Tuesday, October 30, 2007

THERE WILL BE BLOOD...In The Theaters, this christmas

I've been a fan of writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson since his directorial debut Hard Eight. Almost everyone has seen his film Boogie Nights and let's not forget the frog-raining ensemble piece Magnolia.

I also remember when people flocked in droves to see what they thought was going to be another Adam Sandler fart comedy in Punch-Drunk Love. Instead, they left the theater bemused and scratching their heads like a gorilla who just ate poop.

Being a film snob, I saw this modern-day love story three separate times. It ranks up there with Amelie' as one of my all-time favorite relationship movies behind Bitter Moon.

That said, there were little murmurs and rumors swirling around on various movie web sites that PT Anderson was on the cusp of directing a new project.

As it turns out, it's finished and it's called There Will Be Blood.

Click here to check out the trailer.

Based on the book Oil! by Upton Sinclair (The Jungle), There Will Be Blood is about the rise (and fall?) of a miner (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) who toils and works his hands to the bone until he eventually strikes it rich in the form of oil (or is it OIL!). And that is the starting point of his journey to wealth and his eventual descent into obsession, and a deadly degree of greed.

Anderson has a way of bringing out the best in actors. I thought he did a phenomenal job with Sandler in Punch Drunk Love not to mention the cast of Boogie Nights in particular William Macy, Marky Mark and Burt Reynolds. And lets not forget the cast of Magnolia, most importantly Tom Cruise, who - in my opinion - was robbed of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as fuck-guru Frank TJ Mackey (I just love that name).

Although his character isn't very nice, I hear Daniel Day Lewis does a phenomenal job as the greedy oil baron. I guess it's up there with his acting chops in My Left Foot and Gangs of New York.

Comparisons to Terrence Malick's opuses (or is it opi?) Days of Heaven and Badlands not to mention Orson Welles' Citizen Kane and, of course one of the finest movies about greed, Treasure of Sierra Madre are already being made about this flick.

Harry Knowles of Aint It Cool News fame basically pulled out his cock and spewed his jism all over this film - not to mention Daniel Day Lewis's face - in the following review... click here to read it for yourself .

I'm not even going to speculate what types of kudos this picture will earn come awards season, but everyone that has seen it has already already stated that it should win a Best Picture Academy Award. Myself? Without seeing Sean Penn's Into the Wild not to mention George Clooney's Michael Clayton and the Ben Affleck-directed Gone Baby Gone, I think it's a little too early to start screaming that - but the reviews and early buzz definitely has me intrigued.

I'm sure the movie will not sit with a lot of people who like their editing M-tv/Action-packed. But if you like old-school movies - and by old school, I mean before Charlies Angels 2, before rapid-speed editing and when characters, acting and plot really mattered in a movie - then I would go check this flick out.

In addition to Into the Wild and popcorn fare such as I Am Legend and The Mist, I will be trying to get a babysitter on December 26 to check this movie out.

How about you? Why not send a message to Hollywood and go and see this film, will ya? Let's give Paul Thomas Anderson some cash so he can go out and make another great film.

And lets not forget PT Anderson also banged Fiona Apple for quite some time, which is 'very nice' indeed.

What Do You Think, Oh Wise One Reader of This Blog?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yes, It's Another Sports Rant!

Just wanted to touch base on a couple sportscentric rants running around my brain:

New England Patriots
Well, here I thought the pussification of man came down to men shopping at Pottery Barn. But, when you have coaches and players bitching that an NFL team is running up the score on your NFL team, well I think the Pussification of Man starts....right.... now. Even though I'm not a fan, I love the fact that the Patriots are making every NFL team their proverbial whipping boy this season. I think this is exciting for football. Plus, it puts a gleam in the eye of football-playing kids around the United States. I mean, do you know how many kids are completing Brady-to-Moss pass patterns in their backyard as we speak? This brings back memories of when I was 13-years-old and the 1985 Chicago Bears dismantled the competition all the while singing the Superbowl Shuffle (and that was even before they made the playoffs!). That's why I think it's amusing that 250-pound football players are whining because the Patriots are running up the score. Boo Freaking Hoo. Next thing you know NFL teams, coaches and players will start to sue other teams for running up the score. Is all of America turning into a bunch of fucking cry-babies? Wahhh. Wahhh. Wahhh. You know what I say to all those cry-baby millionaires? Shut the fuck up, toss the loss in your memory banks and kick their ass next year. Oh yeah, and why don't you play fucking better football, you pussies.

2007 World Series
After watching the Boston Red Sox humiliate the Colorado Rockies in a 4-0 World Series sweep last night. (Okay, truthfully I didn't watch it. Did you?) You wonder what the Cleveland Indians would have done with this creampuff of a team. And to think that the Injuns were only one game away from winning it all.

Ohio State Buckeyes
Well. Well. Well. Looks like everyone is starting to talk about the Ohio State/Michigan game once again. Not me. Because as I've stated before in previous rants, I knew all along how important this upcoming game was going to be. And, even though there's a couple more games to play, I'm still sticking to my guns, suckers. Ohio State has a couple big games down the stretch (Illinois and Wisconsin), but it's all going to come down the noon kickoff on Saturday Nov. 17 at the Big House. With Carr's future on the line, not to mention Buckeyes bragging rights, it's going to be a barn-burner. Ech! I can't believe I said that.

Pittsburgh Steelers and Fantasy Football.
Like an idiot I benched Hines Ward this week in favor of Santonio Holmes and Antwaan Randle El. It almost cost me a win. Lesson learned. In my opinion, the Steelers only have two big games before they clinch a playoff berth - this week against Baltimore and next week against Cleveland. Sure the Browns are okay this year and it's fun to watch them win for once in a blue moon. But let's be honest, they're not as good as Big Ben, Holmes, Ward, Miller, Parker and the 'Stillers' solid D. I'm looking for two more wins in two more weeks.

National Basketball Association and King James
Even though I live in Cleveland, I'm not even remotely excited for NBA basketball. The season is too long. The postseason is even longer. And everyone up here in Cleveland thinks that Lebron is the cat's meow, which gets a little annoying. There's a little game I play every NBA season up here in Cleveland. And no, it's not BALLING. From now until the end of the season, how many times can you spot a picture of Lebron James in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It's amazing how many times he's in the paper up here. Boring. Boring. Boring.


Electric Football
When I was ten years old, I begged and begged my parents for an official NFL Electric Football game for Christmas. Well, my wish was their command and, on December 25th, Santa Claus answered my persistent whining with 100 miniature yards of green shining silver, complete with Eagles and Steelers painted players and a plug. By the end of the week, it joined the other Misfit Toys in the closet right next to my Electronic Battleship and Light Bright. The very next year, we tossed it in a Toys-for-Tots bin at the mall. To this day, I picture some poor kid sitting next to his Charlie Brown Christmas Tree opening up his Toy-for-Tots present and then laying his eyes on my used, slightly scratched, electronic football game with a Ziploc bag full of plastic football players duct-taped to the back. I betcha he still remembers that Christmas as one of his worst. The poor fella.

Big Ten Network Still Sucks
By the way, this Saturday I won't be watching the Buckeyes battle Wisconsin due to the sucky Big Ten Network airing the game. So, instead I'm making my Game Of The Week #5 Oregon vs. #4 Arizona State Saturday night at 6:30 p.m.. Thanks a fucking lot Big Ten Network. You and your stupid network can suck my big, fat hairy balls.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Living The Weekend Vicariously Through You.

