Sunday, December 31, 2006
Our beloved Titans have made this quite the dramatic campaign. An 0-5 start and they are in contention in this final week? Unprecedented. However, they'll require some tough help from some other teams to make a playoff bid.
Here's what they need:
1) TEN win + CIN loss or tie + DEN loss + KC win
I was raised a Bengals fan and so after so many hapless years, it's nice to see the Cincinnati football team being relevant in the second half of the season. But they need help to make it to the playoffs today.
1) CIN win + NYJ loss, OR
2) CIN win + DEN loss + KC win
I was also raised a Vanderbilt fan and it's wonderful to see a former Vandy signal caller with a shot at the NFL playoffs - as a rookie no less. But his team also needs a few things to happen that are beyond their control.
1) DEN win or tie, OR
2) KC loss or tie
Steve McNair, however, is doing quite well on a powerful Baltimore Ravens team that may have no trouble at all going all the way. They've got the division title wrapped up and are healthy and strong.
NFL Week 17 is gonna be a blast.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Friday, December 29, 2006
Instead, it read: PASTIES AND FRUIT FOR FLIGHT CREW.
Either way, it's nice to get free fruit.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
What we get in this latest and loving tribute to the legacy of Rocky Balboa is rich character development. We get tender moments and quiet ruminations. And we also get what a lot of people forget was in that first Rocky movie - lots of purposely bad jokes. Rocky, especially when trying to impress Adrian, was always trying to find the humor in everything. Early in that 1976 debut, we hear Rocky play with a few words while looking at his reflection in the mirror. It's a small scene and what he says doesn't make sense. In the next scene, he's at the pet shop and cracks a bad joke for Adrian. It's the joke that he was practicing in front of that mirror in his dingy apartment. The beauty in that has always stayed with me.
Speaking of beauty, there is a long and loving tribute early on to his Adrian (first name "Yo"). She has died of "woman cancer" and Rocky makes a point of visiting all of those memorable places where their love grew over the years. I'm not going to tell you that I cried, but I won't say that I didn't either. It's a great moment for Stallone the director to use this as a way to pay tribute not only to Adrian, but to that first and timeless film of his.
In this year's Rocky Balboa, he is still trying to make people laugh. He's more confident now, but it's still his way of breaking down the defenses of the people he tries so hard to care about. This is a movie that will grab at your heart. Still a bit cliched here and there but worthy of forgiveness for its occasional flaws.
The exhibition fight in the end gets all of the attention that an exhibition fight deserves - not much. It's masterfully shot, reminding me of scenes from Sin City. The opponent is not the bad guy and so the scene is more about the violent hits and the cinematographer's love of the dance than any "good fighter triumphs over bad fighter" nonsense.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have this urge to run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
It had its moments where it rose above the standard fare, but mostly it just felt like a cheap made-for-TV movie. That said, Diane Lane has a new fan in me, Stockard Channing had some pretty good lines for a typically minor role, and Christopher Plummer, as Diane Lane's widowed and dating father, was a wonderful presence on screen.
And Cusack was his ever reliable engaging self. Divorced, pensive, and always yearning for the perfect love, his Jake was just an older version of that same kid from Say Anything, holding a boombox over his head and blasting Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" as a modern day serenade to the beautiful girl in the window.
Jake is that special sort of guy who seems to think that taking a girl to see Dr. Zhivago on a first date is a good idea. He's a man of philosophy and intense conversations. I'd like to hang out with him. But I'd give him some dating advice. It's a bit much to ask someone to consider Dr. Zhivago the perfect first date. He should take his dates to see John Cusack movies instead.
At least that's what I'd do.
I haven't felt that famous sense of violation yet. Maybe it's because the place wasn't completely trashed. Maybe it just hasn't sunk in yet. It happened while we were away and everyone is healthy and fine. Nothing was taken that can't be replaced.
