Friday, May 31, 2013

Review - Lincoln

I've had Lincoln at home for about a week now.  Had to carve out a time slot to really hunker down and get into it.  Daniel Day Lewis roles can not just be viewed, they must be ingested.  His devotion to roles mesmerizes me. I expected it to be good, but the oral reviews I've heard from people were way off the mark.  What I heard was "good, but long" "boring" "it only talked about one thing" "it wasn't really about Lincoln" and "I hated it."

Let me give answers to all these comments I've put in quotations. It is long, but for a movie that is two and half hours, it felt like a speed race.  The last movie I watched was an hour and fifty minutes and felt longer. It is far from boring, with a script that is emotional and witty, with scenes that get your heart pumping. It talked about many things, the war, the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th Amendment, but most importantly the internal and external struggle he faced, balancing his job, his life and his family. It was all about Lincoln and who he really was.  Those who hated it, I can only assume one thing, you live in fear. Fear of change, fear that this man's vision changed a nation while almost tearing it apart.  Fear that those who disagree with your vision of America as a utopia is false.  Either that, or quite simply, you're a racist.

The movie is based on one of, if not the foremost authority on the American Presidency, Doris Kearns Goodwin. If you've never read her and don't like history, may I suggest Wait Til Next Year: A Memoir, where she takes us back to her childhood and her love of baseball and the year her life was torn apart, the year the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.  It's beautifully written and sports fans will relate, as will any woman who want to reminisce about the passions they had for things as a child and their desire for their father's love and affection.   This combined with a brilliant screenplay, make it feel like a seamless journey through the final four months of our nation's greatest president and quite possibly the most important amendment of our constitution, as it relates to today's world.

Then you add Daniel Day Lewis, who not only looks the part, but shows the pain of conflict that is evident in almost all the photos of him. Lewis is incredible, but the performances by Sally Field, as his wife, is one for the ages.  In one scene, during a banquet, she confronts Tommy Lee Jones character and blows the doors off the movie.  It's at that point the movie starts steamrolling. It should be noted, it's the only scene where Jones himself doesn't steal the scene.  Other standouts are Jason Straitharn, James Spader and Jackie Earl Haley.  I tend to get emotionally involved in films, but the last 30-40 minutes is awe inspiring. The scene in the House of Representatives, when they take the vote is absolutely bone chilling, in a good way, but it's followed with quite possibly the most subtle scene in the entire movie and one that brought the tears that had already welled up in my eyes, to full pour.  The scene might have been an act of artistic license (although rumored to be true and was featured in D.W.Griffith's Birth of a Nation for opposite reasons), but it was beautiful in every sense of the word.  The movie could have ended there and those who felt it went to long, could quite conceivably complain about the final 15-20 minutes, but we needed the story to end, like we all know it did.  For some reason, we all need to know what we already know, as it makes the learning process easier.

The movie is written about a time in our nation's past.  It tells of a time of disarray, of war and of serious conflicts of interest and ideology.  It's a story about a few men, who decided our constitution wasn't perfect and needed to be corrected, as we call it amended.  It's the story of those men willing to risk their careers, their reputations and their lives in the pursuit of freedom and equality.  It's a story about one of the few times where the minority became the majority and our land, our world, became a better place.  It's not about today's world. Today's world is fighting a new hate. A hate Lincoln wouldn't have tolerated.  Sadly, there hasn't been another Lincoln since and sadly, I don't know if there ever will be.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Leftovers

Let me just start by saying I ****ing love leftovers.  I have so many friends who actually throw out whatever they don't that evening.  I have never and will never understand it. Forget the monetary and ethical aspects of the disgrace, but what lost opportunities.  A few pantry items or maybe one or two ingredients and you have a completely different meal.  It got me thinking to the last few weeks, where I've been buying similar items, but making them into something else.  The best part is, the dinner you had the night before can become the best breakfast and vice versa.

Last night, I made some linguine with white clam sauce.  It was a very simple sauce. I cooked some onions and garlic until translucent and then added the chopped clams.  A little parsley, red pepper flakes and topped with some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and I was good to go. I didn't use white wine, because I like the briny taste of the juice from the clams.  Now, as could be expected, I ate most of the clams, despite eating only half of the amount I made.  So today, I had half of the remainder for lunch.  Not having prosciutto, I cut two strips of bacon into tiny bits and when they were done, I poured out most of the grease and added the pasta to the dish.  The pasta took over a little of the flavor, but with bacon in every bite, it was wonderful and completely different.  I decided not to let the leftovers sit, because of the clams and decided to finish it off for dinner.  There wasn't enough "meat" for it to be a real meal and I worried that the 24 hours in the fridge might have zapped some of the garlic flavor.  I melted some butter and started to saute some diced garlic, then chopped a tomato and added that to the pan. I added the pasta and sprinkled some dried oregano.  Literally 3 minutes from the start and I'm eating a completely different meal from the other two, with basically the same ingredients.  Another trick, when you want a nice meaty pasta dish is to do half clams, half mushrooms.  The textures are similar and the mushrooms soak up all of the clams flavors.  Four possible meals from one.

I also love having a burger at home.  Chicken, turkey or beef, it doesn't matter.  So I buy a lb of ground meat and make my burger.  I seal and store the remaining meat and then I have enough for a substantial meal.  I love crumbling it in a pan and using it for tacos, heavily season with cumin and smoked paprika, adding lettuce, tomato and avocado, with various toppings such as cheese, salsa and sour cream.  Sometimes I'll bake a potato and then stuff the potato with the meat and small can of corn and peas.  Instant unbaked shepherd's pie.  Sorry, no Chef's Sauce my Irish friends.

I eat pan grilled chicken cutlets more than I care to admit. I usually do something like tacos or top the meat with some sauce, usually a combination of odd things in my fridge, but I always have a ton leftover, usually already cooked, so I usually take a fork and shred the remainder, adding some Sriracha and packets of duck sauce, which works (with a little seasonings) as a bastardized BBQ sauce.  This is great by itself or on a sandwich.  Of course, sometimes I just add some mayo and a little mustard and make chicken salad.  Great for some lettuce wraps, with sliced tomato.

These are all completely silly in a way, but it's the versatility which keeps the go-to average, home alone meal take on a different light.  Obviously there are times when I make something a little "fancier," but the next value decreases, because those dishes can't really be doctored.  Fancy is always nice, but to be completely honest, there is nothing I eat that makes me happier than a nice loaf of bread, a slathering of mayo, Sriracha, lettuce, tomato, red onion and avocado....that's it.  But of course that makes a pretty nice salad, burger topping or taco accouterments.

Kids 1978 vs Kids 2013

Gets Rubik's Cube
78 - finishes it three months later by breaking it and putting it back together
13 - finishes it in one day by googling how to do it

Seventh Birthday
78 - Baseball Glove and ball
13 - iPad with baseball game app

Game of Catch
78 - Dad every night after work
13 - High priced coach at top level facility once a week

Gets a Lollipop
78 - Says thank you
13 - Asks if they can have a different flavor

History
78 - Knows every president in order
13 - Knows every character's special power in Harry Potter

Playdates
78 - In the middle of the street outside friend's house. Movement - without stopping
13 - In the play room which is actually neighbors entire finished basement. Movement - screaming for mom.

