Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: October Project

Musically, I listen to just about everything. I'm not fond of country, hip-hop, or R&B, but other than that, I go from Bach to the Beatles, from Mozart to Metallica, and everything in between and beyond.

But one of my favorites will always be October Project.

Their self-titled first album was released in 1993, and their second, Falling Farther In, in 1995.

In 1996, the band split after their contract with Epic was cancelled, and though the core members Emil Adler, Julie Flanders, and Marina Belica have reunited and still make great music together, and former lead vocalist Mary Fahl has had a successful solo career, the true magic happened in the mid-90's when they were together with David Sabatino (guitar/vocals) and Urbano Sanchez (percussion).

Part of my love of these albums is nostalgia. I won't deny that; they were released at a time in my life of which I have many wonderful memories.

But it's more than that: it's fantastic music that touched me, and still touches me today.

I was fortunate enough to see them live on what would become their final tour, and though I have seen big shows in sold-out arenas, this performance remains the best concert experience of my life. A wonderful band, and a small venue with just me and perhaps a hundred other people, enjoying the music in a way that you can't with giant crowds and elaborate stage shows.

Some of their music touches a longing in my soul, tainted with sadness because I have not yet identified what it is I'm longing for.

Though they haven't been together in 14 years, I still love them. For the brief, shining moment of their hour upon the stage, they were mine.

Their two albums still bring me hope, joy, and melancholy.

In a way that "big music" often can't, they make me feel.

I hope you enjoy some of their offerings as well.

Thanks for reading my ranting,


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Embedding test...

Hey, Folks.

This post is just a test to see if this aging monkey can figure out enough of this here computer stuff to embed a video.

If it works, here's something fun.

EDIT: Partial success!!!

I at least got the video on here, but don't know how to resize it to make it a bit smaller.

Anyone with some technical know-how out there who can help me figure it out?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Awwwwkwaaaard...

Today's installment of Tuesday Treasures comes from my friend Jennifer.

I was going to save this for later, but after looking around the link she sent me, I realized that I absolutely must share this now:


Childhood friends Mike and Doug found an awkward vacation photo in Mike's parents' house. They decided to create a website to share this and other awkward family moments captured on film, and for others to submit and share moments of their family history.

The result is truly a treasure trove of amusement, some awkward "What am I looking at" moments, and even a few outright "GAH!!!" moments.

In some of the photos you'll see on this site, the awkwardness is very up-front. You'll know immediately "What's wrong with this picture?"

Yes, 70's and 80's fashion statements, I'm talking about you.

Others, you need to examine; the awkwardness may be going on in the background.

In the spirit of a "Tuesday Treasures Two-For-One", you can also enjoy the affiliated AWKWARD FAMILY PET PHOTOS site, created after Mike and Doug noticed a great number of family moments involve pets.

As Jennifer said in her e-mail to me "This site made me laugh...awkward laugh, but laugh."

Check out AWKWARD FAMILY PHOTOS and have a nervous laugh or two.

You might even feel a bit better about your own family after you see what else is out there.

Thanks for reading my ranting,


Monday, June 21, 2010

Haiku Party at Brandi's...

My friend and fellow writer,Brandi, is hosting a contest at her blog!

I'm entering, and encourage everyone to visit and enter!

Thanks for reading my ranting,


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Why I Love Being Dad...

First off, happy Father's Day!

Being a Dad is a strange, wonderful, often difficult job, so hats off to all Dads out there.

As for me, I'm just a guy doing the best he can for his kids. I never feel like I deserve any special praise because I'm just doing what comes naturally to me.

So, I thought I'd turn it over to who this day is really about (and why I love being Dad):

That's right, my kids.

Being eaten by birds.

Seriously, without them I wouldn't be Dad. And I can't imagine not being Dad.

They define me as Dad. They bring out the best in me, and allow me to become something far greater than I ever could be on my own. This day truly belongs to them, because without them, I wouldn't--couldn't--be who I am.

Dads, hug your kids today. Let them know how honored you are to be their Dad.

And if you're blessed with two wonderful boys like I am, let 'em know how cool it is that you can carry on entire conversations using nothing but the word "dude".

Thanks for reading my ranting,


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Speak Softly And Carry A BIG Torch...