Police report filed, doors and windows dusted for fingerprints, the kids are none the wiser and are sleeping unaware in their beds. We are back to our routines. And the police officer who stopped by to help with the report is back to his routine of visiting other victims of break-ins around our fair city. He's been busy this week. 'Tis the season.
Be safe and sleep well.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
A partygoer told Page Six, "(Springsteen) ran across the crowd to gush over Nick and hugged him -- so he could go home and tell his daughter, Jessica Rae, he 'got action from Nick.' Apparently, she's completely in love with Nick, and Bruce wanted to give her an early Christmas gift by relaying the story to her."What? The Boss couldn't arrange for his daughter to meet Nick in person? I think that would be a better Christmas gift than telling her that he got to hug her idol.
Keeping in that spirit, I won't ask for any presents from my readers. Give those gift card and envelopes stuffed with cash to other bloggers. Instead, make my Christmas by telling me what famous people you've met. Extra points if you "got action" from them.
During the summer of 2001, Kirsty MacColl's Tropical Brainstorm practically lived in my portable CD walkman. I would listen to it daily. Walking from my house to Centennial Park, I would hear Kirsty sing her beautifully cool songs. The CD's first line opens with, "I know an island where the people are kind / And the rest of the world seems far away / Maybe it's only in the back of my mind / But I know when I go that's where I'll stay."
She was killed by a speedboat on December 18, 2000 as she was diving with her two sons in Mexico. I only today learned that it is believed that the wrong person is serving time for her death. The family in the speedboat blamed the boathand, who may not have even been driving the boat.
I can't begin to wrap my head around who is or is not guilty here. I will simply listen to Tropical Brainstorm again today and remember her wit and her music's sexy rhythms. My best to her family. She's missed.
Shane MacGowan writes about his friend here.
Her mother tells the story here.
And so I helped her by rubbing that lotion into her the palm of her hand. Of course, she looked down and saw that the lotion had disappeared and proceeded to cry. Oops. I guess that's not what she wanted. Sorry baby girl.
Three minutes have passed and I think she's over it. Cool.
Vacation time has arrived. Wednesday will be my busy day of errand running, i.e. starting and completing all Christmas shopping. Thursday is the day that we make that drive down to the sandy beaches of Amelia Island. The laptop may or may not accompany us and so there may or may not be any blogging for a week or so. (This scare just in: My Google Reader might overwhelm me upon my return. Can everyone just not blog until after Christmas? Thanks.)
I plan to improve on my photography skills while I am there. I have a couple of photography books waiting for me at the library and maybe I'll learn a thing or two. I've relied on the automatic settings on my Kodak digital for the past year or so and I really need to learn my way around the manual settings and try to get some shots like I see on Flickr's "Interestingness" pages.
Fernandina Beach, here we come. Sand, prepare to be between my toes. Lighthouses, get ready to pose for my camera. My good friend Milla wants to see you. American Beach, I'm coming down to walk respectfully upon your sand and feel your civil rights history wash upon me.
American Beach was founded in 1935 by Abraham Lincoln Lewis, Florida's first black millionaire. Mr. Lewis owned an insurance company and bought a section of the island so that his black employees would have a nice place to vacation without having to deal with the nightmare that was segregation.My wife's youth is on this tiny island. Her family inhabits this small beach town. I visit and and do my best to fit in (a tough challenge for a shy boy amidst a family who really knows how to have a good time). But in their laughter, they exhibit so much that I love in my bride. Family means everything to her, and with these in-laws of mine, I can easily see why. They are loud and they are beautiful. I might not be the life of their parties, but I feel the love of the family as I relax among them and smile and laugh at their jokes and stories. I just hope that they don't try to get me to sing karaoke with them. I'm just not the karaoke kind.
I'm happy enough that I get to hang out with these guys. I definitely"married up" when I married Paige and found myself related to these good people. Here's to not "fitting in" but loving every minute anyway. Merry Christmas.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Here's the link.
And a few excerpts I especially liked:
A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is. When I speak of writing, the image that comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or a literary tradition; it is the person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and, alone, turns inward. Amid his shadows, he builds a new world with words.
