Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quickie Blog: Black Swan

The entire time I was watching Black Swan, I was thinking about Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion and in a smaller way Tom Courtnay and Albert Finney in The Dresser.  The film is definitely flawed in many ways, but the manifestation of the character's mental problems and their parallels with her performance are fascinating and terrifying. Portman and Kunis play the ying and yang to perfection.  Cassel is brilliant, as always and Hershey is perfect as the domineering mother.  While I think it played out perfectly, some may not like the violence in the sexuality of the movie and others my grow tired of the endless dance sequences, but they both are integral in the story telling.  Another beautifully filmed story by Aronofsky. 

The Oscars

Almost every year, I stay home and watch the Oscars.  This year will be no different, I presume.  My love for film holds my interested, although my disdain for Billy Crystal has made it difficult at times.  Billy Crystal is a talented man, but to be completely honest, he's not very funny.  He's likable and that's about it.  That is not the point of this though.  I watch every year, yet rarely have I seen any of the movies.  Last year, I had actually watched Winter's Bone and was distraught when it didn't win anything.  That being said, I still haven't seen all the movies and actors and actresses it was up against.  I have a few at home actually lying in wait.

The real reason the Oscars was always special was because I watched it every year with my mother.  I remember we'd sit every year and cheer on this one or that.  I remember on year, my father decided to sit in.  They were about to announce the Best Actress Award and we all had out choices.  I wanted Joan Allen for the Contender, my dad wanted Ellyn Burstyn for Requiem for a Dream and my mom wanted Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich.  Roberts won and she laughed at us.  Obviously, there was no real anger, but my father walked away, cursed the whole award show nonsense and went into his bedroom.  I was a little more angry, because to this day, I think it's the most brilliant performance I've ever seen.  My mother was just happy, because she was right.

I can't do things with my mother anymore and that pains me.  I think about how she would have probably made a wonderful Sunday dinner.  We'd have coffee and sit in our Pj's and enjoy the festivities.  Many times, especially when she was sick, she'd retire early and ask me for the results in the morning, but most times we'd stay up.  The Oscars are silly and the show rarely lives up to the hype, but there are some traditions that never die.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent

Every year I hear friends of mine tell of their sacrifice for Lent.  They give up cigarettes, pizza, Big Macs, candy.  Usually things that are generally bad for them anyway and nothing that could really be called a sacrifice.  It's usually something they've wanted to give up anyway and choose to do it during Lent, because it sounds like a good idea. Very rarely do I hear them speak about the prayer aspect or the alms-giving. I guess this would make it a little more inconvenient.  I also find it amazing how people think the abstaining is to take place from Ash Wednesday until Easter.  It is from Ash Wednesday to Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) and doesn't include any of the Sundays in between.  These are days, you are allowed to have whatever you want, in celebration of Jesus' ability not to give in to temptation and sin, while in the forest.

As someone who is not religious, I believe people can choose to observe any way they want, but I do find it comical at times, the way people claim they are sacrificing.  Skipping a Reese's peanut butter cup for a month and a half is hardly comparable to fending off Satan.  Staying off Facebook for a couple of weeks is something we all should probably do, myself included. My point is, if you want to observe halfheartedly, that is your business, but don't preach.  If you truly fast from sun up to sun down or don't eat meat during this time, that is completely admirable.  If you decide not to give anything up and donate time or money for the betterment of others, that's grand.  I think it's actually a more noble way to recognize one's faith.  It's not for me to say though.

I have toyed with the fact of giving something up as a test.  Not as a religious test, but one of devotion to one's self.  To better understand what things were like back when people truly observed holidays and traditions as they were meant.  I had thought of fasting, but there are physical ramification.  I had thought of serious alms givings, but I am broke.  I don't pray, so that is out.  So what could I give up, for forty days that would be a test.  There are some things I can think of that would be easy, but I don't consider that a sacrifice.  So here is what I've decided to do.  Every day, other than Sundays, I am going to reach out someone.  It may be different people or the same people every day.  I am going to try and catch up with some people I miss.  I may check in on those I have fallen behind on.  I will try and help someone who might be in need.   Every day, I'm going to try and do one thing, now matter how small that makes another life better without any reciprocation expected.  Seems like a little more meaningful challenge than giving up a vice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

10 Years Old

A few months into my tenth year, my brother was born.  I remember how happy I was.  A year prior, my parents had adopted a baby girl and due to a law which allowed the biological parents to take her back within thirty days, I was devastated.  My brother came along and after the month of worry, things were great.  We lived in a four story brownstone and our bedrooms were on the top floor.  There were four bedrooms, my parents, my brother's, mine and a guest bedroom.

I remember one morning, I heard my brother chatting away and laughing.  I walked in to his room and he stared up at me and smiled.  I picked him up and placed him on the changing table.  Put a new diaper on and put him into some clean clothes.  I carried him downstairs and placed him in his playpen.  He sat and watched as I filled a pot with water on the stove and heated his bottle.  I then tested the bottle to make sure it wasn't too hot.  I brought him into the living room and sat on the couch, cradling him in my arms as he drank.  A few minutes later, my mother came down and smiled.  She started to make coffee and breakfast for the rest of us and left me to care for my brother. 

It was such a simpler time back then.  No worries about money or relationships.  No worries about people falling ill or dying.  I was ten years old and had already suffered something most people can't imagine, but that morning, life was perfect.  To care for someone, who loved you unconditionally, because you changed them out of a wet diaper and gave them nourishment.  That is what life is about.  Now things are different.  Adults make life so complicated.  I wrote months ago about sitting on a couch, watching TV, an occasional hug or a kiss.  That is what it is all about.  It's not about flowers or fancy dinners.  Diamond rings or Broadway shows.  It's about those moments that stay with you forever.  It's about looking at someone and having them look back, silently, and smiling.  Those moments seem to happen less frequently now, but at 10 years old, it seemed like it was every day.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Ten Greatest Acting Performances: Male

The other day I presented my list for the top performances by actresses and got a few reactions.  I am sure, I will receive more from my actors list, as some classic characters will not make it.  I will start by saying there will be no Andy Dufresne or Citizen Kane.  There will be no Corleone's or Indiana Jones.  There will be no Pacino.  No Brando.  No Deniro.  No Welles, Grant or Stewart.  This list was actually smaller to start than the list for the actresses, despite having many more quality roles to choose from. 

The hardest part was getting the numbers down.  How can one leave off Brando when he's been so amazing in On the Waterfront or as Stanley in Streetcar Named Desire?  How can 12 Angry Men be the second greatest film of all time on my list, but not one of the actors in it makes the list?  Before I sat down to type this, I realized I had left someone off.  Someone who will probably make the top five.  I made the list late at night and I am not sure if there are others.  This performances inclusion means that Humphrey Bogart's role in The African Queen will not make the list.  Getting the list down to ten was torturous.  How do you leave off Robert Shaw as Quint in Jaws? Or Bob Hoskins in Felicia's Journey. Ben Kingsley becoming Ghandi or Yul Brynner as the King of Siam.  It became so difficult when I got down to 11, I couldn't leave someone off.  So we start, with a tie.

10A.  Philip Seymour Hoffman - Truman Capote, Capote.  Any time an actor can portray an historical character and nail every mannerism, it is an amazing feat.  In Capote, Hoffman not only portrays the man perfectly, but does so in a wonderful story.  There is not doubt that Hoffman's study of the man was so meticulous, that he became the man. 

10B. Philip Baker Hall - Sydney, Hard Eight (aka Sydney).  Hard Eight is one of those perfect little movies.  The cast is perfect.  The story is perfect.  No scene is filler and the acting is incredible.  Most people know Gwyneth Paltrow, John C. Reilly and Samuel Jackson, but few know Philip Baker Hall.  After seeing this film, I not only knew who he was, but was mesmerized.  The story of a professional gambler with a past, who takes in a young man, he seems destined to meet.  The movie rolls by quickly and towards the end there is a scene.  A scene which on first view blew me away. It's between Hall and Jackson and it is so powerful and important, but subtle in it's delivery, that you almost miss it.  I later found out this scene was shot in one take and when the two men entered the room, they had never met before.  After finding this out, the scene went from great to astounding.  Which is just what this movie is.

9. Ryan Gosling - Danny Balint, The Believer.  Not too many people have seen this movie, but everyone I know has seen American History X.  While AHX is an incredible movie and leaves and impression, it is nothing compared to this movie.  Where AHX fails in the end, this succeeds.  The story is about a neo-nazi who tells his story to a writer for the NY Times.  He promises to kill himself if the writer exposes him for what he really is.  He tells about his affiliation with the KKK and his anti-semetic views.  The big secret, which he struggles to hide, is that he is Jewish.  Made before Gosling became a household name, this is his best performance to date.

8. Daniel Day Lewis - Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood.  I could be wrong, but I can not remember a movie in which the main character had more lines.  The movie, while painfully slow at times is remarkable in that Lewis seems to be on screen for every single scene and delivers so many monologues, it becomes dizzying.  Of all the movies in this acting list, it's probably the weakest, but it doesn't detract from Lewis' performance. 

7. Richard Burton - Thomas Becket, Becket.  Burton has been in so many amazing roles, its hard to choose just one.  He has played Kings like no other, but this film, his friend and adversary is King Henry II, played by the nearly as good Peter O'Toole.  The film is an emotional look at two friends who have gone in different directions and the toll it has taken on them and has severed their union.  Burton and O'Toole always give us the impression that this battle of wills is real and that is the mark of fine acting.

