Thursday, December 31, 2015

Movies I watched in 2015


Spent over a week of my life watching movies this year. And this does not include the amount of television in general, series followed, binge watched, or sports. Do watch Bron/Broen though. Outstanding television. That’s a lot of time in front of a screen. Wanted to hit over 100 movies to see what it was like, and I did, and it’s like, wow I watched over 100 movies so fucking what?

It means I should write and read more that’s what.

We Are the Best
In A World…
Richard Pryor: Live at the Sunset Strip
Roger Ebert: Life Itself
Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie
Taken 2
Ain’t in it for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm
Force Majeure
The Darjeeling Limited
Frank
Gil Scott Heron- The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Singin’ In the Rain
Paton Oswalt: Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time
50,000,000 Joe Franklin Fans Can’t Be Wrong
The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
Swingtime
Wing Chun
Wuthering Heights (1939)
The Philadelphia Story
Here Comes Mr. Jordan
Killer Mermaid
Iron Monkey
The Blue Dahlia
The Maltese Falcon
Kingsman: the Secret Service
Way Out West
Sunshine on Leith
Northern Soul
The Ruling Class
Paul Williams: Still Alive
Lady Snowbird
Battle Royale
Darby O’Gill and the Little People
Odd Man Out
Grey Gardens
Lime Kiln Field Day (1913)
Chef
Wild Tales
King Kong (1933)
Holiday (1938)
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Smashing Time
Citizen Kane
Ninotchka
Avengers: Age of Ultron
No No, a Dockumentary
Atari: Game Over
God Help the Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
Zombeavers
Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll
Kung Fury
The Other One: the Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir
The Sheik (2014)
The Castle of Fu Manchu (MST 3K)
Quadrophenia
Two Days in Paris
Inside Out
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Love and Mercy
The Road Warrior
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Chicken Run
Wayne’s World
Bride of the Monster (MST 3K)
Amy
Born to Boogie
Tig.
The Search for General Tso
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
Arsenic and Old Lace
Duck Soup
Singin’ In the Rain
Downstairs (1932)
The Bank Dick
It’s A Gift
Casino Royale (2006)
Breathless (1960)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Why Be Good?
The Illusionist (2010)
Help!
Bridge Of Spies
The Forbidden Room
The Mouse That Roared
Rumble in the Bronx
Charade
A Free Soul
Spectre
Call Me Lucky
Strangers May Kiss
Brave
Jason and the Argonauts
The Assassin
Begin, Again
Outrage
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Beyond Outrage
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
It’s a Wonderful Like
The Thin Man

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The books I read, 2015

It's a longer list than last year, thank God. At least I averaged more than two books per month this time. Also the quality of books was better, I felt. If you see no stars, the book was finished and it was ok. Three starts means better than average. Four stars means I really, really liked it.

Juan Gelman - Unthinkable Tenderness. 191 p. ***
Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka) - Blues People: Negro Music in White America 244 p.
Graham Kelly -Terrace Heroes: the Life and Times of the 1930’s Professional Footballer. 174 p.
Alejandra Pizarnik – Diana’s Tree. 45 p. ***
Etgar Keret - The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God and Other Stories. 182 p. ***
Nick Hornby - Funny Girl. 452 p. ***
Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett - Good Omens 384 p. ****
Erik Larson - Dead Wake: the Last Crossing of the Lusitania. 430 p. ***
Scott Martelle - The Madman and the Assassin. 226 p. ***
Thomas Kunkel - Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of the New Yorker. 366 p. ****
Wade Shepard – Ghost Cities of China. 218 p.
Kim Gordon - Girl in a Band. 273 p. ****
Paula Hawkins - The Girl on the Train. 322 p. ***
Irvine Welsh - The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins. 349 p. ****
Caitlin Doughty - Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Other Lessons From the Crematory. 254 p. ***
Jim Sweeney - North Korea Undercover: Inside the World’s Most Secret State. 306 p. ***
Matthew Sweet - Shepparton Babylon. 388 p. ***
Jay Stringer - Ways to Die in Glasgow. 277 p. ****
Steve Silberman - NeuroTribes: the Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. 534 p. ****
Elion Paz - Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collection. 440 p. ***
Chrissie Hynde - Reckless: My Life As A Pretender. 312 p. (worst book of the year)
Sophie Calle - Suite Ve├Čnitienne (one volume unpaged)
Grace Jones - I’ll Never Write My Memoirs. 386 p. ***
Patti Smith - M Train. 253 p. ***
Kate Clifford Larson - Rosemary: the Hidden Kennedy Daughter. 320 p. ***
Elvis Costello - Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. 674 p. ****
Denise Mina - Blood, Salt, Water. 295 p. ***
Clips Nesteroff - The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels and the History of American Comedy. 425 p. ***
Percival Everett - Half an Inch of Water. 163 p. ****

2015, the year in poetry

2015 was not the most public year for me and poetry. I'd like to blow this year up socially as being constantly worn out made it difficult to attend open mics in the community.

Had to cancel a feature in Pittsburgh due to weather difficulties but I did have a good reading in Dayton in May for the Gem City crew.

It was an honor to be a part of the Sign Your Art project that put poetry on the street signs all over Columbus.

Had a great co-feature with Nancy Kangas at the Kitamu Coffee for the Second Friday Fete in November.

Had some strong thoughts about how the Columbus Arts Festival gave poetry the shaft.

Still writing, albeit slowly. It's there, quiet.

Most important though, we lost Gina Blaurock and so many of us are still reeling from her death.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015 slideshow

For the past four years I've been making slideshows and setting them to music. This year is no exception. It's been a year of a lot of loss. Friends, a co-worker, my Brother and my biological father just died on Sunday. It adds up.

The music is Nobody's Empire by Belle and Sebastian and it's a very appropriate song that resonates this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Who is this guy?

A friend messaged me this morning to tell me that I was on the CBS Morning News in a clip about Star Wars. This was news to me, I do not remember any cameras when I was in the theater.

Found the clip here and was a bit freaked out.
The person who looks like me is at the 1:53 part of the segment.

The wardrobe, the glasses, the hair. Honestly, it almost could be me.

Took a screen shot.



Honestly at first glimpse it's kind of jarring.

Now. How do we find this dude?

Monday, December 21, 2015

218 views in five years

From back in the day when I was writing. Writing well is another issue entirely. At least my mug is on youtube, for anyone to find, stumble across blindly, hate watch, or whatever.



Come on, let's get to 500 views by 2021! Four digits by 2030! We can do this internet!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Some Music I Liked Listening To In 2015

Instead of fifteen tweets about it, here are fifteen records I liked this year

Belle and Sebastian - Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance. I really liked Nobody’s Empire a lot. You’ll see that in a week or so.

Cait Brennan - Debutante. Technically this is not being released until January, but I was an early adopter and have been digging this blast of rock/pop for several months.

Charanee Wade - Offering: the Music of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson. This is such a respectful project. Ms. Wade has a great voice that matches up with the material.

Chvrches - Every Open Eye. You’re always skeptical about the second record but this band actually exceeded the promise of the first release. Lauren Mayberry is a star.

D-troit - Soul Thing. This was from the Music Alliance Pact Project. A bunch of Danes being American funky. Good stuff.

Steve Forbert - Compromised. The man keeps delivering.

Sarah Hayes - Woven. This is a terrific folk record from one of the members of Admiral Fallow. Ms. Hayes has many talents.

Darlene Love - Introducing Darlene Love. Best record from a person in their seventies this year. Ms. Love’s voice is as fresh and powerful as ever. Timeless.

Florence and the Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. I love watching her career soar.

Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free. He remains one of the best singer/songwriters out there.

Ellie King - Love Stuff. I had no idea she was Rob Schneider’s daughter and grew up in Ohio. Gritty and sassy debut.

The Last Hurrah - Mudflowers. This is a neat little project produced by H.P. Gunderson, who worked on Sondre Lerche’s Faces Down record. Maesa Pullman is the singer. She’s Bill Pullman’s daughter. Pleasant little pop record.

Leon Bridges - Coming Home. A second coming of Sam Cooke. I’m impressed with his style and look and hope he pays more attention to the music than the fashion in his next works.

The Mynabirds - Lovers Know. Laura Burhenn keeps delivering quality sounds with a goth girl group edge.

Veruca Salt - Ghost Notes. Might have been the best comeback no one heard. Nina Gordon and Louise Post patched up their differences and made a very fine record.

If you're interested in a deeper playlist or an MP3 or two, shoot me a message here or back channel.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Two old COTA stories, not sure if I ever put them here.

Tonight on the 8 - from 2001

Before boarding the bus this evening a person who was herbally enhanced
accused me of being able to break a five for him. 'You've got to be able
break this five for me.'