When I'm conversing with my co-workers, connecting with friends or corresponding with relatives, why (Oh why!) do I continue to torture myself and ask this question:

"Sooooo, got any plans for the weekend?"

Here are just a few of the responses I've heard in the past month:

"Going to see [insert cool concert here]."

"We're heading out to Las Vegas for the weekend."

"Camping out at Lake [Insert Name Here]."

"Going to the Buckeyes game at Penn State."

"Having a bonfire, keg and cookout at [insert friend who didn't invite you]."

"Slutty Halloween Party with a harry buffalo!"

"Halloweekends at Cedar Point."

"Going to see [insert cool movie here]!"






I'm not sure if it's just me but, if you've got kids. Little kids. Baby-sized kids. Kids under two-years-old. Doesn't it seem that every single weekend, everyone that you know is doing something fantastic...except for you?

From paintballing, to jumping out of a plane, to shooting off machine guns, to jetting off to New York City to running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain - everyone has freaking plans.

And they're not just normal everyday Going-To-Applebee's plans. They're fucking phenomenal, awesome plans that rank up there with traveling across the United States on a motorcycle or hiking Mount Everest with a couple sherpas.

Yep. And everyone is invited to partake...except for you.

Then, after they go into detail of their fantabulous upcoming weekend, I'm then asked that one particular question that, pretty much, is the Mike Tyson knockout punch:

"Why, what are you doing?"

"Oh, not much," I respond. "I may try to get out, go to Giant Eagle and maybe mow the lawn a bit."


And guess whose phone isn't ringing anymore on the weekends? Why just last Friday, I laid my phone down on the kitchen counter when I got home from work. It sat there until I picked it up on Sunday. No calls. No text messages. No invitations. No nothing.


That said, it's not too easy getting around when you've got a couple really young young'uns on the ranch. And, by the lack of phone calls, I'm assuming that other people understand that too. Either that, or they hate my guts.

But come next Spring it will be easier to get out and about with the kids. Then come next summer, easier. Then this same time next year, even easier.

You get my point.

So while you're out there gallivanting around, clicking your heels together with all your so-called 'friends' and kick-ass 'plans', don't expect me to get all giddy like a school-girl after you tell me all the cool shit you're doing this upcoming weekend.

I'll roll my eyes. I may even let out a "Pffffft. That sounds like it sucks." Don't worry, I'm just jealous.

But, then I picture you in a couple of years with kids of your own.

And that's when I'll flash my devilish, greenish GRINCHy grin.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Am Excited for I Am Legend.

I think most readers have a mental wish-list of novels that they'd like to see translated into film.

As it turns out, two books on my novel-to-movie wish list are hitting theaters before the end of this year.

The first one, I wrote about here.

And, here's the trailer for the second one...

Based on a novel by horror writer Richard Matheson, I Am Legend is a first-person account of the last human survivor on Earth after a genetic outbreak has virtually destroyed our civilization. As the story develops, we learn that some of the humans have taken on characteristics that are eerily similar to vampires.

I Am Legend ,the novel, also sways from the basic vampire genre. If you're looking for crosses, holy water and garlic, you've come to the wrong place. Plus, we - the reader - learn about the plague, and the infected 'vampires' in bits and pieces through Neville's biological experiments on the creatures. It's also a unique story in the sense that it delves into the main character's psychological and emotional psyche as he copes with being the last (hu)man on Earth.

It's a brilliant book. And I highly recommend that you check it out before you catch it in the theaters.

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical that a true version of the book would ever get made due to the fact that the story takes place from the perspective of one person with the supporting cast being the vampires themselves. Basically, the book follows a single character around as he talks to himself, drinks heavily and bitches to the creatures lurking outside his home.

I should note that there have a been a couple attempts to bring I Am Legend to the screen including The Last Man on Earth(1964) starring Vincent Price and the terrible, yet entertaining, Omega Man (1971) starring Charlton Heston. Both movies were good. Good. But, they failed to capture the true essence of Matheson's literary vision.

The closest the book has come to a faithful adaptation, prior to this film, was back in the early 90's, when Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Alien, Black Hawk Down) was in talks to direct with Arnold Schwarzenegger starring as Neville. I think the budget ballooned to over $100 million, the studios balked and it was never greenlit.

But after seeing Tom Hanks, along with supporting soccer ball Wilson, in Cast Away. I thought to myself, "You know what? With the right director and the right actor this could work."

That said, I think Will Smith is the perfect person to portray Neville. Like Hanks, the man can carry a movie as evidenced by last year's The Pursuit of Happyness and Michael Mann's Ali. I also think director Francis Lawrence was the perfect choice to bring Matheson's true cinematic vision to life. I mean, look what he did with Keanu Reeves in Constantine.

As far as the infected humans/vampires are concerned (you can catch a glimpse of them in the trailer above), I don't know about you but they remind me of the creepy cave creatures in last year's breakout horror movie The Descent.

The big question on my mind is the ending.

I'm curious if the adapted script by Mark Protosevich and Oscar-winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) stays true to Matheson's very dark ending? Or will they shove it through the happy Hollywood-ending machine and set the whole thing up for a sequel?

Here's hoping Lawrence takes the same route as David Fincher did with SE7EN and brings out the bleak.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Daughter Is Not Bruce Willis. (sigh)

David Dunn: [talking to Elijah on phone] I've never been sick, I've never been injured... what do I do now?
Elijah Price: Go to a place where people are... you won't have to wait very long.
- from the movie Unbreakable (2000) directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

Well, it finally happened. My daughter got sick. A slight cold. It was her very first cold since being born 17 months ago (not counting nine months in the womb).


I guess I should be happy that she's pretty healthy. But, it's just that after watching the months roll by without even witnessing a sniffle or a slight cough - I really, truly, honestly thought she was the female version of Bruce Willis in the movie

In the movie, a security guard played by Willis is coming home from work on a train, when it suddenly derails. As it turns out, he is the sole survivor of a crash that killed 132 people. Soon, Willis is contacted by comic-book store owner (played by Samuel Jackson) who claims that he is a bonafide superhero.

It just sucks because my daughter's runny nose and fever sort of knocked my theory out of the park.

As it turns out, she's only human.

Or is she?

Last weekend, we went on this hayride through a pumpkin patch near Bath, Ohio. During the ride, I noticed this little black girl with a cast on her arm. She was staring very intently at my daughter.

It's funny, because right before the wheel fell off the tractor and 40 screaming kids were thrown to their peril, I could've sworn the little black girl's mom called the little girl Ms. Glass.

Hmmmmm? Stay tuned.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Asthma Sucks (Literally)

So, I’ve had asthma for about, oh I don’t know, my whole life.

I’m really not sure if my asthma medication will cut my life in half or increase my life expectancy to 120. But I do know this, asthma sucks both literally and figuratively.

Please, please, let me explain.

A couple months ago, I was having a small asthma attack and went to get my Albuterol inhaler. I shook it in preparation for a shot of life-saving air and instantly my worst nightmare had come true – it was empty.

Oh, this hasn’t been the first time I’ve been without my inhaler. In fact, there’s probably been more than 30 times that I’ve had an asthma attack without my inhaler.

In the past, I would freak out and convince my body that because I didn’t have an inhaler, I was going to have an asthma attack and then proceed to die. And - besides the death part - that's exactly when an asthma attack would happen.

So there I was hyperventilating, sucking for breath and believing this was my last couple hours on this Earth. (If you want to know what it feels like, try breathing through a straw) I called up the pharmacy to order a new inhaler. It turned out my prescription was expired. I called Cleveland Clinic to beg for an inhaler. Their response: "I’m sorry, we can’t issue a new prescription without first seeing your doctor."