6.  Peter O'Toole - Henry II, The Lion in Winter.  O'Toole could easily be on this list twice for playing the same person.  He was brilliant in Becket, but shines even brighter in one of my ten favorite movies of all time.  O'Toole is paired against Katherine Hepburn in this brilliant film about a king being forced to decide who will inherit his throne.  His dilemma is more about relinquishing his own power than a story of family, but it works both ways perfectly.  Truly one of the greatest acted movies of all time, if not the greatest.

5. Anthony Hopkins - Hannibal Lechter, Silence of the Lambs.  As good as I thought Jodie Foster was, Hopkins steals the show.  He may only be on screen a number of minutes, but he makes them count like none other.  His version of Lechter (Brian Cox played the role in Manhunter), is so calmly evil, that you forget about his reputation.  Unfortunately for the character, the next two movies were pretty bad and the character loses his luster.  This can not however, take away from this role.

4. James Dean - Jett Rink, Giant.  James Dean was in three major films and all three are incredible in their own ways.  The term epic is overused today, but this film, made in 1956 was epic.  Almost three and half hours long and absolute masterful acting by Dean, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor.  The story about a man who comes into great wealth via the oil industry and his rise and fall.  Without a doubt the precursor to the show Dallas, with Dean's character possessing the ever familiar initials J.R.  I could have said East of Eden or Rebel Without a Cause and probably not heard an argument, but this one is better.  I don't think a lot of young people really understand just how talented this young man was.

3. Max Von Sydow - Antonius Block, The Seventh Seal.  I jumped on the Ingmar Bergman bandwagon late in life and I'm still catching up.  His movies are beautiful, violent and mesmerizing all at once.  Of all the one's I've seen, this captured my attention and I couldn't stop thinking about it.  One of the few movies, I've watched twice in a row, it's impact was incredible.  Never before has a movie had so many wonderful lines depicting a man's conflict with faith. The story of Block and his game of chess with Death, the movie takes you on the final days of a man who has battled in the name of God, but now questions it.  "We make an idol of our fears, and call it God."

2. Gregory Peck - Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird.  Atticus Finch was voted by AFI as the top cinematic hero of all time. It's hard to argue, because Peck's depiction was so perfect.  His honest goodness and his desire to see a wronged man saved, regardless of the color of his skin, was a powerful message in 1962, but rings true today.  The movie builds up to the brilliant court room scene, but the line of the movie for me, is after Finch gets home with his son after being called a "nigger lover," and he tells his son, "There are a lot of ugly things in this world.  I wish I could keep them all away from you.  That's never possible.  So much of what was being said then, should be reiterated now.  Every child should see this movie to understand acceptance.

1.  George C. Scott - George Patton, Patton.  The phrase tour-de-force is an understatement when it comes to this role.  Scott plays Patton in a way, I'm sure Patton would have gotten up and cheered. That was if he would ever give anyone enough credit not named Patton.  Much like Lewis in There Will Be Blood, Scott is almost always on screen.  His ferocious style of commanding is seen as his fault and the movie shows how his stubbornness overrides his brilliance so often.  The calm Omar Bradley, played by Karl Malden tries to calm him and guide him our of his own way.  The film is one fine scene after another, but is best known for the opening monologue and the medical tent scenes, where we see that Patton does nothing, but live for war.

Now I'm sure others have different opinions on what a great performance is, but these are mine.  I may have missed a few and would love to hear other opinions, but I'm going to stick with these.  Comments are always appreciated.

Jeremy Lin

Yesterday I watched more NBA basketball than Ive watched in most of the last few seasons.  I had to get a glimpse of the phenom.  Linsanity is plaguing everyone I know and I had to see it.  I had watched Friday nights game, but was drinking and talking and didn't get the full effect.  After Friday, I was unimpressed.  So yesterday, against a quality team, I was excited. 

I knew two things going in.  One, it was in MSG and the game of the week, so the refs would keep it close. Two, the Knicks were home and being it was a Sunday game, the celebs would be out.  Neither disappointed.  Now here's my thing about the NBA.  We all know it's fixed.  The ref that got nabbed for gambling basically said who was dirty and that left about three ball boys and one exec out.  Anyone who gambles, knows you never bet basketball, because the fix is always in.  Home teams win at an alarming rate and you can track the over under by who is referee.  So the Knicks won.  Got one call in the fourth and were the recipients of four wonderful no calls in the last four minutes that probably had swung the score by about six point.  Of course that doesn't include the baseball pass to J.R. Smith who stutter stepped, then dragged his foot and then shot the ball.  A travel in every game, in every country, in every arena, not called Madison Square. 

Now, did  Jeremy Lin have a good game?  Absolutely.  He was over 50% from the field and he knocked down a key 3-pointer.  But here's what bothers me.  On at least six occasions, he drove to his right (he has no left hand) and ran into a pile of defenders.  During the first 40 minutes of the game, this was a turnover or missed shot.  In the last few minutes it was a foul.  He had a plus 14 score in the +/- line and that baffles me.  He had seven turnovers in the second half, but if you watched closely, almost every time he turned the ball over, the Mavs almost immediately got called for something that gave the Knicks the ball back.  Now listen, I'm not saying the kid can't play the game.  But here's my reasoning. You give the most average NBA point guard 20 shots, six of them 3-pointers,, then six free throws and he's going to score 18 points.  There's a reason why every year, a superstar gets hurt and someone emerges.  It's called opportunity.  Back in my heyday, if you put me on a basketball court and gave me 20 shots, I was scoring 20 points.  No doubt about it.  I was going to make 40% of my shots and half of them were going to be 3's.  Was I great?  No, but it's called having no conscience. 

Jeremy Lin is a nice player.  You can see that he has some game, but he's an NBA player.  They all do.  Knicks fans will remember J.R. Smith coming out and knocking down his first three 3's and finishing with 15 huge points.  What they will forget is that he shot 37% from the field and 33% from the arc.  Awful.  But it doesn't matter.  Knicks fans will forget that Lin turned the ball over almost 1 out of every eight times down the court.  They will praise his five steals, but neglect the fact that three of them were fouls.  This is the NBA.  People will call me a hater.  This is why I don't watch the NBA.  It's a joke. David Stern needed a player in the 80's to change the game from the boring X's and O's game it was to a highlight reel.  He invented Michael Jordan.  Then Shaq came along and the game changed.  That became boring and he invented Kobe.  The lockout killed the NBA and it needed new blood.  Yao retired and China is one of the biggest NBA moneymakers there is.  Stern needed something to keep their interest.  Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce Jeremy Lin. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Ten Greatest Acting Performances; Female

I've made my lists of the best films by decade and was thinking about the greatest performances.  For the women, I made a list that came out to be 24 roles.  I narrowed it down to ten, which was nearly impossible.  To give you an idea of what it was like, here are some that didn't make the list.  Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter, Better Midler in The Rose, Emma Thompson in Remains of the Day and Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour & Repulsion.  Actresses like Jessica Lange, Judi Dench, Bette Davis and Helen Mirren didn't make the list.  That's how tough it was.  So here it is.

10. Noomi Rapace - Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Trilogy).  Rapace is beautiful and tough in this masterpiece trilogy.  It's quite possible that nobody has ever taken a role and made themselves that person more than Rapace. Ironically, the film is being remade with Rooney Mara who was nominated (Rapace was not). The other two movies are very good, but it's her performance in this one that takes the cake.

9. Genevieve Bujold - Anne Boleyn, Anne of a Thousand Days.  Bujold plays King Henry VIII's queen.  It is a love story with high drama.  The acting in this film is so superb, that the last time I watched it I was almost brought to tears at how powerful a film can be when fine actors are paired.  In this case, the very young and talented Bujold with the older, brilliant Richard Burton.

8. Charlize Theron - Aileen Wournos, Monster.  How does one of the classiest and most beautiful women in motion picture history portray a trailer trash serial killer?  I'm still wondering.  If I hadn't seen the opening credits, it would have taken a lot for me to believe that it was Theron on screen.  If you've ever seen video of the crazed Wournos, you realize just how good this performance was.

7. Meryl Streep - Julia Child, Julie & Julia.  This is a movie that I had hoped to like, but was shocked when I loved it. The sections with Amy Adams are great, but the scenes with Streep, portraying Child to a tee, were incredible.  Everything from her voice to her mannerisms were perfect.  You got a sense that Streep was not only portraying her, but making sure, we all knew just how influential she was to cooking in the America.  Her performance in Doubt was also one I considered for this list.

6. Kathy Bates - Annie Wilkes, Misery.  Never has there been a more curious villain on film than Annie Wilkes.  Bates goes from the caring, nurturing woman who saves her favorite writer, to the crazed fan who does anything to keep him with her.  She is stellar the entire time, but it's the one scene that will last with us forever.

5. Katherine Hepburn - Rose Sayer, The African Queen.  One of the greatest opposites attract movies of all time.  Hepburn and Bogart are absolutely amazing together.  The chemistry is so perfect, you actually believe they hate each other at the beginning, but believe the love they find by the end.  One of the greatest films ever made.  Before the VCR this movie was on a lot.  It was my favorite movie until I was about 16 and Katherine Hepburn is and most likely will always be, my favorite actress.

4. Jennifer Lawrence - Ree, Winter's Bone.  The most recent of all the performances.  This movie just blew me away.  Lawrence is in nearly every scene and she stands out in each.  The pain and perseverance she shows is incredible.  What she is willing to do for her family is inspirational and almost costs her her life.  While she's a young woman and this was her first big role, I can't imagine this was a fluke.  This was another case of a woman who I saw in the movie as one way and then saw her on the red carpet and was knocked out by the transformation.

3. Katherine Hepburn - Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Lion in Winter.  Absolutely one of the greatest films ever.  I was lucky enough to see a revival in the theater when I was younger.  The entire cast is brilliant, but Hepburn stands out as the royal families matriarch.  One of many incredible roles by Hepburn, but this is the best.

