Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Finally, the first snowfall of the season.
Coating trees and bushes and lampposts as well as the ground, sidewalks and streets the same as automobiles.
Everything is beautiful, at least for a while.
And best of all, Christmas is coming!
Not for the presents and all the packages, boxes and bags - but for the gathering together of friends and families in joviality. That's what I look forward to.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Irish Fest, I have been to several times. It's held at this HUGE waterfront park that has something like eleven stages from one end to the other, a large number of permanent souvenir and tchotke stands, and beer.
LOTS of beer.
Beer sponsors three of the largest stages, with big signs and bigger bars. I suppose it's no more than one would expect at a festival grounds, where there is one Fest after the other... oh, and the fourth huge stage? Sponsored by Harley Davidson. Motorcycles suspended from the ceiling, that sort of thing. Harleys and beer.
And music, of course. Lots and lots of music. I saw several good bands - Whiskey of the Damned, Reilly, Red Hot Chili Pipers and even Tommy Sands. All in all, a great day.
Stayed overnight in a HECK of a deal via Hotwire. Man, what a nice room and a nice hotel and free breakfast and - OK, so it was seven miles away. You can't have everything. :)
Next day I went to the Wisconsin State Fair.
This... was different.
I've been to the California (not so good) and New York (great!) State Fairs several times. I have been to the Erie County fair a few times, too, and several others. I htought I had pretty much seen anything in fairs.
The Wisconsin Fair has a TON of restaurant/pubs, pretty much all at one end of the fair, serving virtually anything you can think of for fair food and plenty of stuff you probably never considered. Some of these operations are huge - Cousins Subs has an entire section, as do Budweiser and Miller Lite and Leinenkugel (great, more beer).
I mean, HUGE sections. Seating perhaps a thousand or more? At pretty nice wooden bars and tables?
Oh, yeah, besides the beer - which was being offered EVERYWHERE (hey, look at this stand - Popcorn, Corn Dogs, beer!) ...
An aside, here - I LIKE beer. Really. And they had some of my favorites - Red Hook, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - that you really don't find too often in the Chicago area. nothing like a cold frosty beer on a really hot day at the ballpark.
But good grief - there were bars that were blocks long - several of them! Beer signs everywhere. It was just a bit much.
OK, so we've established that Wisconsinites really like their beer. What's the second thing?
Each of these bars/restaurants seemed to have its own band playing songs ranging from a smaller joint's 70s disco songs to the huge Budweiser place's rock-ola. I mean, you couldn't sit down or walk around without hearing a band. I counted thirteen bands before I just gave up and said the hell with it.
Music and beer. There are a lot of worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon, let me tell you.
Oh, they had the usual stuff as well... pig races and sham-wow demos and roast corn (yumm, I had three ears during the course of the day!). They had animals galore (okay, I admit it, I am one of those guys who goes and looks at the ducks and chickens and bunnies and cows and horses and goats and... enjoys it). They had mini-donuts and camel rides and these barrel-shaped rootbeer stands.
And they had rides, of course. I didn't go on anything, but I wandered around to see what was new. They had things there that I had never seen and would never go up in if I was paid to. Besides the usual Kamikaze and Tornado and all, they had a ride which you started standing up, then rotate around. Pretty standard. But then the arm to which this wheel is attached starts to move around in a circle! Wild! THEN the ARM ITSELF rotates and turns the whole contraption UPSIDE DOWN. Picture it - you're standing with your feet pointing toward the sky, rotating around sideways, while the whole contraption moves around in a circle and the arm moves in its own rotation! In-freaking-credible.
Anyway, the state fair has been in the same grounds since something like 1870 or so, but a few of the buildings have been rebuilt since then. It's nice, a big comfortable fair with milk for 25c a glass, and I'm glad I went.
Monday, August 3, 2009
For those uninitiated and those who are currently looking down their nose and sniffing, allow me to elucidate. Doctor Who is the longest running (starting the weekend Kennedy got shot), perhaps the most successful, science-fiction television program.
It has accomplished this by readily changing with the times. When it began, it was seen as a children's TV program, sort of "You are there" with some fantasy elements (it could hardly be called science fiction). Then when the actor either died or left, I'm not sure which, some genius decided to continue with a different actor - a WAY different actor.
With the explanation that a Time Lord regenerates, this unleashed a terrific wave of Doctors. From Jon Pertwee's elegant Earth-bound Doctor to Tom Baker - yes, "the guy with scarf", to the cricket-jacketed Peter Davison, all the Doctors brought their own very different takes and attitudes to the series.
For awhile, the Doctor went away. He had been cancelled, because, even though the special effects on the show were pretty laughable, it was too expensive to produce.
The show returned a few years ago, and has really taken off, with David Tennant the umpteenth Doctor providing the right blend of heroics, flappability and humor.
Last night's episode was the beginning of his third season (he did four), and I thought I'd tune in just to hear the theme music again - oh, the memories that brought back! Memories of myself, alone in my room with a tiny black and white tv, watching Dave Allen At Large and then Doctor Who for who knew how long. See, the Doctor back then starred in as many half-hour episodes as needed to tell a particular story - some were l-o-n-g. Of course, then they strted showing the edited episodes, to make them movie-lenghth - but again, they could run just an hour, or three or four, you never knew.
More than once did I watch Doctor Who, saw the end credits, and went to bed. When I came back the next week, however, they had on an entirely different show! It seemed they ran the programs one after the other, end-credit-PBS blurb-startng credit. All night.
This trick was pointed out to me by one of my friends down at the station. You see, during pledge breaks a BIG contingent of Dr. Who fans would make our way out on the levee to the PBS station, and do pledge breaks. We had a full-sized TARDIS replica that we would all walk out from (the gag being it's bigger inside than outside) to take our seats, a real working robotic K-9 (Tom Baker's Doctor's robotic dog), great costumes for virtually everyone, and most importantly a whole helluva lot of fun.
We'd have Doctor Who quizzes on the air, see upcoming episodes, raise reading awareness, and just have a wonderful time! Ahh, good times.
Anyway, last night.