To write is to transform that inward gaze into words, to study the worlds into which we pass when we retire into ourselves, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy.
Sometimes my father would stretch out on a divan, abandon the book or the magazine in his hand, and drift off into a dream, losing himself for the longest time. When I saw this expression on his face, which was so different from the one he wore for the joking, teasing, and bickering of family life, when I saw the first signs of an inward gaze, I would understand, with trepidation, that he was discontented. Now, many years later, I understand that this discontent is the basic trait that turns a person into a writer.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
I was listening to NPR today and was reminded of The Trolley Problem. It is an interesting hypothetical scenario which asks you to imagine a trolley approaching five people who are in its path. There is a switch that you can pull which will divert the trolley onto another path where it will surely hit and kill a person who is on that track. Do nothing and five people die. Pull the switch and one person dies. More often than not, participants reply that they would pull the switch.
Then, the question is asked again, but with a twist. You are watching the whole thing unfold from atop a bridge. Instead of one person on another track, one person is by your side. Your choice is between doing nothing (five people die) and pushing that one person over the bridge and onto the track (he dies). For this scenario, most participants cannot imagine the physical act of pushing someone onto the track.
The story link is here.
An accompanying Moral Sense test is here.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
It's my birthday today.
I just thought my reader(s) should know.
I celebrated like any good thirty-six year old should. I worked my shift, clocked out, and went to Waffle House where the good waitresses comped my meal. And then I came home and listened to Tom Waits, checked some blogs, drank some beers, and went to sleep.
Note to self: party a little more next time.
This time, it appears that I will work my shift, clock out, and go to the Waffle House. Then I will drive home, listen to some music and read blogs. I'll probably drink a couple of beers and then I will go to sleep. Just call me Mr. Predictable.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The host will once again be Sarah Silverman and again - unlike the Academy Awards - it will probably be held in a hotel ballroom or underneath a tent somewhere. It ain't about the fashion and spectacle as much as it is about the art involved.
Here's hoping four time host John Waters at least makes an appearance. Nothing against Sarah Silverman, who is terrificly crude and hilarious, but Waters pretty much embodies all things independent film.
Is it February 24 yet?
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday: 4 miles on the treadmill followed by 5 minutes of heavy lifting followed by a 9 hour work shift.
Monday: Ow. Ow. Ow. Lactic acid buildup like hell. Hurts to move. Think I'll skip workout and get back to it Tuesday.
Via the blogs, I see that the fair Mellissa of Atlanta is having happy and beautiful travels in little ol' Geneva.
The sexiest of sites for readers like me has a wonderful interview with the always captivating Laura Dern. (Working yet again with David Lynch, the experimental director who always used to frustrate the hell out of me until I figured out the correct way to approach his work.)
I agree wholeheartedly with Jeffraham. And I also love that he rides a Vespa. Most of my driving is within a 5 mile range and rarely use the interstate anyway. Getting up to 90 mpg is something I could easily get used to.
Airline captains travel with beautiful women, even if only for Halloween costumes. (I sent in my resume months ago. Call me.)
Finally, parallel parking for guys like me (who suck at it).
At the recommendation of my friend Leesa, I am watching Dream for an Insomniac. If these first three minutes are any indication, this is going to be a beautiful ride.
That's all for me. Be sure to tip your waitress.
My friend posted some excellent pictures of Nashville on his blog today and one of them reminded me of this one. Same background, except this one features this blogger's mug.
Every year, every December, I get like this. Blame it on the gray skies, blame it on relative poverty amidst consumer mania, but I just get lonely although surrounded by love and feel poor despite a refrigerator filled with food. Although enlightened do-gooders remind us that "Christmas is not your birthday," we can still feel enormous pressure to buy nice things for the people we love.
