Sunday, October 27, 2013

That day I was the Wedding Poet

Yesterday I was humbled with the opportunity to read a poem at a friends wedding. It was not my poem, but one by Taylor Mali, and I was honored to carry it around with me for a few weeks so I could read it aloud and get to know it so I would not screw it up when the time came.

The night before, we were at the rehearsal when I read it in public for the first time and it went alright. I was worried about my pacing and tone but assured all was well.

Just before the wedding, the DJ came up to me and said the hand held microphone would be ready for me when I needed it. Gulp, I was not aware there would be a microphone but figured out how to hold the mic and paper so it would be ok.

The ceremony was lovely, a lot of love in the ballroom and when it was my turn I walked over, took the mic and bashed it out quite well. Had two pages and dropped one discreetly when necessary and one of the flower girls picked up the page and handed it to me when I was finished. Darn nice of her!

Cannot thank Alexis and Jaison enough for having me be a part of their special day!

Here's the text of the poem I read. Taylor Mali performs it a bit different than the text, especially in the beginning. It's his poem, a fine poem, he can do whatever he wants.

Earlier this afternoon, my wife told me of the death of Lou Reed. It made me sad for his wife, Laurie Anderson, but did not come as a huge surprise as he just had a liver transplant in May. Although no cause of death has been released, I suspect years of abuse, and possible complications from the transplant, finally caught up to him.

His music was raw and inspiring. It could also be odd and infuriating. He was an artist who frequently was at odds with the critics and his own fan base. The one time I saw him live in Fredonia in 1984 left a bad taste in my mouth about him. He was allowed to whine about the brightness of the house lights, but to berate his guitarist, the great Robert Quine (who did not deserve it, and did not work with Reed again) and his drummer (may have been Lenny Ferrari, who missed cues) while kissing the ass of bassist Fernando Saunders showed me an incredible lack of professional tact - the show did live by the creed of the Velvet Underground, it left me wanting less.

Gone now, his music has influenced generations of aspiring artists, and will continue to resonate.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Blink and you miss Finnegan!

I've been watching this mash-up all day long.

There's some fine editing happening here. Great job by the creators of this clip.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It happened, it is still happening

Read a few reviews of 12 Years A Slave, even after hearing of the brutality of the film, it still did not prepare me for the actual screening.

In 1841 New York, Solomon Northup is a free black man. He holds a job as a violinist in in Saratoga and is a respected man of the community. Two men promise him good work in Washington, D.C., he goes there with them, is drugged, then sold into slavery.

From there we are witness to a story of evil plantation owners, their sadistic farm hands and some gruesome scenes of whippings, lynchings and overall malice. In between we see some beautiful visuals, I can't help but compare them to Day of Wrath, and some compelling performances.

Director Steve McQueen tells Northup's story, it's based on his 1853 memoir, in an unflinching manner. His style is direct, rarely preachy as he shows what is probably the most honest portrayal of slavery on screen to date. It was cruel, there was nothing sunny about it, and it is still an undercurrent of society today.

For the most part, the cast is outstanding. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Northup straight, resigned to his fate but always looking for a way home. He wants more than to survive his ordeal, but to live. Newcomer Lupita Nyong'o is Patsey, a slave who catches the eye of Epps (Michael Fassbender) the vilest of vile plantation owners. The one miscast is Brad Pitt, one of the executive producers of the film, who, thankfully, only shows up late in the film as a transient worker.

It's hard to watch scenes of slaves going about their day to day work in the background while the focus is on scenes of quiet and shocking acts of torture. McQueen's skill at depicting these scenes was incredible.

I do not know how to hand out award nominations for this film. How do you decide to give a best actor/actress award to an actor who expertly dishes out or receives a whipping? It's a numbing experience. One that needed to be created, then viewed.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ten years ago

After seeing a lot of rumor and speculation on message boards about his death, I sent an email to a record label contact and had the horrible news confirmed. As you see at the end of the video, he was a troubled man, but so talented. Wonder what he'd be doing today?

In other news I went out to my car this morning to find it was invaded during the overnight. Papers strewn about and the front doors were left ajar. Nothing of value was taken, maybe a screwdriver. They did not want my clip-on sunglasses, car booster seat or cassette adapter. That is why I leave the doors unlocked. A few years ago, thieves broke a window of the Volvo and stole the stereo, that's not going to happen again. Could have been much worse.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Here's your shovel, there's the ground

My third, and probably final, concert this year was the band Frightened Rabbit. I've wanted to see these guys for about five years. The Midnight Organ Fight really helped get me through the crazy time of 2008. They've passed through Columbus a few times, but my own scheduling made it impossible to attend. This time, my lovely wife took care of my son and gave my the opportunity.

