Archive for August 2006

Rainy Days and Mondays

August 28, 2006

Today feels like I’m dragging myself through a thick sea of mud. It’s probably due to the fact that it’s a rainy day. I never do well on rainy days. Oddly enough, getting up is no problem but after that, it’s a struggle. I had a great birthday weekend. Spoke to all the standard relatives and friends. Received the standard birthday cards, etc. I had dinner out with the estranged wife on Saturday. Spent the day by myself on Sunday. Watched “Star Wars – The Attack of the Clones”. On second viewing, I think I appreciated it a bit more. I had a little more patience for Anakin’s whining and, overall, I guess my expectations were lower than when I paid to see it in the theater. The Jedi’s battle was the highlight for me as well as Yoda taking on Christopher Lee. I have a feeling that when I get an opportunity to see the final chapter (actually Chapter 3) again, I’ll enjoy quite a bit. It didn’t strike me as all that bad when I saw it originally. They were wise to keep a dark edge about it. Not to mention the scene when Darth Vader was outfitted with his new armor and “flipped out” (not a term you would use to describe him in his presence) when he was told that his wife had died. The scene, of course, was reminiscent of the Frankenstein monster being brought to life. Probably the only truly great scene in the last 3 “Star Wars” films. I’ve also noticed that my mind is beginning to spawn new ideas for NaNoWriMo (even in my dreams). It’s amazing how participating in that competition really brings out one’s creative side in day-to-day life.

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The Shat Hit the Fan

August 21, 2006

An uneventful end of the week. I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with the estranged family. Wife, older stepdaughter and I went over some business issues with the Staffing Agency, later in the day, on Sunday. Earlier that day, however, I had the chance to hang out with daughter Rhiannon, who explained to me the various types of current music she appreciates. I have to admit that my eyes rolled far into the recesses of my cranium when I heard the “new” tune that borrows (steals) the riff “I ain’t got nobody (dum dum dum dum dum) – that I can depend on.” She didn’t believe me when I referenced the ancient verses of one Carlos Santana. Not only that, but for some reason she likes modern day Heavy Metal tunes that are nothing more than poorly recycled 70s – 80s fare. She asked me what music I liked to listen to and I replied “Jazz”. I refrained from sounding snooty. After all, bonding takes precedence, here.
Later in the evening there was a terrific lightning storm that took out my power for about an hour. I didn’t have any emergency lights, etc. handy – so I just sat there in the creeping darkness. Fortunately, the power came back on for me to check out the William Shatner roast on Comedy Central. Parts of it were hilarious. Other parts were just vulgar for it’s own sake. My favorite bit? Uhuru (Nichelle Nichols) approaching Shatner as if to give him a hug and a kiss – then immediately turning around and telling him that he could kiss her black a__ (!) He quickly replied “If I could find it.” (!!) Everyone was a good sport. I was a bit amazed at the wit exhibited by the ageing Betty White. She managed to be vulgar and funny at the same time.
Right now, I’m beginning to collect my thoughts for this year’s NaNoWriMo competition. It’s not until November, but it’s never too soon to begin thinking of ideas for a possible storyline.

Pimp My High School

August 15, 2006

Yesterday was an exercise in normalcy. Nothing unusual which is rather startling for a Monday on the job. As it turns out, Rhiannon had a good first day in school – which is always a relief. I remember my first day in high school. Talk about not fitting in. But that was OK, since it was the Bronx High School of Science in New York (as opposed to Nebraska, I guess). At that school, you had a mélange of students from the far corners of the city (and beyond), eager for a good education and willing to ignore the fact that most of them were considered nerds in their previous environments and ostracized for their academic achievements. Getting straight A’s has rarely been considered “cool” (just look at Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween”. I thought she was almost hot. But, then again, I went to Bronx Science). It was like a vast sea of strangers who were more or less accepting of diversity in a Star Wars cantina scene sort of fashion. Which was good for me, since it gave me a day to change my clothes. Maybe I should explain.