Tonight, I changed out of my work uniform in the locker room and I gave myself a minute to reflect on the road I've been paving for myself. It's my own personal Route 66, rich with history and mostly content to be the path less traveled, but all the while studying the faster and more modern highway and feeling a touch of envy. Not enough envy to change my style though. With my pace comes the most beautiful appreciation of the softer and more quiet amenities of life.
Peaceful solitude with Nice Drake's Pink Moon playing through these laptop speakers is my current state of grace. Some customers treated me poorly this evening. But I think that at this minute they might be looking for reasons to be angry at life and I'm relaxing at home and enjoying the art of beautiful music and looking for reasons to be happy. I'm finding those reasons with ease. I'm finding them in coworkers who really do value me as their friend. I'm finding them in the customers who are not like the aforementioned customers. And I'm most easily finding them in my family, the ones who are crazy about me day in and day out. Born into one loving family and married into another, I've done quite well for myself.
But December still does its thing. It's changing my age in a week. Who knows? Maybe I'm just getting started.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The bad news is that I've been a pissy little cuss since daybreak.
This is 20-something year old Mike looking at 30-something year old Mike and wondering what the hell happened. This gut is unacceptable. The 32 inch waist gave way to the 34 inch waist a good while back and I've been at peace with that. But now the 34 inch waist jeans are getting harder and harder to fasten and there is no mystery as to why.
And so today, I went into work early so that I could use the hotel health club (nice perk). I ran on that treadmill for a good 55 minutes with a television hanging in my face. What was on? Rocky III. It seems someone knew I needed some motivation today. (I don't want to give anything away but Mr. T sure took a beating at the end of the movie.) I watched the film with the sound off and the closed captioning on (hilariously wrong very often) and with my iPod playing Himmelman and Tom Waits. If you think it's ridiculous to work out to the sounds of Tom Waits, I offer you "Filipino Box Spring Hog" from Mule Variations. It was perfect for a good hard steady rhythm. And the guttural barks and howls fit my mood to a T.
With the movie over and the workout completed, I showered and changed and took to my shift at the house of Punch The Clock. I should preface to say that it actually was a good day. My wages were good and, financially, it was the kind of day that most folks absent a college degree don't often see. I worked steadily and was well rewarded for my efforts. But it was also a day of many tedious and annoying little failures. There are many details I won't go into because I'd hate to get fired for blogging about work, but I can say that I related to cousin Larry of Perfect Strangers. (In fact, now that I think of it, I think that Larry's life closely mirrors that of my own.)
Remember in Perfect Strangers, that one recurring gag was that whenever Larry would come home from work, he would toss hiss jacket cooly across the room to his coat rack? And remember that his coat would always just miss said rack and fall to the floor? The humor wasn't just that he missed. The humor was in his face afterward. It was the face of defeat expected. (Thank God that the defeated have such an ability to see the humor in their situations.)
Today, my gag was that everytime I would approach the elevator with a cart full of luggage, it would always be surprisingly already at the first floor as if waiting for me. Then, my good luck too good to be true, it would begin its ascent away from me just as my thumb would press the button for the doors to open. And I would stand there with my cart - time being of the essence with my work - watching the elevator rise away from me and almost laughing at me as I remained motionless. My eyes are on the numbers above the elevator door and the camera crew for Perfect Strangers catches my face of accepted - and expected - defeat. (Cue the laughtrack.) It's not that it happened. It's that it happened time and time again.
I received two gifts today and I'm confused as to how I should/do feel.
- One birthday card from the workplace. I'm a sucker for small things and was happy to open it and play my favorite game of Guess That Executive Committee Member's Signature. But I was thrown for a loop when I saw that I was the recipient of two free employee meals. (That's a total value of $6.50 for those who don't work with me.) Gift horse lesson aside, it all of a sudden seemed kind of cheap to me. But keep in mind that I liked it before I knew that I even received any gift at all. I think I'm just being bitter and unfair, but I'm not sure.