The Doctor is surprised when a bride teleports aboard the TARDIS in midflight - and she doesn't know how. Add to that robotic Santa Clauses (a vaguely Christmas-themed episodes) with weapons disguised as trumpets and trombones, a wicked spider-lady (body of a huge frickin' spider with a devilish woman's torso stuck on) villain, her husband to be in cahoots with said villain, the resurrection of spider-lady's brood, the destruction of spider-lady's brood by the Doctor, the destruction of spider-lady by the British Army (who evidently is a good deal mroe reliable than the Japanese army fighting Rodan), the Doctor chasing down the kidnapped bride's cab by FLYING the TARDIS down the highway, finding Torchwood's HQ, using the Sonic Screwdriver in several interesting ways, the Doctor ducking out on Christmas dinner...
And everything gets resolved, in an hour!
What a GREAT ride! MAG-nificent.
And boy, did that bring back great memories!
Er, of the show, not of giant spider-ladies in British secret agency HQ armed with Robots disquised as Santa.
I don't think.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
To have some teeth extracted. Some teeth that broke due to my diabetes.
I just can't help but think of Steve Martin's dentist in "Little Shop of Horrors".
This is actually a nice office with nice people in a nice suburb.
But I still don't have to like it.
And I really don't.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Perfect games... are very infrequent. Since the National League was founded in 1876, there have been only 18 games where a pitcher did not allow anyone on the opposing team to reach first base. Not on a wild pitch, not a walk, not a hit... nothing.
Number 18 came yesterday, when White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle hurled one for the ages against Tampa Bay.
I'm not saying no one hit the ball - that isn't true. Matter of fact, the first hitter in the ninth nearly ruined Buehrle's effort by smacking a home run - which was caught by one of the most amazing efforts I have ever seen. Dewayne Wise runs up the wall, catches the ball and pulls it back into the park, loses the ball from his glove, and catches it with his free hand! Awesome!
This from a guy who had previously run into the wall and injured himself. This from a guy who was not about to let his teammate's perfect game be spoiled in the ninth!
That's what makes baseball a team sport, after all. Buehrle's a great pitcher, but he had eight more guys behind him.
I'm not even a Sox fan.
But I am a fan of good - nay, great baseball.
And you gotta admit - that was a game for the ages.
Out of the thousands of games that have been played, there are just 18 perfect ones.
Congratulations, Mark Buehrle.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Of course, now they have to play the Phillies for three in a row.
Worst to first.
I'm betting that they'll take only one, possibly two, from Philly.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
And this year I really, really wish I was going.
I know the Con is sold out, even if I wanted to go, and I really hate - well, maybe that's too strong - how about truly do not enjoy? - what's turned into Hollywood South, with the movies and the wrestling and the Crapanimation and furverts and a . My friends are skipping this year, so I wou1dn't even get to see them. There are no big comic events I am remote1y interested in, no persona1ities I want to see (perhaps no one a1ive).
What, then, is the big attraction? Why go?
I think it's basica11y that I get to wander around for a few days in some superhero T-shirts and just enjoy being a fan of comics.
I just turned 47 a week ago. Forty. Seven.
Seems a little bit old to be reading comic books.
And I don't so much anymore. Reading very few of them now... I went into the store Wednesday And they had nothing in my saver save the weekly Wednesday Comics.
But the ones I do get? I read them probab1y five times, at east, before they get fi1ed away.
I enjoy a 1ot of obscure comics. Knights of the Dinner Tab1e a1ways has me ro11ing. Frank1in Richards, Son of a Genius? Darn funny. There's a Comic Book History comic I like, infrequent as it is.
I just enjoy comics. War comics like Sgt Rock and B1ackhawk. Superhero comics 1ike Batman and Robin. Oddba11 comics that can't be c1assified, 1ike the aforementioned Comic Book History. Comedy comics 1ike Knights of the Dinner Table and Franklinl Richards and Ambush Bug.
and I like the opportunity to wander around a city and see 120,000 other dorks who don't mind letting the world know they like comics too.
I SO want to go.
Next year, though, my friends will be there, and that's the best part of a11. Can't wait!
And by that time maybe I'll have my L key fixed.
Ninety feet between the bases, and the throws usually arrive about the same time the runner does. If it was farther, say, 100 feet, the batter would be out much more often than not. If it was eighty, he'd get to first base almost a the time. But ninety? Perfect.
Similarly, the distance from the pitcher to the hitter. That pitcher is throwing a ball that sometimes reaches 100 mph! That doesn't give the batter much time to see where the ball is going and to try to take a swing at it (This also explains why curve balls and sliders and the ike are so effective - the batter has to commit to swing long before the ball actually arrives, and if the ball's not where he thought it was gonna be he's outta luck.).
The pitcher is just far enough to make things interesting. Farther out, and he'd lose speed and more importantly, the batter would gain time. Any closer and no batter other than the Flash would have enough time to decide whether to swing.
The nine players on defense are spread out around the diamond just enough so that it's possible to catch nearly every hit, and it's also possible to hit into areas where the fielder can't make the play. Again, any change in the number of fielders and you wouldn't have this balance.
On any day, any team stands a chance to beat another team - or be beaten.
It's truly the perfect summer game.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I like the All-Star break. Sometimes it falls on my birthday, sometimes not, but it's a good place to stop and look at your life.
I also like the All-Star game, where baseball's favorites (I hate to say best in this case!) get together and the American League wins. (Heh - only half-kidding). I thinkit's fun to watch all these guys play in a game together.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
In a moment of weakness, I decided to go.
Now, the IMAX at Navy Pier is definitely Chicago's hottest showplace. The tickets all come with your seat number already assigned (hmm, not sure if I like that or not) and you sit in fron tof what has to be the tallest screen (so much bigger than the local theater's IMAX - sure, it's a big screen, but it really isn't IMAX, you know?).
Navy Pier was, surprise! closed.
All of it.
Dark, closed. All the restaurants, all the stores, the stages. Closed.
Weird. I mean, I was there at 10:30, and kind of expected some restaurants or something to be open. It is summer, after all.
