Friday, November 30, 2007

Sunny Side

I believe some have seen this already, and for that I apologize. Too busy to write right now, but not too busy to dance around the kitchen. (This was shot last week.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Birthday Present from Lindsay and Dan

I now know what I'll be replacing all those fascinating scholarly articles with after graduation. My "books read this year" list will be pretty small in 2008. This will take at least four months. But what a great four months. Thanks Dan and Lindsay!

...and the Sky is Gray

It is a gray drizzly day in my neck of the woods. On top of that it is Monday, and now that Thanksgiving is over the weeks until Christmas offer a no-man’s-land of dark afternoons, bad traffic, empty trees and a restless dog.

I absolutely felt a dark mood coming on after work today and, thankfully, was able to spur myself on a fast-paced 3 ½ mile walk with Booker. He had gone without a walk for three days, and I had no choice on the pace of the walk, we were going fast regardless if I wanted to or not.

That was alright with me. By the time we got to the top of the Moravian graveyard I was panting hard. I was trying to get rid of a prevailing train-of-thought and get a little peace of mind today. I can’t say if it worked entirely, but by the time I got home I was determined to make my house warm and inviting instead of dark, dingy and depressing.

I put on Son Volt’s The Search, and while the first track always drives me to despair (probably because it reminds me of my current situation), the rest of the album is incredibly upbeat, especially for this band. So I started cleaning.

I straightened the living room, but the kitchen isn’t in that bad shape, I just need to toss the remaining Thanksgiving leftovers and clean the pans. I have to admit, I’m procrastinating on that one.

Here’s a funny one about the leftovers. On Friday I was getting prepared to make a meal of the leftover turkey. I pulled the pecan pie out and made a turkey sandwich. Then, after I was finished, I went to the store down the street to get some batteries. I was gone for five minutes. When I got back there was an empty pie-pan and a very satisfied looking Booker sitting on the living room carpet. He had eaten an entire pecan pie in five minutes! I suppose he deserved it though, he had to spend all of Thanksgiving cooped up in the house. But still, I really wanted that pecan pie.

Back to this afternoon. As I was cleaning up the living room, I started opening mail. I picked up a letter from my insurance company. Since the premium isn’t due until next month I thought that this must be a promotion of some sort and I almost put it in the junk mail pile. But I opened it for some reason.

It said that I had won $125! And it is legitimate too. They do a grand drawing every month of those who pay their premiums on time. This is one bill I’ve managed to do that with. So I was the grand prize winner this month. Man, am I glad I decided to clean up the living room and not throw away that letter.

Jefferson said something about luck didn’t he? The harder you work the more luck you have. I’m starting to believe that this is true.

I guess I’m superficial but nothing can turn a potentially dark day into something grand like a little windfall like this. I started whooping and Booker did his I’m happy but I have no idea why dance--complete with super-sonic wag-tail and everything. It’s only $125, and it is probably already spent, but it just made my day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Link to Me

Okay, I tried but I was unable to embed this video this go round. I'm going to keep trying, but until then, here is a link to a youtube video of me rambling somewhat incoherently.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Quick One

Okay, this is going to have to be very fast. I'm busy, busy, busy. Sorry the posts haven't been very frequent and I haven't been commenting on anyone's blog. I'm not going to worry about typos either today, so blah.

I went to see Beowulf in 3D. Fifteen minutes of pretty cool 3D stuff (nothing really made me jump out of my seat though) for every hour of crappy dialogue. $8.50 for this. But what the hell, at least I could relax for a minute, and even doze a little between epic fight scenes. Angelina Jolie has stiletto feat which killed any 13 year-old adolescent urges I was experiencing during her famous virtual nudity. Man, but what lips!

I realize that my mind drifts even more during action sequences than boring declarations of love and fealty. While the dragon was dragging Beowulf around the mores I kept wondering if I'd turned the coffee pot off. I also kept wondering if the dragon would ever hurry up and die, along with Beowulf, so I could get on with my plans for Saturday. The sequence where Beowulf rips out the dragon's heart with his bare hands took forever. Haven't these people seen Enter the Dragon? Bruce Lee did it in a split-second.

The 3D glasses were cool though. Cheap as hell, but better than those white cardboard ones with one blue eye and one red eye. These look like Elvis Costello shades. Kitsch my ass. Whoops.

U2 is coming out with an Imax concert in 3D, they showed the preview. It was cool for a moment but I don't know if I want Bono stomping all over my lap for two hours. Although I though this Beowulf was going to be good (Ebert liked it for chistsake!) and I was wrong about that so maybe the U2 will be good, who knows. I'd rather see them in concert, anyone have tickets?

This is good, a couple more sentences. I've been working on a long wordy contract type thing since yesterday and this feels like riding down a steep hill on bicycle with your hands off the handlebars. You don't know how freeing stream-of-consciousness writing can be after coming up with hackneyed neophyte legalese for 24 hours.

So I will sign off. American folks, have a good Thanksgiving. All others, have some Turkey, or some pie, just for the hell of it. We Yanks can be pretty cool on this holiday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

69/72 by way of the Beatles

The other night I watched the new DVD release of Help! (how do you punctuate this without making it sound like you are shouting the whole sentence--editor types, please advise). The movie has its ups and downs. I loved watching the Beatles run around England to the sound of their own music, but it was hard to take the rest of the soundtrack. Still, it's really magical how the Beatles (this version) can still inspire a feeling of childlike innocence in me, and one element in Help! that is not in their first feature length film, A Hard Days Night, is color. The vibrancy of the English streets added to a feeling of deep familiarity that I couldn't put my finger on. Then I thought about it, this was the England I knew as a kid.

