Tuesday, April 30, 2013

2013 NHL Playoff Predictions

Let me state two things about this blog.  One, I know absolutely nothing about hockey other than the playoffs are awesome. Secondly, this is my first blog about hockey and I actually had to look up the NHL playoff format before writing this.   I'm basing my predictions on math and gut feelings.  So here it goes.

Eastern Conference
Pittsburgh (1) over Islanders (8) 4-0
Montreal(2) over Ottawa (7) 4-2
Rangers (6) over Washington (3) 4-1
Boston (4) over Toronto (5) 4-2

Pittsburgh over Rangers 4-3
Boston over Montreal 4-2

Pittsburgh over Boston 4-1

Western Conference
Chicago (1) over Minnesota (8) 4-0
Anaheim (2) over Detroit (7) 4-3
San Jose (6) over Vancouver (3) 4-1
Los Angeles (5) over St Louis (4) 4-1

Chicago over  San Jose 4-1
Los Angeles over Anaheim 4-3

Chicago over Los Angeles 4-2

Chicago Blackhawks 4-3

Conn Smythe Trophy to Jonathan Toews
I actually read earlier today that it's been over a decade since both #1 seeds made the finals and it's the first time since 1996 that the "original six" have all made it.
I know one thing. I won't have a clue who is shooting or saving, but it's going to be awesome.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Quickie Review - Get Low (A Personal Impact)

Just saw a beautiful movie. A movie that most people wouldn't ever rent or buy, because it lacks a cyborg or a spaceship.  There are no dancing cheerleaders, killer fish or vampires.  It's five a handful of lives that are all connected by a common thread.  The movie is just about as perfectly cast as any I've seen. Robert Duvall is amazing as the old curmudgeon Felix Bush.  Murray ads charm and wit to the role of Frank Quinn.  Sissy Spacek, who is one of the greatest and most underrated actresses of our time, brings out so much of the strong male characters, as Mattie Darrow.  Lucas Black has come a long way since Slingblade and is so impressive in how he subtly portrays, us the viewer, in the role of Buddy.  A lesser known character actor named Bill Cobbs, plays Rev. Charlie Jackson and his is quite the scene stealer.

The movie is about a hermit of 40-years suddenly walking into town one day and asking for a funeral.  His condition: He wants to be there, alive.  Murray and Black are funeral directors who want to grant the strange recluse the wish, but wonder who will come, being that Bush has a horrible reputation, the stuff which is of legend.  Enter Spacek, who we at first thing one thing, but are led to believe differently as we watch.  Black holds the movie together and plays such an odd character, because it's what he doesn't do that makes us feel like he's sitting watching with us.  It's quite effective.

The movie is deep on many levels.  Love, redemption, salvation and as the movie states, the intertwining of good and bad that lays within us all.  The movie will make most cry, because of its beautifully crafted script, great settings and absolutely outstanding acting.  Honestly, I have not seen such a well acted American film in quite some time.  The movie stood out for me because of the premise.  A man wanting to have his funeral while he's alive.  We're led to believe he wants to hear all the horrible tales the town folk have to say about him, but it's actually just a ruse to get everyone there for a bigger reason. One I won't disclose.  As for why it affected me so greatly, well that is for another blog.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Am I American? Food Edition

I don't like pot roast, but love sauerbraten, brisket, bouef bourginion.
I don't like mac and cheese, but love cheesy risotto.
I don't like cherry pie, but love most fruit pies.
I don't like prime rib, but love mutton chops.
I don't like lobster, but love crabs.
I don't (really) like chocolate, but I love white chocolate (I know it's technically not chocolate).

I haven't bought American Cheese in about three years.
I haven't bought pasta in almost three years.  Eaten it about six times in last two years.
I haven't bought a slice of pizza in almost six months.
I haven't bought a loaf of sliced bread in seven years.
I haven't bought candy (aside for my kiddies), in many years.
I haven't bought ketchup in almost three years.
I haven't bought alcohol or beer for my home in nearly eight years (except for cooking).
I haven't bought soda for my home...ever.

I have had fast food three times in the last two years.
I have had cake about three times in the past two years.
I have had ice cream once in the last year.
I have had orange juice twice in the last year (not including in vodka).
I have had soda maybe three times in the past year. Ironically all the same week.

They Come & They Go

All people come and go.  Some leave us because of death, some because of location.  Some leave us for reason we can't understand and some leave us because they no longer fit into our lives.  Today I was reflecting on my life and it's many changes.  My core values and most major aspects of my being are still the same, but many things have changes.  I despise talking on the phone lately, which is funny, because this was a major part of my life for the first forty years. I now find that I am the one telling people that I have to go, as I sit staring at a cup of coffee like it is some kind of urgent responsibility.  Due to this new aggravation, I have lost touch with a lot of my distant friends.  I still consider them to be close friends and long for the days when we can sit on a patio, a deck or a dock and catch up on our lives.  Facebook and Twitter have kept us in touch, but the human contact, the shared laughs, the hugs, this is what I miss.

Many people have left my life because of personal reasons.  Relationships torn apart by arguments or differences of opinion on how we can stay friends have been more commonplace than ever in my last few years.  There was a time when I could boast about being friends with all my exes.  Within the last five years, I can claim this no longer.  Many people I considered friends went on to paths in which I didn't fit.  A lot of my married friends don't have time for the single guy who wants to get together for the game and some beers. Some like to do the city thing once a month, instead of the casual outing regularly. Some got into drugs and are into a scene I'm not interested in.  Some just don't go out anymore and some just changed everything about themselves to appease some desperate need to be like everyone else.

Then there are those who pretend to be friends on social media, but do so only to monitor other people's lives.  They troll my page, making snide comments about me personally, while I'm in the midst of serious conversation or debate.  At times everyone knows them and laughs them off, but the majority of the time, I'm receiving a private message from good friends saying they can't comment on my page anymore because of the Internet trolls whom they have no use for.  Recently, as I blogged about last night, I was told I used to be a racist and used to blurt out racial and gay slurs. While very few people read my blog, I did receive a few messages from friends asking me who this accuser was and commenting on their disbelief.  I had another person tell me to stop lowering myself by having conversations with people with an IQ in the "double digits."  This made me laugh, because if I have one prejudice, it is a lack of intelligence.  Obviously, those with disabilities, I love and admire, but those who never went for help, never applied themselves and just skated by I have no use for. I could point that judgement stick at myself, but my "skating by" was getting 90's on tests and a grade of 75 for cutting 10 classes in high school or getting drunk the night before finals and getting a B instead of an A in college.  These are the people I need to stop wasting my time with. The ironic thing is, whenever I have decided to stop speaking to someone or even block them from seeing my content, I am told by friend of theirs that I did so because I can't take that they put me in my place and I can't take "constructive" criticism.  This makes me wonder about the intelligence of these messengers.

