jesse leo dot com - 2016 edition
Old junk:


E-moi: jesse at (duh)
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Spaz Cat
5/27/16: -- Dexter (pictured above), the beloved Christmas gift from Santa and Heaven above, is now basically a feral cat that we feed. And if we catch him in the right mood he sometimes allows us to pet him. So, there's that.
5/25/16: -- Sad that the GOT Stark family dire wolves are dropping like flies. And I think we can all agree that the events of last Sunday's episode (spoilers, obvi) were the most heart-wrenching in TV history. No, really.

-- Calvin & Hobbes: Art Before Commerce is a beautiful piece. How many tens of millions of dollars has Watterson left on the table by never selling out? And the strip is all the more wonderful for it. When I actually AM able to con Jakey into reading something, it's usually Something Under the Bed is Drooling or one of the other terrific C&H compilations we have lying around. See? I'm not a complete failure at parenting.

-- Radiohead doesn't play 'Creep' live anymore. Or maybe they do.
5/23/16: -- Were you tricked into upgrading to Windows 10? Don't feel bad, you're not the only one.

-- Giant dogs? Or perfectly timed photographs?
5/20/16: -- Was going through old text message exchanges between myself and the missus, check out this glorious May 5th punversation:

The general plan was for me to stop and pickup Mexican food from Moe's on my way home, but then I remembered how packed Mexican restaurants are on Cinco de Mayo, so:

Me: Cancel that. On Moe's FB page it says "Come early! First 200 in line get a free t-shirt!"

Wife: But I can order through the App so it's ready.

Me: Babe

Wife: Let's TACO about it (sent via some dorky emoji)

Me: There's nothing to GUAC about

Wife: (Sends angry face emoji) Going home then.

Me: I can still bring chips and salsa, just maybe NACHO first choice.

Wife: Nah don't worry

Me: Ok then. If not today then maybe TAMALE

Me: TIJUANA keep punning?

Me: Not even JUAN more?

By that point the winner was clear...

-- Another thumbs up review for cousin Michael Sears' fine novel...

-- A collection of spectacular portable potty company names to properly kick off your Friday.

-- Merry birthday wishes to my sis!
5/19/16: -- That buff, beautiful boy you see at the gym doing set after set of bicep curls and bench presses... Sure, he might appear to be carved out of granite like a statue of Hermes. And yes, he gets the girls. But that's about it. All show and no go.

-- Big hullabaloo about the Angry Birds movie coming out. Feels like this is about four years too late. Does anyone actually play the game anymore? I deleted it from my phone ages ago. That bird has flown, as they say.
5/17/16: -- Update on 'Mary Lee', her movements can be tracked here. Fortunately she hasn't wandered too close to Block Island. Yet.

-- 'Mary Lee' is a Great White shark weighing 3400 pounds, and as of late last week she was lurking off the coast of East Hampton, LI. No doubt working up an appetite for our brief Block Island jaunt in a few months.

-- A friend's computer starting randomly throwing the infamous The display adapter has stopped responding and has recovered error, which, if you google around you'll see that hundreds of thousands of folks have encountered this and no one seems to have any definitive fix. I know this because I've tried them all, then finally gave up and replaced the display adapter. No dice. Replaced the RAM, no dice. Reinstalled Windows, no dice. Upgraded to Windows 10, no dice. Replaced the hard drive, reinstalled Windows. No dice. And now on top of that, I'm seeing the dreaded Windows 7 checking for updates forever issue. Again, google around and you'll see hundreds of thousands of people whining about this problem and no definitive fix. I know this because I've tried them all.

And this, folks, is why I use OS X.

-- Be forewarned about any pooches perishing! If on-screen doggy deaths are too upsetting for you, visit before seeing the movie!
5/13/16: -- Last night, errrr technically this morning, the local GameStop was hosting a midnight launch party for the new Doom game. Costumes, geekery, and prizes awarded to those who could survive an entire level on the Nightmare difficulty setting. And of course the game officially distributed as the clock struck 12. In the old days you bet your butt I would've lined up at 11:30PM alongside all the other nerds. But last night by 9:45 I was a goner. **SIGH**, sucks getting old.

-- Ranked: Pixar's saddest moments. I'd probably move UP's opening sequence to #1, to this day I have a hard time getting through it without blubbering uncontrollably.
5/11/16: -- I'd say it's too early to panic. Or is it?

-- True Calvin and Hobbes obsessives - and there's no shame in that - will appreciate this new release. To be clear: this isn't just another compilation. This is more about the strip's history, evolution, and the inner workings of Bill Watterson's brain.

-- No, writer of this fantastic piece about 'The Goonies' and how parents everywhere have ruined their kids' childhoods. This isn't only happening in your neighborhood. It's happened in this one, and that one, and a million others. In fact it's probably going on in every single neighborhood from here to Kalamazoo. I don't know how we got here, and I sure don't know how to reverse it. I try to envision handing Jake his bike (put aside the fact that we live on a steep hill near bustling route 202, and that there aren't any kids living nearby) and saying to him "Have fun. Be back in time for supper." (basically that was me, every day of my life at his age). But nowadays that very notion seems insane. Unthinkable. And if Jake did somehow muster up the courage to pedal away unsupervised, I would likely find myself answering to the Department of Children and Families.

**SIGH**... Breaks my heart that One-Eyed Willy's treasure horde will remain forever undiscovered.

5/10/16: -- Believe it or not I'd never read any of the classic Ian Fleming Bond novels 'til recently, when I randomly picked up Thunderball. Well maybe it wasn't random - I love all of the diving footage in the film, so that story stands out for me. In recent years I've dabbled with a couple of the continuation Bond books, Solo and Devil May Care come to mind. Those are solid reads, but they felt a bit generic. In those stories you could swap out Bond for pretty much any other spy character and produce the same result. In 'Thunderball' there's no mistaking Bond for Bond. Ever drinking, ever smoking, and maybe a bit more vulnerable and everyman than the Daniel Craigs and Sean Connerys we've all grown used to from the films. I have so many books on deck right now, but maybe a few more of the Fleming Bond novels will find their way to the top of the summer 2016 reading queue.

