Sunday, December 21, 2014

Weekend Recap

Ramblings Post #278
In respecting our elders, we listen to their stories and learn about a past that we have not been privy to, but whose existence shaped our lives. No, I'm not talking about real relevant history - civil rights marches and life in the long long ago, I'm talking about them "back in the day" stories where things got a little out of control and if the fence had been two inches higher you might not be here. And I recently realized I'm now telling those stories. 

Although I was figuring I would be home all weekend, people kept hitting me up screaming I need to roll out. So I put on my good shoes - the knit fabric ones with the slippery bottoms - and my going out uniform, the black mock turtleneck and suit jacket - and headed out. Thus, these occurred...

#1 - I went to a Christmas party, which now that I say it out loud is kinda sad. This shouldn't qualify as an announcement. I used to go to lots of Christmas parties, but I've been out of circulation for a minute and so my invite list is shorter than it used to be. Still, I saw some folks I haven't seen a minute and touched a few hands I needed to touch. I've begun my social life recovery may be a better way to put it.

#2 - The Cowboys win, and finally, it's not a win or go home situation at the end of the season. It's been a long hard road, many years of frustration, teeth gnashing and howls of disappointment. But even now, I can't really rest easy, because to get the monkey off our back the 'Boys need to win at least one playoff game. As it is, we can still win a bye for the first round, which is like an automatic playoff win. Whatever, I'm just glad we finally won. And yes, I said we. 

#3 - House parties have gotten smaller since last time I looked. Okay, admittedly, the house parties I used to attend had a few hundred folks, and most of the people didn't have children so the hang out was on maximum, so my opinion might be a little biased. But the house party I attended was in a one bedroom condo, half the size of the living room of my brother's house. Like tiny. Nice though, but tiny. Less than twenty people, five of whom were my group.

#4 - Changing a tire in the rain at three a.m. is just as bad an experience as you might imagine it is. And it wasn't even my tire. I got up out of my bed, drove a few miles and under the lights in a gas station parking lot (at least it wasn't on the side of the road) did a friend a favor because that's what friends do. In theory. I'm fairly certain if I asked for ruling I'd get granted an exception, but whatever.

#5 - Damn Steam sale. I wasn't even going to buy anything, until I clicked through and saw one of the games I've wanted for forever on sale for NINETY percent off! I don't even think the computer I have can play it. Who cares, it was NINETY percent off! I don't have a lot of mad money, but I'll just eat a candy bar for lunch one day next week, that's how cheap it was. Now, if I could just get Steam to sell cars and houses in Atlanta.

Next year, when the cotton is high, the living is easy and I've found a job that let's me use my new degree, I'll complete my transition back to the real world. But until then, I got chickens to pluck. Oh them chickens. I like to think that it won't be long now. I may have force myself to go a few steps further before things get better, but I've come this far so let's just roll the dice.

Barkeep, a tall ice water and lemon. But pour it low, I got a reputation.

Monday, December 15, 2014

About the Cowboys in December

Ramblings Post #277
Sport is visceral. You can apply with and wisdom to it, study it and dissect it, review and parse it out in the pieces which you imagine can be improved, but then you will miss the entire point. We feel sport. It can, for a distinct instant, focus the minds of millions on a single thought. Turn the meek into raging beasts. It is sport. And it is good.   


I have reached that point in the Cowboys season where my nerves get bad. Where I find myself yelling at the TV, wailing in agony at missed opportunities and sometimes turning the game off in frustration, only to turn it back on again a few minutes later and start the whole process over again. I can't eat, and definitely don't drink. It is something I am not proud of. It's why I prefer to watch the game alone, not even with other Cowboy fans.

And in the those situations where the Boys lose? I think by now even my mother has figured out to wait a few days before calling. And that the last few seasons have been marred by last game failures, I'm almost certain that my blood pressure could be fifteen to twenty points lower with a few more run calls.

So last night.

I'm supposed to have an earlier bedtime, so I'll use that as an excuse as to why I didn't watch the ending, but why I couldn't watch the start is another story.  I toyed around with the idea of actually watching the beginning, mildly superstitious and just a little scared of what might happen. This isn't the Cowboys of old, and by old I mean last season, but a new more balanced Cowboy attack. But still, after Thanksgiving I was wary. And I'm not one for excuses, extremely short week and immobile quarterback whatever.

So when I tuned in right before half and saw my Boys leading I was pleasantly surprised. And nervous enough to turn the TV right back off lest I jinx them. No, it makes no damn sense whatsoever, now shut up. And when I clicked the ESPN link...because I wasn't going to sit in the room with the TV and NOT watch, and saw that they were down, well, my heart sank.

I woke up this morning honestly, ready to read about how they couldn't quite pull it off. Oh, they'd get a drive in the closing minutes, start looking like world beaters, moving, grooving, flexing and all that, then just as the momentum was starting to peak, it would crumble. Think about the last three seasons before you wonder about my faith. 

But now, we just have to win out. Against an Indy team (sorry Sporty) that doesn't have much to play for and Washington team that with luck will play for a draft pick. And then the monkey that is the playoffs. I just need one win, but I'd prefer a SuperBowl.

Barkeep. You know what time it is.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Odd Quotes

Art from Mattahan
 "A soulmate is an ongoing connection with another individual that the soul picks up again in various times and places over lifetimes. We are attracted to another person at a soul level not because that person is our unique complement, but because by being with that individual, we are somehow provided with an impetus to become whole ourselves."
~ Edgar Cayce

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The New Chicken Plucking Factory

Ramblings Post #276
It is what it is, and it is what it's gonna be. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, but sometimes the path leads to places you never thought you'd have to go. This is one of those stories. Or something like that. I forget, these early mornings are killing me. 

There is a very old saying: Know thyself and to thy ownself be true. In the past few years I've tried to
follow this advice, staying true to who I am and what my goals are, because I've found that attempting to make other people happy by pretending or just going along usually ends up with consequences and repercussions. For me, usually.

A few months ago, unsure of a number of things and having come to enjoy things like heat and food, I agreed to pluck some chickens. Not really pluck chickens, but you know what I mean. In my quest for a new career I knew there could be detours and tracks that might lead me off the beaten path, but I had hoped those could be minimized. Why? Because being true to myself I know I have a tendency to "get a little too into things" sometimes. I mean, I got so into my last chicken plucking job there was a stretch there I didn't take a vacation for five years. I might have a problem.

So here we go again.

It's a throwback gig, as in I've done work like this before, so being able to do it is not an issue. I'm worried about losing my focus on the big picture. You know, the one I worked all those nights after my last chicken plucking gig to get? Since I passed that last milestone I was hoping to turn my attention to detail and indomitable drive towards my new career exclusively...and I will....but just not now. Apparently.

The really weird part about the new gig is that management knows that I'm vastly overqualified for the position. More than one of the trainers and managers have mentioned that they "saw my resume", in that special tone of voice people get when they pretend they're trying to keep a secret. And it seems to have generated expectations that I will get most of the concepts on the first try.  Okay, I have gotten most of the concepts on the first try, but that's beside the point. It's off putting to some degree, but it's always nice to be able to walk into an office and get respect.

And originally this was to be my segue back to working full-time, because as old pros know that it takes time to get you mind and body back on the idea of constant work. There is in-shape, party-shape, and work-shape. I was in video game shape, which means my thumbs are real strong. That long climb up the stairs in the mornings got my calves looking right.

