jesse leo dot com - 2013 edition
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E-moi: jesse at jesseleo dot calm
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Cold 'nuf for ya ?
1/7/14: -- Had a thought: is this the coldest weather I've ever experienced?
1/6/14: -- Watch this and get depressed. What have we become? I just threw my iPhone into a river.

-- Downton Abbey resumed last night after what seemed like an eternity. S4 Ep1 was a monstrous two-hour behemoth of an episode, but what diehard Downton fan would dare complain? Personally I'm not finding any of the new story lines terribly interesting, and yet last night was still intensely watchable. Such is Downton Abbey. Vulture's recap is terrific as usual.
1/2/14: -- So here's the thing about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. This is not the children's story you read in 7th grade. To say that Mr. Jackson took a few liberties is a major understatement. There are volumes upon volumes of content not found in the book, and a come hell or highwater attempt to link these movies to the global events that would follow years later in The Fellowship. There's Freckles from ABC's Lost (not in the book). And Legs (also not in the book). And a thrilling if a bit ridiculous barrel ride (weren't the dwarves supposed to be sealed up inside those barrels?). And lots more Radagast. And crooked politicians in Lake-Town...

I could go on and on. But don't worry - it is quite possible to cherish the book, but put it aside for an evening and enjoy the heck out of this movie. I just did.

Noteworthy randomness: the CGI Smaug is dazzling. He looks and moves exactly like every old-school D&D'er imagined a classic red dragon would... We finally meet Beorn, one of my all-time favorite Tolkein characters. But sadly, there just wasn't enough of him or the fun dialogue from the Queer Lodgings chapter.

-- Woman eats/drinks nothing but Starbucks for an entire year. As for me, I feel guilty stopping there once or twice a month...
12/31/13: -- Much ado about a damn bucket.

-- Thinking of trying a variation of this champagne cocktail recipe for New Years Eve tonight, though in all likelihood we'll only get in a few sips before it's 11PM and we're zonked out on the sofa.

-- Not even Daniel Kim's brilliant mashup can salvage a year of laughably bad pop music...

-- Shameless book plug aside, this is a great article. Yes, exercise is the closest thing to a Magic Pill we'll ever see. There are simply too many reasons in the "pros" column to not get on some sort of routine in 2014. It saves my life every day.

-- Cool: a chart of how various emotions play out across different parts of our bodies. Awww, look at love and happiness - warm and fuzzy and looking very much like Iron Man... I wonder if lust would show up as a small pocket of fire under the belt buckle?
12/30/13: -- Confession: I too didn't quite "get" Buhloone Mindstate when it first came out. Time for a re-listen.

-- Actor James Franco defends the selfie. I dunno, maybe if I looked like him I'd be more apt to take/post them.
12/26/13: -- A Merry (belated) Christmas to all, in the madness there hasn't been much time for blogging. The job got done - the boys were all smiles, and the living room is in a complete state of wreckage. What more could we ask for?

And yet, this one felt hollow for me somehow. One minute we were heating up a pre-cooked turkey while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, then all of a sudden it was December 24th. Yes, our tree is beautiful, and every inch of the house is decked out for the holidays. Christmas tunes have been in constant rotation all month. And now here we are back at work... it's over. Shouldn't I be more depressed than this? Has real-life finally robbed me of the childlike wonder that only Christmas time can evoke? I truly hope not. That notion in and of itself is more disheartening than a thousand December 26's.

But all is not lost. On Christmas Eve after a terrific family gathering up in Cornwall, Maria was putting the boys down and I started pulling the Santa prezzies out of the hiding spots. It was snowing lightly, and one of the networks was airing It's a Wonderful Life in its original black and white splendor. Loading up the goodies under the tree while George Bailey sprinted around Bedford Falls in the snow (Merry Christmas, Emporium!) was a beautiful way to close out Christmas Eve.

Maybe that's the way to go about it next December. Slow down and make merry, but don't force it. There are plenty of delightful holiday moments like that one to be had. But instead of trying to seize them by the antlers, let those moments come to us.