- One Christmas card from the workplace. In it was a very well received gift card to a local mall for the sum of $50. No skepticism there. That's a good and well needed card. But then I found out that most of the employees in other departments got cards for twice the value. Now, I'm pissed where I was earlier elated. Sure, other departments might hold higher value to the company and require higher training and such, but I've also been here for over a decade and got my $50 where some new hires in other departments are opening $100 gift cards just because they don't push a bellcart or drive a shuttle for a living.
Maybe I'll wake up in a better mood tomorrow. I'll bet my loving family hopes so, too. They put up with me and I am forever humbled.
[Edit to add: I lost my internet connection mere seconds after I hit "publish." Oh, how pissed I would have been had I lost all of those rambling words from above. Small favors.]
[Update: I should mention that I don't feel that a $50 gift card is cheap at all. I am quite happy to receive it. It just seems that within a workplace like mine where people are always talking with friends in other departments, that it isn't the smartest decision to give varying values of gifts to everyone. Everyone loves a gift until it's revealed that someone else got a nicer one. And in more recent news, I found out that while my card was half the value of some, it was also twice the value of others. If we all got the same amount, we wouldn't have reason for envy.]
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Nothing gets my head right like this guy's music.
Peter Himmelman official website
Peter Himmelman's myspace page
He has stayed busy in recent years composing for television shows including Judging Amy, Men In Trees, and Bones. Dig around his official website to see and hear beauty in song.
From "Been Set Free":
I often wonder
Does it matter
Or is this all a worthless joke
Are we just atoms
Conceived in silence
Awaiting our turn to fly like smoke
I'd do anything to lay beside you
I'd bring you all the things that I denied you
I'd say the words I
I have believed in money
But all I got was greed
I have believed in vengeance
But all I did was bleed
I have believed in fame
But fame turned its back on me
If I had only believed in love
If I had only believed in love
If I had only believed in love
I could have been set free
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Eugene O'Neill, who wrote The Iceman Cometh and A Long Day's Journey into Night, was 65 when he died, broke and unhappy, in Suite 401 of the Shelton Hotel in Boston on November 27, 1953. His last words were: ''I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room -- and goddamn it -- died in a hotel room.'' He had been born in a Broadway hotel room in New York, the son of an Irish-American actor.
Anyway, the link is here, but in typical New Yorker fashion, it'll probably be a dead link in a week's time. What really made me smile was one passage where he describes his wife's reaction to this theme park dedicated to all things happy. (Hint: It's the reference to hotel workers that resonated with me.)
She did not seem to react well to the ferocious friendliness of the young Disney World employees, particularly when it came in conjunction with the service problems that any tourist operation is bound to have in its first few weeks—problems complicated by the fact that the young people manning, say, the Polynesian Village seemed to owe their cheerfulness partly to not having had enough experience in hotel work to have been turned sullen.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
This morning, I received an email from The New Yorker advertising The Rejection Collection, a collection of cartoons that never made it to the magazine's pages. Good enough for a current issue? Nope. Good enough to sell as a collection for $22.95 to completest fans and readers of the magazine? Yep.
They know me so well.
Purchase A Signed Copy of
The Rejection Collection
The Rejection Collection (Signed)
Featuring cartoons you never saw, and never will see, in The New Yorker, edited by Matthew Diffee.
Each week about 50 New Yorker cartoonists submit 10 ideas, yielding 500 cartoons for no more than 20 spots in the magazine.
Editor Matthew Diffee called on his fellow cartoonists for their favorite rejects as well as for insights into their creative minds, resulting in this outrageously hilarious hardcover book.
Too risqué, silly, or weird for The New Yorker, these cartoons are sure to have you blushing, gasping, and laughing out loud.
A foreword by New Yorker cartoon editor,
Robert Mankoff, explains the sound judgment that keeps these sort of cartoons far away from the pages of The New Yorker. Handwritten questionnaires introduce the quirky character of each artist.
Each copy is signed by Matthew Diffee-
Only at TheNewYorkerStore.com.