A lot of things in my life have started off as one thing or for one purpose and become something else. This cannot be one of them. If I intend to actually make the big picture work, then I'm going to have to get my mind right...before I get my mind right.

Barkeep, put that good bourbon on the bar. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bucket List

Ramblings Post #275
First you gotta have a plan. A goal, a direction, a pathway, a notion of the destination. Populate it with milestones lest you get lost...or bored. Then start moving. Take a few minutes to enjoy the view and the journey. Don't be afraid to wander, but always get back to task in the end. And if you meet someone and it feels right, don't be afraid to make a new plan.

In Concert, boo-yah!
I have a bucket list. It's seventy five items long and I wrote it when I was in my early twenties I think. At least that's what the font looks like. 

More than a few of them seem silly now, the product of young mind who hadn't seen the world or really done anything. Others are strangely prescient of someone looking to experience all he could. Quite a few are existential. Some dangerous. And sadly, most of them are undone. This a sampling, I guess, of what I hope to achieve. I still got time. 

2. Publish a novel.

This one I'm closest to actually doing. My brother has published a collection of short stories that I still haven't read in their final form, but was privy to and occasional proofread for content before he put it out there. I on the other hand am determined to publish a novel...start, story arc, end. It need not be epic, or the great American story, but it needs to be complete. Like many things I get the impression that once I've finished the first one the others will be, well, the term easy is wrong, but just say less hard. I hope.

13. Learn to sail

Considering I'm not that big a fan of the water, that I actually want to learn to sail - or wanted to learn to sail at one time - is kind of amazing. Maybe it's that my life plan includes yachting, and I just don't want to get caught out there with no skills. I would blame it on my penchant for pirate movies, but this is way before my fascination with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Still, want to sail.

31. Spend a week at the Smithsonian

I went to the Smithsonian as a child, and I remember getting there late and having to rush through the
exhibits. Back then I as enthralled by models - ship models, building models, etc, and I remember a few great ones flashing by. But this time when I go back, I want time. Lots of time, with like a little carry foot stool so if I spot something really good I can just sit down and gaze. And I figure the kind of attention I'm trying give could be squeezed into a week. Well, ten days really.

48. Be in concert

Now, I don't expect to play Wembley Stadium, or Radio City Music Hall, or even the County Fair, to be honest, but my goal is to be in concert somewhere, doing something. A comedy routine or actually learn an instrument I'm not sure, but true performance. Maybe I'll dance. I want to sell tickets, maybe golden tickets with holograms...maybe 20 and then have my show. Multimedia maybe. And One night only, like the Blues Brothers Rhythm and Blues Revue.

73. Drive across America

Not travel across America, DRIVE across America. And not one of those California turnaround empty highway at 3am doing praying the car stays in one piece situations either. I mean a long slow, meandering drive across the states, stopping at diners and dives, and roadside attractions and pulling over beside just gaze at the open countryside. The goal is to see America, not just pass it as I'm trying to get to my destination. Yes, it sounds old fashioned, but is that so wrong?

My advice? If you don't have a Bucket List, I suggest you make one. Let's just say that if I made one now, it would give me focus, if not clear out my thinking of all the trivial things and get my mind right for the future. What you feel you must do in this lifetime says a lot about you.

Barkeep, I don't have any drinks on my Bucket List I must try, so a sweet tea with lemon. Thanks.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Odd Quotes


One of the problems of being a dreamer, is that dreams rarely come true. One of the other problems with being a dreamer is that you just can't stop.
~ Me

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A very good dog

Spice was a good dog.
She could run further than me. On a three mile run...well, run slash jog, um, slash walk and occasional stagger, she complained not at all, eager to get out in the sun. She was always happy to see me, and knew I was good for a spot right behind the ears rub. She had soulful eyes, that told a story and made one believe there was more to her than just a dog. I sat her more than few times, her and her friend and even when her master moved West, and then North, I had hoped to see her again. But, she was fifteen, which is up there in dog years.

Spice was good dog.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Odd Quotes


"One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And with that she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them. So she made the decision to survive using courage, humor and grace. She was the queen of her own life, and the choice was hers."
~ Somewhere on the internet

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sometimes it's about Family

Free...
Another of my aunts passed away. And I ashamed that I am both happy and sad.

I am sad that she has left this mortal coil, but I am happy that she is free. A number of years ago she had a stroke, and had been bed-ridden, unable to do many things.  The past few years she'd been in and out of the hospital for long stretches, and I long wondered about her quality of life. But still I am saddened by her passing.

My cousin, her daughter, tended to her closely as a family could. She set aside the degrees they had both been so proud of her achieving, and she turned her mother's bedroom into a medical space so she could be surrounded by family. She learned to her mother's new speech patterns and became attuned to her needs, along the way becoming perhaps more of a medical expert she'd ever intended. We spent holidays there so my aunt would always be included. And as much as I admired my cousin's devotion in the past few years I wondered if her life was to be spent in service to her ailing mother.   

Now that time is past. I am filled with conflict. Pain at her departure, and yet an underlying joy that her soul is free.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Black Panther....finally.

Ramblings Post #274
As a black nerd, yes they exist, I have learned a lot about how people view other people through fiction. Although derided as fantasy, the truth is when you put your imagination on display in a comic book or novel, you reveal a lot about yourself...and the society that you're holding a mirror up to. 


After years of speculation, er, hoping by black nerds everywhere, Marvel finally went ahead and made it official: The Black Panther is getting his own movie. It's a few years away, the end of 2017 - but I can go ahead and put it on my calender now. I also like how they're going to work him into the next Captain America movie...and provided I see the last one before then (come on, HBO!) and evaluate it properly I might have to increase my movie collection. But they'll need to show me something before I can add it alongside my James Bond, Pirates of the Caribbean or Cosby/Potiter collections.

The only other troubling part I had was the favorite for the role - Idris Elba - already exists in another role in the Marvel Movie Universe. Seriously, we fans have considered everyone for the role, including Will Smith, Morris Chestnut, Donald Glover and even Vin Diesel for some reason. And although I would have gone with Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 years a slave), Dijmon Hounsou or maybe even Colin Salmon (though he might be a bit old now), the selection of Chadwick Boseman isn't horrible. I would have preferred an English accent, but Boseman seems to be a flexible enough performer, but I think he'll need to put on some muscle and add some gravitas to play T'Challa. Here's to hoping they write the character as a multidimensional person with his own concerns and not just a caricature or an African version of Tony Stark. 


T'Challa:   And who do you think you are to give me ultimatums?
Tony Stark:   Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.
T'Challa:   *smirks* Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, legendary warrior and king of the most powerful and technologically advanced nation on earth.
Tony Stark:   . . .

It's become clearly evident that the Marvel Movie Universe is going to be drastically different than the Marvel Comic Universe, but then that's okay. Over at DC you have to remind yourself which Earth you on, so this is no biggie. Hopefully they'll also use Wakanda as the backdrop, and show it not as mud huts but just as it is in the comics.

Now, Marvel, when is Luke Cage getting his movie? Oh, he's an Avenger now, and Avengers get movies. And yes, ya'll done started something.

Barkeep. Champagne all around. The good stuff too, not that soda water.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

And the Winner, by unanmious decision..

Let's just say here at the end, I'll appreciate what I've achieved because of the struggle it took to get here.

