10/30/15

Scary Movies . . .

It is that time of year . . . time for lists and celebrations and debates over the scariest movies and campiest Halloween movies, etc. and I can honestly say it is all too much for me. I'm terrified of being scared (which is is an example of actual irony vs. the way Americans abuse the word).

I can't really say when or where or how it started but I hate, hate, hate being scared. The good news is - I'm not easily scared/afraid of many things. But one thing I do fear is scary movies. Especially the ones that get all the way under your (my?) skin. Here, without any real rational explanation, are the ten movies that have probably terrified me the most in my lifetime.

10) Frenzy (1972) - The only Hitchcock movie that got in my head that I didn't enjoy the visit from. This one is about a cool-as-a-cucumber rapist and his reign of terror. I once blogged about how much I didn't like the rape scenes (for the mental demand they put on you) in this one. The whole movie will stay with you.


9) M (1931) - A movie about a child killer in Berlin that was set/made at the time the Nazis were starting to collect themselves and start marching toward a run at world champion is unsettling. That there is no on-screen violence in this one is even more upsetting.


8) SIGNS (2002) - Forget that we all think M. Night Shymalan is a whack job now . . . in his prime we loved, loved, loved his movies and this one was one of the scariest. There are three or four moments where - even now - just thinking about them make me nervous. The movie was also beautiful and touching and endearing. Keep that in mind.


7) The Shining (1980) - NO love for this movie. It terrified me, frankly, the first and third and ninth time I tried to watch it. The casting alone is troubling and then it just gets so odd, so quickly. I can't say I'll ever watch it again - even though I'm tempted to revisit it (see below).


6) A&E Biography: Jeffrey Dahmer (1991) - I watched this TV program one night in the summer and seriously didn't sleep for like a week. Troubling stuff to say the least. Serial killers are never okay - this guy just got under my skin. No pun intended.


5) Cropsey (2009) - Urban legend and reality (or the perception of it) collide in this documentary looking at abandoned mental hospitals, missing children, and the fear that troubles everyone searching. It is like Blair Witch Project only - you know - real. Sorta.


4) Dead Again (1991) - I'm still scared of this movie, about past lives and love turned violent, as much because Emma and Kenneth were supposed to be FOREVER as it was for the notion of being killed by someone you love and who loves you. Odd movie that holds up well.


3) Raising Cain (1992) - This movie about a crazy family and/or man horrified me when it first came out 23 years ago. I can't really tell you why but it did. And I tried to brave it with SLF several months ago and found it anything but scary but - in my head - it was and that is bad enough.


2) Room 237 (2013) - Proving that reality (or the perception of it) can be as off-putting as illusion, this documentary about Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" was jolting for me. There are so many random questions and theories and proposals about the film and its real intent that, for me, were troubling. Yes. Another documentary freaked me out. I'm sorry.


1) The Grudge (2004) - I was still dating my now-ex-wife when this movie about a murdered wife and child and the house they linger in came out. She loved scary movies. I wanted to look cool and fun and agreeable. Then the movie started and I was so uncomfortable that I actually asked to leave. Several times.


Don't watch these movies. Or do. If that is your thing.

10/28/15

Clarifying . . .


Dear World Health Organization -

Bacon (and its cousins ham, pork, and sausage - for that matter) is NOT red meat. It might well cause cancer, early death, and general misery. I may not eat it for religious reasons (I've, frankly, never really fallen under its spell so I don't miss it). It may not be in any way good for the human body or offer anything positive for you. But it is not - is NOT - red meat.

While some swine cuts might appear "red" to the naked eye before and after cooking (the presumed clarifier between "white" and "red" meat) it has too low of a myoglobin (an oxygen-binding protein that allows blood and blood products to be retained in the muscle of certain animals) count to actually be red from a nutritional perspective.

Sincerely,

The Pork Lobby

PS - I'm back to considering a vegetarian diet for a while. Just to see what happens.

10/27/15

Socks . . .


You know those awkward Dos Equis commercials with the handsome, charming, "World's Most Interesting" man in them? You know the one where he says "I don't often drink beer - but when I do, I drink Dos Equis"? I'm sorta like that only I don't drink at all and I'm more likely to say "I don't always wear socks - but when I do, they have some personality."