-- Let's see. Buy a Mercedes Benz, or send Jakey to summer camp for two weeks... Both are tempting, and they cost about the same.

-- Maybe there's hope for the Great Barrier Reef after all.
5/9/16: -- No, this Mom's Day pic wasn't taken yesterday, but it's one of my favs so why not? Maria took her mom out to lunch and a flick, I dragged the boys to Grandma Nanclyn's for bacon sandwiches and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Sinful! Anyway, happy belated Mother's Day to moms everywhere. I hope you were pampered properly.
5/6/16: -- Oh dear. Oh... dear. I just discovered that you can watch endless compilations of chiropractic adjustments on Youtube. Montage after montage of joyous spine cracking, neck popping, vertebrae snapping goodness. There goes my productivity for the rest of today...

I SO need this. God knows if these sorts of adjustments are actually good for you. Sometimes I think chiropractors are nothing more than ordinary folks who have discovered how to twist and yank our bones for noisy, dramatic effect. Pay the receptionist on your way out. Some people swear by them. Some people think they're dangerous quacks. All I know is that I feel about 600% better after Maria walks on my back. If I can no longer walk in ten years, please don't rub it in my face.

5/5/16: -- Next time I get married I'm totally doing a Harry Potter themed wedding as awesome as this one.

-- I'd completely forgotten that yesterday was Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you... Get it?). I'm so ashamed. And yet I had inexplicably dressed that morning in a tee shirt with Stormtroopers on it. Clearly The Force flows within me.

-- Check out my famous author (and new grandfather!) cousin Michael Sears on writing an autistic character. Thrillers are released every 5 minutes, it seems. But "The Kid" - along with Sears' sparkling, very human writing - are what set his terrific Jason Stafford novels apart from the rest.
5/4/16: -- There is data to suggest that you can get away with just 1 minute of super intense exercise and reap the same rewards as someone who exercises moderately for much longer. This seems valid, though I don't think it's healthy to throw all of your eggs in one basket exercise-wise. But first let's make one thing clear: some exercise is better than no exercise, even if it's just a matter of taking the stairs instead of the elevator at the office. And if you're on a regular program of 3-4 workouts per week, all the better. Definitely consider adding a brief but "all out" component to at least one of these workouts, as the article suggests. And I can't think of a better way to do it than sprinting. Folks, it is so good for you, even if you're moving at a snail's pace. Even if you look ridiculous (as I do) doing it. When was the last time you genuinely ran as fast as your legs could carry you? For many of us, maybe not since childhood! Go someplace once per week - a local track, a long driveway, the parking lot at work - and mark off a comfortable distance. Warm up thoroughly, take a deep breath, and then run, goddamnit RUN. Run like there's a T-Rex chasing you. Cover the distance as quickly as you can. Then catch your breath and run back. Over time, increase the distance of your sprints and add a few more reps. It's the workout we were designed to do since the caveman days, now get to it!
5/3/16: -- Climate scientists: "We're not $*#@ing with you."

-- Heard a timely bit on NPR this morning - the cost of healthcare for people who have decent insurance, i.e. US. I know, I really shouldn't complain - our insurance through my employer is better than what many folks have, and the company pitches in a bit. But it just irks me that my wife recently had to fork over $45 for a copay, and then yesterday I get a fat bill in the mail since the deductible isn't yet met. And yet here they are every pay period sucking a tidy sum out of my check... just bugs me. There's got to be a better way.

I'm guesstimating that since my mid-twenties I've paid out around $100K in health insurance premiums, and to date have used it for myself exactly once (not counting the occasional prescription) - a meniscus operation which cost about $6K. Having dependents changes things, obviously, but still. Grrrrrr.

4/30/16: -- Recently heard two of the simplest but realest nutrition tips ever:

1. If it did not exist 100 years ago, don't eat it.
2. No white at night (but cauliflower is ok).

-- If there's anything positive coming out of Prince's untimely demise, it's that Youtube apparently isn't being policed as tightly as it was while he was alive. As such, Slate has compiled a trove of never before seen goodies. Enjoy them while they last, they may be removed at any moment. That last one where he's just toolin' around, tickling the ivories...
4/29/16: -- Aaaaaaand just like that, the Lara Croft franchise is interesting again. Don't look at me like that... my wife has her Alexander Skarsgard, I can have my Alicia Vikander.
4/28/16: -- So having wrapped up the final Season 1 episode of The Man in the High Castle (which HOLY CRAP you really should watch), I will be terminating my Amazon Prime trial before the meter starts runnin'. Season 2 is quite a ways off, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

-- The boys go through a ton of lunchbox snacks each week, so as an experiment we recently bought in bulk via the online grocer Boxed. We spent a cajillion dollars up front on nuts, chips, granola bars, crackers, and the like. But long term it should work out to be cheaper (?) than the traditional grocery store route... at least that's the idea. I'm thinking we should also invest in a padlock for the pantry.

-- More Prince gushing from fellow musicians, only this time it's more guitar-specific: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons (remember that kick-ass beard before kick-ass beards were a thing?) - himself no slouch on a six string - was in awe of The Purple One's prowess. Which is nice to hear, because I think that in all of the showmanship it's easy to overlook the countless hours upon hours of practice, experimentation, and development Prince dedicated to the craft. And wow, that cover of Honky Tonk Woman...
4/26/16: -- Yes we do own an Xbox One, at heart I will always be a PC gamer. But I'll be damned if I ever spend $1500 on a video card...

-- In a span of 12 hours, Prince's albums steamrolled over the Billboard charts. He currently holds the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 6 spots, and overall there are eight Prince albums right now in the Top 200.