Ali. Victorious.
Yesterday at noon, my RP called and told me to check my damn score. He was a lot more interested in it than I was, me being more than content to wait until the list emerged at 4:30pm. Okay honestly I lacked confidence, after all I've been here before. But he was insistent, so I logged into the GA Bar Admissions website mentally prepared for bad news and already figuring out my finances to take the test yet again next summer.

Boom.

Passed. I think he hollered louder than I did. It's good to have folks who really care about you, and I had to fight to get off the phone so I could call my folks. Then I hit up Sporty, and then Spanky and the rest of my people.

Yesterday was a very good day. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bar Chatter

Bar chatter #31
Sometimes it ain't enough to equal a whole post, but still needs to be said.... it's bar chatter.


Good Old Sportscenter in it's prime
Sportscenter. Although Fox Sports 1 is a valiant effort, much like the NFL it covers, ESPN is pretty much a natural monopoly. I can watch the same Sportscenter three times in a row, and most fans I know can do the same thing. But I don't like the new set. Just don't. I realize it's designed to make the reporting "more consumable" but, um, no.

The new "improved" Sportscenter - meh.
The old Sportscenter set felt comfortable, intimate, like they were reporting to you. The reporters in close proximity give it a cozy sensation. By contrast, the new Sportscenter set feels like, like the owner of Channel 43¼ is trying to prove that he owns a real TV station. It gives the impression they're announcing from a barn. The new set is too big, to flashy and is just trying way too hard.

There, I've said my piece. Do as you will. Play on.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Things I meant to comment on...

Ramblings Post #273
I've been busy. Kinda busy. I have been working on things and but probably need to refine my schedule a great deal. In any case blog posts take time to craft. Sometimes days. These are still raw when I thin about it. But life keeps moving and I've been see-sawing between really busy...and really lazy. Job hunt, work on the novel, wash some clothes, nap, job hunt, etc,. But the world hasn't stopped for me, and I need to say a thing or two. Or five.


Canada

People are shooting in Canada now?  Do you even realize how wrong that even sounds? That it was a militant Islamist is even more disturbing. Quick note to the rest of Islam, the concept of "not snitching" or standing passively by while others wreck the very idea of what you stand for isn't a good look. I realize militants don't represent all of Islam, but the longer this festers the more this becomes...not a good look. On the upside, the Canadian press is glorifying the rescuers, not the attackers. Which may be the first time a national press has done it right. Take notes people.

Ebola

Since I didn't really plan on touching the bodily fluids of any other folks, I really wasn't too worried about catching this disease. AND, since most of the folks in the US who have caught the disease have pulled through, same sentiment. That we don't want to acknowledge the very real threat of climate change we see clear evidence of but will accept the hyperbole regarding a disease you have to be practically on top of someone to catch speaks volumes about perceptions. Volumes. 

Ferguson, MO

Considering that there is some validity to the old cliche that a district attorney could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, that idea that there are now emerging stories that all the eyewitnesses who've appeared agree with the officer's version is entirely believable. Baffles me, but I believe it. What truly amazes me about this are the lengths the local police force is going through to avoid a trial where both parties interests are represented. All that overtime for officers, equipment, grand jury time, etc. It would have been cheaper to just take him into custody, let him post bond and have an actual trial. Much cheaper. Especially since according to many we'd get the same result. Or would we?

Senate Races

I live in Georgia, and the insanity that I have seen makes me wonder what it's like in swing states. I weep for those people.

My Diet

I know I'm fat again. But there have been too many things in flux, too many uncertainties, and the comfort of chili dogs and french fries or Krispy Kreme doughnuts fills a void like no other. I got to get back on the horse, but now....we eat. 

Avengers Trailer

Still haven't seen the first one. Seriously. Why it can't pop up on HBO, or Showtime, or even FX which is where I saw Thor for the first time I have no idea. I realize it made a lot of money so it's final distribution channel was delayed, but it's been years now people. Years. Distribution to third or fourth markets cannot be problem now, can it? This, this right here, is why piracy exists.

Steve Nash

We who have passed the milestone know that 40 is not that old, but it's a little old to playing pro basketball. And since you hurt your back carrying luggage... *smh*. Dude, the term is broadcast booth, announcer, front office. You were a legend in your time. Your time has passed. Let it go. I'm still down for my Lakers though.

Barkeep, I need a Cosmopolitan. I used make them years ago, and it's been so long.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Spel-House Yeah!

Ramblings Post #272
So many glorious nights, so many beautiful faces, so many experiences that fill the book of life and make moments of memory the sweetest part of living. Or, you could live in Atlanta and you don't have time for memories, because it's just on like that.

As you may or may not know, I did not attend Morehouse University. And I guess it goes without saying I did not attend Spelman University. I think I visited once, but that's not important. With the annual FAMU game no longer a thing, the "one big party" thing that used to happen in Atlanta for what are normally considered "middle class" black people was relegated to just this affair: The Morehouse/Spelman homecoming. Maybe one other thing too, I've been out of the loop for a minute.

Note that I did not wake up on Saturday and go out there. Too much going on for me, poor old bones, wooo, a little pear tea before I get the vapors.

One of the great traditions of HBCUs are the homecoming events, which typically are affairs where the actual game is more a ritual than the main event and the majority of the alumni attendees treating it like a class reunion. You show up, catch up with old friends, go home. Or in the modern era, make plans on FB, show up, show off, go home, remove old friends from friends list. I didn't have the inclination to do that, because I really only kinda know them folks. But, since grown folks now tend to throw better parties, I was up for a little hangout on Friday night.

My RP hipped me a little drop in at a spot called the Negril Village a few blocks south of the Fox theater. The name through me, because most Jamaican eating spots are low-key affairs, and this weekend was supposed to be high tone. I was pleasantly surprised. Very upscale, all brick and dark wood with  a great looking bar area and what looked like comfy booths. The upstairs event space, where the function I was attending took place was nice as well, with it's own private bars. And it turned into a real get funky, sweat dripping, shake your booty party.

All the way turned up. All. The. Way.
At some point, perhaps unable to grab a drink, my fellow revelers decided to head north to Buckhead, and ended up at the Rose bar, which I remember as an old piano bar that was sitting right in the middle of everything but an odd place to end up. Well now, everyone's found it and it was jumping. I think they added a deck on the front - or maybe it's been there a while - and they took out the piano but it's still the little hideaway it's always been, now just turned up to 100. Very nice.

After playing Uber and dropping my folk off, I ended up at this place called Delia's Chicken Sausage Stand.  Please note, that until I walked in, I had never noticed the word "sausage" in the name. I usually pass it on North Ave headed someplace else, but instead of the long ride out to a Waffle House then back home, I decided to give it a go. They had a crowd, and if I can find something on the menu I like I'm going to drop in one night and just hang out, but the link chicken sausage wrapped in egg on a hoagie roll just didn't do it for me. Maybe I should have tried the sauce, or looked at something besides breakfast. It was interesting though.

And after my first night out in... I seriously have no idea, but it has to have been months, I kept in Saturday. I would have made biscuits, but something is wrong with my stove so I got to get that checked. In any case, it's nice to know that even as I've dropped below the radar that Atlanta is still out there, having a good time.

Barkeep, a nice glass of Chablis. And do you know if the drug store carries hair dye? No reason. For a friend.   

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cowboy fans have got no chill

Ramblings Post #271
It is my theory that everyone is a closet Cowboy fan at the very least. You might hate them and curse their name, but you know the whole football season doesn't feel right if the Cowboys are just pitiful.  I often tease people with the taunt that "Your favorite player on your favorite team wishes he played for the Cowboys." That this is completely true is beside the point.

