#253: The Hunter, Part 2

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This post is a continuation of my previous blog post, titled “The Hunter.” If you haven’t already read that, maybe check that one out first so this makes a bit more sense.

Pretty much everyone knew my grandfather at the lodge there, no exaggeration. I went with him to the lodge once or twice and immediately developed a reputation as “Vinny’s grandson.” I never feel too welcomed when I’m known only by my relation to someone else, in the same way that a wrestler probably feels awkward when the fans only cling to their heritage as their gimmick. I don’t want to be known only as so-and-so’s grandson or nephew or whoever; I prefer Anthony in those cases.

But that’s besides the point. I inherited my grandfather’s car from him when I turned 16, though it took a few months for me to eventually get my license. He was gracious enough to give it to me, even though he could still drive at the time.

I remember one time being asked to handle my grandfather’s ammunition. I think I was around 12 at the time. He was very polite about it, and he showed me everything I needed to know about how to load a gun, how to reload, and how to clean off your ammunition supply. Not that I ever really needed to know any of that, considering I’m not a hunter these days and I don’t much care for the hobby in practice, but still, those are sweet memories that I have with my grandfather. They won’t go away any time soon.

This post was originally going to be about Monster Hunter, but instead I decided partway through writing it that I wanted it to be about my grandfather instead. He was a good guy, and at times like these I do miss him a lot.

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#252: The Hunter, Part 1

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A hunter is, according to Merriam Webster, “a person who hunts game” or “one that searches for something.” Being a hunter means having a designated objective in your sights, whether that’s the prey you are after or whatever object you are searching for. Hunting involves a lot of material and natural skill and the ability to think quickly on your feet. You have to know so much about wildlife, the outside world, the outdoors themselves. I know a decent amount about computers, but nothing at all when it comes to nature. I’m more of an absent-minded hiker. A few of my friends became boy scouts when they were young, and they could probably take me through the forest and point out the name of every little flower and beetle we pass by.

My grandfather was a hunter, and he regularly would take trips out westward with his friends for the purpose of hunting game. He’d drive his Jeep Grand Cherokee Sport from 1999 out to Oregon or Montana or wherever their hearts were set on. I wouldn’t see him for a week or more, and then he’d come back with some new stories. He had a room in his garage full of guns and ammunition and assorted game mounted on the walls that he had hunted throughout the years, from all of his various trips. He would take me into this room from time to time, show me around, and marvel at some of the heads he had displayed on the walls. I never really knew what to think of them, aside from that they were obviously impressive in the sense that it must have taken a lot of skill and gall and wherewithal to take that on by yourself. He was a trusted and notable member of his local hunting lodge in East Haven, and people there knew him by his first name.

#249: The First Con

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My first comic con, technically, was in 2012, when I was a part of Anime Club at Quinnipiac and I helped out with QuinniCon, the semi-annual Quinnipiac-centered convention. We had all kinds of artists, shops, panels, activities, tournaments, and more going on throughout the day, and I remember getting some classic Super Smash Bros. Melee time in against complete strangers. Melee isn’t my preferred Smash title, but at the time it’s the one I knew best. I also remember picking up House Stark-themed shot glasses. They were tinted blueish, and I remember using them as a freshman in college because I was introduced to Game of Thrones that year by one of my good friends. That’s when that whole journey began, but that’s a story for another blog post. Perhaps the next one.

My second con was Connecticon, though, and I have fond memories of going there with my friend Bryan for the first time and being amazed at the sheer size of everything. It would pale in comparison to Anime NYC, but that took three years for me to get there and I wouldn’t want to compare the two experiences in the first place.

The reason I’m mentioning all of these cons is because recently I visited Connecticon with two people who haven’t been to it before: Alex and Bella. Alex has been to cons in the past, but this was Bella’s first true convention. As a fellow nerd, it was about time she got the chance to visit one of these. I wish we had the chance to spend more time there, but we got done what needed to be done and picked up some sweet loot in the process. Alex and I grabbed a Persona 5 poster, a Cowboy Bebop poster, and a Joker Funko Pop.

#172: The Smoothie Place

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Today, I’m going to discuss Robek’s smoothies, one of my favorite spots in all of Stamford. It’s truly inspired a lot for Alex and I, and without it, I’m not sure what our dinners would look like nowadays. They’d certainly be different from the usual.

Have I already talked about this place before? I feel like I have… a part of me is convinced that this is a repeat blog post, but Alex insists it isn’t. Oh well, time to talk about it any way.