Sorry, not my job in this universe to do so, I'm merely a vessel of
information. Not a vessel of finance.

I think the bus driver was able to get him change. 'Sweet!' came out of
his mouth. He looked like the slacker in the Dell commercials. You know,
'Mrs. Smith, I'll stop getting your kid high if you buy this Dell
computer.'

The driver got him situated, the driver more or less made the kid sit
right behind him - to keep him away from the rest of us?

I couldn't really hear but he then got into an argument with the bus
driver, 'I pay your salary.' You just know that it's going downhill from
there.

As the kid was getting off he kept telling the bus driver, 'If everyone
took weed, the world would be a better place.'

'Just get off the bus'

'If everyone took weed the world would be a better place.'

'Get of MY bus!'

'Weed!'

A couple of the passengers yelled 'If you get off this bus the world
would be a better place.'

Kid got off the bus and yelled 'Weed! Weed! Weed!' at his reflection in
the windows as the bus continued on its route.


From 1999 - a brush with greatness

There was a commotion as the new passengers of the #2 bus were
getting on.

"Don't you recognize me?" A man yelled from outside the bus.

He got on and exclaimed to all the people on the bus. "Don't you know
who I am? I'M GOD!"

God sat behind the driver, preaching about how we should all
recognize and obey him.

"That God, he crazy." A rider mumbled.

A number of passengers challenged God.

"Don't antagonize him," the bus driver pleaded.

God spoke to all of us of the year 2000 and how all that would be
left would be he and Satan.

A couple of stops later God burst out of the bus, issuing us no
farewell.

It turns out God got on the wrong bus.

How could someone as omnipotent as he do that?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Saw this episode, went out and bought the CD the next day

Bad days and days

It's a struggle that has nothing to do with agoraphobia but it's a time a year when I just do not want to leave the house.

Another tough holiday after a tough year approaches and it's really hard to celebrate. Never know what to get my son. Hard to know what he likes to do other than watch trailers on iTunes.

Mom's been gone two years, my Brother two months, it's too freaking dark outside although unseasonably warm for this time of year.

So it's become too easy to stare at a screen, a device, to catch up on season two of Buffy and ironically chuckle at the use of a Sarah MacLachlan song in the last episode. The results are no real writing or reading gets done, let alone attempting to be social.

My Wife has some hope and started a new job this month, there is that to rightfully celebrate and appreciate.

Getting out in the crowds is difficult, but maybe next weekend. Perhaps the temperatures will remain warm or there will not be bitter wind chill to annoy me during the experience.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Still fading away

Another one of my former coworkers died this past week. Jane was an incredibly sweet woman, who I thought had a much harder life than she deserved. She was always working to help make ends meet, even while she was raising her daughter. Her acceptance when I first started working at the liquor store meant a lot to me.

Jane knew everyone who came into the store, and would share gossip and tell some interesting, but not always slanderous stories about them after they left. She was a talented woman, who was the first female window decorator for the J.C. Penney's company in the 1940's.

So when I saw her obituary and read that she died, at the age of 92, I was sad but not too surprised. Had not seen her in years, and thought maybe she was already gone. I hope the final years of life were kind to her.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Such an important piece of paper



Posting this check means for the first time in well over 25 years that I am out of credit card debt. None of this would have happened if not for my Wife, who bailed me out of a terrible financial situation about a decade ago. That was one horrible card from the uncooperative bastards MBNA. The mistakes made, and there were so many, were mine. If this card was not taken care of I would have lost the house and it helped cost me a marriage. Credit card debt is a reminder of bad times.

The other card was local, with a more reasonable rate of interest but the charges were high and more mistakes were made. Then there were some emergency car repairs. It was a good thing we had the card.

For the past couple of years we have been very aggressive in paying this card off and this month brings the balance to zero. I do not care if I'm jinxing my financial situation by even mentioning this. The stress, the mistakes, the utter waste of hundreds if not thousands of dollars to interest - it ends now.

Half my life has been servitude to this. The relief I feel is profound.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Holiday walk

The weather was exception for late November so my Wife and I went for a walk downtown. The Scioto Mile has had a lot of work done on it the past couple of years, and a lot of it is finished. For the first time in the 26 years I've lived in this city, there is a lot of access to the Scioto River downtown.

Took a few pictures.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A moment of being pulled into the shit

If someone does not like when you call them a bigot online, perhaps they should not be posting things that are racist.

Done now. The bigot used a dictionary definition in his final act.

People are funny, except when they're racist.

Good thing there are some baby camels to calm me down.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

About the reading at Kitamu Cafe

It was a tough night to give a reading after watching the horrors unfold in Paris. A night when about one in fifteen who went to a rock concert will never make it home. We had a show to do, and we did it - as poets do.

Quite the pleasure to share the stage with Nancy Kangas, who is one of my favorite poets. She did a wonderful set (after mine, as I would not dare follow her) that was engaging and totally relatable to my interests. She has a series of poems about parked cars for crying out loud!

I had not read live in over a month and got a bit winded. Think it went well. Did a lot of newer poems that have been swirling in my head or sitting in a computer file, unfinished, for longer than I care to admit. For posterity, here’s the set list.

A bunch of things man makes
Charlie Watts’ wrists
Raising the pitchfork, lighting the torch
How to drink a bad drink
The last barn sign painter - for Harley Warrick
The onramp from I-70 east to 315 north
Unlatching
Dear 2015
Nixon’s lunch
For my Mother on my Son’s birthday
Poughkeepsie service
Dear Pennsylvania

Thanks again to Alexis and Evan for inviting me to do a set at the Second Friday Fete. It’s nice to be asked.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

It's trendy to slag them off now



This song is one of the several that got me through a rough patch in my life nine Novembers ago. This month symbolizes lock down to me. The leaves go, have to be picked up and raked. We're paying someone to do that for us now, which is one major difference from those days when bleak was the norm. The temperature drops then the days get shorter as I go to work in the dark and come home to sunset.

Doesn't help that death came last month and there are now constant reminders of it to our house throughout the holidays now.

So maybe the best thing tonight will be drinking down some Cava and watching the Bills/Jets game from the couch. Even the football is taking up too much time investment these days. I've only so much time, so many hours, left. It's coming to a point where I have to really start thinking hard about time allocation. Or maybe I should just go with what I'm dealt, every day, for whatever is left.

It's hard to remember the fun with all the shouting going on when I look at my screen, which I admit is another part of the problem.

I will be out for a reading tomorrow night, at Kitamu Coffee in Hilliard, featuring with the wonderful Nancy Kangas. Here's the information about it. I will have a lot of new and newer poems about death and travel. Guaranteed to be entertaining and engaging. Plus, free!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

No idea how he knew me

Bruce Springsteen was playing somewhere in Columbus. I did not recognize the venue, but there was a park outside of it where people gathered before the concert. I found my friend Alexis and one other person who I did not recognize and we hung out.

Then a very hairy Springsteen walked by us, carrying an acoustic guitar around his back. He was walking fast, to avoid being stopped and hounded, but he was also very friendly.

"How you doing?" He said to the ladies.

"Hey Ed!" He waved as he kept right on going.

So I got a Boss shoutout.

We then got in line to get in the concert hall and we were packed right in front by the doors, trying not to get crushed, trying not to think about Cincinnati.

No one was hurt, but I woke up before the show.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

SQUID THEFT!

Had the pleasure to see The Forbidden Room, the latest by Guy Maddin, at the Wexner Center last night.

Here's the trailer.



This trailer has more going on in two minutes than most 90 minute films. It's the best film about lost films that may or may not have existed than you will ever see. Maddin is on his own beautiful road. If you love silent films, expressionist films, films of the thirties, or Hell, film in general it is a visual and mental treat.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The return of the October Classic to my radar


Twenty nine years ago this month I was sitting in my living room in Fredonia, New York, watching the Mets win the World Series on a 13” black and white television trying not to celebrate too much as my then wife had her face in a pillow. She was a Red Sox fan and was devastated. I had to mute any joy I had, which was fairly representative of that relationship.

Fifteen years ago I was at a New York Rangers/Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game the night Roger Clemens threw part of Mike Piazza’s bat back at him. I saw this happen through long lost binoculars as I looked at the screens of the luxury boxes of Madison Square Garden from my Uncle’s seats. My then fiance and I were on vacation, visiting my family on Long Island. That is about the only memory I have of the 2000 Subway Series other than the yankees won it all at now demolished Shea Stadium. They should have won it on their own turf, but so it goes.

It was harder for me to follow my team from Columbus, Ohio back in those days. After the 1994 strike that cut the season short, I did not look at a game or a box score in the newspaper for an entire year and never really got my enthusiasm for baseball back. It took a few more cable channels devoted to baseball and an internet that could always find access to a game to bring it back.