Thank You Reddit, r/Cowboys! - itsaboat
I'm a Cowboy fan. If you've read this blog you know that, and over the years I've lamented as to the antics of owner Jerry Jones that as of late have made this storied team the very manifestation of mediocrity. But now, coming off wins against a very good New Orleans team and the defending world champion Seattle Seahawks - in Seattle where the Seahawks were 19-1 over the last 20 - things are finally looking up. A five game win streak, an established running game that we'd neglected for far too long, a little confidence. We have a right to feel good about our team.

But as soon as the final gun sounded in the Northwest, well really even before then, my people lost their damn minds.

Yes, I enjoyed watching ESPN's the Blitz talk about my team for 10 minutes instead of just glossing over the game during the rundown. Yes, I enjoyed Sportscenter playing up the win and the Sunday night football mentions. I also enjoyed the Skip going in on Stephen on First Take and discovered that ESPN actually has a show with two black commentators that comes on at noon - Numbers Never Lie. And that one of the hosts is a Cowboy fan. And he made it a point to reiterate the Dallas win during every segment.

My brother has long said he finds Cowboy fans insufferable, for in the past as soon as Romo completes a difficult pass or the team pulls out a close one, Cowboy fans start talking Superbowl run. Might have been a fluke play that only happens once in million years that won the game but we don't care, it's a sign of greatness we swear, cross our hearts. Monday after the big win was that on steroids. Talk that maybe the Cowboys were the best team in the NFL started immediately. It only went further into overdrive from there.

Okay, I'll admit came to the conclusion looking at the schedule where the next four games are the Giants (who are self destructing), the Washington team (who already self destructed) the Cardinals and the Jaguars (who invented self destruction) that the 'Boys could end up at 9-1. Yes, I realize the Cardinals are playing good ball right now, but so were the Seahawks. Winning at least three out of the four, or just all four is plain good football analysis right there, make no mistake. That I also see a 13-3 season with playoff home field advantage and Superbowl shootout victory over the Broncos is pure speculation. BUT IT COULD HAPPEN! 

Okay Let me say this.

People. Let's calm down. Is it looking good for the squad? Oh yes it is. Does this look like better than a 8-8 season? Oh most certainly. But I've been at the gate too many times only come up short, and ya'll been with me so you know how I feels. What I need is the Cowboys to clinch a playoff spot with a two weeks left. That it not come down to the last game of the season for the NFC east title. Not that I don't think we'll win, but we just don't need to tempt fate like that. We just don't. Been there, done that.

Barkeep. Let's break out the good bourbon. It's gonna be a long season.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The House I Want (Part Three)

Planning for the Future Post #3
First you dream. Then you plan. Then you execute. Then repeat.

The kind of place you can pitch a tent...just because.
I want a big backyard. And God knows I never wanted to the cut grass when my folks used to make me - an all day job involving two hills, long thick grass that couldn't just be cut but required an angle technique, patience and repetition, in a space with a dearth of trees that under a South Carolina sun that brought back genetic memories of less than pleasant times. I'm sorry, I just had a flashback.

But I still want a yard. A big flat one, like billiard table flat. And a deck overlooking it. Where I can cook-out and have friends over. Where I put a garden, have sculptures and other things people might not believe I enjoy. Where I can sit on the back deck, with a cool drink on a summer's night and look up at the universe. And breathe. 

In my wildest imagination it's a city townhouse, I can buy the building behind it, tear it down and make myself a yard. But you know what would be really cool? Have a town-home, buy and tear down the building behind it. Build a bridge over the next street back, buy that townhouse and tear it down too. The backyard would be elevated, so I could have a two cool sub-basements on the back. Now that's how you dream!

I want a yard.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Getting out in the AM

Ramblings Post #270
It is said that you can't keep a true player down. When he falls off in one spot he just pops back again somewhere else, with brand new game and does it all over again. That might be Iceberg Slim or a seventies blaxplotation movie, I'm not sure. Or maybe a urban interpretation of Kipling. But since I consider myself a true player, FROM THE HIMALAYA, it's time for me to pop back somewhere with a new hustle.

I took this with phone. So attribution to me. Sucka!
This is not an ad for Starbucks, or an endorsement, but as a method of "re-acclimating myself with society" after accidentally turning myself into a hermit I've taken up residence at the local coffee establishment. And let me tell you, putting on pants daily is a wild experience! I'm kidding. But this does get me out of the house, up the street and into the company of other people trying to get their hustle on. After many, many years in a strictly office environment, the number of folks who have the freedom to wander in and pay four dollars for a cup of coffee in the middle of the morning is astounding. I shouldn't knock the hustle, but wow!

At 10:30 am the joint is packed, every table being used, every seat full, people standing at the counter, the drive thru humming. Yes, I realize most of you already know this happens, but I'm not a big coffee drinker. I actually use my coffee maker at home to make tea twice week. If I don't have a cuppa in the morning, I only lament wasting the coffee I've already purchased, scared it might grow stale. But my brother swears by Starbucks. I was considering getting a library card (and I still intend to get one) but this is more lively I must admit.

It is an interesting cross section of people. I've seen job interviews, business presentations and proposals, group meetings and seen people studying. One guy in the back has his own porcelain mug. The way one guy bobs his head in his headphones, I think he's mixing music, while others are just sitting and chatting or just checking email, folks reading the paper and maybe even plotting a coup in a unnamed Central American country. Or they could have been discussing a charity event, I'm not sure, it kinda loud in here. Young and old, sweater vest or baseball hat tipped to the side it seems like everyone comes to Starbucks. Maybe the library would have been better.

So, what's the point of this post? None, really. I haven't been posting in a minute, and since I'm now a "regular" I thought this would be nice filler. I do try to switch it up - some days morning, others its the afternoon. Sometimes a different Starbucks... and for the love of Georgia do not get their Sweet Tea. I just remembered that. They know coffee. Think about that for a minute.

They do play some nice jazz though.

Barkeep, no I don't want a double half caffeinated mocha latte frappa-whatever with a shot. Can I get just a coffee? Plain coffee.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

He had a certain dignity. A certain bearing.

As the Mysterious Baron Samedi...
You have to be a certain age to appreciate he who was Geoffrey Holder. A tall imposing figure of a man, he sprang into existence in the greater cultural conscious as Baron Samedi in the classic James Bond film "Live and Let Die". He is actually the first movie henchman to not be killed, predating the legendary character Jaws by almost four years. I was mystified watching as the credits rolled and his very much alive figure straddled the front of the train that carried a triumphant Bond sped into the night...after Bond had supposedly killed him. Twice. 

Or if you're a bit younger you might remember him as the libertine art director in Eddie Murphy's also now classic opus to love "Boomerang." Holder's distinctive deep baritone voice, his interpretation of the words on paper to create the character of Nelson. The man in a few screen moments managed to portray an odd, educated yet wickedly perverse person, whom you knew you wanted to hang out with just ONE time so you could say you did it. Think about all the other characters in the film, wouldn't Nelson have been someone to follow into the night for drinks...just to see what would happen?
 
Geoffrey Holder - Actor.