12/23/13: -- Ain't gonna lie, this December has kicked my ass. But I remain ever hopeful that my George Bailey moment will come, even if it means binging on espresso beans and staying up all night watching all the old Christmas movies I haven't had time to watch yet. Desperate times, desperate measures.
12/20/13: -- Comes as no surprise that Bioshock Infinite tops the AP Critics list of the year's best games.
12/19/13: -- The 52 Week Money Challenge sounds irresistibly simple. Imma start the first week of January, who's with me?

-- Analysis: James Bond was/is a complete and total alcoholic.
12/17/13: -- Grab a few tissues and check out the latest Apple ad.

-- Ok fine, I'll play along. Here's the Christmas Jammies video everyone's passing around. I'll grudgingly admit it's damn cute. And hey jammies mom, how YOU doin'?

-- So while we slept it was determined that multivitamins are useless and antibacterial soaps are dangerous. I'm going back to bed.

-- Must. Buy. Tickets.
12/16/13: -- People are getting sick all around me. I'm considering a long soak in a tub filled with Purell.
12/13/13: -- Wow, almost a week later and I'm finally getting around to posting about a lovely gathering I attending last weekend with old friends (pictured here). Maybe that's because my face just stopped hurting? Anyway, that was the third (fourth?) such annual gathering, and it was one for the ages. Guys, promise me we'll do it again? And again... And again... I'll bring the hummus. A sh*t-ton of it, to be exact.
12/11/13: -- Jack and The Roots! In bad Christmas sweaters!

-- Yet another cosmic near miss today. More eyes in the sky, please!
12/10/13: -- How to spend the day cooking & eating like a hobbit. Now that is a tradition I could get into. Two problems, though - 1: I'm a terrible cook, and 2: Seldom if ever do I have an entire free day to devote to a movie marathon/feast. Alas.

-- Tech giants to the NSA: cut the sh*t.

-- A Jack Reacher sequel is in the works. I've said it before, as a fan of the novels I (and about a billion other folks) frowned upon the decision to cast TC as the towering protagonist (damnit, Sean Bean would've been perfect!). But the first Reacher movie was ok enough to consider Netflicking a sequel.

-- Don't get me wrong, ABS is an amazing invention that has probably saved countless lives. But that moment when the system first engages and the brake pedal kinda pushes back... it's such an odd sensation underfoot, it evokes a primal fear dating back to our cavemen ancestors... and they didn't even have cars! Every fiber of my being panics and shouts Pump the pedal! Stomp down harder!. Maybe I need more practice. Or maybe I should just walk to work on snowy days.

-- You shall not pass! Gandalf gets dissed by a muppet.
12/9/13: -- So apparently parrots annoying cats is a thing...

-- Make it so, make it so, make it so. The awesomeness cannot be overstated.
12/6/13: -- When the boys were younger I actually used to do this and feel terribly guilty about it. Glad to see I'm not the only one!

-- We've jumped on the Elf on the Shelf bandwagon. Hey, whatever works to keep the rascals in line this month...

-- Dude from 'Glee' and Princess Jasmine walk into a bar... (give it about 41 seconds or so).
12/5/13: -- Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

-- The Wii U: down but not out? It's being absolutely smoked by PS4 and Xbox One, and that makes me sad. The Mario franchise has given us so many countless hours of pleasure over the years. The U's Achilles' heel is that oddball gamepad/controller thingy. People just don't get it. I've messed around with Wii U demos a few times and never fully understood what the heck it's for. But whatever the case, we'll be holding on to our old-school Wii for the foreseeable future. It suits us just fine.

-- I have no complaints about this first trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. None whatsoever.
12/4/13: -- So I'm thinking about trying Cannonball for iPad. Thoughts?

-- Well maybe I didn't ax for your opinion in the first place...

-- Vulture argues that Jennifer Lawrence can't possibly be this cool. Are we being Katniss'ed?
12/3/13: -- I never got around to reviewing Sleep No More, when was it? Weekend before last? Seems like 2013 simply cannot wait to retire... Anyway, we heartily recommend booking the earliest show possible, which reserves you a spot at The Heath restaurant. Pricey, but damn good. And it's kinda sorta a part of the show - the dashing waiters in their white dinner jackets remain in character throughout the meal. The dimly lit main lounge/bar area oozes smoky ambience with a great 30's-era live band. Try to get a seat in there if possible - though the train dining car we sat in was perfectly suitable as well.

