Friday, November 30, 2012

AFI 47 - A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire
Elia Kazan
Netflix sleeve: After losing the family plantation to creditors, aging Southern belle Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) travels to New Orleans seeking solace in her sister, Stella (Kim Hunter). Instead, she goes toe-to-toe with Stella's brute of a husband, Stanley (Marlon Brando). Leigh, Hunter and Karl Malden all took home Oscars for their work in this sizzling adaptation of Tennessee Williams's classic rumination on carnal attraction and faded gentility.

This is one on the list that I'd never seen before. I'm not sure that I've ever had a desire to see it either. I don't know why I've felt that way. This is supposed to be a classic. It's supposed to have Brando and Leigh in two of their most iconic roles. Guess it just didn't do much for me.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Single Guy and the Bad Trip

There are a number of attractive women at the school in which the Single Guy works. As a rule, he does not think of any of these women as potential dating possibilities. For one thing, only a select few are single. For another, workplace relationships seem extremely complicated at best. Unless you happen to be named Jim and Pam.

This doesn't mean the Single Guy doesn't notice an attractive woman in the workplace when one crosses his path. This is where the Single Guy found himself recently: noticing an attractive coworker which placed him in a precarious and somewhat embarrassing situation.

The elementary school is a two story building. The Single Guy traverses the stairs in the building multiple times each day. One would think that after three months he would be able to climb the steps without incident. That's usually the case. Until you add a pretty girl to the equation.

As the Single Guy ascended the staircase one of those pretty teachers was descending. Now, as socially awkward as the Single Guy is, he is still capable of saying hello to a member of the opposite sex. But saying hi while distracted by beauty caused him to accidentally miss a step.

That's right. He tripped.

She reached out to grab the Single Guy's arm in an attempt to save his life. He didn't really fall, just stumbled a bit. But tripping up the stairs in front of a pretty girl felt pretty humiliating.

As if that wasn't embarrassing enough, Mr. Socially Awkward apologized to the girl for his own clumsiness. Looking back, he had no idea what he had to apologize for. He hadn't hurt or offended her. But he felt the need to say something and said the wrong thing. Par for the course.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What I Would Do With Half a Billion

It's fun to dream sometimes, right? Well, it's hard not to dream about having tons of money whenever the Powerball jackpot gets huge. I only say this because it makes for big news when the jackpot is this big. Especially since it's never been this big before. As I write this, the estimated jackpot is $550 million. And there's a real possibility that it could end up being more than that by the time all is said and done.

No, I'm not playing the lottery. The thought crossed my mind once or twice in the last few days. Because, again, it's nice to dream. Imagine for a moment that I picked all the correct numbers. As a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia, my winnings after taxes would come out to a little over $255 million. Of course I would take the cash payout instead of the annuity. By now you should know I'm far too impatient to wait around for 30 annual payments.

So what would I do with $255 million?

I would while away the hours conferring with the flowers, consulting with the rain. No... that's what I'd do with a brain if I had one.

Honestly, it's a little difficult to wrap my head around a number that large, but I'll do my best. There's always the temptation to cash it all out in singles and swim around in it like Scrooge McDuck. Totally unsanitary, but tempting nonetheless.

My first official act as a multi-multi-millionaire would be to pay off every debt I have. That's approximately $40,000 in student loans, $15,000 for my car and $2000 in credit cards. And that hasn't even put a dent in my Powerball winnings.

I'd pay off my mom and step-father's house. One less thing for them to worry about. I'd buy my sister a house too. Then I'd buy myself a house. Something at the lake. Nothing big. I don't need a lot, it's just me. It's possible I'd just buy property somewhere and design my own home. I would definitely include secret passages. And a Batcave. What's the point of being a millionaire if you don't have a secret passage in your home?

All that probably cuts a million or so out of my cash. That sure leaves me with a lot to invest. But let's not get there yet. There's so much more I can do. I'd put a lot away in college funds for the kids of the Most Awesome Person I Know. After all, five kids going to college will be an awful lot to pay for. It would be nice for each of them to get to school without having tons of debt when they get done.

