Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Is anyone out there?

Just curious - am I blogging to myself or does someone actually read these things?

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

Ther's no business like snow business like no...

It snowed here overnight. About two inches of snow, heavy and white, clinging to trees and sidewalks and rooftops and lawns.

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

Riverdance, ya scrod!

No I have no idea what that means, it just sounds kind of Irish.

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!

A fine day... if you don't count...

It's about fifty degrees outside, grey clouds overhead, rain beginning to fall...

Beautiful day.

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

First Day of Spring

Spring is sprung

The grass is riz

I wonder where

Da birdies is?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Green over red - Ireland forever!

Ah, the traffic light - red over yellow over green.

Not always.

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.

Irish Eyes

This song has always meant a great deal to me.
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!

Who's this St. Patrick guy, anyway?

Ah, yes, March 17th - when the Irish (and reasonable facsimilies) get together to celebrate and honor St. Patrick, who... uh...
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

Oh, and lest I forget...


Saturday Morning Watchmen.

There're a number of cute bits in here (like who saves the Comedian from a fall). Check it out.

Who watches the Watchmen? Well... me, for one.

Well, looks like we've all seen the Watchmen movie now, judging from the different blogs out there.

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.


Just... wow.

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

Happy Casimir Pulaski Day!

No, I am not kidding.

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

Good Morning, Americans...

Paul Harvey passed away yesterday.

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...

Good day.