An hour later with bellies stuffed and wallets depleted we were led to a spooky, creaky, old-school elevator with wise-cracking attendant - also in character of course. Once inside the hotel proper we were given a mask and a brief set of instructions: Do not speak. Do not remove the mask. You are free to roam about the hotel's multiple floors and do whatever you like - "fortune favors the bold" they told us as we tip-toed into the darkness. Rifle through desk drawers. Open books. Rummage through luggage. Read journal entries. Examine medical instruments. Peek at bottle labels. I climbed into someone's bed at one point. Nothing is out of bounds.

It can only be described as a sensory experience. Think Hitchcock. Think Eyes Wide Shut. It's dark, mostly. Noisy. But sometimes the noise gives way to beautiful music. Some rooms are terrifying - a fully stocked mental ward, a haunted forest, even an indoor graveyard. In one corner the lights flickered to reveal a vintage baby carriage, and HELL NO I didn't go near it. Other areas were fascinating. At the end of a woodland maze I stumbled upon a tiny hut, and though the door was locked there were cracks in the side juuuuuuust wide enough to see people in there, doing... something... Later on I spent ten minutes in the office of a psychiatrist who clearly had a thing for crows. I'll stop before I spoil it for you.

The best way to experience Sleep No More is to follow one of the beautiful actors around as he/she dances, rejoices, murders, eats, fornicates, etc. Supposedly the entire show is loosely based on Macbeth, though the only hint of this that I found was a nonsensical note addressed to Banquo. In hindsight I regret not committing myself more to that aspect of the production. I often wandered away from the actors simply because the throngs of visitors made it difficult to see what was going on. That would be my one complaint - though the crowds were masterfully managed, at times there were simply too many gawking guests in one spot. It feels like I missed out on what could've been a more immersive/interactive experience, because yes I secretly wanted the players to mess with me a bit (did I ever tell you about the hickey I got at De La Guarda?). And apparently I was not present for a number of juicy scenes - an orgy? Lady Macbeth in a blood-soaked bathtub? Where was I??? Ah well, maybe that's how they keep you coming back for more.

-- Look up in the sky, it's a bird! It's a plane! It's my Amazon shipment!
12/2/13: -- A month or so left in the year and already we're seeing "best of" and "top 10" lists popping up here and there for 2013. But none will top this: the 23 Most Important Selfies of 2013.

-- And of course, here is the first of what will no doubt be several Best Photos of 2013 lists. That one is from Reuters, and some of the shots are horrifying.

-- Say what you will about the goofball racing movies, actor Paul Walker's death is a shock. You get the sense that a guy like that - handsome, in the prime of life, wealthy beyond measure, adored by millions - guys like that are immortal, right?
11/28/13: -- Laying low. Stuffing our faces. Flipping back and forth between the Adventure Time and James Bond marathons. I am thankful for a day like this. And about a thousand other things. Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!
11/27/13: -- Go, Indies, go!
11/26/13: -- NYT: The Final Frontier, in Photographs. I'm suddenly feeling very... small.

-- I read things like this, and hear reports like this, and I just want to beg Mother Earth for forgiveness on behalf of our race. But why should she forgive us?

-- Like it or not, this bitcoin thing is for real. Here's what you need to know.

-- Girls!
11/25/13: -- I can't think of a better way to have celebrated our 10th than a weekend date in New York City. A stellar meal, the wackiest show you'll ever see (more on that later), authentic NYC pizza at 10PM (ate standing up of course), and a bottle of darn good 'pagne. We topped it off yesterday with an early matinee showing of Catching Fire, which is every bit as terrific as people say it is.

All in all I feel like we got it right. Many thanks to Mother, Kate, and Dr. G for sacrificing time out of the weekend to mind the rugrats! It meant the world to us.

11/22/13: -- We have reason to believe that today is our ten year wedding anniversary. And don't look at me like that, my wife is just as unsure of the exact date as I am. It's on a coffee mug somewhere if we really need to look it up. Hey, there was a lot going on at that time - baby on the way, trying to close on our first house... who could be bothered making a note of the date? Ah well, close enough. I'm just glad she hasn't kicked me out... yet. And so with a heart filled with love I proclaim: Happy Anniversary, babe!
11/21/13: -- Google Chrome is making Middle Earth interactive.