I watched two end of season collapses from afar and a horrible playoff loss in the last decade or so. This year I have been paying even more attention.

After an impressive take down of the Dodgers and a sweep against the Cubs that I would never have predicted the Mets find themselves in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals. The Royals return to the series for the second straight year after getting defeated in gut wrenching fashion by the San Francisco Giants. The team has not won the series since 1985.

So this is where we are at: the solid hitting of the Royals vs. the young hurlers of the Mets.

Will the bats of the Royals solve the fastballs of the Mets pitching, or will control be the key for the New Yorkers? From my side, I’m worried about the left shoulder of Yoenis Cespedes they way I was about the field crippled Rusty Staub in 1973. Can Lucas Duda produce in the way he did in game four against the Cubs? If so, he is capable of carrying a team.

And of course there’s the explosive chaos that surrounds Daniel Murphy, who had owned opposing pitching this postseason to the point where he now has a major league record of most games in the postseason with a home run to call his and his alone. Will he be able to keep up his amazin’ pace against the erratic starting pitching of Kansas City?

The Royals have home field advantage, which means the designated hitter will be involved in at least two games. The Mets are said to be using Kelly Johnson in this role, but I prefer the seemingly out of favor Michael Cuddyer. I think the starting pitching is going to be ok and adjust to the fastball hitting Kansas City lineup, the way for the Mets to win will once again be maintaining their offense and ability to generate runs. I’m excited!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

So much learned from a few hours in Poughkeepsie

The Brother I knew when we were growing up was not a Friend of Bill W.. I went to college and never really came back home before he got sober. I knew he changed, but distance and rarely seeing each other did not often let me see how much. It took me a long time to accept the compassionate person he became, from the turbulence of what he was during those years.

At the funeral, so many people came to me. After the initial, “You must be his Brother, you look so much like him,” I heard how much he helped other people. I knew he did this, but not to the depth and extent others told me.

I did not need specifics, that’s part of the privacy, but understood immediately how profound his help was to others. Anytime, he was there. Over and over I heard and saw these emotions expressed from all the men and women he held his hand out to. There was a real bravery in some of these people, for telling me, a complete stranger, a very tough part of who they are.

That’s the good of what I received from these people. What I took most from a weekend in which we were all saddened by a person being taken from us way too soon. My Brother was an amazing person in the second act of his life, and I think he’s alright now.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Needs calendar work

The child comes home from school, takes his shoes off. Has some yogurt. Put his shoes back on about half an hour later. Then he's walking around a bit anxious. Taps my leg and the couch over and over. What do you want, I ask him. He says something unintelligible.

Then I say, "I want..."

He says, "Ziggy."

Ziggy is the horse he rides.

Thursday kid, today's Monday.

And maybe this week he will want to stay on the horse for more than fifteen minutes of the half hour session.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

To write it all down, or none of it.

My Brother died on Tuesday of complications following a bone marrow transplant. He kept his illness private, but if there were any questions he would always answer them.

Last month, he left me a message to call him. I suspected something was up, as this was a very rare thing for him to do. In my family, random phone calls mean the news is rarely good. We were not very close, due to physical and emotional distance. Despite his being a yankee fan, a lot of mutual respect between us developed over time. He was always wondering how my son was and did his best to keep on his life.

He told me he was going into the hospital, again. The way he said it was a bit of a surprise. He had been in and out of the hospital more than once in the last couple of years, but this was the first time he let me know. There was something in the tone of his voice that led me to think this was more serious than usual tests and defense against infections.

During her visit, my sister confirmed this. His body weakened over the last few weeks and his organs told him the fight was over. He had a strong spirit, was a good man, and his loss will be felt by so many in and outside of his family.



Rest in Peace, Scott.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Being social is hard, but rewarding.

It's a rare weekend when we're invited out for not just one, but two, social events and have the time and ability to do it.

There was an energy in the microbrewery on Friday, where we waited for a person to show up to celebrate his birthday, and to meet him in person for the first time. We had a good conversation with another friend who was waiting as well, and met the celebrant's brother and a few other people.

Over the course of the evening we also met a local dining establishment owner and a local food blogger. I was in a good mood so I did not ask the blogger if he ever had a bad meal out, ever, and if did, did he ever write about it? But that's my issue with local food critics who hyper-focus on nothing but positives and never offer any constructive critique.

So that was growth on my part, I think.

There was also a fun dinner party in which Cards of Humanity was played. My wife and I were cleaning up on the black cards but this exchange was one I happened to read.

"Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's ___________________

White privilege."

That was the first card I read, and I nearly ended it right then and there. How can that be topped?

It was good, but tiring to get out.

Plus, the Mets were playing on the west coast in the playoffs. The games ended very late, Here's my poem about last night's game.

"An open letter to Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers; after he broke the leg of New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada during an illegal slide into second base in the seventh inning of a game that was played on October 11th, 2015.

Fuck you."

And that's all that needs to be said, until Monday night.

The death of Carey Lander, the keyboardist for Camera Obscura, leaves me very very sad. Lander died of sarcoma this morning at the age of 33. Sucks when such a vital, creative person is taken from us too soon. She will be greatly missed. Condolences to her family, the band, and her friends.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Hope within the real challenges

How to Dance in Ohio is an honest, sweet, intense and refreshing glimpse into the lives of three young women on the autism spectrum who are preparing for a formal dance. It is a very fair look at the quirks, anxieties and how human people on the spectrum are, they just need some help. And the help is provided by Columbus doctor Emilo Amigo and his staff who work with young adults and adults on the spectrum with coping and social skills.

There is a beauty in the young women in their preparations for the dance that the filmmakers show us with great skill. It’s also a rare look at women on the spectrum, and it’s necessary. A lot of the film had me nodding in agreement, in that yes I’m there too with the parents on their journey in dealing with the challenges their children have. It’s an accurate depiction of young people coming of age.

The documentary is making the festival rounds now and is set to air on HBO on October 26th. I’d like to give a sincere thanks to Chris Stults of the Wexner Center for the Arts Film and Video Department for letting me know about the screening. It was a packed house full of people who were subjects of the film. There was also a very entertaining and moving post-screening talk by the director, producer and two of the ladies who appeared in the film. It was an honor to be in the audience.

Here is a link to a featurette about the documentary and an interview with Alexandra Shiva, the director.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Chewing the authenticity

I may be one of the few people in this country who is not excited about McDonald's serving breakfast all day. It seems to be The Wire of fast food. It's also been years since I've been inside one, and that was to reassess the Shamrock Shake.



And it sucked. The food I've avoided since reading Fast Food Nation so it has been at least ten years since I've had a quarter pounder. Sure I go to Wendy's, a company with their own challenges with their practices and White Castle a couple of times a year whether I need to or not. And they do plenty for autism awareness even if it is with autism speaks.

Of course that would change if my son gave a shit about happy meals, but that has not happened.

The teenager has recently lost his joy in swimming, which makes me sad. I'm also not sure how the horseback riding is really going since he's cut the last two sessions short. Maybe he does not like the saddle, they're going to leave it off this week.

Friday, October 2, 2015

A week of cranky

It was great to have a guest last weekend. We hung out, ate, drank, caught up. My guest had never seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so that was checked off a bucket list. Then there was a knock on our bedroom door at 5AM the day of departure. Our guest's car had been broken into and a bunch of stuff was stolen. Sure, it's stuff and it can be replaced, but some of the clothes, the annotated textbooks and nostalgic items cannot be replaced. They got into my car, which I always keep unlocked, and took an iPod charger (stuff) and my registration (what the Hell?)

I did tell my guest to bring anything important into the house, which was kinda sorta done. I really think that car was a target even if it was empty. I've been looking in pawn shops and craigslist to try and find the stolen stuff, but have had no luck.

I rarely write about work, but there are changes. Not much I can do but get through them as best as possible. There is also the matter of the second one of my coworkers being taken out of the building in a stretcher on Thursday. This one will have a more positive outcome though.

There was time to get a nice haircut but when I got to the car it would not start. AAA was called, gave me a jump I thought the problem was solved. Went to get takeout, the car died again. A Good Samaritan gave me a jump. Got home, tried to restart it would not. Was grouchy all night and got little sleep thinking of what had to be done today to get the car fixed. Did not want to take the day off but had to. Called AAA again who advised me to get a new battery. Why the Hell not? I thought as he told me the battery was the wrong size for the car and also needed a bracket because it was sliding around, which causes damage.

Battery replaced, car starting what I hope is normal. Went to auto parts store to get the bracket. Staff there had a bastard of a time finding the proper bolt but did. Nice people at Advance Auto on Harrisburg Pike. Figured I'd get a new air filter while I was there. Errands got ran. Air filter in car and furnace got replaced.