On a personal note, I think I'll set up a lifetime subscription to every comic book that DC Comics publishes. Then I'll know everything that happens in the DC Universe at all times. And I can't promise that's as geeky as I'll get. After all, I still have more than $200 million left. I've hardly spent anything in the grand scheme of things. If I wanted, I could single-handedly fund a major motion picture. But I won't.

But it's very possible that I'll buy myself a DeLorean. And I'll be able to get the thing tricked out to look just like the one in Back to the Future. I won't kid myself into believing the flux capacitor would actually work. But I'm pretty sure I'd try to hit 88mph a few times. Just in case.

One thing I know for sure is that I would never have to work another day in my life, unless I did so on a voluntary basis. In the meantime, I could easily work on my Bucket List. Especially all the items that have something to do with global travel.

Next, I'd buy lots of books. Amazon would love me so very much. They'd probably name a section of their website after me. And in the house that I've designed for my brand new piece of property, I'll have a library with plenty of room for those books. And there's a very good chance that the library will be the home of one of my secret passages. I'm thinking spinning bookcase.

Let's talk about charitable donations. I'd definitely give a large chunk of money to Bluefield College. After all, this is the college that provided me with two degrees. And since, by this point, I'll have finally paid off my tuition, I'll be able to donate more than the annual $20 I give them during the phone-a-thon. How much would I need to give to have a building named after me? As for other charities, I would need to do some research on that to find something I find worthwhile. I have a few in mind, but I would want to make sure the money given would really be going to its intended destination.

Think I've spent $255 million yet? I doubt it. Whatever's left, I'll invest and find something to to spend it on later.

What would you do with a quarter billion dollars?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Break: The Cruel Tease

Recently, I was able to enjoy a break from school thanks to Thanksgiving. I can't tell you how nice it was to have the option of sleeping late. Of course, for someone who usually wakes up at 5am, sleeping late usually translates to roughly 7am. It's not fair.

But having four days without school gave me the chance to get used to sleeping in, ignoring the sunrise. It helped that I spent my nights working a second job that kept me out past midnight. More on that later. Suffice it to say, it's difficult to wake up early when you stayed up until the small hours of the morning. Difficulty, but somehow, my stupid internal clock found a way.

Monday came too quickly. A four day weekend was nice, but it seemed to be a length of time that was just enough to get me used to being off work. Just as I had fully adjusted to a life of semi-leisure, I was snapped back into reality.

Reality means setting an alarm, packing a lunch, showering regularly. Now I wait for the next break. On one hand, the two week Christmas break is only a month away. On the other hand, the two week Christmas break is a whole month away.

Please, Christmas, don't be late.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Question of the Week: Crying

Do you think crying is a sign of strength or weakness?

Crying certainly isn't a sign of weakness. But I'm not sure it's a sign of strength either. Or maybe it's both. Like all emotional reactions, context is important. Without knowing the situation, I'm sure it's easy to judge someone we see crying. And a lot of our judgments will be determined by the condition of our hearts. If you're feeling particularly compassionate, your heart will go out to a crying person. If you're locked in your own world consumed by your own issues, you may not even notice another crier. I don't often cry. Especially in front of other people. While I don't believe crying makes me look weak, it definitely makes me vulnerable. For someone who has difficulty opening up to people, vulnerability isn't something I like to feel. However, I'm reminded of a song by The Elms called "Real Men Cry"...
Real men cry to their mothers and laugh with the others when all of the jokes are on them.
So I think crying is neither a weakness or strength, but it can also be both at the same time. But if you're struggling with whether or not you should feel comfortable crying, think about these famous criers:
  • Superman cried when Lois Lane was temporarily killed in an earthquake.
  • Spider-Man cried when Uncle Ben was shot. Both times.
  • Rick Grimes cried when (SPOILER ALERT) his wife died in childbirth on The Walking Dead.
  • Monica Potter apparently cries on a weekly basis on Parenthood.
  • Jesus wept. And if the Son of God can cry openly, so can you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Going Around

It's that time of year again. The time when everyone seems to get sick at the drop of a hat. Cold, flue, stomach viruses (or viri), they're all spreading like wildfire.