The truth is that I just hate wearing socks. When I was a kid they would make my feet sweat sooooooo much that my feet would dry out and crack and bleed. So I went about eight years without wearing them at all other than when wearing sneakers and/or attending events that required socks (which - to this day I still believe (despite wearing socks on the semi-regular) - are summed and totaled at 1) job interviews 2) funerals 3) weddings not on a beach 4) court appearances and 5) working out/gym class). I've learned, in time, to love socks and now I would dare say they are the only part of my wardrobe that is not on the boring/preppy side of normcore are my socks.

Where do I get my socks? A handful of places/companies . . .

  1. Nice Laundry - Nice subscription service that also offers a la carte purchases.
  2. Happy Socks - Easily the happiest of the brands but sometimes a little TOO much color.
  3. Unsimply Stitched - A favorite for randomness. I feel NO pressure to match these socks.
  4. Mack Weldon - Very comfortable/cushiony on the bottom of the foot. 
  5. Foot Cardigan - Cheap subscription packs and fun. I just ordered my first pair. 
  6. Stafford / JC Penney - I've gotta give some love to JCP. Stafford has a good mix of boring and fun but stick with the cotton/cotton blend. Synthetics are the enemy of foot health.
  7. Ashi Dashi - The most "novel" I get. But if you are wearing pants and shoes - they look more subtle than they do in the raw.
  8. Brooks Brothers - Remember the five times you HAVE to wear socks? Have these socks (that are actually affordable on clearance and/or for a splurge) ready to go.

Wrap 'em up, fellas. It is a scary world out there.

10/26/15

Airplane Etiquette . . .

No. Not my photo. But it could easily be.
Several months ago I talked about the awe that is air travel. And I meant every word of it but I traveled for work last week and I have to add something to my list of air travel insights . . . the greatest failing of air travel. Two things, technically and those things are simple - the boarding and deboarding of a plane.

Let me get in front of this . . . I know that part of this is fueled by the airline industry and their horribly flat efforts to gain more revenue with false incentives like frequent flier miles, loyalty points, and purchased priority boarding but I'm going to blame most of it on the flying masses. Let me get this off my chest.

BOARDING - 

  1. Just sit. The airline employee specifically said "In a few minutes we will begin boarding." There is truly NO rush at this point. No one is getting on that plane just yet. You're just going to give me angst and trigger someone else's IBS when you start crowding the gate at this point. Simmer down, simmer down, simmer down. Now.
  2. If you're in boarding group three - there is no need to stand three feet from the check-in scanner person. It just makes the approximately 66% of the travelers ahead of you squeeze by you.
  3. Fun Fact - The airline employees rarely to never check what boarding group you are in and they allow "those needing extra time" to go earlier. If you're that neurotic - just go get on the damned plane. You're pissing me off.
  4. WHY, dear airlines, do you do the thing where you have two colored runner carpets and/or velvet ropes to make people walk to board the plane. We see you at the end of these two journeys and we don't feel special as (insert precious metal or semi-precious stone)-level members or (insert four adjectives that modify each other on the way to)-members status. 
  5. You have about 30 yards between getting your boarding pass scanned and you hitting your chair. Use them to get your headphones and iPad out or to stash away whatever, etc. NO need to stand in the aisle and do that.
  6. If you can't lift your roller bag above your head - don't take it on the plane. I'm looking at you, weak armed people. Seriously. HOURS are wasted every day in America by people struggling to lift their own stuff into the bins. And - if you're behind one of those people, help them. It is good for karma and the least you can do to keep us all moving.
  7. You have a bin above YOUR seat. Use it. If it is full, put stuff under your chair. The people in row 18 don't get to use the bin above row 23. It is not specifically stated/written but it is implied and the right thing to do. Sidebar - Does your nylon, weather-proof Chiefs jacket really need to be neatly folded and laid careful in the bin? Can't you just shove it somewhere, like the garbage, so the rest of us can put our stuff up?
  8. The arm rest between the chairs should stay down. If you're traveling with a companion and want your thighs to touch - go to town. But I'm a fat man and I don't want that arm up even if it gives me a little extra room. We're all ready sardines. Let's not melt in to each other's space.
  9. You got an aisle seat on a flight that has already been stated as full? Good for you. Do NOT bother to settle your soda and magazine in the seat-back pocket nor buckle your seatbelt. There is at least one and likely two more people coming to fill those seats adjacent to your seat. You're just going to slow the flow.
  10. If you're not going to read or solve puzzles, leave your overhead light off. What are you, afraid of the dark? Just need to feel to glow on your scalp? Stop it. That being said the air control vents should be tweaked and played with until you get it right. I'm fine with that so long as you're not harming or delaying other people.

