Friday, August 31, 2007

Children of Men

We went to Chili's for dinner last night and genius that I am, I decided to have hot wings for an appetizer. I thought it was early enough in the evening not to affect me, but sure enough I was up at 2:50 a.m. staring at the wall because my stomach was quaking.

Usually, when that happens and I can't sleep I don't fight it. I go downstairs and watch TV until I drift off again. Sometimes I watch a movie. Last night it was Children of Men. I've pretty much abandoned my "movie reviews" as I find my way in blogging but I have to say this movie blew me away so let's talk about it.

I won't critique it or review it really but it totally stood out to me. If you haven't seen it I won't spoil it much here, but if you're dying to see it and don't want to risk me ruining it, go check out some cool blogs to the left.

Children of Men was terrifically shot and well acted in a mostly understated way. Some action scenes followed the lead character through a city at war with no camera breaks for the longest time. Incredible. I didn't time it or anything, but one scene in particular must have been close to five minutes complete with our hero running from one cover spot to the next as shootings and explosions abound. I can't imagine the number of director takes there must have been to film that particular scene. Or some of the others for that matter.

There's plenty of war-type violence and the reality of it is in accord with the "new" way of filming war/violent scenes. Bullets no longer go "zing" "ping" "peeeowww" like the cowboy shootouts. Instead they are more realistically shown as "pink" and "thwick". Victims "explode" more realistically as well. Seldom does one see a shootee grabbing their stomach and falling to their knees anymore. Parts of them come out the other side and they stagger/fall back in the direction such a serious impact would take them. However, this enhanced violence brings with it enhanced heart-rates in the viewer. It is really quite affecting.

Of note, though, is our lead, Theo, played incredibly and quietly by Clive Owen, uses little violence to ferry the expectant mother, and later mother and child, to "safety". Although the movie leaves the resolution somewhat up in the air.

There are poignant scenes of a temporary truce as rebels and soldiers gawk in amazement as the newborn is whisked out of harms way. Yet, I kept thinking throughout that at any second Theo will grab one of the many available guns. But he never does. I rather liked that angle of the movie. He's basically a passive activist but certainly a brave one.

Another angle I liked was how little the future technology influenced the movie. Since it takes place in 2027 our technology has advanced. But the creators of this fine movie preferred to leave all that in the background. Its there for us to wonder at (clear PC screens, plasma ads on buses, fully computerized cars) but is never intrusive. The director, producers and writers weren't compelled to show off how creative their vision of the future could be instead showing us an entirely plausible one but keeping it mostly out of the story.

The movie is laden with current societal social comment, obvious biblical references and a kick-you-in-the-teeth dark ideal of where humankind could be headed. But the movie also offered up some hope; which is its basic premise. Although things really are shown quite bleakly.

Of course, the new baby - the first one in 18 years - represents hope. My only concern would be who would want to bring a new baby into that world.

Having said that, see this movie if you haven't. Its really terrific. Now I'm going to go read a real review on it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Childhood Memories

My Little One is coming up on five years old. She began Kindergarten on Monday and absolutely loves it. In related news, she's extremely proud to show off that fact that she can tie her own shoes. For real! Her older classmates can't even do it. I don't think I could until I was probably eight! But she can. That's my girl.

Last night, it occurred to me that she is probably at the age where she will have some memories for the rest of her life. I believe girls/women have better recollection of early childhood then men. In fact, my mom claims to remember being in a crib. I'm not so sure about that but my wife says she remembers the death of her grandmother at four. I know that I have some memories from Kindergarten for sure.

I remember my best friend's mom walking us to the bus stop. Kids didn't get picked up outside their house door then like now. We walked maybe a block. One time, she gave me a Popcorn Ball. Such a treat then. She always had the coolest treats! I also remember her teaching me my left from right. For years, in my mind, I had to position myself on my street, in front of the Jarvis house, facing south and then I'd know that that side was my left since it was where I was standing when she taught me.

In school, I remember warm 1/2 pints of milk for snack. It went with two cookies but I think they set the milk out on a tray like an hour before snack time. It still tastes gross in my mind. Something about those cardboard containers made the milk taste warm in the best of circumstances, let alone leaving it out forever.