As I may have mentioned, aside from being called every curse word in the book, I've been told I am an imbecile, a racist, a communist, a socialist, delusional, a heathen, irrationally biased and intolerant of anything.   Yet, I stay friends with those who preach hate against foreigners, want America to return to a time where slavery and women's rights were non-existent, who want only those with money to make money, who still believe that trickle down is more than merely a sexual reference. Most don't know the first thing about the roots of socialism or communism. They not only believe in God, but believe the stories in the Bible are literal and who base their entire core belief system on what a preacher and Fox News analysts tell them.  Somehow, I'm the intolerant one?  I've started weeding these people out of my life, because to be frank, some of them scare me.  I've had threats of violence against me. My favorite of course is being threatened to be shot by someone explaining that it's not responsible gun owners that are the problem it's mental health. Hmm?

When it comes to friends, it's the similarities that brought us together, but it's the differences that make our relationships stronger and better. These differences give us perspective and allow us to see the world differently, whether we accept that world as our own or not.  It's the people recently, who refuse to listen, who mock me and call me names, who I'm starting to wonder about.  Were they always this way; their anger, hatred and bigotry were just waiting to strike?  Are my thoughts and opinions so important to anger them?  These are people who don't want to be my friend, but want to know what I say and what I do.  What a sad life they lead.  One person, who gloats about his success, his family, his house, his job, is such a sad man when I see what he writes about me.  He's so obsessed with his views and building himself up in his mind, he forgets we were once friends who laughed over beers just a year ago.  To him it's about right and wrong, black and white and there is no compromise.  Then there are the trolls, who bash me personally, because they don't know how life works, because they've been coddled by their parents, surrounded by hate and tales of how the minorities are stealing their rights.  Do not get me wrong, the person who I share the least in common with, the person I argue with most, the person who gets me going on a regular basis, is someone I see about once every blue moon, but I respect him.  I respect his beliefs, even when I feel he doesn't look in the mirror enough to see himself for what he's becoming.  He I can tolerate, even if we need a break from each other ever so often.

People have come and gone and some of those who are still here, I stay friends with for reasons other than friendship.  It's usually to appease an other, truer friend.  Some I'm scared, because of their power and the problems they could cause me.  I've had good friends, people I valued, try and blindside me with attacks that have spread like wildfire in a town that turns its back when it's staple families commit atrocities, but my comments on Facebook become the thing of legend.  It's a fine line in this crazy world we live in.  I worry more today than I did yesterday, that someone may really think I'm trying to take their gun, their rights or their "freedoms."  I'm worried that someone might really believe the lies being spread.  I worry that my true friends may look at those I associate with and question who I really am (this has happened). I worry that my surrounding myself with those who can't give me intelligent insights may bring me down. 

Most of the people who have come and gone, I'm better off without. It's those who aren't gone, who I value, but look so tiny and far away.  Those who I'm grasping to bring back, while those who I need to leave, grab and pull at me, not letting me be the one who goes.  I've learned to cut ties recently, but there are so many more to go.  I know some feel the same way about me, so I say, let's do this and make ourselves happier.  I just ask that you try to find some level of class and walk away silently.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

2013 NFL Draft

Trust me.  I know absolutely nobody cares about my predictions, but me. I used to actually do a pool with some friends and it made the draft a hell of a lot more fun.  We'd make our picks, develop a point system and drink, play poker and eat like animals.  Those days are over sadly and I'm left to my own devices.  So here it goes and remember, I know absolutely nothing about this, but one year I actually did pretty well and had about 15 of the picks right, so I'm an authority in my own head.  I am actually going to include trades this year, just for the hell of it.  Which will make this a complete mess..

  1. Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M. Need line help for Smith and ground attack.
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan. Might go DE, but I think he's too good.
  3. Oakland Raiders - Sarrif Floyd, DT, Florida. Will grab Fisher if Jax goes for defense.
  4. Philadelphia Eagles - Dion Jordon, DE/OLB, Oregon. Most drafts have him going 2nd.
  5. Detroit Lions - Ezekial Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU. If Fisher is available, will offer 1st & 3rd to Raiders.
  6. Cleveland Browns - Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama. Milliner's injury history could make him drop a lot.
  7. Arizona Cardinals - Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma. Cards could shock and take Lotulelei
  8. Buffalo Bills - trade to Houston for 27th and 89th pick. If not Ryan Nassib. Houston Texans - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virgina
  9. New York Jets - Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU. I hate this pick, but fills a need.
  10. Tennessee Titans - Chance Warmuck, G, Alabama. This guy said he wants to play for Tennessee.
  11. San Diego Chargers - D.J. Fluker, OT/G, Alabama. Third "Bama player in top 11.
  12. Miami Dolphins - Jonathan Cooper, G/C, North Carolina. Miami shocked he's still here.
  13. New York Jets - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas. With Austin gone, they go with biggest need.
  14. Carolina Panthers - Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina. Huge need, but could go WR.
  15. New Orleans Saints - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri. Improves DL a lot, but Rhodes could go.
  16. St. Louis Rams - DeAndre Johnson, WR, Clemson. Rams apparently love this kid.
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Alabama.  Absolute beast who was originally top 5
  18. Dallas Cowboys - Trade with Indianapolis for 24th and a late rounder. Indianapolis Colts - Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU. Worried the Giants might take their guy, they trade up.
  19. New York Giants - Tank Carradine, DE, FSU. With their CB gone, they go pass rush.
  20. Chicago Bears - Star Lotuelei, NT, Utah. Stock dropped from heart scare, but he's a top five talent.
  21. Cincinnati Bengals - Eric Reid, S, LSU. Will be buzz about them going after Vaccaro.
  22. St. Louis Rams - Alec Ogeltree, DE, Georgia. Rams second pick has to be DL.
  23. Minnesota Vikings - Manti Te'O, LB, Notre Dame.  Yep, he still goes first round.
  24. Dallas Cowboys (Via trade) - Bjoern Werner, DE, FSU. I can't believe I have him this low.
  25. Minnesota Vikings - Datone Jones, DE/DT, UCLA. A perfect fit and one that GB coveted.
  26. Green Bay Packers - Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee. Need a pass rusher, but give Rodgers a WR.
  27. Buffalo Bills (via trade) - Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse. Bills drop 19 spots and get their guy.
  28. Denver Broncos - Alex Okafor, DE, Texas. Reach, but all the pass rushers are gone. Might get Lacy.
  29. New England Patriots - Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise St. Might reach for a Welker replacement.
  30. Atlanta Falcons - Desmond Trauffant, CB, Washington. Almost every mock has him at Atl or SF
  31. San Francisco - Matt Elam, S, Florida. Need a safety with Whitner struggling.
  32. Baltimore Ravens - Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU. Ravens take best available LB. Wanted Elam or Reid.
Well there you have it.  About 45 minutes of my life down the tubes, to humor my draft obsession.  