Trying hard to come down from the crankiness caused by hemorrhaging cash. Maybe it's seasonal malaise, I keep forgetting I crash when autumn is around. For all that though, things could be worse.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

One is the magic number

It was a cancellation of my son's Mother's plans that led us to Cincinnati last night to see the Mets play. I found a couple of great priced tickets on StubHub a couple of weeks ago and was hoping the Mets would clinch the NL East last night.

That was not to be though, but they still had the division to play for so the team would be competitive.

Yesterday afternoon, my friend Marc messaged me that he was coming up from Nashville to see the game. I told him where our seats were and we had a place to meet up before the game. Marc has been a long time internet friend who I had never met. He's always been nothing but kind to me over the years and I was not surprised when he told us he got us all tickets to the game. Here's the section, you can see Marc and my wife at about six o'clock of the picture. He's wearing an orange shirt.



The Great American Ballpark is a very cool place to see a game. Compact, easy enough to get to. Fire shoots out smokestacks when a Reds pitcher gets a strike out. And they have about five mascots running around.



Speaking of strike outs. Noah Syndegaard pitched a gem for the Mets. He struck out 11 in 7 1/3 innings. Before he pitched, he did not like how the mound was set up. Thor gets what Thor wants.



We had a great time. The Mets took a 12-0 lead thanks to a pair of home runs by Lucas Duda. The team was cruising until the eighth when the arms of doom came in and mucked things up. But the Mets hung in there and won 12-5.

It was great to get out to a game and see how this team is doing. There were a lot of Mets fans in our section, and things were good natured between us and the hometown fans. It's a fine place to see a game and I'll happily do it again.

Last nights MVP, with 11 strikeouts, two hits and a sacrifice bunt - take a bow Noah Syndergaard.

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Always good to see The Captain too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Not the Dark Knight, but Gotham

With the Mets coming closer and closer to clinching a playoff berth for the first time in years, it will be good to finally relax and get the distraction of imminent collapse out of the way and focus on the other stupid distraction that is taking away from genuine accomplishments on the field this season. I can only mean Matt Harvey’s arm and the agent and/or physician indicated inning count.

On Sunday, Harvey was on the mound against the yankees and pitched five excellent innings. After that he was pulled from the lineup because someone above Mets management believes that Harvey pitching too many innings will hurt his arm. After Harvey left the game, with a 1-0 lead, the Mets fell apart and lost 11-2. This was not necessarily Harvey’s fault, but you could tell it messed with the flow of the team.

It’s understandable that no one wants Harvey to get hurt again. It’s also understandable that his agent, Scott Boras, is looking out for his client and a good payday of his own. But what about the rest of the team. How does it look when one of their own is not allowed to compete at his fullest?

Athletes, are supposed to leave everything out there on the field of play, especially during a playoff run and post season. You do not pitch when you want to, you go to the mound and stay there when it’s your turn in the rotation.

Could you imagine a NFL quarterback pulling himself out of a game after three quarters or a NHL goaltender taking himself off the ice after two periods - they’d be laughed out of the league.

But because the arm of a pitcher is babied like an orchid or sensitive banker we are subjected to this behavior. Harvey’s role as a postseason starter is still murky. Do you really want to see another on field collapse in a seven game series after Harvey gets pulled after four or five innings? This would not be indicative of a big time player, but a selfish mind who only wants what he wants now. And if this is how he is now, what happens in 2018 when some team that may not be the Mets signs him to a massive payday? Heaven forbid he gets hurt ever again.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Nice promo

Not sure how long this will be up, but this is the local television station's promo for Stockhands Horses for Healing. My son is in there, and his Mother gets some good quotes in. Check it out.



They do really fine work up there.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Now and for the future, a hopeful look at autism

It may not be the best book about autism ever written, however NeuroTribes: the Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman, may be the most important book about autism in this time.

Silberman does some extensive research in the history of the condition, from the work of Kanner, Aspberger and before and discovers that autistic people have always been around, in roughly the same numbers. The conditions of asylums, sanitariums and other horrible places where the 'feebleminded' were kept are revealed in great detail. We're given the details of the beginnings of Applied Behavioral Analysis and how some of Lovaas' research and work was accomplished and it was not pretty.

One of the flaws of the book and also one of its more informative points, are the stories of autistic people throughout the years. Some are entertaining, as is the story of the man who inspired the film Rain Man. What's left out are too many stories of the voiceless, the lower functioning non-verbals. We do not, or cannot hear from them.

A strong point is how Silberman explains that there is no autism epidemic happening now. He cites facts in diagnostic changes in the DSM over the years and the ignored research of Lorna Wing which confirm that when you expand the diagnostic criteria for the condition, the numbers of those effect will greatly increase. So no, as Silberman states over and over, vaccines do not, have not, and will not result in autism.

Overall NeuroTribes is a very well thought out and engaging read for those interested in the history of how a condition is diagnosed and the sometimes horrible ways those afflicted are treated. Silberman concludes that instead of a majority of research monies being sent to find a cure for something that is not curable, that funding be strongly directed toward building a quality of life for those who are afflicted, and I could not agree with him more.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What I've been doing all summer

There is something happening in my life that has been a part of my life for years, but in the last six months it has really flared up. I’ve hinted about it in the past but it’s finally time for me to talk about it more openly here.

How about those Mets?

This season has been a rollercoaster of Daniel Murphy chaos, Matt Harvey inning count drama, Yoenis Cespedes heroics, Wilmer Flores emotions and so so much more.

I had hope going into the season. Harvey was back after arm surgery, the pitching staff looked very sound. The rest of the lineup was Wright, Granderson and some prayers.

In April the team went on an eleven game winning streak. The pitching was doing some strong work while the bats were pulling out just enough to win.

The Wright got hurt, then d’Arnaud their steady young catcher got hurt.

Then the bats stopped working altogether. May and June were grim months as the team struggled to keep pace with the division leader. July was not much better. A player hitting .176 was hitting cleanup as injuries mounted and team depth diminished. What in the names of Mayberry, Monell and Muno was happening? There was discussion to let a couple of the better batting pitchers pinch hit. The fan base was screaming at GM Sandy Alderson to make a move to improve the team. Michael Conforto was brought up from the minors, and while he’s a fine young outfielder who is only going to get better, he was no savior. Then they brought up phenom Steven Matz, who pitched and hit very well for two games until he tore a muscle in his back. This, also, was so Mets.

In mid-July Alderson was forced to deal. He made a couple of trades of some promising minor league pitchers and brought in Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. Both players immediately upgraded the slop that was on the bench and they immediately made impacts on the team on the field, and in Uribe’s case, in the locker room.

Later in the month, with reliever Jeurys Familia in a post All Star Game slump, Alderson traded with Oakland for reliever Tyler Clippard - a move that strengthened the bullpen and sent their closer a small message - which was received.

Then, on July, 29th, one of the most amazing, crazy and incompetent thing in franchise history happened. While losing to the San Diego Padres, internet rumors of a trade between the Mets and Brewers that would send outfielder Carlos Gomez to the Mets for shortstop Wilmer Flores and injured pitcher Zack Wheeler reached the team bench. Manager Terry Collins had not heard these rumors, and kept Flores in the game. Flores went out for his at bat and received very warm goodbye applause from the crowd at Citi Field and went he went to play his position, teams fell as he took the field.

The trade though, did not occur. The Mets thought Gomez was an injury risk and pulled out.

The Night of The Tears had happened.

Then, at the trading deadline two nights later, the Mets traded for Yoenis Cespedes. This was the power hitter the team was lacking all season. Cespedes was acquired just as the team was starting a series with the division leading Washington Nationals.

Game one was tight. A 1-1 tie that went into extra innings. In the bottom of the twelfth the first real magic from The Night of The Tears happened as Wilmer Flores hit a walk off home run that gave the Mets the 2-1 win. The Mets went on to a three game sweep of the Nats and were tied for first place in the NL East.. They were nowhere near out of it now. This was a pennant race.

In August the bats were unleashed in a fury. Lucas Duda hit about 40 home runs in a week. The team reeled off two straight 14-9 wins in Colorado, put up an insane sixteen run barrage in Philadelphia and slowly began extended their division lead.

The Captain, David Wright returned to the lineup after being out since April for treatment for spinal stenosis and provided his leadership and overall skills. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud was finally healthy - the team has a solid winning record when he’s in the lineup.

By the end of the month the Mets still led the division but things got a bit wonky in Miami as they lost two of three to the Marlins and held a four game lead with a three game series to the Nats to come.

During this series in Washington, the Mets were behind in each of those games, including an six run deficit in game two, a soul crushing defeat of Stephen Strasburg - who was pitching the game of the season until Johnson’s game tying home run, and swept the morale out of the Nats and now lead by seven games with 23 left to play.

