better than other sodas, despite the social stigma it has in some circles.

The XMan bases his opinion on taste, and I agree with his thesis because of Shasta's variety. There are 54 flavors of Shasta soda, and the company has an online poll where consumers can vote on their favorite flavor. I'm pulling for Club Soda.

Of course, no soda is better than Diet Mountain Dew, according to the XMan, even though he is repeatedly stymied by the lack of restaurants that stock it. Apparently, Diet Mountain Dew has "Tuned Up Taste."
Curiously, I have noticed that many people judge others by the soda they drink. Sometimes, I am worried others might consider me cheap if they see me drinking Shasta, and I feel I might have to use a coozy to hide my drink.

But really, who cares? Let society judge me. I wanna pop. I wanna Shasta.