Let Me Clear A Few Things Up About Me

Today, during one of my usual political battles, I was accused of using numerous gay and racial slurs before my "born again" revival.  I was also accused of skirting an issue and dancing around a subject that I clearly answered, pointing out the accusers bigotry in the process.  So ignore this if you want as some sort of self promotional propaganda or read this and learn a little about me.

I grew up in a home where if I was to use a racial slur, I'd have probably been beaten to death.  If I used a gay slur, the same would happen.  If I degraded someones religion in front of them, death might have occurred or my parents would have just beaten me severely.  I once made an innocent comment about Jews to my Jewish mother and was asked to leave the dinner table and not return.  That was the last one I made about any religion.  My growing up consisted of my parents constantly having people over and attending parties.  Two of my parents best friends and my two "uncles" growing up were a gay couple. About half of my neighbors were minorities and almost all my best friends from 13-15 were black. Here's the best part.  They would call me "their N*****."  Then would quickly remind me I was not allowed to say it back.  I never would.  In my entire life, even when repeating someone elses stories, I have always said the "N-word" in it's place.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that that word bothers me more than anything in the world, even when said by black friends. Ass for any other racial epitaphs, it's just not in my nature.  I wasn't brought up that way and I happen to know from dining room chats with the accusers family, this was normal conversation and a regularly used word in describing blacks and all the other usual suspects for other races and colors.

As for the gay slurs, I must admit, I was, like many kids one to use the words faggot or gay as a derogatory comment.  Usually though this was not while calling someone out in a fight, trying to entice or intimidate them.  This behavior embarrassed me when I started having more and more gay friends and I realize how much the word offended them.  Ask anybody I know who is gay, I have defended them to no end against those kinds of taunts and just the language in general.

Religion is a touchy subject, because I don't believe in it and I believe it's basis is to divide and separate us all through hating those who are not like us. The problem with religion is that it knows no race, creed, color or ethnicity and many times is assumed.  I respect everyones beliefs, but they must in return respect my disbelief.  To tell me I'm going to burn in hell is to assume I'm worse than them for standing up for my own personal morals.  These people must all realize, their religious morals were taught to them, mine have evolved through nature, nurture and education.

I will say this. I believe most people are selfish, greedy and have no moral compass.  Much of this stems from upbringing, some from religious misconception. I believe the self centered-ness of our universe as reached levels we've never known.  The Bible and Quran speak of brothers and neighbors, but nobody feels that way in reality.  They say one thing to many, but say their true feelings to individuals.  In the past year, I've been called names by multiples friends.  Some to me on social media, some privately and about two have had the courage to actually get into a discussion of morals with me in person.  I love to listen to other viewpoints, but hate when they won't give me that same respect.

I don't believe people can truly change their ways.  I think if racism is ingrained in you during childhood, it will always be there.  I believe if you're taught to look out for yourself and nobody else, you will carry that with you always.  I believe if you are susceptible to indoctrination as a child, it will stay with you forever.  Then there is the one thing I can pull out of my hat at any time during most arguments.  If you weren't intelligent in grammar school, high school or college, what makes you think you are intelligent now?  Most of the people who yell and call me names are not people any one of our mutual friends would call intelligent.  Maybe book smart on occasion, but rarely those people who can decipher information and formulate ideas without assistance from an authority.  Why, you say?  Because they couldn't and weren't made to do it as a child.  Why do people think I get so angry and tell stories about poor parenting?  It's not for my own sake, but maybe one person will read something, see the comments about how horrible and say to themselves "Damn, I do that."

Please understand one thing about me.  If you are any creed or color of the rainbow, any ethnicity in the entire world or any religion or non-religion.  If you are purple, from Mars and believe goats created the Universe, I will like you if you can display one thing. A selfless heart and a desire to see those around you have it better than they have now.  I don't have the luxury of confessing my sins and gaining absolutely, so I just try to be a little better each day and make someone elses life a little brighter.  Sometimes that is through laughter, sometime through compassion and sometimes it is by infusing a little knowledge they didn't have yesterday.  People tease me for my incessant posts, but they'd be shocked to see what I'm doing on other sites and what I'm trying to do for myself, because it's all good and for everyone, not just myself.

Sorry for anyone who is used to getting a rise our of my posts or a laugh.  Sorry if you actually care about my views on movies or current affairs.  Sorry if you like my free writing babble.  I just felt it necessary to clear some things up about myself and to defend myself without insults and lies.

Real Quickie Review - Sinister

Take the Michael Mann thriller Manhunter. Make the profiler a true crime writer and substitute Lechter a combination of a goody deputy and a weird college professor, then put a supernatural occult twist instead of a regular occult (sort of) twist and then you have Sinister.

The movie has so many mistakes that are supposed to add to the horror, but they just make the characters appear stupid.  If you hear bumps in the night, six nights in a row and the power went out the first night, wouldn't you have a flashlight on you at all times....or maybe flick the actual lights on?

People love the found footage genre, but other than REC, I'm not that big a fan of it. Ethan Hawke once again gives of his best constipated performance.  The man has one facial expression and that is of someone in need of an ex-lax.  This movie, based on it's original premise had me hooked, but when it got silly, so much so as to give away the ending, one scene....one scene before the actual ending, it completely lost me.  The "twist" was so ridiculous and the final shot, so incredibly obvious and cliche.  Not a good overall flick.  See Manhunter, 8MM and pick a haunted house movie of your choice and skip this one.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Free Writing - Take 21

Cute 101 - young boy bagging his mother's groceries. Can falls on the ground. Mother asks the child needs help.  Boy tells mother "I can do it, I promise."

Neighboring 101 - super of building sees you putting laundry in washing; goes on to monopolize dryers for two hours, then leaves dry clothes in dryer for another 20 minutes.

Driving 101 - two people have a green light, both attempt to make left turns without signaling and almost crash at the intersection.

Aging 101 (a) - walking up a hill and being passed by a guy with a cane. In my defense, I was texting.
Aging 101 (b) - kid with shoelaces untied asks me to tie them, As I limp over to him, mother walks over and does it, saying "It's easier for me."  

Parenting 101 - a child misbehaves and then misbehaves again.  The mother asks the kid to promise not to ever do it again.  The child smiles and asks if he does, will he get ice cream.  "Yes Honey, of course."  Lesson learned?

Dining 101 - nothing is better after a rough, emotional day than a home cooked meal.  Made sweet basil sausage, green bell peppers, red onion and tomato with salt, pepper, fresh garlic and red pepper flakes.  