That's just how it is with these kids. You stick 15-20 of them in one cramped room and diseases are bound to incubate. After all, it's not as if your average 7-year-old is able to cover a cough or sneeze instinctively. That's pretty much a learned habit, one that a lot of adults have trouble with too.

Over the last couple weeks, illness has bordered on trendy. It's like you're not cool unless you have some kind of infection. Most popular this season? Some unnamed stomach virus. I'm sure there's a name for it, but I'm not a doctor and know nothing of such things.

Yesterday, in the 1st grade class I observe, a little boy threw up in the floor. I felt bad for the poor kid, but I kind of had to bolt. I just couldn't be around it. My strict policy is that no one vomits alone in my presence. Translation: if I see, hear or smell it, there's a good chance I'm gonna ralph too.

I didn't, though.

Thankfully, I've avoided this wave of nausea that seems to be affecting so many. But I couldn't miss out on the common cold. Started with the sore throat. Continued with the jacked up sinuses (or sini). Now it's moved into my chest, where it will stay for approximately three to six weeks.

I should be in good shape once Christmas arrives.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Question of the Week: Capable

What can you do today that you were not capable of a year ago?

I can walk from my car to my apartment without getting winded. I can also say, unequivocally, that I love my job. Pretty sure I've never been able to say that before in my life.

Not a long answer, but an honest one. What about you? Anything you can do now that you couldn't do then?

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Evidence Speaks for Itself

After 30 years of competing for parental affection and favoritism, the clear winner is my younger sister, April. The latest and most obvious proof that April's the favorite? A surprise party for her 30th birthday.

Let the record show: I did not receive a surprise birthday party when I turned 30 back in 2010. In fact, I had to plan my own 30th birthday bash. It was a simple dinner with friends and family at Macado's. Nothing surprising at all. But let's not live in the past. At least, not yet. We'll get back to the past soon enough.

I'm happy to state that April was, in fact, surprised by this party. I got to play an integral role in pulling the wool over her eyes. Mom asked me to call her up to invite her out to dinner for her birthday. I wasn't sure that April would fall for this bizarre turn of events. After all, I live in Radford now. I rarely drive into Roanoke anymore because gas is expensive. And I'm pretty cheap. Also, I'm fairly certain I've never offered to take my sister to dinner before. Hey! Hold off on the "you're a bad brother" accusations there Mr. Judgypants! It's not that I don't think she deserves to be treated to dinner by her big brother. It's just that I'm pretty cheap. And mostly broke.

But she fell for it. No one ever said she was that bright. This is the girl that I convinced at the age of 8 that funeral homes cut off the legs of the deceased and that's why you never see the bottom half of the casket open. Geez... maybe I am a bad brother.

So I picked her up last Saturday, the night of her 30th birthday, and fed her the elaborate story of how I needed to stop by my friend Brandon's old house to pick up something he supposedly left on his porch for me. Of course, there would be nothing there. As expected, the house was dark and empty. So I called Brandon to "see where he was" so I could meet him and "pick up the alleged item he was supposed to have left for me." I was pulling this off without a hitch. The point of all this was to get April to the Vinton Masonic Lodge, where her party was being held. But there was no reason for us to pull into that parking lot if I was taking her to dinner. So I lied and created a reason.

She was none the wiser until she recognized a bunch of cars at the lodge. "Something about this isn't right," she said as I turned off the car and headed inside. If she had had a few more minutes, I'm sure she would have figured it out. But I decided to deflect her questions by striding toward the door and walking inside. Many of April's closest friends and family began applauding. I bowed, assuming they were impressed with my sly maneuvering whilst getting my sister to the party. Or they could have been clapping and shouting because the guest of honor had arrived. No, I was not the guest of honor.

As I said, this is just the latest bit of proof that April was the favorite. Many years ago, my folks bought a house in southwest Roanoke. They moved us into this ancient house on Denniston Avenue, giving April the largest bedroom in the house. What room did they give me? It was the tiny room that the previous owners had used as a walk-in closet. Yeah.

I'll admit, the folks eventually made it pretty decent in there. They did this by hooking me up with loft furniture, which allowed me to fit more furniture into a cramped space. But it still wasn't exactly ideal. See, my tiny walk-in closet of a bedroom had three windows, all with a western exposure. Guess what that meant from about 2pm until long after sundown? That's right, my room became the hottest room in the house.