-- Wow, did someone actually compare Catching Fire to The Empire Strikes Back? Wired's review is here, and it's an absolute love letter. Cannot. Wait.
11/20/13: -- Well that settles it, I'm selling my bone marrow.

-- The coolest thing you've seen in a fortnight: Turn up your speakers. Go here and click play. Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone plays on a TV. No big deal, right? Now change channels using your arrow keys or by clicking the on-screen channel button. The Price is Right... QVC... Wall Street News... A pro tennis match... Cartoons... The History Channel... all singing right on cue. HOW'D THEY DO THAT???
11/19/13: -- Explained: how pro freedivers hold their breath for insane amounts of time. Challenge: get through the entire article sans breathing. Ready? Go!

-- A ranking of the top laptop manufacturers. What's most surprising to me is that even the highest scorer in reliability (hint: it's not who you think) still has a failure rate over 15%.

-- Aaaaaand just like that Jean Claude Van Damme is forgiven for a long string of truly awful action movies. Except Bloodsport. I'll have words with anyone who disses Bloodsport.
11/18/13: -- Took in Dear Mr. Watterson: An Exploration of Calvin & Hobbes last night, and sadly wasn't blown away by it. Granted, waves of C & H nostalgia hit me here and there. But these were just fleeting moments when snippets of the classic strips flashed on screen. Come on, the Transmogrifier? Spaceman Spiff? Tracer Bullet? G.R.O.S.S.? The psycho snowmen? Absolutely priceless. But it felt like too much time was spent listening to Watterson's colleagues gush about the strip's impact. These were legendary comic strips. Everyone loved them. We get it. This is news to no one.

One of the show's better segments looked at Watterson's staunch refusal to market C & H. There's a reason we never saw lunch boxes, plush toys, clothing (no, that unsanctioned drunken Hobbes t-shirt you wore in college doesn't count) or a tv show - Watterson felt it would cheapen his work. And he would not budge, despite countless offers. It is estimated that he walked away from a potential $300M merchandising business. Respect the man.

Dear Mr. Watterson was a sweet love letter that unfortunately fell a little flat, though it did leave me pining for one more philosophical toboggan ride.

-- A fast-paced summary of every flaw in Back to the Future. They forgot to mention the miraculous longevity of Einstein the dog, who would've been about thirty in 1985. But hey, that movie is still one of my all time favs.

-- Tough, two-fisted and lovely teen rises up against a totalitarian government, becoming a beacon of freedom for the oppressed populace... Nope! Not Catching Fire, (opening Thursday, people are already scrambling for tickets). Try Divergent. Trailer looks great, but man they have balls the size of cantaloupes for trying to steal Katniss' thunder... I read someplace that the studio expects Catching Fire to bring in close to a billion bucks...
11/15/13: -- Feeling lame for not having properly celebrated 11/12/13 a few days ago. Buy hey, there's always 12/13/14 just over a year from now, party up!
11/14/13: -- I just... I just... what the hell IS THIS ??

-- Noah!

-- So when I stalked spotted Daryl Hall last weekend at Whole Foods, I completely wimped out and didn't say anything. Should I have introduced myself? Broke into song? Asked for an autograph? Cozied up cheek to stubbly cheek for a selfie? We were right behind him in the checkout line, after all. Or maybe respecting his privacy (same thing as wimping out, for all intents and purposes) was the proper thing to do... Ever been up close with a celeb? What did you do?
11/13/13: -- Mystery solved: how to get served first at a crowded bar. So I guess my usual method of standing meekly behind three other dudes and avoiding eye contact for 45 minutes is not recommended?

-- Mars rover Curiosity was rebooted!

-- Folks - if you have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket, please consider a modest donation to the Pratt Center. This is a place that is very dear to us. Online donations will be matched, today only! Thanks much.

-- If trailers are to be believed, Maleficent looks magnificent.

-- Lythronax, aka the "King of Gore", was top dog long before T-Rex came to town. I love this stuff.
11/11/13: -- Vets: thanks for all you do/have done.
11/8/13: -- Thanksgiving weekend Bond marathon? Yes, please.