Friends 101 - had someone give me a lift, someone ask how I was and someone call just to say what's up.

Beauty 101 - women who go out food shopping, go to pick up their kids from school or just out to a store and don't feel it necessary to dress up like it's Saturday night.

Love 101 - that mother who you spot taking her baby out or putting her baby in the car seat and she can't stop kissing them.

Quickie Review - May

Lucky McKee is not a very popular guy with two girls I've recently become friendly with on the Internet. They write their own blog called http://gorelovingladies.blogspot.com/ and feel his misogynistic views are offensive.  My only other viewing of a McKee film was my recent viewing of The Woman. While I found The Woman to be a better movie, it was mostly due to a clever switching of the typical roles for good and evil. There was also such a wonderful ridiculousness to it, that made it a good horror flick.  May is a different  animal altogether. May is a young woman, played by Angela Bettis, who seems to be one of McKee's muses (could be because her husband tends to assist in producing).  We are told she is different, but her difference in the real world is so minor it would never produce the side effects it does.  We're given a very quick glimpse into a sheltered upbringing and we're supposed to believe she has lived her entire life without a friend.

The movie takes us down the cliche filled path of the young girl coming out of her shell through evil thoughts and acts, climaxing with the ultimate in "bat-shit-crazy." The movie actually has a decent cast, as Bettis is joined by Jeremy Sisto and Anna Farris.  Sisto plays the shy May's object of affection and Farris plays the co-worker who somewhat falls for May.  McKee's apparent lack of respect for women is found throughout the movie, but is held together, by what is a pretty stellar performance by Bettis and the beyond silly, but amusing role of the ditz, played by Farris.  Some would probably add that McKee manages to stereotype emotional disorders, loners, lesbians, college film students, blind kids and veterinarians (yes, you read all that correctly) and they wouldn't be wrong.  That being said, there is a scene within a classroom full of blind children that I found to be borderline genius in how disturbing and macabre it is.  May is clearly not for everyone and has some disturbing scenes, but as horror goes, it's fairly tame. I thoroughly enjoyed Bettis and felt, while the movie did have some truly silly scenes, there were enough good ones to make it worthwhile.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blog Entry #600

Wow!  This little exercise in self therapy has been one long journey.  I've quit.  I've used another site at one point, but I keep coming back.  The past seven days has been trying and I've not written a single word.  A problem with a parent that infuriated me, might come full circle today, as I have the child in my Tuesday class.  The bombing and subsequent manhunt kept me mesmerized into the morning hours on Friday.  The weekend, a planned quiet one, was anything but.  The incessant noise from a little dog a few windows from mine has my quiet nook on the planet in complete chaos.  I value my quiet time, but this rude neighbor thinks nothing of leaving this dog to bark all day.  And then there is today.  A morning off with time to get some laundry done, but someone feels it necessary to monopolize the machines.  My wet laundry has sat for two hours while another has felt it necessary to monopolize the dryers.  The social contract which we all should abide by is no longer.  Lying, cheating, even stealing is deemed allowable at times.  It saddens me.

Last night I spoke with someone about parenting.  It's nice to hear an educator and a father say things that show a glimmer of hope in an otherwise decaying landscape.  It's ironic.  I argue politics online and have heard some awful things said about those who live in foreign countries and those who believe in a different religious path.  Then I think about my kids this year.  The ones who are behaved and polite.  The ones whose parents show respect and appreciation for what I do.  I think about the parents who take the time out of their busy day to stop and say hello or thanks.  I think about them and what I know about them.  One is from Iran. One if from Israel. One is from Pakistan.  One is from Japan.  One is from England. One is from the United States.  Out of over sixty kids, all multiple generation Americans, these are the people who take the time to show appreciation.  The ones who thank me for "caring" for their children.  I think we as a society need to stop thinking we're the best country and the best people in the world.  We need to start acting like the best country and the best people in the world.  Self appointed titles are for those who aspire for greatness.  Someone described me as a sanctimonious boob yesterday. Maybe he's right about that or maybe his moral compass is so off that I just appear that way.

Tonight I will try and unwind. I will finish my laundry, which obviously won't be dry by the time I have to leave for work. Part of me wants to run the dryer while I'm gone and then leave it there until I get home. I hate sinking to the low levels of those around me, but I want clean and dry sheets on my bed.  I think I deserve it. I'm thinking of picking up a nice piece of fish tonight for dinner.  It's been a while and I feel like something healthy.  I have four movies to choose from and I'm thinking of a little marathon.  It's been one week since I watched a movie and I'm well overdue. I need something to get my mind of the negativity, the hatred, the bigotry, the violence, the inhumanity and the pettiness of our society. One week ago, the entire country bonded over the city of Boston.  Now we are torn apart by people's desires for retribution.  Will it bring back an eight year old boy or two lovely women who died before their time? Will it give us insights into a larger threat?  Or will it simply fulfill our sense of entitlement and our warped view of justice.  "An eye for an eye" will be the screams, but those voices always leave off the last part of the saying.  We've taken all the eyes there are to take and we're all blinded because of it.  Tonight, if even for two hours, to get my mind off of this and think about innocence I'm surrounded by and how I remember a time when it wasn't snatched away so early.  At least I'll try to ignore it and be thankful for whatever it is I have or maybe I'll just reflect on what a sanctimonious boob I am.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Free Writing - Take 21

This week the emotions are all over the place. Monday's events had a personal affect on me, which very few of my friends know about.  The events in Boston and those all over the world, where people are blown up by suspicious bags and worse are going to haunt my dreams for the next few years, because one of the most important people in my world is joining the military's bomb squad.  I can't comprehend this decision, but then again, I can't comprehend someone joining the armed forces during times of war.  It's not my life to live, so I accept it and despite what people might think who are angered by my views, it was a choice and with choices come consequences. I just hope it's never the ultimate one. I've tried to keep my mind on other things, but I keep falling into the rut of realization that things are pretty awful in my life right now.  You'd never know it to speak to me and I will keep it that way.  I do it for my kids, my friends and those who might need a bright spot in their day instead of the mundane process of hearing another person's problems.  I have gotten back into losing myself in movies.  I just wish I could watch ten a night.  My list of must see movies expands faster than my ability to view them.  Sleep still evades me, but that's old hat.  Someones smile refreshes my senses. The secret that it does tears at me. I spend more time recently thinking about the past, when I know it's the single worst thing I can do for my future. I am looking forward to a two day trip to Boston in June. Will be strange with out Robbie. RIP!