DE-BOARDING - 

  1. WHY are you jumping up the minute the pilot turns off the "fasten seatbelts" sign? Did you know that, on average, it is over three minutes from the time that light goes off to the time that the door to the jet bridge is opened and people can exit the plane? Sit down. Calm down. Keep your crotch out of my face.
  2. If you're in row four and at your final destination and you're not in a rush to get home to the suburbs, let the people in row 23 with twenty minutes to get to the next leg of their flight and a thousand miles before they are home get off the jet first. It is good for karma. And a basic human courtesy to extend. I'm looking at YOU, Dallas. You're the WORST.
  3. Yes. By alllllll means. Turn your phone on and immediately start texting, calling, updating, retweeting, foursquaring, swarming, Tindr-ing, and otherwise going back to your solitary, digital life. NO need to stay focused long enough to get off these giant metal birds first. The three minutes delay might freak your wife, in bed in the suburbs and hour's drive away, out. 
  4. Let's go back to elementary school and go one row at a time - left then right. And let's be ready. When you see the row in front of you standing and exiting - start getting yourself together. 
  5. If you stuffed your too-big-for-the-overhead bag in a bin four rows behind you . . . that is a YOU problem. You can and should wait until everyone else is off the plane and then you can go get your crap.
  6. If you notice the person next to you left half a Diet Coke in the seat-back pocket, let it ride. If it is a tablet or paperback . . . let them know. It is the second level of decency and also good for karma.
  7. To that end - take your crap with you. If you were too good to give your junk to the flight attendants the 91 one times they went through the cabin to collect it during the flight - don't make them pick it up later. That slows the next flight from getting up in the air. And it is rude.
  8. Hey, flight attendants, zip it. We don't want or need you to look every one of us in the eye and mumble well wishes, thanks, or other random babble. We don't think you mean it and we truly don't care. You did your job. You got us here safely. Now let us go. 
  9. If you had to check your bag plane-side, note that we ALL did. You don't need to jockey for position and/or ask the crew if you are in the right spot to get your bag. That 45 of us are also crammed in this non-air-controlled tube should be sufficient proof that you are.
  10. When you get to the top of the jetway and are in the terminal walk another 20 feet past the door and then stop and repack, jigger, and arrange your every possession. You need not do it right there at the top of the tunnel. The rest of us are trying to get outta here.
There. You're a better air traveler already. 

10/22/15

Star Wars . . .



Quietly, and with little fan fare, a series of six movies has trickled out over the last 38 years. You may have heard of them - if you're really, truly plugged in to the world of small-scale art house films. The series is called Star Wars. Sound familiar?

Here's something you probably also have not, yet, heard about . . . the seventh movie in the series is coming out later this year. Yeah, yeah - it is true. They made another one of these movies. Why? Money.

Let's be clear - fan boys and girls - you can claim ALL you want that you love the series and all it has offered but critical archives will prove to you that you've really liked exactly ONE of the six movies (the fourth in the series and second released "Empire Strikes Back") and you straight-up hated the last three (first three sequentially).

So WHY do you still love these movies? Money. Or the money spent. You see when your parents were young parents and you were born you got taken to the first ones and then you were young parents thirty years later and you took your kids (or really wanted to - they were too young) so you, instead, bought the first ones on VHS and then DVD and then wide-screen DVD and then blu-ray DVD and then directors, remastered cut DVD, and then digital copies because - screw plastic discs. You also bought alllllllllllllllll the toys. And you bought shirts and fake light sabers. You bought comic books, novels, and graphic novels, you bought ring tones and posters. You spent soooo much money on these movies you could, simply put, not be wrong or not love these movies.

So now, a decade on from the last one, Disney (a small, independent entertainment company with small amusement parks in Florida and California and a few other places) has spent four BILLION dollars to acquire Lucas Films and the 27 films (don't forget Indiana Jones, Howard the Duck and The Land Before Time - among others - came with the collection) and other things, like a ranch and orchestra-sized recording studio that came with it for the rights (let's be honest) to make three more of these money piling adventures.

They hired one of the most creative guys (and his Bad Robot buddies) in movies and television today - they fixed Star Trek, right? - and they let him have allllllll the money to make this movie and he has a Kennedy running the franchise (for no apparent reason) and he's got his choice of every actor in the world (because, well, money) and he's spent years on this one and here's all we know - nothing.

They are not telling the world anything (officially) beyond a few character names (on the toys and merchandise) and some loose ties between them and blah, blah, blah.