It had been six years since I've seen a show at the Newport (Lez Zeppelin) and it felt good to be back as it's one of the better venues in town. The band did a decent mix of material from their last three albums and it felt good to shout, howl and otherwise have a good time for a night. They had me when they did The Modern Leper with their second song and I could have gone home immediately after, when Nothing Like You was performed. But there was more to come. It was a good audience, and we had no problem staking out a spot on the floor for the evening.

Had a beer too many, but already took the next day off in advance, so that was good planning on my part. I'm not sure about the future ambitions of the band, where do they go from here? They're not ready for headlining an arena, but in the confines of a medium sized theater, Frightened Rabbit were successful in swinging for the fences.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's a shame I have rapports currently, she seems like a decent kind of person


My name is Anjilya. I live in country Azerbaijan. I am seeking serious
rapports through internet.

Some details about me: I am tender, caring, attractive lady, but I ’m very
lonely, and I find it hard to find an honest gentleman here. I desire to
find a decent man from a different country with whomh I can live my entire
life. I'm faithful and caring.

I forward you this e-mail in hope to get back a reply from you, I also send
you my photo.

If you do not have rapports currently, and if you’re alone too, then I hope
you respond me back. I wish to know you better and see your images. I hope
you will appreciate my look, and you'll answer me soon. In the future
e-mails I'll tell you more about myself. I also wosh to discover more about
you. I look forward to your response.


P.s. pls never ask me for nude images. I am not that kind of person.

When the fill level reaches the monk's feet, it's time for a new bottle.

With a great meal at Meat and Potatoes in Pittsburgh in July, my wife had an incredible Sloe Gin Fizz. For the last couple of months I have been trying to recreate it but the quality of sloe gin available in my area is poor. Low end brands like McCormick's and Mohawk do not come close to the quality of the imported sloe gin used in that cocktail. Fee Brother Sloe Gin Syrup combined with gin made an interesting drink but it was not close to the high standards of the original beverage.

Plymouth Sloe Gin is not available in Ohio so we had to wait until a trip to Buffalo, where I finally tracked it down. It's about three times what you pay for the cheap stuff, but in this case the price is equal to the quality. It makes a great drink and I'm looking forward to trying it in other cocktails or with some inexpensive sparkling wine. Plymouth also makes an outstanding gin, it's a fine distillery that's been operating since 1793.

Now to find a decent cocktail shaker as I'm not keen on the one we currently have. I'll know it when I see it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The true north strong and free

We got incredibly lucky with the weather over the past weekend and had an amazing road trip to Western New York with a trip to Toronto as part of the itinerary.

Everyone had their passports this time as we made the border crossing. Last time we went to Buffalo one of our party had to have his passport sent to the U.S. Embassy to get a visa for a trip to Africa. This time, there was a misplaced passport of another member of the party that was found with little stress and no tears.

My friend said that there would be a longish line at the border because of the holiday (Thanksgiving) weekend in Canada but when we crossed the Peace Bridge, there were no cars in the booth, just a border guard who examined our passports and let us in with no problems.

I keep forgetting that there are a few other large cities in Canada. I knew Hamilton was big with over half a million people, but Mississagua with over 700k, that shocked me. I was reminded that 40% of the country's population lives along the southern part of Ontario.

Our first destination was the Hockey Hall of Fame. Just outside the entrance is a display of goalie masks over the years. Here's Jacques Plante's. He was one of the first goaltenders to regularly wear a mask.

I believe that was a type of fiberglass. The HOF has a number of cool interactive exhibits as well, and some nice displays of the great players in the game.

There's a very cool exhibit where you can call a play and have it played back. I did it to one of Rick Nash's great goals when he was with the Blue Jackets. A lot of fun.

Hockey has the best hardware in any sport. All of the trophies (or their replicas, shh!) are kept in a hall that was once a bank.

It's an impressive display of the history of the game, and I'm glad we finally got to go there.

It had been well over twenty years since I've been to Toronto. There's a lot of construction going on, big buildings!

We took the subway, then a streetcar to the whiskey bar I found online. The Caledonian is a great place. It's run by a lovely Scottish woman who uses the words "Sweetie" or "My Love" in every sentence. She and my wife started talking, turns out she's from the same small town where my wife's Grandparents are from. Small world! The food was authentic Scottish.

Yes, they had haggis, and steak pie, a signed picture of Andy Murray on the wall and a very good whiskey selection. In selling the deep fried Mars Bar dessert, the owner said it's, "The best thing out of Scotland." Here, I had to correct her, because that would be my wife.

There's a billboard you can't see in America.