I pleaded with the receptionist and said that I wasn’t going to build a meth lab or anything with my inhaler. In fact, I’m pretty sure you can't make meth with Albutoral inhalers. To be totally honest, I really don’t know why they don’t sell inhalers over the counter. And, I'm talking good inhalers, not like Primatene Mist, which I was forced to go out and buy last night.

Let me just say that there are a lot of inhalers out there on the market. Primatene Mist is not one of them. If Primatene Mist were alcohol, it would be Wild Irish Rose, Mad Dog or King Cobra Malt Liqour.

For a disgraceful $11.95 this is what you get: When you suck it in, your teeth get numb and it feels like you’re inhaling a cigarette for the first time. As Ralph Wiggum said in The Simpsons when he ate the blackberries, "It tastes like burning."

So then I turned into a crack addict. I was going through an internal roladex trying to figure out who had asthma so I could go over their house and get my inhaler fix. Sadly, I couldn’t think of anyone, so I decided to take a couple hits off the Primatene and breathe it out. Most of the time this method works, but it takes a couple hours to get back to regular breathing. Yeah, it sucks. That’s why they have asthma medication.

Well, I survived that night, which was nice. And, the next day, I went to the doctor and got myself a year's prescription of my Albuterol. Yay!

You know, there was a time in my life that I was so convinced I was going to go into the Army (yep, the US Army) that I tried to ween myself from my inhaler dependency. It worked - somewhat. Now, I can leave my inhaler at home when I go on a run without even thinking twice about.

One small step for wimpy-lung kind.

I’m relatively thin with exception to my small beer gut. Imagine if I didn’t run, ate like a pig, weighed 100 extra pounds and was 80 years old? More than likely, I would be six feet under.

Thanks to asthma, my life-long health crutch and eventual death sentence.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Word of Mouth Buzz = Winning the Lottery

About a month ago, this little film called Across the Universe opened in a small amount of theaters to limited audiences.

Most critics hated the musical, directed by Lion King Broadway visionary Julie Taymor and set to popular Beatles tunes. In fact, according to popular movie critic web site RottenTomatoes.com, only 53% of critics out there gave it passing marks.

Many adults I know who saw it said it was a piece of crap. On a personal note, I may rent it because Taymor directed it. But, I can honestly say that most of my thirtysomething friends have not uttered one single word about this movie. And I would be willing to bet that half of my friends know nothing about it.

Yet, according to an article I came across on SlashFilm.com, Across the Universe is gaining steam and more and more people are going to see this musical event. The web site boldy claims that it could very well be “the next cult sensation" a' la Grease, Star Wars or even The Wizard of Oz.

In fact, after five weeks in theaters, the PG-13 movie finally penetrated the top 10 and is sitting pretty at No. 8.

"How can that be?"

Well, in addition to opening in more theaters this week (954 to be exact), according to an article in the Los Angeles Times , Across the Universe connects "with a zealous core constituency: teenage girls, who, anecdotal evidence suggests, are going to see the movie in packs, bonding with one another (and the film) through repeated viewings and popularizing it with their school chums via word-of-mouth.”

You know all those kids who tuned into High School Musical 2 on the Disney Channel last month? Yep, they're going to see this movie. And chances are they're taking their friends and their parents with them as well.

On Technorati.com there are more than 1,800 blog entries talking about Across the Universe. I can only imagine the buzz going around on Facebook, MySpace and whatever other portals teenagers use to keep in touch.


Which brings me to Tyler Perry, whose movie Why Did I Get Married topped the North American box-office last weekend. It earned an estimated 21.4 million dollars and beat out new films featuring Oscar-winners George Clooney (Michael Clayton) and Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age).

For the record, I'm probably never going to see Why Did I Get Married - which received a 50% not-so-fresh rating on Rottentomatoes.com. I haven't seen Perry's other successful films Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea's Family Reunion either. It's probably the same reason why I never cared to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Grease or even High School Musical. It just doesn't seem to be my cup of tea. Plus, it looks like it sucks.

But, do you really think Perry is actually sitting back and wondering what this 35-year old white male from the Midwest is thinking? HELL NO. Simply put, the studios and Perry are not marketing the film to me. They're marketing it toward his #1 core fan-base, which happens to be (surprise, surprise) African Americans.

To be honest, I didn't even know this movie was opening until I saw the box-office results on Monday morning. That's how well they marketed this movie to my demographic. I would also venture to say that word-of-mouth within the African American community also helped catapult Perry's movie to the top last week.

"Tyler Perry is a mogul," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers told AFP news. "There is a built-in audience base for Tyler Perry's movies, no matter what time of year, no matter what the subject matter."

I can think of two films back in the 90's that gained steam in the theaters by an over-zealous fan base spreading word-of-mouth buzz: Pulp Fiction and Titantic. Both movies opened well at the box office. But, as positive word started to spread (in Pulp Fiction's case, college-aged adults, and in Titanic's case, teenage girls and twenty-something women who swooned over Leo) people attended repeated viewings in droves. In some cases, the box office numbers were higher than the previous week which is virtually unheard of in the movie industry. Each film went on to earn box-office and critical success not to mention win some key awards, including a few Oscars.

Was all the box-office success due to word-of-mouth buzz? I would venture to say yes.

That said, I stumbled upon this excerpt on Seth Godin's blog concerning word-of-mouth buzz...

"Viral marketing equals word of mouth. A marketer does something and then a consumer tells five or ten people. Then then they tell five or ten people. And it repeats. And grows and grows. Like a virus spreading through a population. The marketer doesn't have to actually do anything else. (They can help by making it easier for the word to spread, but in the classic examples, the marketer is out of the loop.)"

And then he went on to add that "most of all, that viral marketing is like winning the lottery."

I agree with Godin. If you can garner that viral, word-of-mouth buzz, you've got a fairly good chance of success regardless of what type of product or service you're trying to sell.

Hell, you just may even win the lottery.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Will There Be a Goonies 2?

If you were born in 1972 or 1973, chances are you love The Goonies.

I'm not sure what it is about the flick that struck a nerve with me? Maybe it was the adventure. Maybe it was the pirates. Maybe it was the booby traps. Maybe it was the water slide at the end of the movie. Maybe it was a group of friends banding together, defying their parents and hunting for buried treasure.

All I can say is, ever since my first viewing on Friday, June 7, 1985, I've been hooked.

After multiple viewings at the cinema (I believe nine times in a two-month period), my best friend got his very own VHS copy for his birthday. (Remember when new VHS movies were about $75 each?) We treated that video tape like it was the Ark of the Convenant. After each viewing, we'd hit rewind and very carefully place the tape back into the protective plastic case. Then, we'd venture out on our own Goonies adventures in hopes of uncovering a secret hideaway, dead body or Fratelli gang.

Sadly, the closest we came to seeing Sloth chained to a wall was an old shack deep in the woods with rusted raccoon traps, some old newspapers and kitchen knives.

With the onset of puberty, I began to hunt down a different type of booty. It wouldn't be long before I went from searching for buried treasure in the woods to unearthing sinful treasures from a girl's bra and panties.

But, prior to that, I think, some of my favorite memories growing up were during the summers of '85 and '86. And it had a lot to do with The Goonies.

More than 20 years have passed and the movie still resonates in my brain. I've easily seen The Goonies more than 100 times. And, without a doubt, it is one of my top ten favorite films of all time next to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pulp Fiction, Time Bandits, The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens and Evil Dead 2.

That said, I came across this little piece of news on Mtv's website saying that a sequel to The Goonies is in the works.