Watch this trailer and tell me what you learn (now what you think you know or what you can hypothesize but what you know):



Yeah. That is what I thought. Yet this movie will make more money than any other movie in the history of film (sorry, Avatar, you're not going to hold on to that record for much longer) and it will only raise the bar and goals for parts eight and nine of the franchise.

I'm fine with this. I don't care. I've long since accepted that we don't actually want creativity or imagination or originality in our movies . . . we want booms and bips and bright explosions and simple story lines that could wrap up in 102 minutes but last 108 minutes so they can set up the sequel (which they will do with this one in December).

It's cool. I get it, My kid is wicked excited for this movie so - the cycle will repeat, the money will be made, the pretend "love" for the franchise will continue. We've ALL invested too much for it to fail.

10/21/15

Cross Trainers . . .

Now that my half-marathon days are otherwise behind me, it is time to get more serious about getting more overall fit and dedicated to my body and physical presence. I don't want perfect, dancing pecks, I have no interest in model-quality calves, I don't aspire to bi- and triceps so bulking that shirt sleeves wince at the very thought of having to accommodate them.

But I would like to be less fat, more toned, and less boobilicious in photos. Add the fact that I'll be 40 in the near future and it is time to become a gym rat. No. Not that. It is just . . . time.

So now I find myself spending allllllllllllllllll the hours not otherwise spoken for by work, temple, child, beloved, errands, and eating all the food to trying to figure out a routine that will help me get more fit without pitching fits at the effort and time it will take.

So it turns out that cross training and CrossFit is a real, real thing (with a real, real bad website). And it turns out that to get serious about exercise without running shoes or laps in pools you have to get serious about spending money on all this stuff including shoes that are specifically and specially designed to not help you with any special type of sport. What are these wonderful things called? Training shoes.

So, eleven or twelve hours of research and a trip to a local super store (I'll buy locally/small if I can) to try on a few pair - I've got five finalists for the shoes that will eventually catch the sweat that runs down my long, rotund body.


Asics GEL-Intensity 3 
I didn't realize Asics made anything but running and wrestling shoes until I started my research. Turns out these shoes are not only super comfortable and supportive but good for all sort of exercise. But, ugh, red.
New Balance 813v3 
Ah. Much better. Some grey goodness and New Balance (a long-time favorite and my most recent runners). Great reviews for these shoes and good cushioning for this body.

New Balance Fresh Foam 80v2
I'm reading "good" and "bad" things about the NB foam line - my biggest concern is if it is good for fat men. But reviews are positive and the newer version (the v2) seems an improvement over the first draft of the cross trainer.
Reebok CrossFit Nano 5.0
These shoes are ugly. BUTT ugly. But they are apparently the default cross trainer these days and that has to be pondered and considered. They apparently don't have the best cushioning but are otherwise versatile and priced right.




Adidas adipure 360.3
I've never really even thought about Adidas shoes before. Not sure how or why but I've not but these shoes have some really great reviews including from bigger guys who are also just trying to find some love in the gym. These are strong contenders.














Any of you do the cross fitness thing? Any one have any thoughts on sneakers and shoes that I can or should look at as alternatives? I'm open to suggestions and appreciate the direction.

10/20/15

Running: A Family Affair

In the anxious hours leading up to last weekend's Prairie Fire (Half) Marathon we hosted SLF's sister and brother-in-law (who also ran the race) and spent the weekend being busy but not stressed. While driving the course (yes - I not only run the course in the weeks leading up but drive it in the days before, just in case) we chatted about the impact of running on not just the person who will lace 'em up on the big day but all those who love and support them and/or share a home with them.

I get lost in my thoughts while running more than about 50 yards. I don't know if it is a way to fight off the pain and torment or just the way my brain is wired but I go out on the longest, frailest, most fragile of limbs and just ponder things. And one of the things I've frequently pondered in the last ten months - with runs scheduled five days of every one of those 42 weeks is how much of a drag this whole thing has been on the people I love the most.

Not ONLY am I a miserable bastard on any given day but imagine me after two hours and seventeen hundred calories of running. Not only am I am anxious mess on any given day but imagine me going for a family weekend knowing I have seven miles scheduled for Saturday morning. Not only am I a self-obsessed boor on any given day but imagine me when I am deep in the throws of "training."