I remember a kid in school, T.L., lifting the teacher's skirt and we all got an eyeful of her white underwear. Believe me, it was a big deal. Go figure how a little boy would remember that. But I do.

I also remember that same teacher playing guitar and singing to us in class. I thought taht was so cool. Looking back, she was pretty hippy-ish. It was 1972 after all. I remember her ear being bandaged because her new puppy pulled her hoop earring through the skin. Ouch! But we all adored her and I was lucky enough to have her again in 2nd grade. Good old Mrs. D.

I also remember a trip to Disney, that same kid, T.L. barfing during math class, a girl wiping out off the glider breaking her arm with the subsequent ambulance and nudie pictures from a magazine stuck to the windows outside the school. Although, I'm pretty sure all of that took place after Kindergarten.

Lastly, I remember wanting to sleep in my parent's bed. Currently, we are weaning the Little One off coming in to "snuggle". We reason with her that "big girls sleep in their own bed all night". She's trying like crazy and buying into the program. She so much wants to be a big girl. But she gets scared. Mrs. B. and I are trying to stick to our guns but we don't really mind her in our bed so much. Of course, when she wakes me out of a cold sleep and I'm too groggy to get up with her, it seems easier to just let her climb up. We're working on it though.

I did the same thing at that age. I remember being scared and tapping lightly on my parent's door. "Mommy? Can I come in?" as I opened the door a crack. My dad would groan a bit. But they usually let me. I remember pattering my feetie jammies over to their seemingly huge bed. Looking back, I think it was only queen sized though. I remember the room always smelled like a mix of Chanel No. 5, baby powder and oil. Industrial, machine oil; not motor oil. To this day, those smells make me think of my parents. My mom had some "expensive" cologne for going out and my dad worked in a machine shop. The stainless steel always had a slight hint of oil on it and he naturally assumed the odor. Perhaps its not pleasant to some. But it was and is to me. Always will be.

So, I'd lie there between them. My mom always on her back, with one arm above her head in a Scarlett O'Hara drama pose as if she's about to faint. And my dad, always on his side, in light-colored PJ pants with no underwear underneath (yeef!) and a plain white tee shirt.

I'm not sure at what age, but I also remember lying in my own bed and hearing their headboard squeaking like crazy one night. My dad must have gotten up to try to fix it, because the squeaking turned into a banging against my wall. That was my dad, always fixing something. I couldn't hear words, but my mom was moaning a bit too. No doubt she was mad at being awakened. Eventually, he got it fixed because all sound stopped rather abruptly. Good thing, too. I was starting to feel scared.

I wonder what my little one will remember.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


My Dork-O-Meter has officially gone off the charts. I have begun my preparation for the fantasy football draft in the league I run.

I know. I know.

But it IS fun and it sure makes Sunday's more interesting when my Jets are stinking up the place. Besides, first place is about $600.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Simple Things

Wanna know an incredibly simple and inconsequential thing that makes me happy? Nothing heavy like family, or holidays or promotions or the like. Something really simple. I LOVE when I come back to the office and have no voice mails. LOVE IT! I just returned after being out for 90 minutes and nothing! Rock on!

I don't mind calls when I'm here, but there is something about coming back to the "MSG" note on the phone and knowing I have to go into it, retrieve the message and at the very least return a call if not tackle a task.

What simple, inconsequential thing makes you happy?

p.s. I hate messages on my cell phone too. I saw the call there. I'll call back.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Coffee Shirt

The other day, while driving into work, I spilled coffee on the white golf shirt I wore. Worse, is that I am simply too vain to suck it up and just walk around the office all day in a stained shirt. So, what's a fella to do when its 8am and there's nothing open yet? Well, this fella cruised over to his golf course, which is closer to his office than his home, and used $40 pro-shop credit (won from a tournament) to buy a $42 golf shirt to wear for the day. Two bucks out of pocket. Not bad.

Anybody have a Tide Stick?

Friday, August 17, 2007

We Will - We Will - Rock You!

....thump, thump, crash.....thump, thump crash.....thump, thump, crash.....