For the first eight years of my academic life, I attended parochial school. St. Clement Pope in Queens, to be exact. I’m sure you know the drill regarding Catholic school uniforms. These have never looked “cool” (At the risk of sounding perverse – the lone exception was when I lived in Japan – I think you know what I’m getting at.). Anyway, the students at St. Clements talked incessantly regarding all the cool clothes they were going to get at graduation and subsequently wear to their new high schools. I distinctly remember the wonderful ensembles that I hounded my parents into buying for my upcoming debut. Let’s just say that this was the summer of 1970 – not a great year for fashion. We’re talking medallions and white vinyl vests, here. Don’t forget the bell bottoms and psychedelic shirts with the Sister Betrille collars. Now, my mom warned me that these kids would be a) not fashion conscious and b) would be more of the Bob Dylan school of “cool”. I refused to listen. Therefore, on my first day in high school, I looked like I just stepped out of a 70’s disco on my way to a job interview for the position of assistant pimp. Fortunately, we were all dazed (since some, like myself, took over an hour by train and bus just to get there). Next day – jeans and a t-shirt.

Odd side note (Thanks, Cullen):
Your results:
You are Iron Man

























Iron Man
80%
Hulk
75%
Catwoman
75%
Spider-Man
60%
Green Lantern
60%
Supergirl
50%
Robin
45%
Superman
40%
Wonder Woman
40%
The Flash
40%
Batman
30%
Inventor. Businessman. Genius.


Click here to take the “Which Superhero are you?” quiz…

Oh No !! Not Monkey Woman !!

August 14, 2006

On “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” they eliminated Monkey Woman. Well. Now I only have a small vested interest in how the show turns out. It’s like watching “American Idol” and having a relative tossed off in the preliminaries. What now? Do I attach myself emotionally to another character? Is that healthy? Was the deal with Monkey Woman healthy? Still, it’s a good show, so I’ll continue to watch. Not to harp on Monkey Woman, but I did agree with Stan’s reasons for getting rid of her. She was compromising the “integrity of the show”. Whatever that is. If she had somehow won and was subsequently turned into a comic, I’d buy every issue. Sad, when you think about. I’m turning 50 on the 26th. But that’s a whole other crisis.

Today, my stepdaughter, Rhiannon, starts back to school. She’s been doing the home school deal, so this is a pretty stressful leap for her. Not only that, but it will be in a Jr. High School\High School setting which is vastly different from her experiences in Elementary School. I don’t envy her.

I still haven’t gotten around to see “Descent”, yet. Hopefully by the end of this week, I’ll have the time and opportunity. I’m meeting with the estranged wife, Cheryl, to discuss a new joint business adventure. That should be interesting. As I told her, this weekend, I love my job but I can’t see retiring in Production even if it is in a management position. I’m just praying for a lack of chaos that seemed to permeate all of our previous business ventures. It’s amazing that now that we are working apart from one another, we seem to be doing so much better. This confirms what I have always maintained. That marriage (successful ones, at least) is more of a business proposition than what traditional concepts would lead one to believe. It’s easier to love a good business partner than the person you live with, while attempting not to get on each other’s nerves.

50, eh? As my good friend Paul mentioned – 50, today, is like 35 a few decades ago. Just one of the thousands of reasons why everyone needs good friends. More later…

Who Wants to be a Superhero?

August 9, 2006

A short while back, I noticed the commercials for a new “reality series” entitles “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” brought to us by none other that Stan Lee. I’ve always been a fan of Stan Lee going back to the days when one of my best friend’s mom used to craft his hair pieces and my friend subsequently received some nice autographed comics that I envied. Of course, Stan Lee is the legend that brought us some of the greatest comic and film superheroes of all time from the Marvel universe. However, I was convinced that senility had set in when I saw the ads for this new show. Be that as it may, I still decided to check it out when it finally aired. I was quite surprised. The man is truly a genius.

The show features a group of would-be superheroes ranging from the ridiculous (Cell Phone Girl) to the sincere (Fat Mama) to the hot (Monkey Woman – at least in my opinion. I’m not really sure why). But here’s the catch. These folks are given tasks to perform which, on the surface, appear to be tests of strength, speed and other “superhero” attributes. But, in actuality, the tests are designed to illustrate the less tangible aspects of a worthy superhero. Things like character, honesty, kindness, intelligence and resourcefulness. For example, in one test, the contestants were tasked with changing into their costumes in public (in an inconspicuous manner) and then run to a designated point while being timed. Sounds pretty straightforward, does it not? But here’s the catch. After changing into their costume, each “superhero” found themselves running past a crying child who appeared to be lost. Would they make it to their goal in the least amount of time possible? Or would they risk losing the race to stop and help that child? I couldn’t believe that nearly half the contestants screwed that one up. Time for one to be eliminated. More on that later.