I go to bed early. I get up early. I schedule our shared time around my runs. I won't eat or drink certain things. I am tired and sore no matter what they have planned. I roll my eyes at the mere suggestion of being flexible. So - for the entirety of 2015 I've held those I love the most hostage (no better word for it) under this desire to push myself and try to find some focus and joy in an activity I loathe but do - daily - anyway.

And I would argue that all of you . . . you Runners (capital "R" to show respect to you crazy, annoying, horrible sub-culture members) do the same and I can only hope you are mindful of it and appreciate it and respect those who may not log the miles or buy the gels and sodium packets or track shoe usage or drive/preview the course or do actual research on which body lube might be better for your body type but who still - no matter what - put in the time and make the sacrifices with you. They do it FOR you. They do it because they love you.

Someone asked me, once, if I would ever train for or run a full marathon. I looked them in the eye and simply said "No. My family is not willing to put in that sort of time or effort. Also, my heart would literally explode and I'd die."

10/19/15

Monday, Monday . . .

I promise to get back to regular blogging this week. It has been a little crazy lately - which is good for posts (when I make time to write them). 

10/18/15

Sunday Funday . . .

The amazing Yo-Yo Ma and the equally amazing Misty Copeland do their thing on Stephen Colbert:

10/12/15

Halloween Parades . . .


"I'm a butterfly. A sexy butterfly. Which, of course,
makes NO sense but - hee hee, let's party." 
So the town of Milford, Connecticut has decided to remove Halloween Parades from the agenda the week of Halloween. FORGET that day itself (this year) doesn't even fall on a school day. FORGET that the logic behind the cancelling of the "festivities" is based in sound logic (exclusion of those with religious and cultural beliefs inconsistent with playing dress up and begging for candy). These rich, white, Christian suburbanites want their little Johnny to be part of a parade, damn it (don't believe me, read the story and comments on this one story alone - and note how few of them even live in Milford, CT much less have kids in the schools impacted).

It should come as NO surprise to you that I do now and always have hated and distrusted Halloween and those who celebrate it (at least the secular, American revelers). Halloween's roots are in the Celtic tradition of Samhain (said "sow-in" (I love old languages)) where the new year was marked after the harvest and as the days started getting colder and shorter - about November 1st. The observant felt that the day was a blurring of the old and the present and that ghosts and spirits could escape in to the fray so bonfires and crops and animals were sacrificed for protection (fast forward to today when ringing the doorbell earns you a mini Snickers). Not long after the Catholics adopted the holiday (November 1) as an annual remembrance of the dead and martyred. They call it All Saints Day and it a holy day of obligation (an elevated occurrence with masses, etc.) on the Catholic Calendar (pick yours up at A&W restaurants and your local Eckerd Pharmacy). The tradition of fearing the souls of the dead held true so, again, the night before fires and watching were prominent but, again, only for safety (speed ahead when the "fire" of a front porch light means "Yeah. We've still got tiny Mounds and Almond Joy bars available.

So HOW, exactly, did we arrive at all the costumes and candy and bobbing for apples and blah, blah, blah? Simple . . . scope creep. Halloween, today (and by that I mean in 2015) is something that stores start shelving goods for in early-July. The sales of candy, costumes, the aforementioned tubs for apple dipping, etc. is a billion dollar industry - at least (it is hard to get true clarity on whether women buying "sexy butterfly" costumes - of which Yandy.com (alone) has 16 to choose from - are for getting candy from neighbors or erections from sexual partners) and it shows NO sign of slowing down. Churches, community centers, city governments, social groups, and any other ilk of organized American (of the proper orientation to mark the holiday) has some sorta Halloween bologna planned for the coming weeks.

So WHY do the parents of Milford care if their kids don't get to burn half a school day (and let me remind you that school are there to EDUCATE vs. entertain and indulge our children) changing in to their costumes and traipsing about the building? Because "tradition".

Yes. If you note the comments on the Facebook pages and media outlets that cover Milford (for those unaware Milford is still considered the metro-NYC area but has a good mix of city folks come to the "country" to raise their kids while making bank on the island of Manhattan and middle class folks just trying to live, work, and build a life in the same town) parents are pissed because they somehow think Halloween Parades (and the associated parties, etc. in classrooms) are tradition and should always be there.

Know what else is in jeopardy in schools? Arts funding. Honest, open, dialogue and discussion as part of sexual education. Counseling services. Proper nutrition. Support staff. Photocopies. Text books. Globes that reflect the world today vs. the late-80s (when the USSR was a thing that took up most of Europe). Tenure to attract and retain good teachers and empower them with raises and benefits to grow our collective futures under their tutelage. Acknowledgement of any other traditions, holidays, and customs NOT considered WASP-friendly.