Robek’s is a great smoothie place in Stamford, centered around the Bed Bath & Beyond/Staples plaza over on Summer Street. There’s ample parking all over the place, and it’s right next to the place where Alex got her eyebrows done once. It’s also next to a Gamestop, where I can get Magic: the Gathering cards. The options are limitless here!

Robek’s has inspired our smoothie fascination. When Alex got a smoothie blender, we immediately knew we had to try and recreate as many good Robek’s smoothies as we could. And for the most part, we’ve been able to successfully replicate them. The Mango Turmeric Madness, my personal favorite, has been recreated successfully in our own kitchen, and being able to have it for dinner or around dinner every night has aided in my healthy eating habits.

One time, while coming home from Robek’s smoothies, Alex and I were standing in the elevator going up to floor six when another guy walked in, saw our smoothies, and immediately knew they were from Robek’s. He commented on them and smiled. It was a nice moment that I still remember, considering it solidified to me that Robek’s isn’t just a random place that we discovered; it’s a real hot spot in Stamford that lots of people know about and enjoy.

#107: The Mall

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Alex and I love going to the mall. It’s one of our favorite places to hit up in Stamford, knowing fully well that we’ll be spending a lot of money there when we visit. It’s a nice reminder of how to budget money, when we’re especially down and out.

A few stores we love to go to:

Sephora, of course. Alex’s favorite, which I’ve grown to appreciate myself. It’s a very expensive store, usually leading to an unnecessarily high amount of spending, but that’s not my prerogative!

Uniqlo. Thanks Bella for introducing us here! Without you, we would still be fruitlessly trying to fit into clothes at H&M, which is by no means a bad store, but they no longer really carry sizes that fit me. It’s a bit disappointing, to be honest, but Uniqlo fills the gap beautifully. We almost always explore this store when we get the chance and enter the mall. The fleeces, sweaters, pants, and shirts are awesome and fit well.

Halo, a smoothie place that we only just recently discovered. I’ve tried their strawberry-mango and mango-pineapple mixture smoothies, and Alex has tried their matcha chai bubble tea twice now. I love both options quite a lot, and I love the taste of the bubbles from the bubble tea slurping up into my throat. Alex loves watching me drink them through the straw, because I always end up making a funny face when it happens. Definitely a good recommendation.

And last but not least, Barnes & Noble, which has slightly restored my interest in reading. I have a goal to read at least one book a month, and so far I’ve reached that with “The Last Wish” in January, which I bought from B&N last month. Thanks to them!

#63: The Deli

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Though I am not currently eating a delicious deli sandwich from Corbo’s Southside Deli, I am imagining myself chowing down on one, owning my stomach with spicy mayo, cajun flavored chicken, and sliced ham on a wedge, aka “The Cardinal.” It brings me joy and happiness. My stomach thanks me for the flavorful treat, and then I sit down, relax, and enjoy feeling absolutely stuffed beyond capacity, filled up to the brim and then some. Is there much better than this feeling? I seriously doubt it.

I’ve taken both Alex and Jimmy to this place, probably my favorite deli spot in the world. Much better than Subway, no questions asked. Probably better than all the other deli restaurants you could imagine. When Jimmy went, he ordered a steak and cheese sandwich, fell in love with its gooey goodness, and wished we had gone back a second time. I wished for the same thing. When Alex went, I forget exactly what she ordered, but her face upon eating the sandwich for the first time was to die for; a picture is worth a thousand words, after all.

My first time ordering there, I was a bit intimidated by the fairly disorganized stream of order-taking. One person yells into the kitchen, another waits and responds politely. It seems as if there’s no method to this madness, but there is, and it works beautifully upon closer inspection. There is in fact a line, and when the line reaches you, you’re supposed to shout along with everyone else. If you’re not taking initiative, no one will listen to you. It’s a good allegory for life, I guess. Now, every once in a while, I’ll step onto Grubhub and order online instead, a much easier alternative to managing the hustle and bustle inside.

Clockwork Paintings

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In the shadowy, dusky realm of illusions and evil known as

Hamden, Connecticut

I see clockwork paintings lining the walls like

Ladders and siding hanging in an architect’s garage,

Which is likely somewhere in Hamden, too.

 

The paintings depict and march to abnormal music,

Some abomination of black metal and jazz fusion,

And I can see them grabbing for the saxophones

And the guitars

And the microphones

Like instruments of torture to the ears of unsuspecting, innocent

Passers-by in front of a Walmart in the Bronx,

Who are blissfully unaware of the pain about to breach their eardrums.