My "other" softball league team won the championship game last night, 6 to 3. Yours truly had a good game in left field and hit ok to help the cause. Afterwards, there was a champagne spraying moment at the field. I've won championships before, but never got doused in champagne before. Unfortunately, it was purple Cold Duck and some of our fans may need to be reimbursed for dry cleaning bills. D'oh!

Also, some on the team saw fit to celebrate by drinking a few Mohitos in the pub afterwards. I don't know, but that just doesn't seem very "championship" to me. Beer does. Tequila does. But a drink with leaves in it? Probably not. I won't hold it against them. How can "thong guy" be judgmental of that, right? Of course, I haven't made them privy to that little story.

....there's no time for losers, cuz we are the champions......of the world!!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Blue Light Special

I have hemmed and hawed (what exactly does that mean? sounds like farm sounds) about posting this story. However, since I got a little personal with yesterday's post, I figure I'll stay on that vein and go personal again.

Let me see if I can word it correctly --

Over the weekend, after Friday night's fireworks were reasonably forgotten, I was out shopping at K-Mart. They had golf shirts on sale for $7 so I thought I would check them out. The selection was pretty good and as I was picking out 4 in my size I saw something at an endcap (like my use of a retailing term for end of aisle?) that caught my eye. Packs of men's underwear were on sale. 50% off. Normally $10 but now $5. So I meandered to over to check it out.

I'm pretty much of a boxer brief guy. They're comfortable, yet supportive and if I choose to wear baggy shorts I don't get much chub-rub. You know, when one's warm, sweaty thighs rub together and get irritated. I'm by no means fat. Six feet and 185, so I can only imagine how bad it might be for a significantly overweight person. But still. Boxer briefs could be the best invention ever to alleviate that pesky little problem.

I digress.

Perhaps I was feeling randy, or horny, or what have you but I noticed they had one (yeah, one) pack of men's thong underwear on the rack. Perhaps they sold out of the others? And that one pack, of 5 pair, were in my size; medium. After nearly 11 years of marriage and 19 years with the same wonderful woman, its not out of the ordinary for me to, shall we say, find means to keep things exciting? Steak and sizzle are great. But it can be better with just a little spice. A-1 sauce anyone?

My mind wandered. Should I? Shouldn't I? Nah? Yeah? Why not? Would she like them? Hmmmm....

I'm secure enough in my own masculinity to set aside the gay angle assuming men's thongs equal gay. They probably do. I don't really care though. My main concern was whether she would like them or not. I wavered. She LOVES my butt. And, if I do say so myself, it IS one of my best features. If she doesn't find them sexy, at the very least it would be funny, right? To clarify, I was thinking of them just for "fun". As Borat would say, "To make sexy time". I didn't have any ideas of wearing them under my clothes to work or out with the boys on Monday Night Football.

Without further ado and waffling I grabbed the pack and slipped them under the hangered, yet folded, new shirts. I was nervous so it seemed prudent to hide them. I've bought lingerie for the Mrs. It doesn't really bother me. I have to admit, though, this was making me nervous. I'm not sure if it was purchasing them or Mrs. B's future reaction. Next, I worried about finding the right cashier. What exactly IS the right cashier though? I decided "who cares what a cashier thinks?".

One of my favorite all-time things happened next. They rang up cheaper than I was willing to pay. I once bought a computer that rang up $150 less than I thought I it would cost. I had thought the initial price was a bargain! You couldn't get the doofy smile off my face for hours after that. This purchase wasn't at that level, of course, but they rang up at $1. Yup. A dollar. Cool beans. At least my idiotic purchase wouldn't send me to the poor house.

Shortly after, I proudly walked in the house and showed off my four, new, stylish shirts for which I paid $28. The Mrs seemed impressed. Perhaps she was humoring me. She tends to temper my excitement at times.

I kept my other purchase a secret. I was still unsure what to do.

The evening progressed and before bed I slipped on a plain gray thong under some silk boxers. Without going into much detail, at some point later she discovered them. She eyed them like she was examining some new species recently discovered in the Amazon. I sat there with my crooked, sheepish smile.