Now, I've heard rumors about a possible sequel for quite some time. The cast, including Director Richard Donner, mentioned it in passing during the commentary section of the DVD. I also think the onset of film fanatic websites have brought this whole Goonies 2 idea to the forefront even more so.

To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about this. On a selfish note, I think it would be a blast to take my kids to a sequel of one of my favorite movies. But, what if it sucks balls?

If it's a good script that centers around the children of the former Goonies who go on an adventure with their parents, the old Goonies, looking for them, I think it could possibly work. If it's the old Goonies gang getting back together 20 years later to go on another mission - I'm not too sure that would work at all.

Another part of me says "Why not do a remake or reimagining of the first film in a different location, with different young actors and a different adventure?" Or maybe even a television series a' la LOST or the X-Files?

Slashfilm.com also broke the news about a possible Goonies cartoon with the same look and feel of Batman: The Animated Series. I think that would work out a little bit better.

Or even better yet, why not make a movie that's set in the summer of 1985, about a group of 12-year old kids on the brink of puberty who are so fascinated by The Goonies that they proceed to go on their own Goonie adventure. Of course, chaos ensues in the form of a group of escaped convicts hunting them down, finding a million dollars in a brief case or unearthing some sort of distant relic or government secret (i.e. UFOs or big foot).

Then another part of me says that whatever Hollywood decides to do, they'll never capture the lightning in a bottle like they did with the first Goonies back in the summer of '85.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Real Ghost caught on tape

Found this authentic ghost sighting on You Tube. Pretty crazy shit. Check out the rocking chair.

We're Talking Sports....Again!

Below are some quick reactions to the past week and upcoming week in sports:

This team seems a little bit pissed off about getting busted for stealing opposing team's defensive signals. And it seems like they're taking out their frustration on every team in the NFL. And I'm talking everyone. The Patriots are 6-0 and they've outscored opponents by a 230-92 margin. Before each game, I picture everyone in the Patriots locker room stone silent and pissed. No one is talking. No one is making jokes. Everyone is just focused on the game at hand - and did I mention they're pissed. Heck, I betcha that Bill Belichick hasn't had to give the team a pre-game pep talk all season long. He just opens up the door and they run out and go to work. Wouldn't it be funny if they made the playoffs and lost in the first round to a wild card team? Well, I think it would be.

Speaking of Tom Brady and Randy Moss. If you had these two guys on your roster, you could opt not to play the rest of your Fantasy team and still have a good chance of winning . Seriously. These guys are racking up a combined 60-70 fantasy points each week. By the way, I'm dead last in my Fantasy Football league. I have no fucking clue what I'm doing. By the end of the season, more than likely, I'll have zero players that I started with from Week One. Plus, I'm getting beat by two women who basically chose their players based on the player's good looks, favorite mascots and pretty team colors. Flush another $20 down the toilet.

Like I said before, I truly thought this was going to be a down year for the Buckeyes. Then again I thought the same thing about the 2002 National Champion Buckeyes as well. The amazing thing is - with the exception of the first half against Washington - there hasn't been a close game yet. The defense is stunning - even without Laurinaitis at linebacker. But after Michigan State this week, Ohio State is traveling to Penn State (remember the white out?) and has games against Illinois, Wisconsin and - of course - on the road at Michigan. Remember what I said about Michigan? Right now, they're undefeated in the Big Ten. But that was before Mike Hart screwed up his ankle. And, although Hart's said he's going to play this week, I'm curious how they'll do on the road against Illinois.

After seeing the old, retiree codgers root on the Diamondbacks by sitting on their hands during game one of NLCS not to mention almost 4,000 tickets going unsold for that particular game in Arizona, I'm happy the Colorado Rockies (21-1 in their last 22 games) are going to the World Series. Which leads me to believe they should have some sort of senior citizen seating at all sporting events - in particular for the big games (i.e. Michigan/Ohio State, Yankeees/Red Sox etc.). From college football and basketball to the NBA, NHL and NFL even high school sports - if you're old and you don't want to stand up and cheer for your team, you get sequestered to the 'senior section' where you can sit on your ass with like-minded people and bitch about the noise all game long.

I wasn't really a fan of either team before I moved to Cleveland. But I've watched every Indians game since the playoffs begun. And it's been a blast. Plus, on Sunday, I never thought the phrase "How did the Browns do?" would ever be uttered from my mouth. Of course, it's after I ask "Did the Steelers win?". With the Cavs making the championship last year, the underdog Indians up 2-1 against the Red Sox in ALCS and the Browns at 3-3 heading into their bye week, this is as good as time as any to be a sports fan who happens to live in Cleveland.

My family still lives in Martins Ferry, Ohio. And this game is like Ohio State vs. Michigan or Yankees vs. Red Sox for the Ohio Valley. Both towns literally shut down when this game is being played. What's equally amazing is how much hatred my brother has for the city of Bellaire. A couple years ago I went to this game with my brother. Before the band came out he started heckling the other team's fans and kept it going through haltime and all the way to final buzzer. If a Bellaire fan would walk by, he'd start to spit venom:"Get out of our fucking stadium!", "That's right. Keep walking." and "Bellaire fucking sucks!" All the while he's holding up his middle finger to anyone in a red and black jersey - even grade school kids. He didn't care. I haven't seen that much passion since my best friend spit in the face of some Gulf War protestors in college back in 1991. That said, this year's matchup (on Oct. 27) is going to be more for bragging rights. Martins Ferry just got shellacked by St. Clairsville and Indian Creek and are definitely out of postseason contention. On the flip side, the Big Reds are an embarrasing 0-8.

You know, I can't wait to make take my kids to the Ferry/Bellaire football game when they're a little bit older. Heck, if anything, my brother will teach them how to give the middle finger to Bellaire fans..

Questions? Comments? Remarks? Tell me what you think?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Run To The Hills

My family moved to Bath, Ohio, in the Spring of 2007.

It's a small country town about 15 miles out of Akron. There are no cell-phone towers, no commercial eateries, no McDonalds and no strip shopping centers. All in all, it's a fairly quiet town with a great view of the stars every single night.

And, if you can dodge cars speeding 70 MPH through the countryside, it’s also runner’s paradise.

From the Cuyahoga Falls National Park to the Bath Nature Preserve to a local track at Revere High School (for night runs) and O'Neill Woods, the place is virtually designed for cross-country runners.

But what gets me really, really excited about running in Bath ... are the hills.

Ask any track and field/cross country runner and they'll tell you that If you want to lose weight, get conditioned and gain endurance, you should incorporate hills into your weekly running regimen.

Althought I have no facts to back this up, it's been said that former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton ran steps and hills as his primary workout. Sure, he's dead. But, before meeting his make, he broke a ton of records in the NFL. So, I say if it's good enough for a Hall of Fame running back, it's good enough for me.

I finally got to head out onto the open highway and tackle my first Bath hill in March of 2007.

After lacing up my Asics running shoes, taking a shot of my inhaler and stretching, I walked out of my driveway and hit the pavement with full gusto.

About 100 yards into my run I careened a half-mile downhill. I then proceeded to run a half-mile on a paved road to Moore's Chapel cemetery. I proceeded to run the 1/4-mile loop of the cemetary - all the while being cheered on by Bath's previous living - then I hightailed it back home.

All in all, I was about a mile and a half away from the crib. Three miles in all.

However, stopping me from a fresh glass of water, and an after-run beer, was the initial 1/2 mile hill I had so effortlessly ran down.

As I approached the 70-degree hill, I slowed my jog, took a deep breath.