But in reality he was a actor. A stage actor. Live theater. No retakes, just talent. Winner of Tonys. Revolutionary is how people have referred to him. And most of us were just amazed by the little we did see. Imagine had we been privy to it all. Mr. Holder, I wish there had been an opportunity to see more of your magic. But thanks just the same, for I am grateful for what I did receive. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Odd Quotes

Photo from Somewhere. I wish I give it the proper credit.
 “Self-acceptance comes from meeting life's challenges vigorously. Don't numb yourself to your trials and difficulties, nor build mental walls to exclude pain from your life. You will find peace not by trying to escape your problems, but by confronting them courageously. You will find peace not in denial, but in victory.”
~ Swami Sivananda

Monday, September 15, 2014

Things I don't want to comment on

Ramblings Post #269
These topics keep either popping back up or begged for attention in the moment I just couldn't get to them. No matter how many times I nailed that door shut. By the way, me cleaning up my junk room was NOT one of the reasons I couldn't get to these, although it should have been. I'm coming for you room! I don't want to comment, but I am. Because sometimes you just need to mumble a bit and then stumble your way the bar and pretend you just arrived.

Sometimes, the hair on the back of your neck stands up, the sensation of uneasy fills in the bottom of your gut, your feet itch, a familiar sound or the movie cliche of decade - You've just got a bad feeling about this. None of your five senses registers it, but your brain suddenly suggests you probably should be somewhere else like, now. That's what my literary skills are doing right.

In between studying for another test to take I had been working on a project, a story that sprang up after a writing exercise, and then erroneously got into a online conversation with a black feminist which is a whole different story in and of itself, and so now I'm behind in my own personal schedule. But these are front page items that demand I say something. Well, not demand, more insist. And I am reluctantly. Even though I got a bad feeling about this.

ISIS (or whatever the new designation is)
My personal feeling is that we should leave it the Middle East constituency to handle this threat, the latest in a seemingly endless line of threats. Only our foreign policy has historically neutered all our allies except Israel, which is a whole other set of comments I have not desire to make. Has any one just tried offer them some pizza? I mean like real, real good pizza. Or nachos?

Ferguson, MO
I don't want to speak on Ferguson again because by now I thought it would be over. They arrested Zimmerman after a month, I mean really. And now because the Prosecutor has essentially told the grand jury to figure it out for yourselves, making no recommendation for a charge, this will only continue to get ugly. One can only hope at this point the Feds step in before this just gets too blatant. So, which rap star concerned citizen is going to stand out there for the voter registration drive?

Stuff Involving Celebrities or them being pregnant.
This isn't worth the time it took me to write this sentence.

Joan Rivers
She could be a bitter old lady, contentious and at times extremely nasty. But she paved the way for a whole lot of women comics to come behind her. While Lucy was family friendly and goofy, Joan let the ladies behind her talk about sex and sexuality, and stood shoulder to shoulder with her male contemporaries, true comic heavyweights. She might not have shared your views on the topics you deemed important, like feminism, so now after death you want to demonize her? Is that who we've become? Where some talk about being a feminist, she actually was one.

Ray Rice
As currently the only one acceptable way to talk about this issue is in trying to decide if Rice is evil personified, the personfication of evil or maybe a person of evilfication; and which NFL officer should commit hari-kari first for lying; or how the NFL now needs to give all it's profits to women in restitution, means I'm not going to discuss it here. I'm not going to defend Rice, what he did was wrong plain and simple, but there are too many other lessons here that the collective rage is missing and doesn't want to talk about because it provide less time to call Rice evil. Which is kinda sad. 

Barkeep. It's been a minute, hasn't it. A bourbon and sprite for old times sake. Three cubes.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The House I Want (Part Two)

Planning for the Future Post #2 

I couldn't find a picture of the room I'm describing, but I like this...
The house I want will have a library. Not just a bookshelf or two, but a library. A whole room dedicated to the idea of reading. I've gone to people's homes...people who have children...and seen nary a book or bookshelf. There are so many things wrong with that. Books allow hear the voices and ideas of those beyond our time, or to learn the thoughts of people on the other side of the world.  To not read,  ugh.

I'd like it to be a good sized room, with natural light if possible, with lots of wood in a burnished dark brown. Floor to ceiling bookshelves. A comfortable leather chair or two, with ottomans. Chairs big enough to curl up in and get lost in an adventure, or fall asleep in with book resting on your chest. A small book table or two. A little art. If there is room, maybe a bookshelf that hides a secret door that leads to a little room where I keep acrylic models of spaceships and 3D maps of places.  

No computer...that's a separate room, no stereo, just books. A place where you could sit down with a good book and get lost in your own mind.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Odd Quotes

Is the good life really that good?
 "Sometimes when people get what they want, they realize how limited their goals were."
~ Internet

Monday, September 1, 2014

How should the Simpsons end?

Ramblings Post #268
This question was posed to a group I write in/read/pretend I'm a part of, and the whole thing got me thinking. I gave a trite answer then, but I've put a little thought into after sitting through some old episodes during the FXX marathon which is over 10 days long. That's a lot of TV. One person in my group said when he started watching the Simpson's he was Bart's age, and now he's Homer's age. It's a cultural milestone, whether we like it on not. So, I put a little thought into it.  

From Fox, Hulu, the Internet and now FXX
Does, what has become the longest running scripted program on TV, finish out its days with a whimper or a bang? Is a Seinfeld ending, a MASH ending or a Sopranos ending? I stopped really watching the Simpson's ages ago, even before I went back to school in middle age. But they're still chugging along, episode after episode, adding breadth to the sad South Park truism "Simpsons did it!" to every idea that can be adapted to a visual medium and minting money as they go. Why end it? Why ever? Not until you absolutely have to.  

If it were up to me, it wouldn't cop out like Dexter or the extremely disappointing How I Met Your Mother finale/last season (so bad I can't even watch the reruns now), but would actually do something the show hasn't done yet...let the characters grow older. I think it should flash forward 15 years...and then they should do a whole last season at that point in time. It's just far enough in the future for things to have changed, but close enough for it to not to be that much. 

A new opening sequence based on the original should set the tone for the season in the first show, all the familiar characters who have evolved. Bart at community college, still writing on the chalk board before skateboarding home. Lisa in a Springfield U college group, listening to jazz on her phone before dancing away. Marge with Maggie at the supermarket, only now Maggie is grown with her own ear buds in.  Consider what new products they might put on the conveyor - which could worked in during the season. Finally Homer, still at the power plant, moving a bit slower. It all continues as normal with the couch gag, only now someone always falls off because the couch is now too small.

The season proceeds as normal, only everyone aged up. It's the near future, no flying cars or Mars colonies or aliens, just slightly more advance technology, except Mr. Burns who is still alive through the miracle of technology.

The characters are older, some fatter, some fitter, all having followed natural arcs. Moe finally found someone, but now wants to return to being single. Apu's kids now run the various Kwik-e-marts around town. Wiggum is still Police Chief, but now Ralph Wiggum is a deputy. Mayor Quimby is still mayor, just older, more corrupt, with Nelson as his young aide. Milhouse is at Springfield U, but still hangs out with Bart at the community college.  

And so it's different, but a closer look and it seems like nothing has changed - Homer is still the comic everyman wrestling with the same problems of being a good father, Bart is still a prankster and now slacker, Lisa still can't make friends even in college (she found out Springfield diplomas aren't really accepted anywhere), and Marge still frets about everyone. Throughout the season Maggie gets the classic just off-screen character treatment - the other characters talk about stuff Maggie has said or quote Maggie, but the audience never hears her speak, and extension of the joke from other in the future episodes.