I laughed that nervous, closed-mouth laugh. In text it would sound like hmm, hmmm. She sorta smiled and asked to see my butt in them. I believe her response, which was all long and drawn out, was something along the lines of, " the butt for them." Its my sincere feeling she was being Politically Correct.

Normally, I would ask her opinion on something like that (like I do that all the time). I don't think I had to in this instance. Her viewpoint was pretty clear.

Hey, at least I tried. I hope there's bonus points for effort.

Think I could ebay the other four pair?

Monday, August 13, 2007

What Do You Want Me To Do (About It)?

How often have you phrased something incorrectly and your intention or tone was totally misconstrued? How often, when people argue, are they closer to common ground than they actually realize, but because one is trying so desperately to be understood that they fail to stop, think and listen so as to actually understand? How often, if both parties were to make more of an attempt to find what they are in agreement with rather than harp on the differences would issues not escalate.

Miscommunication seems to be the breeding ground for spousal strife. They say kids and money too, but to me lack of understanding is the troll under the bride for marriage.

Mrs. Blogger went out with her sister and a friend on Friday night. By around 11:30 or so I had dozed off only to be awakened as the house phone rang. I didn't get to it in time but noticed it was Mrs. B's cell phone. Although a tad bit concerned, it is not uncommon for her to call to tell me she'll be home shortly, or is on her way or to say she's still out but not to worry. She knows I'm usually up at that hour.

Still groggy and disoriented from such a short amount of sleep I answered my cell phone when it rang next. Of course it the Mrs. and she said, "My car won't start. I'm in (my sister's) car and I'm freezing, too." She sounded curt and pissed off which is totally understandable when one's car shits the bed in the middle of the night, right?

I asked where she was and she told me she was outside a quiet little pub in her hometown, maybe 25 minutes drive from my house. Knowing she was safe and sound with her sister I uttered 7 words I wish, afterwards, I could get back. I said "What do you want me to do?".

The question I was asking in my head was -- "Do you want me to come up there? Do you want me to meet you at your sister's house? Would you like me to come see if I can get it started? Are you telling me you will just go to your sister's house and spend the night? Is she driving you home?"

You know what she heard? "What do you want me to do about it?". Big difference, no?

Phrased that way it sounds like I'm saying there's nothing I can do, so deal with it. In my defense I was a bit pissed off at the prospect of car troubles, tow trucks and repairs shops other than my own mechanic's. Yet, I was already getting up and to throw some clothes on and thinking about what tools to grab, where my flashlight was and whether the Little One will stay asleep as I load her in the car.

But the wife is hearing, essentially, "tough!". Strike one!

As we were on the phone, she and her sister were going through numerous options and settled on my wife taking her car home and then going back up the next morning to take care of calling Triple A and all that good stuff. I was in a bind the next morning in that I had a major golf tournament at 7:33 so I was going to be worthless until after lunch. At some point as they sorted through the options I chimed in with, "Do you just want me to come up?" She never heard it, apparently. Ouch. Strike two!

I have to admit though, their solution sounded like a perfect way to deal with the situation so I went with it.

My agreement to the idea, however, made it seem to Mrs. B. that I didn't want to help. Big mistake on my part.

Sigh! Strike three!

When she got home she more or less shot daggers through me with her eyes. For the life of me, I didn't know why. I asked what was the matter and it all blew up. I heard how nobody seemed to want to help her and how she didn't want to take her sister's car home and on and on. The part about how nobody wanted to help angered me in that I would never, under any circumstances, not do everything in my power to assist her in time of need. My issue was that she thought, for even one second, that I was unwilling to help her out. I felt insulted.

Each of us, at this point, could have done a much better job of listening.

The whole time, of course, I'm unaware how she took "What do you want me to do?" As our argument escalated, at 1 a.m. no less, her viewpoint on the entire thing slowly sifted through my thick skull and I sort of got the hang of her frustration. I don't feel she ever got the hang of my frustration though.

I learned that what she really wanted to hear from me was, "I'll be right there." Simple as that. Unfortunately, it came in code and I didn't see it. My retort upon learning that was, "If you want something, or I don't seem to be getting the hint, you really, really need to tell me. I can't read minds" I went on to further explain that I can't be held accountable for not doing something when its not clear what I was supposed to be doing. What's not clear, though, is whether she gets my view on it but I don't believe she understands why I was so angered and frustrated.