Shakes on a Plane

August 7, 2006

Here I am, on the road to the half-century mark. It’s funny, but everyone around me seems to age, yet I don’t. It really caught me off guard when I took a moment out to contemplate what my next birthday actually means. Maybe nothing. After all, it’s just a collection of years. Maybe, when taken in context, a decade might mean something, in and of itself, as a whole. But the jump from 49 to 50 only has serious significance if I actually place an undue importance on that one event. Sort of like when I turned 40. I was in Japan, at the time, and as I started up my Toyota Carina (they don’t sell those in the States), the radio came on with that Pink Floyd tune with the line “…but you’re older. Shorter of breath and one day closer to death…” How nice, I thought. Anyway.

The trip to Albuquerque was, as I had described earlier, absolutely perfect. Once I got there. The type of vacation that I really needed. Speaking of death, though, allow me to relate the flight over there.

Leaving Memphis International was rather uneventful. We were a few minutes late, but that was offset by my interest in flying in one of the newer American Airlines smaller aircraft. They’re called “Regional Jets” and they resemble large corporate aircraft with 2 seats on one side of the aircraft and one seat on the other. No problems landing in Dallas and finding my way to the connecting flight to Albuquerque. But that’s where the fun started. First of all, we managed to make it as far as the runway when the pilot informed us that we had to turn back, due to a failure in the auxiliary power supply. Back we go. The engineers had it “fixed” and certified in about an hour. Off we go again. Now, you have to understand, the connecting flight wasn’t one of those new Regional Jets. It was more in line with the aircraft William Shatner was flying on in that episode of the Twilight Zone. Except that the bolts on the wing (over which I happened to be sitting) were quite rusty. We take off. And we arrive in Albuquerque just in time for a major thunderstorm. This, in a city that had been experiencing a recent draught. Timing is everything. We can’t land. Then the pilot informs us that we are running out of fuel and will have to divert to Lubbock, Texas (!) for some more gas. Lovely. We land at the nearly deserted Lubbock airport and they begin fueling (right at the wing that I was sitting over) when I noticed something strange. They were fueling the plane with the engines still on (!!). The captain came on the PA system and helpfully announced that they were leaving the engines on to keep the air conditioning running since the auxiliary power supple still wasn’t working! How does that work? Did they lie about fixing it the first time? I kept thinking about the warnings you see on gasoline pumps at your local gas station and somehow I did not find it comforting when the flight captain assured us that this was “perfectly safe”. It was around this time that I called up my wife and reminded her, that in case anything happened to me, she should make sure to collect on my 401K plan as well as the insurance and whatever she gets from suing the airline. I don’t think my conversation went over well with the person in the seat next to me. Or the people behind me, for that matter. Anyway, we finally took off, landed in Albuquerque and discovered that there was only one crew to unload luggage for the three flights that had just arrived. That took another hour. All in all, my flight to Albuquerque took six hours longer than scheduled. But at least I made it and the wife will have to wait a bit longer for that trip to Disney World.

Back

August 1, 2006

Here we are at August 1st and, as promised (to myself), I’m back in the blogging zone. Every now and again I need a break from my self-imposed “obligations” that really make no sense considering the real obligations that I face on a daily basis. Now that things are heating up at work, I can see that my timing for my recent vacation to Albuquerque was quite fortuitous. It really couldn’t have come at a better time. The moving of my project to a different building plus various drastic (although not bad) changes in my home life had taken their toll and I needed a change of scenery. Just to give you an idea of my need for a vacation, consider this – I still have 4 weeks of vacation time coming to me! Amazing.
I had anticipated that gas prices might drive up airfares, so I purchased my flight tickets on-line about 2 months early. After securing myself in my new living quarters (read new apartment), I informed my family, in Albuquerque, of my impending arrival. This was met with great enthusiasm and immediate inquiries regarding my menu choices. There were a few items that I had really missed over the years and these were to be prepared. The list goes like this:
Lasagna, manchupa (pronounced in the shortened Cape Verdean version “manchup” – phonetically mun – choop), fried codfish cakes, linguica and a trip to a good quality New Mexican restaurant.
I felt like I had hit the lottery.
Tomorrow – “The Journey Home”