Curses
78 - H-E double hockey sticks and fudge
13 - Faggot and homo

TV Shows
78 - Electric Company & Sesame Street
13 - icarly & American Idol

Bedtime
78 - whenever mom and dad said so
13 - whenever I decide, mom and dad are asleep already

Career Aspiration
78 - Fireman, Baseball Player, Astronaut
13 - I'm gonna be rich, I'm not going to work

Biggest Rule in School
78 - Listen to the teacher
13 - Tell parents what the teacher did wrong

Chicken Nuggets
78 - Something you get once a year or on a road trip
13 - Dinner every other night

Talking back to your parents
78 - Grab your ass and run
13 - Drop your bags and let them pick them up, embarrassing them in front of everyone

Legos
78 - Hours of mesmerizing fun and learning
13 - Videogame version of comic strips

Favorite Food
78 - Pizza
13 - Pizza

See nothing has changed




Things Businesses Do That Make No Sense

Let me preface this blog by saying this: Personally, I might be the single worst person at managing personal finances, but I have a pretty decent track record of running a business either as an owner or manager.  For whatever reason, when it's someone elses money to save, I'm fantastic.  Here are a few things that I've noticed recently, where I truly want to say, "Hey, can I have five minutes to save you time and money?"

1. Why does every self storage place leave the lights on 24/7?  Those places are huge and judging from my Con Ed bill, they are wasting thousands a month.  This also applies to businesses who operate 9-5 and leave their lights on 24/7.

2. I will never understand delis who have someone who takes your order, then someone who makes your food and then someone else who is the cashier.  Why not have two people taking orders and making sandwiches and one person ringing up?  Maple Street deli in Scarsdale/Eastchester does this masterfully. Three guys taking orders, one taking delivery and pickup orders (also helping with register) and a manager getting people in an out as quickly as possible.  Never in my four years of working down the street was I in their more than seven minutes.  This also helps with customer satisfaction.

3. If something never sells in a food store, why do places continue to make or sell it.  Why not lower the price and if it still doesn't sell, have it on the menu as a special order item?  A perfect example is delis that offer exotic salads.  If they don't sell, they go badly quickly.  Why not make a smaller batch or have it on a certain day?  A deli I used to go to used to have one special each day and the place was packed every day. If they had offered it every day, they never would have sold out.

4. Ice cream stores in the winter.  Why do you need a full staff during weekdays?  How many people are running out for ice cream at 11am?  Why not have one person there to take orders and one open at 3pm when school gets out?  Save a lot in payroll.

5. Banks letting tellers go for lunch during lunch hours.  When do they think people who are working are most likely going to stop in?  Either during lunch or after work.  They are short staffed or closed during these times.  Convenience. This is why people hate banks....well one of them.

6. Supermarkets closing - During rush hour today the store was packed and they had about twenty people working and only three (yes really) checkout lines open. I'm pretty sure they could have had all of them, but why not, if there are workers there anyway, have a cashier work from closing to opening.  The lights are all on anyway, so the only difference is having one employee working one more shift.  I'm sure you'd get a lot of people who usually run out to 7/11 or the gas station turning into the lot and stopping there.  Plus, it would be a great convenience to those who work odd hours (cops, firemen, deliverers, etc) not to mention the late night munchies cravers.

7. This one is my biggest pet peeve for a million reasons.  Why the hell do restaurants have to put so much food on a plate?  I know some have cut back and I applaud them. It raises their profits and it saves on food waste, which is why I really care.  The other day, I listened to someone order something that came with chili, lettuce, tomato and onion rings and then watched as he didn't eat any of the extras, then bragged that he treated himself to the more expensive burger.  So all that stuff went into the garbage.  I'm sure some starving kid in the Ozarks would have loved some chili, onion rings and a side salad. I hate waste. Not only that, but the guy would have paid close to the same price anyway and the restaurant would have made an extra 50 cents to a dollar.   I also go nuts when a dish comes with pasta, rice or potatoes and there is so much it's impossible to finish.  Unless someone gets it wrapped it's a waste.  There is no reason to serve someone an entree of a half a lb of pasta.  One serve 1/3 and you gain an entire extra entree.  As for the sides, it's gluttonous and a waste.  Most places serve eight ounce hamburgers and I don't know for sure, but rarely do I see people finish them. Make them 7oz or 6oz.  You'd make a fortune and they'd be none the wiser. And there is nothing wrong with writing on the menu that sides are extra.  You can separate the plate and charge a minuscule amount more without anyone realizing.

8. Adding gratuity automatically is a sin.  First off, while I wish evil thoughts on anyone who stiffs the wait staff, when they know they are probably only going to get 18% off of a $300 check, they probably aren't as likely to give the best service. If they think their work will dictate whether they get 15% or 25%, they might go the extra mile.  Regardless, it means repeat customers.

9. Service industries that throw window out instead of more specific times.  You can always call and say you're running late or even better, running early, but saying 10am to 2pm, gives the customer the feeling you don't care.  It also inconveniences them.  By saying between 10-11am, you allow your workers to arrive on time which will impress.  Waiting all day for someone to come and then have them leave in ten minutes is infuriating and something that won't warrant return calls.  Also, when something does come up and you have to cancel, that customer will be more understanding.  They will also give you referrals should you be punctual and efficient.

There are other simple things like paying bills on time, not owing vendors, paying sales tax and taking warranted deductions, understanding what can and can't be written off, etc.  But these are things that just make no sense to me whatsoever.  I will never understand why a store open from nine hours a day needs to leave their lights on 24/7.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Scattered Thoughts

I was thinking about a lot of stuff today.  Parts of my life are in such disarray, I'm embarrassed by them, yet some are quick fixes, just need the time put in.  Others need money to fix and that isn't something I have a lot of now.  Some of them need perseverance and a change of lifestyle.  Some of them need me to be more aggressive.  Some of them need me to be more understanding, while others need me to take a stand.  Some make me feel like I'm an irresponsible teenager and some make me feel like a wise old man.  Some make me feel insecure and some give me great confidence.

The last two weeks has been odd for me.  Emotions all over the place.  I've had a lot of fun, but had a lot of stress.  That stress caused me to make minor bad decisions, but it also caused me to lose some inhibitions.  People would be shocked at how shy and reserved I am normally.  Part of me really wants out of here and part of me knows it's not a reality.  This time of year, it always happens.  I crave to have good knees, to be forty pounds less and to be hiking up and down the waterfront road.

I'm going to try and get a few hours of sleep and then attack one of my issues.  It's one of those things I know will ruin my day.  I'm starting to realize there is a serious problem with the legal system.  When papers are written up with the words like "you have 20 days to respond from the date on this form" it is a logistical problem that it's dated April 16th and I received it May 13th.  I always say, you can't get blood from a stone, but I've been proven wrong before.

Good night....I hope!

Super Quickie Review - Vampyr

Vampyr is a 1932 horror film by director Carl Theodor Dreyer (The Passion of Joan of Arc) that tells the story of a wandering traveller who comes upon an desolate house.  Here and at a neighboring castle, he meets up with an odd assortment of people, some who appear to be real and some imagined or maybe even something else.  The movie is painfully boring, but that is not to say it isn't impressive.  The way the film was shot, with some trick photography and grainy appearance, adds a dimension to the film that was not standard in 1932.  It would be hard for me to recommend this to anyone who isn't completely infatuated with film and how it has evolved.  If you're looking for a better story, watch Nosferatu, which to this day, despite being made over 90 years ago, resonates very loudly and in my opinion, is the benchmark for all vampire films.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Perfect Life

A secluded cabin overlooking a lake. Sitting on a porch with my best friends or some special, our feet up, sipping coffee as raindrops danced on the leaves.  Not a care in the world.  I don't think I'd need much more than that out of life.

Friday, May 24, 2013

WTF?

If you toast.........
Bread it gets better, but bread is still good
Bagels they get better, but they're still pretty damn good
Challah it's amazing, but it's buttery good anyway
English Muffins they are great, but they taste like the Devil's asshole if you don't

Thursday, May 23, 2013

An Uncomfortable Future

Tomorrow is the last day of my after school program.  While I'm not certain, I believe I've been at the same school for 13 of the last 14 years.  There was a year hiatus where they went in another direction, but then asked me back, sans my old employer.  This year has been a rough year for me mentally.  I've been out of work full time for longer than I'd like to admit and the other part time stuff has been very temporary.  Some of it, not even technically work.  I also dealt with the death of my grandmother and some other personal stuff which really put me in a bad spot mentally.  Everyone knows what death, heartbreak and money issue are like, so sympathy is not what I'm looking for by any means.

