Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ever Give A Man A Foot Massage?

Two thousand percent better, now. Paid a visit to my favorite (and only) massage therapist: April Straight. She righted all my wrongs. Cured my woes. And rubbed my toes. (Maybe not in that order.)

Suddenly, the world is golden and all is right in the world. Ready to start my week... even though it is already... Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gray Crone

I'm going to switch back to working out first thing in the morning. More juice in my veins when it is early. Good all morning, today. And unexpectedly hit some odd wall after lunch. A gorilla bodyslam of a headache descended upon me. My energy level dropped. Couldn't see straight. The gimpy ear tried to stage a rebellion. Disrupted my wabi sabi. Made me feel like an old gray crone.

Couldn't work out. Headed up and balled up on the bed for a couple of hours. Eyes closed. Blinds drawn. TV droning in the background to distract me.

Almost back to normal. But not happy with the defeat. Need to break this rusty cage, and run.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Congrats To Mr & Mrs Hall!

Still waiting on photographic evidence, but I did receive a semi-official text from the proud groom that Kim & Neena are officially Mr & Mrs Hall, now. Congratulations, old chum.

Once more into the breach!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Catching Up.

Cindy and the wee ones are in Atlanta, GA. Visiting old friends and Miss Irene, their first babysitter and pseudo Grandmother. I'm left behind. Flying solo. Mainly catching up. On missed sleep. On missed movies. Missed music. Stayed in bed. Late. Worked out. A welcomed break from the norm. But I'm eager to have their voices and their laughter in the house. It's too quiet without them. I'm too old to fly solo.

Friday, July 10, 2009

MUSIC: The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die

According to Wikipedia:
Invaders Must Die is the fifth studio album by the electronic act The Prodigy which was released during February and March 2009 on the band's new label "Take Me to the Hospital". The album was distributed by Cooking Vinyl. It is the first studio album released by the band since 2004's Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned and is the first Prodigy album since 1997's The Fat of the Land to feature all three members of the band.
 According to Jon:
Invaders Must Die is a bombastic jam fest that goes super nova behind the eyes and turns the grey matter to a thin quivering paste. Thundering base. Obscure vocal strings. Aggresive beats. Everything one expects from The Prodigy
Crazy good CD.  Thoroughly enjoyed it. Will keep it in the rotation. Any fan of their former CDs will dig this one. No doubt.

Movie: Pathfinder

Pathfinder is "an untold legend" about Vikings landing on American soil and wreaking havok for generations on the Natives, until one of their own sets things right.

I liked the setting. Very dour mood and continually overcast. Also liked the "costumes," especially the antagonist Vikings.

The rest was passable, at best, and steaming fecal matter the remainder of the time. Really trite plot. Flimsy writing. Completely impossible and unbelievable elements. Boring pacing until the last scene. And everything saturated in layers upon layers of blood, torture, and physical abuse. Very odd combination of stunning visuals, craptastic storytelling plus over indulgent gore. Posibly a micro genre of its own. Hopefully it doesn't catch on.

Wouldn't suggest it as a date movie. The kids might like it, if only to see the crimson waterworks. Not a good choice for a rental. I should have waited to see it on SpikeTV for free.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Life With The VIrus

It has been a month since Conficker moved in with us. Lots of rah-rah meetings. Everybody monitoring and watching everything everywhere. Cleaning. Patching. Rebooting. Oh yeah, we're good and everything is coming along nicely.

Except Mister Conficker had other plans. Found new vectors. Suddenly started infecting new servers that had never been infected previously. Slammed the phone lines with calls after hashing out a bunch of new account passwords.

How did this happen? So far, nobody knows. And we're a month into this relationship. With no sign of an eviction in the near future. Might as well get used to life with the virus.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Happy 123456789!

12:34:56 07/08/09.

A uniquely linear moment in time.

Thanks for sharing it with me.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

MOVIE: The Darjeeling Limited

In The Darjeeling Limited, three brothers meet for a questionable adventure after a year of not speaking, since the death of their father. The eldest brother gathers the trinity on a train ride across India. He wants them to become brothers again. To experience spiritual awakenings together. And he secretly plots to re-unite them with their estranged mother, in Tibet. During the journey they make discoveries about themselves, their relationship, and the nature of life & death.

A fantastic movie that properly depends on good writing and great acting instead of a massive budget and flimsy computer effects. I wish I had caught this one at the theatres with my bride. A wonderful storyline. Touch of the supernatural. Superb direction. A couple of naughty interludes. Excellent pacing. And everything wrapped around an incredible depiction of India. Loved the whole thing. Especially the dialog and the distinct, unique interactions between each of the brothers and eventually their mother. Good good stuff. Wouldn't change a thing about it.

Should be a great date flick for fans of small but well-done Indie flicks. The kids won't dig it, though. Well worth a rental and a bottle of wine to go with it.

Americans In The Mirror

There is a simple explanation to the suddenly renewed love and devotion to the King Of Pop. The life and death of Michael Jackson parallels the life and slow, lethargic death of the United States.

