Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Big screens and small

After bringing Netflix into the home, I thought I would watch more films than last year. That was not the case, but I still managed just over one a week, which is ok. I did not binge watch anything but the last season of the Thick of It.

So I saw some movies, liked some of them. Some were better than others.

1) It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
2) The Conversation
3) Blazing Saddles
4) Tiny Furniture
5) Charley Varrick
6) Amour
7) Ruby Sparks
8) Two Days in New York
9) Monty Python & the Holy Grail
10) The Muppet Movie (1979)
11) Dial M for Murder
12) I Know Where I'm Going
13) Yo-Yo (1965)
14) Beasts of the Southern Wild
15) A Fond Kiss
16) Submarine
17) The Philadelphia Story
18) Iron Man 3
19) Dumbo
20) Jiro Dreams of Sushi
21) Laughter in Hell
22) The Little Giant
23) Fever Pitch (1997)
24) Hobo With A Shotgun
25) Spaceballs
26) The Lavender Hill Mob
27) Frances Ha
28) Before Midnight
29) The Princess Bride
30) World War Z
31) Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
32) The Magnificent Seven
33) The Palm Beach Story
34) Red 2
35) Bonnie & Clyde
36) Silver Linings Playbook
37) Slam
38) The Little American (1917)
39) Planes
40) The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
41) The Man in the White Suit
42) This is Spinal Tap
43) Europe '51
44) The World's End
45) Blue Jasmine
46) Star Trek Into Darkness
47) Rollerball
48) 12 Years a Slave
49) Somm
50) My Name is Nobody
51) An Adventure in Space and Time
52) Gamera (MST-3K)
53) Pod People (MST 3K)
54) The Punk Singer
55) The Decoy Bride
56) Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
57) Robin Hood (1973)
58) Kings of Pastry
59) American Hustle
60) The Shop Around the Corner
61) Love Actually

Monday, December 30, 2013

My ears are not your ears

Like many of the kids are doing, I listened to some music this year, some of it I liked and am writing about below. Some of it I did not like and I'm not going to get into the low hanging fruit. It's too easy, and in some cases, I already had something to say about it..

Strypes - Teenage Irish kids trying to channel the early days of the Yardbirds and Rolling Stones, for the most part it works. They remind me of a non lo-fi version of the Orwells. Quite polished, having Elton John's management behind you would do that. The drummer needs some work, the singer needs more presence, but what were you doing when you were seventeen that did not involve masturbating?

Joseph Arthur: He's not for everyone, some of it (gutted inner child, really?) comes across as overwrought slam work, but it hits me - and he did appear at the Green Mill this year. He put out two records this year, The Ballad of Boogie Christ Parts 1&2 that are a solid return to form from his burst on the indie scene a decade ago. This is the record that says 2013 for me.

Janelle Monae: She's not explosive and dramatic, but a dynamo who gets it done without major publicity. Anyone who sings they're going to get their spacesuit, pack up their shit and go to the moon has my undivided attention.

R.M. Hubbert: Very interesting Scottish singer songwriter. Became depressed a few years back after some tragedies in his life and resolved to learn flamenco guitar playing. Released a very critically acclaimed record in 2012, and this is the follow up.

Frightened Rabbit - Had a feeling this one would grow on me, and it has. There's a lot of depth in this Pedestrian Verse and I'm glad to have finally seen this live this year. Very interested to see what happens to this band once Scott Hutchinson's rumored move to L.A. is finalized.

Edwin Collins - His first full length after his stroke. It’s rather remarkable that he is healthy enough to get the job done, and write some fine songs as well.

Daft Punk - Not because of that song, but because of the drumming on some of the other songs. Monster work by John R. Robinson and Omar Hakim.

Kid Creosote - Kenny Anderson writes songs while brushing his teeth and records the rest of the album after dinner. Quite the prolific writer.

Camera Obscura: A very pleasant effort by this group who fought through a lot of personal challenges while making this record, and that was before Traceyanne was pregnant. I like this song because it reminds me a lot of the early work by the next band.