So I waited around for about an hour, (from the popcorn girl I learned the last Batman movie played for 72 hours straight, every three hours -who needs popcorn at three in the morning?!)
The movie began.
Now, I've read some reviews that suggest it was kind of like watching a bag of rocks in a dryer. I will admit, it was LOUD. NOISY loud!
Robots slugging each other, robots blasting each other, things exploding all over!
And that's just in the first five minutes.
They seemed to crank up the noise factor on this film every time a robot appeared - LOUD!
And, well, the robots did appear a lot.
Nominally, the story features Shai laBeef heading off to college (after robots destroy his home, natch). whose name I did not catch because of all the NOISE! Whatever school it was, it was very nice looking, and filled with pouty supermodels (at least, those are no school girls I ever saw in real life) who dress provocatively and snigger at Shia's mom, who ingested some marijuana and is now acting goofy. As opposed to po'd, which she was just minutes ago.
One such pouty aggressive supermodel type is actually a robot in disguise (that's some robot!) who attacks Le Beef and starts the whole two hour chase scene of kids versus robots going.
Actually, Megan Fox, who's introduced in the most blatantly sexy (?) way of having her short-shorted butt up in the air (yeah, it takes work to do that, I know), spends all her time in this picture running from the robots, too.
So LeBeef and LesBoobs run around the country trying to stop the evil robots from extinguishing the sun. Uh, by saving Optimus Prime, the only robot who can possibly stand a skinny rat's ass chance of stopping the Fallen (boo!) (seems to me the US Military and a few dozen Transformers could blow him up just fine, but hey...) by taking a semi-mystic doohickey that's since turned to sand (hey, magic fairy dust!) and sticking in Optimus' chest cavity.
Oh, what's wrong with Optimus? He got the crap kicked out of him by the Fallen (I think, in battle all these robots look alike, you know?) while saving LeBoef (ibid!) from being attacked by a whole bunch of robots because they wanted (snicker) his brains!
Oh, there's a whole bunch more crap in this movie. There's LeBeefcake's college roommate, who runs an Internet site claiming there are aliens among us (ree-diculous!). There's a leering astronomy professor (can't tell this movie's made for teen boys, can you?). There's a US Military Strike Team named the NEST (E-i-Oooo!) that's coopted the good guy Transformers, put upon by an Obama-admininstration pain-in-the-ass guy who's out to get the robots to leave! Yeah, that'll show 'em!
There's that NEST team that instinctively trusts the kid LeBiftecetdesfrites and flies the dead Megatron around (you have any idea how much fuel it would take to carry a giant robot halfway around the world!!?) to the Middle East, because they TRUST him!
There's the sun-eating device that's hidden in one of the pyramids (like no one would notice THAT huge thing there before!). There's flashbacks to the first time the Transformers came to earth, looking for Energon (makes Exxon-Mobil look green and sane!)
And you know what?
Maybe it was because I was seeing in in IMAX, at midnight, in a theater packed with geeks (come on - who else is going to be watching Transformers at midnight?) --
I rather enjoyed it.
Yes, it was too LOUD. Yes, I could hardly tell who was fighting whom. Yes, parts of the movie were totally stupid(the public doesn't believe the alien threat is real - haven't they seen all those robots walking all over in the last movie?). Some of the characters, such as they are, are mind-blowingly stupid and/or insulting (an old robot that acts like a grumpy old man, complete with cane; little Suzuki-cars that transform into two gangsta-talking robots).
But it was also highly entertaining in parts. Mainly in those parts where robots were either chasing someone or blowing stuff up. In other words, about two hours of the two-and-a-half-hour movie.
Heaven help me, I actually enjoyed this picture. Despite the goofy plot, despite LesBoobs and LeBeef, despite marijauna Mom and a too-trusting US Military - I actually enjoyed seeing big ol' robots smack other big ol' robots around.
I am still trying to figure out why, though.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I went to see UP last night, a delightful movie that, despite what some might perceive as flaws, really shines as a HINLAMW movie (that's "hey, I never looked at my watch!" - a sure sign of a movie's ability to engross me!)
I apologize if there are some SPOILERS in here, but it's rather hard to discuss the movie without spoiling SOMEthing.
There's a pretty long sequence where we see Mr. F and Elly living their lives together. I know some critics maintain that it slows the movie a bit or is too realiztic for kids or some such, but it does a nice job of showing two people deeply in love - and explaining just why Mr. F. would go to such lengths as flying his house to South America.
There are some bits involving talking dogs that are a little much, and having Mr. F and a Wilderness Scout haul his house around, even attached to balloons, beggars belief. But by and large it's one enjoyable road trip.
I own't spoil it by telling you about it more - just go see it. You'll enjoy it, AT WORST, and love it at best. It's a very neat summer movie.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
There are some series out there that just jump out at me, I love the character designs so much. Note I haven't actually seen more than one or two of the shows in question (excepting TDI) but I do love their character design and would gladly watch them sitting around playing pinochle.
I just like the way the characters look. Simply designed, you get an idea of what each is like just by looking at them, and the show is consistently funny besides.
Last in my list of cartoons I just like to look at if not neccesarily to watch, is 6teen.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
and the Cubs are in fourth place after a disastrous May.
What's wrong? How about no one could hit the furshlugginer ball?! I mean, three hits a game?! What the heck's up with that? It's darn hard to win a game on three hits, come on!
The Cubbies are massively underperforming right now (well, for the past 101 years they've been underperforming).
Good joke the priest at Mary Seat of Wisdom said Sunday. What did Jesus tell the Cubs right before the Ascention into heaven? "Don't do anything until I get back."
Well, he had a better delivery.
The priest, not the Lord. Though I'm sure Jesus could be funny, too.
You don't think God has a sense of humor? Why start all the major religions of the world within a hundred miles of each other? Couldn't Jesus have appeared in, say, Philadelphia?