Since he died, celebrities & musicians have been gushing on social media and in interviews, perhaps none sweeter than what Paul Westerberg told RS.

4/25/16: -- All this fuss about Beyonce's Lemonade project... Bah! Give me G Love's Lemonade any day - one of my favorite albums.

-- A solid, uncomplicated GoT Season 6 premiere last night. I like what I'm seeing so far. DAMN it's nice to have it back.
4/23/16: -- Prince tributes are all over the interwebs, as expected. Personally I'm finding the shorter, subtler ones to be far more emotionally impactful. Take this one from the Avett Brothers (around 4:13). Just one quiet When Doves Cry verse did the trick. And here's Pearl Jam closing out Yellow Ledbetter with those lovely familiar notes, then shifting briefly to the heartbreaking opening chords of Purple Rain. Beautifully done.

Adam Levine gets an A for effort here (who knew he could shred like that?), but it's overkill. More about Adam than Prince. Less is more.

4/22/16: -- RIP Prince... You know the hits. The fashion androgyny. The dancing. The great albums. The not so great albums. The movies. The heated battles with record execs. The clamp your hand over your eyes but peek between your fingers naughty videos... but in recent memory, at least for me, it became all about the live performances. Prince hadn't officially toured in a while, to my knowledge, but he'd pop up here and there at festivals, tribute shows, and the like. There was the rippin' solo at the 2004 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. He did that thing with Beyonce. Here he is with Cee lo. And with Lenny Kravitz. And here rocking SNL. He dared to cover Creep. He cuddled up with Sheryl Crow. And as you know he delivered the best darn Super Bowl halftime show you'll ever see. He appeared on Fallon, Arsenio Hall (he's still around??), and was rumored to show up at small night clubs for the occasional surprise gig. It would've been nearly impossible to score a ticket, but seeing Prince perform in person was quickly moving up high on my bucket list. I found this lovely bit on The Verge yesterday and it made me all the sadder for having missed something truly special.
4/21/16: -- Prince has died. I'm going back to bed.

-- Said it before and I'll say it again - school starts too early. I didn't learn a damn thing in high school, I was nodding off about 80% of the time.

-- I dug The Girl on the Train the novel, here was finally have a trailer for the upcoming film adaptation. Looks predictably thrilling in a trailerly sort of way, I just wonder if Emily Blunt is too damn attractive for that role.

-- Sometimes when I'm having a rough morning I'll fire up some old-school Larry Bird highlights. Then I know that things will be ok.
4/20/16: -- Man it is freaking glorious out there today, oh how I've missed this. Wife and boys are in the city visiting the Central Park Zoo, I am so jealous.

-- CrossFit update: I've attended five sessions so far into my one month trial (scroll down to 4/7 post). Yeah, I'm hooked. In a very short time I've learned so much about proper lifting technique, and so much more about the limits of my own endurance... This is good stuff.

-- Was wondering why EHM is playing a long set of pot-inspired songs, then I remembered that it's April 20th... get it? 4/20?

-- The 1967 Jungle Book isn't just one of my favorite Disney films, it's one of my all-time favorite films - period. So I initially rolled my eyes at the trailer for this modernized rendition, at a glance it looks like yet another overly CGI'ed, overly celebrity-voiced money grab by Disney. But it's cleaning house on Rotten Tomatoes, and every review I've read is a veritable love letter. So I'm left with no choice but to drag the boys kicking and screaming to the theater at some point this weekend. Anyone seen it yet?
4/19/16: -- Nice little write-up about a local farm up near us that we like very much.

-- Watch the Titanic sink in real time in this eerie computer simulation (thanks Uncle Stephen).
4/18/16: -- Ok what the hell is up with the mice? The warm weather has them running amok in our house. I basically spent all of last night chasing the damn cats around the house, shuffling them outdoors and coaxing them to cough up the wriggling rodent clutched in their jaws. With two excellent mousers on premise you'd think the little varmints would get the picture and move on.
4/15/16: -- This piece here beautifully sums up what I find frustrating about Kobe's 60-point effort in his final NBA game, and indeed his entire career for that matter.

-- Correction: On 4/11 I had incorrectly stated that this was to be the final season for HBO's Girls, apparently there will be another.
4/14/16: -- A lengthy NYT bit about Minecraft, which makes me feel a tiny bit better about the amount of time Jakey spends playing it. Should I stop scowling and embrace this game as the next generation of Legos/Lincoln Logs? I'll say this - if nothing else, Jake has become an excellent typist and can fire off Minecraft console commands with blinding speed. And he is showing an interest in learning to code... so maybe this is a good thing after all?

-- Kobe Bryant racked up 60 points in his last ever NBA game! What's spoiling it for me, however, is that it took him 50 shot attempts to do so... He'll be icing that elbow for weeks. But still, props to him for an unbelievable career.

In other NBA news, the Golden State Warriors finished up the regular season last night with their 73rd win, toppling the 20-year old regular season record set by the mighty 1995-1996 Bulls. As a die-hard Jordan-era Chicago fan, I'm pissed that the record has fallen. But it was inevitable - GS is legit. Now bring on the playoffs!

4/13/16: -- She is the embodiment of grandmotherly awesomeness, she is a model human being and a sparkling example of life done properly. And as of today she's graced this planet with her presence for a century! Happy B-day to my grandmother Anne Morris, aka Grandma Nanclyn. Love you tons.

-- TRG (The Rotten Grandson)

4/11/16: -- Apparently there's an event called Siblings Day, which took place yesterday and is now a thing. So we celebrated by forcing my dear sis to give us all haircuts on her day off. I was guilted into posing for a selfie, which is something I generally don't do. But anything for my beloved sibling on this new holiday.
4/8/16: -- Let's check in on the current state of TV, shall we?

HBO's Girls is killing it in its final season. Glad to see it going out on a high note - even for a show as quirky and random as this one, it seemed to have lost its way in recent years.