Woody Paige, columnist for the Denver Post, shares his thoughts on Jay Cutler and the history of Denver quarterbacks. He's excited about the change under center but makes some fair and cautionary points as well.
Cutler fared well in exhibitions, but they are called exhibitions for a reason, and he was performing against a lot of fellows who are currently driving UPS trucks. (...the article)
Enjoy your Sunday, folks. It's a good day for football.
This is fun :)
Copy and paste the code above into the address line.I found this at Leesa's blog.
His show was most famous in the '60s and early '70s and it tried to bring the vibe and voice of the counterculture to the radio. On any given night, Fass would be joined in the studio or on the phone by people like Abbie Hoffman or Bob Dylan. "Radio Unnameable" was one of those great "anything goes" radio programs.
Today's local radio has nothing like what I read about in the article. I imagine that today's version of Bob Fass (not including the actual Bob Fass) hosts a podcast instead of dealing with radio programmers and the FCC.
Before he became such an easy caricature, I spent many a late night lying in my bed listening to Larry King on his after midnight radio show. He would take calls from across the country and he would answer every call with two questions: "What do you do?" and "Why are you up?" Alone in my bed, I would listen to Mr. King interview these random callers and I would feel the pulse of my country. These listeners were all "nighthawks at the diner" and people who belonged in the Bukowski books I was reading at the time. Either lonely insomniacs or workers punching to the beat of a different time clock. They were my people and they kept my hours.
Wanna hear a bit of Bob Fass and Bob Dylan on "Radio Unnameable?" Click here for a couple of links. It's beautiful and raw.
More Blogs On Radio Unnameable:
James Wolcott's Blog: Must-Read
The Night of Not Buying The 60's
Now I will say this. I'm not a complete knucklehead. I am a fan of the NFL and the Tennessee Titans. I traveled to Memphis to watch them play the Buffalo Bills in 1997 and I attended a few of their games in their poorly attended 1998 season at Vanderbilt Stadium. For their mighty Super Bowl run season of 1999, I proudly cheered them on from the stands at every single contest. And that famous Music City Miracle game against the Bills? The one that almost every Nashvillian claims to have attended? Not only was I at that game, but I was on the field and in the locker room afterward.
On many a Sunday when I found myself on the work schedule, I'd wear my Steve McNair jersey underneath my bellman's jacket and a Titans pin underneath my name tag. That said, as much as I consider myself a fan, I'm pretty laid back about the whole thing. When the Titans lost the Super Bowl, I just shrugged and thought, "Better luck next year." My immortal beloved, however, was teary eyed and despondent. It was then that I saw the difference between a casual fan and a true fan. I was the former and she was the latter.
Paige has been rooting for the Georgia Bulldogs (excuse me - her Georgia Bulldogs) since she was the littlest of kids. I started caring about football somewhere around 1997. I had to work today and so I missed the opportunity to sit back on the couch and watch college football. But that was fine since I didn't even know who was playing anyway. My Paige, however, had the best time watching college ball all day long. I know that because she blogged about it. Here.
Friday, December 01, 2006
I scooped her up and carried her into the bathroom to clean her up. Almost two years old and feeling miserable, she looked up at me and trusted that I would help her feel better. By now, her mom was up and changing her bedsheets. Teamwork in parenting, it was after midnight and a baby was being bathed and sheets and blankets were being laundered. All was well, the baby was settled back in her bed and the parental units went back to where they needed to be - one back to sleep in preparation for the early morning alarm clock, the other back to the living room to wind down from a long work shift just concluded.
Ten minutes later, she was crying again and lying in a bed once more made a mess. We were back to our loving, caring duties and this time gave her some medicine for her upset stomach. With crossed fingers, we put her back to bed and hoped for the best.
Not even the medicine would stay down. And now, a few sessions later, I sit on the couch with my little girl by my side. Her brother is wide awake in his room thinking I don't hear him playing with his cars. She is wide awake and holding her babydoll. It's a restless night here at Chez Bez.
And tomorrow is going to be a long, sleepy day.