Every year, especially those since that year I wasn't brought back, I worry.  In many ways, this job has held me back from  pursuing other things, but it brings me something no job has brought me since 2000 and that is sheer joy.  I've worked with kids in many schools and some have been good and some haven't, but the bottom line is, I've carved a niche in this school.  When I look at a first grader and I see his two older brothers or the little girl who tells me I taught her sister five years ago, it brings a smile to my face.  It not only means that they cared to talk about me at home, but that their siblings remember me.  It's important to me, because you can't put a price on that.

Tomorrow I will get a cab at 2:45. Arrive at the school and sit in the auditorium.  Soon after, 20 boys ranging from first to fourth grades will come in and they will be excited to play and they will do what they always do. They will bust each others chops, be mean to each other, be nice to each other and then play dodge ball for an hour. I will watch from the middle of the gym, doing my part as coach and referee.  Some will try and cheat and others will play with more honor.  Some will pick on one person and others will use strategy.  They'll leave and I'll set up for my tennis.  Two little girls and one boy.  They goof around like nobodies business, but unbeknownst to them, all three have progressed handsomely. As each class ends, I'll hand out the ceremonial lollipops.  I'll make my silly joke about the Dum-Dum pops being named after them and they'll return the lame insult.  I'll call a cab and this time pack up my stuff, as I do every year, not knowing if I'll be back and never knowing what the future holds.  It's not as easy as it sounds.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Free Writing - Take 24

I must try and get some sleep, so this will be a short one.  The air conditioner is humming, hopefully it will drown out my annoying neighbors and their yells and screams.  Their dog with his or her incessant barking.  Dexter Season 7 with one episode to go.  I feel so completely childish, but I'm enamored, almost smitten by the lovely Yvonne Strahovski.  Completely not my "type" as if there is one.  There is something just enchanting about her.  Is it her looks or the fact she's a killer?  I'll never know. Today I felt fear for the first time.  Not true fear, like a life or death feeling, but more a feeling of helplessness.  My overactive brain was working and I thought I had walked in to a ruse to start a fight.  Oddly enough the one time I go for a walk and bring my wallet and I feel like some kids might have been arguing to instigate a reaction.  I ignored them and they walked by.  Years ago, I would have told them to keep  it down.  Maturity or fear?  Chinese tonight for the first time in a while.  Laziness overcame necessity and dinner cost me $30.  Not the habit I need to incur at this moment in time.  The gentle hum, the scattered sheets are calling me.  Laundry needs to be done tomorrow.  Heat suppressing my desire to do anything, but sit inside and and enjoy the chill down my spine from leaving the shower and entering the cool room.  Sleep calls.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How The Wire Ruined TV For Me.

Last year while I was enduring, with great joy I might add, all five seasons of The Wire within about an eight week period, it dawned on me that there would be repercussions.  Many cable and basic have had shows that have been good, but they all, almost without fail, lose their way.  Even shows like the Sopranos, which started off so well, fizzled out into something that became unwatchable.

Last year, a friend mentioned I should watch Dexter and I have to say, it's brilliant, but you can see them stretching the same old cliches and trying desperately to come up with new ideas.  The show, peaked in it's fourth season, thanks in large part to the brilliance of John Lithgow.  Then a strange thing happened, it stayed really good.  Season six, imported another nice villain in the form of Edward James Olmos, who had a side-kick, sort of, played by Colin Hanks.  At the end of the last season, we had the biggest cliffhanger and the initial three episodes became tedious.  Enter one beautiful blond woman with a dark secret of her own and a plot twist I never saw coming and there you have it. The show has gone back to basics with multiple baddies and the ongoing search to catch him.

So what does this have to do with The Wire?  The Wire, despite having it's better season, never had the fall off, episode to episode.  The Wire threw everything we knew about a series out the window, because each season was unique, despite using the same basic characters. Since watching The Wire, I have tried to get into three very popular shows and I've given up on all of them.  It's as simple as a bad storyline for a season (Prime Suspect) or sometimes just really shitty acting (The Walking Dead) and sometimes it's just not worth the effort, even if it is a guilty pleasure (Grimm, Elementary & Person of Interest).

I'll finish Dexter out, because it is a great show, but even it, now pales in comparison to the like of The Wire.  This gives me great pause to get into thinks I've heard boasted about like Weeds, Downton Abbey, Justified and Boardwalk Empire.  I just don't want to commit to something that fizzles, when I'm still waiting to lose myself in more Bergman, Truffaut, and Kurosawa.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Shortest Movie Review Ever - Life of Pi

Possibly the most shocking reaction I've ever had when expecting a movie to be great.  The world has gone to hell in a hand basket when this CGI generated concoction is getting nominated.  Quite possibly the most pretentious movie I've ever seen, with symbolism that makes Chronicles of Narnia seem subtle (BTW, I liked Narnia).  It's as if Ang Lee thinks we're mentally incapable of understanding anything about religion, faith and myth without it being spelled out for us.  I can't remember being this disappointed by a film that does nothing but insult the intelligence of anyone with half a brain.

The Biggest News Stories Nobody Is Talking About

The rise in suicide rates among active military members.  This is related to the ridiculous number of soldiers returning home with post traumatic stress disorder and not receiving the medical and mental health care they need and deserve.  We're so worried about mental health as an excuse for gun deaths, but we don't care about it for the men and women who have seen more killing and done more than anyone in our country.

After the Boston bombing, I started reading a ton of  "terrorist plot foiled" articles and found something deeply concerning. Most of these plots, weren't terrorists at all, but the FBI fabricating evidence or stories to make regular cases seem uber-important.  Shouldn't this concern us greatly and be reported?

Probably one of the biggest science stories a few years back was the connection of Autism to vaccinations. The story took hold when John McCain, Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey started doing a tour stating this as fact. Somehow this odd trio started this facade, with no empirical data and it stuck.  Today, people still believe this, although most researchers have shown no link.  So why the media outcry when celebrities said it, but not media outcry when it's debunked?  We might also want to look into the 17-year-old who may have found a cure for cancer.

The most noted scientist in the country who debunked climate change was given millions of dollars by the Koch brothers to research the theory and come to a conclusion that it was a hoax and basically throw out every shred of evidence found by Al Gore's team.  Only one problem, he came to the conclusion that it was not a hoax and was very real and much worse than originally believed.  This report and change of belief got absolutely no  airplay.  Not only that, but the Koch brothers joined with Exxon Mobil to run numerous ads continuing their belief, even after their initial belief that Dr. Mullins was "the authority" on climate change.

And finally, maybe this isn't a huge story, because it's just more of the same, but over 4400 people have been killed by gunshot in this country since Newtown.  This puts us on pace for another year of 10,000 or more people dying from gunshots.  The real story isn't the guns anymore, it's the reality that this awful massacre and all the other mass shootings that have followed haven't made us recognize anything.  Absolutely nothing has changed and we're no safer than we were.  We are the only country in the world who doesn't seem to learn from our mistakes and tragedies and maybe that is the real story.

Quickie Review - A Snake of June

Let's get the basics out of the way first. The movie is only 77 minutes long, features some of the most beautifully shot and erotic scenes ever, it rains during the entire film and the entire film is about sexual awakening.  P.S. There is a shitload of symbolism in this film, so if actually digesting a film isn't your cup of tea, skip it.