2. Jodie Foster - Clarice Starling, Silence of the Lambs.  Foster, who is great in nearly everything she does, was on top of her game from start to finish in this one.  She runs the gamut of emotions in this one.  Her back and forth with each character is something to behold.  It's a gritty performance, but done in a way, that she maintains her femininity throughout.

1. Joan Allen - Laine Hanson, The Contender.  Allen didn't get into movies until she was nearly 30.  Before I had seen this film, I had seen her in many films, most notably, The Crucible, Nixon and The Ice Storm. So I knew she had some serious acting ability.  Then I saw The Contender and was blown away.  Allen plays a woman who has been selected to be Vice President. Her character is called into question and she needs to fight this, but decides not to dignify the accusations with rebuttals.  In one of the greatest scenes I've ever viewed, the President, played by Jeff Bridges speaks with her on the White House lawn and asks her about the accusation.  The scene is so poignant and so powerful, while never seeming contrived, that you feel as if this is the way people should be.  Without sounding ridiculous, if I had a daughter, I would show her this movie and tell her, this is a role model. Be like Laine Hanson.  She;s absolutely inspirational.

So there you have it.  My opinions for the best performances by an actress.  Of course there have been hundreds of wonderful performances and many could be in here.  So many wonderful actresses have performed so many wonderful roles...but these are the one's that stuck with me.  For whatever reason, these were my top ten.

Do You Believe?

A few months ago I was at a friend's house and she told me there was a ghost in the house.  I rolled my eyes and probably said something sarcastic.  A month went by and no boogie men, no weird sounds or bumps in the night.  Then one day, she was away and I was at her house feeding her cats.  I also had asked if I could do some laundry while she was away.  She said yes and one night, while going to check the cats, I brought over some laundry. 

So I'm watching TV and doing laundry and I walk down to put some stuff in the dryer.  It was hot out that night, so the basement was rather balmy.  As I headed back upstairs I noticed a large box and some papers leaning against a wall.  I walked by them, turned around the wall and headed upstairs.  I turned the light out and went back to watching TV.  About an hour later I headed back to get the clothes out of the dryer.  I opened the door and flicked on the light.  At the bottom of the stairs there was a mess.  The box and the papers were on the floor.  It immediately dawned on me that this was weird.  How did they not only fall, but make their way around the wall.  I shrugged my shoulders and headed down.  I picked up the box and papers and put them against the wall.  I then took one step and the balmy atmosphere suddenly became cold.  Not cold like a breeze, but the near 80 degree basement felt like an icebox.  I was shivering.  I took one more step and it was back into the warmth.  I folded the clothes and put them in my laundry bag.  I walked back through the cold spot and it was gone.  Complete warmth was now there.  I walked back up the stairs and that was it.

I went back the next morning and checked the basement.  It was warm.  No cold spots.  No boxes or papers on the ground.  Whatever was there that caused the cold was gone.  I won't say I believe in ghosts.  I won't ever believe in ghosts or the supernatural, but that was quite possibly the oddest, most unexplainable moment of my life.  I told my friend and of course she knew what it was.  Who it was.  I'm still not convinced, but who am I, after this, to say it wasn't.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Odd Food Observations

Twice in the last week, I've gone 36 hours without eating.
I have had fast food only twice in the last year.
I used to have breaded chicken cutlets for lunch/dinner almost 3 times a week.  Haven't had them in a year.
I've eaten pasta only 3 times in the last year and a half.
I used to cook about 10 meals a week.  I've cooked about 10 times in the last seven months.
Everyone I know grabs a slice of pizza at least once a week.  I have probably had pizza once in the last six months (not counting Celeste pizza).
I used to get cold cuts for lunch at least twice a week.  I've eaten any type of cold cuts only two times in the last six months (once was a charcuterie plate).
I drink on average about 80 ounces of water a day. The only other non-alcoholic drink that I regularly consume is coffee.  Which I drink about 64 ounces a day of.
Sushi/Sashimi is one of my favorite things to eat.  I've had it once in the last year.
I have only eaten inside of an Indian restaurant once.  It was the hottest meal I've ever eaten and delicious.
I love gyros.  I haven't had one in two years.
I can't stand the smell of salmon but love the taste.
I've probably eaten Chinese food for 20% of the meals I've had in the last five months.
I could be wrong, but I think there are 22 places you can sit down and eat in Eastchester.  I have done this at only twelve in my life and five in the last year.
I have not had moussaka, sauerbraten or paella since my mother died.  They are three of my favorites.
If someone asked what my perfect dessert would be - a french goat cheese, a soft, a camembert or brie, ricotta salata, and English stilton and a glass of port.
I have not eaten a steak in almost three months.
Other than bread (any dough type food) the food I have eaten most in the last year, by far are tomatoes.
I rarely put peanut butter on anything.  I usually just eat it out of the jar.
I used to eat a bag of chips every day. I've eaten potato chips less than once a week in the last year.
I didn't like Olives, Mushrooms or Avocados ten years ago.  Now they are three of my favorite things to eat. 
I used to eat eggs five times a week for breakfast.  I've probably had eggs less than five times in the last month.
If I didn't drink, I could probably survive on a food budget of about $150 a month.  Last month I spent about $1100 on food and drink.  Yikes

Friday, February 17, 2012

Things I'm Thinking At 6:57am

I recently devised a system for rating players, but I don't know what the validity is for using it to rate careers, because it doesn't take into account, the era, comparison to the average player, etc.  That being said. Johnny Bench who is the benchmark (no pun intended) had an average around .770.  Berra was around .790.  Recently deceased Gary Carter was barely over .700.  But here's two scary stats.  Posada is between Bench and Berra, while Piazza is 50 pts above Berra.  Starting to rethink my stance on Posada and the hall. More research needs to be done.


On Sunday, Adele won a slew of Grammy's including Best album.  It's fresh, so maybe I'm jumping the gun, but I'm gonna say it right now.  It's the best complete album to even be nominated since Fallen by Evanescence in 2004 (which lost to another great album SpeakerBoxx/The Love Below by Outkast).  Similarly to Evanescence was special, because nothing like it before ever sounded like it.  I think 20 years from now, Adele will be talked about with the best singers ever.

I love following and watching all sports, but I am definitely getting the bug.  It's almost my single favorite time of year.  March Madness.  No other sporting event is more exciting and none comes close to delivering more often.  I am getting antsy.  February is officially the purgatory for a sports fan.

I'm tired of hearing about the tragedy of Whitney Houston's death.  She was a good singer, but she didn't write songs.  She hasn't been relevant in over ten years and she squandered over $100 million dollars.  I just paid my cell phone bill a day late and the $5 surcharge is pissing me off.  I pay $108 a month to have my phone and it kills me to pay it.  Let's put this in perspective.  Let's say I had $50,000 in the bank and paid that bill.  It's the equivalent of Whitney blowing $260,000....on crack.

When I start a diet, people get confused.  I'm not changing what I eat, but how much I eat.  Sure I have to stay away from an Eastchester Burger ever other day or the lovely chorizo burrito I had this evening.  I have to give up my weekly Chinese splurge and my loaf of bread with veggies combo.  I have to give up quantity, not quality.  So don't misunderstand me.  I'm not dieting...I'm lessening.

My three favorite foods right now, which I didn't even really like ten years ago are short ribs, avocado and mushrooms.  Someone make me something with all three and I'll love you forever.

Politics bothers me a lot right now, but nothing got me more than that panel on birth control that didn't have one female voice on it, but had five men of the cloth.  We're going to hell in a hand basket and religion and politics are the reason why.  Politicians need to leave religion out of their views and religion needs to keep opinions to themselves.  You base your life on a book.  Most of us, base our lives on experience.  What was good for people in the desert 3000 years ago, doesn't apply now.  Why is it every aspect of our lives, we are told to adapt, but religions we stay exactly the same?  If it was so prevalent of God to say hello back in the day, where's he been lately?  If you say "this is when he's carrying us,"  I'll kick you in the throat. 

Just read that in 1971, the highest paid baseball player signed for $500,000 a year for three years.  Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and A-Rod will make that in about ten games this year. 

The number of people that read my blog is in direct correlation to the content. If I write about sports, nobody reads.  If I write about something that makes me happy, about 30 people read.  If I bitch and moan about something or tell about my life's woes...about 50-60 people read.  I'm not judging, but we all take such great pride in others woes and rarely care about their happiness.  Odd, isn't it?

The last two weeks, I have spent about two hours almost every week day with someone I used to be infatuated with 25 years ago.  I can talk to her about anything and we laugh all the time.  I can't speak for five minutes without fighting with someone I was infatuated with five months ago.  Ironically we can talk about anything and laugh all the time too.  Other than one person, the people whose company I enjoy the most these days, I see the least.  Seems like that is always the case.

I wrote a blog about it the other day, but the pain in my hip is getting really bad.  I don't know if it's bursitis, a pinched nerve or the beginning of arthritis, but it sucks.  Today I was rushing to do something and the pain was so bad, I almost blacked out in front of a tennis class.  Laughing now at how I would have explained it.

I've been doing like three different things while writing this and just realized it has been about forty five minutes since I started it and it's running quickly out of steam.  So here are my goals for the weekend.  Sleep!

Dodgeball: Then & Now (More Than Just Dodgeball)

How times have changed.  I was discussing the politics of Valentine's Day and the new socialist regime happening in Kindergarten classes.  Everyone gets a Valentine, everyone is happy and nobody cries.  Why is it OK for this behavior with kids, but conservatives think this is the devil's work when it applies to adults.  Why should kids be coddled, but adults let to suffer?   Well this discussion made me think of the differences between dodge ball then and now.  I loved dodge ball as a kid and I teach (run) a class now.  So I decided to break down the game from beginning to end.

