Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gym and then some

Feels oh so good to return to the gym. The clunk of weights on dusty matting. An old familiar routine. Music drowning out thought. Form over function. Shoulders and legs. Trying just a little more weight. And proving to myself that I really CAN do it. But why didn't I do all this years ago? Why do I enjoy it now and not then?

Anyway, I'm down to 201lbs. Sixteen to go, and I'm at my target. Will take me four months at my current rate. But I'll get there. I'm down from a recent weight of 209. And an all-time high of 217. Eat right. Stay active. Have fun. Simple formula.

In the meanwhile, trying to wrap up the Beetle. Ordered replacement shocks for the front. Trying to find a decent conversion kit for the brake drums. Gotta wrap up some dash stuff. And then we can call it complete. And it will be on to the next adventure. Also more waiting in the wings. Part of the "have fun," portion of the show.

Monday, October 26, 2009

MOVIE: The Brothers Bloom

Six word review: I almost wizzed myself with glee.

Long worded review: "Make way, make room, for the brothers Bloom!" Possibly one of the best flicks I've caught in a year, The Brothers Bloom is a globe-trotting, superficially light-hearted comedy about two orphaned brothers who spend their entire lives drifting from one grift to another, each more elaborate and risky than the last.

Phenominal writing. Excellent acting. Great direction. Spectacular scenes. And a plot that had me fooled several times only to pleasantly surprise me at the oddest moments. Every scene was a microburst of art. Take for example the bit-parts played by the character Boom Boom. She barely had any dialog. But what she didn't say and what she did do were much more entertaining than anything they could have written for her. There's the interaction between the brothers. The circular route taken by their grifting mentor. The attempt at love. The art of death. And a deftly tangled web of lies within lies that unfolds like an origami masterpiece of acting, naration, cinematography, and deception.

Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Would make an awesome date flick. Might entertain the late teens. And is well worth the price of a rental. Anyone who hasn't seen it should put it on their short list.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

6 and ohhhh. Seven Years Old. And Panini.

Long day of projects and good food and road trips and a Saints victory and the kids at a church fair and Cousin Alix's birthday party.

Six and ohhhh for the Saints. Seven years old for Alix. Meatball Panini for Jon.

A pleasant start to winter. Hope it sticks.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fire & Friends

Cindy has her own little clique of friends. Affectionately knows as the GNO. Girls Night Out. Friends of hers from church and school and even 20+ yrs ago when she was a wee lass. Over the summer they'd go out once every week or two and have drinks and talk and do whatever women do collectively to keep themselves sane. I dunno what glue holds them together.I try not to pry.

But, anyway, the GNO decided to have a cookout along with the husbands and the children. All of us together.

We bought spinach dip. Cindy told me to be social or else.

So the kids played then danced around the bonfires and tried to film a "Bob" movie. (A creation of Liam's that starts off with the best intentions and gets tangled along the way.)

The women sipped their drinks and talked amongst themselves. Probably made plans for future nights. And tried not to look at their children mere inches from burning to death.

And the men (Computer Goon Jon, Rocket Scientist Nicky, Pastor Andy, and Coach Jimmy) sat around the grill. Nursing beers. Talking about: Mississippi college football, the Catholic church accepting Anglicans, SpaceX launching Falcon 9, and electric cars.

The kids got over tired. The women cleaned up. And I put everyone to bed. Now, Cindy's asleep. I'm typing. And memories of that fire almost keep me warm.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Try again

Let's try again. Hopefully, everyone is well. Cindy was Nurse Cindy today. Liam was an active 4th grader. Meg was burning fireball of 2nd grade activity.

And I. Well. I was a computer goon. Again.

I do a damn fine Truffle Shuffle. Makes it just that much worse.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Almost well...

Believe it or not, but I really don't like posting about negative health issues. Just seems to be a running theme for the past week.

Liam's better, but somewhat moody. Rocking his stand-up bass, though. Proud of the cool cat for that.