Shinya Tsukamoto, who is a huge name in Japan, directs and co-stars in this film about a sexually repressed, successful mental health counselor named Rinko, played by the mesmerizing Asuko Kurosawa.  Her husband, played by Yuji Kotari is a OCD obsessed man who ignores her completely.  The film begins with Rinko helping a caller who wants to die.  We soon find out the caller is a stalker and has taken revealing photographs of Rinko masturbating.  What happens over the next hour starts off as feeling torturous, but ends up being a sexual awakening unlike any other you've seen on film.  The movie is in no way pornographic and in my opinion is beautiful in how the character changes.

The film is littered with symbolism of life, growth, nature and physical and emotional change and adaptation, but it is also filled with some strange symbolism which is much harder to understand.  There are three scenes that truly come out of left field, but I feel they were all metaphors for how the characters are feeling.  The film also deals with death and dying and how it is tied into our feelings about ourselves and it makes the movie even stronger.

If you are in to art house movies, you will love the art direction and cinematography.  So much of this movie is perfect and so much of it is flawed, by a desire to truly grasp the human condition.  It's ugly and beautiful at the same time and it's what makes it work.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Might Be Losing My Mind

I know what you're all thinking...what do you mean might?  I've realized I have some really odd habits that are growing out of some of my not so odd habits.  The other night I was on the Internet looking for something to do with food and the next thing I know I'd written out a seven course dinner menu that I would serve if I had a restaurant (or a really nice kitchen).  I had to stop myself when I actually spent more than five minutes wrestling over the inclusion of a cheese and charcuterie plate and worried that it would be superfluous because of my beef carpaccio with shaved parmesan course.

A few months back, while looking up sabermetric baseball stats, I invented a new stat.  If you don't know what sabermetrics is, be thankful and don't invest any time into it.  It's like taking all the awful things most people hate about math and combining them with baseball statistics.  It's confusing as hell and I absolutely love it.

I saw a movie that disturbed me (ironically  just today, a friend just wrote and entire blog on this movie and how much it upset her) so much I spent nearly five hours researching the actual case.  What I found was that where the movie seemed to cross every boundary imaginable, it paled in comparison to the actual true events.  The recent Cleveland, Ohio kidnapping case has brought these mental images back into my brain and they are definitely something I'd like to forget.

While walking the other night, I checked my phone and realized it took me 41 minutes to walk 2.1 miles.  I immediately started thinking about how this related to other sports.  At this pace it would take me 1 minute exactly to walk from home plate to third base.  It would take me about 66 seconds to walk across a football field.  If I could keep up the pace, it would take me eight in a half hour to walk a marathon. Sadly I figured all this out in my head while I was walking and confirmed it when I got home.

I wrote out a diet, that if I started it on the day I wrote it out, would see me lose about 30 lbs by October 1st of this year. The diet ranged between 1200-1500 calories a day and consisted of three meals and two snacks.  The only thing I would drink is water on this diet, so there were no hidden drink calories.  The breakdown was roughly 35% carbs, 30% proteins and 35% coming from fat.  Now while some might not like the higher protein and fat content, I find that I lose faster with low carb meals.  I also planned on getting most of my fat from items like eggs and avocado.  The best part of my diet was that it would probably end up costing me less than $30 a week on food.  We'll see if this ever comes to fruition.

There are other things, but some are embarrassing and some are just plain bizarre, so I'll keep them to myself and just leave this brief record of my impending insanity.

Quickie Review - The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson is a filmmaking genius. I consider Hard Eight and Magnolia to be two of the finest movies ever made (they are in my top 20).  I also consider There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights and Punch Drunk Love to be amazing, with incredible performances.  So going into this viewing, my hopes were incredibly high.  His magic, with a cast of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams had me very excited.  So I was horribly disappointed at the well over two hours of convoluted mess that I just witnessed.

I think Anderson truly tried too hard to give us another epic to rival There Will Be Blood and somewhere along the way forgot to edit the movie.  It never feels like there is any continuity and there is an awful lack of screen chemistry, which is shocking with this cast.  The one bright spot is Amy Adams as the master's wife.  She is shockingly awful, but I mean awful in her persona, not her acting.  There are only three or four scenes in which she has much of a part, but they are powerful, especially towards the end. I just feel that this movie could have easily been 30-40 minutes shorter, with some obvious scenes lessened and packed a great punch. I definitely won't be giving up on Anderson, but he's proven, as have Phoenix and Hoffman, that they are human.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Another Mother's Day

Whoever said "time heals all wounds," never had a mother.  I can honestly say, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think, miss and wish to speak with my mother. A few months ago, my grandmother passed and now all the matriarchal figures in my family are gone.  Life will go on, but never to be the same.

In the past year or two a few friends have joined this painful club.  I can only offer an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on.  For those who are new to this pain, all I can say is, NO it doesn't get any easier.  It's just something you accept and go on living with.  The other day, I needed someone to talk to and immediately thought of my mother.  She was the only person I could talk about anything with.  I kept nothing from her. It's unfair to hold anyone up to that standard, but I long for the day to meet someone I feel that way about.  Not sure there ever will be.

Today is a silly holiday, but it doesn't make it any less meaningful.  I've had some truly momentous Mother's Days.  There was the year my brother and I crashed her car getting her breakfast.  There was the year, I forgot to get her something and ruined the day.  There was the year we went to City Island and had the single worst meal anyone has ever eaten in their life.  Then there was Mother's Day 2005 and all those bad times seemed like the greatest days ever, because that day, she wasn't there.  I miss you Mom!

Bipolar Music Disorder

Sometimes when I'm listening to Pandora, I'm amazed at how my music taste is all over the map.  The funny thing is that Pandora chooses it for me.  This morning my mind is running all over the place and for the las hour or so I have been picking out songs on Youtube.  I just went back and checked my playlist and here's what I found. No idea why these songs needed to be played, but I'm glad they were.

Amii Stewart - Knock On Wood
David Bowie - Knock On Wood
Kate Bush - Running Up That hill
Placebo - Running Up That Hill
The Cult - She Sells Sanctuary
Echo and the Bunnymen - Lips Like Sugar
No Doubt (w/Pink) - Just a Girl
The Clash - Lost In The Supermarket
Geto Boys (Scarface) - G Code
Cher - If I Could Turn Back Time
Spoonie G - Love Rap
Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse Of The Heart
Devo - Mongoloid
Belle & Sebastian - Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying
Sick of it All - Step Down
Enigma - Sadness

And that's what I'm listening to now


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Free Writing - Take 23

The walk to the bank at 10PM started off well, until I happened to see someone walking in the same direction.  We kind of started walking next to each other and within seven minutes he was gone.  I cursed his foot speed and determination.  His spry steps and his youthful acts; tapping his hand on things to make a drum out of them as he strutted.  I reached the halfway point and my hip began to ache. Reaching the bank, I entered and began to sweat.  By the time I was halfway home, my shirts was soaked through on the back and starting on the front.  I made my way up the hill and to my door.  I was soaked. Cold water trickled down my throat, relaxation set in. I was happy I walked, but the pain I will feel today will be tremendous.  It's how it goes. I'd love to be young again and walk without pain.  To be that drumming young man, with the bounce in his step.  I was that guy many moons ago.

Super Quickie Review - Stake Land

I think the whole zombie and vampire craze needs to end.  Stake Land proved this to me, because it took both concepts and combined them.  The zombies in the film are vampires.  We don't know why, but there was some apocalyptic occurrence and this is just the way it works.  The movie is basically The Walking Dead wrapped up in about 100 minutes.

The movie is absolutely ridiculous and has more plot holes than any horror movie I've ever seen.  So many of the characters actions are completely inplausible.  Here's the oddest thing about the movie.  The two stars are absolute nobodies, but the movie somehow cast Kelly McGillis, Danielle Harris (of Halloween 4 & 5 fame) and Sean Nelson.  It should also be noted that Danielle Harris is all grown up now and instead of doing the usual, sexy girl in a horror movie, they make her a single mom-to-be.  This movie is a complete dud, despite getting pretty rave reviews.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Studying in High School vs Studying In College - My View

I should probably mention that I was a huge underachiever in school, which should be shocking to absolutely nobody.  The reason? I simply did not care about the things I didn't need to know and most of what was taught in high school, I had already learned in my previous school.  That being said, the way I studied and did work was vastly different and the results were vastly different.

