Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII

Here we go, again! The Steelers will be playing in their seventh Super Bowl in a mere two days, going for their sixth win. That one loss to the Cowboys in '96 still smarts. Neil O'Donnell's legacy in Pittsburgh is forever sealed as the guy who choked in the big game. That's just how it works in sports. You're either a maligned loser or a lionized hero through the ages.
I'm a little nervous about Sunday's game. I don't really know anything about the Cards and I didn't watch them throughout their playoff run. Are they for real? I'm guessing that they've got some necessary winning elements, but honestly, much of the NFC was so weak this year that it's difficult to see any NFC as threatening.
I'll be watching the Super Bowl, and holding my breath until which time the Steelers either put the game away or give me a heart attack.
Go Steelers!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Total Eclipse

You can barely see it in the center of the frame, but this picture captures a total solar eclipse. I can't remember the exact date, but this would've been taken sometime in the early 90s. I do recall that I was sitting on the back deck with my friend Sandra, waiting for the event, more than likely drinking beer. Possibly even beer that I had brewed because before I started making wine, I brewed beer. All of the explosions drove me from crafting beer though. Did you know that hops adhere to stuff like an epoxy? It's bedlam and a pain in the ass, that's what it is. Wine hardly ever explodes, and when it does, it just pops its cork. It's a whimper in comparison.
Anyway, when I looked at this picture, and thought of the day and of Sandra, I felt that pull that you experience when you plumb your past. How some friends you keep forever and others drift away from you (or you from them), how you lose touch because life just gets too busy. People move away and you never know what became of them.
With Sandra I know exactly what became of her. I went to her funeral several years ago. Her decline and demise can be, but doesn't necessarily have to be, attributed to the abuse of prescription medication. She didn't OD, but she was on something when she suddenly ran into traffic on a busy New Jersey highway. A woman on her way home from work struck her with her Buick going about 60mph. Sandra was knocked clean out of her coat and shoes. At least that's what the newspaper said. I don't want to imagine what else would've happened to her slight frame in this collision.
So often I still think of Sandra, feel that loss in the knowing that she's no longer someplace out in the world and we just lost touch. I know exactly where she is, and where she will remain. But also, in memory I can trot her out and remember her still, and as she was. And as the saying goes, forever young.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fringe, The No-Brainer, 1.12

I only have a page and a half left in my Lil Chub notebook (yes, I write everything in long hand first) so this going is to be short bare bones.
"The No-Brainer" is basically one of those stand alone episodes often employed (think monster of the week eps from The X-Files) for fun effect and character extrapolation. So it is that we got to see Walter deal with the mother of the lab assistant he killed all those years ago, and Astrid was given more lines. Nothing revelatory, but more lines nonetheless.
The premise of this episode revolves around a recently fired computer nerd with a murderous grudge who takes the video from 'The Ring'(not literally, but close enough) and tweaks it so that it now liquifies your brains when you watch it online. Cool! And ew. I guess it makes marginally more sense than the deadly video from 'The Ring' with the girl crawling out of your tv. Cuz this shit happens all the time.
Anyway, best Walter line: "This is the part of the day that I look forward to the most, when I know that there's something bizarre out there!"
And now I'm out of space.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fringe Bound 1.11