Okay, I'm really losing it. Bye.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
It's been there for many a year, certainly longer than I've been in Chicago and possibly longer than I've been alive - a True Value hardware store. You know (or maybe you don't) - the kind of store about three times as big as a 7-11 and packed to the gills with everything from key-cut machines to flowerbed materials, fishing lures and lines to barbecue grills and light fixtures, all arranged heaven-knows-how so you have to ask someone (invariably an older gentleman named Earl) who will instantly know what you're talking about, no matter how obscure.
That kind of store.
And it's closing.
The store that lasted through wars and recessions couldn't handle this one.
I liked that hardware store - was the only place that made keys that worked the first time (ever send your parents keys to your place, so they could use it when you're gone, and NOT have the keys work? I have - thanks a lot, Home frickin' Depot!).
When I needed some little plugs to hold up my stereo table... they had 'em. Monofilament fishing line? Had that, too.
Sadly, I guess I only went in when I needed something pretty obscure or pretty cheap or both. Kind of hard to make a living off of people like me, I suppose.
I noticed, yesterday, that the Cardsmart store in downtown Des Plaines closed. Something like overnight - I stopped in just a little while ago (when you have 14 nieces and nephews and four brothers and sisters you're constantly buying cards for birthdays, anniversaries, first communions, etc) and it's right across the street from where I occasionally go to lunch, so I was a bit surprised.
And today, I noticed that Kaffecino, a coffeeshop downtown across from the train station, was gone, too. As in, vanished, cleaned out, gone kaput... and I had just stopped off there in February and March! It had always been there, ever since I moved here... had great sandwiches, good coffee...
Add in the local Boston Market store, the steakhouse I never went to, the Max and Erma's restaurant that I did and always, always regretted visiting, the furniture store and the Circuit City store just down the street...
That's quite a few places, all standing empty. And the only things that have opened in the past few years are a Goodwill Store and the Salvation Army store.
Not the best of times, I know.
It surprises me, I guess, how many places were living hand to mouth, month by month. If things are moving along, hey, fine, but the minute things go south... wham!
Some, like that Max and Erma's, should have closed long ago. But others, like Kaffecino, the furniture store where I got my kitchen table and chairs, and even the Cardsmart... what the heck? Are things that bad that they couldn't hang on a few more months?
Yes they are.
I'm going to miss that old hardware store. I'm going to miss it whenever I have to go into the Home Depot or Menard's and find some piddly-ass little thing in those monster stores (well, Menard's just closed their store too, and built a new one several miles out. Thanks a lot, Menard's!), or try to. You know, where you have to go over 14 aisles for a door latch or something.
I know, I know... it's progress. The way of the world.
But I don't have to like it.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Russell Crowe plays a reporter who's out to help a friend of his, a Congressman who ju-u-u-ust made a little mistake (affair) and now the affair-gal's dead and his wife won't talk to him - oh, and the wife is kind of engaged in some hanky panky with the reporter...
There's a lot more to it than that, but it's too good to ruin with giveaways. See this movie - it's a good antedote for the summer-blockbuster-kaBOOM! movies out there, and there's plenty of suspense and even a little action and gunplay, just to make it interesting. Good film!
Friday, May 22, 2009
Be sure and get out Monday and shop -
NO! Get out Monday and go to a cemetary or parade or some kind of service. Just remember who the day is truly for - those brave men and women who gave their lives so we and others could live in peace.
I'm marching in the Arlington Heights parade as a graduate of Arlington Heights Police Academy training program. And I'm going to see my nephew and niece play trumpet in their school bands!
The lead is playing a guy who's kind of tearing up the female population by having sex with them then treating them like dirt. Turns out he's an orphan,emulating his (now dead) uncle.
He goes to his brother's house for a wedding and surprise! His uncle confronts him in the bathroom, where he's gone to sober up a bit. Read Jacob Marley - he's going to be visited by three ghosts!
Don't particularly think I'm spoiling anything by stating that it's his girlfriends Past, Present and Future! His Past girlfriend was the first girl he had sex with, the present is AT the same wedding he is, and the future doesn't talk much.
Anyway, you can see where this is all going. You could see it by the sive minute mark, actually. But you know, the guy does actually have some good points - they're just really buried. And it tales his love for his brother to bring him back to reality.
I laughed all through this movie. It's genuinely funny and well worth the ten bucks.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
But you do end up finding a lot of things that perhaps you just put aside or forgot about - like DVDs.
Man, I don't remember owning so many darn DVD movies. I must have forty or fifty of them! (VHS, I have a couple hundred tapes, many of them unmarked (!). Sorry, I don't really have time to go through them all). So many I've simply... forgotten.
So many I never viewed. I think once I met Maggie my personal taste in videos/DVDs no longer seemed to matter that much - no! Maggie's not a witch, or control-hog over the remote! I'd just rather spend time with her than watch a movie!
But going through the pile - where did I GET some of this stuff?!
Evidently I hit up a Blockbuster sale at one time or another - many of them are marked "pre-viewed" (though not by me!?) Odd titles, like Rustler's Rhapsody (a musical Western, I guess), Punch (a girl who fights?), Phantom of the Opera (I loved that film, and play!), Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (yep, I bought it - somewhere), Cinematic Titanic presents Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (the MST3K guys' latest version - funny!), MST3K presents Santa Claus (evidently he wasn't conquering any Martians this time).
Evidently a whole lot of movies featuring cars, trucks, motorcycles and for all I know unicycles that were secretly fighting machines - I recall some rocket firing out of one a big rig's exhaust pipes, and the front of a car folding down to reveal guns!
Evidently a whole lot of movies featuring superheroes. The Phantom (Slam Evil!). The Black Scorpion (What if Adam West were a girl?). Nyoka, Queen of the Tiger Men! (Nyoka! Duck! Wha- ugh!) Captain Marvel and the Return of the Scorpion! (Where was he returning from? Vacation in Aruba?) The Spirit! (With the guy from Flash Gordon, Sam Jones!) Superman Villains! (Rats! My Elecrto-thanusia Ray is useless against him!) Fleisher Superman Cartoons, Remastered! (Gosh, Superman, that Bullet Car the villains are using is a lot sharper now!) The Justice League - Final Frontier! (Say, how come everyone's drawn by Darwin Cooke?)