Like an extra from the movie Braveheart, I let out a battle scream and attacked the hill like a man possessed. Huffing and puffing. Huffing and puffing. I felt like the little engine that could. Chugga. Chugga. Chugga. Chugga. "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can."

More importantly, I could feel the blubber in my stomach pound back and forth and virtually burn away with each foot-stomp to the ground.

My breathing deepened. My legs started to burn. I was fatigued. I was almost to the top.

I stopped.

Hill - 1
Eimer - 0

I just got my ass kicked by a hill.

Breathing like a porno star after a two-hour sex session, I walked the rest of the way. However, as punishment to myself for not succeeding, I added another half-mile to my run at the top. It was a win-win situation. Or, depending on how you look at it, a lose-lose situation.

Barring a nuclear bomb leveling Bath - I knew that damn, dirty hill was going to be there tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. So, sooner or later, I knew I was going to kick its ass. And I've done that on multiple occasions.

Now, after a summer of tackling the hills of Bath, I make it to the top about 85% of the time. Not too bad considering my runs have been limited to about 2-3 miles every other day.

As I brace for a winter of 'not-alot-of-running' due to two kids under two years old, nasty Northeast Ohio weather and Day Light Savings Time, I expect I'll have a similar experience next Spring.

But you can count on me to be in tip-top thong shape before the pools open on Memorial Day 2008.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

He Ain't Puffy, He's My Friend.

I've got a lot of friends. And by a lot, I mean, probably, ten.

Due to the fact that my fiance' and I have two kids under two years old running around the house, neither of us have had any time to get out and see our friends. So, with the exception of e-mail and phone calls, I haven't had the chance to actually see a lot them in person for quite some time.

Which leads me to.....

A couple weeks ago, some of my buddies went on a week-long fishing trip to Canada. Of course I was invited, but I had to pass due to the fact that my girlfriend was giving birth on one of those days. I know, I know. That is very gracious of me.

After the weeklong trip was over, I was curious to see what I had missed. So I shot off an e-mail to one of my friends:
"Hey man, how was the trip? Send me some pics."
A couple days passed before I received an e-mail with pics of all the guys drinking, fishing and having a great time.

Then something caught my attention.

Lately, I've noticed that there's been a significant transformation in everyone's appearance - including my own. It wasn't until I viewed the photos from my buddy's fishing trip, that the light bulb went off.

We're All Getting Puffy.

And by puffy, I'm not talking overweight, fat or rotund. I'm talking puffy. You know, maybe one too many beers mixed with one too many cheese steaks and not a lot of exercise.

That type of puffy.

I e-mailed my buddy about my casual observation.

His response:
"Hey fucker!!! YES, I am Puffy, Goddammit!! I have three kids to keep me puffed out. And you’re just one more shot past the goal to achieving similar levels of puffiness!"
The man made a lot of sense. I responded to his e-mail by saying that, in fact, it wasn't him who I thought was puffy, but the rest of the crew.

His response:
"Yeah. Some of them are Baby Puffy (because they have a baby) and others are Booze Puffy (from drinking too much booze)."

Ahhh yes, the wonders of growing old.

This weekend, I'm heading to Toledo to attend my friends' daughter's first-birthday party. A lot of other friends are showing up to celebrate this grand occasion.

Oh sure, I'll watch the little girl open her gifts, stick her hand into the cake and get all messy why everyone laughs and oohs and ahhs.

But the one thing I'll really be looking at is...how puffy everyone has become.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Goodbye Space Shuttle. Hello Space Elevator.

On April 12, 1981, NASA and the United States made history by launching Space Shuttle Columbia into space. It was the first orbital spacecraft that could be recycled and reused for future space flights.

I remember the first launch. The teachers packed everyone from our Elementary School into our auditorium to watch the historic event. Much like my parents witnessing man(supposedly) walking on the moon in the summer of '69 - the Space Shuttle launch was an exciting, historical experience that will be rememered by our generation. Well, maybe not the kindergarteners in attendance at the time.

Now, 26 years later, the basic premise of the Space Shuttle, not to mention the craft itself, is starting to show its age. Crappy O-rings. Negligent upkeep and construction. Rips and tears in the outer layers of the craft. And let's not forget the other historical experience of our generation - the two fatal space shuttle explosions in 1986 and 2003.

I don't know about you, but I think it's time to stick a fork in this ship. It's done.

So, what's going to happen after the space shuttle heads to Florida to hang with the geezers and catch up on spring training? Will there be a new space shuttle prototype? If not, what new aircraft or invention will be created to make this flying hunk of space junk obsolete?

I've been reading up a bit on this particular subject. And a lot of scientists, engineers and well-known big thinkers and inventors of the world are pointing towards the possiblity of a gigantic elevator to launch people, ships and materials into space.


I know. I know. It's sounds like something out of a science fiction novel. In fact, the fundamental principle of space elevators has been postulated for quite some time. Even well-known science-minded fiction authors including Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clark (2001: A Space Odyssey) have written about it.

I was a little dubious to the idea at first. I mean, when you envision an elevator shooting into space, it does seem a bit odd. But, the more I've thought about it, the more it makes sense.

In fact, a June 8 article in the The Economist reported that two companies, LiftPort and X-Tech Projects, have been founded to pursue commercial space-elevator projects, and America's space agency, NASA, has provided a $400,000 prize-fund for an annual competition, the Space Elevator Challenge, to encourage space-elevator research.

Sounds like I'm not the only guy that thinks this is a little plausible, eh?

Look, I'm not an engineer. And if you ask me to explain the science behind the whole thing, then you're barking up the wrong tree. To get more scientific, fact-based theories and history on space elevators, check out the Wikipedia entry here. And an article from Wired Magazine here. I'm sure you could also get tons of more information by googling 'space elevator' as well.

But here's what I can explain.

The basic premise is to design a elevator to transport material, spacecrafts and humans from a designated spot on Earth through our atmosphere and into some sort of station in space.

As the planet rotates, the inertia at the end of the tether counteracts gravity, and also keeps the cable/elevator taut. In other words, the lack of gravity coupled with the earth's rotation will keep the elevator from breaking apart and collapsing into the ocean.

The very first thing I thought about when I came across this idea was: weather. It doesn't take a rocket scientist (or maybe it does) to envision the damage a Category 6 hurricane could do to an invention like this. That's why the elevator would have to be built in a rather even-keeled, temperate climate that's free from massive thunderstorms, hurricanes, high winds or any type of crazy weather. Author Arthur C. Clark created an island close to the Equator for his ficticious space elevator home base. And it looks like a lot of engineers are also pointing to a similar location for the eventual construction of a protoype.

Of course, engineers would have to find materials that could handle the Earth's atmosphere not to mention elevator re-entry and all kinds of other physics mumbo jumbo. There are definitely a lot of kinks that need to be worked out before construction begins on this project.

On a personal level, I just think the plausibility of a space elevator shooting passengers, space ships and possible planetary explorers into space is a pretty cool idea. Add to the fact that it may happen in our lifetime is even more exciting.

I'm also curious what you - all two of my readers - think.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

When It Comes to the Drive-In, Show Me the Bloody!!

Like most kids, when I look back and think about my parents, there are things I liked and I disliked. But, a majority of the time I would say they did a pretty good job.

Especially when they took us to the movies.

And by movies, I'm not talking Escape to Witch Mountain shit. I'm talking good ol' R-Rated Horror Movies.

The type of movies that make your skin crawl and your eyeballs sweat.