Homework in high school always felt like a silly concept.  If elementary school is designed to teach us how to learn and middle school is designed for us to improve upon those skills, shouldn't we already know how to do this by high school?  Why would doing fifty math problems make us better at that skill than say, five?  I always felt high school was more busy work, but being that I worked after school, sometimes until midnight, the idea of coming home to two hours of homework seemed detrimental at best, so I rarely did it.  I remember in one class I had an 89 average but failed to do all twenty four homework assignments and ended with a 65.  My argument, when discussing my grade was that the grade wasn't indicative of how I grasped the knowledge.  I also pointed out that I had one of the highest test averages in the class and being I generally only showed up two or three times a week, this should account for something.  Apparently, real world production isn't important in high school and my grade stuck.  In college, where busy work was few and far between, I didn't face these problems, so my achievement was much greater.

So let's get down to studying.  I've always hated multiple choice tests, because I feel if the answer is in front of you and you are one of those people who excels at rote memory, you'll test better than someone who might know 85% of the material, but understand it. In high school, while studying, I was sitting in the comfort of my own home, drinking some iced tea, chowing on a sandwich and listening to music.  In HS, I would usually review the material and then read it over and over.  This unfortunately did absolutely nothing to enhance my score and I soon realized that reading the material once and taking a nap was more productive than driving myself crazy.  I was a decent test taker, but had the horrible habit of rushing through it, as if the teacher was going to award me for speed.  I usually made multiple careless mistakes and my grades suffered due to it.  I would guess that approximately 20-25% of the questions I got wrong on tests were due to my rushing or ignoring some rule that I skipped over.  While I had nobody to blame but myself, I always felt that my knowledge was in the 90% range, while I tested near 80%.  This was proven by most of my written assignments. Aside from one teacher who had an axe to grind, I can't remember ever getting lower than a B+ on a writing assignment or lower than a 90 on tests that required written, descriptive answers.  All in all, high school was a fail for me, basically out of boredom and disinterest  I mean how many times can you read Midsummer Night's Dream and Catcher in the Rye and still maintain interest

College was a different story.  In college, their is some academic freedom and for the most part, professors want you to differentiate yourself from the pack.  Ironically, the one area where multiple choice should not be an option, it was the norm. Those were my education class, which were a joke.  How can you justify giving an adult four choices to pick an answer, when their responsibility is the nurturing of a child's mind?  What if they guessed and got lucky half the time?  Do you want them teaching?  Most of the work I had to do was writing and this pleased me to no end.  It was my strong suit and it also let me do something I couldn't get away with in high school.  Do absolutely nothing before a test.  Aside from those classes where I knew I'd have multiple choice tests, I didn't study a damn thing in college.  I went to class and listened to the lectures.  I took notes that would make a stenographer laugh.  I had hour long lectures where I wrote three items down on a page, but through osmosis I believed I could be successful and if it weren't for mandatory science classes I would have been fine.  Science has always been my Achilles heal and in college it basically ended me.  I hate to use the word retarded, but I am scientifically retarded, despite my fascination with it.  As long as I don't have to remember any of it, I'm fine.  In my college years, I received one paper ever that wasn't an A and I believe I wrote a blog about it and my anger a year later, when my idea, was used to basically invent, what is now known as Peapod.  As for written tests, those in essay form, I can't remember ever getting lower than a B+. To me, this was proof of knowledge and the fact I had decent grades to back it up, was all the proof I personally needed.

So what does this all mean?  This wasn't meant to be some kind of self efficacy campaign, but one person's realization that there is a bottom line in all of this.  High school for all it's aura and allure, is really about survival.  It's about pretending to be something your not (or maybe you are) and trying to get through the obstacle course of bullshit and busy work.  There is not one person who can say with a straight face that high school molded them.  At least I hope not.  How could we possibly put emphasis on a time in our lives when all we can think about is the opposite sex and hanging out with our friends. College is much more of a molding device, because it lets us know what our strengths and weaknesses will be in terms of production and time management.  I had friends in college who had the same classes as I and would complain about the 15 hours they spent studying over a weekend, while I was bragging about a forty eight hour drinking binge.  We ended up with the same grades and they hated me.  Many of them are in jobs that require lots of work and attention to detail to achieve, whereas I found jobs that allowed me to complete tasks expected in eight hours of time withing minutes.  I think that is why working with kids, especially coaching, is important to me. It allows me to slow down, because I realize they don't yet have the capability of grasping everything and excelling immediately.  They need the structure and the time to hone their skills.  That being said, over the years, I've had many parents come up to me and thank me for little tips on spelling, grammar and math.  One kid's teacher came up and said "I have no idea what you told him, but he's now doing multiplication better than anyone in the class and all he says is that you taught him a trick."

There is no one way to learn and some people need to study for hours.  For some the 4.0 GPA is a goal that means the world to them.  I was always under the impression that you will be judged by what people see out of you, not what your past achievements were and so therefor a piece of paper with a number was never a goal.  I know people who graduated with great honors who can't tell you one coherent thing about their major, but can get an A on a test.  I always felt the opposite was important.  In grade school I studied two hours a day, in HS an hour maybe and in college, other than papers, I rarely ever opened a book.  In every successive level I scored higher and higher, because the stress was lessened.  I'm not the norm and I realize this, but I think it's important that we as adults, realize that the kids we're in charge of don't necessarily learn the same way we did and that's a hard pill to swallow, but an essential one, to nurture your child or your students education.  It's something that needs to be realized, because to do it wrong, might make that child turn their back on education and then nobody wins.

Quickie Review - Marebito

While the film is dubbed a Japanese horror film, I found this to be much more of a cerebral ride than one of fright.  The film was directed by Takashi Shimuzu of The Grudge fame, so it does have a horror appeal, but it's really a man's journey into psychosis.  It's important to realize that the film is a complete homage to the writer Richard Shaver's A Warning to Future Man.  Shaver was a man who believed there were a ancient subterranean creatures called Deros who spied on us using a special device.  He also believe they had been left there by their parents and had devolved from their more human like state.

In the film, we see a camera man, played by Shinya Tsukamoto who has filmed a man committing suicide (by jamming a knife into his eye) and he becomes consumed with understanding the fear that this man felt.  This takes him into the Tokyo underground where he finds a world that is unknown to those who walk above.  He comes across a girl who is naked and bound and tries to help her.  He calls the girl F (played by the gorgeous Tomomi Miyashita) and tries to humanize her.  He quickly realizes she can't be changed and also realizes she only drinks blood.  This is where his psychosis becomes stronger and he does what he can to satiate her.  As his life spins out of control we see more and more odd things and he becomes obsessed. In the end, we're led to believe he has fulfilled his desire to come face to face with absolute terror.

The film has a bit of a cult following and is revered for having been shot in only eight days, but I feel this is part of the problem.  There is a severe lack of cohesiveness throughout and there are entire scenes that feel like they've been added simply to confuse the viewer.  It is important to watch for the little signs throughout that let us know what is real and what is not.  While I couldn't find any definitive explanations on the film, it is my feeling that almost everything within the film where he is filming is part of his breakdown.  The scenes where he doesn't have a camera are real and they are few and far between.  Definitely worth a look if only for the complexity of this man's unravelling.