I tried to explain how the logic of their solution to the problem seemed perfect for the situation being that I was home with a sleeping four and a half year old and surely wouldn't be able to start to car. I was more than willing to offer whatever assistance was required but it seemed at that point my help was not necessary.

It was though. It was more than just a dead car in the middle of the night.

I know for sure next time I'll simply say, "Where are you? I'll be right there!". I wish I had.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What Night?

None of y'all felt compelled to tell me I spelt "comedy" wrong in the heading below? Thanks for having my back! Sheeesh! Is this some conspiracy?

Just let me hang out there all looking like an idiot why dontcha!


Monday, August 6, 2007

Comdey Night

The Little One went camping with her Aunt over the weekend so Mrs. B. and I had some quality time together, even going so far as to take a nap together Saturday afternoon after a nice swim. Granted, it was only an hour nap, but nice nonetheless and those of you with young children are, not doubt, envious.

That evening we called some friends on the spur of the moment and although they had alternate plans, dropped everything to join us (because we're fun, dammit!) for the evening. We all went to a relatively new comedy club in the mall near us. Yeah, its really in a mall. It was the second time the Mrs. and I have been and its quickly becoming one of our favorite ways to spend an evening. There's drinks, dinner and laughs and you can't beat that in my book. Then after we went out for a few more drinks at a local sidewalk cafe on what has to have been one of the most perfect evenings ever in terms of weather, if not company.

The first time we went to the club, about 2 months ago, the Master of Ceremonies and first and third comedians were hysterical. The 2nd one, a woman, wasn't so great. But the others provided plenty of laughs (one joke about "conditioner" on the shower curtain in an apartment of 3 bald guys perhaps clues you in to that particular comedians level - but still funny). The headliner that night was Mike Birbiglia and he killed. Mrs. B. even went so far as to purchase his CD after the show. Its pretty cool to be able to meet and b.s. with the comedians afterwards as they try to make a few extra bucks.

This past Saturday, all three comedians were great and the headliner, a British comedian named John Oliver had me/us laughing at nearly everything he said. Although British, he seemed very tuned into American politics, geography and culture and expertly poked fun at us without offending. His talent has led him to being a correspondent on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Good stuff!

Professional comedians amaze me. Its one thing, in my mind, to be funny in the company of your friends and family, to say something witty at the right time, or spin a good tale or be demonstratively funny. Its another to be able to stand up in front of total strangers, who've paid for you to make them laugh, and do so for 45 minutes straight. Obviously, its a gift, not unlike a musician, and has to be honed and practiced. But, also like a musician, when its bad, it makes the audience's spine hurt.

These guys were far from bad. They was a thing of beauty. I can't imagine to balls it takes to pursue that career.

I hear the club may be in some financial straits. It was about 85% full Saturday night and I would hope that's enough to keep it around as its damn good value for a night out at about $22 plus dinner and drinks.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Sad State

The news out of Minnesota is so sad and tragic. Here in Connecticut we had our own bridge collapse a little over twenty years ago. My thoughts go out to those in Minneapolis affected by this.

Seems to me these tragedies can be traced back to lack of money and should never happen in such an advanced country such as this great one. Its either lack of resources to build it correctly in the first place or money to maintain it or revenue to inspect it.

We have seemingly endless funds to go into other countries, blow up their infrastructure and stick around to help them rebuild it though. We have the money to help them construct or rebuild hospitals and staff them as well. We find the means to train soldiers, firefighters and police officers in those locations too. Of course, we don't have the cash. We merely use a giant Federal Visa Card with no apparent limit on which we never make any move to pay down the principal.

Yet, we don't have the money to make sure our own bridges are safe? Granted, this is not a terribly frequent occurence, but it simply should never happen.

At the same time, we are freezing the hiring of firefighters and police officers? Or worse, laying them off? We are the richest, greatest country in the world and our own civilian's saftey is compromised because of these actions. Now, we can't even count on a bridge not to collapse as we drive home from work? I don't even think about the bridges I cross every day. Nor should I have to. Do you?