Deep down I suspect there is some weird, passive-aggressive thing at play here where this is more about not excluding "them" and why can't "they" just follow what "we" do and I also suspect there is some stupid "I paid $100 for this costume - Billy's going to get as many wears out of it as possible" going on here. I can also only presume that part of it is one-upsmanship and nurturing odd competitive natures in kids (mainly parent vs. parent like so many pinebox derbies from my scouting past). I hope I'm wrong. I'm all but sure I'm not.

Rest easy, parents who demand weird stuff for their kids . . . you can still have the neighborhood/block party and can show off your little angel in her Harry-Potter-inspired polyester trap that entire weekend. The neighbors will still have candy. The pumpkins will still get carved. The music and fog machine will still pour from the garage. The only thing "stolen" from your child will be a few less hours of academia on Friday, 10/30. I know, I know. It sucks when schools teach.

I get it. Parents want their kids to have what they had if not better. That is an urge I feel in my own decisions and commitments to my child. But if USD 259 cancelled Halloween in the schools tomorrow - I would not bat an eyelash. But I wonder how many parents would care if they fired the secretary. Or cut multi-cultural awareness from the magnet school my child attends. Or just decided that every Friday should be "Eh. F*ck it. Wear whatever - we'll have parties." day. I fear less than that are upset about this.

10/11/15

Sunday Funday . . .

Wish me well this morning. I'll be runnin' my second (and likely final) half marathon of the year and the pressure is on.

10/8/15

Cubs . . .

By the time this post populates, the Chicago Cubs will have played a post-season baseball game for the first time since 2008. I don't know if they will have won or lost. I don't care. The reality is - the Cubs . . . nor the sport they play, baseball . . . nor the larger universe of sports really matter to me. But for a while - specifically the summer of 1984 - they were an obsession just not in a sporting way.

I grew up in a part of the country "lucky" enough to get WGN (once just a TV station in Chicago, now a third- (fourth- ?) rate TV network based in Chicago) and among the many wonderful things (imagine all the syndicated bounty the world had to offer in the mid-80s) the network was (and still may be) the official TV station for the Chicago Cubs. And I . . . I was obsessed.

I knew every player. Jody Davis (catcher) and Dennis Eckersley and Rick Sutcliffee (pitchers) and Leon Durham, Bill Buckner, and THE Ryne Sandberg. I knew what positions they played and I knew their three-digit-code (later I'd learn that was a batting average) and I learned what it meant to be "behind in the count" and I learned about the history and legacy of the outfield ivy and why there were no lights at Wrigley (and there still should NOT be, for the record). I loved the pinstripes and the shade of blue and the logo. I loved all the great names of the visiting teams and imagining all the players in station wagons driving from stadium to stadium (I had no idea they owned jets and probably disliked each other) and I used to plan all my play time and fun around when the Cubs were playing (I had JUST turned eight - leave me alone).

But here's the thing . . . I can honestly tell you that I don't remember ever even noticing if the team won or lost and certainly not caring. I have no idea how they did that year (I actually JUST Googled it to find out they made it to the pennant round that year - I stopped watching when school resumed in early-September). It didn't matter how they did. It was about the game and the nuances of it and learning the terms and the positions and the broadcaster lingo and noticing that day games on Tuesdays were not as full as evening games on Saturdays but not, quite, knowing why.

If I'm being honest my TRULY favorite thing about the baseball season in 1984 was a cheeseburger radio I got for my birthday (that didn't actually work in any way, manner, shape, or sense) that I loved just carrying around with me and pretending it was playing the game (another thing I was obsessed with - when the TV camera would flash to fans in the stands listening to the game on the radio (also WGN (the AM radio station, I might add)). I thought the idea of me watching them on TV while they listened to the radio while at the place I was watching was very, very meta (without even knowing what that meant).

Anywho - it has now been 21 years since I cared about baseball, the Cubs, or that cheeseburger radio but I still think that I might, eventually, return to the fold of "Cubs Fan" . . . I'll just need to do it at a time when it doesn't seem to be jumping on a bandwagon to do so.

10/7/15

Drunk and Disgraceful . . .

As you may or may not have heard (and I hope you have "not") there was an incident in Storrs, CT on Sunday that has me more than a little upset.