Credit must also be given to Manager Terry Collins, who actually has a team to manage now. He’s platooning the right guys, knows how to treat his players. As long as he can handle the middle relief, which no manager can seem to do anymore, he’ll keep the ship sailing.

That’s where things stand today in this crazy season of on field crying, late game heroics and all of the amazing plays and players I have not mentioned. The Clubhouse Raccoon and Rally Parakeet have become as beloved as Wilmer Flores’ emotions as September solidifies and you realize your 45th year of Mets fandom is going to have an incredible ending. When they won it all in 1986 they ran away with the division and saved all the crazy for the playoffs. It feels so different this year. The less said about 2006 and 2007 the better. This season, every game, every week, brings drama, social media snark, excitement and victories.

No matter what happens; be it the end of this month, the beginning, middle or (preferably) the end of October - win or lose, there are going to be tears when this season finally ends.




Tuesday, September 8, 2015

All of the screens

Still working on how to best utilize social media. It’s hard to reduce the massive time suck that it has become. I have been using FB Purity to lessen a lot of the clutter and for the most part is has been a success. Doing less hate reading as well, which keeps the blood pressure down.

A couple of weeks ago there was a culling of about 15-20% of my Facebook contacts list. These are people who I never had any real interaction with, nor I with them so what’s the point? I think one person noticed and sent me a friend request, which I approved - and neither of us have acknowledged each other since. Again, what’s the point?

I have no idea how people manage thousands of contacts. Sure there’s a lot of filtering involved I get that, but when does a person with over 4,000 contacts get to actually interact with all of them? Do they treat it like a giant Rolodex from the olden days? Sure it’s great to have a lot of contacts. You never know when you can help a person and they you, and people are going to use the application differently I know. Personally, I need a bit more back and forth - and to control my social media content and not have it control me.

All this scrolling takes away the time I could be writing, reading, goofing off with my kid, talking to my wife, watching a decent movie, fixing the gate in the backyard - something else. Even this inane little blog post feels better to accomplish than clicking like. It is something that has been actively completed.

Now, to see what those four new tweets are all about.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A word is acceptance

In a lot of ways, when there's no cure for autism but a series of treatments to help your child cope with the world around him, my son is a pioneer.

He was the first patient in the Nationwide Children's Hospital Feeding Clinic. He was one of the first students in the Shakespeare and Autism program. He's thirteen now, just started seventh grade, and his whole life is ahead of him. So many experiences, so many more relationships await.

And there's always the thought of what happens when I'm gone in my head.

We're keeping him in horseback lessons, the rate is reasonable and it does not conflict with school. Tomorrow one of the local news stations is filming his lesson as part of a story they're doing on the center where the lessons take place. Stockhands Horses for Healing.

There are a number of parents who have paved the way for me (who are the real pioneers) and who have been a guide to me in dealing with my son's autism. I cannot thank Katie enough. She came in my life through Live Journal and has been a friend who is always willing to listen to me vent about shit. My friend Mary Beth has helped me though thick and thin while dealing with her son's condition and her own health issues.

After reading her book, Making Peace With Autism - Susan Senator has been a swami of information as she works though a maze of bureaucracy in her success in having her son thrive. We've never met, but our lives have intertwined like family.

They and so many others have made me realize I'm not alone in dealing with this. Despite some philosophical differences my son's Mother is terrific and none of this would be happening without the love and support of my Wife, who took on the task of raising another person's child as her own - and has put up with some crazy shit in the process.

I've just started reading the book NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman and have a feeling this is going to be the book that makes people realize that there are going to be a fuckton of autistic adults out there in a few years. Something I've been screaming about for several years now. We're not prepared for the numbers. Silberman has done some extensive research into the history of autism and from what the buzz says predicts a lot about what's going to be happening in the world of autism in the next few decades. I'm looking forward to the conversation this book is going to start.

These arrived 26 minutes apart, who should I respond to first?

Dear Plunkett,

I am Barrister Fred Gomeli, I contacted you in respect of my late
Client Unclaimed fund Eng M. Plunkett, (Amount US$6.000,000.00) I
want you to assist me for the claim. Write me so that we can discuss
what will be your commission. For more directives contact me through
my
private email: fredgomeliz@hotmail.com

OR!

Message from Saudi Arabia Prince Alwaleed bin Talal for his charity donation
and You have been selected as recipient/benefactor for $5Million Dollars from
Alwaleed Philanthropic Foundation Grant.for more information contact Via
email to ally00256@yandex.com

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Parent of a teenager

My Son turns 13 today. So I hastily assembled a bunch of pictures and put them in a slideshow with Camera Obscura's "Teenager" as soundtrack. They favorited it on Twitter so it must be alright if it got band approval. Hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Eating and reading amidst all the chaos

Today was one of those days when you just want to come home and get under a blanket with a bottle of whiskey. A traumatic first day of school for a soon to be thirteen year old turned into a double murder live on air. It was hard to focus on anything while having a discussion of local politics with a local party high up which turned into laughter when it was revealed a local community that thrives on authenticity is getting a mall pizza shop in their neighborhood. For once I was happy that the west side was neglected. Quite the social media day considering I culled about fifty people my list earlier this week.

Then one of the baby pandas at the National Zoo died.

At least my wife loves me even when I think my kid does not.

At least I am thankful to have Saga and Martin try to solve murders in Sweden and Denmark for a few more hours.

And the Mets keep winning.

Did manage to find a decent low priced Chinese take out in the area recently. There is a great Thai place in the back of an Asian market that we frequent, but sometimes you just want the sweet and sour chicken or pork strips without all the heat. There is one place that recently changed ownership and is now called Asian Wok, but I'm not feeling the need to be a pioneer. So I did some Yelp research and gave Peking Wok on West Broad a chance.

The Wife and I like it. She says the lo mein is quite good. I can vouch for the sweet and sour chicken and roast pork and snow peas. The only minor miss was the fried dumplings. For plenty of food we paid about fifteen bucks. It's in the Franklinton Center and it's a hole in the wall but they're busy making very tasty things in their kitchen.

Been trying to read more and am almost succeeding. Recently finished a very good crime book from the UK. Here's my Amazon review

From the author of the Eoin Miller trilogy comes Ways To Die In Glasgow, a new crime thriller from Jay Stringer. Sam Ireland is a Glasgow private investigator who gets involved in a case that becomes much more complex, and deadlier than she expected. Stringer also gives us the story from the perspectives of Mackie, a violent young man with a missing gangster Uncle and Lambert, a detective who tries to stretch the system as much as possible to his benefit. It's a fast paced dark and witty romp with a high body count. Men are missing, lawyers and policemen are corrupt and steadfast - just like life. Stringer writes about his now home city with great detail and gritty affection. We're shown the dark, violent pubs and the spotless purity of legal firms, with plenty of one liners and wit that rises above the many blood stains. A good read by an author with a promising future, and that cover of Coney is brilliant.

I've also just cracked the spine of Neurotribes a look at autism from a historical and scientific perspectives. Steve Silberman has done some impressive research with this heavily buzzed about book. Hope to finish it sooner than later.

And to finish, here's a cool new song by the great Darlene Love.



Monday, August 24, 2015

My shut up Frank DeFord post



There’s a growing tedium about social media for me these days. It’s become Social Issues Media with so many posting links about ideas they supposedly feel really passionate about with quotes from long dead icons of politics or religion or or or.

It’s either that or the constant asking for something. A gofundmekickstarter for something or someone that is important. And everything is so important these days, or worth my time, or urgent or or or.

And yes, I am damn guilty of this too. I can’t help it, the Mets are leading the division by five games.

No one seems to be doing, or at least sharing, any real writing online anymore. Storifying tweets does not count! It’s rare that I see (or do one myself) a post that is more than two or three lines. So much is dependent on a link. Live Journal is dead, Facebook has turned into clickbait and likes with little depth other than posters who really feel strongly about something right now and so should you!.

There is so much hyperbole. If everything is a masterpiece or great or amazing or or or we’ve really lowered the bar on what a masterpiece is. The fun is fading, it’s not thought provoking for me, just provoking. Hate reading is exhausting, not healthy and cuts have to be made.

Of course the people online have all the answers to everything, starting with grammar. Do not say anything wrong or you may be the subject of a passive/aggressive post because direct communication is so not right now. I am doing my best to call people on their stuff, but it’s becoming easier to unfollow or remove. My blood pressure is high enough as is. Then again, I’m not charismatic enough to have the Internet Mob pay any attention to me. Hey, reading this post helps me understand that!

I do not march in lockstep nor am I a deliberate contrarian. Hell, I do not play well with others. I’m just so fucking tired. You’re not going to get a list of twenty reasons why.