Remember, this was an ancient house. We didn't have the fancy central air that you see in a lot of homes built after the 1930s. No, we made do (or is it made due?) with window units that were strategically placed throughout the house. Knowing I had the hottest room in the house, do you think the folks made it up to me by placing one of these strategic window units in my bedroom? Nope. The reasoning? Because my room was on the front of the house, facing the street. It would look tacky to have an air conditioner hanging out the window that faced the street.

Oh, but that logic is flawed! 95% of all guests we invited over to our home came in through the back door, because we parked the cars in the alley behind our house. But that didn't stop the folks from placing a window unit in the window that sat approximately 4 inches from the porch swing hanging over the back porch.

Eventually, April was moved from the largest bedroom to the other bedroom. Note, the house was officially listed as a 2 bedroom, 1 bath house. But they didn't move her over there until they gutted the room and completely remodeled it. They enlarged the closet for her. Though I'm not sure they needed to. After all, I was already living in a perfectly good walk-in closet.

And I don't even want to talk about the time she got a pony just because she asked for one!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oncoming Traffic

What is the deal with people driving on the wrong side of the road? This is a dangerous phenomenon that I come across every single day, multiple times a day, driving to and from work.

I drive down Indian Valley Road on a daily basis. This is a treacherous road under the best possible conditions. God help me on days that see rain. If you ever have the extreme misfortune of traveling down this road, take it slow. Real slow. Because most people don't. Even I don't take it slow anymore. But I never go so fast that I lose control of my vehicle, causing me to drift over the double yellow line going around curves.

For the record, Indian Valley Road has a lot of curves. Particularly of the hairpin variety. Oh, and many of them are blind curves. You know, the kind that block you from seeing what could be just past those curves. Those are the places where people seem to enjoy driving on the wrong side of the road the most.

For a long time, I believed that these idiot drivers limited themselves to near head-on collisions on those blind curves. I've recently determined that is not always the case. While it doesn't happen as often, I do see people crossing over on straight stretches of road.

I can't help but wonder why, after 16 years of driving independently, I'm seeing this so frequently in only a few short months. Is this a problem that is localized to just this one county in which I work? I know it isn't a certain type of vehicle, because I've nearly collided with everything from compact cars to large moving vans. Did the citizens of this county receive a bulletin letting them know that the solid yellow lines in the middle of the road are merely suggestions?

I'd be almost understanding if I found out that there has been a huge influx of immigrants from the UK and they're all having difficulty getting used to driving on the right side. But I've heard nary a British accent in my time here.

So please, I beg of you, if you can't control your car at the increased rate of speed you obviously want to go, slow down. Especially around those dangerous curves. The life you save could be your own. And mine.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

AFI 48 - Rear Window

Rear Window
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Netflix sleeve: As his broken leg heals, wheelchair-bound L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart) becomes absorbed with the parade of life outside his window and soon fixates on a mysterious man whose behavior has Jefferies convinced a murder has taken place. Meanwhile, other windows reveal the daily lives of a dancer, a lonely woman, a composer, a dog and more. Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and Wendell Corey co-star in this Alfred Hitchcok-helmed classic.

This is, by far, my favorite Hitchcock film. James Stewart is one of my favorite actors. Grace Kelly is flippin' gorgeous. And it's a story about a guy who's obsessed with people watching. I can identify with that. I love watching people. It's not an obsession, I just think people are interesting. It's fun to be out in public and imagine what kind of stories a random individual my have. Hitchcock exploits that idea as Stewart's character watches his neighbors through their windows. Of course, the Hitchcock twist is that one of those neighbors is hiding something sinister behind his venetian blinds. The only thing I can't wrap my brain around is why Stewart's character would even consider breaking up with his girlfriend, as we see him thinking about at the start of the picture. She's Grace Kelly, dude! She's a real-life freakin' princess!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Title: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Author: Washington Irving
Published: 1820

This is a story I've heard and seen in probably a dozen different versions but never actually read. It's a classic and it's really not long at all. So when I looked for a free ebook to read around Halloween, I figured this one would do just fine.