 

Like clockwork paintings shifting back and forth from one land

To another,

Moving like red silken curtains beneath a second and third floor

Of a large, windy mansion where the curtains often shake about

And cause distress to the children feeding in their beds

And crying for the wind to halt for they cannot sleep with the noise

But the tricky architect built the mansion on a hilltop

Near his garage in brisk, comely

Hamden, Connecticut

 

The clockwork paintings are singing lullabies to the humanities,

To the arts, the sciences, the world,

Spreading the word of angels and demons and humans,

Ensuring they rest easy and safely while a thunderstorm

Shakes families into unrest in the neighboring village,

And the careless arts and careless sciences dance in the rain

Celebrating success and fulfillment and time,

Like clockwork.

 

The whole world is a painted sunrise above cliffs of rainbow hues

Shouting outward to the masses below to

Paint them so they can stand there forever in color,

As if the world is a black and white Disney cartoon

And the cartoonist got bored and decided to

Stop production and focus on colored movies, instead.

All these paintings and more, in action, in clock towers

Changing with time like the moon does when it shifts from

Waning Gibbous to Waxing Crescent and then back again

One month later;

 

I imagine time resembles a rabbit, hoping from place to place

Rather quickly, I might add,

And similarly leaping past the tortoise who is

Taking rest stops beneath every passing tree

And then reigniting his flame until he sees another tree

And decides that the feeling of shade once more would be divine,

But the rabbit wins the race and

I think that’s how the story is told

But the tortoise is still underneath trees when sunset comes

And like clockwork he wakes up at dusk and the rabbit is

Lapping him again;

That jerk, he’s probably from Hamden!

Reminiscing on the Snowstorm of 2011

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While the blizzard of 2013 snowed me into my dorm and made traveling around inconvenient, it affected the other people that I know and love much more, causing me to worry for their safety.

At college, I somewhat enjoyed being snowed in. I managed to share time with my roommates and other friends in the same dorm.

The blizzard made its presence known quickly and it seemed as if everyone sought somewhere safe to rest until the snow had stopped. The record-breaking Snowstorm of 2013 brought a great deal of wind, which in turn brought snow drifts.

As soon as I caught sight of snow, I noticed it drastically increase in size, piling up everywhere. Snowstorms bring people together, but with those who carry the responsibility of protecting others from the hazards of snow, snowstorms are dreadful. My family lived the snowstorm nightmare for a long time every winter until I went to college.

Since I was able to hold a shovel and push snow around, I helped my Dad shovel around the house and sometimes plow other driveways. He trucked through the driveway with the plow, and then I grabbed a shovel and finished the sidewalks. For every snowfall above three or four inches, we were out all day clearing twenty or thirty neighborhood driveways and sidewalks for safe travel.

The worst snowstorm I experienced was in 2011. In the 2011 blizzard, my father and I plowed, shoveled, and cleared each driveway (including our own) twice, both occurring in the middle of the night. It continued for what seemed like days. The snow drift flew in our faces, and the night sky tired us. When the blizzard halted, we sighed relief, only for another, lesser blizzard to arrive the week after.

At college, I knew I wouldn’t be available to help out at home during snow season. While there have been a few snowstorms in the general area, my father was capable of doing the work on his own or with a work partner. I didn’t bother worrying.

When I heard that a blizzard was arriving last week, I was unsure how devastating or drastic a toll it would inflict. By the time I awoke last Friday to find snow surrounding the dorm, it was too late for me to return home and help with the plowing. At that point, I was worried.

I remembered the snowstorm of 2011 and how it affected us. The money for having to plow each house twice on two consecutive days was great, but the hard-work was, at times, back-breaking. I called home often to check in and see how things were going. I called my father to see how he was feeling.

Once the snowstorm subsided on Saturday, the long, thirty house plowing spree began. I heard from home that Dad was dreading it. I know I would have felt the same in his position. It was difficult to move out of the driveway because the roads weren’t cleared. However, he managed to do the job regardless. That’s an act to appreciate and respect.

Although I already appreciated my father, I appreciate what he does for our family much more after this blizzard. I had forgotten what it was like to be on this end of a snowstorm, having to clear it out of people’s driveways and passageways for safety from the dangerous winter hazards. I worried for my family, but it was fine in the end.

I will remember this snowstorm for my increased appreciation for my family, for holding through a winter storm and then some. At college, it was much more relaxing than at home. I wish I was there during this past weekend. And with a new snowstorm coming today, I am beginning to worry again.