Super Quickie Review - The Tall Man

To tell anything about Pascual Laugier's The Tall Man, would be to give away major parts of the movie.  The movie centers on a small town called Cold Rock, where there is a history of child abductions.  The town is very poor, it's inhabitants fairly simple and uneducated and the disappearance are being blamed on a shadowy figure called The Tall Man.  The main character is a young nurse, who is played brilliantly, yes I said brilliantly, by Jessica Biel, who obviously, eventually has her child taken. I'll leave it at that as far as an explanation or synopsis of what happens, because to tell, would be to let the movies secrets out.

What I will tell you is that the movie is unlike any others you've seen. It's very political in it's nature and some might actually be offended, by the stance it takes.  What I found interesting was that I didn't feel it took a stance, but presented both side of an argument in a way that makes you believe both are right.  The movie as a whole is about a lot more than it appears and for this, I feel it received most of it's negative reviews.  It is superbly acted and directed and is one of the few thrillers with literally no gaping plot holes. While it is not nearly as gruesome as Laugier's Martyrs, the pyschological struggle never leaves you and because of this, I truly thought it was a very good movie and worth a look.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Yesterday afternoon was a  beautifully crisp spring day.  In Boston, the annual celebration of Patriots Day took place, with a late morning Red Sox game and the running of the Boston Marathon.  At about 2:30, I checked the Internet and found out the winners names and their times.  The Sox had won and as I stood outside waiting for my cab, I breathed in the magnificence of the day.  It finally felt like spring.

Roughly two hours later, the grey taxi pulled up and I entered.  "Hey, what's up?" I said. "Did you hear about the bombing at the marathon?" The driver said.  I told him I had not and then listened intently as the commentator discussed the carnage in Boston.  I left the cab and stopped off to visit a friend who was working at a bar.  With no intentions of staying for a drink, I found myself fixated on the television.  The numbers were vague, but they estimated 23 people had been hurt and two were deceased.  I left shortly after, walking slowly down the street thinking about those poor unexpecting people.  I then got home and, as I frequently do, I went online.  The speculation, negativity and prejudice was flying everywhere.  It sickened me.  I then left my home and went out and spoke more about this.  Cooler heads seemed to surround me, which gave me comfort.

When I got home around 12:30 at night, I laid in bed and I thought about this week and the future.  I thought about seeing pictures of my friend's wedding.  I thought about how there was no reaction of anything but happiness when I saw her and her beautiful wife.  I thought about this weekend, when I commented on a couple I frequently see and how amazing it is that every time I see them, they are as silly and giddy to be together as they first met. She happens to be black and he happens to be white. Their happiness is what stands out.  I thought about my inability to share in my brother's graduation from basic training this week and my fears of his desired occupation.  I thought about the little kid who started to cry in my class yesterday when the bigger kids picked on him.  I looked him in the eye and told him not to cry.  Whatever he did, not to let them see him cry.  He held it in and when the others realized they hadn't got to him they stopped and actually praised him for his effort.  I thought about all these wonderful things and then came back to the horrors of the day.

The horrors I speak of aren't the bombing.  Bombings happen every day all over the world and we shrug our shoulders.  I'm not talking about the deaths.  People die in horrific ways all the time and we almost see it as our nightly entertainment. The horrors I speak of are the reactions to this tragedy.  The same way 9/11 changed us all (for about two weeks), this event changed us all.  It showed, we've digressed in our ability to see anything without bias; without hate. It showed me that those who claim to be open and understanding to others, shut that down in times of despair.  Times of stress, pressure and despair show one's true colors and many people showed their deep dark hues, while trying to mask them in the red, white and blue.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Gun Deaths Since Newtown

My Facebook status from moments ago

I know when I write anything over ten words, most people ignore it. They, most likely are the one's who will disagree with what I'm about to say (take that for what it's worth). This afternoon I signed on to Facebook around 1pm I scrolled down and much to my frustration, I counted 22 memes posted by pro gun rights friends. Of the few that quoted the constitution, all were inaccurate or stretched the meaning of the 2nd amendment. Of those that cited statistics, all were false. Some did nothing more than show a beautiful woman holding a gun with a silly slogan atop or below. Did any of the posters verify the validity of these memes? Obviously not. I would assume nobody is stupid enough to post inaccurate information on purpose. At least I'd hope not. They are victims of brainwashing and that makes them the majority. I am not judging them, for it takes effort to verify information and as that lovely woman said "Nobody got time for that."

Senator Rand Paul wanted to perform a second filibuster where he would denounce gun control. His plan was to stand on the house floor and rant and rave ridiculous "facts" about gun control and it's evils. It was not a popular move and it won't most likely happen. Interestingly enough, there was a filibuster of sorts at the Capitol yesterday. A group of gun control activists, comprised mostly of people who have lost loved ones to firearms, gathered for a speech. The speech was not prepared and was not eloquent. It was not political in nature and it didn't say one bad thing about guns. It wasn't biased in it's verbiage and didn't sway left or right. It was simply this.

 People got up and read the names of everyone killed since the Newtown, Connecticut massacre. Each name was honored. The list took 12 hours to read. It consisted of 3300 names of men, women and children whose lives were cut short for various reasons by a bullet. There was one story written about it so far and not one meme has surfaced. And it's all true.

Quickie Review - End Of Watch

Let me start by saying I absolutely hated Training Day and wouldn't have watched this had I know it was written by the same guy.  This film, much like Training Day, had more plot and continuity holes than most wheels of Swiss cheese.  That being said, it's not a bad movie at all, but hardly deserves the multiple star reviews it has received.  It manages to entertain despite being painfully and I mean painfully predictable.  There is so much good and so much bad, I honestly don't know where to start.

I'll start with the good. The dialogue is crisp and not contrived like Training Day. People actually speak the way the characters speak and it gave it a bit of authenticity.  The four main characters are ridiculously likable.  The two women, Martinez and Kendrick are stunningly beautiful and ridiculously cute and play off their male counterparts beautifully.  The two mains, Gyllenhaal and Pena have incredible chemistry and it's nice to see Pena finally get a major role as he's always been a scene stealer. Another thing I admired, was the incredible soundtrack, which fit perfectly with each scene.

Now for the bad. The whole idea that a police officer would put the lives of his fellow officers at risk to videotape everything is ridiculous. This and all the camera work becomes incredibly distracting. The fact that these cops just happen to bust the same Mexican drug cartel multiple times is ludicrous. The fact the attackers were completely inept at shooting, but geniuses at surrounding them was silly.  And finally two things that are completely the directors fault.  He seems obsessed with homosexuality.  In Training Day it was a near male rape and in this it is multiple lesbian kisses. Enough with the stereotypes.  Finally, the "second" ending almost ruined the film for me. On Netflix, I'd keep it at 3, but on a ten point scale, I'd drop it from 6 to 5, just based on the ending. Oh and did I mention it's one of the most predictable movies you'll ever watch?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Movie Review - The Secret in their Eyes

"If you keep going over your past, you'll end up with a thousand pasts and not future."