Picking sides
1982: The two best kids picked teams.  Friend loyalty was a sign of weakness.
2012: The teacher picks teams as evenly as possible, while trying to make the kids happy.

The Balls
1982:  A hard rubber playground ball
2012:  Squishy foam balls about half the size

The Rules:
1982: Get hit with a ball - you're out
2012: Get hit with a ball - you're out

1982: Throw a ball and it's caught, you're out and the first person on the other team's out line is in
2012: Throw a ball and it's caught, you're out and everyone on the other team's out line is in.

1982:  Step over the middle line - you're out
2012:  Step over the middle line - you get a warning (tons of them)

1982:  Get hit and don't admit it - your team throws you under the bus
2012:  Get hit and don't admit it - your team calls time out and argues that the other team is cheating.

1982: Close calls - work it out...odd/evens or rock, paper scissors
2012: Close calls- ask teacher and put him on the spot

1982: Games going slow and a lot of people are sitting out - too bad
2012: Games going slow and a lot of people are sitting out - jailbreak everyone on back in

The End
1982: Switch sides and start over
2012: Chase kid who got you out and complain they cheated or the teams were unfair.

1982: Go back to class all sweaty
2012; Get picked up by mom or dad....since they don't allow it in a lot of schools.

It makes me laugh that while the game is still a great deal of fun, the fear of actually getting hit with a ball is gone. The ferocity levels might feel like they are there, but ore kids cry in one week about getting hit with the foam ball than I remember in all the years playing in school.  There were lessons learned back then too.  You got hit, you waited your turn, came back with a vengeance and proved your worth for the next game.  You were picked last?  You played your heart out and hoped to prove yourself to the other kids.  If you were the last one, you did everything in your power to catch a ball and get a teammate in.  Today, you get hit, you sulk and wait for a jailbreak, not even paying attention to your teammates to see if they catch it.  Picked last?  The teacher rotates, so you aren't always going to be last.  You're the last one?  You try and make the game last as long as possible by holding a ball which you never throw, all the while trying to hide somewhere. 

It's a different mindset and it's a microcosm of the world we live in.  Everyone back then played as a team.  You counted on everyone for the good of the group.  Now, it's every man for themselves and you hope you'll be bailed out by the instructor.  When I was a kid and you got out, you ran to the side and waited, cheering on your team. Today's kids, don't care about the team if they aren't playing.    Back then you protected the weaker players.  Now you stand away from them, because they have a target on their backs.  Back then we never picked on the scrubs.  Now it's 90% of the game/

The point is, back then we were taught to do our best or we'd lose, but we never lost sight of the team.  Now we are taught to do our best or we'll switch teams to make it more even, because we don't want you complaining to mom you didn't get on the same team as your boy.  We as a society, tell kids they will be successes, but they never earn it.   Every once in a while.  A game will come down to one player on each side.  In 1982: The team with the final player would exclaim "we won!"  The other team would exclaim "we lost." In 2012, the player that was left standing would say "I won."  The last player out would be heckled "you suck" or "why didn't you call jailbreak?  It wasn't fair."

And this is dodge ball.  Imagine what would happen if five billion people were playing?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Shows: Making The Best Out Of Nothing

Back in September, or whenever the new television season started, I made myself a promise.  I was going to stay in more.  I've always been a movie person, but decided that I would start watching a little more TV.  The reason was simple.  I don't have many cable stations to watch sports or movies, but I'm still paying about $40 a month for the damn thing.  So it began.  A quest to find one show a night to watch. 

Prime Suspect was the first show that grabbed me. The American version of the English hit was the best show on TV.  Then like anything which might have good acting, great dialogue and a need for the slightest bit of intelligence to "get," it was taken off the air.  Not even finishing season number one.  So aside from that failure, I've gotten caught up in exactly one show per evening.  It should also be noted, that most of them I normally forget to watch and then catch them On Demand.  So with the exception of one, they aren't all that wonderful.

Monday: Alcatraz - The creators of Lost have an other island-themed show, that plays of the past, the present and the future.  The difference with this one, is that there is an actual direction. While I can't see this show being on more than another year (unless it introduces some actually interesting characters), it is slightly compelling. The story of a group of inmates and guards that disappear from Alcatraz in the 60's, this show draws us in with the idea that in some way the past and present characters all need each other, for some reason or another.  The star is a young, very attractive woman who is paired with a comic book salesman and Alcatraz expert.  They hunt down all these blasts from the past and it always ends with their success.  I assume this will change, as the last episode has hinted their is much more to the story.  The show is not great, but the plot is interesting enough and the pace is quick enough, that on a Monday night, I can handle it.  I'd rate it a C+.

Tuesday: New Girl - The quirkiest, slap stick comedy show to come around in years.  The best part of this show is that as much as the characters act in odd ways, we can relate and we know them.  The newly dumped girl, lost in a world she doesn't understand, but she always looks for the light at the end of the tunnel.  The guy who was dumped, doesn't know how to go on, then meets someone and just wants to be loved.  The guy who thinks he's all that, but the truth is he's as vulnerable and sweet as anyone else we know.  The guy who had everything for a while and now has to come back to reality and pick up where everyone else has left off.  And finally, the really hot girl, who deep down is just a sweet, innocent girl looking for love.  The key to this show, is that every character has reached that age where they should be settling, but can't find Mr. or Mrs. Right.  In their attempts, insanity ensues.  I'd rate it an A.

Wednesday: Criminal Minds - The FBI drama has definitely lost it's luster.  It's starting to rely too heavily on it's model and it's shows haven't really hit the mark.  The show somewhat jumped the shark a few years ago, when they featured a two part finale called "To hell....and back."  I say it jumped the shark, but really, it hurt itself, by having one of the better finale's in the last five years.  No cliff hanger, just a great story, great acting and a not so friendly and very realistic ending.  While the shows has gone downhill, it is still the most interesting of all the cop dramas, or as they call them now, procedurals.   My grade is a B-.

Thursday: Up All Night - Christina Applegate was never this funny in Married With Children or the show she had amnesia.  In this she is downright hilarious.  Coupled with Will Arnett, the duo are constantly turning every day things into hilarity.  I'll get shit for this, but they have succeeded where Seinfeld failed, because they make it realistic. These things happen.  People fall, get back up and then curse a lot.  The show really took off when the famous co-star found a mate.  While it's definitely a secondary story, it has added layers to what started out as very simple characters.  A loving couple, whose only desire in life is to give their baby daughter the best life she can have and finding that the little things in life are so much more important than what they initially thought they wanted for her.  My grade B.

Friday:  Grimm - A crime drama based on the Grimm fairy tales, this show explores a small town in Portland, Oregon that seems to have some very interesting criminals.  It's obviously working it's way up to something bigger and we see that those amongst us are rarely who they appear to be.  The show isn't well acted.  It isn't exactly tight at times.  It is however captivating if you know the true Grimm's fairy tales. Not the G-rated versions you might have read as a child, but the bone chilling horror stories that I read as a child.  In those versions, Little Red dies and she dies a horrible death.  In the show, it's even more weird.  My Grade B.

I'd be remiss if I didn't get sucked into the anus of our society, which is reality TV.  Now while I find American Idol to be one of the worst shows on television, I do enjoy hearing singers pour their hearts out.   American Idol has had a few good singers over the years, but they are few and far between and I rarely care who wins.  Last year, I got caught up with The Voice.  Talented singers competing for a contract, in the same fashion as AI, but with a twist.  They are chosen strictly due to their voices, not their general appeal.  What makes this show so much better than AI is that the worst singers in the room are better singers than the best AI has to offer.  They might not have the marketability, but they absolutely nail their renditions of most songs.  Under the guidance of four superstars of today's music they go through a brutal competition where they are compete head to head.  It is much more complex than AI and the winner, might not be the best singer.  Last year, I have to say, I didn't agree at first, but after thinking about the entire season and not just one performance, the right person won.  I hate reality TV and to be honest, I don't even know what night or channel this show is on, but it's pretty good for a reality competition.  My grade is a B.

And there you have it.  I basically watch no other TV shows. I have seen Person of Interest, but it's become the same silly thing every night.  I have tried Whitney and Chelsea, but they are asinine.  I've tried the others that have come out recently, but can't stomach any of them. So that's my lineup. Aside from New Girl, there isn't one in the lot worth staying home for, but when I do, this is what I watch.  And before you judge and say what about this or that. I like Modern Family but it is on when Criminal Minds is on.  It's very funny and has moments of sheer brilliance, but I only watch it once in a while.  I don't want to fall too much more in love with Sofia Vergara, so I must abstain.

The Day After

"In jealousy there is more self-love than love." - Francois de la Rochefoucald

Have you ever said something and in your mind you completely meant it.  Then when confronted with the fact that your well wishes came true, you immediately felt anger and betrayal.  This isn't like me.  I've never been a jealous person.  I've never been one to care that there are haves and I am a have not.  I have never coveted what others have.  If they are friends, I am happy for their success and happiness.  If they are people who I don't know, I assume there must be something good about them for their achievements are a sign.  Unless proven wrong, I believe people have things for a reason.  It may not always be the best reason, but who am I to question it.  So how did I fall prey to this feeling?