Idol aired its final episode last night. I'd completely lost interest after Season 3, to be honest, but I'll reluctantly give the show props for what it has accomplished - in an ocean of crap-tastic reality TV, here we've had 15 years of every day young pups singing their hearts out for a shot at the big time.

Black Sails on Starz: I'll briefly break down each season so far:

Season 1: Oooh what's this? A gritty show about pirates? Sign me up! Not always compelling, but watchable.
Season 2: Ok, you've got my attention. Now impress me.
Season 3: Mind blown. A finale that propelled the show into the ranks of genuinely solid premium cable TV.

Outlander: Season 2 just underway and I'm waaaaay behind. Yes, Kate, I will get caught up. Anything by Ronald D. Moore gets the nod from me. Plus, butts. Plenty of naked butts.

Banshee (perhaps my favorite guilty pleasure) just kicked off its final season, and I haven't even seen the damn premiere yet because Frontier sucks.

Thrones! April 24th cannot arrive quickly enough.

The Man in the High Castle: I caved to temptation and ordered the one month free Amazon Prime trial. So of course the first thing I did was fire up episode 1 of this superbly reviewed series. And now, damnit, I have no choice but to binge watch the entire first season before my trial period ends.

So many shows, so little time. What are you watching these days?

-- CrossFit update: went for my first introductory class last night and loved loved loved loved it. Sore from head to toe, of course, but it's the good kind of sore.
4/7/16: -- Found a great Groupon deal - a month of CrossFit at a local place for about 1/3 the usual cost. Might give it a shot just to see what the fuss is about. I've watched enough of this stuff on youtube to kinda sorta know what to expect, the question is how will this creaky ol' bod of mine respond...

-- Rogue One trailer... Rogue One trailer... Rogue One trailer... Rogue One trailer...
4/6/16: -- In celebration of The Legend of Zelda turning 30 (man... 30!), a browser-based version of the full game is online for your old-school geeky pleasure.

I remember grabbing my copy the day it came out, and rushing home from my mall job to fire it up. My life was complete.

4/5/16: -- Been sick since Thursday, so last night I opted to try and get some sleep (unsuccessfully, I might add) over watching the NCAA Championship game. Big mistake. Villanova Wildcat Kris Jenkins hit the shot that every kid shooting around in his driveway dreams about - the buzzer-beating three to win the NCAA Championship. They'll be talking about this one for years to come, absolutely spectacular! Watch it here.
4/4/16: -- We're at that awkward in-between phase where we're pretty much exhausted our supply of wood pellets for the stove, and no one stocks them anymore. Why should they? People should be out prepping their gardens, so store shelves are stocked with fertilizer and watering cans. But looking out the window today, we'll obviously need a few more bags to see us through the next week or so. April really ticks me off sometimes.
4/2/16: -- Australia's Great Barrier reef was beautiful, once, but apparently that's all over now.
4/1/16: -- The Island Bound bookstore will be closing... and just like that my day is ruined.

-- He's 112 years old and he survived Auschwitz. Truly remarkable.

-- That awkward moment when you realize the dumpster you rented is already half full (half empty?) and you haven't even put a dent in the pile of crapola in the basement... Every spring we talk about getting a dumpster to do some purging, but usually find other things to do with that $365 (ouch!). But the basement looks like something straight out of a Hoarders episode, so enough is enough. I want my man cave back!
3/31/16: -- I may have blogged about Acciaroli before, the teeny tiny Italian village where almost everyone lives beyond 100 years. Turns out a long-term study is underway to find out what the heck these folks are doing. They don't hit the gym. Many smoke. Most could stand to lose a few pounds. So what's the deal? The article mentions anchovies and rosemary, and maybe there's something to that. Given that the village is pretty secluded, my guess is that it's a combination of locally grown/caught Mediterranean food, plenty of time spent outdoors, and a low stress overall existence. Over here in this neck of the woods there's no doubt that our jobs, our smartphones, our traffic jams, etc are combining with the chemicals in our food to shave years off our lives.

If one day I'm suddenly MIA, you'll likely find me munching anchovies and working a garden overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

3/30/16: -- Just re-added Skin-e-max to our cable service in anticipation of Banshee's 4th and final season, as ep1 airs this Friday. And get this - free for three months! Woohoo!
3/29/16: -- The Force is strong with Daisy Ridley's The Force Awakens audition. Counting the hours 'til the Blu Ray release.
3/28/16: -- For Jake's 10th b-day we kept it simple: three hoodlum friends, a massive cheese pizza, ice cream cake, and more geeky gaming gadgets than you could shake a stick at. Notice I said simple, not quiet. I got up a 2:30AM to pee and a couple of them were still at it. My headache still hasn't fully subsided. But I think the boys had fun though, and that was the general goal... Still can't believe my Nakey Jakey is in double digits now. Everyone says it goes by too fast, and it truly does.
3/24/16: -- Soooo between the film itself, the upcoming DVD/Blu Ray release, toys, lunch boxes, doo-dads etc, just how much cash is Disney really making off of Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Here's an educated guess. About $30 of that flowed directly out of my own wallet, and yes I will be getting it on blu ray in a few weeks. Just happy to do my part.

-- This barista art is so spectacular that actually drinking the coffee would be like ripping up the Mona Lisa.... Eh, who am I kidding? I'd still drink it.
3/23/16: -- The hip-hop world lost a true artist today, RIP Malik Taylor. That distinctive voice and those witty rhymes will forever transport me back to carefree college days spent playing ball, working out, wooing women, and goofin' off. You might even refer to those days as the Golden Era.

Here's an NPR bit about A Tribe Called Quest from a few years back.

