Monthly Archives: April 2003

Holes. Where have I been?

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Missed the entire “Holes” phenomenon, until Saturday. Miserable, rainy April Saturday, so we hit the Madison (“Perpetually under new management!”) for a matinee of “Holes”. When it was over, my reaction was “Greatest. Movie. Ever.” I’ve come down off that a little, but man what a movie. Layers and layers, and stories that come full-circle. Like onions. And peaches. Sigourney is still hot by the way. By chance last night I saw a clip of Jon Voigt in “Midnight Cowboy,” and having just seen his excellent performance in “Holes,” I could only wonder what the hell happened to him. 33 years barely explains it. Tim Blake Nelson plays a different kind of creepy in every film, but it’s always creepy.

So on the way home, we stopped and got the book, plus “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” another phenom I somehow missed. Not only is this the True Golden Age of Cinema, where all your imaginings can be made real right up there on the big screen, but children’s literature has made a stunning leap as well. At the same time, I picked up a new book of short stories under the McSweeney’s imprint, “McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales,” edited by Michael Chabon, who laments that the short story has slipped into a Twilight Zone where only one form (the Carver form, though he doesn’t call it that) is accepted. He dares, through this collection, to bring back stories with plots and points. Well, good for him. And I bought it even though Stephen King contributed, which was a tough nut to crack. It’s not that I hate Stephen King, I don’t, it’s just that I think he was derivative when he started and that he peaked on about his fifth book, and I felt like saying, “Enough already! A bad number of Weird Tales has more original thoughts!” Of course, he was only ever ripping off the classics, anyway. So, point being, I don’t support his career and wouldn’t be able to sit in the airport reading a book with his name on it lest someone start some conversation about how much they love Stephen King, and I would have to withhold my tongue and say how much I loved “Salem’s Lot” when it came out. And “Stand By Me,” though the movie was endlessly better than the story it was based on.

Somebody get me out of this conversation….

China rattling

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There are giant stacks of new china sitting on the kitchen table, just sitting there and thinking about where in the cupboards each piece may like to sit. We are hoping that the plates and bowls and saucers will sort this out themselves, because frankly we’re not up to the task. We couldn’t figure out where to put the OLD china, and we had that for 15 or 20 years. I’m hoping it was a language barrier thing, and that this new colored china (not china of color, mind you) speaks a tongue we can work with. Even pidgin would help here. Because I, personally, have no idea where to put this stuff.

This isn’t any pansy-ass crinoline bone china stuff, either. This is the real deal, restaurant china, serious Syracuse China made with real Syrolite from the local Syrolite mines. While it is possible to break a piece, it is NOT possible to chip a piece. I have never owned a piece of chipped Syracuse China. Plus, it’s Syracuse China, and we’ve got that whole ‘Cuse thing going on, even after all these years. This is stuff intended for restaurants, not your home. We have a thing where we only buy from the factory seconds, which of course means that all this new colored china is in fact many different colors, because we couldn’t quite line up eight ice cream bowls of the same hue. But that’s cool. I could sense colored china in our future last summer, when we pushed all the old china aside and spent the entire summer eating off colorful plastic plates from the Target. And our silverware sat in a basket on the kitchen table. We revolted against the oppression of silverware drawers and heavy dishware! So, anyone could see that the old china’s days were numbered.

But right now the new stuff is all just sitting on the kitchen table. And this is an old house. And the floors wiggle just a bit when you walk. Or more than just a bit. And when the floors wiggle, the table wiggles, and then the china rattles. And this stuff doesn’t make a little pansy-ass rattle, either . . . this is known as the Syracuse China Din. So we’re hoping the china decides where to live soon….


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The way I see it, I have a simple choice. I can write, or I can defeat the enemies of the people in Ghost Recon. Now that I’ve got the hang of it, that is. Not that the enemies of the people aren’t a bitch to kill.

Anybody remember the Iraqi conflict? Seems almost like it fell out of the news. People are still being shot at, but the media have moved on.