-- I love this - action star Jason Statham reads Oprah's Favorite Things on Fallon. Who says balding middle-aged guys can't be badass?

-- Fifty years after the Kennedy assassination the bullshit remains as thick, steamy, and malodorous as ever.

-- I had written off that upper right wisdom tooth years ago, unless teeny tiny brush-wielding elves climbed into my mouth with there was just no way to clean it adequately. So it should've come as no surprise yesterday at my looooooong overdue dental appointment that there was a "big-ass cavity", in the words of the dental assistant. But I respect my dentist for being a straight shooter - no follow-up appointment, no referral to a dental surgeon, no long, drawn out prep work. Within 10 minutes my mouth was numb and he was in there cutting and yanking. If there is a hell I'm sure part of the experience involves tooth extraction. Fortunately three of my wisdom teeth are now gone and the lone straggler doesn't seem to be causing any problems (knock knock)...
11/7/13: -- That wifey of mine, she grows more beautiful every year. Happy bday, Babe!
11/6/13: -- A few days behind schedule with this, but we've finally wrapped up our lame attempt at rating as many pumpkin ales as our schedule (and wallets) would allow throughout the month of October. Here's a trio of last minute abbreviated reviews from last week:

Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat: Bubbles to spare, it poured into the glass with a light pleasant color and enticing fizzy sound. A bit watery, but the flavor eventually revealed itself. This one is easy drinking but not an award winner by any stretch. Unremarkable.

Sam Adams Fat Jack: It's pretty - the color of a shiny new penny, with a decent foamy head that dissolved quickly. The bubbles raced up from the bottom like they had someplace important to be. This one is opinionated! I am Fat Jack, hear me roar! Not for the faint of heart... At first I was thinking there's no way I could finish off that oddly oversized bottle, but it mellowed out after a few minutes and became quite drinkable. I look forward to having exactly one (but never more than one) bottle of Fat Jack every October for the rest of my life. And if this contest was solely about bottle awesomeness, we'd have have our winner, hands down! I already have my costume inspiration for next Halloween...

Magic Hat Seance: Dark! Did someone sneak Guinness into this bottle? Flavor is smoky, and left me with a burnt steak aftertaste. Or maybe charcoal. Just not my cuppa tea. Too thick, too much attitude.

So there we have it. How to select an overall winner from the dozen or so we sampled? It comes down to which one left a lasting impression, which one can we look back on over the past month and actually remember pouring and sipping? Which one captured the essence of our favorite time of year, evoking images and sentiments of pumpkin patches and scarecrows and candy corn and spooky stories by the campfire? Which one will I line up to buy again on 10/1/14? Drumroll please... we're going with Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale (reviewed on 10/30). Go ahead and snicker, beer purists. Just keepin' it real. Maybe it's their deep pockets that allow Sam Adams to compete with the mom and pop craft breweries?

We had fun with this, and there are enough pumpkin ales around to have a follow-up contest next October. Christmas brew taste-off in December? I dunno. Those holiday beers run dark and thick, and the few I've tasted over the years were overdone with cloves and holly and pine and God knows what else. We'll see.

11/4/13: -- It's safe to say I will never buy bananas again. Ever.

-- The lastest bit of nastiness for Windows users - ransomware. Fork over $300 or your data will remain encrypted and unreachable forever. Sheesh.

-- In case you were wondering what became of the inbred banjo boy from Deliverance...
11/1/13: -- Kobe Bryant is having a better Friday than you are. I guarantee it.

-- Well this has me feeling moderately better, perfectly timed photos of horrified haunted house visitors.

-- **SIGH** The big night came and the big night passed. Is there any day more depressing than November 1st? I guess you could make a strong argument for December 26th... We started the evening off downtown hoping to catch a Thriller Flash Mob, but unfortunately we had set up camp in the wrong area and missed the whole damn thing. But nevertheless I like that the town gets amped up for Halloween, Trunk-or-Treating (people park along the New Milford Green and offer candy out of spookily decorated vehicles - one guy had a hearse with an extremely realistic cadaver in the back) is actually kinda fun. From there we crashed a neighborhood behind the boys' old school and managed to almost fill our loot sacks before the rain started pounding down in earnest. **SIGH**, I guess this weekend we'll toss the jack-o-lanterns into the compost pile and call it a year.