We've gone through the looking glass. And as we weep at this pale fallen angel, we are actually looking at our fellow Americans in the mirror.

Fourty plus years ago, MJ was the envy of muscians everywhere. He was young, talented, vibrant, full of energy and creativity. He was a beautiful young man. Everyone wanted to see him. They dwelled on his every lyric. Everyone loved him.

Fourty plus years ago, the USA was the envy of the world. The newly minted Middle Class was young and full of talented workers with boundless productivity & creativity. It had masses of natural energy resources. It had beautiful country sides. Well tended farmlands and parks. It had an efficient mass transit system that was unmatched anywhere in the world. Every other nation sought to imitate the USA. Everyone wanted to be an American.

Somehow, slowly and gradually, MJ fell from grace. He hasn't made any notable contributions to the musical world in two decades. His appearance changed. His health deteriorated. He went into massive, un-ending, and inescapable debt. Neverland fell apart before our very eyes.

Slowly and gradually, the USA fell from grace. Our manufacturing base is gone. We outsource every function of society to the third world just to save a buck. Our mass transit system fell apart. Our natural energy reserves are gone. We've grown from a lean, hard working, society that could live off the land and produce the finest products in the world to an obese, oil-addicted, fast food nation that doesn't support its local farmers. And we've sold our health, wealth, and children's futures for a mountain of inescapable debt.

MJ couldn't sleep without his pills. MJ couldn't function without medications to obscure the pain. He was a social pariah.

The average citizen in the USA has four prescription drugs to help them through their day. Sleep aides, pain killers, little-blue ED tablets, and weight-loss pills are a multi-billion dollar industry where our Big Pharma companies spend more on advertising than they spend on R&D for cancer cures. And we've turned the USA into a global pariah whose sole purpose is to consume and rack up debt.

We watched MJ slowly implode just like we've sat by idly and watched the USA consume itself. Michael had nothing left. And neither do we. That's where the tears and the sobbing is coming from. We know the King Of Pops died for our sins. We watched his friends and family gather around that golden coffin and we remembered all the good things about him. We collectively voted to overlook and forget about his grotesque and incomprehensible transformation knowing we've followed him step-by-step, moon walk by moon walk, down the very same yellow brick road. And we cry because we all know this once-great nation of ours already has one foot in its own golden casket right next to him.

Monday, July 06, 2009

MOVIE: Fog Of War (Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara)

Robert S McNamara died in his sleep this morning. He was 92 years old. Two days ago, I watched Fog Of War (Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara). In it, Mister McNamara discusses his experiences and lessons learned during his tenure as Secretary of Defense under John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. He talks about his work as a bombing statistician during World War II, his brief tenure as president of Ford Motor Company, and the Kennedy administration's triumph during the Cuban Missle Crisis. However, the film focuses primarily on his failures in Vietnam. The theme of the film are his "eleven lessons" learned during this time. Some of these include improving military efficiency, understanding your enemy, and the frustrations of trying to deal with (and unsuccessfully trying to change) human nature.

The documentary was genuinely touching and brilliant. It won a half dozen awards after it aired in 2003. It not only educated me on certain realities of Cold War & Vietnam, but it also provided keen insight into one of the most influencial minds of the time.

Great writing. Phenominal direction. Superbly in-depth. And not afraid to ask tough questions, though not all the answers were equally tough. The pacing could have been a bit sharper. And I would have enjoyed seeing some more of the personal-side of the man rather than the political side of Mister McNamara. But overall, it was surprisingly enjoyable and enlightening.

I would highly recommend it for anyone looking to get first hand details on events from McNamara's era. It isn't going to be a date flick. And I doubt the kids would sit through more than 10 minutes of it. But history buffs would enjoy it. And in light of Mister McNamara's recent passing, it is a worthwhile rental.

Another Anniversary

I took the day off from the office. Had lunch with Cindy while the kids were at a movie with Gigi. And closed out the night with dinner at Cindy's favorite local place: Vrazel's, in Gulfport. Just so happens that I also proposed to here there!

Started with a hand-made Caesar salad. And some drinks. Cindy had veal stuffed with crab meat. I had a ribeye on a bed of sauteed onions & fresh spinach.

Closed out with a lovely little dessert. Happiness is quietly finishing a dish of Creme Brule' with your beloved.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

MOVIE: The Lost City

I'm not a fan of Andy Garcia. And I'm not usually a fan of movies where the director (Andy Garcia) is also the lead actor (Andy Garcia.) But I am pleasantly surprised to admit that I am a fan of The Lost City

It is a story about Cuba, set in the 1950s, as it violently makes the transition from the oppressive regime of Batista to the Marxist government of Fidel Castro.

The chief protagonist, Fico Fellove (Andy Garcia,) is a lecherous, freedom-loving night club owner who finds himself in direct conflict with not only Castro, but also a berret-wearing Ernesto 'Che' Guevarra. His entire life, from his parents to his wife, to his club, are affected. Eventually he finds his way to America and tries to start from scratch.

There are also several interesting scenes with The Writer (Bill Murray!) as well as a couple of enjoyable appearances by Dustin Hoffman. Both actors did a great job and contibuted enormously to my enjoyment of the film.