For nearly a week now I've had these comments on the 1/20/09 episode of Fringe lying around like ashes strayed from the ashtray.
So, before tonight's episode airs, here we go!
Best Walter line: "I'm dosing a caterpillar." As in spritzing it with LSD. Anyone else have an Alice In Wonderland moment with that?
Moving on, there has long been held the contention that your shoes reveal more about you than any other article of clothing. This assumption holds true in 'Bound' where agent Dunham is strapped to a table and prepped for a spinal tap. When her evil masked abductor rotates the lab table so that she is facing the floor, he reveals far too much to her in his choice of footwear.
After the procedure the masked marauder, who once he takes off his mask we see that it's agent Loeb, exits stage left, leaving Dunham in the care of his flunkies. Why is it that everyone underestimates a woman? Why oh why? Dunham plays all weak and helpless, asks for a drink of water, further asks contritely to be freed from her restraints, and BAM POW KAZOOEY, she's escaped, taking with her a gun and some vials of god only knows what. She hides the lab samples in a big pile of sand conveniently located near the warehouse she'd been held in. She calls in for assistance, but instead of the white hats riding in to save the day, she gets roughed up by the Homeland Security goons when they descend upon the scene, headed up by agent Harris. Harris has a creepy past with Dunham. She took him down on charges of sexual abuse, but now with the conviction overturned, the US gov't has welcomed him back with open arms and placed in a position of dangerous authority. Under the Bush administration this all sounds about right. It puts the eep! in creep.
Dunham, Walter and Peter work especially well together in this episode. Clearly placing trust in each other above that of any of the agencies that they work for/with. The team gets called out to investigate a giant slug that killed a research scientist while he delivered a lecture. The slug suffocated the good doctor from within. Walter captures the surprisingly speedy invertebrate beneath an upturned trash can. With the slug and retrieved lab samples in tow, they head back to Walter's laboratory to figure out what's what and all of that good stuff.
Second best Walter line: "I'm not even sure that we all exist on the same plane of consciousness."
The slug is a giant common cold cell, and the vials contain eggs that grow into the living lugie once they are activated by stomach acid. EW! Dunham discovers that scientists tapped to head the CDC's epidemic division are being systematically murdered by the massive mucous slugs. Of course agent Loeb is in this up to his eyeballs, and Dunham figures that out when the Magic 8 Ball she's been toying with leads her eyes to fall upon Dunham's shoes. He's her abductor and spinal tapper!
Dunham heads off to Loeb's house to ferret out some poop on him, but Loeb's wife is suspicious. While Dunham is out of the room, Samantha Loeb calls her husband to ask WTF? Meanwhile, Peter is having a friend tap the Loeb's phone line. Thank god people still use landlines! Loeb tells his wife to get the gun and kill Dunham now. NOW! Meanwhile, Peter calls Dunham and tells her that Samantha Loeb is going to kill her, so get out of the house now. NOW! A brutal chick fight ensues, they shoot at each other, and suffice to say that they can't kill Dunham, so it's S. Loeb who takes one in the cranium.
Agent Loeb, now in custody, is confronted with evidence against him. Loeb isn;t one of those guys who secretly wishes that his wife were dead so that he can collect the insurance money and start dating women half his age. And that weakness, or love, I should say, is what Dunham uses to get him to confess. She shows him pictures of his dead wife and he spills his guts.
But a lot of questions remain. Loeb tells Dunham that there are two sides battling it out right now, and she doesn't know anything that's going on. Who are the two sides and how are they both within the government? How can Loeb insist that the spinal tap was to save Dunham, but then justify ordering his wife to kill her? It makes no sense! A riddle for the ages...or at least for the Magic 8 Ball.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Out at the Frick

Riechter Von Sanchez and me outside the Frick Musuem. MK was with us that day, and she, in fact, took this little shot for us. The late 16th century, early 17th century sketches were interesting enough, the biggest marvel was that they'd survived at all, but not nearly as engaging as the Japanese period drawings that we saw last Christmas at the Frick. Still, the Frick is the best museum bargain in town, being that it's free! And we all know what I think of free (better than cheap).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Photographing the Dead

Whatever happened to the days when loved ones would photograph your corpse in its final repose? I can't remember being at a funeral when I was a kid that at least one guy wasn't walking around with a kodak instamatic with a little cube flash attachment.
Here we have my great-grandmother, Nancietta Polite, age 88, photo by Jeff Kaufman, my grandfather (and her son-in-law). Kaufman gave me my first camera, a cast-off kodak brownie, and then he gave me my second camera, another cast-off kodak. I took very few pictures because I had to pay for the film and developing on my own, but I learned to be very picky about what I would photograph. Now I'm somewhat less picky, but I'll still pull the camera up to my eye and more often than not my internal governor will needle...naw. Wait, there's something better. And, usually there is, as in when I shot a whole roll of a feral cat eating a pigeon and hissing at me.
Anyway, despite the ghoulish nature of photographing the dead, I'm sad that the practice has fallen out of favor. Not only do both of my parents want closed caskets, my father has donated his body to science. He stole that idea from me, and now if I do it it'll seem like old hat. I just feel cheated on so many levels suddenly.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Serbian Christmas

My father has twin half-sisters, 11yrs his junior. The twins, as we usually refer to them, are insane. Not clinically, just fun and funny to be around. They smoke, they drink, one is a lesbian and the other married a fossil for his money (which she freely admits). In fairness to the gold-digger, she does take care of him, and believe me, he needs a lot of care. Only your mother will change your diaper without demanding some sort of compensation.
Well, tonight we're going to the rich twin's mansion for Serbian Christmas Eve. It's the first time we've been invited, so despite crappy weather, we're going to venture out. A little back story: My father's parents got divorced when he was, I don't 5, and his father remarried a younger woman of Serbian descent. They had, if I recall correctly, a stillborn son and then the twins. My father was raised primarily by his maternal grandparents down on the farm, since his mother was busy building her retail empire. Eventually she remarried too, to a man that I grew up believing was my 'real', as in biological, grandfather. That is, until I was twelve and I finally met my father's father. In my kid mind it somehow made sense that we were all related because Grandpa's last name was my great-grandfather's first name and my father's middle name. Instead, Seinfeldian logic aside, it was just a big coincidence. Still, my love for him never really changed, even after I learned the truth because Grandpa was the greatest man I've ever known. Anyway, we only see the twins at weddings and showers. They love my dad, but he's so stand-offish, a true emotional cripple, that he's never encouraged much cross family interaction. In fact, he isn't going this evening. Only the twins will miss him. The rest of us...
It seems as if this holiday season just won't end. I want to crawl into my winter cocoon and read the stack of books I've got staring at me accusingly.