During the 80's, I would try to see almost every horror movie released in the Ohio Valley. From Fright Night to Cat's Eye and everything in between, I was there. Sometimes snuck in with friends. Sometimes I went solo. Most of the time I went with my mom. It didn't matter if the horror film was good or bad. If there was blood, a naked woman screaming in agony and some sort of machete, count me in.

In addition, our family would watch horror 'classics' such as Halloween, The Amityville Horror, The Thing (one of my all-time favorite horror movies), Alien and The Exorcist at home on the weekends on one of those old-time classic VHS players. You know, the kind that was set up like a cassette player but with big-ass buttons for STOP and PLAY.

And let's not forget the drive-in theater. In fact, there was one particluar drive-in experience that still resonates in my head to this day.

The year was 1982. My parent's loaded my brother and I up into our sky-blue station wagon and we headed out to see a Friday-night double feature at the Glen Dale Drive-In near Wheeling, West Virginia.

As we drove up the gravel driveway to the entrance, I remember gazing up at the shiny marquee. Surrounded by flashing lightbulbs blinking on and off were the movies we were about to see:


Now I had heard about both movies and I was pretty sure they were both R-Rated, which was great.

My brother was a Conan fan and had collected a ton of comic books and novels. I heard the former Mr. Universe took on the role of Conan and the guy who voiced Darth Vader was also in it. That's about it. I saw the trailer for Ghost Story on television and, to be honest, I was never a big fan of ghosts. So I was a little hesitant to see this one, to say the least.

After filling our faces with popcorn, candy and smuggled-in pop, Conan the Barbarian started at dusk. The following Conan images filled my empty head: Bloody battles, Conan drilling some woman and the guy that voiced Darth Vader turning into a snake. More naked people. Conan getting tortured and biting the head off a buzzard. And, finally, Darth Vader getting his head chopped off. Very bloody. Very fun. Check out the trailer here.

Then, Ghost Story came on. You know, I'm not sure what it was, but something about this movie completely freaked me out. My mom and dad had previously seen the movie at the regular theater, so they knew when the scary parts where coming up. By scary, I mean the appearance of this half-decaying green woman terrorizing these five men who are hiding a dark secret.

Imagine that? I could take heads being chopped off, buckets of blood and hot steamy reptile sex, but show me a decaying woman and I get all queasy.

So whenever a scary part, starring the decaying woman, would come up - my mom and dad would both yell out in unison "Scary part."

With my brother giggling by my side, I would pull a blanket over my head and wait for the scary part to be over. But I never waited. Taking a cue from the music, I always lifted up the cover at the exact moment and would catch a glimpse of the green, decaying woman.

Click here to see a scary decaying woman 'Ghost Story' clip.

My heart would pound, then I would throw the blanket over my head again. And again. And again.

What a fun night!

In this very PC world, I'm sure my parents would have been looked down upon for taking two youngs kids to see these kinds of films. I'm happy they did. I'm glad they didn't play it safe. Don't get me wrong we also went to see Herbie Rides Again, The Apple Dumpling Gang and the movie about the mule that kicked field goals.

But, my most fond family movie memories are of my mom, dad, brother and I gleefully screaming our heads off to a mass murderer in a hockey mask chopping a naked college girl into little, itty, bitty pieces.

You know, I can't wait to open up my kids' minds to the power of horror movies. In fact, I think the mantra at our house is going to be:

"Screw Disney. Bring on the machetes."

Monday, October 8, 2007

Buzz Aldrin Talks About UFO during Apollo 11.

When I'm not writing copy for the man, I'm surfing the net looking for cool shit.

That said, I came across this UFO snippet that has Buzz Aldrin talking about a mysterious ship following Apollo 11.

Very interesting stuff. Plus, this isn't coming from some redneck in Hazzard County taking. It's freakin' Buzz Aldrin!

How Fast Can You Run the 100 Meter Dash?

I just found out that Sham Asafa Powell of Jamaica set the world record in the 100 meters at 9.74 seconds on September 9, 2007.

Pretty impressive.

In high school, I think I clocked my best 100 in a mind-blowing 12 seconds. It was a 'junior varsity' heat and I took first place. And no, it wasn't one of those 'special' races. But, that's beside the point.

In my personal opinion, I think the 100-meter record will be broken, once again, at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Then, I believe it will be broken two or three more times until it remains at 9.5 for a very, very long time.

With technology, new training methods, possible muscle-enhancing leg surgeries and secretive drugs pumped into your legs, is it possible that a human will ever run a 100-meter dash under nine seconds? Hey, while we're at it, how about eight seconds?

"No way," you say.

Well, that's the same thing they said about running a mile under four minutes in the 1950's and look what happened with that. In 1954, Roger Bannister silenced the naysayers and ran the first officially-recorded sub-four-minute mile at 3 minutes 59.4 seconds in Oxford, England. In 53 years, an impressive 16 seconds has been cut from that time with the current record of 3:43.13 set by Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999.

"But what about the 100 meters?" you ask.

According to Wikipedia (take it with a grain of salt), at the inaugural Olympics in Athens, Greece in 1896, Tom Burke ran a 100 meters in 12 seconds (just like me!) - it was the earliest 'record' known to man. However, this was before the 1912 recognition of records. That's when Don Lippincott recorded an 'official' world-record time of 10.2 seconds.

Since then, the record has been broken or tied 65 times in 95 years.

But, sooner or later, don't you think there has to be a moment when the 100-meter dash record can never be broken? Forever?

What will that official unbreakable time be? And when and where will it happen?

Who knows, but I'm sure we'll get there a lot faster when all of our athletes are allowed to use performance-enhancing steroids at the All-World Steroid Olympics.

Friday, October 5, 2007

For This Sports Fan, It's Rocktoberfest.

Here are some miscellaneous thoughts concerning all the miscellaneous sports debris swirling around in my head. In copywriter bullet points, of course:

EIMER NOTE: I've included Monday updates in RED.
  • Cleveland Indians vs. New York Yankees
    Now I'm not a real major league baseball fan, but I do tend to perk up when the postseason rolls around. In case you missed the Indians 12-3 win over the Yankees last night, you'll have a chance to catch them again on TBS tonight (5 p.m), Sunday, Monday and - probably - Wednesday. I think it's great to see the underdog Indians in the AL playoffs against the three biggest salary teams in baseball (Red Sox, Yankees and Angels). In a sense, this year's team reminds me of that 2001-2002 New England Patriots squad that came out of nowhere to win the SuperBowl. Can't wait to see how the Yankees fans treat Cleveland on Sunday especially if the Tribe is up 2-0. EIMER NOTE: Well, I didn't think the Indians would go 3-0. I knew the Yankees had to win at least one to keep Torre on the staff. Although, if the Yanks don't make it to the World Series this year, I would bet on Steinbrenner showing Torre the door. How about that Game 2! Awesome.
  • Ohio State at Purdue. (8 p.m., Saturday)
    Last year at this time, my girlfriend and I had these great plans to hop aboard one of those charter buses, drink some beer and head out to the Ohio State/Purdue game that's taking place at 8 p.m. in West Lafayette on Saturday. She graduated from Purdue (with a master's at Ohio State). I'm an Ohio State alum. Suffice to say, she was excited to hook up with old friends and I was excited for a little Buckeyes football on the road. As they say, if you want to make God laugh, chart out a plan. By December of last year, she was knocked up, again. Now, ten months later, we'll be watching the game at home with our 2-week old son and 16-month old daughter, while her two siblings (with spouses in tow) will be traveling out to Indiana to visit little sister (a Purdue freshman) and going to the soldout game compliments of dad. I'm not going to dwell on this, because I've got a great son who's healthy,wealthy and wise not to mention...Eh, fuck it. Yeah, I'm a little bummed, but I'll get over it. That said, I'm really looking forward to this game between two undefeated Big Ten teams. In short, Purdue (5-0) is a bit cocky, but has not been proven. Ohio State (5-0), on the other, hand beat Washington and, well, um that's but. But, 23-year-old junior Boeckman is becoming a great leader and quarterback so I'm picking them to win a loud stadium. And it's a night game to boot, which is a little scary for OSU fans. Remember what happened at Penn State a couple years back? Let's hope there's not a Gold Out. Or even better, a Black Out. Did I ever mention that Tracy and I should be at that fucking game? EIMER NOTE: To be honest, I was hoping for a little bit of a closer game. But, hey with Stanford knocking off USC, the Bucks moved up to No. 3 in the polls. In all honesty, I can see Ohio State playing California in a BCS bowl at the end of the year, which could end up being the championship game. Once again, Michigan stands in the way.
  • Florida vs. LSU (8 p.m. Saturday)
    If you have that little utility button on your remote control that can put a small screen up on your television, I suggest you put this game up the same time you're watching the Buckeyes/Purdue game. After Florida's stinging loss last week to Auburn on a last-second field goal, I'm pretty sure the Gators are a little pissed and want a little payback. On the other hand, LSU is coming off a modest win against a creampuff Tulane team last week. Don't know about you, but I see an upset special chugging down the track. EIMER NOTE: Hey, it was a great game to watch. I honestly thought Tebow and the Gators had the momentum to knock these guys off. Turns out I was wrong. Oh well. Bye, Bye Gators.
  • Michigan Wolverines
    Remember that Wolverines post I had a couple weeks ago? You don't? Well here it is. I just knew Mike Hart, Chad Henne, Lloyd Carr and Mario Manningham wouldn't sit idly by and watch their season get flushed down the toilet. The ship has been righted and Hart looks unstoppable. But, after they roll over Eastern Michigan this week, they've got some strong Big Ten matchups waiting in the wings against Purdue, Wisconsin and the Buckeyes. Keep your eye on the Wolverines/Badgers game on November 11. Mark my words, that game will tell the tale of the whole Big Ten championship. EIMER NOTE: With the Wisconsin loss scratch the last remark. Instead, I'll be keeping track on how Illinois is doing from now on. I thought the Illini's Penn State win was a fluke. Looks like Ron Zook has the underdog Illini believing they can do anything. Michigan's schedule just got a bit more interesting with Purdue next week followed by a road trip to Illinois on Oct. 20.
  • Cleveland Browns
    I'll admit I'm privy to the Steelers. But living in Northeast Ohio, you can't help but get excited that this team is finally winning some games. Even some big games. Okay they got blown out by the Steelers in game one, which was inevitable. But to have some strong wins against division rivals the Ravens and the Bengals not to mention an almost-win on the road against Oakland. Well, it's just nice to see that this team is starting to get their shit together. What did it take? 8 years. Concerning this week's game at New England: The Patriots don't care about the Browns. They're looking to next week's matchup against the Cowboys. I honestly think this game will be close and I look for Anderson to chalk up some big passing numbers and, of course, a couple of picks. EIMER NOTE: Well I was wrong here as well. New England is just making the NFL look too easy. If there was an interstellar football game against aliens from different galaxies , I would pick these guys to represent our planet. That's how good I think the Patriots are. Like I said, next week's game against the Cowboys will tell the tale.
  • Lebron James
    He's wearing the Yankees hat. He's performing on Saturday Night Live. He's best buds with Jay-Z, who happens to be part owner of the New Jersey Nets. It's also stipulated in his Nike contract that he'll make even more money if he plays for a West or East coast team. That said, be on the lookout for this guy in a Knicks or Nets jersey by the time he's 30. What? You really thought he was going to stay in Cleveland forever? Pffffft. EIMER NOTE: Nothing new on this one. He's leaving Cleveland in seven years if not sooner.
  • All-Steroid Olympics
    If the regular Olympics and an all-steroid Olympics were broadcasting the same exact event at the same exact time on different channels, which one would you watch? I would have to go with the steroid Olympics. Just imagine all the anger. I betcha it would make one helluva highlight reel as well. Plus, Bob Costas could do those intimate athlete spotlights on how the profiled track star got into steroids, what types of steroids they use, and lets not forget before and after pictures and family soundbytes.
  • Bend It Over Like Beckham
    Okay. Okay. After thinking about it for a couple months, I'm pretty sure I would bang Posh Spice Beckham for one night. And only one night. Then the next morning, around 6 a.m., I would kick her to the curb. But not until after we ate a Grand Slam Breakfast at Denny's. Then she'd be history.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Pumpkin Festival - a short story

My husband. What a joker he was.

We were headed down Route 23 on our way to the Circleville pumpkin festival. It's the largest pumpkin festival in Ohio. Or so I’m told.

That's when my husband told me the funniest story I've ever heard.

He told me about this pumpkin. But it's not a normal pumpkin. It's a magical pumpkin. A great pumpkin that rises up from pumpkin patches around the world and blesses children with gifts and candy on Halloween.

Well what if they don't believe in him?

Then he kills you! He screamed as he reached out and grabbed my breast.

I laughed. We laughed. Both of us giggled all the way to the festival.

Just imagine a story like that? A giant pumpkin creature that rises from pumpkin patches. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a Halloween Santa Claus to me.

I'm almost certain that our church group wouldn't approve of the great pumpkin. I wonder if they've ever heard of it? I wonder if I should tell them about it?

My husband and I travel to the Pumpkin Festival every year. It's held a very special place in our hearts for decades. It was here, on the Ferris Wheel, where my husband proposed to me many years ago in October of 1958.

It's also where we took our kids every single year. They're now on their own. Living thousands of miles away from Ohio. In fact, we haven't seen them in quite some time.

Anyway, the whole family would all don orange sweatshirts, hop in our old yellow station wagon and head down Route 23. Just like we're doing today.

Although a lot has changed, my husband and I still wear our orange sweatshirts to the festival every single year. And every single year, my husband always grumps and groans about wearing it. He even makes a joke that he looks like a giant Sunkist orange. Ha. Imagine that. A giant Sunkist orange walking around the Pumpkin Festival.

He's so funny.

You know, I've always savored the small-town atmosphere of festivals. When I was growing up, I remember visiting the Corn Festival, the Betty Zane Days Festival and even the Apple Festival. And let's not forget about all the county fairs in Ohio.

The great thing about all of these trips was the fact that you could always count on a few good crackers from my husband.

What a jokester he was.

But our devotion was always to the Circleville Pumpkin Festival. We haven't missed a year since I can remember. Even when our youngest son died a few years back. We still went.

My husband just loved all the pumpkin-related food. From pumpkin fries to pumpkin shakes, even pumpkin cake. He loved to eat it all up.

I won't lie. I enjoyed it too.

He also liked the Pumpkin beer. Suffice to say, I had a feeling that I was going to be driving home that night. Not that my husband was a heavy drinker or anything like that. But, in my book it was always better to be safe than sorry. You know, with the police and all.

We had the windows down in the car. The fresh, cool air was blowing in our faces. I closed my eyes and imagined that I was a dog lapping up the air with my tongue.

Sometimes I wished that I was a dog. To not have a care in the world.

Then I felt a chill. I knew it was going to be a cold night. I looked in the backseat and grabbed my jacket. I'm told my husband how happy I was that I brought it. Especially if we were going to go on the rides that he always dragged me on. That little adventurous jokester.