So much of our foreign policy, per G.W., is for the safety of the American people, correct? Would it include those American people that die or are under-treated because they have no medical insurance or shitty coverage? Does it encompass those who die when a fucking bridge collapses from under them as they go to pick their kids up at daycare or head to a ballgame?

We continue to vote out politicians who raise taxes. We trump the virtues of those that promise no new ones. Yet, we act incredulous when our $65,000 Lexus plummets off a bridge into the Mississippi river because there was no money to fix it?

Listen. Lowering or freezing taxes doesn't mean that much to the average Joe. $50, $100, $500, $1000, $2000 more a year is not going to change most people's lives. It might be the difference for some but generally, not most. A few percentage points, however, will mean a lot to the CEO of that languishing company who is getting his $55 million parachute package to leave.

I'm an average Joe. Not fearing a goddamn bridge falling out from under me means a lot.

As a nation, where are our priorities? Why can't we get our own house in order? If we're so worried about our own safety then let's collect and spend the money to tighten up the boarders and fix our infrastructure so that we're safe here, not just abroad. I have no problem pitching in my share. Even if my share goes up.

What we don't need is to be spending our tax dollars to blow up other country's bridges in the name of our own safety only to turn around and pay to rebuild or repair them. Yet the safety of our own bridges is disquieting. Based on reports I saw, 13 to 17% of our bridges here are in dire need of repair.

That's roughly three bridges in every 20.

How many different bridges will you drive across this coming year?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Grizzly Adams

Often when I have a series of days off from work, like my stay-at-home vacation of early July, I will not shave as long as I'm not expected to dress up or go out. Its a good chance to give the ole mug a chance to rejuvenate and let's face it, sometimes it feels like I'm shaving with a rusty butter knife day after day.

However, when I went back to work after the last vacation, I merely cleaned up the edges of the beard but kept it. In the past, I've worn a goatee for a bit in the winter-time but quickly got sick of it. Normally, I don't like having facial hair as it comes in with hints of red and gray around the muzzle like an old Labrador retriever not to mention the constant fear of stray food particles dwelling in there. That, and, Mrs. B. has generally preferred me to be clean shaven.

She likes it though.

A co-worker of hers mentioned I looked good with it. Younger too. Mrs. B. said she liked the change and wanted me to keep it for a while because the thought it was handsome. Listen, I'm not Brad Pitt running around constantly being told how dreamy I am as I fight off pretty ladies with an oar. So if I hear it from two women, one being the wife, that's good enough for me!

Keep it I will. Once the Mrs. is sick of it, I'll get rid of it. But for me Grizzly Adams.

Now where's my pet bear, Ben?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

4 to 3

I played softball back-to-back nights on my gimpy knee and my primary team played quite well in the playoffs after a less than stellar regular season. My other team begins the playoffs tomorrow night, but since I'm so new there I don't feel the bond I have with my "main" team. And I don't think I ever will.

But, it came to an end last night in a 4 to 3 loss. That is an incredibly low score for two reasonably talented teams, especially if our 13.8 runs per game average is taken into account. We played pretty good defense but lost to a younger, stronger, faster and, to be frank, better team. No shame in that. We went down fighting but were left in the field as they scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.

I get a bit sad when softball ends. April of next year seems so, so far away and since I'm 40 now the number of seasons left in me are finite. I've known most these guys for 15 to 20 years but our bond is primarily softball. We all have families and work and other commitments so I only see about 3 or 4 of them socially for a round of golf or something.

Even with my bad knee for the past 5 weeks or so, I only missed the one game after I had it drained and played when I perhaps shouldn't have. There's a certain camaraderie in the trenches of softball and I never want to be the guy to let my team down. But we lost. I could have played better too.

Aside from that, though, every year as I leave that park that last night in defeat, it hits me how much I'll miss the competition. How I'll miss the dirt, the smell of the grass, the badgering, the insults, the sweat, the action, the lights, the ping of a bat, the snap of a glove, the post-game beers, the stories, the bullshit and Sox games on the radio.

Its more than the game to us. Its about "the guys". We fight. We bicker. But in the end, we're a team. Not much unlike family.

I'll miss the guys.