During the last season, you have two or three episodes that are essentially repeats - copies of the old episodes word-for-word with the characters older, reacting slightly differently (or in Bart's case exactly the same showing that he hasn't grown up). Someone might even mention that the whole thing feels familiar. But now we get to experience the world with Lisa the frustrated intellectual in teenage/young adult situations, Bart a little edgier but still as silly. Maybe a whole episode of just missing hearing Maggie speak, or maybe even a whole episode in silence. The shift opens a whole new set of stories to complete and round out the characters. And as we get down the last ten or so shows, we wrap the lives of the prominent side characters.  

At the start of the last episode, the person who falls off gets up and suggests they get a new couch.

In the last episode Homer retires, Lisa gets engaged to Milhouse. Bart finds out his girlfriend is pregnant and finally feels he has to grow up, and just as Maggie walks into the kitchen and takes a deep breath to speak...the screen cuts to black. 

Okay, so I went with the Soprano's ending. Sue me.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The House I Want (Part One)

Planning for the Future Post #1

I may have told this story before, but when I first got to Atlanta many, many years ago, my brother used to do this thing to motivate himself. During his lunchtime, he'd go down to Lenox Mall, as his office was right there, and try on Rolex watches. The feel of it on his arm would encourage him to try harder, to think bigger. And although there were good times when things were unfolding as they should and he could have gone down and gotten one, he never did. I think it might have been our upbringing to some degree, in that we're not flashy people and though we dream about it we're really more substantive people.

So to motivate myself, get the old juices flowing as it were, I'm making my Rolex the idea of my dream home. It won't be my next home, which I hope to relocate to sometime in the next 24 months (God and the GA Bar Association willing), but it's coming. I will get there.
A template for a great home.
The kind of place where I'll have friends over to watch the game, dinner parties and drop-ins. A HQ from which I can jog, walk to the market for fresh fruit, or sit out on the deck with friends under a starlit sky and tell fantastic lies about how things used to be until we just can't stand it anymore. It's coming. I can feel it. I just have to keep going.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Odd Quotes

But when I get here! Oh boy, then....

Beware of Destination Addiction - a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job and with the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is always somewhere else, it will never be where you are.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri 2014 (2)

This is a political post.

I don't really go to the movies, because a) I really don't want to go alone and b) I be broke. But I do take a few minutes every few weeks to read up on the reviews, so that eighteen months from now when it ends up on cable, I'll know what I'm getting into. By the way, why hasn't the Avengers made it to cable yet? Even FX which is where Thor ended up for some reason. But I digress, this isn't about those movies, it's about a movie I read the review for, or rather a premise from that movie that I think could have been used...and still might be used...for something other than YA romance...stuff. 

The film is If I Stay, which is based on the novel of the same name and is about a young shy cellist who has been in car accident, falls into a coma and has a series out of body experience/flashbacks. She reviews her life where she's found the perfect teenage boyfriend who just gets her and listens to  pleas for her to just wake up.

My idea is to adopt the premise, the flashback/out of body experience part to the story of a young black man who has just been in an incident with the police and now is in the hospital or dying. To me, and I say this without having read the original story or seen the movie, but to me I think that properly used by another filmmaker this premise has the opportunity to show a conflicted character on all sides and tell a much more socially relevant piece of fiction.

Here is my idea. Open with the scene of the incident. It's all flashing blue lights, bodies moving in the dark, before we focus on the body of the black man in the street. Then the title comes up.

At the hospital, we get the cliche race through to ER, and we see the main character's face, and the camera then pans up to the same face, as the character's spirit watches the activity surrounding his body. We see him flashback to his first day of high school then to maybe to Sunday morning with his parents at church.

His "spirit" visits his mother and father who have gotten the news, and their expressions of rage and anguish. We flashback to see him arguing with mother. His father making suggestions at odds with his own plans for the future. The flashback continues to show him doing silly, possibly illegal things with friends - smoking, underage drinking. His "spirit" listens to his mother tell his grandmother what has happened.

He flashes back goes to his childhood, where you see him interact with grandmother and extended family, children at play, adults socializing. This leads into a seen of him socializing with friends now, then plays back to him at the playground as a child.

His "spirit" visits his friends, some of whom lament his situation, others who feel he deserved it. He visits the neighborhood, hearing how people he didn't even know thought of him. He flashbacks again, but this time to the start of this day. To moments with his girlfriend, with his friends. We see him basically living the life of an ordinary teenager. 
 

I don't have the whole thing fleshed out, there would be a lot more flashbacks, his spirit hearing the police officer describe the scene, hearing his friend talk about the same scene, etc. The idea just struck me earlier today as how to expand the original premise, but give both sides of the story in a generally palatable dramatic format. The whole idea of the film is to show the main character, a young black male, not as a thug nor as a choir boy, but as a whole person. And to show that one person's version of events can differ from another person's version, and that those differences are important when a life hangs in the balance.

And yes, this idea was prompted by my thoughts on Ferguson, which I'm having trouble expressing. Next week, I'm going with light stuff, not because this isn't relevant, but because my mind needs to be somewhere else for a minute.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Odd Quotes


 “The main thing you got to remember is that everything in the world is a hustle.”
— Alex Haley from The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri 2014

This is a political post.

I don't quite know what to say. Too many stories not enough facts, but enough to know this isn't being handled properly. But then I saw this picture on Twitter/Tumblr. It struck me on a number of levels.

Ferguson, MO 2014
Has it come to this? Are black people not allowed to peacefully protest in America?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Go Gentle oh Ye Robin, Travel Well. You Will be Missed.


Drama is easy, comedy is hard. Very hard. A moving production of Shakespeare or Beckett are a walk in the park compared to making large groups of people howl with laughter. It's one of the reasons I've always found it hard to agree with the Oscars when riotous comedies aren't nominated. 

I remember hearing a story about Robin Williams years ago. That he'd once gone on stage and done two hours of stand-up comedy for the early show that had the audience in stitches. Then, for the second show less than an hour later he did another two hours of amazingly funny stuff, and NEVER DID THE SAME JOKE. That takes funny. Real funny.

Comedy is rare talent. Few have it. Robin Williams was one of them. His performances are right there at the top of the pantheon of comedic excellence. Good Morning Vietnam was falling down funny.  And I could watch him be funny in almost anything, even films I really had no intention of watching. I didn't think I would like The Birdcage, but because of Williams I watched it and was blown away. I really didn't plan to watch Hook, or Jumanji or Mrs. Doubtfire. Saw them all. His voice over work is legendary. He practically made the move Robots work. I saw Aladdin specifically for his performance as the Genie. I'm such a fan of his comedy I even thought he was good in Popeye.

The term "National Treasure" was once applied, and I actually got angry when someone questioned it.   

The world today is a little less funny. No, that's not accurate, its a lot less funny, than it was yesterday. He was just that damned good.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Notes for a Young Black Man from an Older Black Man

Ramblings Post #267
I've been gone for a minute, now I'm back with the jump-off. I've been working on some projects, looking at some options and trying to find a gig, but this here just hadn't been it for a moment. I just need to get my feet back on the ground and get moving. But as I was working to get my mind right, doing some reading, this came to me so I wrote it down. This is the expanded version, I put it up somewhere else first, but it needed polish. 