Let me explain . . . there is this young adult (no, no - we shan't join the masses to call him a "kid") who was, despite being underage, drinking from an open container in one of the University of Connecticut's dining halls and decided he absolutely NEEDED some bacon, jalapeno mac and cheese. And he was not to be denied.

Well - or so he insisted. You see young Luke Gatti, already having two public disorderly arrests (within two weeks of each other) in his barely-started adult life . . . one of which even came with using the "n-word" to describe a cop that was, otherwise, just minding his own business (which is keeping the public safe/protecting and serving) chose the wrong group of honest, hard working food service employees stuck on a college campus that is full of, on average, obnoxious kids from one of the richest states in the union.

The manager and staff of the "Union Street Market" (as was mocked by the aforementioned drunk, hungry twat) were the very model of adult and maturity despite being physically assaulted, mocked, dismissed with homophobic slurs, goaded, spat at, and generally disrespected by a self-entitled buffoon so "wrong" he wore socks and sandals at the same time.

The video below - about nine minutes long - starts mid-disrespect and ends in the most splendid fashion imaginable. Check it out if you are inclined (warning, profanity abounds):


Here's the thing. The fella plays his hand by bursting into tears (or at least hard-whimpering) the minute the police move to cuff him and, in doing so, shows just how unready to disrespect the world around him he really is but the larger issue is that there are really people - lots of them (including some who actually defend the twat) who think this is just a kid on campus enjoying his teen years.

Let me repeat . . . people think this kid is okay. And I'm sure his parents - for the third time in a year-ish - drove to the station and bailed their little drunk out and now they have to deal with whatever is next (likely expulsion from, perhaps (if I'm reading correctly) his second prestigious New England school in as many years).

I am, as I may have mentioned, a parent. This story makes me nuts because it is a reminder that once they leave your "nest" they are on their own, by and large. Now my child is not a twat. She's never behaved as one and doesn't seem to be heading down that path and I can honestly tell you that if she gets arrested for calling a cop an "n-word" I'm not rushing down to the station to bail her out but you have to, as a parent, think about these things - at least in passing.

I was lucky. I was drunk and disorderly on a college campus (just down the road from UConn) in an age before cell phones and I was never physically aggressive nor prone to racial slurs but drunk, in public, and looking for some grub? YEP. I just never had to worry about my parents having to see the video of it on YouTube. I never had to worry about a "Google" of my name netting the video for, in theory, the rest of my life.

But I have to worry about being the parent of a kid that does and might. It is a reminder to keep your kid focused and respectful and, for lack of any other success, savvy enough to not drink from an open container in the student union. 

10/6/15

Death . . .


Fifteen things I don't want to die from . . .

  1. Discovering a Food Allergy Two Minutes Too Late
  2. Testicular Trauma
  3. Rap Feud 
  4. By "Holding My Breath" Despite Thousands of Cliche Urgings Not To
  5. Malaria 
  6. A Frozen Bowel Movement Dropped from a Jet Passing Overhead
  7. Choking on a Chicken Bone
  8. Boredom
  9. Too Much Time in a Hot Tub
  10. Being Run Over After Being Tied to Train Tracks by a Villain with a Bad Moustache
  11. Fist Fight with a Middle School Bully (While My Current Age/Life Position)
  12. Over Indulgence While Touring a Magical Chocolate Factory
  13. Sobbing to Death While Watching an Early-00s Rom-Com 
  14. While Running Down the Middle of Central Avenue at 5:30 AM CT
  15. Getting Lost in a Corn Maze

There are millions of other things I also do NOT want to die from but those are top of mind.

10/5/15

Turkey Leg . . .

I had the distinct pleasure (that is sarcasm) of attending my first Renaissance Festival yesterday. I will admit that I was skeptical going in. I've never really understood the notion of visiting an era that we, in 2015, don't really understand and have a very romanticized memory of and for. And I've certainly never understood why we approach these things in costumes ranging from vaguely period-specific to Frederick's of Hollywood's Halloween Collection.

Never-the-less we went and partook in the festivities for not only a random Sunday but the nuptials of a family/life-long friend of SLF and her family. Yes. People get married at the Ren Faire (as the vendors and costumed call it - modifying "fest" with "faire"). Granted we didn't actually go to the ceremony (private affair in the "Tea Garden" (where they neither grow nor serve tea)) but we did get to not only see but WATCH all the people. ALL the people. And that made me very happy.