Well not quite. The film first played in theaters in 1965. (I think, but please go easy on me if I'm off by a year, I've been doing research for the better part of a week and I really don't want to verify one more fact right now.) My parents first hauled their newly completed crew to England--all four children--five years later, in the summer of 1969. I was 2.

When do we start remembering things? Well, I suppose I will never know for sure when my brain filed its first memory, but I believe at least one of them was on this trip in 1969. We were in London, and I was either with my cousins or my sisters. My father held me on his shoulders while I stared at the largest, most elaborate lego display I could have imagined--it may have been my first introduction to them. (later, legos would take over my room, and you would have to be careful not step on them during a late-night trip to the bathroom). And I also imagine a grey blur of streets and taxis, with a bright candy-apple colored double-decker bus grinding by from time-to-time spewing diesel fumes.

I vaguely remember a chocolate mousse in the shape of a rabbit that my aunt's cook, companion, and all-time-champion spoiler of children made. I have conflicting feelings on whether I actually remember this, or if it was mythologized by my sisters between this trip and the trip we took in 1972. I might just imagine that I remember it. I do know that by the time I got back in '72 I was very interested in experiencing the chocolate mousse rabbit again. This is when the chocolate addiction was born.

Those are the two memories that I may or may not have of England in 1969. If I had been aware what was going on with the Beatles and the rest of the world at that time I might not have been so ready to grow up.

I can even relate the trip in '72 to the imagery of Help! Seven years after the film's release, the child-appeal of this country, which seemed like one big toy to me, was still everywhere. There were still double-decker buses and Union Jacks far and wide, life-sized on the street and tiny versions in sweet-shops. The Americans have never really figured out how to mix milk and chocolate, but the British have this technique down to a science, and I'm sure, although I can't really remember, that much of the trip was spent pleading with our parents for sweets. What made it worse was that my cousin supplied vending-machines to all the local pubs and had a garage filled with Cadbury products that we couldn't touch.

I definitely remember smashing my finger in the garden gate that summer. I want to say I shrieked, but I don't recall, I just remember the children around me looking very distraught, like they might run away and abandon me. My finger turned dark red with little black spots on it. One thing I do know, moments earlier an adult had said "mind you don't smash your finger in the garden gate."

There was also a rumor, embellished fully by my sisters, that one of the hotels we stayed in was haunted. We knew this to be true because my oldest sister said she had seen the end of the toilet paper roll swishing back and forth in a ghostly manner. We were appropriately terrified for the rest of the night.

Castles, knights, tanks, toy-soldiers, the changing of the guard, lukewarm tea which was mostly milk and sugar, bangers and mash and BOAC, they all fortified my one-fourth English blood. But the orange juice was horrible.

I’m very glad that Help! made me remember this version of England. The Beatles, right after Beatlemania and right before the summer-of-love, projected a childlike enthusiasm which allowed us then, as it does now, to laugh and discover.

Just don’t smash your finger in the garden gate.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Ramblin' Man

I am way way way way way over due to post. No excuses, and I really shouldn't be posting right now as the things I need to to do are steadily overtaking the things I've managed to get done. If that last sentence is convoluted and confusing, just use it as an example of my life right now.

I took the damn GRE finally. I might get into Bill's graduate school and taco-stand with the scores I made. As predicted, my math score was a negative number (first time in the history of the test) and my verbal score indicates that I am a Bulgarian third-grader (no offense to Bulgaria or third-graders). Actually it is really hard to tell how I did because when I go on-line I find chat threads where people are crying that they got a 1500 and can never get into Princeton in a million years. Wah wah wah. Showoffs!

But I'm glad it's over. I was really quite calm during the test, and afterwards I did the unthinkable and stopped at McDonald's for a quarter-pounder and some "chicken" Mcnuggets. Yea, I know, this food would kill Superman--in fact I think they put small doses of kryptonite (sp?) in it--but it was Friday, I had just spent four hours trying to remember the meaning of words like obfuscate, and I wanted to feel like I was sitting in a room where everyone wasn't way smarter than me. The Kernersville Micky D's did the trick perfectly.

I really don't know how my scores will affect my overall chances at grad school. The programs I am interested in are in a broad range of tiers and when I sit back and really look at the big picture, I'm very happy that I even have a chance. Five years ago, when I was a shlepping chef who didn't have to take out a loan to buy a CD, I would have never pictured myself poised to enter graduate school. If I had known how much dept this project would accrue I might have patted myself on the back for sticking around with the sadists and the snobs who worked at the club. But I sometimes told my friends during late night beer drinking contests that I had always regretted not getting a bachelors degree. Then we would pour beer over ourselves and sing Margaritaville at the top of our lungs. Not really, but close.

So I keep trying to remind myself of why I am doing this. You've heard of those families where junior was the first one ever to graduate from college? Well, if I make it another six weeks, I'll never have to worry about people saying junior was the first one in his family not to graduate from college.

I've made excellent grades here. It has been lonely at times, working in a corner of the library watching the college socialites laugh and go off to their dorms together. They say a person has an average of eight good friends, and if that is true I can say that while I've been here I've added at least two to that average, so I think that is a very good thing. Plus, my typing is starting to reach mind numbing speeds. But nothing compared to the guy typing next to me right now--he's incredible.

This has been a rambler of a post but I have to go now, I'm being kicked out of the computer lab because a class is about to start.