When I first rented this, I had no idea it was the 2009 Oscar winner for best foreign film.  I had seen the trailer and decided to give it a shot.  The movie takes place in Argentina in two different times, 1974 and 1999.  It involves a detective, played by Ricardo Darin, who is given the case of a brutal rape/murder.  At the same time, he is introduced to his new boss, a lovely woman played by Soledad Villamil.  As the movie goes on and the case becomes more complicated, so does his relationship and feelings for his boss.  The movie is essentially two movies in one.  A romance and a thriller, but trust me, this isn't some silly James Patterson novel, this story is near flawless.

The movie does take aim at some political unrest, especially within the police force, during the early 70's, but knowing this doesn't matter.  The story is about two things, the detective's relationship with his boss and his desire to know the truth.  When the movie first starts, we see Darin, struggling to write a novel. We believe it's a romance novel, until a vision of a brutal crime darts across the screen.  It is then, that we know this will be a something with twists and turns.  It's now 1999 and the retired detective goes to see his old.  He speaks of his novel and the two discuss the old crime that has haunted him.

In the course of the movie, we are realize, as do all the characters, that the detective is smitten with his boss. In one scene, when his drunken partner is solving part of the case, he utters that man can change anything about himself, but he can't change his passion.  This opens the young detectives mind and he carries this with him throughout the movie.  The movie also delves into the idea of never looking back.  To not live life with any regrets or questions. In the end, we see that the detective has lost so much of his life wondering what if and it had clouded his judgment, never allowing him to follow this passion.

The movie is exquisitely paced and doesn't feel over two hours.  The action, is limited, but the feel of the movie, is one of a classic detective movie, which is not to take away from the incredible secondary story.  All the time I was watching it, I kept saying to myself, "if I ever wrote a screenplay, this is what I would want to achieve.  Complexity, subtlety and an ending that will shock everyone."  Incredible ride and well deserving of it's Oscar win.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Super Quickie Movie Review - Klown

Klown is a Danish comedy based on a popular TV show by the same title.  It has often been referred to as the Danish Curb Your Enthusiasm, but based on the movie and the one show in the special features, I found it to be much funnier, much more original and completely more raunchy.  So raunchy in fact, that my initial thought when the credits were rolling was "did the guy from The Hangover completely rip these guys off?"  It turns out that this movie was made a year later, but the idea, stemming from the TV show, leads me to believe he's seen it before.  Then I find out, he's bought the rights to remake it. No coincidence there I assume.

I can't even explain the story, but it involves two guys in different ridiculous stages of relationships and one's attempt to prove to his wife he can take care of a child.  He tries to do so by basically kidnapping the child and bringing him on a canoe trip.  A canoe trip which involves stopping to smoke weed, enter a brothel and a few other less than appropriate events.  The humor is over the top and some might find it offensive.  There is one character who sees women only for one thing, but as we see, there's a twist.  The other is so desperate for his girl's attention is persuaded to do some pretty stupid things.  Finally their is the child, who is the unsung hero of the film, despite saying but a few words.

I will warn some of the more easily offended.  There is a lot of misogynistic humor and events, some simulated sex, some full frontal nudity, both male and female and one scene where it's implied there is a child naked and having his penis touched. I immediately knew it was fake and in the extras, it is explained that this was not a real person.  There is even a debaucherous filled photo montage, a la The Hangover at the end, that is about ten times "worse" than the American counterpart.  This movie, in my mind, is truly what The Hangover wishes it would have been.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Quickie Review - [REC]

My sincere apologies to George Romero and the makers of Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, but [REC] is what Romero wished The Crazies had been and the others wish their hand held nausea fest turned out like this.  The movie tells the tale of a TV reporter, played by the lovely Manuela Velasco, spending an evening following a firefighting team.  The first twenty minutes is purposely boring, explaining that this is what happens when they don't have any excitement. Then men then get a call regarding a woman trapped in a building.  When they get there, this woman seems a little different.

The movie then turns into a complicated tale. Is the woman crazy or sick.  We don't find out truly what is wrong with the woman and the following victims, but this is basically a zombie flick with a huge twist.  Almost all of the movie takes place in this one building, which seems to have a huge lab in the basement, but it's tenants are what really intrigues us.  One could say, why didn't the people just run out of the building?  Cue, the Romero reference.  The police and government have quarantined the building and we're not sure why until about two-thirds of the way through.  It's worth the wait.

[REC] succeeds despite its quirky handheld video style.  It succeeds on portraying what feels like real horror and it builds beautifully from a quiet night to all hell breaking loose. It's claustrophobic feel is part of the genius.  The building, with it's long hallways and narrow staircases plays a major role in the feel of the film and in one definitive scene, increases the panic levels.  I'll stop explaining, because to continue would give to much away from the wonderful finale moments.  A must see for horror fans.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Things People Might Not Know About Me Part 2 - Brushes With Fame

A few years back, I wrote a blog about ten things people might not know about me.  It was all very personal stuff, but things I felt were easy enough to let on about and maybe, if anyone read it, they might have some insight into who I am or why I am the way I am.  Here's a link if you're interested. http://hopsthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/08/ten-random-things-people-might-not-know.html

I was thinking about things the other day and thought about the people I've met and the places I've taken for granted, that are in fact, part of me.  So here's a list of some other things people might not know about me.  I won't go into great detail, like in the other blog, but just some interesting notes on my life.

One of my neighbors in Brooklyn, Noel Pointer, was a grammy nominated jazz musician.

At different points in my life, I went to the #1 rated school (St Ann's in Brooklyn) and worked at the #1 sleepaway camp (Pierce Camp Birchmont) in the United States. I went to St. Ann's while Beastie Boy Mike D, actresses Jennifer Connolly, Mia Sara, Michelle Hurd & Katherine Healy and Director Noah Baumbach, who I was good friends with, all attended. Also attending were Sam Sifton and Eric Asimov, both of who wrote for the times dining section.  At the camp, I met Charlie Dolan, Kathleen Turner, the owners of Bic pen and a few others.

One of my parents good friends was Owen Lattimore, who was one of the country's most noted scholars on China and Mongolia.  He was once referred to by Senator Joseph McCarthy as the "the top Russian espionage agent in the United States," during the Red Scare.

While not deliberately, nor very hard, I once hit YES announcer Michael Kay with my car down by Yankee Stadium, to which he replied "Fuck You!" Ironically, and unknown to me at the time, I was teaching his nephew tennis.

I have taught tennis to a celebrity's kid, but I honestly can't remember the celebrity's name.  Some Katie Couric like TV personality.