-- Scientists: The climate change sh*t is hitting the fan faster than previously thought. We're talking decades, not centuries.
3/22/16: -- Add my name to the massive pile of would be tourists queuing up to visit Cuba before it's ruined, which won't be long now. I want to cruise the busted up roads in a twice rebuilt '56 Chevy... find some remote sugar sand beach off the beaten path and snorkel the hell out of it... while away the humid evenings people-watching from the balcony of a dingy Old Havana hotel, munching plantains and slurping mojitos 'til dawn. Any clichés I might've missed? I'll do those too.

-- So the two big announcements from Apple yesterday were kinda ho-hum, basically a smaller iPad Pro and a smaller iPhone. But this diminutive new phone (dubbed iPhone SE) comes at a decent price, and Uncle Sam does owe me a (regrettably small) chunk of money. So with my old 5S is starting to flake out on me, maybe it's time to think about an upgrade...

-- I dig this new Avetts jam.
3/18/16: -- Traveling to a world famous city or landmark? Consider the expectations vs reality prior to booking.

-- You really need to browse through this portfolio of The Force Awakens concept art by the geniuses at Industrial Light & Magic.

-- Mercy me, but this woman can sing. Good band behind her, too. Would love to catch a live show some time.

-- Bought Aidan the indoor Gorilla Gym (pictured above) in an effort to provide him with an outlet for his boundless energy. It's basically a pullup bar that mounts on a doorway, and there are various attachments for swinging, hanging, etc. I must say it's well designed and relatively easy to set up, the challenge is finding a doorway with enough space for effective use. And Aidan may just be too damn tall for it. More testing required. We really need spring weather so he can get outdoors on his beloved tree swing - that was easily the best $16.99 we've ever spent.

-- Feeling lame, my celebration of St. Patty's Day yesterday consisted of streaming traditional Irish folk tunes on Pandora for about 20 minutes and watching these epic Irish Spring commercials on Youtube ("aaaaah, the DOUBLE deodorant soap!")... Nary a drop of green beer, no corn beef, no cabbage. SIGH, I guess there's always next year.
3/17/16: -- Family: kinda lame that no one rang me at 5AM trying to get their "Patrick's Pot" on me, whatever the heck that means. So if you're reading this, consider yourself POTTED. And a very happy St Patty's Day to one and all!
3/16/16: -- I don't know if it was the mild winter or some other factor, but the ticks are back with a vengeance right now. So in looking to protect our furry friends, the notion of dropping $70 on a flea/tick collar sounds absurd. But I gotta say - those damn Seresto collars really seem to do the trick. Last week I pulled six plump ticks off of Luna in rapid succession, but since adding the collar there have been none. Zero. And these things supposedly last 8 months under normal conditions. I worry, of course, that whatever chemicals at work are slowly killing her (and maybe us as well). Mama always said if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
3/15/16: -- Another super secretive Apple Event is scheduled for next week, and already the geeky gadget rumors are flying. Here's what to expect. Maybe.

-- 30 shots, 30 epic Spielberg moments. In chronological order, no less.

-- An upcoming van Gogh biopic will be made entirely of animated paintings in his signature swirly style. So freakin' cool.
3/14/16: -- Excessive punning a possible sign of brain damage? It all makes sense now... My default reaction to this was to try and come up with a zinger of a pun. MY GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH MEEEEEEEEEEEE ?!!?
3/11/16: -- NPR recently gave some big time love to composer Bear McCreary, the genius behind the theme music for your favorite TV shows: Battlestar Galactica, Black Sails, Outlander, The Walking Dead, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And now he's apparently breaking into film. I love his work and I want his name.
3/10/16: -- Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams has apologized for **SPOILERS AHEAD** having Leia completely and totally dis Chewbacca after... after... after that terrible thing happened which we will not be discussing. In case you don't know what scene I'm referring to -- Chewie and Rey arrive at the rebel base after having lost Chewie's captain and best pal for life. As they exit the spacecraft, Leia ignores Chewie and instead embraces Rey, whom she has never even met (but is presumably in tune with via The Force). After all Chewie and Leia had been through over the years, this hug snub was inexcusable. I'm not sure I'll be able to forgive you, J.J.

-- Nice lil write-up about the Sycamore, a Bethel staple for as long as anyone can remember. Damn good root beer, delivered in a frosted mug! But seriously, in 2016 a place needs to accept debit cards. Just sayin'.

-- Wish I slept half as well as the damn dog (above). Speaking of dogs, the freakishly warm weather has the ticks waking up from their long slumber, and man are they hungry... Must. Frontline. Today.
3/9/16: -- I've invented Always Some Sh1t (A.S.S.), the catchall phrase for something that should be quite simple but just doesn't work out. That easy to assemble indoor swing? Nope, we don't have the right wrench. Changing that lightbulb from the lamp over the entryway? Nope, it has to be exactly 2mm beyond my reach and therefore a ladder is required. Changing the batteries in that flashlight? Nope, the battery compartment is screwed shut and requires the ONE size screwdriver we don't own...

And so on.

-- The truth about avocados. Oh how I love them.
3/8/16: -- J.K. Rowling is releasing a series of new writing on Pottermore starting today! Between this, the London-based play, and the film version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, these are lovely times indeed for muggles like us.

-- Back in January a veritable treasure trove was recovered from the estate of the late great Gene Roddenberry. How on earth did I miss this story?
3/7/16: -- Well you couldn't have drawn up a more fan-friendly Downton series finale, it was every bit as syrupy and sweet as one of Lord Grantham's after dinner cordials... happy endings just couldn't get any happier. Absurd? Of course it was. And it was exactly what we the fans needed to see. Man I'll miss that show. The new seasons of Thrones and Banshee can't get here soon enough to fill the TV void.
3/6/16: -- I usually look forward to Sunday night TV, but not tonight **sniff**... At 9pm The Downton Abbey finale airs -- not season - series finale. Noooooooooooooooooo !
3/4/16: -- Flicked on last night's GOP debate just long enough to hear The Donald talking about the size of his weiner. And that was enough for me.