Truth be told there were plenty of things to like about the Ren Faire:

  1. We ate turkey legs for lunch. HUGE, likely steroid-enhanced turkey legs that were smoked forever and tasted truly amazing. 
  2. Then there were hundred and hundreds of sets of these jiggling about. What's not to like about that?
  3. The kids had an amazing time and I was amazed to see how many rides and attractions that we let kids enjoy at 21st century carnivals that recreated (to run on human power). 
  4. How friggin' NICE everyone was. You couldn't tell people who worked there vs. people who were escaping their own lives there but everyone would help point things out - like where to get the aforementioned turkey legs.
  5. The reprieve from Chiefs, Royals, Shockers, Jayhawks, and Wildcats gear that we're generally deluged with on Sundays (I mean - it was there but just far, far less).
  6. We spent a full day as a (larger) family and - due to shoddy reception - no one escaped/withdrew in to their phones and no one ignored the day.
  7. Archery was there. People (vendors and amateur guests alike) shooting long, modified recurve, cross, and modified bows to the great delight of them . . . and me.
  8. How quickly I developed Stockholm Syndrome and wanted to buy ALL the stuff. Hats? Socks? Rope sandals? Fairy wings? Magic wands? Pirate eye patches? Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Let's do it. I did spring for a photo of my daughter in the "Fairy Garden" (where you essentially rent a costume long enough for a few photos to be snapped) and a hair clip and magic wand but - hey - when held captive . . . 
  9. The stories we can and will tell for the foreseeable future - if not ever including the dude in the pirate-themed zubaz pants who was clearly aroused by the many, many sets of these flitting about.
  10. Turkey legs. Big, big turkey legs. Delicious, delicious turkey legs.
I won't soon return to "the Faire" but - I might, in time, go back. 



10/2/15

Another Mass Shooting . . .

This. Just this. I've got nothing more to say on this other than I'm tired of people dying while trying to just live their lives . . . go to class, see a movie, shop, whatever. We can do better. We must do better. We must do SOMETHING.


And lest you think we put gun violence in the right context imagine if we put the money, time, energy, resources, and constant hand wringing behind mass gun violence that we do behind terrorism.


I have a daughter. She goes to school. She goes to movies. SLF and I go to work. We go to movies. We grocery shop. We both go to our houses of worship. We all go to dinner. We run errands. We might eventually be caught up in this. You might. Your friends or family or sixth degree of separation. Statistically, they already have.

Let's mourn the dead. Let's sympathize with those who lost someone. Let's - far more importantly - put our collective energy into seeing if we can figure out how to never have to extend that empathy, sympathy, and love ever again. Let's end this crisis.

10/1/15

2015 Objectives (Update 9) . . .



"They" say that if you want to reach your goals - you should share them and your progress. Soooooo . . .

OBJECTIVES . . .
  1. Read 24 (or more) books (for ME - reading with my daughter doesn't count). 18.20 finished. I'm every so slightly ahead of schedule and feel good about finishing the year strong. There are a few great books still ahead of me for 2015.
  2. Run 10 miles/week (on average). Yes. That is 520 miles (or more) in 2015. 18.6 miles/week (728.2 total miles on the year - I'm impressed with myself. I have just a week-ish of training left until my half marathon. We'll see how late-October - end-of-December go)
  3. Finish a half marathon in under three hours (as many tries at it takes). I had a very strong 1/4 marathon a few weeks ago and have been doing good pacing the last several weeks. If I have a strong morning in 10 days, I'll maybe break that mark - or come close. 
  4. Lose 100 Pounds. That's right. Get. Less. Fat. I'm losing weight again. Hooray me!
  5. Reduce wasteful spending by 10% (this is actually more about not growing my spending - I'm pretty friggin' frugal now). Reduced overall spending by 28% year-to-date. I'm calling this one a victory. 
  6. Increase savings contributions by 12.5% (I've been pretty minimal on this one lately - time to grow my future). Updated 401K, IRA, 529, Investments, and Insurance products by 113%.
  7. Earn college credits (I'm going back to school, one way or another) in 2015. I didn't do this one. Still time. Still time.
  8. Reduce social media time by 25% (10 minutes/day or less). Logging an average of just over four minutes/day (not including blogging, or efforts for work and/or my congregation). I am going to make this one work.
  9. General Nutrition. Soda is still my best friend. I'm doing much better in terms of at least saying "I should NOT be eating this" and I am putting things down more quickly. I need to get better but I'm starting the process. 
  10. Food Diversity. We are doing well with this one. Diverse dinners, packing lunches, proper breakfasts. I still need to figure out how to track and quantify but, again, this is started and feels good.