Cindy is somewhat better, but still (gasp) finding something to complain about. Perhaps much of it is valid (though overly dramatic) because she did get the heaves a couple of times. Mostly, she's mobile and trying to reign in the chaos.

I'm better. Ate two meals today. First time since Sunday. No real stomach issues, but still combating the fatique from the lowered diet.

Meg, however, stayed home. (I babysat and worked remote.) HER stomach was acting up. But she didn't toss anything and was sweat for me all day while I typed for hours. Hopefully she only suffered a minor assault and will return to school tomorrow.

Still a chance for a good weekend. We're crossing our fingers...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Well. Well. Well.

Good news: Nobody threw up today!

Better news: Meg received an honorable mention in her 2nd grade Book Report project. We're all proud of her and especially her ungodly-sweet attitude of, "I'm moving up in the world!" If anyone needs a does of hope and sweetness, come visit Meg for a few minutes. The girl is the light that pulls us through our dark storms.

Best News: We're all (for the most part) in good health and feeling better. Not entirely "well," but close enough to return to almost normal lives. Cindy's still lethargic. I'm still feeling something odd in my stomach. And Liam had a bit of an off day. But it is all better than we've been feeling recently. Well. Well. Well!

Hopefully, can have a good weekend and celebrate the kids' victories in some special way. Just have to make it through the rest of the week, first!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sick. Sick. Sick.

Now the pox that descended upon Liam on Friday has found me. And it isn't pleasant. I ached everywhere. Wracked with fever. And a brick sitting in the pit of my stomach all day. Aside from swapping my car for a rental (so my car could get repaired,) all I did was groan and writhe in bed all day. I pray it passes through by tomorrow. I don't want a second day of this fresh hell.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What's A Phoenix

I'm putting Meg in her own bed. (Our usual routine.) I have her in my arms and she tells me, without opening her eyes, "That's the phoenix I put in my pocket."

Cindy asked, "What's a phoenix?"

I said, "Shhh. There's one in her pocket."

Litter Patrol

Finally returned to the gym. Chest and triceps. A three week separation. Probably put on the five or six pounds that took me six weeks to shed. But it felt good. Tried to run on the treadmill. But didn't have my music. Just cannot summon the proper spirit without loud, angry tunes distracting me from the fact that I'm lumbering along like a six foot version of Winnie The Pooh who would much rather be at home, eating honey and pondering philosophy.

Another beautiful day. Mid (or low?) sixties. Lots of sun. No rain. A kiss of breeze coming in from the Gulf. Meg and Liam decided to walk around the block, picking up trash. Litter patrol. So, off we went. Bags in hand. We'd stop and check out the debris. Talk about how paper breaks down over time, but plastic and styrofoam doesn't. We'd find cans and put them in recycling bins. Nothing too nasty appeared. Surprisingly little trash, actually. An odd chew toy. A plastic Snoopy figure. A great day to wander with the kids and try to make our own little dent on the world.

Cindy went to a wedding. I stayed home. She had a good time and took her neice, Darby. I didn't want to risk a vertigo attack and disrupt the festivities. My &@$!ing ear is beginning to ring. (Insert worried sigh.)

Instead, I ordered some pizza online and we watched the online status bar slowly glide from red to green as "Max" prepared it, put in the oven, then performed a "quality check," on our pizza before letting me know it was ready for pickup. God bless the interwebs! And then I met Max. Nice kid. Told me all about the system and how they're trying to eliminate half their calls but keep their same number of orders. Gotta love technology. Because now we've determined that calling in an order is for old people.

Good luck, Max. And good luck, newlyweds. We all need it. These days.

MOVIE: The Soloist

For me, the phrase "based on a true story" is as appealing as phrases such as, "I like you, but..." and "Are you going to wear THAT?"

The Soloist is apparently one of those. It's nicely written. Politically correct. Plump with "big names." Depicts uncomfortable social situations which I'll never experience. Supposed to make me feel good. And to put a big ribbon on the top of it, everything is (you guessed it:) based on a true story. A twisted, drama-filled, and light-on-the-facts true story. But it entirely depends on your definition of "true."