If you base your knowledge of Sleepy Hollow on the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie that came out a few years back, you might be disappointed. Other than character names, it has very little to do with Washington Irving's tale.

Ichabod Crane is a school teacher. He's new to the area and catches the eye off young Katrina Van Tassel, daughter of a well off landowner. The reality of the situation is more likely that she caught Crane's eye, as he fantasized about what it would be like to inherit all that land. She seemed more interested in using the schoolmaster to make Brom Bones jealous. It worked.

It isn't long before Crane has a run-in with the locally legendary Headless Horseman. A series of events and Ichabod's own superstition lead him to believe the ghost is chasing him home one night. And he's never seen or heard from again. It all seems very suspicious. Especially when Brom and Katrina wind up married not long after Ichabod's disappearance.

It's a good, simple read. Kind of makes me want to watch the old Disney animated version. Just to compare notes.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Question of the Week: Belief

What's a belief you hold with which many people disagree?

When it comes to my belief system, I don't generally hold to anything too controversial. Though, judging by last week's election, I'm sure most of the things I believe will be disputed by roughly half the country. But the other half would be on my side. I don't have any beliefs that the majority of the population would frown upon. I tend to be pretty moderate, not really swaying to one side or the other. I'm not confrontational. I don't make waves. That doesn't mean I just make decisions about my beliefs based on what the crowd is doing. I've lived for 32 years and have managed to study and read enough to decide for myself what is important to believe in.

Friday, November 09, 2012

AFI 49 - Intolerance

Directed by D.W. Griffith
Netflix sleeve: Many film historians hail director D.W. Griffith's monumental epic as one of the greatest movies ever committed to celluloid. Griffith powerfully interlaces four parallel tales linked by a recurring shot of Lillian Gish symbolically rocking the cradle of civilization. The stories, which span two millennia, collectively illustrate how intolerance has played a pernicious role in such historic events as Christ's crucifixion and the fall of Babylon.

That movie was some kind of crazy long. It kind of hurts my head thinking about the whole thing. Be warned, if you're gonna watch this movie, it's got to be because you really want to see it. It's got to be because you want to watch a complicated story that constantly cuts back and forth between four different time periods. It's also got to be because you have an extra 3 hours and 14 minutes to spare that you're not planning on using for anything else. Ever. Because you won't get that time back. Ever. I didn't care for it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


I've made a conscious effort to steer clear of political posts during this torturous election season. The way I've seen it, you've had enough people and organizations bombarding you with opinions and statistics trying to convince you to vote for one party or another. Just to be clear, I'd never try to sway anyone one way or the other anyway. Personally, I don't care how people vote. I mostly just care that they vote.

I got up yesterday morning and drove to the precinct and cast my vote for the candidates that I believed would do the best an adequate job. Truth is, I was not and am not excited about either of the presidential candidates. Nor was I thrilled about Virginia's senatorial options. But I did the whole pros/cons thing and made an informed decision. Ideally, that's what all Americans should be able to do.

But I did it. I touched the screen, submitted my votes, and walked away feeling free. Okay, that was a little cheesy. I didn't feel any more free than I did before I walked into the voting booth. I actually walked away feeling disappointed. I didn't get a sticker to prove that I had voted. I was worried for the rest of the day that if someone asked if I voted and I said yes, they'd just stare at me with a look of disbelief and ask, "Oh yeah? Where's your sticker?!" I'd be branded a liar until next November. Or May... if something comes up then.

You know what was great, though? Waking up this morning and browsing through so many posts and comments on Facebook and Twitter. It's so great to see that the majority of the country is able to walk away from a hard-fought election like this with a sense of pride and an air of maturity about the whole thing. It's wonderful to know that so many Romney supporters aren't crying in their Cheerios about how Obama is the anti-Christ and we all have to prepare for the end of days. It's also equally great to see Obama supporters taking the high road and not responding to a win with the "Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah" method of mockery.

Oh, wait... that's not how it's happened at all. I've seen lots of these kinds of comments from both the reds and the blues. It's sad.