Wouldn't our Founding Fathers be so proud?

3/3/16: -- I know it's only early March, but let's face it: with the exception of that one painfully cold weekend in February, this has been a pretty wimpy winter. And I was about to knock on wood right after typing that, but should I? They're calling for temps in the 60's next week, which sounds great! And I've only had to pay the plow guy to do our driveway once - greater still! Right? But I dunno, it just feels wrong... It's not supposed to be this way. And globally last month was the warmest Feb ever. The data don't lie, and the data ain't good.
3/1/16: -- Check out this collage of friends & family who donned their blue best for our Aidan yesterday on Rare Disease Day, so awesome. Props to my talented wife for putting this together, she made that on her phone. Somehow.

There were lots of other folks not pictured here who participated, thank you thank you thank you to all.

-- Had no idea how deeply the movie War Games influenced our nation's security policies back in the 80's. I guess old man Ronnie was pretty freaked out by it.
2/29/16: -- Watched a chunk of the Oscars last night before dozing off, it was wonderful to see Mad Max: Fury Road clean house and get the recognition it deserves... so damn good. It was also worth losing some sleep to be able to gape at the beautiful flower that is Alicia Vikander.

-- Today I'm rockin' blue for dup15q! And we're seeing tons of other folks on FB doing the same, thanks so much!
2/26/16: -- The beautiful story of Iris, her therapy cat, and the magical artwork they create together.

-- It started out as big joke - Ok let's see how far Trump will go THIS time before dropping out of the race... But then he kept winning. And winning. And winning. No one who says the moronic things, the almost comically racist and sexist things he says could possibly have a shot at the highest office in the land, right? RIGHT??? And now all of a sudden it's not so funny any more... Be afraid, people. Be very afraid.
2/23/16: -- Our little Duppy Conqueror turns 12 today! Practically a teenager. Where have the years gone?
2/22/16: -- After a quarrel with the missus I was feeling all smug for having gotten in a doozy: "Well you might've just asked instead of relying on my telepathic abilities!"

But then I reminded myself of that great Jackson Browne line:

And in the hard light of an angry sun
No one remembers what was said or done
Tender are the words they choose
You win, I win, we lose...

-- Come on now... last night's Downton was the cutest the sweetest the most warm and fuzziest episode ever, and it hit you right in the feels. But sad, too. It was the second to last episode ever! Absurd as it has become, this show has long been my Sunday night comfort food and I'll miss the heck out of it.
2/19/16: -- Fool in the Rain drum outtakes. Hypnotic. Flawless. Bonzo's best ever?

-- Left the dogs in the car today while attending a PPT meeting with Jake's teachers. Got back and those bastards had eaten most of my lunch... it was just that kind of day. Week. Month. Life...

-- Soccer, errr football legend Lionel Messi kicks goals. It's what he does. Well how about this one from behind the freaking net ??!? What I would give to be 1/1000000th as good at something, anything - basket weaving... nosepicking... toe stubbing... yodeling... anything.
2/18/16: -- Ouch. A hospital in Hollywood forked over $17K ransom to hackers who took over their computers. Sometimes the bad guys win, I guess.

Here's a quick explainer of how ransomware works. Basically if your computer is infected, all of its contents become encrypted and unreadable. Only the hacker holds the keys, and if you don't pay up (using all but untraceable bitcoins) by a certain deadline, you're locked out forever.

2/17/16: -- Hung out with Grandma Nanclyn at the hosp Tuesday night. I was so relieved to find that she was, for the most part, her usual plucky self. As plucky as one can be eating that horrible hospital food and being poked and prodded at all hours of the night. I know next to nothing about strokes, other than there are many different kinds of them and that they range greatly in severity. Of course one hears all kinds of horror stories... so yeah. There's a lot of rehab and mobility work ahead, but she's already making great strides. She is still her glorious, badass self and that's a beautiful thing.

-- Ranked: All of MJ's jerseys through the years. I dunno, I'd probably move their #3 pick to #1... the pinstripes were kind of gimmicky in my opinion, and to me there's nothing like the classic red or white mid 80's - late 90's era Bulls gear. When I think of $ at his most dominant, that's the look that comes to mind. Your thoughts?
2/16/16: -- Because you asked - how to survive if you fall through the ice. Rule #1: don't thrash!

-- If asked how I liked Lady Gaga's tribute to David Bowie last night at the Grammys, I'll give her an "A" for effort. But overall it didn't have me leaping off the sofa, and I so needed to leap off that sofa... I missed a few performances, but for me the showstopper was the B.B. King tribute by Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr, and Bonnie Raitt. Chills.
2/15/16: -- In case you haven't heard, Grandma Nanclyn had what they're calling a Cerebellar stroke over the weekend. She was admitted to Danbury Hospital and is doing ok. As these things go, it could've been much worse - in fact I'm told she already wants to get the heck otta there. The woman is a marvel. Further updates as I get 'em.
2/14/16: -- Let Love Rule. I think yesterday afternoon/night was the coldest weather we've ever seen... ever? I mean, ever in our lives? Maria and the boys sealed themselves into the master bedroom with the heat cranked up in a mashup of blankets, sheets, sleeping bags and pillows. I was up late watching TV in the living room, basically straddling the pellet stove to extract any semblance of warmth from the damn thing. Won't be much better tonight - best course of action will be to grab two steaming mugs of cocoa and snuggle up with your Valentine for The Walking Dead premiere. Nothing like a horde of snarling zombies to fire up the passion...
2/12/16: -- Record breaking arctic temps predicted for this V-Day weekend. Hey, we can't complain. Up 'til now this winter has been a cakewalk.
2/11/16: -- You can rent this spectacularly Van Gogh-esque room on Airbnb! That is just cool.
2/10/16: -- Ok let's be clear: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will actually be a "Special Rehearsal Edition" of the script book for the stage play opening this summer in the UK. So today's news isn't quite as earth shattering as the announcement of an 8th "traditional" HP novel would be. That said, you betcherass I'll be lining up the day it releases.

