jesse leo dot com - 2016 edition
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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:

WEEKEND NEWS
CHRISTMAS WAS THIS TIME OF YEAR. I TOLD MOM THERE WAS SO MUCH LOVE AND SO MUCH PIECE.
THERE WAS MUCH COMFERT AND SO MUCH TIGHTY AND SO MUCH JOY.
SANTA BROUGHT ME A KITTEN. THE CATS NAME IS DEXTER. HE WAS A GRAY KITTEN. HE IS A HANDSOME KITTY. I LOVE HIM SO MUCH. I OPENED MY EYES THERE WAS MY KITTEN UNDER THE TREE. SANTA BROUGHT ME A PRESENT. IT WAS A VIEW MASTER. I SEE PICTURES OF MEXICO. THEN SANTA GAVE ME A ROBOT AND A LEAP PAD.
THE NEXT DAY I WALKED ON THE STREET TO GO TO THE BOOKSTORE. I WENT WITH MOM. WE READ LOTS OF BOOKS.
I WENT TO FUN FACTOR WITH DAD. I WENT IN THE CASTLE GAME. IT WAS FUN.
I WATCHED MOVIES WITH MOM AND DAD. I WATCHED PIXELS AND INSIDE OUT.
I HAD A GREAT CHRISTMAS BREAK. I HAD LOTS OF FUN PARTIES.
LOVE AIDAN


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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