Friday, August 21, 2015

The parallel universe of sleep

There was some sort of self-help writers convention in town. I was in Stauf's, which did not resemble the actual coffee shop, but some other Stauf's. I saw Dr. Phil alone at a table writing on one of those longer notepads, when I passed him I glanced at what he was writing. There was one long ass list being started. It was all numbers down the page and the rest was blank. I guess Phil had some work to do.

There was also an author named Jerry Spears. A name I do not know as a writer but as the owner of a local funeral home. The coffee shop was in some sort of indoor mall and authors whose faces I recognized but names I was not sure of were walking in trios into bars, one in front of another.

I kept trying to get on my iPad to post to Facebook that Dr. Phil was writing a list but the keyboard kept messing up.

Another author came over to me and I called him the wrong name, which made him very pissy. Oh well, that's life in the publishing world.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Inspired by Nancy Kangas

Last week I attended a poetry reading in which Nancy Kangas, one of my favorite poets, read. She also did her slide interpretations.

There was also a poem about an on ramp. She suggested other poets write about their most memorable on or off ramps in the city so it can be a series.

After one incident last week, I was moved to write this:


The On Ramp From I-70 East to 315 North

This quarter cloverleaf tips over more trucks in a weekend
than any Hot Wheels cars I flipped on plastic track
Crime tape wrapped stalled cars on shoulder at sunrise
tells the lack of mercy this on ramp possesses
Cut off by an SUV that could not decide on
going east, or wherever
My Volvo rear ended by a Susan Komen painted Mustang
as a result of cell phone indecision
The merge north would be easier if allocated by lottery
than a correct turn signal
Jacked up Fury Road ‘58 Chevy spews blue smoke
Ain’t gonna drag that road rage Mitsubishi
Post accident parts spread out like a yard sale
All colors are welcomed to the ditch
Four cylinder non-turbo acceleration ignored by a lane hog
who will not pull over or slow down to let you in
True hypocrisy revealed by the ‘Coexist’ bumper sticker
on the back of the Honda hybrid as it flees the scene
Its every driver for themselves
as another commute is endured, survived
never experienced.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A visit to a brutalist structure

After an early morning of soccer action and an Everton win I met my Wife and took her on a surprise field trip to the Ohio History Center. I had not been there for years but have read about budget cuts and other issues that make the place seem like a labor of love to work at and maintain.



The center was holding up well. We particularly enjoyed an exhibit of an actual Lustron house. I thought they were more solid and ceramic, but it was galvanized steel and it seemed flimsy. The structure seems to hold up with no rust though. There were people inside in 1950's outfits who answered questions about the house and stayed in Ozzie and Harriet style character while doing it.

Of course the two headed calf is there. Excuse the flash.



We also ventured outside on a warm day into Ohio Village, a recreation of a pre Civil War Ohio town. There were costumed actors who demonstrated homemaking skills of the time as well as an undertaker. It was a bit more fun than I thought it would be, but a lot of the buildings were empty. It's hard to find volunteers these days.

There were also a few apple trees on the grounds.



Overall it's worth the visit. Ten dollars to get in and I saved a buck with my AAA membership. Very friendly staff, I hope they can get a budget that is worthy of their task to steward and educate Ohio's history.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The plural tells me all I need to know

Dear Sir / Ma


My names are Eric Kolawole General Manager Banking Inspectorate of First Bank.


In brief and in our short divisional inspectorate verification and audit exercise conducted last quarter ending of December 2014, we discover abandoned or unclaimed funds for years and even as parties next of kin could not be trace, but in further verification your name was included as a proxy next of kin either through transaction you had with the late beneficiary and therefore, we have decided to contact you to find out if you will be interested to file a claim as advise here with, and we are also ready to assist you process the payment on your name or company name on an instance remittance to any account you may assign without any legal encumbrances and we share the proceed on 60% for you and we take 40% for facilitating the release as the assigned funds has been floating in our escrow account for more than 10 years now.


Anticipating your urgent response for advise.


Regards,
Dr Eric Kolawole
GMBI FIRST BANK PLC

Monday, August 10, 2015

Twenty five years in the making

I first came to know Cait Brennan about twelve years ago, through our Live Journal accounts. Her writing was intelligent, creative and incredibly funny. I added her to my feed, she added me back and we commented on each others posts. She kept me awake and entertained over the late night hours when my infant son stayed awake, which was many nights. As I have still never met Cait Brennan, I am guessing she remains as witty as ever.

Over the years, we do not have the long threads we used to, but we make occasional comments or click “like” on our Facebook posts. There have been many changes in our lives over the past decade, some of them quite profound.

Cait has been working very hard on her music the past few years. Even harder because she has reasons to. You can almost call it a race against time. As she says, "She was Cait before being Cait was cool." She’s trying to maintain her health while writing and playing at such places as the International Pop Overthrow Festival. A couple of years ago she released a neat little ditty called Madame Pompadour.



It became one of my favorite songs of the year and remains on my iPod.

Recently, she recorded a whole record of songs in five days. She still needs a bit of help getting the record finished and that’s where we come in. Her Kickstarter was completely funded in a couple of days. The goodwill she has developed from friends and strangers is awesome. Here’s the link for you to click on and read.

Full disclosure: I’m in for the vinyl.

With the project fully funded, any additional money will help promote the record to a wider audience, get her to possibly go on tour to do a few shows and more. I admit to being the biggest cynic about crowdfunding but this one means so much to me. The background of why this record is being made is an important part of this story. As many people as possible need to hear this record. Keeping the momentum going would be incredible.

As longtime record industry maven Marc Nathan says, “because every 40-something person with a catalog of great songs and limited resources to record them the way they were intended needs a gentle shove into the loving arms of the unsuspecting general public…”

I believe in Cait Brennan.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Burial side trip.

Last weekend we took a hit and run trip to visit family in New Jersey. The drive across Pennsylvania a test of endurance, but we made it to our B&B in Summit and liked the small town.

While on the way to Jersey City, we took a side trip to Hillside Cemetery where two different legends are buried.



William Carlos Williams lived in nearby Patterson and was the head of obstetrics of a local hospital. He was also one of the finest poets of the 20th century.



In the Jewish section of this cemetery lies Jeff Hyman aka Joey Ramone.

The person working the office was very kind in answering our questions, I'm sure he's heard them before. He also gave us excellent directions to where the graves were.

Probably would not have went if just one of them was buried there, but this was a pairing that had to be honored.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

I'm the driver and the car review

On a road trip this weekend and did not want to drive the Hyundai so I got a rental.

Thought I would be getting a Jetta, which was what I wanted because it would be a great test drive for a potential future purchase but it was not meant to be.

Instead I was given a Chrysler 200.

The car has a good look to it, might be a bit too big for my needs but on the highway it was a sweet ride for a journey. Not the fastest car but the acceleration was sufficient with a nine speed (!) automatic that got me where I wanted to be. It held at highway speeds, and a bit more quite well and felt like it wanted to go faster. A very smooth ride even over the crappiest of Pennsylvania highways. In other words, all of them.

The interior felt larger but I felt a bit cramped, but not uncomfortable in the seat. The deal breaker for me was the high seat that I could not get any lower. I hit my head a couple of time getting into the car, and I'm not tall. There are also more blind spots, which does not make me comfortable. It does have a cool camera when you put the car in reverse. Oh, and there's no gear shifter, but a dial. First time I've ever seen that, but I did get used to it.

The gadgetry is fantastic, and the SiriusXM really helped out on a dull ride on route 76.

What impressed me most was the gas mileage. I got over 40mpg on the highway, which I think is fantastic for a car of this size.

The Chrysler 200 is a decent car to have for a weekend's journey, but I would not put it in my driveway for longer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Charles and Diana did not make it to 34, either



The dirt from my forearm
has stained this desktop into a work patina
Determined years of rest and sweat with
the advancement of scroll finger arthritis
An occasional twinge of notice
there has been nothing from you
on my screen for half of the hours
our battery wires touched before corrosion set in
The acid in the gorge between us damaged any
traditional thirty year pearl past hope of recovery

Your release of a guillotine curtain was the final act
that slammed down any remaining impressions
of whatever joy I kept in a picture frame
Aftershock fragments bounce over the skyline of the city you left
There’s only absence seen through the side mirror
It’s hard to steer away when my hands hurt
Cannot tell if it’s age or road rage
Sympathies never exchanged
after the deaths of relatives, friends
Now we are separated by light years

You constructed the wall you thought I played hide and seek behind
Blocked me out with the skills of the best defensemen
Of course there will not be a gift to celebrate how naive we were
Did we expect anything less from each other
after all this neglect and decay?
When the officiant’s seeing eye dog barked
in the office we all crammed into
I was not listening, always short sighted
Never smelt the fragrance of lilies
on that day we joked about blind justice

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Some peace has been added.