I don't intend to turn this into a history blog, but some things are just too cool to not mention, and history is a passion of mine, so:

"Liberty Enlightening the World", more commonly known as The Statue of Liberty, arrived in New York harbor on this day in 1885.

Designed by French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bertholdi and given to the American people as a gift from France, she arrived in over 200 packing crates, the world's largest jigsaw puzzle.

She was unpacked and reassembled on Bedloe's Island in New York, with the final rivet fit into place on October 28, 1886 in a dedication ceremony presided over by president Grover Cleveland.

Six years later, adjacent Ellis Island became the main point of entry for immigrants into the United States. For the next three decades, the Statue of Liberty became a sign to millions of immigrants that they had reached America.

A great many of us can flip back the pages of our story in America and find the opening chapters here.

As I said, I'm a history geek, and I file this information under "neat".

Thanks for reading my ranting,


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ups and Downs...

I just thought I'd mention that America's first roller coaster, known as "Switchback Railway" opened on this day in 1884, at Coney Island.

I love roller coasters (The Beast, at King's Island, is still one of my favorites, both for childhood nostalgia and just being fun), so it seemed appropriate to mention the first.

I now return you to your regularly-scheduled perusal of the Blogiverse.

Thanks for reading my ranting,


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: The Rocketeer

Welcome to the first installment of "Tuesday Treasures", where each week I'll be presenting a review of something that I enjoy, and think that you might like as well. Some of these, you may be familiar with. Some, you may not have heard of, and that's the point: to lead you to something you might truly enjoy, but might not have found otherwise.

It won't all be music, books, or movies, but I do love all of those, so it's easy to begin with a movie.

I present:

The Rocketeer.

The Rocketeer was released in 1991 through Disney, and based on a comic book of the same name by the late Dave Stevens.

It follows the adventures of Cliff Secord (Billy Campbell), a pilot in California in 1938. Cliff, his best friend/mechanic Peavy (Alan Arkin), and his girlfriend Jenny (the stunningly beautiful Jennifer Connelly), become embroiled in international espionage when Cliff accidentally finds an experimental rocket pack designed by Howard Hughes (Terry O'Quinn) and stolen by mobster Eddie Valentine (Paul Sorvino) for actor/Nazi spy Neville Sinclair (then-James Bond Timothy Dalton).

This movie can be summed up in one word:


I'll add more words:

Pure, unadulterated fun.

Cliff and his friends find themselves pursued by Valentine and Sinclair in a chase that ends with an explosive battle aboard a Nazi zeppelin over the skies of Hollywood.

Directed with flair by Joe Johnston (who will be helming next year's Captain America movie for Marvel Studios), this film is a loving tribute to the sci-fi action serials of the 30's and 40's, the source material that inspired the original comic book.

The Rocketeer was filmed before the advent of computer graphics, forcing the filmmakers to achieve flight the old-fashioned way, with practical, in-camera effects using miniatures and real sets.

Its performance at the box-office did not meet Disney's expectations, and so the contracted sequels that would have made this an Indiana Jones-style adventure trilogy were scrapped, making The Rocketeer a stand-alone film that remains one of my favorites of the past two decades.

When released on VHS it began to gather a cult following of fans who generally refer to themselves as "Finheads".

I can't speak highly enough of this film, as both a brilliant example of translating a comic book to the live-action screen, and as a fun adventure movie on its own merits. The exhilaration Cliff feels on his first flight, as well as the amazement felt by the press and general populace upon his first public appearance are almost tangible, and just one of the reasons that this film deserves much more recognition than it gets.

If you've seen this movie and enjoyed it, I encourage you to revisit it.

If you've never seen it, I encourage you to seek it out. It is available on dvd (though sadly only in a basic, no-special-features edition), and I think you'll enjoy the spirit of fun and adventure that a great many movies of today are lacking.

It is just plain fun and exciting, and Jennifer Connelly is in it.

If you'd like to be a part of Tuesday Treasures, sharing something you enjoy, please let me know at scratch_1701@yahoo.com. I'd love for this to become a community Treasure Chest.

Thanks for reading my ranting,


Monday, June 14, 2010

Of Werewolves and Bunk Beds...

Man, being a parent is tough.