People ask me, “Don’t you want to do a thoughtful reflection on what it was like to eat pizza at The Varsity some 25 years later, on what has and hasn’t changed, and how interesting it was to be there with your daughters?” Why yes, yes I do. But not tonight.


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Two years ago we spent Easter Sunday on Stinson Beach, north of San Francisco. Last year, we were in Chincoteague, Virginia. So, naturally, this year we’re spending Easter in Syracuse. What could make more sense?

Got a work thing on Monday, so going out tomorrow and taking Tuesday off. Zoo, MOST, Canal Museum, that sort of thing. Looks like rain, too, just for that authentic Salt City feeling.

Oh, and Ghost Recon? I’m totally surviving. Here’s what you don’t want to be in this game: impatient sniper. I’ve learned that much.

Back soon.


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I suppose that it’s NOT okay to call in “unsettled” to work because of the latest Buffy episode. Wife reminds me that it was “Angel” that we watched last night. “I know. But I’m so unsettled by ‘Buffy’ that I haven’t begun to work on ‘Angel.'” I can’t see how they’re going to win. She offers, helpfully, that they’re not. It occurred to me that, with only a few episodes left in the series, they’re going to start hurting people — and then, they poked Xander’s eye out. Harsh. I’m going to stop watching this show. Soon. I’d have stopped already, if it weren’t all universal-truthy.

There are so many things wrong with the grammar of that paragraph, and I just don’t have what it takes to make the tenses agree today.

Bought an Entertainment Weekly yesterday, my train-ride Hollywood info-porn. Matrix Reloaded on the cover — not Keanu, thank god, or I really wouldn’t have bought it (though it’s the perfect role for him, as the speaking is absolutely minimal), but Agent Smith and two new chicks. No Carrie-Anne Moss. Hello? In the movie, but barely in the magazine. Most dead-cool movie heroine since, say, la Femme Nikita originale, and she’s featured in a postage-stamp sized photo. I want my money back.

Rode one of the new trains yesterday. Rocked. Extremely comfortable seats, great climate control, decent ride, outlets everywhere, clean windows. However, next time someone says, “You sure you want to have a meeting in the city on Passover?” my answer should be, “Why, no, no I don’t, because the return train will apparently be absolutely mobbed with families coming north for seders, carrying bags of food and boxes tied with string, and these people will be somewhat vague on the general rules of train travel, such as sitting the hell down so that other people can get through the aisle to their seats.” On the upside, the usual business assholes screaming into their cell phones were much less in evidence. (Yes, I use the phone on the train. However, I have learned, through much experimentation, that the cell phone has a magical device called a microphone, which makes it unnecessary to scream into the phone. Conversational tones will be picked up by the phone and then relayed in microscopic envelopes by Cell Faeries.)

Congratulate me, I’ve nearly survived the first round of the first level of Ghost Recon, playing at the Cub Scout intensity (the enemy fires corks at you). I have learned that getting the sniper into position is key. Still, my eye has been put out many, many times. In another few weeks, the game may let me play with actual ammo. My inner 15-year-old is shamed by my computer-game inadequacy.

Unsettled. And where’s Anya?

Music notes

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iPod rules! iPod rules! Intergalactic shuffle mode!
Is there a better working band in America than Cracker? I don’t think so.
Gin Blossoms were the Raspberries of their day. Especially on “Til I Hear It From You” — that could be the magic touch of Marshall Crenshaw that took them all the way.
Who rocks? Elvis Costello rocks. That’s who rocks.
Sitting at the ice cream stand on Sunday, forced to listen to “oldies,” Johnny Rivers’s “Poor Side of Town” comes on and I have to rush right home and listen to the Nick Lowe version. Some songs did not need violins, okay? Also, Nick slowed it down a touch, if that’s even possible to imagine.
If you haven’t seen Mark Romanek’s video for Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt,” you must. It is nothing less than an elegy for a man who hasn’t left us yet. There will be tears.

