Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Favorite Movies of My Home Town

I was heading over to Netflix to browse through the "instant" movies (just add water) and I was faced with a new welcome page, which presented selections I might like based on what I've already viewed. I wasn't surprised by most of the recommendations until I scrolled to the bottom of the page and I saw the five movies that are favorites of my neighbors. I tried to do a screen shot, but it sucked. So I'll just list the movies the people around me love:
  • Pistol Whipped, (3 stars) featuring Steven Segal, described as a "martial arts thriller"
  • The Shepherd, (3.1 stars) featuring Jean Claude Van Dam, described as an "action thriller"
  • Underdog, (3.5 stars), featuring Jason Lee, described by critic Nell Minnow, "There may be no need to fear now that Underdog is here, but there is no reason to feel very happy, either," which is just as I suspected
  • Mission Impossible III (3.5 stars). Ugh
  • The Invisible (3.4 stars), featuring has beens and never was's, an exploration of limbo (not the dance, sadly, rather the state of being pretty much dead)

I'm not exactly sure what to think about this list. I mean, what does it say about us as a municipalitiy? How can Underdog be among any city's favorites? Although, maybe now that I'm on some serious cough medicine, I might enjoy it. Is that the key? Is this whole town on drugs? What does this list say about my home town?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I Can't Take It Anymore


I'm reading Michael Palin's diary and I just can't take it anymore. Here is a quote from the last passage I read:

At last an, as yet, uninterrupted day's writing ahead of me, a luxury which hasn't happened for a long time. Thomas leaves for his playgroup at 9:55. Helen takes William out to the shops. All is quiet for a bit--the sun shines in onto my desk, and I feel all's well with the world.
I'm going to finish writing this novel, goddammit. By November 6, 2008, two years to the day after I started it. I must find a way to spend my time at home writing.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Ghost Near The Big Apple

I recently returned from a trip to New York City...en route to Great Neck (Long Island). I had to fly there to train some lovely ladies and one sweet gentleman on how to use our software. I was totally psyched. I arrived at the airport and cleared security in time enough to make my way through the first few chapters of the Spellman Files.

I also did a fair amount of people watching. I was compelled to observe a couple of young New York lovers desperate to flee the vast snowy wasteland of the middle of fucking nowhere. I knew they were New Yorkers because he had navy blue sneakers that were accented with gold spray paint and she was adorned from head to toe with various items from Madonna's Desperately Seeking Susan line: over sized sweats rolled down into low riders, a sheer black wife beater, threadbare enough to see the outline of a black bra, and a navy blue hoodie. She was also compelled to go bare foot at the merest glimmer of an opportunity.

I could tell they were lovers because they couldn't not touch. He was tall, gangly and carried off aquiline features. She had a long chin and a Mediterranean swarthiness. They would anxiously watch the counter and glance at their cell phones, hoping against hope they'd get a seat on this already over-booked flight.

They were successful, but I don't know how, because I was momentarily distracted by a gaggle of young hippy-types, gambolling into the terminal. The ladies found a seat while the fellows engaged in an early Monday morning session of hacky-sacking in front of the men's room. I watched as they played grab-ass and eventually let the "sack" get away from them, which a former hacky-sacker turned middle manager passerby gamely kept in play. He got the obligatory cheers of surprise from this gang of ragamuffins, who are the type to believe that any one in the establishment is, by default, devoid of the type of creativity it takes to keep a bean bag aloft.

But I judge...

When I found my seat on the plane, I was surprised to see the young couple already snuggled in a pair of seats a couple of rows ahead of me. They were writing in a journal and trying to take from each other. I became bored and settled in to take off.

This is the point in most flights where I start to pray. When the plan starts to taxi, I begin the Lord's Prayer. It was a little bumpy getting to the runway, as most of the gate areas were covered in snow. But the runway was dry. We began to lift off and I saw the Fighter Squadron restaurant in the distance and had a wave of genuine and artificial nostalgia. I love these restaurants and I've had good time there. But I also strangely long for the days of WWII.

We began to ascend and I turned to my travel companion, a seasoned trainer and a helluva a gal, to express my relief at such a smooth take-off. But I couldn't speak. The angle of the plane increased and I felt my eyeballs begin to slide from their sockets and darkness creep into my periferal vision. I guess I'm passing out, I thought. And I began to slide away. But the thought of passing out and drooling on myself shamed me into awareness and I settled in to look out the window.

A Diet Coke and three mini pretzels later and I was feeling myself again. I read my book for awhile and eventually the pilot announced that the people on the left side of the plane, like me, would get a good look at Manhattan as we made our way to LaGuardia. I closed my book and pressed my forehead against the window. I watched as suburbs unfolded and I noted the abundance of football and baseball stadiums tucked in crowded neighborhoods. Things became more industrial and I could see a lot of water. "In the unlikely event of a water landing..." my mind replayed the recorded safety announcement. My mind is kind of a bitch that way.

In the water, I saw the Statue of Liberty but it took me a while to figure out what it was; it was so tiny. I was pretty far up, but still... My eyes lifted and beheld the skyscrapers of Manhattan. I tried to get some perspective by recalling the Cleveland skyline and figured I could fit eight of them here. I looked back at the Statue of Liberty and was slightly disappointed at her diminunization. I'm sure she was much more impressive approaching by ship back in olden times. I wondered what immigrants think these days as they make a similar approach. They must conclude that liberty, in this country, is dwarfed by commerce. And they'd be right.

We landed without incident and made our way to the baggage claim area and reunited company with the young lovers, looking relieved and at home. She dialed her phone and whispered to him, "Did you fart?" He nodded and she smiled and walked away to begin her conversation.

At this point I broke away from my voyeurism, ready to end their adventure and begin my own. In Long Island.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Conversations With Lucy

"I like Tom and Jerry. I like to eat Tom and Jerry. I like to hug the cat and eat the mouse. He's tasty, like chocolate. I want to dunk the mouse in chocoate and eat him," Lucy explained.

"That's nice, honey; Good night."

"Good night," she said.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

In The Zone

Sunday may qualify as one of the best days of my life so far. It was a better than average day but there was one section of it that was quite exceptional. I was making Almond Romaine Sesame Salad, which called for me to crush up two packs of ramen noodles, mix them up with almond slivers and sesame seeds, and brown the whole mess in butter and sugar. I was standing at my kitchen counter, busting up ramen noodles with my bare hands, listening to baroque music on the radio and NOT THINKING.

I was totally focused on a task and completely absorbed. That never happens to me. I've usually got a running commentary going through my head or I'm facing constant interruptions. But the two biggest interruption perps were otherwise involved: Riley had a school friend over and Lucy was taking a nap. Hours unraveled in my little kitchen while I was able to just be.

Of course this screwed me for Monday, when very little of my time is my own. But, what the hell! Now I have a benchmark for this level of mental activity. Sure, my day got started off in a panic when I forgot I was presenting at a meeting first thing. But that didn't turn out too badly as I had already prepared for the meeting the week before and it got bumped back. Then, I was held over on quitting time on a support call. Then my kids wanted to hang from my neck all evening; they were complete barnacles. All day I missed that totally zenned out state of mind and was trying to figure out how to recapture it and get it to work for me in other places than the kitchen.

So if you ran into me yesterday and I was a little prickly; I apologize. I was in full on porcupine mode. If you have any suggestions for reaching that amazing mental state more often; I'd love to hear them.