Allow me to illustrate:

Not long ago, my youngest son, Blake, called me into the room he shares with his brother.

"Daddy," he says. "I had a nightmare that a werewolf was going to drag me under the bed and eat me."

To be fair to him, who among us doesn't have that fear?

Being Daddy, I of course responded with, "Blake, there isn't any werewolf under your bed."

"There isn't? Are you sure? How do you know?"

"Well, Blake, Daddy knows there isn't a werewolf under your bed because werewolves aren't real. They're only in movies and books."


Then, bless his evil little heart, Hunter says from the top bunk:

"Dad, it could've been a real wolf."

This, of course, starts a new round of whimpering from the recently-calmed Blake.

Now, here's my dilemma.

It's difficult sometimes to discipline Hunter for things like this because:

What I said to him was, "Hunter, that's not helping, and you know there aren't any real wolves in our house OR our subdivision. The closest thing to a wolf around here is Starbuck, and she's just a dog."

What I was thinking was more along these lines:

Ooooo...good one, Hunter.

It doesn't make it any easier that, instead of "There's no such thing as werewolves", what was really going through my mind was something like this:

Me: "Blake, no werewolf is going to pull you under the bed."

Blake: "No? Are you sure?"

Me: "Of course I'm sure. Werewolves drag you out the window; they do their eating outside. Night-night!"

Blake: "GAH!"

Obviously, I didn't say this, but it's a part of the same streak of immaturity that once led me to convince my kids that the world used to be in black-and-white and that's why old pictures and movies don't have color. It's color film showing a black-and-white world.

It's hard to be stern with Hunter sometimes because I flash back to when I used to pull tricks like that on MY little brother (My friend Rob's brother, John, taught me so much, and I've never properly thanked him).

The hardest thing about being Dad is just that: resisting myself.

To help illustrate, while I was sitting here typing this, Blake comes in from the pool and says, "Daddy, Hunter just bit me and says that he's a vampire."

Despite the fact that he's in the pool, in the sunlight, and would be on fire, I still think:

Oooo...good one, Hunter.

Thanks for reading my ranting,


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Goodbye, Gramma

I just got word that my grandmother died about forty-five minutes ago.

It wasn't unexpected; she'd had heart trouble as far back as I can remember.

My grandmother wasn't always an easy woman to love, but she was my grandmother, and love her I did.

Your pain is over now, Gramma.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Something New...

It has come to my attention that my blogging schedule is somewhat...erratic.

A few days of surprisingly frenetic activity, followed and swallowed by epochs of silence.

Well, no more, I say!

In an effort to discipline myself (not like that; get your mind out of the gutter) and get myself onto some form of schedule, I'm implementing "Tuesday Treasures".

Every Tuesday, I'll post a review of something that I enjoy. I won't be limiting this to books, movies, or music (although they will form a large part of this), but quite simply, everything that I find joy in.

There are a number of reasons for this:

1. As I mentioned, I need to be more consistent with updating this blog, and my writing in general. I'm hoping that this will help me be more dedicated and disciplined in all my writing.

2. I want to focus on things that make me happy. Sometimes, life gets to be a bit too much, and by bringing attention to things that make me happy, it can help keep my mind away from the monsters that loom.

3. To share a some of my interests with all of you, and to get to know you better.

That's where you come in.

From time to time, I'll post a guest review, kind of a "Treasure Map" to something YOU enjoy.

Is there something you want to share, something that makes you happy?

It doesn't have to be a book, movie, or music. It can be something as simple as a treasured childhood memory. A story about something funny your kids do. Maybe something as simple as a picture of a monkey riding on a dog:

In short, if it brings a smile to your face, if it makes you feel good and reminds you about how fun life really is, share it.

If you're interested, email me at scratch_1701@yahoo.com and let me know.

I hope to hear from you.
Thanks for reading my ranting,

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Waxing a bit poetical-like...


never to sink,
never to swim


seeing all,
being nothing


pulled choicelessly
by currents floating drifting flowing

ever to a cold grey sea

a message in a me-shaped bottle




to be read before
upon the rocks
of an unhomed shore

I don't write poetry very often, and I share it even less.

But this sang to me.

Thanks for reading my ranting,