But all is not lost, I'm going through my tasting notes from last week and have a couple more Pumpkin Ale reviews to post before we declare a winner. Stay tuned. And feel free to cheer me up.

10/31/13: -- Because it's Halloween, that's why. And this is how we do it.
10/30/13: -- NASA scientists have discovered Earth's "hellish" twin.

-- A few more pumpkin ale reviews to squeeze in here before the big night:

Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale is that redheaded girl you knew when you were 23, but could never work up the courage ask out. In the glass it's a glorious reddish-rust copper color. I held it up to the light and proclaimed "You are one sexy beast!". And taste-wise this one delivers the goods - malty, pumpkiny, and darn flavorful.

Post Road Pumpkin Ale was the bitterest of the bunch, with very little fizz if any. Enjoyable but not something I'd go back to. I'd bring a six-pack of this brew to a Halloween party (it's rude to show up empty handed, after all) but then sneakily drink everyone else's.

-- Hope I'm not jinxing us here, but are we really about to have a Halloween without ice storms, hurricanes, or any other BS? Say it ain't so!
10/29/13: -- Wow. Check out the trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past.

-- Review: Captain Lawrence Pumpkin Ale- another one that looks pretty as you pour, it has a pleasing deep leather color to it and bubbles, bubbles everywhere. But other than that we found it lacking in cajones and not very memorable overall. Cool bottle though.

-- Nicely done - the Arctic Monkeys performed a touching cover of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" during a gig last night.
10/28/13: -- Beautiful sunsets explained.

-- Had a go at Wolaver's Pumpkin Ale the other day. First impression: light and attractive in the glass, not much of a head however. "Wheaty" in appearance. Tastes watery and a bit thin. Decent flavor, but not enough oooomf to warrant a second glass. Additional demerits for the boring bottle art. Overall rating: meh.

Just a few days left in our Pumpkin/Halloween beer sampling contest! I'd best get down to business if we're to crown a winner before 11/1...

-- Lou Reed, I apologize for every time I secretly mistook the opening of Walk on the Wild Side for Can I Kick It? Respect. (And wow, Youtube... 30 second ads? Really?)

-- Had the cuzzies over on Saturday to carve some punks! Small-scale stuff compared to the massive pumpkin parties of Octobers past, and that's ok - this was a cozy, intimate gathering capped off with what was likely the last fire pit/marshmallow toasting session of 2013. **sigh**
10/25/13: -- Who knew Goofy could make such a great zombie?

-- Murder, She Wrote reboot? Why not?
10/24/13: -- The snooze button... just say no.

-- Block Island's iconic Surf Hotel was featured on Ghost Hunters last night! Didn't get to watch but we have it DVR'ed. I wonder if this will be good or bad for the Surf from a business perspective...

-- Continuing our sampling of Halloween/Pumpkin beers, we had the opportunity to try Saranac Pumpkin Ale last week. This deviates a bit from my original plan, which was to only rank the beers found on the Paste guide. But oh well. The thing that struck us most about this one was the color - it is absolutely gorgeous in the glass, and held up to the light it looks like some bubbling magical potion out of your favorite young adult fantasy novel. After ogling for a while I finally took a swig, and found it to be... subtle. Almost too subtle, in fact I was ready to put it down for its blandness. But then by the fourth sip, things started happening. Yes there is pumpkin and cinnamon, but not so much that it smacks you upside the head. Overall I like this one.

Moving on to River Horse Hipp-O-Lantern (again, not on the original list - sorry!): This was an impulse buy based on the silly hippo pumpkinhead monster guy on the bottle. In the glass it's murky and bubbly. Good flavor, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it "imperial" (as the bottle boasts). Creamy. Acceptably Autumn-ish, though not necessarily pumpkin-ish, if that makes sense. A good time overall but I wouldn't walk more than half a mile for it.

A few more brews to get to with only a week until Halloween, better get sippin'! Having fun with this. Can you tell?

10/23/13: -- So apparently buying rifles on Instagram is a thing, now. Background check? We don't need no stinking background check!