When you love something, to lose it is tough.  There is a healing process that begins and then you learn to cope.  These coping skills allow us to continue relationships that at one time, felt like love, but now we convince ourselves there was a mistake.  We learn to let go and we tell ourselves that time heals all wounds. How much time?  What happens when we convince ourselves that we are healed? Suddenly, this health is tested and we find we were not healed.  The revelation is tough to deal with.  We fight it with every fiber of our being. We place blame on others for our inability.  We throw accusations and insults, but what we're really saying is that we care more about our feelings than those who are the objects of our affection.  Genuinely, we don't mean to hurt, but we do so to preserve our own love.  Jealousy is nothing more than the reflection of our own anger, sorrow and desperation, that we reflect onto others.  I never used to be that person, but last night, I looked into that mirror and didn't like what I saw and blamed another, who deep down, I truly care about.  For that, I feel horrible.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Alone

I got picked up from the school today from a friend.  We went to Dunkin Donuts, our daily ritual, and then sat and watched as all the pussy whipped men walked to their cars with flowers, candy and balloons.  We laughed at the silliness of the day and spoke of the horrible restaurant experiences on silly Hallmark holidays.  I remember once going to Friendly's with a girl I had been with for years and we laughed when we saw other couples who had been dating for a while doing the same.  It is silly to even contemplate dining out on Valentine's Day.

I came home and started a few loads of laundry.  I decided to treat myself to my midweek meal of Chinese food.  I had contemplated going to get some pizza, but decided it wasn't in the cards.  I wanted to something with leftovers and Chinese always works.  I folded my laundry and ate some of my dinner.  I stopped to watch a show and then jumped on the computer, finishing a little more of my food.

I didn't really think about valentine's day and being alone. I mean in the sense that it didn't bother me.  I've gotten to a point in my life where one little thing can make my day.  Today, at about 3:10, 15 Kindergartners walked into the auditorium.  Every single one of them stopped and wished me a Happy Valentine's Day.  For me, being alone wasn't a big deal, because I carried that with my all day long.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Little Rant

Last night I posted a status claiming I had written something which would have cost me about 200 of my Facebook friends.  I doubt that is true, but it would have been a lot.  I decided to write it here, because I figure less people read it, it's a way to vent and the people who care to comment can do so anonymously.

Facebook and Twitter allow us to make comments a little more freely than we would in person.  That is true and not true.  There is absolutely nothing I would write on Facebook or in the blog that I wouldn't say in person.  Nothing.  That is definitely not the case for everyone. Many hide behind their computers and write nasty things about people, knowing their contact with those people are remote.  I try never to be too personal, but would have absolutely no problem voicing my displeasure with anyone.

Here's my real gripe.  People have to start thinking for themselves.  They have to stop bashing things and praising others, because it's the consensus, it's their core belief system or it's how they were raised.  Evolution has taught us that we are constantly evolving, but reality is teaching us we are regressing.  I have had numerous arguments over the past few months about dicey topics and here's what is troubling to me.  People aren't convincing in their arguments, because they don't wholeheartedly believe in what they are saying.  There are numerous reasons for it.  There is a lack of knowledge, a lack of true belief and there is the most difficult of all, they are conflicted.

When Rick Santorum said that if a woman is raped and gets pregnant, I called him a piece of shit.  Republicans and Christians attacked me for this and started a debate.  None of them even came close to a cognitive thought, because of the reasons I stated.  They don't know people who have been raped and the torment.  They don't know people who have had a child because it was against their (parents) beliefs to have an abortion.  Most of all, in their hearts they knew it was an awful thing and would never subject anyone they loved to this, but it's OK for someone else to deal with.  This is the narrow mindedness I can't stand.  People who use political parties or religion as their argument, without actually putting themselves in a situation.

It goes far beyond this matter.  I have noticed a growing number of people who all agree on what is great.  Jersey Shore and Mob Wives are "great."  Coconut water and being vegan is "great."  Whitney Houston was "great."  This or that is always great, because it's the posh thing to say, when in fact none of these things are great.  The television shows are asinine and are the exact thing that is attacking the moral fiber of this country.  How did it happen that in the last twenty years, being stupidly outrageous is cool?  How did it happen that not being intelligent is funny?  How did it happen that every new product on a shelf that claims to be healthy is great?  How is it someone with a nice voice, who sung other people's songs and spent the last ten years of her life hooked on drugs is great?  Our definition of great has become so sad, it's not even good anymore.  I recently read an article about the sales of coconut water and how it's the greatest health drink.  They kept saying it was only 50 calories and all natural.   The author ended the article with a statistic.  Coconut water is 50 calories, all natural and has all the health benefits of water.  Water has no calories.  Drink water! 

We've gotten to the point where even our friendships are dictated by society's perceptions.  About a year ago a very good looking friend of mine, who is actually pretty intelligent was at a bar talking to a girl.  She was looking for a deep conversation and he was looking to get laid.  He interrupted her and said "this is a little much for a Thursday night.  Talk to Hopper!"  So she turned and talked to me.  I don't have the body of an Adonis or the style of a designer, but I know I'm pretty damn smart.  She and I talked for about three hours.  I think my friend might have even left the bar and came back.  We talked and talked and she said how great I was and how it was a pleasure meeting me.  How she was single and looking for someone who she could talk to like this.  About ten minutes later, my friend walked back in and basically in a polite way said "you ready to get laid yet?" Two minutes later, I was sitting alone and he was, I assume, getting laid.  I'm not bitter that he got some and I didn't, but I'm bitter that because of society's value system, intelligent conversation is actually looked down on.  Nice pecs trumps knowledge of Mazlow's Hierarchy of Needs every time.  I'm not saying I'm not guilty of this too, but the reality is it has become the norm.

I have friends who are cops who only hang out with cops.  I have friend who are teachers who only hang out with teachers.  I have friends who are stock brokers who only hang out with stock brokers.  There has become this divide that makes being oneself a negative.  It's not only jobs, but economic, religious or political circles.  I have friends who refuse to speak politics with me because they say I'm a bleeding heart liberal.  The fact is, I'm educated on politics.  I don't go with a party, I go with what makes sense.  I have a friend who argued about the success of trickle down economics (aka Reaganomics).  The odd thing is I proved it's failure in about twenty minutes beyond a shadow of a doubt and I gave them source after source to back up my findings.  What was their response? "I still think it works."  Why, did they say this?  That is simple.  To say I was correct would be to admit that the entire theory behind his political parties agenda is wrong.  Thus making it impossible to explain his upcoming vote.  It's not that this man is stupid, it's that he's fallen into a pattern of being a follower.  So many of us do.

People would be very surprised at my voting history and my political beliefs if they knew my core values. I sometimes argue something I believe in ethically, but don't necessarily believe in morally.  Just to make it clear.  I believe everyone who lives in this country deserves medical attention and health care, but I am 100% for deportation of immigrants.  Let me be very clear, that does not only mean Mexican immigrants, that means all immigrants.  Everyone knows I see the world differently than most and many think my goal in life is to be a devil's advocate, but the reality is, I'm truly passionate about my beliefs.  So much so that it costs me friendships, relationships and in some ways, jobs and opportunity in general.  That being said, I don't like playing ball and I'm not going to change.

Obviously what I had intended on writing on Facebook was going to be short, indirect and a little nasty.  That is why I didn't write it.  I was frustrated.  I was frustrated that some of my best friends don't have time for me anymore and frustrated that I haven't had time for some of them.  I was frustrated that some people I know wish they had someone to spend Valentine's day with and frustrated that I had offered.  I am frustrated that people have become so consumed by their lives that they don't stop to ask how mine is.  I am equally frustrated that I don't have the patience anymore to listen to their life's story anymore, when that was always who I was.   I am frustrated by choices I've made in the past and their ramifications, but equally frustrated by things I didn't have a choice about.  I'm frustrated that I have so much to say, but waste it on this blog, Facebook and Twitter. 

I know at times people have an impression that I think I'm better than others.  I wish I could say that isn't the case.  Shouldn't we all think we're better than most?  I think we should, but the reality is we don't.  We strive so hard to fit in that we lose our individuality and we become average.  Average is the new "Great" and it's our world.  A world, which for now, I don't really fit in.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Quickie Blog: Grammy Night

Adele won all the important awards.  Foo Fighters won the rock stuff.  I don't even know half the "rap" songs nominated and Taylor Swift got robbed for the country album award.  So who really cares about the awards, it's about the show.  Well, the show sucked.  I missed the first 20 minutes and about 30 minutes in the middle, but what I saw was pretty bad.

Adele, Swift and the Foo Fighters rocked.  Alisha Keys & Bonnie Raitt's homage to Etta James was awful.  Jennifer Hudson's rendition of I'll Always Love You was feeble.  Paul McCartney, rocked it for an old guy, but sucked.  Katy Perry was awful. Nicki Minaj was a train wreck.  I missed Glenn Campbell, but I heard the old guy hit a home run.  Tony Bennett sounded 85. 

The show had three highlights for me. Rihanna in that long black dress, LL giving a shout out to Don Cornelius after the In Memory section of the show seemed to have left him out and Adele proving her voice is back!  Aside from that, it's hours I'll never get back. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Celebrity Deaths & Facebook

Before Facebook, when a celebrity died it was mentioned on the news and then there was a brief morning period and that was it.  End of story.  I remember as a child, playing in the street, when suddenly parents called all of us in from our game. We all ran home and watched the news about Marvin Gaye's death, at the hands of his father.  I was fourteen and I cried.  I remember when Thurman Munson died a few years earlier, it was the same routine.  My mother cried.  A day later it was back to normal.  They were gone, but not forgotten.  What has happened to us since the Internet?