Earlier this week I was fed up, and it did not have much to do with the lack of sleep. Tired as fuck of seeing the comments of friends on other posts. Tired of seeing everything they clicked like on. Tired of scrolling past all the shit I do not want to see but cannot control though facebook's lame ass privacy features.

And guess what? I do not want people to see all the crap I comment on or click like on either. We all need options.

Yes, I know when you're not paying for something you are the product, but instead of pulling the plug or being subjected to Zuckerberg's social experiment I took initiative and installed FB Purity as a browser extension. It's a neat feature than allows you to customize your feed right down to words you may or may not want to see when you scroll.

All the warnings about how it might screw up your browser settings seem to be coming from social media apologists so their cred is instantly questioned. As of now there has not been any real problem. Maybe the feed is a bit slower to download, but that's because all the crap I've filtered out is being taken out. And if anything I might want to see is disappearing, so be it. It's social media, I can live with the consequences.

The past few days have been a fresh breeze of usability. I use Chrome.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Look at the signposts.

A few months back I was asked to take part in a local art project called Sign Your Art. This project spans over a good part of Columbus on sign posts with tiles done by 64 local artists from all mediums along with members of the community. A lot of people made their own tiles at the Columbus Arts Festival.

My idea took shape quickly, forming the art took a bit of printing/shaping ability that my skilled Wife completed. The words are all mine.

The tile my work is on can be see at a signpost in front of 601 Chase Ave., on the north side of the city.

Here's a link to where all of the work is located. Columbus Makes Art, and the 64 artists who participated. Sign Your Art.

Congratulations to Stephanie Rond and Catherine Bell Smith, who did the hard work with this incredible installation.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Thank you, Van

One of the great broadcasters, Van Miller, died today aged 87. He was the longtime voice of The Buffalo Bills. His work was terrific. His enthusiasm for the game came across whether the team won or lost. Here are some of his calls for The Comeback Game.



He coined the term 'Fandemonium."

You can listen to more of his calls here.

He retired in 2003, his successor, John Murphy does a fine job as well.

Rest in Peace, Van.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A short poem for Friday

Nixon's Lunch

A simple meal
Plate of pineapple slices
topped with a dollop of cottage cheese
A glass of whole milk
served on a silver tray
Before the day was over
resignation from office
What he had for dinner
is not known

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My friend tells me I have a wealth of experience, and that God will bless me

Dear Friend!

This mail may be a surprise to you because you did not give me the permission to do so and neither do you know me but before I tell you about myself I want you to please forgive me for sending this mail without your permission. I am writing this letter in confidence believing that if it is the will of God for you to help me and my family, God almighty will bless and reward you abundantly. I need an honest and trust worthy person like you to entrust this huge transfer project unto.

My name is Mr.Michael Osei, The Branch Manager of a Financial Institution. I got your contact through a reliable source called database through Ghana chamber of commerce. I am a Ghanaian married with 3 kids. I am writing to solicit your assistance in the transfer of US$12,500,000.00 Dollars. This fund is the excess of what my branch in which I am the manager made as profit last year (i.e. 2014 financial year). I have already submitted an annual report for that year to my head office in Accra-Ghana as I have watched with keen interest as they will never know of this excess. I have since, placed this amount of US$12,500,000.00 Dollars on an Escrow Coded account without a beneficiary (Anonymous) to avoid trace.

As an officer of the bank, I cannot be directly connected to this money thus I am impelled to request for your assistance to receive this money into your bank account on my behalf. I agree that 45% of this money will be for you as a foreign partner, in respect to the provision of a foreign account, and 55% would be for me. I do need to stress that there are practically no risk involved in this. It's going to be a bank-to-bank transfer. All I need from you is to stand as the original depositor of this fund so that the fund can be transferred to your account.

If you accept this offer, I will appreciate your timely response to me. This is why and only reason why I contacted you, I am willing to go into partnership investment with you owing to your wealth of experience, So please if you are interested to assist on this venture kindly contact me back for a brief discussion contact me back through this address { michael.osei53@yahoo.com }

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Watching Jeni's meltdown

It’s very cool to watch a business rise out of nothing but a small storefront on High Street when no one gave a shit about what went in there. The success achieved when the business expanded locally and got plenty of acclaim was amazing to watch. A business that had an A+++ rating of quality and authenticity,

This is why it is so painful to watch the horrible times that Jeni’s Ice Creams has had the past few months. I do not know if it is a fall, failure, hubris or just plain bad luck. It was a batch of listeria that was found in the manufacturing plant that was the first blow. All shops were immediately closed, hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory was thrown out. This came right at the beginning of the warm weather season, when the business makes most of its income.

Soon after, the problem was said to have been taken care of and business resumed, albeit slowly. Pints and special flavors were not available. It was a slow buildup in inventory, we were told. But then disaster struck again, another batch of listeria was found and all the stores were shut again.

Now the company has outsourced production to Smith’s Ice Cream in Ohio, but many flavors are still not available. Scoop shops still have no pints and the company is resorting to unlimited toppings to drum up some business. And the company still cannot say when the Columbus plant will resume operations.

Another report has revealed that the FDA has found a number of sanitation issues in the plant on several occasions.

So what has happened to a brand that had everything going for it?

Did it expand too fast? Jeni’s has moved fast in Chicago, Nashville and several other markets. Have they taken on more than they can handle, and ignored the base which brought them their success? Have they gone for the brand establish and celebrity cult status in hiring a CEO instead of taking care of the basics - like properly cleaning its manufacturing plant on a regular basis? These are hard questions to ask. Having been a part of a business that was in complete turmoil I know there are a lot of sleepless nights happening. Have they lost track of their roots?

What happens next for the company? Will they rise out of the ashes of listeria and get the plant cleaned so it can stay that way? Obviously their arrangement with Smith’s will not be sustainable in the long run, there’s no innovation in that relationship. What happens when Smith’s says we have to stop this and the Columbus plant is still not functional?

Does the business shut down? There are probable layoffs happening now in the plant as employees are either being shifted to the scoop shops or terminated. Does the business get sold? A tough sell with it’s current reputation. Does the business leave Columbus, where it all started, and start fresh in another city with a clean plant?

We’re in the peak of summer season and they’re not selling chocolate. I’d say it’s a dire situation that I hope can be resolved positively, but it’s in a rough place now. I wish them all the best, but there’s a rocky road ahead.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Do my crying and my sighing laugh at yesterday

In preparation for potential changes in our living situation, my Wife has been doing a massive amount of work on the house and is to be highly commended for it. Me? I get stressed when things are moved around and cans of paint are opened. A brush in my hand is a bad idea. She painted the walls of my son's room and we tore up the nasty rugs that were in there for God knows how long.

We looked at some remnants so he can have something in there besides an ugly old blue painted floor and she'll measure for the size the room needs. We'll put a small rug in there soon.

Hard to tell his reaction to the change but it has not been horrible. His keyboard is off the floor and he's been playing with it. When I say playing I mean he puts one of the auto-rhythms on and moved back and forth to it in an A-shape.

Earlier, we danced for awhile. Really. At first I grabbed his hands and we moved back and forth, then he grabbed my wrists. When the song ended he held on to one of my arms with one hand and replayed the song with the other.

He wanted me to dance with him.

When he played another song, he started jumping up and down and I joined him in doing some light pogoing. I did not want to jump high as I know the floor leaks since the top of the refrigerator got wet when my Wife mopped the floor.

So we moved around the room, and I hung up a couple of mini hockey sticks on his wall along with his school pennant. He watched me close as I had a mini Blue Jackets pennant and was looking for a place to put it.

He helped put it up.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The weird area of social media

Yesterday I received a friend request from a person with whom I had one mutual friend. Did a little vetting on the person's page and added back. You never know what to expect when a complete stranger adds you, with no obvious reason for them to do so. It is on me that I added this person with little hesitation.

The next thing I knew I got a like on a link I posted over a week ago. I guess that's what we do when we add someone, go back a bit in their timeline to see who they are. To get a small picture of what they do. This is understandable.

Right after that the person's cover photo was changed into one of my vacation pictures. There was no thank you, no introduction, no credit given for the picture. But this person got a couple of likes, so that makes it ok, right? The person had to go into my photo albums then dig through a couple of recent ones to find that picture.

It's not like the picture is a work of art, it's not. It's not a picture worthy of monetizing, ever. I have no intention of attempting to copyright the photo. It's a Bukowski quote that is painted on the wall of a bar in Glasgow.



I recommend Chinaski's they have a great selection of bourbon, and a sweet patio in the back which is where that picture was taken.