The Hardest Part Of Being 42

Today I was working with my kids and I took them outside to the playground.  Now some might not seeing this as being a tough job, but when you're by yourself and you are responsible for the safety of eleven five-year-olds it's a little stressful.  Keeping two eyes on that many little ones is not as simple as one may think.  While the kids were playing there were other kids in the park and a few mom's and one nanny.  The nanny was a very attractive young woman who seemed genuinely interested in the child she was in charge of.  Much more than the three mothers whose kids were beating the hell out of each other nearby. So here's the first part of my misery of being my age.  I have no concept of age anymore and it inhibits my ability to speak to anyone.  Now, I'm not about to start hitting on nannies while I have kids under my watch, but my point is, if I had run into this woman another time, I'd be clueless.  She could have been anywhere from 19-30.  And there lies my second problem.  What is an appropriate age range for me to seriously consider chatting up someone?  I know women in their early twenties who are more interesting to talk to than women in their 50's and older, but I also know their is a maturity that really comes with age, which is important to me at times.  That being said only relationship with someone older than me, somewhat made me realize maturity should never be assumed due to years put in on this voyage we call life.

People who know me from work or seeing me out on the weekends will probably be shocked to hear this, but I am painfully shy.  I don't think I have asked someone out on an actual date, right from the start, since 6th grade.  I get too nervous.  Rejection is of course a factor, but I don't know how to go about the "getting to know" you phase and my cynical viewpoints aren't easily hidden in those types of situations.  There lies problem three.  I don't know how to do the single guy small talk thing.  I don't care what someones work day was like, because I want to know about them and why they do what they do and how they got to where they are, not the trivial aspects of what woes they had that day.  That is for down the road, when I actually care about every second of their day.  I've never been good at starting relationships, but I was pretty good at making them last.  Well, until I hit my late 30's.  Now I have this bad habit of falling for people and feeling I'm their emotional savior, when my own emotional life is a topsy-turvy one.

This leads me to my final problem.  I don't know what I want anymore.  I am not in a financial position to "settle down" and to be honest, I like freedom.  This is not to say I wouldn't love to have someone to share every wonderful moment with, but I don't know if I want the cookie cutter life that so many of us wish for.  I know I'd be a great father, but I don't know if I'd be a great husband.  I'm not one to stray, but I do tend to become stagnant.  I like simplicity and sitting under a blanket with a bottle of wine and a movie is as good a date to me as going out with friends.  I like being home with the person I care about, but to such an extent that I almost try not to associate with others as much and it's a huge negative.  I, on my own admission, become a boring person to exist with.  A kid would change all that, but I would be the dad who ignores his wife for their child.  I would be the dad who wants to drive to every game or ballet class and sit and soak up every moment, then come home and crash at the end of the day and need some me time.  As the years have gone by, I've gotten to know myself and I know my shortcomings are here to stay. It's a horrible thing to accept, but I know what I can change about myself and what I can't.  What I am willing to change and what I am not.

I guess these seem like pretty silly things to complain about, because anyone reading them is probably saying to themselves that these are all fixable and if I want this kind of that kind of life I have to make concessions.  If I want to know who something about someone, I need to ask.  Throwing this up there on a blog isn't going to make anyone who reads it interested either, which is why it is good that about ten people read this.  Like I said, this started almost as a little therapy session for free and I feel lately like I need it for that a little more than predicting hockey games.  If my mother were alive, she'd read this and tell me to go up to the first attractive girl and introduce myself and ask her to lunch.  I'd tell her she's right and then never do it.  Then again, her not being here might have something to do with how I've changed and what I want is out of reach, because I don't want to feel that kind of loss again.  Like I said, it's silly, but it's how I feel.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Depressed

I truly need a sign.  A sign of things getting better.  Every day, I'm amazed at how little things keep me going when everyone, it seems, tries to slow down our evolution.  Half the world and most my friends, spew rhetoric instilled in them by some creepy mentor or sound piece that makes me question their sanity.  I'm constantly hearing people bad mouthing their neighbors parenting skills, when theirs are so severely lacking that I worry about their kids.  Today I saw a little kid almost get hit by a car while riding a scooter.  The mother was oblivious, but what bothered me most was that the car, who had to have seen the little girl from the way it slowed down, never actually stopped.  Today I had a child tell me he didn't care if he was in trouble, because his mom "wouldn't make him in trouble at home."  What can I say to that?  I can threaten to have the child removed from the class, but who am I hurting?  The only reflection that will be made is that I can't handle a maladjusted five year old.

I just spent an hour reading about how much more we spend on giving prisoners food, shelter, education and health care than we do our nations youth.  I read about how the number of people incarcerated and the total is more than 14 states in the US.  If you count the number of people on parole or who have been released from prison the number is more than all but 13 states.  We have 25% of the world's inmates and 5% of it's population.  Something very wrong is happening in this land we live in and I fear it will not change in my lifetime.

I'm depressed at how people embrace ignorance.  How lying is second nature to some.  I remember a time when I could tell when people lied, but now they have mastered this deception.  I can not understand this land's love of frivolity and hatred of facts and learning.

Today, a child asked me a math question and when I answered it in my head, he was amazed and wanted to know how I did it so fast.  His eyes lit up as I explained.  I watched a child who was scared to try something, slowly open up and make an attempt, as his nanny reassured him she wouldn't let him fall.  I had two kids hold my hand as they told me a story.  There are so many days when these kids, with their innocence and desire to learn, make my day.  It is their faces and comments that make me hope their is a silver lining at the end of this story.  I fear every day for them and what the future holds for them, but more than anything, I fear those who will mold their future, because I feel they are the problem.


Monday, May 6, 2013

My Top Ten Most Played Jukebox Songs

Anyone who has had the great pleasure of spending an evening drinking with me, know that around 1am, my taste in music becomes eclectic.  I'm assuming eclectic means super awesome, but I don't know.  Now, when the place is packed I'll throw on the run of the mill Waylon Jennings or some Mumford and Sons to appeal to the masses, but when the midnight hour has struck, it's all about dance party.  So here is my (estimated) Jukebox Soundtrack over the past couple of years.

MMMBop - Hanson...and people think I just play this to drive others crazy, but I truly like this song.

Wannabee - Spice Girls...I will argue til the day I die that they are Britain's greatest contribution to the world.

Bring Your Whole Crew - DMX...this is a beautiful song when a place is packed with women and children.

Rio - Duran Duran...always good when you want to dance like a total white guy who thinks he has soul.

If I Could Turn Back Time - Cher...when I'm feeling like a diva.

Highwayman - The Highwaymen...Cash, Kristofferson, Waylon & Willie. 'Nuff Said!

I'm Shipping Up To Boston - Dropkick Murphy's...usually play this to be a dick when the Sawks beat the Yankees.

Dirty Old Town - The Pogues...If you're drinking and not listening to Shane McGowan, you're doing it wrong.

Haunted - Sinead O'Connor & Shane McGowan...because it's awesome and I don't own it.

Crazy Game of Poker - O.A.R...Because it's 16 minutes long and it rocks!

(Bonus): Alice's Restaurant - Arlo Guthrie....I actually have never played this, but people know I can't stand it, so it's now a common occurrence for people to play it just to ruin my night. Plus, it's 18 minutes long.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Coffee

Am I the only person who drinks coffee to calm down?  When I wake up in the morning, my mind is racing a mile a minute.  I can't focus, I'm thinking about a million things, trying to remember my dreams and trying to figure out what day it is. That first sip has such a calming affect.  Maybe it's my self diagnosed ADD, but coffee has always been something different for me.  Believe me, I know I'm addicted to caffeine, because if I go three or four days without it, I wake up with the shakes, similar to a few days of heavy drinking.