10,000 Maniacs - Thirteen years and a few personnel changes later, the post Natalie Merchant core of the band returns with good work. They've been together over thirty years and my familiarity and surprise of how good they can be helps life suck less.

David Bowie - The big shock was early in the spring when a video of a new song came out of nowhere. Then the record a few weeks later. There was no interview blitz, no tour, no mass marketing blitz aside from a couple of videos. The Next Day was simply, a new record, and a very good one at that.

Arctic Monkeys - This band may have finally won me over a little bit now that they have figured out how to play their instruments better. I think we might be friends someday, but not close enough to buy each other drinks.

Pastels - My wife is more of a fan than me. I'm still not fond of Stephen's voice, but more than a few songs on this record charmed the heck out of me. The Pastels know Scottish weather, from the rain to the fall and all seasons in between.

Civil Wars - They stopped talking to each other just before the record dropped. Gave no interviews, but said it's all in the songs. This one is chock full of relationship disappointment. Up there with Blood on the Tracks and Shoot Out the Lights, and there's a decent Smashing Pumpkins cover.

Little Green Cars - Irish kids still trying to figure it out, but have some killer harmonies while they work on their skills.

Pandafan - Earnest kids from Long Island doing a very cool job at marketing themselves while attending college and high school. It’s been a pleasure hearing this band evolve as they discover their own voices.

Sam Phillips - Push Any Button. Every time I keep thinking she's painted herself into a corner, she builds more levels and layers in her music. She adds depth. I love her process, craft, and think the world of her.

Palma Violets - These guys flat out rock. Hope they will continue to do so.

Savages - Anger is good. Anger with guitars used the right way is better. This record is a true assault on your senses.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The pages turn for another year

Doubt I'll finish anything else this year. Did read some good work this year, but the quantity decreases with life and the distractions of the world. If I finished the book, which is good, it's on this list. It gets three stars if I really liked it, four if exceptional.

1) Hanif Abdurraqib. Three Crosses. 39 p.
2) Catherine Walters. When Will it Be Spring? 32 p.
3) Rosie Schaap - Drinking with Men. 272 p. ***
4) Jack Gilbert - The Great Fires. 90 p. ***
5) Teddy Wayne - The Love Song of Johnny Valentine. 284 p. ***
6) Sharon Olds. Stag's Leap. 89 p. **** (best poetry)
7) Denise Mina - Gods and Beasts. 307 p. ***
8) Natasha Trethewey - Domestic Work. 58 p. ***
9) Ian Rankin - The Hanging Garden. 335 pp. ****
10) Steph Killen - Buddha Breaking Up. 217 p.
11) Michaele Weissman - God in a Cup. 268 p.
12) Adam Makos with Larry Alexander - A Higher Call. 392 p. ***
13) Khaled Hosseini - And the Mountains Echoed. 402 p. **** (best fiction)
14) Iain Banks - The Wasp Factory. 184 p. ****
15) Rachel Kushner - The Flame Throwers. 383 p.
16) Scott Woods - We Over Here Now. 94 p. ***
17) Stephan Talty - Black Irish. 320 p. ***
18) Amy Stewart. The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World's Great Drinks. 380 p. ***
19) Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Ben Greenman - Mo' Meta Blues. 282 p. ***
20) Denise Duhamel - Blowout. 89 p. ***
21) Jay Stringer - Runaway Town. 226 p. ***
22) Kofi Awoonor - The House by the Sea. 77 p.
23) Cristin O'Keefe-Aptowicz - The Year of No Mistakes. 111 p. ****
24) Mike Veseth - Wine Wars. 255 p.
25) Tony Hoagland - Sweet Ruin. 92 p. ***
26) Stephen King - Doctor Sleep. 531 p. ***
27) Gary Pomerantz - Their Life's Work. 465 p. ****
28) Mark Lewishon. Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years Vol. 1 . 934 p. ****
29) Ray Davies. Americana. 311 p.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I do not recall being at Brigitte and Bruno's place, or our nascent friendship

This is google translated from French.