-- Suspense novelist (and extended family member!) extraordinaire Michael Sears blogs on the difficulties he faced crafting the latest Jason Stafford book, which I enjoyed immensely.

-- ... and it taketh away. Looks like the boys are no longer eligible for state-assisted medical insurance, which means our monthly nut is about to blast off into the stratosphere. I'd best start practicing how to make a perfect latte on weekends. Wouldn't I look great in a green apron? Or maybe I'll moonlight as a stripper a la Magic Mike (see below).

-- Tatum Channing's charisma and slick dance moves in Magic Mike XXL and the recently released Hail, Caesar! has some folks comparing him to the late great Gene Kelly. Ladies (and gay dudes too... hey, it's 2016) control yourselves.
2/9/16: -- 12 second book review: The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. This was the it novel a year ago, you'd see it peeking out from everyone's bag and you'd wonder what the fuss was about. Well I'm not ashamed to admit that it sucked me in as well. The viewpoint constantly shifts between three narrators (make a note of the dates!), something I'd normally find off putting... but it works here. It's a beautifully written thriller about broken people. Cheating people. Confused people. Potentially violent people. You'll plow through the pages wondering who, if anyone, you should root for. This is one train you won't want to miss (har!).
2/8/16: -- The real Super Bowl winner? Lady Gaga for the most memorable rendition of our National Anthem in recent memory. 2nd place goes to the new Jason Bourne trailer, yowza. Everything else? Meh. Snoozer of a game. Forgettable commercials. Decent but not amazing halftime show (come on now -- for SuperBowl 50 you gotta BRING IT), though I applaud Queen Bey for almost stumbling then recovering like a boss.

Maybe I'm just getting picky in my old age. To me SB50 just wasn't worth skipping Downton Abbey.

2/7/16: -- Don Cheadle as Miles Davis? Well ok then.
2/4/16: -- Doh! The IRS e-file website is offline due to a "hardware failure". I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that they were hacked and are trying to keep it quiet... How about when I file my taxes late and blame it on a "hardware failure" with my PC, would I be forgiven?

-- More email woes for Hillary. Does anyone even care anymore? My God we've got to get Lowell Weicker into the White House... Did I ever tell you about the time I dined with him at his home?

-- Chris Martin (Coldplay) knows absolutely nothing about American football. Seems like a nice enough guy, though.

-- Researchers have discovered the science behind RBF (Resting Bitch Face). This is important.

-- It was a nice few minutes the other night. Aidan was wandering around the house looking bored, so I randomly grabbed a book off the floor of his bedroom and asked if he'd help me find Waldo. And in a rare show of enthusiasm, he plunked down next to me and we plunged in. It helped, I'm sure, that one of the pages depicts a scene where Waldo is hidden amongst an army of goofy Aztec warriors locked in rated G combat - he loves that stuff. So for a full, miraculously distraction-free 15 minutes, he and I went page by page and found freakin' Waldo. It was such a welcome departure from his usual nonsensical scripted conversations and routines. Too rare these days.
2/2/16: -- The top 10 greatest closing movie shots of all time (via Kottke). I have yet to see many of these films. And yes, #1 is exactly the closing shot you're thinking of (and rightfully so).

-- A dazzling collection of HP posters to properly start your Tuesday. This person is quite talented.
2/1/16: -- I'll grudgingly admit that I enjoyed the Grease: Live thing. A little. The bits that I watched, anyway. Some of the numbers fell flat. Some were exceptional. Give credit where it's due - this was live TV. Soooo many things could've gone terribly wrong. But the choreography was damn good (Greased Lightening!), I cannot fathom the countless hours of practice these people put in. And the coordination of the camera work was an absolute marvel, those guys behind the scenes were the true heroes of the night. As was Vanessa Hudgens, who gamely delivered the goods as Rizzo despite losing her father only 24 hours prior to go-live. If you have this thing DVR'ed, yeah, give it a watch. Just fast-forward through the bland dialogue to the good stuff.

-- This is how to properly take your morning coffee...
1/29/16: -- Groggily applying shampoo to my head this morning when I was overcome by a stench the likes of which you cannot believe. I'd forgotten that we recently relocated Dexter's litter box into the bathroom, and he timed his bomb-dropping to perfectly coincide with my morning shower. Seriously - I found myself reading the ingredients of the shampoo bottle in a panic, and was starting to think I had just rubbed fecal matter into my hair. Then I remembered about the litter box, and peeked out through the curtain to find Dexter scratching and digging and burying like a champ. What is it about cat crap? Yeesh.

-- Nice job, Paul Allen. Douche.
1/28/16: -- My wife with her mad iMovie skills created this sweet remembrance video of our girl.

-- Another day, another Apple is Doomed article, this time after the company reported $18.4 billion in profits this past quarter. I guess the thinking is that the predictions for the next quarter's earnings might be lower than they were the previous year. Or something like that. So yes, therefore Apple is indeed doomed.

-- A year ago today our beloved Honey left this world for a much better place. Still think about her every day. Every damn day.
1/26/16: -- A bloodhound running a half marathon (just because the mood struck her) has restored my faith in all things awesome.
1/25/16: -- Man did we dodge the proverbial bullet this time. Towns just south of us are still shoveling and cursing, we on the other hand received less than 1". I will not gloat, however, no doubt our turn will come soon enough.
1/22/16: -- Looks like we're dodging a bullet up in my neck o' the woods, a paltry 6" or so expected. Just enough to be pretty, and just enough to make me wonder if it's worth paying the plow guy to do the driveway...

Friends and fam down in LI, NYC, Wash DC and other points south: buckle up!

1/21/16: -- Ranked: The James Bond films by wardrobe. I think we can all agree that the suits in Skyfall were too damn snug. What was up with that, anyway?
1/20/16: -- I'll be damned - 11/22/63, one of my fav Stephen King novels, has been made into a television series. Guess I'll have to figure out how to use Hulu.