I grew up being allowed to have a little in my milk and I've loved it ever since.  Now, I'm not trying to sound like the guys in Pulp Fiction, but my parents definitely were into that gourmet shit.  I remember when I got older and realized that not everyone drank good coffee.  It was a revelation that shocked me.  Why would anyone drink shit coffee, when there are so many aromatic beauties out there?  Now my parents used to by their coffee from a middle eastern store on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn called Sahadi's.  Going there is like entering the Mecca of olives, hummus and coffee.  When we moved, my parents would make trips to Brooklyn on occasion just to pick up some of the precious beans (we always ground it ourselves). When I first moved out on my own, I was lost.  I would occasionally pick up some really good coffee from Trader Joe's, but after a while I grew tired of it.  Then I went back to my parents old standby, Bustelo.  To this day, that strong flavor and aroma stands up.  In a pinch I've had to buy Folger's and while it's palatable, it's just not real coffee.  Now don't even get me started on the swill that they serve at Dunkin Donuts and Starbuck's, because it's not even coffee.  It's a burnt and bitter train wreck of a concoction that tastes nothing like good coffee that I will never understand.

There's only one way to end this silly blog and that's to hit Publish and get another cup.

Friday, May 3, 2013

That Time

It was 5am and I walked up to the post box and dropped my movie into the slot. I'm the least OCD person in the world, but this is a vice. I always walk up, even in a blizzard and drop my movie off right after watching.  I do not know why.  I pass magazines on the floor and dirty clothes, but this I feel needs my attention. I walk slowly looking at the moon, which was there two hours earlier the other night.  I stop and look at the dark sky with the slightly lighter bottom. The sun is rising on a new day and yet, I've not closed the book on this one.  Sleep, escaped me once again, but this time a nap is to blame.

The day will begin with doors slamming, horns honking and the sounds of the neighbors baby wailing, followed by the dog.  Maybe my super and his bellowing Albanian accent will decide to have one of his conversations right outside my door.  It's that time when I worry about the day being ruined, by myself.  A day with nothing but promise, but one that ends with small regrets.  I had a dream last night that I had a picnic in a park with a beautiful woman.  A wicker basket, a patterned sheet, cheese, apples and some sandwiches. I used to do things like this when I was young.  I used to be romantic when romantic was cool for my age.  I miss those times.

This time, I think about the times I would wake early, look and watch someone sleep.  Or even in those times alone going for a walk and grab some breakfast.  People watching was a thing in my life, but now I don't care.  I don't want to overhear the constant complaining of people who most would envy.  I want to hear the old person who tells of her grand kids spelling bee or the little child sitting across from his father, smiling, ball cap on crooked, chomping on his pancakes as dad's eyes never leave his face.  Nowadays, it's a kid whining about his mother as dad sits, eyes fixated on his blackberry, he checks his watch, then the waitresses ass.

It's that time when my mind is racing a mile a minute, when I could be productive if given the chance.  I'm not like others who function in this fortress we sing songs about, from 9-to-5.  I'm productive from 3-5pm, from 9-midnight and from 5-7am. I'm useless at noon or during the times most people eat.  Why do we live in a world when you have to do your best when others say and not when you actually can?  Who wouldn't be inspired to work while watching the sun rise above the trees, the bright light breathing life into you?  Who wants to do anything after breakfast, but fall back into bed and cuddle with their love or their children?  Who  eats lunch in twenty minutes and feels motivated for four or five more hours of work?  I need a nap after lunch.  Who wants to watch the daylight crash and go home knowing the best part of the day has left.

It doesn't matter if you call me liberal and I call you conservative.  We're conformists. We are all slaves to a life we despise.  Nine out of ten of us despise our bosses. Five out of ten of us, despise our husbands or wives.  I wonder how many people hate their friends or even worse their kids. How many feel their freedom, or last piece of it, was ripped from them by the little bastards?  It's that time, when kids wake to the day with the fervor we have long lost.  I capture it for an hour, maybe two a day.  Just enough to grasp onto it and not let it become my fear or my hatred.  I pat an injured girls shoulder and tell her to breath and it's OK.  She believes me, but I know it's not OK.  The pain is real.  It will heal, but who am I to tell someone they are OK, when I'm not OK?

I think about someone who accused me of obsession.  Accused me of an incapability to love, to feel, but only to obsess over them.  They flattered themselves for months with this lie, while the fog lifted within my brain.  It wasn't I was obsessed with them, but them obsessed with the idea of my struggle.  My childish desire, because of my connection with children, that I thought I could comfort them and take the pain away.  I was wrong, because as adults, many of us welcome the pain.  Welcome the abuse.  Welcome those who use us and discard us like yesterday's newspapers.  We welcome them because we can only handle love, acceptance and happiness for such brief periods of time.  Think about every relationship you've ever been in and how that nervousness you had when it started.  You had butterflies every day, because you couldn't believe how happy you were  Those butterflies soon left the pit of your stomach and soon after that person did too.  It's that which we long for. The job, the relationship, the life, where we wake every morning with that feeling in our gut.  That fluttering feeling which we once knew.  We always put a negative connotation on that feeling and called it nerves, but it's not.  It's desire.  Desire to have everything be perfect.  Perfection is what we strive for, but those butterflies always leave.  It's bringing them back time and time again that makes life worth living.  It's that time, when I wish to find, just a few more, to flutter around and bring that feeling back..

Quickie Review - Silver Linings Playbook

It's not often that one gets to view back-tp-back five star movies on consecutive nights, but I did just this over the past two evenings.  Silver Linings Playbook is one of the most beautiful movies about one of the least discussed topics; Mental Illness.  David O. Russell's script, adapted from Michael Quick's novel, is incredibly touching, but with just enough humor to allow us to breathe.  The film tackles this complex issue with passion and levity, but most importantly, love. There is not one character who doesn't encapsulate love and this is why the movie works so perfectly.

Bradley Cooper's role as the struggling Pat, is such a change of pace from what I am used to from this actor.  His brilliance from start to finish is undeniable and in any other year, he'd have swept up every award for best actor.  His co-star, who I will unabashedly admit (despite her age) that I'm in love with, is Jennifer Lawrence, who may now lay claim to being one of the stars of two of the top three or four movies in the last four years. As amazing as she was and as much as she deserves her Oscar, she was even better in Winter's Bone and that is saying something.  The awkward chemistry between these two is unexplainable. Their first meeting in the movie would be what I would show film students trying to connect to a stranger.  It's breathtaking to watch in it's awakwardness via the script and it's perfection in the actor's body language.

The supporting cast is as dynamic as it's stars, with Robert Deniro (who I must admit, bores the hell out of me and hasn't been good in almost 20 years), Jacki Weaver and the re-emergence of Chris Tucker. One of the best parts of the movie is it's ability to take the one annoying part of the movie, which is DeNiro's obsession with his son's good mojo for his beloved Eagles and turn it into the single best scene of the movie. Excelsior!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Economics of the Morning Commute

I recently commented on Facebook about the ironic comments people make about not having money for summer vacations, while they sip a $3 Starbuck's coffee each day.  I was personally attacked as being a have not, desiring the fruits of the "haves" labor.  I unfriended the degenerate who staked these claims, not because his comments were rude, insensitive or wrong, but because it dawned on me that when someone knows me so little and doesn't care to know me, how can I consider them a friend?  The entire coffee on the run idea got me thinking.  Why do we do it?

For years I did the coffee and egg sandwich special at the local deli.  Usually a special that cost me a mere $3.50, but times have changed and the last time I succumbed to this nonsense it was $5.00.  I then started thinking about my morning.  I had to be somewhere at 9am and normally would have left at 8:40 to arrive on time. I wanted the breakfast and time to eat it, so I left at 8:30.  A good 12 minutes went by and by the time I got back to the car, I was in a rush, so I wolfed down the sandwich, slurper 3/4 of the coffee and entered the meeting place just as the clock struck 9am, slightly disoriented and sweating.  The next morning, I woke up at 7:45 in the morning with nothing to and went shopping.  I bought a dozen English Muffins for $4.99, a dozen eggs for $2.79, a package of cheddar cheese for $2.50, a quart of milk for $1.89 and a can of Bustelo coffee, on sale for $2.99.