Hello to you all,

I hope you are well. We okay, work, work .....

I received a mail from "CHAPTAL" with great photos of your stay, we were very affected. But I have no email address in their name, and as you are on the photo and it seemed to me that you are very good friends, I can meet through you. I wish to share with you our best wishes for the new year and thank you for the good times we spent together.

For socks and gloves alpaca yarn with my spinning wheel, I have not found a solution that advances in strength. I could possibly make mittens or gloves. For socks there would be that of sheep (scratchy and I did not file for now) or mixed with acrylic wool industry (which I do not) At "Mohair France" they sell of acrylic mohair Socks but be aware that it is the industrial contrary to what you see in their pub, and there is silk thread or to consolidate. I bought a long time ago, they are very sweet, they have a week! ..... heels holes ......

That's where I am ...... and of course it falls on you ..... hosts that I wanted to meet all costs ...... I'm sorry vraimlent. I hope this does not hurt our nascent friendship ....

We embrace you dearly, as tranmettez to "Chaptal".

Good Christmas

give us some news!!!!

Brigitte and Bruno

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Close to a dock on the bay

It was something my wife said. Something along the lines of not being unable to stop thinking about her, wearing the gloves and coat she got me - who is going to dress us now?

My brother asked if I would write a nice poem. I was a bit raw at the time, it may not have been nice.

The morning of the viewing I got in the rental and headed south down Ocean Avenue, it ended at a park on the Great South Bay. I parked the car on a windy, cold and damp morning and wrote this while Captain Jack was on the radio. Had it in my back pocket all weekend, but was never asked if I wanted to read anything. It's ok that I was not, was ready though.

An Endless Covering

You gave me your skin
these clothes on my back
and we wonder who will dress us
now that you are no longer here
to answer long distance phone calls
on Sunday nights.
Calls for advice, venting
a reveal of good news
and changes in health
Because you fought so hard
we will keep in motion
the way the water on the windy
Great South Bay
leaps at high tide
We continue and know that in our dressers,
our camphor closets are stocked
with sweaters, warm socks
that forever remind us
of your love

Thursday, December 19, 2013

No picture included of this Anna who is looking for a man from foreign man

Good afternoon!

This Anna. I know that it was unexpectedly for you to hear from me.
You did not know me before but I will be very glad if you will want it.
I use the agency dating serious attitudes service which helps me to looking for a man from foreign man.
I hope that you are not against that I choose you.
They found you on dating site and gave me your e-mail address.
I am lonely woman who want to create a strong family with good man.
I am 28 years old. I am single. I do not have children but I love them and
I want to have them with my dear man in the future.
I have nice well job and I like to read.
If you agree we can learn each other more and better.I will give my picture
and talk more about me and maybe you will
like me and interested in me.
I am waiting for your answer.
My e-mail address is kul.anusha@mail.ru
Have a good day, Anna.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Not much better than the Ford Focus I rented

When you move away from your parents, you do not know about all of the life they have. My Mom touched a lot of lives. The viewings were both jam packed with people who came to pay their respects. There were people I had not seen in 30-40 years. There were friends and co-workers who knew who I was even though I had no clue who they were.

The funeral home put together a nice video of pictures from various parts of her life that was quite touching. I contributed a few last minute pictures of my own and also made my own little slide show of my Mom's life that you can see here.

I'd always tease my Mom about her love of Rod Stewart, which was why I chose one of his songs for the video I made.

The mass was kind of bungled up by a new priest from Colombia, who spoke softly, with a very thick accent. He relied on the microphone to project his voice and it was not working for him. Then the battery died on the mic, and he could be heard better once he spoke louder. It got weird when one of the laypeople was looking for batteries in the room behind the altar and you could heard all kinds of drawers opening along with some banging.

It got weirder when the priest lost the plot and invited some dead relatives to bring the gifts to the altar. Had said deceased relatives shown up with the gifts of wine and bread, I may have converted then and there.