I once hiked to what claimed to be the highest point in Connecticut at Bear Mountain. It took us about two hours to make the peak and during an 80 degree morning, it was snowing at the peak.  Two hours to get to the top and 28 minutes to get back down.  Did I mention I hate hiking?

I once played chess against a ten year old who was nationally ranked.  He beat me in about 11 moves.

In High School I was running down  the street and turned a corner and knocked someone to the ground.  It was Gene Shalit.

My cousin was once roommates with Madonna....but before Madonna was Madonna.

My parents used to hang out in the same bars as Sam Shepard and Janis Joplin.

While trying out for a college baseball team, I once had a double off of a pitcher who eventually got drafted by the White Sox, named John Quirk.  I made the team, but quit the next day.

As anyone who knows me is well aware, my love of film is second to none.  So this holds a special place in my heart, but with a twist.  My name appears in the credits of a small movie called Timeless, directed by my film professor from Westchester Community College.  I believe I am listed under film editors.  I helped edit for two days and was invited to the opening, but was away.  The irony?  I've never seen the movie, so I've never seen the credit.  I've rented it twice, but both times, the movie wouldn't play.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Quickie Review - Argo

Argo is a near perfect film. This is not to say it is the best film you will ever see, but is perfect.  If you are my age, you lived through the Iran Hostage Crisis and you know the impact it had on everyone.  This sub-story was a tale that wasn't nearly as hyped when it happened as it was today.  What makes the film so wonderful is that you know the result.  There is nothing that will happen in the movie that should shock you, yet it does. Much like movies like Midnight Express, the tension is so perfectly executed, it doesn't seem fabricated.  The levity during the first half, let's us know that these are still real people.

 So what makes it "perfect?"  The direction.  Ben Affleck, for all his quirks and failure, delivers such a seamless picture that the two hour running time feels like a half hour TV drama.  There is not one wasted scene.  No superfluous moments of fear or panic.  It is a very simple movie about a moment in time where nearly everything had to happen a certain way.  The casting too, was so perfect, it's as if the true story had a premonition of who to cast.  The key is Affleck.  He never tries to dominate any scenes and let's masters like Alan Arkin and John Goodman do what they do best.  Make us laugh. He takes the lesser known actors, who portray the hostages (in effect they are) work.  They make us feel their trepidations with his plan.  Their fear seems so real, especially the enchanting Clea Duvall, whose face in one scene is of such relief, you breathe that sigh of relief with her.

In the end, this is a political story, despite the human elements, but there are two hugely interesting points made in the movie, that some will find either telling or they will roll their eyes in disgust.  This movie, very tactfully points much of the blame on America's brashness and gives full credit to that brashness for the six people's return.  During the closing credits, there is a recording of President Carter, praising Canada and the U.S. for teamwork and basically asking for credit for getting everyone out peacefully.  It's telling where this is placed, but also shows, those who cared enough to stay for the credits, might understand a little more than those who didn't.

Two final notes.  Affleck's nomination snub is incomprehensible and it's been noted by many in Hollywood that this was a travesty.  Even by those who were in films nominated for Best Director. Also, I have yet to see Christopher Waltz in Django Unchained, but I'd be hard pressed to find a more perfect supporting role than the one played by Alan Arkin.

Quickie Review - Oshima's Taboo

When the late Nagisa Oshima passed earlier this year, the name didn't immediately jump out.  Then I saw the title Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence within the obituary and immediately knew who he was.  Oshima truly blew me away, during a film class, when I was lucky enough to view his masterpiece of dark comedy, Death by Hanging.  Oshima is not afraid to take risks, showing violence, showing actual sexual relations and in many cases, tackling social taboos head on.  In the aptly named Taboo (Gohatto), he looks at homosexual love among the shogun militia.

The movie stars the effeminate yet powerful Ryuhei Matsuda, as Kano, the new samurai to the clan. He is thought to be having an affair with another new member, Tashiro (played by Tadanobu Asano.  The film is viewed mostly from the eyes of Captain Hijikata, played by the force of nature Takashi 'Beat' Kitano  Sadly, most Americans only know him from the dubbed comedy game show Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, known in Japan as Takashi's Castle.

The movie does not judge.  It looks at each man's reaction to the news about homosexuality, but it takes a deeper look into desire, acceptance and how wanting can cause disintegration amongst the ranks.  The love or sex with Kano is insignificant.  As we see throughout the course of the film, each character wants Kano in their own way.  Kano, basically a rookie, suddenly attains a power over everyone.  In the end, he is forced to prove his worth, but doing what we believe to be the unthinkable, but is it.  What are his motivations?  We never know, but can only guess from what we are shown.

Where the movie shines in it's simplicity, despite a complex matter.  The film was made in the late 90's and takes place well over 100 years before, yet it's fragile subject seems more openly accepted than even in today's world. Oshima strips away the genders, but portraying Kano as universally beautiful. One could even question whether or not there is a god complex involved.  What I personally liked about the movie was the comedic side, especially in the scenes with the frustrated Kitano.  His natural wit, plays well with the angst of the other characters. It is indeed he who creates the finale, which shows hints of Shakespearean influence, as the scene becomes a surreal battle, when all (but not really) is revealed.

Long Day/Life

I am angry and know that sleep will escape me as it has all week.  Two hours a night the last two nights, two cat naps, that actually rejuvenated me, but still, my body feels fatigued.  I'm angry at what I feel is a lack of respect.  A common courtesy was not paid to me and I feel I deserved it.  I feel anyone would. You live somewhere for eight years.  You pay rent in advance on occasion, two, sometimes three months in advance. You deal with outlets not working, holes and leaks in the ceiling that mysteriously never get fixed and then you forget to send your rent in one month and you're served court papers. No phone call asking where the rent is, but a court document.  Here's the kicker.  They apologized for the mistake, but now want me to pay for the deposition.  $300.  What is my recourse?  My rent was late, but give me a break.

This combined with the crazy cost of getting too and from work is killing me.  So far this week, I've spent $90 to get two and from four miles away.  Tomorrow will be another $30.  It's killing me and my wallet.  I can't afford it and have even considered renting a car, although the costs would be the same.  There would be some freedom and I'd have the car 24/7 not just eight minutes a day.

I had one, well two bright spots today.  I watched one good movie and one great movie.  I'll delve into those tomorrow with a fresh head.  I look forward to a baseball game and hanging with a friend tomorrow.  We haven't hung out in a bit and I miss her. Should be fun.  I'm considering staying Friday and saving myself for the basketball games on Saturday.