There is a saying, that one should take the thing that they love to do, and figure out how to make money at it, and thus they will never have to work a day in their life. And it's true, however, to make the adage work one has to broaden one's horizons and realize that there is more to life than music and basketball. This is not to say that talent in those areas will not beget success but talent will only take you so far, popularity is fleeting and knees eventually give out. Our immediate history is littered with many talented rappers who found no success, and legendary schoolyard basketball players who have to arrange the early shift at the factory so that they can play when the sun is out. A wise person does not make the MOST difficult path their only path.

What I am saying is that the world is bigger. There are lots doctors, accountants, pharmacists and others whose personal and professional lives are contain all those things the media parades in front of us as the trappings of success, only not so grandiose. But we have a tendency to have our eye only on the top pedestal and soothe our soul by calling it "focus." I think all young black men, really all young men, should step outside their comfort zone and experience something different, if only to get perspective, but mostly because we've straight jacketed ourselves into narrow definitions of blackness, manhood, and expectation. I suggest this because despite what people tell you, much of our success lies in prepared for the opportunities when the arise, and what we're doing now isn't preparing us for much.

Read. Travel. Explore. Do those things not considered "black" in the colloquial sense and you may find out that you are more than just black.

Now, as an older black man, my hobbies are reading, writing, PC computer games, Console video games, some sports (as I said I'm older, but I'm also out of shape) and good conversation. I've been meaning to take up golf and cycling, but I'm not in that spot right now. Some of it is not exactly what you'd expect. But why those? And how do they help me achieve success, both professional and personal?

Well read people tend to appear knowledgeable, which is usually viewed as favorable. Plus regular reading broadens your knowledge base if you browse several subjects. I enjoy history, politics, news and investigative journalism, satire, and good fiction. Things outside the section of the bookstore people might normally expect someone of African descent to inquire about. Yes, read the Autobiography of Malcolm X, but also read something else. Anything else. Harry Potter if you must, but something else. And when I'm not reading novels I read Vanity Fair, the Atlantic, Slate, and a host of other titles online and in print to keep my mind tuned. A five minute article here. A brief blurb there. Frequent reading helps comprehension in all aspects of life and helps you to recognize and understand situations faster than lesser read counterparts, as you've seen them before. Most of work is the solving of problems, whether it be an oil change or figuring out construction project schedules. And most people when they need help turn to people they think of as knowledgeable.

People who write regularly have a tendency to gain skill at it. And writing becomes valuable in professional communication, such as applying for jobs or writing emails. A professional looking email between colleagues makes people wonder how much more you really know. It can help in evaluating the wording in contracts you might have to sign and other agreements. Because you will have this familiarity you know when something reads wrong, which may help you avoid future issues.

PC computer gaming usually isn't "twitch based" how fast can you press a button, but most times require thinking, planning and strategy. Consider it exercise for the brain, just like pushups and sprints are exercises for the other muscles. And while creating a virtual airplane empire or building imaginary pizzas may seem silly on the surface, the training can translate into real world application where planning and strategy become second nature. This rudimentary development of critical thinking skills can assist with the practical improvement and advancement, both personal and professional.

Console games. Well, I just like console games. But, the use of the games, especially in this modern age helps develop social skills. Okay, not really, but something had to go there. Currently I use them as ways not to waste money. I can spend $20 on a used game from Gamestop and it will fill a month of evenings I might otherwise be out wasting money I don't have on drinks and expensive food. It's a small investment with a pretty good return. I'm even thinking about renewing my Playstation Plus membership.

And good conversation. When I say good conversation, I don't mean the gossip of the day, which can be fun and informative. No, instead I mean politics, beliefs, world views. If you're well read, in areas outside those that are expected of you, you can develop better relationships. Which lead to more opportunity. Consider this, you have what you think is a good opportunity, but you're unsure, so whom do you have evaluate it? Someone whom you consider knowledgeable. Which leads you back to my first point, being well read. And if you broaden your circle of conversation, you get more opportunity.

Plain and simple, taking those things we know how to do and expounding on them, means learning to more things. Things Black...and not Black. We make a big deal about being black and proud, or staying "real." But the truth is while we are Black men, we are more than just Black, and all the stereotypes that go with it. And while these tools I use seem simple and crude, there is a method to the madness, in that they are flexible and prepare the mind for the broad. Starting here doesn't mean you'll finish here. Reading mentally takes you places and lets you peek in on new experiences. Writing lets you express yourself. Strategy is always valuable. It's not the tools, its how they're used.

My suggestion to the young black man is be black. And then be more than just black.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Odd Quotes

Picture from the Internet. I've had it for a while. I forget.
 The reason you started something may ultimately turn out to not be what you imagined, but sometimes it was the journey that belief took you on, and what that journey prepared you for, that was what was truly important. 
~ Anonymous (i think)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Once more, we dance...

Photo from boxing360.com
This is a picture you don't see often. It's the Greatest, the one and only Muhammad Ali after he'd been knocked down. It's the the last ten seconds of the fourth round of a fight against Henry Cooper. It was a fight that he claimed he would win in five. At the point this photograph was taken, things did not look especially good for him.

History will note that Ali did win that fight in the fifth round.

Ding.

That was MY bell.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sometimes you win, and sometimes you get your a......

Ramblings Post #266
It is my opinion that every child should play a team sport. Soccer, baseball, field hockey, something. So that they can learn teamwork. And how to take instruction.  And that even if you're very good, you still need the rest of the team to participate. And learning to play your specific role in the overall success of the group. And how to lose. And how losing is not the end of the world, and you have to get ready for the next play/batter/volley/game no matter what. Might make the whole world a little bit better place. I'm just saying. 

Graphic from Reddit...
Americans who don't follow soccer might have some trouble grasping the magnitude of the loss Brazil suffered at the hands of Germany yesterday. So let me put it in perspective.

Remember this year's Superbowl? Where all-world quarterback Peyton Manning of the heavily favored Broncos flubbed the snap on the first play of the game and it resulted in a safety? Yes?  Think of that, only imagine they gave fourteen points for safeties. And that Manning repeated that same fumble the next four or five times the Broncos got the ball. Each one resulting in a fourteen point safety. Kinda like that.

It's not really that Germany beat Brazil, it was how they did it. These were supposed to be evenly matched teams squaring off in a duel of strategy. But it turned into a squad of pros versus a city league team in the blink of an eye. The Gas House Gorillas. Ugly doesn't begin to cover it. 

I didn't see most of the game, been very busy, tuned right before halftime and thought the counter was
broken. Then checked ESPN just to make sure and clicked it right back off. Caught the highlights around midnight. The score reminded me of my childhood, where they city league makes the mistake of putting five or six big kids on the same team. I remember that because they did that when I was playing....and lord, as one of those 'big kids' we should have exercised a little sportsmanship. Should have. Like what what the Germans did, a just kind of run the clock out strategy for the second half. Something you really don't see too often at the top level.

I hope that somebody took the Brazilian team out for Pizza and Root Beer afterwards. Or at least milkshakes. I'm just saying.

Barkeep, although I really shouldn't could I get a french vanilla milkshake? Yes, whipped cream.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Secret of Good Living


Is there a right way to live?

Philosophers, Theologians and Scientists have debated the issue for 15 minutes over a latte and a scone and concluded that YES, there is! Bliss, joy, happiness, and [adjective] can all be yours, simpler, easier AND with 15% less fat than regular. Yes, you too can learn the secret, the secret THEY don't want you know, the secret to losing all that excess weight, getting out that stubborn stain and making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich!