Just so many things to do

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Not writing. Thinking about writing, but not actually getting to do it. For starters, what little write time I have has been sucked up by an addictive first-person shooter, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon. Realistic, modern war scenarios. I totally suck at it, so it’s a good thing I’m not in the Middle East right now. I’ve been feeling the need for a new shooting game for a while now.
Otherwise, allergies are making me insane. Worked on cleaning out the basement and garage yesterday, and paid today with crazy racing allergy head and red, red eyes. Overdid the caffeine a little today, too, so I’m mighty zippy! And testy. And filled with rants against public radio. Don’t get me started.
On Saturday, I got to saddle up and take my first real bike ride of the season, did about 17 miles through the hills of Rensselaer County. If my bike computer’s altimeter function (stop snickering!) is to be believed, I climbed over 1100 vertical feet, and many of the hills are a good 7-8% grade, so it was a nice workout. Love my bike. Love it. Nearly as much as I love my new Oakley sunglasses. Finally, serious prescription shades. (Weirdness when I ordered them, though. Opticians said my scrip was in Oakley’s range, and double-checked. So, fine. Then I get a call that Oakley’s lab can’t do that scrip, but they can have another lab do it and put them in those frames, and it’ll probably work out fine. So, fine. Then I get a call a week later: “You know those sunglasses that Oakley said they couldn’t do? They just arrived.” Somebody was out some money on that, but not me.) These are so nice, no distortion, wider field of view than my regular glasses, excellent sun protection without being overly dark, and they’re wraps so they keep wind, snow, bugs, etc. off my eyes. Spectacular for skiing, even better for biking.
Wish I could sneak out for a ride tomorrow, but can’t. Hannah and I lost momentum on running, but I hope to get that back tomorrow. She has been sick with that spiky fever everyone under 16 seems to have, up and down, up and down, and I got too busy with cleaning yesterday and felt like I’d taken enough time off on Saturday with the bike ride.
Gotta go out to the Salt City Sunday night, so I think we’ll bring along the kids and they can do the zoo or something on Monday, then I’ll take Tuesday and we’ll all do something else together. Springtime in Syracuse . . . ah, the memories.


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Nothing better for the soul than touring a construction and demolition debris recycling facility. In the rain.
Okay, that’s not true, but at least it was a day out of the office with people I like.
Today looks like more rain. Dance class, drawing class, etc. Maybe hit the Y in the afternoon. Gotta get to a store and find some new undershirts. It’s that kind of thrilling weekend!

Lovin’ the Y

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Our neighborhood Y opened last year, but we didn’t join right away — the girls were still taking their swim lessons at the downtown Y, and we still had a membership at the local rundown health club, where the owner spent most of his energy trying to reopen the little bar, trying to relive the glory days of the 1980 singles scene and foist deep-fried Sysco foods on people who had just finished a workout. Successful? Un. We were obliged to pretend the upstairs hallway, with its right-angled corners, was a track, and you didn’t even want to think about the whirlpool. But it was the best gym around for a long time, and I was happy enough there, and felt bad that the Y would probably put it out of business.
But then Lee joined the Y not long ago, and said it was Real Nice. And I was itching to get running again and letting weather keep me from doing it. So we signed up the whole family, and have been spending huge amounts of time there. Hannah is training to run her first 5K, and is doing really well with the training. She comes along with me and runs while I run (they let kids on the track, though not the treadmills). Last night, I had both of them in tow, but they have FREE CHILD CARE. At the old gym, child care consisted of a little locked room with a bunch of snot-encrusted plastic toys and a blaring television, and it was really only available during the day. Here, you sign the kids up and they go in to a corner of the main gym, where they can shoot baskets (Rebekah got 10 last night) or toss balls around, or go into a little anteroom and play table hockey or foosball or any number of other things. At certain hours, they have swimming and arts and crafts. Since the track is over the gym, I could actually watch her as I did my run. Sweet.
Okay, now I’ve got the Y life.
Hey, where’d my mLife go?