When I returned home, I did a little test.  I got up put a flame under a pan with a pat of butter in it, then proceeded to load up the coffee filter with enough for a six cup pot.  By the time, I poured the water into the pan, the butter was sizzling and I added an egg. I then threw an English muffin into the toaster as the eggs cooked.  I flipped the eggs, added some cheese top and shut off the flame. As the toaster went off, I took out the muffin, added the eggs, squirted a little hot sauce on top and poured my coffee.  I was in no rush, but I had timed this.  The entire process took me five minutes and fourteen seconds.  Total cost for sandwich and cup off coffee? $1.06 (give or take a few pennies).  Now also take into account over the course of a week, my total would have been roughly the same as the deli charged me for a day.  So I would have saved $20 and I still have enough for seven more egg sandwiches.  For the total cost of $15 I can make the same thing I get at the deli for two straight weeks, including two left over for the third week and save $35 or for the conversationalists I overheard.....$900+ for my vacation fund.  Oh and did I mention the extra ten minutes of sleep I can get every morning? That's two snooze pushes for those who like to snooze, which for some is worth more than it's weight in gold.

Free Writing - Take 22

Another 5am. No coyotes to be found. I looked.  Imagine if I joked and came upon one?  I've told the story before and I tried to feed one.  I get silly at time.  I'm not ready to jump out of a perfectly good airplane or bungee jump, but I'll try and give my leftovers to a wold animal.  Maybe I'm not as smart as I think.  I'm so tired of the same old same old. I want a change, but the change I want isn't logical.  I want to hide out in the woods for six months.  I want to wake at dawn and drink coffee while watching the birds play.  I want to sit and write and hope for something special to come out my fingertips.  I want to dangle my feet in a lake and sip a cool drink, while feeling the sun on my face and imagine some siren swimming up and keeping me company.  I want to nap outside, waking to catch the amber hues of the dying sun, while food sizzles on the grill.  I want to drink wine and watch movies, every classic I've been meaning to see.  I want to spend hour slaving away at the perfect novel or screenplay with all my chaotic thoughts coming to fruition in a concise thought for once in my life.  I want to fade away, while sounds of crickets and bullfrogs provide the soundtrack to my dreams.  I want to rinse and repeat, rain or shine, without the ring of the phone, the bill collectors, the silly phone apps, the inane texts at all hours of the day.  I want to go to bed without fear of the future or regrets from the past.  I want to sleep.

Quickie Review - Django Unchained

Let's start off with this statement.  Django Unchained is a masterpiece.  I would argue that it is his greatest accomplishment in film making and knowing what the movie cost, it's impossible to compare to his earlier, low-budget gems.  The movie is nearly flawless in so many ways, it's mind-boggling.  First there is the cinematography which is amazing. Each scene is so perfectly set, but never to the point of distraction.  Then there is the soundtrack.  A mix of classical, blues and modern rap.  There are the costumes, that in some cases play a role themselves.  Finally, there is the acting, which is impeccable.  I'll rush through this one and say Jamie Foxx played his greatest role, DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson were grandly despicable. Kerry Washington was absolutely enchanting (albeit a little more could have been asked of her role).  Every character actor who comes across the screen is so perfectly cast it adds to the flavor of the film immensely. Then there is Christopher Waltz.  It was my opinion that Waltz's first 15 minutes in Inglorious Basterds was arguably the best scene I've seen an actor portray, but the film ended up being awful.  In this, his first scene is incredible and it never stops.  He carries every scene he's in, using charm, wit and flat out acting chops to deliver a tole that you won't see again.  It was astounding.

Many will be bothered by the use of the N-word so many times.  Many will cringe at the violence.  Many will tire by the length of the movie.  Do not let these things distract you from what you are seeing.  It's the best spaghetti western you've ever seen.  It's the most electric cowboy film you'll ever see.  It also says a huge "Fuck You" to the worst part of this country's past and Tarantino doesn't want you to forget it.  He attacks racism in and mocks its (in one extremely funny scene especially) ignorance.  He champions those who who went through it, those who survived it, those who died and those who paved the way. Dr King Schultz is Waltz's character and this was not a mistake.  If you don't like Tarantino, this might not resonate with you, but if you do, you'll find yourself nearly cheering during parts.  Very rarely is someone allowed to make their movie, their way.  Tarantino, like he always does, pays homage to all things that matter to him, but here truly delivers a story everyone can enjoy.  Absolute perfection!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Few Thoughts About Possible Upcoming Changes

I've somewhat decided that the silly facade that Facebook alludes to is not necessary anymore.  585 friends it says.  Yet, every couple of days someone hides behind the cloak of anonymity and the shield of their screen and spouts direct and personal insults at me because they aren't intelligent enough to put their thoughts into concise thoughts.  The latest duo, a pair of brothers, who I once was fairly close with.  Twenty years changes people, but these two are actually quite similar to their 1980's personas.  Ignorant bigots with a sense of entitlement, because they've basically been spoon fed everything their entire lives.  These are the kinds of people that are a cancer to my world.  People who add no social, intellectual or cultural stimulation to my life, but thrive on their own negativity and mask their insecurities with comments about my life.  A life they know nothing about other than what they might read on a status.  Friends like this, on social media and in the fresh air of reality are not what I need and my continuing weeding out of these folks is refreshing.

I've considered going on a serious life altering journey of the mind and body.  I wake every morning and my knees ache so, there are times I can't walk to the bathroom, without the aid of  wall.  I need surgery, but without insurance, it's more of a fantasy.  I don't know exactly what the insurance deal will be in a few months, but by some chance if I have it, I want to be able to get this work done.  I know the best thing for me, with the rigorous rehab that would follow, would be to lose weight before the surgery. I've contemplated many changes, but think I might go a little crazy.  I have this pipe dream to lose 30-45 in the next five months, but I know it will mean reducing my caloric intake to around 1300 calories a day.  While this might sound insane, I've actually started working on a menu to achieve this and it is well balanced with the major food groups and their nutritional components.

Obviously this would also entail the omission of alcohol, which would be difficult, because it would cut out a lot of what  do socially.  I've done it before, for much longer, but I am starting to think I might need this change.  I'm not getting any younger and the lifestyle I've been living is taking it's toll on my body, my mind and my wallet.  We'll see, maybe a modified diet and party schedule, we'll see.  I'll think about it while sipping juleps on Saturday.

Quickie Review - Insidious

Insidious is not your typical modern day horror film.  There is almost no gore, no sexual situations and no bad language.  It has been dubbed one of the scariest movies of all-time by some, but I would debate that highly.  What it is, is a good movie for about an hour and twenty minutes.  The problem is that the movie is over an hour and forty minutes.

The movie is a traditional haunted house story, with a slight twist, it's not the house that is haunted.  Where the movie succeeds greatly is in building the tension, as the supernatural world and the natural world collide.  It does this almost as well as any movie I've seen.  The writers and director, James Wan of Saw fame, were obviously highly influenced with early 80's films Poltergeist and The Entity, starring Barbary Hershey who plays a major role in this film. Some might say it's a complete rip-off of The Entity, but we'll go with homage.  Psst!  The Entity is a far superior movie and is far more disturbing.

The real problem with Insidious was that in the last twenty minutes it tried to do two things.  One, was to explain absolutely everything that had happened and why and two, was to set up a sequel.  It accomplished the first at the sake of the tone of the movie and it accomplished the second, with a very poor ending that seemed almost an afterthought.  All in all it's worth a look, but don't expect to be happy at the end.  The let down ending was a real dud.  The ending could have been so much simpler and more effective I felt, had it gone in the obvious direction.