Available now!  I've put it all down in this 8-page pamphlet that I will provide to you free of charge, just pay $14.99 for shipping and handling, and the $6.50 service fee. And the $12 ticketmaster surcharge. Answer to life not good in Puerto Rico or New Mexico. Terms and conditions apply. No refunds. May cause sweating, rashes and the occasional need for doughnuts. Sold as is. If not satisfied, return and we'll enjoy it.

Monday, June 30, 2014

This why I stopped listening to critics...TV critics.

Ramblings Post #265
I got a lot on my mind, a lot left to do and little time to do it in. I got a lot of things coming at from a lot of different directions, less resources than I would like but still there is a lot I want to accomplish. And while I'm doing all that, I will occasionally take an hour out of my day to watch some TV. Or rather, read about some TV. This is about me reading about TV. 

In a free moment, well it was already one in the morning, I wasn't going to retain anything useful anyway, I watched the first episode of Tyrant, a new show on FX. This was a bad move because if the show was interesting I wasn't going to have time to watch more episodes. But I found the show interesting, at least worth an episode or three, and then for some reason went and looked up the reviews. And it reading those reviews two things became quickly evident: a) If a reviewer doesn't like the show, every little thing irritates them and b) reviewers don't really watch shows they don't like. There are other problems with the reviews as well, but I'll get to those.

The overall story is an upper middle class doctor from California, Bassam "Barry" Al-Fayeed, who left behind is former life as the second in line to the throne of a fictional Middle Eastern country, and upon returning at his wife's urging for his nephew's wedding for the first time in 20 years things get dramatic really, really fast. As he actively tries to minimize their immersion in his past life, events beyond his control start to drag him back to a life he never intended to leave. Pretty snazzy description, eh?

Our protagonist seems to be hiding a lot about his old family from his new family, and we're treated to motivations and justifications through flashbacks and brooding looks. Plus, just as the lead character is based on Syria's Assad, the character of his brother, first in line, seems to based another real figure in recent history, Uday Hussein. Cold and brooding vs. hot headed crazy! Properly told, I think the story has legs, but we'll need a few more episodes to see if it can build upon this foundation. I'd rate it a watch and see.

Now the reviewers. Ugh.

Several of the reviews likened the premise to a cheap Middle Eastern knockoff of the Godfather, which I thought was unfair. Matching The Godfather is a pretty high bar for excellence for any media offering, most programs and movies don't measure up, but apparently the critics that drew upon that as a basis didn't realize it's based on more current events, see Syria. So, this is actually a little closer to Law & Order's ripped from the headlines than classic Oscar worth cinema. Or maybe even the cliched Black Sheep. But if your whole frame of reference immediately sends you to a forty year old classic film...what are you gonna do?

One of my biggest irks was the idea one critic (and I can't find the article at this point) had of the family unbelievably treating the entire trip as though it was a VIP ride instead of a trip into dangerous territory, thus revealing to me that particular reviewer as someone who viewed the entire Middle East as just plain dangerous. First, there are countries that one can safely visit in the Middle East. And second, since the family is actual royalty - AND they were met by a private 747, picked up in luxury autos, had traffic stopped for their ride through the city and noticed the ten story propaganda photo of the head of the family on the way to the Palace where they were attending a ten million dollar wedding, I would imagine that feeling like a VIP wasn't too far off the mark. When the story added an element of tension, a possible terrorist attack on the ceremony, it was between the father and older son in private, and appeared to have been kept out of the public eye. The country seemed peaceful, they were treated like royalty, so why should the family have been worried? Just because it was the Middle East? Ugh. Update: (7/2) This is why its important to catch the first five minutes of a show. I missed the news article about strife scene completely, but only saw it on a re-watch. So, I kinda halfway got that wrong. 

And, some complained that the first episode didn't really flesh out the protagonist's children, to which I wonder exactly how long the reviewer thought the show had? It was the first episode, establishing the characters, full of exposition and setting the stage for later occurances. I can imagine there will be later episodes that give the younger actors more screen time, but for now we just need to establish them. I got the impression that the reviewers, having already decided that they didn't like the show were now just looking for reasons to trash it.

The reviews I read seemed to expect something different than what was presented, apparently  expecting Oscar worthy performances of a completely original story that fleshed out all the speaking characters in detail and fully explored the nuances of Middle Eastern tensions and culture without getting too bogged down...all in fifty two minutes.  And once they realized what they were watching was a television show and not an impossible dream they turned on it.

Am I saying Tyrant is the next Wire, Sopranos or Breaking Bad? Let me be clear here, NO. What I am saying is that the show needs to be spared the welts of failure because it is not what was expected as it drew first breath. The clips indicate that although our fictional Middle Eastern state is quiet now, it's not going to stay that way, and it looks like Barry will be right in the middle of it.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Wait, what?

Ramblings Post #264
This has no bearing at all on the post below it, except that I wrote it after I wrote the post and because of what I wrote I'm not hungry, and am fantasizing about food. Chili dogs with onions on poppy seed buns with house cut french fries. Honey BBQ wings with crinkle cut fries. Falling off the bone ribs and a baked potato. A large mixing bowl of cereal. None of which I am supposed to be eating. Again, this post is about finding out things about people you think you know....but man, for some fried chicken and corn on the cob.

 My girl Spanky heads for the Middle East next month, after many months of delays from her new employer. She's rented out her house to a friend, moved most of her stuff out, and is getting ready for what promises to be a few years in a less than luxurious accommodations. And she's going to do a little last minute voodoo.

Let me explain.

Spanky called me yesterday after a long break, which normally means she's been doing something that she knows she shouldn't be doing, is ashamed of and doesn't want to hear my pithy but usually astute thoughts on the subject. Translation : She's still going out with him. But she claims this time it's just because she's been really super busy trying to get everything in order for heading out. Since I have one required outing a day - and had skipped the previous day - I suggested a late lunch. She declined, as she had a few more things to get ready for her cleanse. I winced when she said it, because I remembered my own intestinal cleanse and although it cleans you out, the little nozzle they use feels like its....er, I digress. Then ole' Spanky said she still had to pick up the roosters. Wait, roosters?
I have no proof her cleanse started like this...yet.
And cue the surreal music.

I inquired what kind of cleanse was this, and why did it require live chickens? Well, it turns out a 'spiritual' friend of her's from FB was going to perform a ritual to cleanse her before she left the country, involving not one but several chickens. Forgoing any details, primarily because I still wanted to eat that late lunch, I asked her if she was serious. Spanky then revealed this was her SECOND such cleanse, the last of which occurred after her previous horrible paramour and right before this horrible paramour. So it's not so much a "hey, why not" and more of a "You got anymore of them voodoo" type of thing.

I was at a slight loss for words.

I learned long ago that sometimes those things your friends do when you're not around might stop them from being your friend. As a kid it might have been finding out your friends family actually has a Family Game night. In college, that your best buddy doesn't believe in cleaning as a thing. Something they do that's just a little out of kilter, that skews the numbers just outside of acceptable. I'm not saying this is that thing for me and ol' Spanky, but let's just say it's not looking good. Maybe her trip to Middle East has her mind working on different levels. Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe I prefer my chicken to come with cole slaw, fries and some bread or a roll.

Damn, now I want some fried chicken. And some dirty rice. How far is Popeyes?

Barkeep, put that in a to-go cup. What do you mean that's illegal?