I've noticed that when a celebrity dies, there are four different people that spring up.   There are the people who suddenly act as though they and the celebrity had this bond that nobody can understand.  There are those who immediately exaggerate the person's talents and praise them regardless of whether they were a horrible human being or a great one.  There are those who simply don't care, because it doesn't affect their lives.  Then there are the people like me, who while respecting their death, find it somewhat humorous at the reactions they can stir.  When Munson died, I was upset, because he was a baseball player and I loved baseball.  When Marvin Gaye died, I was upset, because he was a talented performer and that's all I knew about him.  As time went by, lots of people have passed.  When Michael Jackson died a few years ago, I was not affected, but found it funny how many people got upset by my jokes.  These same people don't have any problem with the fact he was a pedophile and a prescription drug addict, because he was such a good entertainer.  When Amy Winehouse died, everyone called her a tramp and a drug addict.  When Whitney dies, she's the greatest singer and they feel for her because she was troubled.  Troubled?  She made millions off her voice.  Then she made money off of exploiting her then pathetic life on reality TV.  How can I feel bad?  How can I not make a mockery our of her life, when she did herself?  It baffles me why people get upset.

When I die, I hope someone misses me.  I don't want any ceremony.  I want to cremated and you can scatter my ashes wherever the hell you please.  I don't care.  The one thing I do care about is how I am remembered.  I hope that soon after my death, someone takes a crack at me.  I hope people remember me for being a wise-ass and prankster.  I hope people tell stories and I hope I'm the butt of some jokes.  That's how I want to be remembered, so have at it.  For all the people who say how sad, or it was too soon, or whatever cliche is used, I hope there are ten people who find humor in my death.  Not that I'm dead, but that I enjoyed my life and made people happy.  So if someone gets a chuckle at my expense in death, more power to them, and me!

I haven't always done the right thing in my life and people tell me about it all the time.  So why when people, who live their lives in the public eye, end their lives "tragically," are we're made to change how we view them.  Whitney Houston was a drug addict.  She was a terrible mom, because from all accounts, her young daughter is too.  During her highest points she was seen as a classy, talented woman.  Soon after, she became a disheveled loser with an addiction.  Sadly, she died that way.  She did not die with dignity or grace and if some people want to make little jokes about it, that is fine.  What isn't fine is to pretend you have a connection to her or any other celebrity who wastes their talents and ridicule others who are just having fun.  If you are offended by my jokes, so be it and feel free to laugh and joke when I'm gone.

Whitney Houston

Last night it was reported that Whitney Houston died.  While the initial feeling was one of shock, I did not share the terrible sorrow that some others did.  To me, she had become another statistic.  Someone who had some talent, but couldn't handle it.  So many of us would love to be able to sing like she could, but most of us would not throw it all away on drugs.  I don't know what caused the downward spiral in her life, but it always seemed avoidable.  I've made jokes about her death, but please do not be confused.  I am not applauding her death, but finding humor in how pathetic her life had become.  She did not suffer from a disease.  She was not taken from us do to some horrible disease.  She killed herself a long time ago.  She, like Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse and so many others, chose to do things to themselves that can't be explained.  To have that much talent and throw it all away is something i can't comprehend. 

So many of us struggle with our everyday lives, that the thought of being paid to sing, dance or play sports seems like a gift impossible of screwing up.  To be adored can not be that troubling in my mind.  To be looked up to for your voice, seems like a pretty decent life.  To have money to do anything, but to choose a life of drugs seems like an odd choice.  The papers will say she was depressed or in pain, but the truth is, the depression and pain were brought on by poor decisions.

In the past year, I have lost friends to diseases brought on mysteriously and the pain is still fresh.  These are tragic deaths.  So when people speak of the tragedy that was Whitney Houston's life, I might snicker.  Not at the loss of life, but at the waste of it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

First Thoughts

I don't know why this is, but the first thing I think about when I wake up is usually the most ludicrous or brilliant thing I think about all day.  Take for example today. I had a dream that I was in a situation where a girl wanted to have sex in a lake, but I knew there was a shark in the lake.  So I got some kids to go water skiing so I could sneak into the lake and the shark wouldn't bother me.  I woke up when the shark attacked me, so the logical thing to have as my first thought was this: I can't remember the last time I saw a Broadway play.  I think it was Diary of Anne Frank with Natalie Portman in it.

The thoughts aren't always nonsensical, but usually they are.  I always do a NCAA basketball pool and this year and the other morning I woke up and the first thing I thought of was to do the pool differently this year and for some reason the mathematical part of figuring it out was already mapped out in my head.  This after waking from a dream where I could control friends status updates on Facebook.

Many mornings I wake up and write my blog almost immediately.  Inspired by some nocturnal transmission to the brain.  Others it's just some little pun or joke and I put it in my status.  There are those mornings that truly inspire.  I awoke yesterday and think I may finally have the plot for my screenplay.  Something I have promised myself I will write before I die.  I've had ideas for game & reality shows.  Some actually aren't any less silly than what's on now.  One I think is brilliant, because it crosses over different television genres and two which are very popular now.

I'd like to think I have crazy, wonderful and intelligent thoughts all day, but it always seems as thought those first thoughts are better.  Who knows how much I'll sleep tonight, but I do look forward to the next, first thought.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Day: Don't Misunderstand

I've had some funny Valentine's in the past.  When I was younger a girl gave me a bag with a box of chocolate and a Teddy Bear.  When I got home, I stopped at my garbage chute and inadvertently threw the presents down the chute and held on to the empty bag.  I bought her an ankle bracelet.  OK, I admit it, in 1989, I was kicking it Jersey Shore-ish.  I made a romantic dinner for another girl one night, with less than stellar cooking skills.  Nothing says romance than a dining room filled with smoke, filet mignon and potato skins.  I've had ex-boyfriends call my at-the-time girlfriend before 8am to wish them a happy "17th" Valentine's Day.  I've also ordered beautiful flowers, only to have them delivered on the 15th.  They ended up paying for them and giving me a gift card, so that was cool.

The point is, Valentine's Day is not an exact science.  For us guys, it's a Hallmark holiday which we'd rather not waste our energy on.  Flowers on V-Day are so expensive and usually of such poor quality, it really isn't worth it.  And Roses?  Does anyone truly like that acrid stench?  I'd much rather receive a candle or something with a fruitier bouquet, but then again, it's not about me.  Valentine's Day has nothing to do with the guy.  It's the one day, where we have to spend money on something that would normally be a third of the price.  Every year, we do our thing, no matter what it may be and we suffer.  All to make you happy for a few hours and with the false pretense that for some reason the sex will be better because of this.  It rarely is.  I can think of only once that it was and it's because there was champagne and chocolate involved....in bed!

Here's the catch with Valentine's Day.  We men, the simpler creatures when it comes to romance, make the huge mistake of asking what you want.  You tell us the cookie cutter answer "I don't care, as long as we're together."  Guys, please do not misread this.  This is not at all what they mean.  What they mean is, "I better get something.  You better do something.  It better be a surprise and it better make my girlfriends and coworkers think you are better than their Neanderthal boyfriends or husbands.

Chocolate and flowers are not for the home. They are to be sent to work, school or anywhere else that your lovely might be seen by others.  Sure she'll bring them home, but your $80 arrangement will never compare to the single rose and sappy card that her father gives her, so forget mattering outside of a social setting with those items.  Then there is the dinner.  Can you prove that you can step it up a notch and not be one of the thousands standing in line waiting for the prix menu on City Island?  Do you have pull to get a table somewhere nice.  Her friend is going to the city for dinner and a show, so what did you plan?  And there better be something happening after the meal.  Even if it's a movie at home, you better make sure you're ready to endure The Notebook or Dirty Dancing for the tenth time.   Don't worry, she'll exaggerate and make it sound like you did more, but make sure you plan.

Here's the thing.  While I am making light of the situation and making it seem as if it's a coup on their part to empty your wallet, I'm joking.  My main point is not to underestimate the importance you your girl.  You don't have to spend a fortune, have front row seats to some show or shower her with diamonds, but you have to make sure you make her feel special.  It might be as simple as a lunchtime phone call, telling her how much you are looking forward to the evening.  A flower or some candy when you see her.  A home cooked meal or some simple takeout, you've already planned.  It's relaxing on the couch, wrapped in blankets, sharing the warmth while watching whatever it is. The most important thing is that you make sure she knows you're thinking about her.  The more simple and more genuine you are, the more it will be appreciated.  If it's not, she's not your true Valentine.

Annoyed Beyond Belief: A Plethora Of Reasons

All day today, I've been trying to sign onto my blog.  I had wanted to vent all day long.  Instead, I spent a great amount of time, deleting and reinstalling programs onto my computer.  This always drives me crazy. I finally signed on, but I still don't have access to everything and I'm not even sure this will work.

That's not the only thing that bothers me right now.  Around 12:40, I received a letter saying I had to be at a mandatory meeting at 1pm today.  A letter, not an e-mail.  It was dated January 26th.  Amazing, just how efficient our government is.

I'm annoyed, because more bad things are happening to more good people that I know.  It's becoming a little crazy.  I never wish harm on people....well not usually, but this is unfair.  Too many good people are suffering.  I don't mean because they don't have materialistic things, but things that matter.  I want my friends and family to be well.  That is all.

I decided to stay in and have a quiet night. I walked up to the supermarket and decided tonight was a perfect night for a nice loaf of Italian bread, some tomato, avocado and red onion with a little mayo and mustard on one section.  I bought some hummus and Boursin too.  I get home and realized I bought all the innards of my sandwich, but forgot the actual bread, so I had to settle for an English muffin with the veggies and some cheese, hummus and crackers for dessert.

Frustration has set in because I had mapped out an entire diet that was to start this week.  Then I gorged myself the day of the Super Bowl and then didn't eat until Tuesday night.  I had Chinese food, which also fed me the following morning and afternoon.  In the evening I chose to go out and had a burger and potato salad, but with some beers.  I ended up getting a late night/early morning snack and then ate crap for breakfast.  Today I ate four meals.  Have to get back to the diet I had planned.  A true calorie counter, with the goal to be roughly an evenly dispersed 12,000 calorie a week diet.  I had meals mapped out, my cheat meals already in tow and a website to track everything.  Then the wheels fell off.  Maybe next Monday.  I'd like to lost 15 lbs before March Madness starts.