Superficially, it is about a Julliard cello dude, Ayers, who (approaching the first leg of a journey to fame and success) develops lots of schizophrenia and goes from the edge of the musical spotlight to the crap-filled gutters of Los Angeles. Amazingly (sense the sarcasm?) a local emo newspaper columnist, Lopez, discovers the crazed cello dude playing a dingy three-string violin and singing Zen koans in the of a litter-strewn park. An odd friendship develops. Ayers is given a second chance, but fails. Lopez takes it personally. And then kumbaya, we all hug. Oh, Hollywood is so good and telling me what is beautiful and right in the word. Pardon me while I find an abandoned third-world leper baby to adopt and name after a greek muse. That's how inspired I am by The Soloist.

Yes, the acting is good. The pacing actually worked. I enjoyed the bulk of the dialog and was quite find of Lopez' character. But it all feels like something I've seen fifteen times already. All too familiar and predictable. Like the reanimated corpse of ten other movies which roamed the theaters hungry for praise and shiney accolades.

Possibly a good dinner & a date movie. The ladies might like it more than I did. I'm predicting bored teens and nonplussed twenty somethings. But worth a rental on a slow night. Very slow, when nothing else in your Netflix queue is available, or Blockbuster has it on special for a $2 rental.

GAME: Section 8

Section 8 had potential . Time Gate (the developers) could have struck gold with this one. Instead they settled for the bronze.What they delivered is an interesting game: fairly good graphics spoiled by a extremely over-done plot. Quick gameplay and ruined by extremely stupid AI (even at high levels of difficulty). And immersive effects invalidated by an underwhelmingly short single player campaign.

Obviously, this is one of those games like Team Fortress and Counter Strike and such that are created for Massive Multiplayer communities. Bunches of over-caffeinated teens and twenty-somethings with headsets and snappy banter playing thirty at a time until four in the morning. For them, this is probably a good diversion from World Of Warcrap or whatever else MMORPG is currently trendy. But for anti-massive multiplayers like me, Section 8 is a sad disappointment.

Given a more creative team, this game could have been GREAT. It has the graphics and the fast-twitch gameplay. But the developers barely spent any time (if any) creating a believable story line. They came up with little (if anything) unique in the realm of sci fi. And the limited plot is so bad that the word trite is actually hyperbole.

I enjoyed the four or five hours that I played it. But, just as it started to get vaguely interesting, it skidded to a halt. It was like a really bad first date. And for me, there won't be a second with Section 8. I've already deleted it. Any for anyone NOT interested in the Massive Multiplayer element, I'd say skip it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

MOVIE: Shoot Em Up

I think this movie broke a new record for me: Shortest viewing ever.

Here is what I could gleam during the three minutes and seventeen seconds that I suffered through this vommit inducer of a flop: In Shoot Em Up, some dude named Smith delivers a baby in the middle of a firefight. 

I shut the film off at that point for several reasons including: 1) The initial plot is so horribly unbelievable that there was absolutelly no chance I would be able to swallow anything that followed, 2) Within seconds it violated my simple objection to one character being able to take on hundreds of enemies with automatic weapons, 3) The protagonist didn't reload between several thousand shots, 4) It was clearly an ultra hokey modern take on a "pulp" adventure.

I've heard from others that they consider it a "fun movie." I didn't. I didn't think the DVD would even make a fun drink coaster. I'm offended that it will eventually be used as land fill. Maybe teenagers will dig it if they've had enough Mountain Dew. Possibly a big hit with convicted felons and other incarcerated individuals who can either get frisky with their cellmates or watch this movie. But I'm not sure who else would enjoy it.

I'd advise everyone to treat Shoot Em Up like toxic biomaterial. I washed my hands twice after handling it.