And, no, I've never seen any of them. At least, not my copies. I do get out to movies and watch TV on occasion.
The point is, I have hundreds of hours of video I've never watched. I really should sit down and watch some of this stuff, sometime.
This is why I quit buying stuff years ago - because I never got around to watching the things I had. There's always something interesting on, or a cool new movie, or just spending time with people you care about. There are not enough hours in a day to do everything we want to, or should. (I know I should exercise - trouble is, it takes too much time - away from everything else I want to do).
I guess I really do have a lot of catching up to do.
Oaky, tonight it's Panther Woman of the Congo night!
Yeah, that's what I thought.
Coming from someone who's seen all three previous Terminator pics, and for the most part enjoyed them, I just gotta say this -
Sometimes it's best to let a story END.
Not from a movie company's point of view, of course. The "pre-sold" audience is often good enough to make back whatever it cost in a week or two. The source doesn't even have to be that good in the first place - Beverly Hillbillies and Dukes of Hazard were fine TV shows, but did we really need a film version?
Now, I'm sure this movie has all the kick-ass metal robots you could want, fighting to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons. But how many times do we have to see An Indestructible Man-Robot shrug off anti-tank weapons?
Then again, take Star Trek. Possibly a better film than the TV series, certainly more action-oriented... should they have not made Trek #13 or whatever it was?
After all, we're still reading comics starring hcaracters from the 1940's, you realize that? Even Marvel's main characters are pushing forty, at least.
I don't know... should they have re-made Batman - again? Or Sherlock Holmes - again? Or John Dillinger - again? Or -
Well, you get the idea.
Sigh, I suppose I'll be going to see the Terminator. Sometime.
Just not on opening weekend.
After all, I still have my pride. :)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Frankly, I would have prefered if they didn't ask him. But once they did, I would prefer that the protests be a lot less... noisy.
See, I remember when they protested President Reagan there, too. Equal opportunity, I suppose.
It does strike me as wrong for the nation's leading Catholic university to honor a man who is pretty much against two big issues in the church - stem cells and abortion. Frankly, I don't care whether you agree or not. The point being, if you are going to stand for something, then by God stand for something! If the Church is against abortion, then stand up for that position! (Heck, if the Church were FOR abortion, I'd feel the same way - at least remain consistent!)
I forget her name right now, but the recipient of Laetare Medal, a high honor from ND, turned down the award because she'd have to appear and give legitimacy to Barack Obama, which she didn't want to do. Again, whether or not you agree is not the issue. It's that a woman chose to quietly make a stand, and for the first time since 1880-something there will not be a Medal awarded this year. That's standing up for your beliefs.
But, you say, aren't the protestors standing up for their beliefs? That abortion is murder?
Well, yes - and I have no problem with people quietly protesting, or deciding to simply not attend (as did the local bishop and 88 other bishops). I think people should be reasonable and not out to wave signs with aborted babies on them or some such - that does their cause more harm than good, IMHO.
Of course, if people were reasonable - there's a very big if.
Course, that kind of ruins the idea behind the protesting, which I get, but... I still wish people could be a little more reasonable about such things.
Frankly, I believe ND blew it when they extended the invitation. What on earth were they thinking? to "score' a big commencement speaker?
Well, they did get him to come and speak, but they also honored him with a degree.
I maintain that the "preeminent Catholic university in the land" ought to at least try to stick to promoting Catholic doctrine. It's a Catholic university - one of only a relative few. There are plenty of schools which could give a degree to President Obama (note - he spoke at Arizona State, and THEY didn't give him a degree!).
In short ( a tad late, I know) I'm not quite ashamed of ND, but I do question their judgement.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Truth to tell, I couldn't really tell, other than it was one helluva big screen, what made it IMAX, but that's just quibbling I suppose. It was worth the fourteen (!) bucks.
All the time travel -alternate universe stuff was a little difficult to follow - I'm glad (for once) that I had read someone's review and they mentioned that time travel was involved.
I also wasn't clear on whether Uhura had a Super Power of mind-blowing Telepathy and Super-Hearing, or just was plugged into the right channels.
And I wasn't too clear on why lil' Kirk was out driving a Corvette in the desert, in Iowa (Idaho?). I mean, did we really need to see that to know he's a bit irresponsible?
Seriously,those are my only three quibbles about the film. The rest - 98.99999%! - I enjoyed immensely.
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
(As if I haven't already ruined the film somewhat)
Boy, just so many good scenes. Bones and Kirk being such good friends, Spock and Kirk being such not-good friends (he puts him on a pod and rockets him to nowheresville? That I'd call "not-good"). Scotty's fun-loving attitude. Uhuru's take-charge I'm on the Enterprise talk. Heck, Uhuru kissing Spock. Several times.
The guys space-diving onto the drill. The rescue of Captain Pike (as opposed to, say, Captain Carp or Captain Sunfish). Spock and Kirk teleporting in to the "deserted" landing bay (and subsequent poom poom shooting gallery!). Vulcan biting the big one! The difficulty of transporting people - you have to lock on to them and they can't be moving around!
The spaceship battles! The sword-fighting battle! Kirk getting repeatedly pasted, over and over! (Waitaminute...)
At first, I admit, each time a character appeared it was kind of a shock, seeing someone else play the roles. But then, it only lasted a couple of minutes, tops. This guy IS James T. Kirk, that guy IS Spock, that other guy IS Scotty...
Frankly, the entire cast really was excellent. Even Chekov's funny pronounciations were funny! The movie was funny where it had to be, serious where it had to be... overall, a great time!
And Leonard Nimoy, who, I admit, I never really cared for that much (actually, I never really cared much for any of them except for Bones and Scotty, and that was probably because I had met them once or thrice and was really impressed... ah, let's face it, I never really cared that much for Star Trek at all, in any incarnation. Sure, I watched Next Gen on occasion, but I never really CARED about them the way I did for, say, Star Wars' original cast.)
Well, consider that problem solved.
I really enjoyed Spock as a kind of rebellious bad-ass, Scotty as kind of a drunk (though not actually so) fun loving Scotsman, Kirk as the kind of smart-aleck that you'd want to punch real hard if he'd just stop backing it up!, Uhuru as a take-charge kind of gal... I just loved the whole movie!