I'm also frustrated, because this session of my after school program has me going there five days instead of four and making $100 less than before.    Not only is it an extra day, but it's 20 minutes more work a week.  Not a big deal, but I was hoping for better.

I'm annoyed my printer doesn't have ink and paper.  I had wanted to print something out, but I really don't want to buy the ink, just for this. I will, but still.  I also sent out a bunch of checks last night, so I'm watching the bank account.  Hoping for a break.  I don't play Lotto, but maybe tomorrow I will.  Who knows, maybe the answer to all my dreams is in a few numbers.

I had such ideas earlier.  A long debate over politics, religion and other dicey topics had my juices flowing, but I hadn't the canvas to display my thoughts in a succinct manner.  I was going to write an entire blog about the hypocrisy of wearing a cross (which is frowned upon in the bible).  I was going to rant, explaining how dated the Constitution has become.  I was going to write about the similarities, differences and ironic contradictions within all the major religions.  I was going to write about all the things spinning through my head. 

I don't know if I'll be able to get back onto this site. I'll try. I promise if nothing else, the next blog will be a good one.  At least I'll try.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Quickie Blog: Best Line Of 2012 (So Far)

This past Saturday, my father threw a 99th birthday party for his mother.  I went up to Ithaca with my brother and his wife and we helped out and set the table with all the food.  My father had sent an e-mail out to all the invitees and explained that it would be an appetizers, wine and beer party from 2-4pm.  The plan was to end it early enough, so she could rest and we could go out for dinner.  I assumed she'd be a little more tired, but that isn't important.

The party was a smashing success and everyone mingled, making sure to take time out to say hello to the parties main character.  A little after 4pm, the crowd started to slowly dissipate and the at about 4:40, there was just my family, my cousins family and two three others.  I sat with my grandmother and my cousin and I asked her if she wanted to rest.  She leans over and says, "It's after four, let's get these people the hell out of here!"  I hope I'm as spunky at 49 as she is at 99.

Pain

Every morning I wake up in excruciating pain.  My knees are shot from tearing my ACL in both knees and never having surgery.  I have plantar fasciitis in my right heel.  I recently did something or have some degenerate thing going on with my hip, which is causing main to shoot down my right leg.  All this is causing my back to go out frequently.  I also have had some tendinitis in my right elbow and for years I've had a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder.  Aside from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the show?

The funny thing is, only a few people even know this.  Sunday, I was getting off a bar stool during the Super Bowl and I honestly wasn't sure I could walk to the bathroom. I tried my hardest to hide the pain.  It was tough.  Today, a kid inadvertently hit my in the balls, which caused me to jump back and lung forward and tweaked my leg, so badly I was in agony for the rest of the day.  Not to mention I got hit squarely in the balls.

The easy solution, of course, would be to go to the doctor.  The problem is, I know the deal when you have an injury.  They are going to want to do tests and lots of them.  Not being covered makes this an impossibility.  Here's the funny thing.  When I had coverage, I went to the doctor 3 times in one year.  Once for a check up (a surprising clean bill of health followed).  Once because I was very sick and thought I needed antibiotics.  Last time I ever go on them.  The third was to get some blood work done, because I feared a kidney or liver problem.  The tests came back fine.  All that for a few grand.  Meanwhile, there are people who literally go every week to get something checked.   Sometimes I wish there was some type of policy implemented to take care of the non-neurotic folks in this country.  What about the 17 years I went without going to the doctor.  Shouldn't there be some kind of "we owe you one" policy?  I guess not.

So tonight, while I try to sleep, hoping not to roll over in my sleep, only to be awakened by a sharp pain, I will not dwell on my pain.  The next time you see me, I won't look or expect sympathy.  There are people all over, fighting internal struggles and who have physical pain worse than mine.  There are those religious types who would tell me that I endure the pain, because I can.  To them I will say, I don't want to.  There are those that will tell me it's my own fault.  In ways it's true, but in more it is not.  To be honest, the real pain doesn't come from the sensation that shoots down my leg or hampers my knees.   It doesn't come from a bad back or a throbbing heel.  The real pain comes from what I can't do anymore.  The bike riding, the basketball, the jogging home on a rainy evening.  That is the worst pain of all and that's the one I am having such a hard time enduring.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Is The Super Bowl Really Super?

Take personal team allegiances out of the mix and ask yourself this question.  What did you answer?  If you're like me, which few are, your answer is no.  Two weeks of hype and hyperbole and we usually get close games that come down to a mistake or a fluke play.  Sometimes we end with a great play, but in an otherwise boring game.  Last Sunday's game was a good one, but far from great.  There wasn't one offensive play that dazzled and years from now, we're only going to remember Wes Welker's dropped pass.  Chase Blackburn made the play of the game and 90% of Giant fans didn't know who he was before the game.  So why is it so super?

Sure we've had great games.  The Steelers/Arizona game, The Patriots/Panthers game.  The Tennessee/St. Louis game.  These were the three best in the last 15 years.  Sadly, all I remember was Fitzgerald's TD with minutes left, but had to look up Holmes' catch for the win.  I couldn't remember who Brady's counterpart was against Carolina and I couldn't think of the player who lunged for the end zone, just coming up short for Tennessee.  That's the point.  The Super Bowl doesn't give us the memories that other events give us and a big part is that the game sometime takes second stage to the theatrics.

Every year, the two minutes that is the Kentucky Derby, lives up to the hype.  The World Series almost always has that one game that is unforgettable.  The majors in golf and tennis both always contain an epic battle.  March Madness is probably the epitome of living up to the hype and some of the final games have been the best in all of sports.  Football fails on so many levels.  In college, the bowl and championship games are played a month after the season is over and the Super Bowl is played after two weeks of no football.  It's silly and archaic.  The extra week, now filled with the ridiculous Pro Bowl, ruins it for me. 

It's also the only sporting even where people hold a party at their house.  Tons of food and people screaming and telling.  Mostly at the commercials.  I find it funny that the Super Bowl I found most memorable, was the one I watched all alone.  Sure, I had a vested interest, but it's the one game I remember specific plays from.  All the others are a mixture of different years, blended into one memory.  In other sports, I remember where I was, who I was with and sometimes even the emotions I felt.  I remember the play by play of some of these events, but can't for the life of me remember one football call from the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl is a spectacle and sometimes it's even a decent game.  It's rarely super though and that is a shame.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Quickie Blog: Hot Waitresses

Why is it men become idiots whenever there is a hot waitress serving them?  I don't care if they are hanging with the guys or with their wives or girlfriends, it is an involuntary action to immediately become an idiot. You look at the menu forty times to decide what you want and the second she comes over and asks for your order, you say something stupid.  You want the bacon cheddar burger, so it makes complete sense when you say "Cheddar, bur, bacon, burger with  cheddar.  Can I have bacon on it to?"  God forbid she tells you it comes with a choice of something.  All you hear is, "want to see me naked?" 

There's always one friend at the table who plays it cool after seeing his other friends make idiots of themselves and he thinks he's got a shot.  The reality is, she's going to be as nice to you if you look like a supermodel or if you have a horn growing from your head.  She's working.  It's the strip club mentality. You just emptied your communion money envelope into your G-string and all of the sudden you think Kandi or Jazzmine wants to sleep with you.  It's the same here.  She's hoping you're insane notion that a 33% tip is going to woo her, will get her enough money to make a car payment or allow her to buy her real boyfriend a nice birthday present. She knows the game and you do to, but you are a guy and we're all just that stupid.

And yes, the cute waitress at Cracker Barrel forgot part of our order, smiled, then came back and said something wasn't available smiled, brought something we didn't ask for, smiled and I still tipped her 33%.  So I'm not judging.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bullying

A lot of people are up in arms over the apparent suicide for the 14-year-old from Ursuline in New Rochelle.  It's a tragic event and I'm happy to see so many people joining in the effort to stand up to bullying on Facebook.  I do find it hypocritical though, when I see people who bully themselves making these posts.  I'm not trying to call anyone in particular out, but if you discriminate because of the color of someones skin, it's bullying.  If you are against a gay person's right to marry, it's bullying. If you feel that someone who is poor doesn't deserve the government's help to have health care, it's bullying.

We all grow up grabbing toys away from our friends. If our parents do the right thing, think we are scolded and we never do it again.  We then move on to teasing people, and if our parents do the right thing, we are made to apologize and we never do it again.  Then we get to high school and/or college and we haze, to do allow someone entry into our "club."  If our parents DID the right thing, it would never have gotten to this.  Then we go into the real world and we work along side people and some of us are in charge or the boss and we treat our subordinates with disrespect.  If we're doing the last two, our parents have failed us.  Our parents made us the bullies we claim to hate. 

I am completely against bullying, but lets' not blame the schools.  Let's not blame the Internet and social media.  Bullying is a learned process, not an innate one.  Bullying is learned through a pack mentality and it's due to insecurities in the bully themselves.  Bullies are the kids who can't think for themselves, because their parents never asked them too.  The bullies I went to HS with were the kids who played football and called everyone a fag, but struggled secretly with their own sexuality.  The kids who were cheerleaders because their mom's were cheerleaders and that's what you did.  They were the really smart kids who belittled other smart kids, because for them the competition was Ivy league schools.  There were the rich kids, who looked down on the kid with the hand-me-downs.  They were the people who picked on everyone who wasn't like them. 

Bullying is out of control.  It is great that so many people posted about this girl and her tragedy, but the fact is the biggest problem facing this epidemic is not recognizing it.  Saying it "isn't your kid" doesn't make it go away.  Thinking, because your boy is small, he isn't a bully is wrong.  Thinking girls don't bully, is ridiculous. They are worse.  Thinking all bullying is physical threats is also wrong.  very little bullying is physical. 