The writing was surprisingly good. The acting was great, possibly award-winning. The plot kept me intrigued throughout the whole movie. But the pacing dragged in a few places. And I'm not sure if the ending was appropriate to the scope of the rest of the show. It felt a little stilted and anti-climatic. But overall I'm glad I gave it a try.

I think The Lost City would make for a good date flick on a slow night. The kids would be bored silly. But it is certainly worth a rental, even for folks that dislike Andy Garcia.

Beetle Build - New Master Cylinder

The brakes on this thing continue to give us problems. Today, we replaced the master cylinder. Getting the old one out wasn't too difficult. Getting the new one in place wasn't too difficult. But getting all the air out of the lines proved to be a massive PITA. Brake fluid everywhere. Sweltering humidity. Sweat dripping in our eyes. A tube splits. Roger's only 11mm wrench is too long. Autozone doesn't have the right line wrench. Ran out of fluid, twice. And the brakes actually go from bad to worse by the time we're done 6 hours later.

Not one of our more productive evenings. But I'm too tired and overheated to do much complaining. At least right now.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

July 4th - 2008

What an adventure. Started with a trip to the gym. Chest and triceps. Came home for some down time and were confronted with a flash flood. The sky simply opened up and dropped an ocean on us. We were planning to go to dinner with my mother at Chili's. But with the delulge raging, the family voted that I should journey forth, alone, into the storm, and bring the food back to the house. And that was dinner.

Then the fun began. I had purchased way too may fireworks during a drive through Slidell, and surpised everyone with arm loads of rockets and firecrackers and a massive collection of pyrotechnic widgets. In particular, we had a load of fun detonating these huge half-sticks of dynamite in all kinds of odd places. Mostly floating on pieces of scrapwood in the newly-formed rain puddles or in the crook of still-wet trees. And we followed that with two hours of non-stop boom swoosh spark crackle wow. Lots and lots of hardcore fireworkery. Ultimately leading to our discovery that "motars" absolutely the coolest thing I bought. The cool THOOMP noise. The unmatched acceleration of the round. And the always-pleasing bloom of a beautiful aerial fireball. Next year, I'm buying four times as many motar rounds.

A good time had by everyone. The bar has been raised for next year. And God Bless America!

Friday, July 03, 2009

MOVIE: Bladerunner - Remastered Director's Cut

Blade Runner originally came out in 1982. It was then and it is now a visual and story telling masterpiece. It started my love affair with both Phillip K. Dick and dark, moody ("noir") science fiction. In summary, the movie is based on one of Dick's novels: Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep. Blade Runner is about a detective (Decker) played by Harrison Ford who specializes in tracking and killing rogue androids. His profession is jokingly named: blade runner. The androids are villainous called: replicants. And killing them isn't easy or illegal.

The adventure takes place in a grim, constantly over-cast futuristic version of Los Angeles. Over the course of the tale, Decker unwinds the plot and makes several subtle discoveries about himself and other characters.

My description doesn't do it any justice and I highly recommend the movie to anyone who hasn't seen it and is even remotely a fan of science fiction. It will not be disappoint any new viewers.

This version brings the visual quality into the twenty first century. And the muddled, ineffective voice overs of the previous versions have been removed.  There is also a new unicorn element introduced which brings the movie's ending more in line with the novel's ending.

The special effects are still good almost thirty years later. The story line is fantastic. The acting is mostly good. The writing stays constantly intriguing. And the pacing is perfect. The depth of the characters as well as the twists and intriguing social questions raised throughout probably make for a good date flick. Some light nudity and too much violence make it bad for the kids. But it is absolutely worth a rental and should be owned by any fans of the genre.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

An ill omen

Not sure what detonated inside my cranium or why, but I've been wrestling with an odd headache for the better part of two days. Wrecked the second half of the day. I spent most of it on Cindy's side of the bed. My eyes closed. A pillow over my head. And the television droning in the background. After a couple of hours being numbed by MSNBC, I could walk around again. Hopefully it isn't an ill omen for this weekend.

Regardless of the outcome of this weekend, I tried to make up for lost time. Wrote some backlog entries from last year.
 Need to get back to trying to fleshout my archives. I probably have three hundred pending entries. And miles to go before I sleep.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Time For #700

Sometimes I think back to the mid-90s. We were newlyweds. No responsibilities, except to each other. Renting an apartment. Two used cars. Our entire lives fit into a small moving van. We'd watch the sun come up. And talk about the future. Long hours spent on the sofa, arms wrapped around her. Face pressed her her neck. We didn't have much. But we had plans and lots of time on our hands.

Flash foward to the twenty first century. I go weeks or months without a day off. Too many projects. Too much responsibility. Too few hours on the sofa with my long time and over-so-patient bride.

I need more hours in the day. Or less things to do. Still no end in sight. But I'd rather be too busy than too bored. At least I tell myself that.

Oh. Post #700 here. I managed to fine time for almost two hundred per year. That's something, in my book. So. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!