Then the priest honored the deceased relatives by naming someone who was very much alive, that's when one of my family members had to get up and correct the guy.

I was told about a bagpiper who would be outside the church when my Mom's coffin was brought out, it still startled me a little. Later, I heard the piper arrived early and mistakenly started playing in the cold and snow for the funeral service that happened before my Mom's. So the poor guy had to stand out there and play twice.

You had to laugh, and we did.

When I got home, I wanted to call her to say I got home alright. There are going to be so many of those moments now. Every piece of news about my son, when I'm looking to chat or vent or anything, she's not going to be there. It will take awhile for me to process that. And I have to work hard to keep involved with the family left on the island.

My Mom worked at the Connetquot State Park for many years and loved her job. If anyone wishes to pay their respects, they can send a donation in Honor of Patricia Costello the Friends of the Connetquot River Reserve. There are plans of honoring my Mom with a park bench and a plaque on a sycamore tree. It's a wonderful way to remember her.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Within you and without you

Even in her condition Mom always tried to stay busy. She was not one to sit on the couch and feel like crap, she did not like feeling that way.

On good days and bad she worked in the state park mowing the lawn, working the booth and, when it existed, helping to feed the trout in the hatchery. She and my Stepfather traveled frequently. I heard tales of her ziplining in the rain forests of Costa Rica. They went to Prague, when she got me a lovely Pilsner Urquell gift set. They went to Ireland, both of them, several times. They liked going on cruises to nowhere and casinos in Atlantic City and Connecticut.

When I found out they were going to Egypt, I jokingly asked her to get me a piece of the Sphinx. A smoke from a hookah and camel ride later, Mom was walking around the monument when she found a rock on the ground.

I treasure that stone.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Peace, and how fast it can happen

My Mom died last night. She had been ill for awhile, but this was not expected. I spoke to her on Sunday, neither of us realizing it would be the last conversation we would have. It was a pleasant talk, about my son and Christmas and her pending chemotherapy. She was in good spirits and sounded more energetic that she did in some time.

She started the chemo on Monday, and things went horribly wrong. She never liked social media much so I will not go into the details about her health. She died peacefully. My Stepfather, brothers and her sister all giving support. She was loved. Very much.

A friend's mother died very suddenly in a car accident on Monday. It can all end in a moment. It's been an odd week. I'm leaving on Sunday for the service and what comes with it. Still trying to process the loss of the person who has known me the longest, and who will live on in memory.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Two hours later, four new tires

When you own a 21 year old car that is your daily driver, you rely a lot on faith. A belief that the car is going to start every morning (it has) that it will get you from point A to point B without breaking down (it has) and not being in the shop with any great frequency.

For the most part, that has been in the case. My Subaru has been a very good car during the three years I have owned it. The repairs, while on the pricey side, have been necessary and not the result of a bad purchasing decision.

But how much more cash and time in the shop do you want to put into a 21 year old car? Recently, the steering has been getting more and more unstable. This was not an unknown situation. My mechanic have mentioned that there was a lot of play in the steering wheel, and these parts do not get better. Do I really want to sink another couple of thousand into this car for a steering column, shocks and struts.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been doing research. Looking into local car dealerships, what they had used in stock for what I was willing to pay, and their reputation for being decent business people.

I made an appointment earlier this week for this morning. There were a couple of cars they had that I was interested in.

Yesterday we got about four inches of snow, and the roads were crap. Was wondering what I'd wake up to this morning and whether or not I'd be able to test drive any cars. The roads were not too bad, so I gathered up my title, brought the checkbook and headed to Hugh White Honda.

The salesman was not pushy, apologized for the weather, like it was his fault, and we walked down a row of cars on a chilly morning. He mentioned a couple of five speeds, but I have not driven a stick in over twenty years, and was not about to relearn on slushy roads. There was one car in particular I wanted to test drive, he got it scraped off while I took a look in the interior and trunk.

Sent this picture of to my wife and gave the description. She did not disapprove.