Please don't think I'm being righteous or holier than though.  In sixth grade, I picked on a kid because it made people laugh.  I remember one time he was joking with a friend and I kicked his chair out from under him.  He fell and hurt his arm.  Everyone laughed.  I was a star.  My mother found out and when I got home.  I was grounded.  My mother looked in the school address book and after about an hour of me sitting in my room.  She threw open the door and said, "let's go."  She made me go to his house, apologize to him, apologize to his parents and promise I'd never do it again.  The next day, some other kids started teasing him.  I told them to stop. From that day forward, he and I were pretty decent friends and nobody ever bothered him again.  I may have lost some "cool points," but it turned out we liked the same things and had some good laughs together.  My parents did the right thing and at least one kid, wasn't tormented into the dark place that so many kids find themselves.

RIP - All the children and adults who felt there was no way out, because of the actions of someone else.

Happy 99th Grandma

Every morning we wake, stretch our bodies and make our way through our days.  Tomorrow my grandmother will do this for well over her 36,000th time.  Just to put that in perspective, if you count all the time you spent in school between kindergarten and graduating college, you haven't spent half that number....in hours.  If you work a forty hour week, you'd have to work for over 17 years to work as many hours as this woman has lived days.  It's pretty amazing.

She's seen two world wars.  Many others.  She's been alive for 18 of our presidents.  She was born in the last month of William Howard Taft's tenure. The Gettysburg Address was only 50 years old.  Harriet Tubman died the year she was born.  Now we have a black president. There were only 16 amendments to the Constitution.  There are now 27.  Stainless steel was invented and the Federal Reserve was created.  Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford were born.  Rosa Parks and Jesse Owens were born.  As were Burt Lancaster and Vivien Leigh.  All of these things and people would play huge parts in the world we know today.

The world has changed greatly in her 99 years. Some for the better, some of the worse.  She has lost most of her friends to old age and a variety of ailments.  She herself has seen her share of woes, almost entirely in the past seven years.  A broken collarbone and some other major injuries.  She has emphysema.  She quit smoking at 92, because after 75 years of smoking she admitted, it's bad for you.  She drinks a scotch every day.  She has had various forms of cancer recently.  Melanomas from sitting endless days in the sun as a youth.  Breast cancer in the last few years.  Still, she makes it through the days, with an ease at times that confounds us.  Maybe it's her two loving children.  Maybe it's her six loving grand kids.  Or maybe it's her three great grand kids.  Maybe it's just her.  Maybe it's a secret fountain of youth hidden somewhere in the back of her mind.  She's lived a great life.  She's enjoyed each day as if it's her last. Usually a cliche, it's not.  She was doing outrageous things in the 30's, I'd be proud to claim I had the guts to do in the 90's.  She's lived life the way one should.  Like it's your one shot to do something, so do it.

I'm happy for her 98th year.  In 2010, I spent more time than I ever have with her in any one year. There were times, I wondered if she needed someone to push the off switch, but I learned things about her, I had never known.  We had great talks.  I learned to appreciate her even more.  To understand what it is like to thoroughly enjoy life.

She's 99 today.  She knows that life doesn't go on forever.  She also knows that there is no reason dwelling on the inevitable and there is no reason to live in the past, but make sure to cherish it and all it's taught you.  So many of us, in our 40's or younger dwell on death.  Not ours, but those we lose along the way.  She has lost a husband, she has seen a daughter-in-law pass and she's lost all of her best friends. She has seen heartbreak some of can't imagine, but through it all, she refuses to dwell on it.  She knows we can not control yesterday or tomorrow.  We can only control today and when she wakes up in the morning.  She stretches, collects her thoughts, grabs her robe and sets off into a new day.  It's the only one that matters.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pet Peeve: Bad Meals

There are very few things that bother me more than a bad meal.  Especially one in which I've spent some time thinking about it.  I remember, every Sunday waking up on Garth Road and knowing i was going to have a bagel from Scarsdale bagels.  Most often it was a sesame or an everything, with Philly cream cheese, Nova Scotia lox and a big thick slice of tomato.  Perfection.  Always lived up to the hype. 

When my mother cooked dinner, regardless if it was moussaka or breaded chicken cutlets, I knew it was going to be stellar.  When I go to Piper's Kilt, I know the burger will not let me down. I know the chili will be delicious and the nachos (especially now with real cheddar), will be exceptional.  This is not always the case and in terms of going out, it can be a monetarily devastating blow.

On Saturday, I was out at the Quarry in Tuckahoe.  I decided to have the White Clam Flatbread.  I hoped it would be good and it was very good.  I was thrilled.  Later that night, I ended up at Roma's and while the night didn't exactly turn out the way we planned, the pizza was very good, as it always is.  So today, I was hoping for the trifecta.  I'd heard mixed things about the place I was going to, but I figured, It's a cheesesteak, how can they really screw it up.  Well, if you don't add salt before you cook steak, you don't bring the juices out of it.  If you use lean beef, you need the salt even more.  Then you don't season the onions and the thing just tastes like wet paper towel.  The fries were ghastly.  Bacon, chopped onion and ranch dressing was advertised, but there might have been about three bites that contained the first two and there was no dressing.  The cheese was only in the center and the fries were mushy.   Overall one of the worst eating experiences I've endured recently.  Johnny Rockets was better and I got ill from that place. 

People say I'm overly and too openly critical of eateries, but the bottom line is, my $15 lunch should taste better than my six dollar lunch.  Maple Street deli makes a Philly Cheesesteak with bell peppers, onions and garlic, with melted cheese (your choice) and tops it, if asked, with a pico de gallo sauce, for about $6.00.  It's 100 times better, there's more meat and it's nearly 1/3 the price.  I don't mind paying, but I want it to be good.  When my steak dinner at Smith & Wollensky's was "as good" as Outback, I wasn't happy paying $175 for it.  When my steak dinner at Peter Luger cost me $225, I was more than happy to pay for it.  And it's not just restaurants....the person I'm most critical of is myself. When I cook, I'm always angered when I ruin something or a dish is lacking.  I once bought pork chops and ruined them.  They were like show leather.  The next time, they were undercooked, but within another minute, I had mastered them.  Every time after they were perfect. 

There is something magical about food. That first bite of a great burger.  Saving the uni for the last delectable bite while dining on sushi.  That combination of flavors, when you get the perfect bite of a Cobb salad or the sweet deliciousness of a perfectly cooked duck.  It can range from the simple pleasure of an avocado, lightly salted on an English muffin to the complex melding of flavors of a perfect paella.  This is important to me.  When I go into a store that has the name of what I am buying, I expect more than mediocre.  When food expectations are met, it matters.  When they are exceeded, it's magical.  When they fail, it is like a tragedy, because with a little care, a little passion, they could be incredible.

Strange February So Far

From the title, you would think something crazy happened in the first three hours, but the reality is it's been very quiet.  As usual, I can not sleep and I'm not the least bit tired.  I had a very uneventful last day of January and squandered the beautiful weather.  To be honest, I'm a little angry at myself.  It would have been a great day to spend outdoors and originally I had planned on spending today in NYC, hitting up some restaurant for Restaurant Week.  Instead, I sat around all day doing pretty much nothing and my fine dining consisted of an English muffin with cream cheese, a salad of lettuce, tomato and tuna fish and the night was capped off with a Celeste pizza.  I am starting a diet next week and I'm going to track all my calories.  I figured today would be a good test run...A little less than than 800 calories, about 25 grams of fat, 70 carbs and 50 protein.  When I start, I want to cut down that carb number and hike up the protein intake.  We'll see.

So it's a little after midnight and I wrote something on Rutger Hauer's twitter page.  To my surprise, he almost immediately responded.  Not that big a deal, but pretty cool nonetheless.  I mean this guy was the freaking Hitcher!

I had been thinking about something else while checking twitter and then I decided to write out a formula for finding the best hitter in baseball.  I then used this formula in comparing the top four vote getters for each MVP race last year (Obviously, Verlander won, but this was just hitters).  I found that Braun edged Kemp by .004, but beat out Fielder by .093.  The American League was a different story.  Vote getters 2-5. Were Ellsbury, Bautista, Granderson and Cabrera in that order.  Using my formula Bautista was the clear winner (of the four), edging Granderson by .015, Cabrera by .033 and Ellsbury by a whopping .053.  I then checked last years MVP and found that Cabrera should have beat out Josh Hamilton.  I'll definitely check some others out.  Why did I do this?  Well, I've long been annoyed that the best mind in baseball, Bill James, came up with a certain formula in 1985 and it was something I had been doing to rate players at the age of ten...in 1980.  Bill James is rich and famous and I'm, well not!  Plus, I'm obsessed with numbers as anyone who really knows me will tell you.

I then started thinking about the coming week.  My grandmother's 99th birthday is tomorrow and I'm going up to see her with my brother and his wife on Friday.  We're having a little party for her on Saturday afternoon, which should be great.  I also start up my spring session at the school on Friday, although I'm still not sure if it's one or two classes.  I also need to get my contract in before then. I keep forgetting to ask someone to print it out for me.  Finally, Sunday is the Super Bowl.  I'm looking forward to the game, but I'm also looking forward to the break from the craziness that has been Sundays lately.  I guess now I need a formula for who will win.  I know who I want to win, but that doesn't mean I think they will win.  We'll see. 

I also have something hanging over my head, which I'm gonna skip discussing, but it's truly bothering me.  I have to address it and soon.  Time is of the essence is truly a cliche, but in this case it is exactly truthful.  So, February started off a little weird and should continue I would assume.  I wish I had a formula to figure it all out.  Maybe I'll give it a little more thought.