The fact of the matter is, no one person can fix what's wrong with our country. No one party can do it either, no matter how many good people make up that party. The only way we can decide to move forward as a nation is if we find some way to work together. We the people cannot allow our petty differences to tear us apart. Are we truly able to sit back and claim that the United States is the greatest nation in the world? As a whole, we're the most selfish group of people on the planet. We're greedy. We're lazy. We're apathetic. Of course that's an extreme generalization. There are a few among us who are willing to do whatever it takes to make this country and our world a better place. But those few must get so frustrated when they look at the big picture.

My political affiliation is irrelevant and, mostly, non-existent. But I feel confident in my belief that both presidential hopefuls have a love for this country. I'm sure there are people who would argue that point, on either side, but you don't run for president without some desire to see the United States succeed. No one ran for president and said, "I'm gonna spend four years putting the country in the crapper."

I have a great deal of respect for both candidates and for their responses to last night's results. I hope that Mr. Obama is willing and able to do what he spelled out in his speech. I hope he's able to reach out to both political parties and build bridges that are all too easily burned. I stand with Mr. Romney when he calls for us to pray for our president as he enters his second term in the White House. And I do pray for Obama, just as I would have prayed for Romney. Being the President of the United States has got to be a difficult job. I'm sure that should go without saying. It's a job that not many people would attempt to apply for.

If your candidate lost, pick yourself up, go about your day, deal with it. If you're unhappy about the way things are working in your government, do something about it. Make your voice heard. That's a part of what makes America great.

If your candidate won, don't be a jerk about it. I get it. I'm a sarcastic person, so it's easy for me to sit back and make fun of situations. But remember that it could have easily gone the other way. Would you want people on Facebook mocking you for backing the wrong guy? Why not dialogue with those people whose faces your rubbing your victory in? Help them to understand why you support the candidate you support.

We're not allowed to vote until we're 18, considered an adult by the government. We should act like adults, win or lose.

To both sides: if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. At least, not on a public forum like Facebook or Twitter. Negative comments about the winner or the loser just make you look petty and pathetic.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

First or Last

Will someone please explain to me why it's so important to be first?

I'm not talking about coming in first place in a race or a competition. First place is what people should strive for. It's an indicator of who's the best at something. But why does this carry over to entirely inconsequential events?

So many of the kids I work with get completely bent out of shape if they're not first in line to go to the gym or don't get to go first when playing Pictionary. Why should any of that matter?

The kid at the front of the line gets to the gym about half a second sooner than the kid behind them. They get there about 10 seconds before the kid at the end of the line, depending on the size of the class. The thing is, everyone gets to the same place.

Why throw a fit if you're not first in line? You think if you're stuck somewhere in the middle you'll get to PE and the gym won't be there anymore?

It probably doesn't help that grown-ups perpetuate the belief that the closer you are to the front, the better off you are. After all, I remember being sent to the back of the line being used as an acceptable punishment for shoving or talking in the hallway. If you're at the back of the line, you've obviously been bad.

Now let's take a look at getting to go first when playing games. Is there any kind of correlation between going first and winning a game? Have any studies been done on this subject? I looked on the interweb and wasn't able to find anything definitive. So I can only give my opinion and a guess. I really don't think it matters because everyone has an equal chance to take a turn. Winning a board game has more to do with chance and skill than with turn order.

But the kids still whine and complain about not going first. They cry about how unfair it is. What's worse, I've noticed that adults really don't grow out of this attitude. Did you watch the recent presidential debates? If there had been a drinking game based on a candidate complaining about their turn, one could have easily walked away from the event hammered. Okay, they probably couldn't have walked away easily... stumbled would be more likely. But you get what I'm saying? These are the guys we're expected to choose to lead our nation. Are any of us really any more mature than your average first grader?

Seeing that kind of example, how are we expected to teach kids that going first doesn't matter? "It's not fair that I never get to go first!" whined a little girl in the classroom today. It would be so easy to sit her down, look her straight in the eye and tell her, point blank, "Life is not fair." It isn't fair. Life is just life. Some days you get to go first. Some days you get to go last. That doesn't make life any less enjoyable. It all comes down to what we choose to do with what we're given.