We arrived at the festival around dusk and found a particular parking place that was very close to our Ferris wheel.

Before we exited the truck, I grabbed my husband's hand and smiled. Lately, the wrinkles on his face were a lot more noticeable. What with his work and the layoffs at the factory. I was positive that tonight was going to be a nice relaxing break for the both of us.

He smiled back. It was a nice smile. A trusting smile. The same honest smile I've looked at for the past forty-plus years we've been together. It was a smile that told me everything was going to be all right.

If I only knew then what I know now.

The town of Circleville was alive with the colors and sounds of Autumn. Orange lights were strung across the street. A polka band was playing Octoberish music in a tent up ahead. And the crowd was jolly and cheerful. People in pumpkin outfits held hands, celebrated and cheered for the upcoming harvest.

Or did the harvest already happen? I get so confused about that stuff.

My husband grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the concession booth. We purchased some pumpkin cotton candy and a cup of pumpkin beer. I'm not what you call a strong drinker. I let my husband by the beer and prefer to take some small sips from his beers. It makes me feel like we're 20 years old again.

And that suits me just fine.

On our way to the Ferris wheel, we passed a gaming booth filled with orange balloons painted like pumpkins.

Wanna win your lady a little prize, sir?

My husband pulled out a five-dollar bill. I blushed.

Now you would think that my husband would just stand straight forward while aiming at the pumpkin balloons. Oh mercy no. Then you really don't know my unconventional husband.

Watch this!

He turned around with his back toward the balloons and slowly took aim with the arrow while looking over his shoulder.

A young couple chuckled at my husband's goofiness. They soon applauded when he hit the mark and the balloon popped.

That's when I became the proud owner of a fluffy, pumply pumpkin with a sad, sad face. It almost looked like a Ringling Brothers clown, but orange.

I laughed out loud with excitement.

That's my husband. He's always thinking of something creative to do to spice up our life.

We then made a beeline to the Ferris wheel. It was our tradition to ride it every year. He proposed to me on a Ferris wheel just like this many, many years ago.

The operator took our tickets and we boarded compartment No. 13.

Looks like our lucky day.

I laughed again at my husband. What a goof.

The ride operator, or carny as my husband used to call them, tipped his hat like we were in some old movie starring Audrey Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart.

Enjoy the ride you two love birds.

I blushed again. Then I laughed at the thought of two orange birds flying in the sky with hearts popping around them. Love birds. Ha.

I glanced over to my husband. He was quiet.

And then we were off. The ferris wheel jolted us high up into the sky. We could see the full moon. Or is it a harvest moon? We could see all of Circleville. We saw the Giant Pumpkin that weighed in over 1,000 pounds. We could see the whole majestic pumpkin festival. It's the biggest in all of Ohio. Or so I'm told.

If I only knew then what I know now.

The wind was blowing rather hard that night. The brown and orange leaves jetted and swirled around the dark October sky. They reminded me of first grade when we made little paper airplanes during art class. When I got home and everyone was asleep I would grab my father's matches, light the paper airplanes on fire, then throw them out my bedroom window.

How I loved being a child. The serenity. The honesty. The way we could make something fun out of anything. Sort of like my wonderful husband. The little jokester. I loved him so much.

This was a great time, a wonderful time for us to be together. To forget about the layoff. To forget about our family. To forget about the lawsuit. I gave him a kiss on the cheek.

I told him I loved him. He didn't respond.

We went around and around on the Ferris wheel for what seeemed to be forever. I felt like a happy hamster on a wheel in a cage.

Suddenly, the big orange wheel came to an abrupt halt. I thought of us very fortunate to be stopped at the very top.

The beautiful orange glow of the festival seemed to warm us from the cold, October sky. For a brief moment, it felt like we were on top of the world.

In fact, I decided to make a little joke myself. I held out my hands and yelled like that actor in the movie about the sunken ship.

I'm the king of the world!

I giggled and glanced over at my husband. He was staring straight ahead and frowning. He seemed a bit morose? Is that the word I'm looking for? Morose?

I squeezed his arm and told him that everything was going to be okay.

He gave me strange look. It was a look that I have never, ever seen before. It was a look that I will always remember forever.

He shook his head and wiped away a solitary tear rolling down his face.

I'm sorry my love. Everything's not going to be all right.

I didn't understand.

I lost everything. The house. The boat. The car. Our retiremement. Everything.

He was speaking gibberish that I honestly didn't understand.

His face went white as he looked into my eyes.

I really, truly, honestly didn't understand. Until he reached into his pocket.

My eyes focused. I couldn't move. I couldn't speak.

I will always love you.

Before I could say anything. He pulled the trigger.

Then I started to laugh.

I laughed while others around me screamed. I laughed when the ride operator dragged me from the ride. I laughed as the paramedics wiped the blood from my face and clothes. I laughed until I was given a sedative. I even laughed after that.

In fact, I haven't stopped laughing.

My husband was always pulling pranks. But this one took the cake.

My husband. What a joker he was.


Help. I'm Surrounded By Turds!

On September 22, 2007, I become the proud owner of a baby boy.

I signed up for the lifelong lease with the option to renew in 18 years.

Add to that a beautiful wifetobe and our 15-month old daughter and - VOILA! - you've got yourself a bonafide family in under two years time.

You know, I read somewhere that after the birth of a child, the mother releases this secret formula (estrogen? vicodin?) through her system that makes her forget the whole painful birthing process.

Fathers also have some sort of liquid that they shoot through their body to make them forget the birthing process as well - it's called alcohol.

All jokes aside, I can honestly say, if it weren't for the pictures and videos we took last year, I would hardly remember dates, times and significant events in my daughter's life last year.

I'm not sure if it's lack of sleep, lack of focus, too much focus, not paying attention to details, paying too much attention to details or just plain exhaustion, it's simply amazing how much your mind edits out the first-year of the child-rearing process.

Speaking of rearing, I totally forgot how much these little babies poop.

Just last night, in a two-hour time span, I changed my son's dirty diapers seven times - four, of which, could easily be classified as poopy.

Don't get me wrong, the poop is very miniscule compared to regular human and dog craps you see on the side of the road. From my personal perspective, the most troublesome part is the whole dance involved in the poopy-diaper changing process.

While your little one is kicking and crying (and sometimes screaming), you've got to quickly wipe ass with a wet cloth, then grab the baby wipes for further butt cleaning. Then you've got grab a towel to dry off the wetness so the baby's butt won't chaff.

In addition to that. you've got to finish all of this before he/she goes again. It's like you're in Jeff Gordon's pit crew during the final laps of an important NASCAR race. But, in this case, the ultimate prize isn't cash money - it's a mental blue ribbon for NOT GETTING PISSED ON.

It's a very stressful process. Last night, however, I finished in first place. But, who knows what's in store for my t-shirt tonight when I gear up again for my own version of Night of The Living Dead - but with diapers replacing the zombies.

On another note, as I was tossing my newborn son's dirty diapers into the Diaper Decor last night, I really got to thinking that...I'm surrounded by turds.

I wake up in the morning and, immediately, change my daughter's poopy diaper. Then I change my son's poopy diaper. Then I proceed to take a dump and wipe my bum. Finally, I take my dog on a walk to take a crap and pick up his shit with a dirty poop bag.

In case you're not keeping track, that's four different types of poop that I have to deal with on a daily basis - even before I have my cup of coffee.

Multiply that number by 100,000 when you consider my daily commute past the Cleveland sewer system.

NOTE: Technically, I don't drive past the Cleveland sewer system. But it does makes a rather nice ending to this entry doesn't it?