I think once this weekend is over, I'm going to take a bit of a party animal hiatus.  My body feels like it's breaking down. I don't feel good and I need to go into a little bit of a detox mode.  I think I might even go a little towards the vegetarian side for a week or two.  Maybe add some bacon just for shits and giggles, but we'll see.  I need to flush out the last few months. Maybe start meeting people for coffee or tea.  Maybe catch a movie (nah!).  Maybe start writing, like I've promised myself for the last three years.

I have seven more weeks of my school gig and then I'm done. I need to find some work.  Some serious work. What are my options.  No degree. Can barely stand for more than two hours at a time.  I'm worried. Time is taking it's toll on me and I'm not slowing it down.  I know the proverbial hammer is about to drop and I need some protection.  I need to find a new motivation. Maybe the cat that is waiting for me to clean my damn apartment will make me want to give it a better life.  A gold rattle to play with.  Maybe some Sheba instead of friskies. Or maybe for once I'll start being serious.  I'll figure it out tomorrow. Right now I just hope my neighbor who slams his door shut decides to take the morning off.  I hope my super with booming voice goes to his other job.  I hope the woman who feels it necessary to have full phone conversations right outside my door, waits til she arrives at work.  I hope the person who hasn't figured out how a buzzer system works decides to ring any buzzer but mine.  All I want is four solid hours.  That's not a lot to ask....is it?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

MLB Predictions 2013

Every year I make my predictions.  I used to have a formula that in all honestly was pretty damn accurate, but I've become too fidgety to spend the time to do it.  When I did, I usually got at least six of the eight playoff teams (before they added the 5th in each league) and even got a couple of award winners correct.  Now I'm basically winging it, but there is still some thought going into it.  So here it goes.

AL East
Toronto Blue Jays* - most improved team since last season
Boston Red Sox* - their rotation could be the best in the majors if healthy
New York Yankees - early season injuries might be too much to overcome
Tampa Bay Devil Rays - Maddon is a genius, but the division is too good.
Baltimore Orioles - Would be a contender in another division.

AL Central
Detroit Tigers* - The team to beat in the AL.
Kansas City Royals - rotation is 10x better and young talent will be hungry.
Cleveland Indians - Tito has team playing up to par.
Chicago White Sox - age is setting in on this group.
Minnesota Twins - No pitching at all.

AL West
Los Angeles Angels* - Scariest lineup in baseball
Texas Rangers* - Loss of Hamilton in middle of lineup is huge.
Oakland Athletics - '12 Cinderellas are in over their head this season
Seattle Mariners - King Felix can't win 50 games.
Houston Astros - The saddest excuse for a major league team, will throw off wild card race.

Texas beats Boston 1-0
Los Angeles beats Texas 3-2
Detroit beats Toronto 3-1
Detroit beats Los Angeles 4-3

NL East
Washington Nationals* - New kids on the block have to be pissed about last year
Atlanta Braves* - Best all around outfield in baseball?
Philadelphia Phillies - Health will be the key to season and I don't think they'll maintain it.
Miami Marlins - Fire sale last season will kill this team
New York Mets - this team seems to have been in transition for a decade

NL Central
Cincinnati Reds* - Everyone's pick as team to beat
St Louis Cardinals* - Still a force
Milwaukee Brewers - Ryan Braun carries this team.  But how far?
Pittsburgh Pirates - Can they break .500?
Chicago Cubs - a disaster season lies ahead

NL West
Los Angeles Dodgers* - Too much fire power
San Francisco Giants - Two world series in three seasons, but this year will be different.
Arizona Diamondbacks - Not enough to get over hump
Colorado Rockies - great hitting, but rotation is weak
San Diego Padres - familiar setting

St Louis beats Atlanta 1-0
St. Louis beats Washington 3-2
Cincinnati beats Los Angeles 3-1
Cincinnati beats St. Louis 4-1

World Series
Detroit over Cincinnati 4-2     MVP Justin Verlander

Regular Season Awards
MVP: Miguel Cabrera & Justin Upton
Cy Young: Justin Verlander & Madison Baumgartner
ROY:  Trevor Bauer & Shelby Miller

People: The Good & The Bad

While taking the bus up to Ithaca, I noticed a man get off the bus, then while returning he started to walk past his seat.  The woman sitting next to him reached out, touched his side and said "here."  The man thanked her and sat down.  At the next stop, she explained she was getting off and he thanked her again.  I moved over to save the girl next to me from being squished and noticed the man standing outside with a walking stick used by blind people.  When he returned, he tapped the bottom of the seats, obviously counting to find his seat. When he got off the bus, a gentleman who had been sitting near him asked him what his bag looked like and helped him get it from the storage area.

Monday afternoon I watched as a woman who lives near me cleaned up all the little pieces of paper trash that were in front of her house.  She picked up every last one and then proceeded to walk to curb, away from her house and throw all the trash into the street.

Today a kid came up to me during my class and said "Jon, why do you have those bumps on your face?" I explained that I had some skin problem which makes my face red and get pimples.  He said "It's OK, you're still really cool."

Today I had a parent sign out the wrong kid.  Same first name, but wrong last name.  Best part is she's one of the parents who complains about things just like this.

Today I had a cab driver thank me for tipping him twice in one day.  I wouldn't think of doing otherwise, but the thank you was much appreciated.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Free Writing - Take 20

Subdued. Bus Rides take a lot out of me.  It's not the boredom, but the pain. The sharp pain, tingling down my legs, reminding me of age, of times ago, where I'd bounce back from anything. The silence of my father's house, my grandmother's old room, where I slept, is gone. The hiss from the pipes outside my door, the boilers hum and the occasional park of a dog or a car horn all distract me from even the most minor thoughts. All those noises, muffled by the deer filled hill and houses, filled with respectful neighbors.  A town with two colleges, yet there are not radios blazing or tires screeching. A civilized world unlike mine. Cab rides to look forward to and their incredible costs.  The math is mind boggling. It upsets me actually. Life isn't fair in so many ways, but everyone wants to make a buck, then when they have a buck, they want two.  The world's greed makes it so hard to get by. Missed is the taste of the veal chops, the rib eyes and the scallop dinners I just had.  Lebanon bologna, olives, French cheeses.  If I had money to burn, my pleasures would be so simple.  Food, friends and films.  I need nothing else. This is the truth I speak.  I try to come across as complex, but that is what I need.  The serenity brought on by those three things is enough.  I am fading now, almost terrified to repeat the dream. An apartment I can't afford, a meal I'll never cook and a girl, I can only hope to get to know as well as I want.  I'll awake, saddened. Recoup. A sip of coffee and a hot shower.  The kids will make me laugh and I'll see some friends and speak of our weeks. I'll walk home, leisurely, thinking, subdued. Weakened by the weight, not of the world, but of my dreams, so simple in nature,  but so difficult to attain.  Good Night I'll say, waiting for an answer. Nothing.