In the past I've posted a few pictures on this blog with no credit, which is wrong and I try not to do that anymore. It does bug me that a complete stranger adds me on Facebook then takes one of my pictures with no hello or credit. If I say something directly does it make me a bad person?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Reasons to be sad and unhappy

The one and only time I was on a horse, it stopped and rolled over on to its back. I had to jump clear so I would not have been crushed.

I did not get back on that horse.

While I was away I received an email from my son's mother saying that he was accepted into a equine therapy program about a half hour north of us. I've heard that horse riding may be beneficial for autistic children and I was as pleased as she was that he was accepted. It's been funded through some generous donations so it's free to us and the other dozen or so participants in the program.

Why not, right?

The orientation session was this afternoon. There were a number of screaming, quirky kids in the corral. My son was not happy more or less from the get go. There was a ceiling fan in the waiting area that bothered him. The noise other people were making bothered him. The smell of the barn probably bothered him.

He went to his mother's car and got in the back seat saying "Bye bye" and "Time to go" over and over.

We waited for him to calm down and then brought him back into the barn to wait for his turn to get on the horse. He did not like getting sized for the helmet. And when the time came, he did not want to stay in the area where the horses were. It's not that he was afraid of the horses, but this was not what he wanted to do today. None of this was in any of the routines he knows and he reacted in the only way he knows how.

The horses seem to be quite chill and I'm very impressed with the ability of the volunteers who work with the kids. One of them while on a horse for the first time, was asked to put his hands over his head, "It's too dangerous" was his logical reply.

Sometimes, ok, most of the time I have no idea what to do to help my son. We're blindly throwing therapies, treatments and coping solutions at the wall - trying to find some hope in whatever sticks. I wonder who we're really doing this for. Him, or us. He can't sit there in his iPad all day, watching videos (do as I say not as I do) it's my job as a parent to try and socialize him. So I try not to once again feel like a failure as I read about all these super fantastic and authentic parents leading and teaching their kids to all kids of accolades.

Meanwhile, we cheer when my kid plays with a garden hose.

In two weeks, the sessions will have fewer kids and we'll try again. Maybe this time he'll be ready to take the next step.

As if that was not enough, on Saturday I found out that one of my co-workers died on Friday. She worked next to me and was one of the most giving people I've ever met. I know her health was not great, but this is a real blow, and not how I wanted to end a vacation. She'd been with the library for about fifty years. Not sure what kind of maelstrom I'm going to be going into Monday morning.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Queue up Local Hero theme

Waiting for boarding in Glasgow. It's been a great trip full of family, cool things to see and great beverages. Team Moss won second place at the Sparkle Horse pub quiz on Monday night and had a fine day boozer yesterday drinking our winnings, a 25 pound bar tab.

We took a fine tour of Central Station and I found Third Lanark.

My wife and I had a lovely, lengthy walk from the west end to town and found Rip Van Winkle bourbon near the end of it.

My Father-In-Law drove us to the Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies and told me about his old Citroen.

Got to see my Sister-In-Law develop her business first hand. She's doing amazing work. Her Instagram account is where the magic happens.

Most of all, I miss my Son. Saw some pictures from the week and I think he's grown a couple of inches. It will be great to seem him tomorrow.

Ok United, it's your turn to get this right.

Monday, June 22, 2015

An even longer walk

Before we left I put together a list of things I'd like to do while on vacation. Would have been impressed if half of them were accomplished. To my surprise we got most of it checked off!

Yesterday my lovely Wife and I hit the west end for a bit and then we walked, and walked, then walked some more. Walked so far back into town our return ticket went unused.

Found one fine bar. So fine they have the elusive Rip Van Winkle on the top shelf. Took a trip to Scotland to finally get to try it. Verdict: it is really good but others can line up at 3AM for a chance to get a bottle.

Also found what Scotland would try and call a juke joint. I'm not sure if actual research was done, but putting pictures of blues musicians on the walls of a generic pub does not a juke joint make. It's not that it was a horrible place, it is not, but an amusing aside to the trip.

A little more walking today, a tour of Central Station, which I'm a bit stoked for, more food and a pub quiz.

All is well here but I'm getting reports of rain at home and worried about flooding in my basement. Hope all is well.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A good birthday walk

Been trying to avoid the news, but it's hard to not see the effects of the tragedy in Charleston. I live in a racist, violent country - ruled by guns. If rooms full of dead children and adults will not make us take a hard look at it, nothing will. The nation is not capable of real change, other than security theater.

So I unplugged yesterday while my wife and her sister went out to do sisterly things and wandered around Glasgow for the day. Took the train into an unknown part of town to me and visited the park where Third Lanark used to play.
An interesting, ghostly experience that was only missing morning mist on the pitch. Since I was there, I strolled past Hampden Park and had no idea it was in such a residential neighborhood, not unlike Wrigley Field.

Managed to get on the right trains at the right time and got back to Central Station intact. I keep getting turned around when in downtown Glasgow, my compass does not work, but once I find the Clyde River I can figure things out. Found an old chip/breakfast shop and smiled my way through a language barrier to get some food.

These people had some very, very thick Glaswegian accents but we were all nice to each other. They asked where I was from and so on. The chips were not good, the fish cooked ok, the tea was excellent as was the patter. Heard some outstanding cursing, great breakfast conversation to overhear.

Was lucky enough to remember to visit the Britannia Panoptican, one of the oldest Music Halls left in the world. It was a thrill to stand on the same stage where sixteen year old Stan Laurel made his theatrical debut, in 1906. The hall is being slowly restored and Judith Bowers is doing amazing work in stewarding the process, mostly on her own.

By then I was ready for a proper drink and headed to the Horseshoe since I missed it on my last visit.

After that it was time to once again hit the Pot Still. Fell in love with this place my last visit and that love only increased. Got into a fine conversation with a gentleman from Northern Ireland, had some good advice from Frank the proprietor and the whiskey was excellent. If there is a better selection of whiskey anywhere in the world, I'd like to see it. After a few my wife and sister showed up at the pre-determined time to get me out of there while I could still walk, but not before I had a Mortlach that was distilled in 1984.

Quieter day today. All continues to be well here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Awake with the birds and seagulls

Dealing with 4:30AM jet lag is not a good time, but I am finally on vacation. While United Airlines continues to suck in communication with delayed customers, they have tried to improve their food. We even received a complimentary glass of wine before our meal. Sure, it smelled like something out of a diabetic horse, but it's the thought that counts. Plus, we were not on flights that were cancelled, or so late we missed a connection to Brussels.

So the discomforts of economy are relived by the happiness of our destination. We crashed, then took a well advised walk, ate a great meal and I ended up snoring on the couch for about five minutes while we watched Two Days in Paris.

And here I am now, awake on the same couch eight hours later.

To the city later, a visit to our Brew Dog overlords and smaller Kelpies before seeing the big ones on Saturday.

We're good here, even if sleep patterns are a mess.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I've been more active on Instagram

It has not really been quiet but there's not much for me to say about the busy. We've had my son the past two weeks and that's kept us active at all hours. We're prepping for our trip tomorrow and getting stoked for Belle and Sebastian tonight.

I can say it's been a decent vacation so far, all 20 hours that have happened.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Even the tiny country of Togoland has a message for me

I am contacting you for the claim of my late client fund, who is a
native of your country that was deposited with the bank here in Lome,
Togo. I am soliciting for your confidence in this matter; this is by
virtue of its nature as being utterly confidential. Though I know that
a contact of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive, but I am
assuring you that all will be well since I know everything about my
late client fund.

I have decided to contact you due to the urgency of this matter. Let
me start by introducing myself properly to you. I am Barrister Martin
Keen, the personal Attorney to my late client Engr. F. D Plunkett
(Snr) a contractor and importer here in lome-Togo and he was involved
in a ghastly motor accident along Nouvissi express Road. He was
banking with Bank, Lome Togo and had a closing balance as at the end
of September 2008, worth $ 4.5 million usd (Four Million Five Hundred
Thousand United States Dollars).

The bank now expects the Next of Kin to come forward as a beneficiary.
Efforts have been made by the management of bank to get in touch with
any of the Deceased Family or Relatives, but they have met with no
success. Now the management under the influence of the bank director
and Members of the Board of directors has made arrangement for the
fund to be declared Unclaimed so that they can share the money amongst
themselves.

In order to avert this negative development, as part of my duty, I
decided to track his last name over the Internet, to locate any member
of his family. Hence I have contacted you, all documents and proof to
enable you get this fund will be carefully worked out by me for this
claim. I have secured from the probate an order of Mandamus to locate
any of the deceased beneficiaries, and more so I am assuring you that
this claim is 100% risk free.

On the receipt of your response I will furnish you with detailed
clarification as it relates to this mutual benefit transaction.
Respond to my confidential email (barr.martinkeen02@gmail.com) for
full details.

Thanks
Yours faithfully,
Barrister Martin Keen