The Battle At Beauvoir

Today marked Fall Muster @ Beauvoir. (Historic estate of Jefferson Davis. (President of The Confederacy.))All able-bodied Rebel soldiers were requested to report to the battlefiend for a re-enactment just after lunch. Meg, Liam (who is feeling much better, thank-you-very-much) and I went while Cindy attended a wedding luncheon of a friend.

Friday, October 16, 2009

MOVIE: Life Is Hard In Cracktown

WARNING: This movie is not for the weak of heart. It contains graphic depictions of just about every deadly sin and may even invent some new ones. Absolutely no one should allow children or nuns to watch Life Is Hard In Cracktown. Not safe for work. Not safe for teens. Not safe for expectant mothers. Keep all of the above away. And write me and say I didn't warn you. You're officially on alert.

Life Is Hard In Cracktown is an over-lapping series of vignettes about tough characters in tough situations in a tough neck of the woods. Based on some mid-1990s short stories from writer-director Buddy Giovinazzo, I couldn't relate to much (if any) of it. But I appreciate the struggle of people to get out from under a seemingly over-whelming situation.

I don't want to go into too much detail about the actual story. It was easy to follow but hard to stomach. Especially the sub-story involving a little boy and girl close to my kids age. Very emotional stuff. Powerful. In the end, it left me even more appreciative of my life and what blessings I have.

The acting was phenominal in places. A touch over-done in others. The plot was loosely held together by the brutal realities of Cracktown but wasn't entirely believable at times. Exceptional writing. Buddy Giovinazzo did an excellent job of bringing his stories to life. And the pacing was done very nicely.

I wouldn't consider it a date movie. And (see above) the viewing audience should be limited to strictly adults with an open mind and a thick skin. But for anyone interested in a dark tour through the roughest parts of town, they won't be disappointed by renting Life Is Hard In Cracktown.

All Better But One

Susan is better. No continuation of her issues and hopefully a quick followup should take care of her. Hoping for the best. She's a tough ol' redhead, too. Probably same genes Meg has. Two generations later.

I'm better. No obvious remains of that golf ball rolling around in my side. I'm hoping whatever was lodged in there is gone for good. In theory, I'm getting back in the gym tomorrow. I've been out for three weeks, while working on the car. My last session was awesome, benched 220lbs and did 170lbs on flies.Gonna pick up slow and try to drop 10lbs between now and Xmas.

Liam however, had a bad day. Stomach virus or something. I'll save the gory details but suffice it to say Cindy cleaned up this morning and I ended up cleaning my CAR before it was all done. He was completely out of comission the entire day. Hopefully he'll be better tomorrow. Would be nice to have a normal weekend together. 

Sears Coupons for Sears.com Updated Daily on One Project Closer

I wanted to let everyone know that my good friends over at One Project Closer have started maintaining a complete list of Coupons for Sears that includes just about every online Sears.com deal on the market today.  The list frequently features coupons for 10-20% off major appliances, and every once in a while they'll have a 35% off deal.  If you're in the market for a new appliance, lawn and garden tool, or new craftsman tools, you can't go wrong stopping by One Project Closer's list first.  For the last 2 years they've been maintaining a list of places to pick up Lowes Coupons for 10% Off, so this was a natural follow-on.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dance By The Light Of The Moon

Some days you get the bear. Some days the bear gets you. The bear and I are still deciding the outcome for today.

Started with an unusual experience. Not long after trying to go to sleep (note I said "trying") there came an odd sensation much like a golf ball rolling around in the left side of my abdomen. Fortunately, it wasn't painful. Unfortunately it was extremely uncomfortable and I kept rolling onto it. And I barely slept for long without waking and thinking, "What the hell?" Over and over, hour after hour. Fairly sleepless night. And an exhausting day to follow. If I'm lucky it is a known condition and a diverticuli has formed, which can be resolved by some simple meds. If I'm not lucky, it is something else and I'll have to go on a quest for a solution. We'll see how that goes.