I even liked the updates to the uniforms - kind of grew on me after awhile.
And I SO want there to be more adventures!
Monday, May 4, 2009
Ten miles down the road.
Well, long story short, I could not afford to stay in the townhouse any longer.
I'm now in a two bedroom apartment, which admittedly isn't so bad (it's actually rather nice, and I DO have a place, which is also nice) but it's a far cry from having a townhome with a garage and relatively speaking, a lot more space.
This becomes important when you have to, say, put the dining room in storage, or look for someplace to store your comic collection, or just put away your Christmas decorations.
Admittedly, this has been coming awhile. My paycheck has been squeezed just at the same time taxes andbills keep going up, including the condo fees. I figure it was costing me something like nine hundred fifty a month just in taxes and fees, which is pretty high for a townhome.
I'm feeling... well, humiliation. Loss. And many more less than charitable, less than pleasant thoughts.
Truth to tell, I should have done something years ago, but you just get in that kind of situation where you hope things get better tomorrow. Well, tomorrow came.
On the one hand, it's a nice apartment complex I moved into - one of those that's set up with individual entrances and nice views of the lake (neccessary for flood control, but still...). I'm in a townhome unit, with two bedrooms upstairs and a living room and dining area downstairs. Pretty nice all things considered.
But also much, much smaller, which means I'll have to be getting rid of a lot of stuff. Some of which I don't mind getting rid of, other stuff of which I do mind very much.
I mean, I realize that having a roof over my head and all is great, and I really could have been a lot worse off, but still, moving when you don't really want to is not fun, let's put it that way.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I can't get the wrapping off of soda straws anymore.
Seriously. Did they suddenly make the paper stronger, or what?
Every time I get a straw from McDonald's or Eros or Speedway, I can't seem to open the straws anymore. You know how you just whip the wrapping off? Can't do it.
I usually end up having to tear a path all the way around the straw, then shove both pieces off but that only works about one in three. The other times I have to literally peel the paper or plastic off the straw all the way down.
I don't know why - I'm certainly not too weak (I can carry a good sized suitcase all the way through the airport, no problem). I should be able to handle a straw.
This just happened to me, over the past four or five weeks. But I've been unable to simply open up a soda straw.
Very odd. And very frustrating. It's like my brain just won't let me open one.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
And I passed a water-filled hole in a parking lot that was surrounded by bits of broken asphalt and mud. It reminded me a lot of my childhood, for some reason. I guess we used to have water-filled holes like that around the neighborhood, where the driveways hit the road. Funny how things remind you of the past.
Ah, spring. when the trees and lawns green up, and winter's bite is stilled in favor of cool winds.
I kind of feel sorry for you who live in areas where there are no change of seasons - not really. California definately does not benefit from the change, even though it can be claimed they have a winter. You just miss so much.
When I lived in Buffalo, I noticed that they made the most of the good weather, EVERY DAY. There were concerts on the M&T Bank steps, every day. Countless festivals and church picnics and outdoor concerts and fairs and... EVERY frickin' week! One summer I ate exclusively at church picnics on the weekends (Chabetta's chicken - mmm!) and often during the week.
People there really enjoyed summer - because they knew it was not to last long at all. In California it seemed people took the good weather a little for granted.
Even with the economy biting on our throats and all that, try this summer to get out to all those free festivals and National Parks and stuff that doesn't cost much, but really livens up a day. Maggie and I are planning to hit a couple parks this summer that are within driving distance, just to enjoy the day. And Arlington Racetrack is always fun.
Because although summer's not even here yet, it will soon be gone :)
Monday, April 6, 2009
An Ode to Opening Day
Ah, April in Chicago
Oh, the thrill of op'ning day!
(Let's overlook the weather
And the White Sox snow delay.)
It's April in Chicago
And the season starts anew
So what if we've got wind and sleet
Instead of springtime dew?
It's baseball, not just daffodils,
That tells us spring is here
It's Guillen and Piniella
It's the peanuts and the beer.
From Wrigley to Comiskey—
Oops, I mean to say The Cell—
Our hopes will come to life again
We'll shed our winter shell.
Yes, baseball's back, at last, at last
To bat away the blues
The games arrive like sunshine
The economy's a mess!
Plus parking, potholes, crooks and crimes!
We need some anti-stress!
And so we turn to baseball
Seeking solace from the team
Yeah, yeah, they blew it last time
But it's April, we can dream.
Konerko's gonna kill this year
And Cub fans, please take note:
In April there's no need to think
About the bleepin' goat.
Obama's in the White House
He's Chicago's biggest fan
A trip to the World Series?
Si se puede! Yes we can!
If history tells our fortune
We will feel like fools by fall
But never mind the future, folks,
It's April. Let's play ball.
-Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I have to ask because I haven't had a comment in ages (okay, weeks). I have to ask because I saw a Tshirt that said something like "more people have read this than your blog". I have to ask because maybe I'm just not posting anything interesting here and am boring you to death.
Give me a hint. Please. If you are reading this would you just let me know if I'm boring or uninteresting or perhaps increadibly interesting ( :) ) ?
I'd really like to know.
Monday, March 30, 2009
It's nearly April. Will we get more snow in April?
This really isn't bad, considering what they're going through in Fargo and other places.
But it IS rather annoying - and I like snow. Seriously. I wish we had a full winter of a foot on the ground - at least - rather than this rather pathetic two inches at a time crapola.
It'll be melted by this afternoon, I'm sure. But it sure did look nice.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Maggie and I went to see Riverdance this weekend, our third time, but first at the Rosemont Theatre. It's really more of an auditorium than a theatre - big, wide space. Of which we found ourselves sitting way way over to the right.
Oh, well, we'd see the show from an angle, that was okay.
Then an usher comes up and shoos us out of our seats. We weren't quite sure what was up.
She took us down to the VERY middle in the VERY front row. Best seats in the house, bar none!
What had we done to deserve this, I'll never know. She did fill in the whole row with other people, but we were in the exact center.