-- Aidan wrote this (with a little help from his teacher) just after the holidays:


The thing is, we never think he's paying attention. But the boy is taking in a lot more than we know.

-- Starting to get excited about Suicide Squad, now that it has a proper trailer (the first one kinda sucked).
1/18/16: -- A story about some extremely determined researchers, a secret South Pacific island, and the ugliest bug you'll ever see. Read on!

-- Well lookie here, Bowie's 'Blackstar' album has topped the charts posthumously. A greatest hits compilation has also seen a massive sales spike, nice.

-- There will in fact be a Season 2 for 'Jessica Jones'... and just like that, all is right with the world.
1/17/16: -- A happiest of birthdays to my mudder!
1/15/16: -- An analysis of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and why it's the best movie of the series. That's always been my fav as well, though I'm far too philistine to have picked up on all of the director's subtle themes, camera tricks, and use of foreshadowing brought to light in this analysis.

-- Snoop Dogg narrating an Otter documentary is probably the best thing you'll see this month.
1/14/16: -- NPR: Charles Dickens most certainly would not have approved of this most recent Powerball jackpot.

-- Money Monster looks intense. So many movies, so little time.

-- Ok you didn't win that big Powerball, I didn't win that big Powerball... let's move on. Eh, it was fun to fantasize for a while though.

-- Cancer has claimed another great one - British actor Alan Rickman had died. What a spectacular talent. He was probably best known for his portrayal of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, and yeah... No one alive could've played it better. And who could forget him as the loveably sinister, Christmas-canceling Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I also loved him alongside Mos Def in Something the Lord Made. Hans Gruber anyone? How fun was he in the original (and only, as far as I'm concerned) Die Hard? How about the gallant (if underappreciated) Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility? This is just the recent stuff, he's also noted for a stellar stage career which included a Tony nomination.... 100 points to Slytherin!
1/13/16: -- $1.5 billion. Billion with a "B". So admit it, you're buying a bunch of Powerball tickets just like everybody else... If by some sequence of miracles (you are more likely to get eaten by a shark while being simultaneously struck by lightening and pegged by a meteorite) you actually do win, be careful. Many winners end up blowing it all and wishing they'd never won at all.

-- Dexter is at the vet this morning to have his little balls cut off. Makes me sad, but I guess it's for the best.
1/12/16: -- From the Twitter explosion yesterday to the impromptu gathering and outpouring of song and love in Brixton (Bowie's home town), to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea getting a Bowie tat, to Conan's sweet remembrance, yesterday's global collective reaction to Bowie's passing was absolutely heartwarming and beautiful.
1/11/16: -- RIP David Bowie. There are a handful of classic Bowie tunes that are life-altering for me, personally, in that they instantly transport me to a carefree place. Think I'll fire up Young Americans and go back to High School for a minutes. Or better yet, Rebel Rebel so I can mentally cruise down Corn Neck Road... I could go on and on.

Looking beyond my own selfish little bubble, is there any way of measuring his influence on modern music? It's incalculable. And as I learned this morning, Bowie was quite the shrewd man of business as well.

Hot tramp, we loved you so...

1/7/16: -- We recently won (sorta) one of those family photo sessions that people get. You know the type - parents and kids dress up in matching jeans with white sweaters and hug, make silly faces, and so on. Fortunately our session was far less dorky, and the photog has made some of the shots available here. Kids look handsome, wife looks gorgeous, I look (and felt at that time) like a dweeb. But overall these are ok. As these things go. Side note: that creepy shot where I've jacked my wife up against the wall to steal her wallet and her virtue - NOT my idea...

-- About a month or two ago, Aidan randomly started going on and on about how he wanted to play basketball. Most likely this was based on a conversation he overheard or something he saw on TV, not an actual desire to lace 'em up and take to the hardwood. But nevertheless, last night we attended a local practice session hosted by the Special Olympics, and yeah... no desire whatsoever to be there or participate. But hey, we'll keep showing up and putting a ball into his hands. You just never know.
1/6/16: -- To properly start your day, here's a compilation of Disney villains laughing. Just because.
1/5/16: -- That Dragon, Cancer, is a video game designed by the father of a young child with terminal brain cancer. Players are immersed into a world playing the role of the father, interacting with people in various situations and settings, facing the same kinds of decisions that the game creator himself faced throughout his child's tragically short life. I don't know how I'd not heard about the game before seeing this Wired piece today. Absolutely fascinating, heartbreaking, and uplifting at the same time.

-- CNET has posted a gallery of valuable collectible Star Wars toys your mom probably threw out. Pretty sure I had three of these as a kid!! Damn damn damn damn damnit! But mine would certainly not be "mint in box" - as a child I tended to remove them from the packaging and, you know, play with them.
1/4/16: -- As I pulled my Rocky Mountains 2015 calendar down off the wall of my office, my finger slid painfully across the wall mount screw and started bleeding profusely. That about sums it up, 2015 giving me one last #!*@ you as a sendoff. It was just that kind of year. There were high points, of course - Block Island... a truly breathtaking fall season around CT... the IDEAS 2015 conference in FL, complete with multiple jaunts to Disney... The Force Awakens... and so on. And with all the unrest around the world and all of the countless folks with actual problems, it feels petty to even think about complaining. But overall I look back at the year that was and am left with a sour taste in my mouth.

Looking ahead, however, I remain optimistic as ever for a bright 2016. I choose happy.

1/1/16: --

Champagne Cocktail:

1 sugar cube
Angostura bitters
Champagne (ideally Veuve Cliquot!)
Orange twist for garnish (optional)

Steps: Soak the sugar cube in the Angostura bitters and drop into a champagne flute. Top with the Veuve Cliquot. Garnish with the orange. Enjoy!

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