After a rare brief visit to IKEA we headed back to Buffalo.

We arrived the Canadian/U.S. border reentry point. There's not a long line. Guy in the car in front of us is getting questioned a very long time. After a couple of minutes I see the siren light over the booth go off, then the gate go down behind his car. My friend has been over the border hundreds of times and has never seen this happen. Border guy gets out of the booth, is on his radio, points to where he wants the driver to go. Driver goes to an unknown fate.

We pull up, tell him one place we went to was IKEA. Guard asks us if we spent $2,000 there. Four of us in a KIA Soul. These are strange times we live in.

We had a great time. Went to my alma mater for a too brief homecoming visit on Saturday night and headed home on Sunday morning in a bit of rain, but it was not snow or ice. The Subaru was magnificent, averaging about 30mpg the entire trip.

Just do not mention what happened to the Buffalo Bills.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The great, magnetic device

My son still goes to the Feeding Clinic once a week. He's usually the only one in the waiting area first thing in the morning. Not today though. There is another patient, a seven year old boy. Not sure of his condition, but his mother told me that he has had a lot of operations.

When I took out my iPod to check my email he was next to me like moth to a flame.

"So this is his favorite thing, too?" I said to his mother. He has a tablet at home.

He wanted to play with my son, but that's not how my kid rolls.

He kept looking at my iPod, and tapped me on the knee. My son pretty much avoided him, but at one point, when the boy was sitting next to me my son touched his eyebrows.

No one was bothered, or upset. We all get it. Nothing like special needs child boundary bursting to start the day.

My son is at his highest weight, ever, so there is small progress too.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Give me a head with hair

There's always something new when you have an autistic kid. A new word you did not think he knew comes out of his mouth. A task he has never performed that he does as if he knew how to do it all along. Then there are the quirks, the way he taps his spoon when he eats, the way his eye squints when he rubs your eyebrows.

A new thing just started recently. He's been pulling his hair out, and there's a word for it that I am not going to cut and paste here. There's a small bald spot, but much bigger than mine, on the crown of his head that is a cause for concern. Is it another OCD quirk, like how he has to touch the curtain rod when he walks downstairs? Or is the hair pulling something more serious? No one really knows what is causing this. I did a really messed up thing when I was around his age. Licked my bottom lip until it was dry and scabbed over so badly, impetigo set in. New baby in the house may have triggered it, who knows what was going though my crazy head back then? Makes me wonder what about this whole condition is genetic and what is not. It's another thing to add to a pile of other things that make life with him a challenge. Much of this could probably be helped if he were verbal.

Talked about it with his mother at swimming this morning and we thought getting his hair cut might help. It has been getting long, maybe that added to the trouble?

So I took him for a haircut at a place he's been to before. Oddly enough, this was the first time I had even taken him to get his hair cut. It's always been his mother who did this. Weird, I know. He does not like the sound the scissors make and is afraid of the electric clippers and the blow dryer. I told the stylist this before hand and she was really good with him. He behaved well too, until the scissors got close to his ear. No one was hurt. My son got a Dum-Dum lollipop and she got a good tip.

He's still tugging at his hair.

I am totally out of my depth here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

This and that on three and a half hours sleep

While on an after dinner walk around German Village earlier this evening, I realized it has been eleven years since I lived there, and eleven years that I have lived in this house. It's the longest I've lived in one home. Now I'm trapped by the market, and other reasons, and cannot get out of there to live, where? Someplace where I can walk to something other than an IGA where a girl got shot in the face and a half-assed but not altogether unpleasant carryout.

Getting really tired of lists. Every time I see a post on social media that has a list of something like "Fifteen Best Bob Dylan Songs With a Horn Section" or something similar, I scroll past. That and people labeling a TV show or cultural event as the best of all time, or the second best of all time after _____. Something else to scroll past. Great stuff is great stuff. Lists are arbitrary and yes, I'm a bit tired and cranky.

My son fell asleep on the couch at 9:30 last night and woke up at 2:30AM. Did not go back to sleep until about 5. He woke up and ate well, but then his bus was late. Again. Had to drive him to school. Again. Yes, it's getting worse. It was so bad last Friday that his bus was two hours and forty five minutes getting home from school. Yes, you read that right. Complaints have been made, investigations are supposedly happening. One justifiably worried parent filed a police report after her children's bus was missing. When you're not able to get through to transportation, what recourse do you have? Even after all this, I'm not sure the district gets it.

Yesterday morning I got to show my wife the International Space Station as it flew overhead. It was a bright, solid, light that moved across the sky in the pre-dawn hour. A good thing that shows cooperation can happen even as the ground below spins out of control.