It was a good show, with a few minor tweaks from past performances. The men seemed to have hang time as they flew across the stage, with prodigious leaps (see the vocab you pick up from reading The Incredible Hulk?). The gals were fleet of feet as well.
All in all, a lovely night, made all the better because an usher decided we had "lousy seats" (her term) and she gave us better ones.
Thanks, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are tonight!
See, I'm kind of looking at it as half-full, or maybe three-quarters. I'm still employed, I have a roof over my head, I have enough food to eat.
This Sunday, like every Sunday, I headed over to Maggie's for a family-watching of The Amazing Race. Couples engage in a race around the world, and you get to see them at their worst and at their best. Mainly their best, because in this go-round, there's really no one you WANT to see eliminated (the lawyers, maybe, but they're by and large nice people like everyone else in this race).
This last Sunday they travelled from a rather nice, normally-industrialized place (Siberia) to, well, frankly, the dung hole of the world, that part of India. Children ran naked in the streets, cows and bison and oxen and monkeys wandered about, the place made "Slumdog Millionaire" look like Times Square.
It must have been "bad" - several of the teams... cried. Genuinely moved to tears, upset that they were travelling in cars when it was obvious that many of these folks never had.
No, I'm not one to fall for any old stunt by a "reality" show team, but these folks were genuinely upset. They didn't make a big deal out of it, but occasionally the camera caught them crying.
Which, I'm sad to say, I probably wouldn't have done. Oh, sure, I'd feel bad and all, but moved to tears? No matter how bad it got? Probably not.
Believe me, I'm not bragging.
It did make me evaluate life a little more. Yeah, I'm not rich - so what? Compared to these people I'm butt-kicking rich. I have family - I'll bet a lot of those kids were orphans. It just...
made me think, that's all.
And as the drizzle starts to fall, here, I look out over clean, open skies and thank God for what I do have.
A home. Food. Maggie.
Couldn't get much better if I tried for a hundred years.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
There is one traffic light in all the land where the green supercedes the red. To see it you'd have to go to the center of New York State, to Syracuse. There, in the neighborhood known as Tipperary Hill, a light hangs proudly over the corner of Tompkins Street and Milton Avenue - green over the red.
When the Irish fled their homeland in the early part of this century, they came to Syracuse in droves. Hundreds of immigrant families huddled together could not stomach the British red over the Irish green, even if it was only a traffic light. Tired of replacing the light, the city fathers gave in to the "stonethrowers" and installed a light with the green on top - where it still hands today.
At the northeast corner of the intersection is the Tipperary Hill Memorial Park, paved with hundreds of commemorative bricks engraved with names of financial contributors or their loved ones.
The central feature of the park is the Tipperary Hill Heritage Memorial, bronze, life-size sculpted figures of a 1930s immigrant family. The scene includes a mother, father, daughter, and son. The father is shown pointing to the famous traffic light, as his family listens to the history of the hill. The son has a sling shot in his back pocket, hinting that he might know a little bit of the history of the light.
The sculpture, created by Dexter Benedict, integrates perfectly with the neighborhood and the light, giving one the feeling that the figures are as much ghosts as bronze.
My grandparents immigrated to the Hill and stayed their all their lives; my father was raised mere blocks from the famed light. When I was younger my father took us to see the light, and probably pointed to it in much the same way as that statuary does today.
Over the years our family has spread across the United States, but with the large number of relations and friends in Syracuse we all seem to come back quite frequently. On many of those occasions you can find us gathered at Coleman's Authentic Irish Pub, just a block down the street.
And after we've caught up with everyone and listened to some music and had a drink or two, we always take that short walk up the block and look at the light - green over the red.
Of all the many Irish songs, this is one that speaks to true, heartfelt joy. I heard it a lot growing up, and over the years it became my grandfather's theme song of sorts.
I saw a lot of my grandfather when I was younger, living in the same city. Even after we moved away, I still got back to Syracuse several times a year. He lived quite a few years after seeing see me graduate from Notre Dame, but when his time finally came it grieved me terribly.
I've always thought of funeral Masses as some of the darkest hours on Earth, especially those said for loved ones - and in most ways that held true for my grandfather's.
Until, that is, the time came to carry my grandfather from the church - and they began playing this song.
Such a sprightly tune at such a dark moment was more than an affirmation of heritage - it was an affirmation of faith, that he truly was headed for a better place.
For me. to this day, he and this song are indelibly linked.
I even have a green stuffed bear with a leprechaun hat, perched on my nightstand. It "sings" this song...
When Irish eyes are smiling
Sure it's like a morning spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter,
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.
There's a tear in your eye,
and I'm wondering why,
For it never should be there at all.
With such power in your smile,
sure a stone you'd beguile,
So there's never a teardrop should fall.
When your sweet lilting laughter's like some fairy song,
And your eyes twinkle bright as can be,
You should laugh all the while and all other times smile,
And now smile a smile for me.
When Irish eyes are smiling
Sure it's like a morning spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter,
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.
Happy St Patrick's Day, everyone!
Just who is this Saint Patrick fellow, anyway?
Well, almost fifteen centuries ago, a Gaelic family relocated to Britain, then part of the Holy Roman Empire. Their child was baptized Patricius, which meant "noble".
Patricius seems to have lived fairly comfortably until he was sixteen - when he was kidnapped. He worked as a slave until he was 22, herding sheep (which, as slavery goes, could have been worse...).
Having had enough of sheep, apparently, Patricius (ohhhh, let's just call him Patrick and get it over with) escaped, and eventually returned to Ireland to do missionary work for the Church. For the next forty years he traveled the countryside, preaching the faith and establishing churches and schools.
Legend has it that Patrick used the lowly shamrock to demonstrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity to the Irish. As God is three persons but one God, so then does the shamrock have three stems in one plant.
The word shamrock, by the by, is derived from the Irish seamrog, which means "summer plant" in Gaelic.
Another legend has it that Patrick drove the venomous snakes out of Ireland by beating on his drum (I've heard Irish bands that bad, myself). To this day there are no vipers on the Emerald Isle.