Did Buzz Aldrin complain about being the second man to walk on the moon? I don't think so. You know why? 'Cause he got to walk on the freakin' moon! Did Marty McFly whine about being the world's second time traveler? No! Well... he kind of complained because he got stuck in 1955 for a week. But he got to travel through time. In a flying DeLorean!

I believe it was the great Kenny Rogers who said that "every hand's a winner and every hand's a loser" when he sang about a gambler at the end of his life. Going first, third or last really doesn't matter and it doesn't matter what cards are dealt to you. Whether you win or lose is determined by how you play those cards. Whether you find success or not is determined by how you choose to live your life.

By the way, I was picked last in gym, more often than not. And I turned out just fine.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Question of the Week: Love

Who do you love and what are you doing about it?

I assume this question is referring to the kind of love you feel when you're "in love" with someone. It's a shame the English language only has one word for love, which can be used to express a huge range of feelings. Thing is, I'm not in love at the moment. I'm not even crushing on anyone right now. Well, that's not entirely true, but my infatuation with Ms. Alison Brie is not likely to change any time soon, nor will anything come of it. As for the other loves of my life, my family and friends, I'll admit I'm not putting forth a lot of effort. I visit and call when I can, but often question if that's enough. But I also do this awesome email thing with a close group of friends from college. So, yeah, there's that.

What about you? Are you in looove?

Friday, November 02, 2012

AFI 50 - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Directed by Peter Jackson
Netflix sleeve: From the idyllic shire of the Hobbits to the smoking chasms of Mordor, director Peter Jackson has created a world that surpasses the expectations of J.R.R. Tolkien purists as Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) embarks on his epic quest to destroy the ring of Sauron. The movie--which nabbed 13 Oscar nominations--is superbly cast with actors such as Ian McKellen (Gandalf) and Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), and stays remarkably true to the book.

I probably would have placed this one a little higher on the list. But here it is, number 50. I never read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings epic, but the movies based on the books are phenomenal. I remember seeing this in the theater 11 years ago and thinking how visually stunning it was. And it still is. It isn't fair to have just the first part of this trilogy listed here, because in seeing this movie we only get part of the story. Most of the characters' story arcs take all three movies to complete. The exception here is Boromir, played by Sean Bean. I hope I'm not spoiling this for you, but he doesn't make it to The Two Towers. Boromir goes from being an arrogant guy who doesn't think much of anyone around him to basically swearing his allegiance to Aragorn with his dying breath. Try not crying when he calls Aragorn his king. I mean... No, I wasn't crying. I had something in my eye. Anyway, I'm looking forward to The Hobbit starting this December. Should be awesome.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Being Ron Swanson

There will be those of you who are asking, "Who is Ron Swanson?" This means that you've probably never seen Parks and Recreation before.

Ron Swanson is the fictional director of the parks department in fictional Pawnee, Indiana. He's portrayed by the incomparable Nick Offerman. Ron Swanson is who I chose to be this year for Halloween.

I have a job where I'm expected to be a grown-up at all times. So dressing up as a superhero would have been frowned upon. Dressing as Ron Swanson proved to be fairly easy.

The easy part was finding Swansonesque clothing. I figured khakis and a long sleeve polo would do. A little more difficult to deal with was Ron Swanson's trademark mustache. Now, I already had facial hair in the form of the goatee I've worn for the better part of a decade. I just needed to get rid of the bottom half, leaving only the mustache behind. My chin got cold.

I arrived at school and, at first, no one mentioned my slight change in appearance. It's not as if it was a huge change, though. Very subtle. Then I entered the first grade. "Mr. Peck! You grew a mustache!" was the cry of many 6-year-olds. The obviously believe that a mustache is a completely separate growth compared to the goatee I've had all year. Their shouts drew the attention of their teacher. She took one look and immediately burst into laughter. Guess the mustache is not a good look for Mr. Peck.

I agree that it's something I can't really pull off. So the mustache came off today. My mustache just isn't as epic as Ron Swanson's. Honestly, me with a mustache gives me a creepy kind of vibe that I just can't deal with.

There are other aspects of being Ron that I could handle a bit better. It's easy to complain about the ineffectiveness of the government. I also would not mind enjoying a steak dinner. Or all of the eggs and bacon that you have.