Took it on the road and it felt good. Needed to adjust the seat better, but it rides well. Since the dealership is right by 270 I gave it a good spin on the highway and it continued to drive well. Everything seems to function as it should, not sure about the air conditioning though. You worry about different noises when you have an unfamiliar engine in front of you, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

When I got back we discussed terms. My wife and I previously talked what we were willing to pay and how to finance the purchase, but I called her after the dealership's offer, which we felt was reasonable so I made the purchase.

A 2005 Hyundai Elantra that went to 118,000 miles as I was on the highway. My parents own a Sonata that I have driven and really liked. I've also rented a couple of Hyundais and felt comfortable with them. This morning, no cash was spent in exchange for three years of payments plus the Subaru as trade. There's a minor oversight that I and the salesman made that he is going to make good on next week. So I'm happy with this car and hope I made a purchase of a car that's going to be low cost to maintain for the next three years, at least. It's going to be weird not having a station wagon for the first time in five years, but I'm sure I can make the adjustment.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

He did amazing things

Never thought I'd see him released from prison. Then change happened. Other than that one photograph, I had no idea what he looked like, or the sound of his voice.

Rest in Peace, Nelson Mandela. Rest well, you earned it.

Since before Ross Barkley was born

Yesterday Everton did what they had not done in 21 years, beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. Quite the match, from what I could gather while listening at work. I did warn my coworkers they may be odd growlings and noises my my desk.

The squad has been playing some spirited football this season. New manager Roberto Martinez's attacking style seems to have taken over the room. I was very impressed that the team was fearless yesterday and stood toe to toe with their opponent, trading punches on the road. Win or loss, they were not going to back down from their plan, and it paid off in the 82nd minute.

Bryan Oviedo's goal was all Everton needed in a 1-0 win. Oviedo has taken the place of the injured left back Leighton Baines magnificently, with two goals in two matches.

It does not get easier for fifth place Everton, it's off to the Emirates on Sunday to play first place Arsenal. Win or lose they will attack. They will be prepared. They will not be worried. In less than half a season the culture of the past eleven years has been profoundly changed.

Monday, December 2, 2013

She wants to know me

Hello my name is Laydilya
I live in Azerbaijan
And 'd] like am seeking my only one man.
Maybe it you could become such person for me?
If you also lonlely now then maybe I have a chance get an answer from
And then we will see if we are good couple.
I'm absolute sure in my plans to become happy.
I don't want to waste my and your time on different silly games by
You can see my foto in my this letter. t.
Hope you get pleasure from it.
Looking for you answer. Laydilya

The picture is of a far away blonde. I'm glad she is absolute sure she wants to be happy.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Worse than my fantasy football teams

My son's sleep cycle has been erratic again. He has been waking up around 4AM after going to bed between 10-11. He has not been staying up long, but long enough so I cannot go back to sleep.

I heard him Around 4:45 today and was about ready to go into his room to see how he was doing. When I opened my bedroom door he was standing in the landing. I told him to go back to bed and followed him. It's hard to know why he wakes up. Was he scared? Did he have a bad dream? His being non-verbal is very stressful for both of us. Gave him some cuddles as he quickly went back to sleep. That was about it for my night's sleep. At least there was a 7AM soccer match to entertain me until it was time to wake him up for breakfast.

Friday night's tragedy at the Clutha in Glasgow in Scotland was very saddening. I've never been in there, but have been by it many times. It was a couple of blocks from where my sister-in-law used to live and I walked by it frequently. It was one of those bars I always meant to go into, but never found the time. It seemed like a friendly enough established local and it's a real bummer that a bunch of people were there on a Friday, having a good time until a helicopter crashed into the roof. Eight are dead, a few dozen are injured. Lives are changed forever.

Another acquaintance from my college days died over the weekend. I knew Greg first at the radio station then he was instrumental in my getting the DJ job at Rascals after he left. We were never really close but he was a decent enough person who did not deserve to die at 51. Rest in peace, Greg.