Patrick is alleged to have died on March 17, 493. He was later canonized upon confirmation of two miracles attributed to him, and became the patron saint of Ireland. To this day St. Patrick is a national hero to the Irish, who have embraced him and his symbol, the shamrock.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
I apologize for the late post, considering that I saw it Friday night at 7. didn't have access to the Internet before now...
I showed up pretty early before the show, a good twenty-five minutes, and went into Theater 15 at South Barrington. Now, I like South Barrington AMC - mainly because it's 30 theaters and that's it. No arcades, restaurants, or other distractions to cause the kids to hang out. If you go out to South Barrington, there's NOTHING there but movie theaters (yes, Brass the bar/restaurant is closed). It just attracts a different sort of crowd - the kind that comes out to see MOVIES, dammit! :)
So. I've been out here a lot in the past several years, but I never had the opportunity to go into Theater 15. It was freaking HUGE. Took up most of the middle part of the building, probably.I got into the front row of the "angled" seats (there were still eight rows in front of me, but they were "flat" on the ground - I was up high right in the middle, and happily waited with my F&%$#! expensive popcorn and drink combo (the ONLY thing I don't like about the AMC) for the movie to begin.
The opening sequence alone was worth it (kinda makes you wonder why Rorshach was all over the Comedian's murder, but Silhouette gets killed and nobody seems to care?).
I loved the movie. Never felt the time drag (except when Dr. Manhattan was talking :) ). I had been a little nervous, considering the Chicago Tribune gave it only 1 1/2 stars - and for the reasons the critic had offered. Bad martial arts in the fight scenes (really?! I thought they were terrificly brutal and had a style all their own!), Silk Spectre's lack of acting skills (didn't notice, but that might have been the latex costume), "confusing" timeline (What? I followed it, and hadn't read the graphic novel for twenty years! Give us some credit!) and constant references to the novel (supposed to be too confusing for normals, seeing as they didn't know what to look for, but hey, I followed it just fine!).
All in all, I found it to be a brutal (oh, I am SO sorry for those kids the grown-ups dragged to the movie in Jim McClain's report - didn't notice any in South Barrington) and honest film, with its own internal logic that it seemed always to follow. I found the story pretty much straightforward and even a little predictable (since I am a fan after all) but they really pulled it off - from the Gunga Diner to the newstand to the Comedian's weapons locker to Mars to Veidt's Antarctic hangout, the sets were absolutely spot on. PER-fection.
The actors were pretty good. Manhattan was New-Age-Pontificatingly-Annoying, Rorshach was a genuinely frightening sociopath (but I loved his apology to Nightowl!), Nightowl was sufficiently nerdy but could get the job done, Silk Spectre was sexy and a badass fighter too... Comedian was perfect, just the big jerk I had expected but with some heroism behind his attitude.
No one's going to win an Oscar for this thing (I don't think Rorshach was THAT much of a stretch or THAT good of an acting job - sorry, Jimbo). But then again, no one HAS to.
To play off what Jim McClain wrote yesterday, we saw the Watchmen and it was good. It would be nice to have everyone ooh and ahh about it, but probably not with that amount of blood and sex (people seem to be funny about blood and sex and making it with a superhero in their super-vehicle).
WELL done, sirs! WELL done!
Monday, March 2, 2009
Today Chicago celebrates one of the American Revolution's heroes, calvary General Casimir Pulaski.
True, he's celebrated in towns with large Polish communities (he was Polish, by the by) - Chicago, Buffalo, Grand Rapids (which celebrates with a week in October), the state of Kentucky.
Then, too, there's the Pulaski Brige in New York City, the Pulaski Skyway in New Jersey, the Pulaski Bridge on I-65 in Indiana, and even a village in Wisconsin.
So doff your cap to one of America's heroes, without whom General Washington wouldn't have had a calvary (or at least, a very poor one) - General Pulaski!
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Granted, he was 90.
And his wife and partner had passed on last July.
But Paul Harvey was known as the voice of middle America, for good reason.
Based out of Chicago but wintering in Pheonix, he had long been the one to whom millions of Americans turned for his 15 minute takes on the news. His delivery, use of pauses, and friendly demeanor won people over.
I am really going to miss Paul Harvey...
Monday, February 23, 2009
Arizona is filling up with major leaguers, ready to get out and play ball! I understand that within about a twenty minute drive there are several ballparks, allowing one to truly enjoy the game if one so wished.
Ahh, it's springtime in Arizona (still bitterly cold here!). Couldn't be better.
I like football, and enjoy the occasional hockey game (go Sabres!) but I LOVE baseball.
Might even get out to a few Cubs games this year...
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Remember when the Bulls used to be good? I mean, they dominated the league at one time, didn't they?
Same with my Dad's favorite football team, the San Francisco 49ers. It wasn't all that long ago when they were on top of the world. Now?
Just sort of slipped into a pattern of... I don't know, mediocrity.
It's not just sports teams. Circuit City, big store on the block, gone for good. Bombay Company, Bennegin's.
Not just retail - banks like Washington Mutual. National City. Big, strong names. Kaput.
Sometimes... it seems like someone pulled the drain plug on life, and all the things we've always had, are going down that drain.
Ford, GM, Chrysler - no matter what some people say, they didn't build bad cars. I've had Chryslers for nigh on 20 years and would be very happy to buy another - if they're going to be around, that is. Some people come down on them for building trucks and SUVs but let's face it, it's what we bought. What we wanted.
The car companies' problem was that they thought and acted like the good times were going to go on forever.
As did I. As did many of us, I expect.
I still recall when Grant's went out of business. Grant's was kind of like a smaller-scale KMart type store, but it had always been there, in Camillus Plaza... until one day it wasn't.
I had bought fish for my aquarioum there, I had bought 45 records (tells you how long ago this was). But I still felt... I don't know, abandoned?
I know a couple of dozen people who've lost their jobs recently, at some pretty big name places. Seems like everyone's cutting back.
I don't know, exactly, what I'm getting at, here. Just commenting on a very sad state of affairs.