My Aunt Susan went to the hospital with some problems of her own. They sent her back without much guidance and suggested she keep an eye on everything then return if the problems continue. Um... WHAT? How about finding a cause for the problems she's reporting? That's my chief beef with "modern medicine," it wants to fix the symptoms of a problem, but not the actual problem. Anyway, hopefully Susan makes a graceful recovery.

Found out that Cousin Stephanie is three months pregnant. Her first. Much rejoicing and we're all happy for her. She has a nephew that she is GREAT with and another on the way. So I think having a child of her own will be much easier now that she has some experience with babies. And I know her parents are thrilled to have another grandchild in their lives.

Both kids brought home stellar report cards. Honor roll stuff. Much better than I ever brought home. Very proud of both of them and have to figure out something special to do with them this weekend. Maybe a quick jaunt over to NOLA for the aquarium. Some treat to show them how much we appreciate their work and their efforts. Something memorable for all of us.

As I am winding down tonight, a storm rolls through the neighborhood. Cold and angry. Stirring up the trees. Knocking on the door. I step outside to see what is going on. Stars behind thin clouds. Tiny drops of rain touch my neck. I tip toe down the sidewalk. Everything still and wet between gusts of wind. Finally a taste of fall weather. Get to leave August behind. And while the house is sleeping, I dance by the light of the moon. Might as well do it while I can.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fire Wall

Odd attempt at sleep last night. Didn't go as planned. Made for a long morning and a late start. Japanese food and solar talk for lunch. Planned for a PC recycling program afterwards. Then off to a parenting session with Cindy to get our game plan formulated. Followed by an emergency wrestling match with a firewall. Peanut butter sammich and a phone interview for an article to conclude.

More of the same tomorrow. All my days filled with fire. Burning to the horizon. I feel uncomfortable slowing down. I'm not used to silence. Or moments of peace. Plans to make. Hearts to break. As I slouch toward Bethlehem.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


There were boats in the bayous last night. Like row boats. Except they were sunken. Small abandoned things fishermen would use. Lumbering only partly submerged. Four years and some change in those thick Southern waters. Floating wounds. Unhealed since Katrina. How long will they drift out there? Do their owners know they are there? Or even miss them?

My forehead is almost done shedding. All new skin under the dry, ruined burns. Keep thinking that people are staring at me. Checking out the after-effects of my stupidity this weekend. I'll bring sunscreen next time.

Received an eBay package today. Craftsmen flexible, racheting wrenches. Metric ones. An eight piece set. Like Aaron has at his shop. Spooky how I covert other men's tools. And I'm jonesing for a hand-held, battery-powered "autohammer." But then I'd need something to nail. (Wow, that sounds covertly dirty. Then again, I am talking about power tools.)

Had lunch with my father and my brother, Jason. First time in almost a year since we sat together in the EDR. Dad came back for "orientation" yesterday. He's "training" with Security, today. Odd to see him wear the same kind of uniform my mother used to wear. Dad got tired of hoisting groceries. So he made a successful return to the property. Employee of the year. Fire patrol during the rebuild. Bellman briefly after re-open. Then a short stint as an engineer before the second (or third?) round of layoffs caught him. But the old man doesn't give up. And he spent more time saying "Hey!" to old friends than actually training, today. Welcome back, Pop.

Otherwise, a productive day at the office. A quiet evening with the family. And now the house is sleeping.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Where's The Weirdo

That was a long, arduous adventure. We "finished" the Lightning Bug around 0200 last Wednesday, the 7th. There are still about two dozen items on the "To Do" list, but the vast bulk of the work is done. We made it show worthy and then sent it on its merry way. I'll write about all that some other time. Probably retro-enter the updates in the coming days.

Today, my face is peeling like a dry-rotted mummy. My father returned to work at the Beau. Cindy had a new garage door installed. And I survived a storm encrusted trip to the bayous of NOLA in order to sooth an ailing firewall and jumpstart a dead server.

Good to be back.