-- BBC's Sherlock season 3 will premiere in the US on January 19th, mark the calendar! But wait, didn't the storied sleuth fall to his death at the end of season 2... ?

-- Science at its very best: high-tech skivvies that eliminate flatulent odors. Question: why the $15 price difference between the men's and women's versions?

-- I enjoyed a recent bit on Slate by the mom who committed to wear Axe Bodyspray for an entire week. Won't lie, I used to keep a can of the stuff in my drawer at work, BUT WAIT! Before you close your web browser in disgust, there was a good reason. See, most days I exercise during lunch - exercise hard. Without time for a shower, how is a sweaty gentleman to get through the rest of the day without repelling his colleagues?? Vile as Axe might be, I'll take it over BO any day. Thoughts?

-- Hey wait, Mavericks is free???
10/22/13: -- New iPads are coming !

-- Wondering if your house is haunted? Use this site to determine if anyone has ever died at your residence. Creepy. Lame that it's not free to use, however.
10/21/13: -- Sweet, sweet October. Is it the new best time to visit Block Island? One could certainly make that argument. It's a slower, more relaxed vibe, even more so than September. Most places have closed up shop for the season, or they're only doing a few hours here and there on weekends. And that's ok. By this time of year you're pretty much done with that stuff.

We were fortunate enough to have caught a terrific week weather-wise, most days we walked around in t-shirts. I even jumped into the Atlantic one last time. We were also treated to a brilliant big papa of a full moon during our stay. One of these days I need to learn how to photograph that thing, on Friday evening I took six thousand moon shots and none of them quite do it justice.

The October air is sweet. The ocean is sparkling clean. The colors are vivid. The land is alive. The Stripers are fat. The sidewalks and roads are wide open. Last week's unexpected adventure made a believer out of me.

10/17/13: -- Thursday and we're still alive. We've been passing the days fishing, hiking, collecting sea glass, and of course hunting for these infernal glass globes. And after countless hours of crawling through tick-infested patches of brambles and almost getting trampled by a terrified deer (true story!), we're starting to think the damn things don't exist. But undaunted, we'll be scouring a few more trails today in hopes of finding one. It's all about the bragging rights at this point, and we've come too far to turn back now.

Last night GMa and GPa graciously offered to watch the boys while the wifey and I snuck down to The Mohegan (one of the few restaurants still open) for a soup and a beer at our favorite table overlooking the harbor. Complete and utter bliss.

10/13/13: -- The rumors are true, we are in fact on Block Island. The timing couldn't possibly be worse, but here we are just the same. Grandma and Grandpa's timeshare was miraculously available for exchange with the Neptune House, something that happens but once a century. And I have some leftover vaykay days to use before end of year, so why not? We pounced.

October out here is very much "like a box of chocolates." We left the mainland and the day was looking like a perfect 10, then halfway through the ferry ride the clouds moved in and the wind picked up something fierce. More than a few faces were turning green, and passengers were positioning themselves near garbage cans just in case. The wind continued to howl the rest of the day, through the night, and for much of today. Not exactly beachable, but tomorrow is looking better. One last dip in the Atlantic, it's all I'm asking for. Just have that towel for me at the ready...

10/11/13: -- Brews reviewed, continUED (ha!): So resuming our month-long review of pumpkin/Halloween beers based on the Paste list, I was fortunate enough to find a local packy that is actually willing to sell beer by the single bottle - a godsend for purposes of this little project! I mean who wants to drop $13 on an unknown and potentially sucky six pack, only to end up with five leftovers? Anyway, last night we sampled Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, which placed an astounding 2nd place on the Paste list. Not so much for us. Don't get me wrong, this is good beer. But my rookie palate picked up very little (if any) of the pumpkin, nutmeg or brown sugar flavors that make this one so legendary. So yes, these are indeed tasty suds, but I'd just as soon enjoy this in May, June or July as I would during this festive fall season. Beer purists, I apologize! Just keepin' it real.

Next up: Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale.

10/10/13: -- My new jam. Warning: it'll be stuck in your head ALL DAY...

-- The End is Nigh.

-- Enjoyed this post by a fellow Special Needs Parent Blogger ("SNPB"). Nice to know Aidan isn't the only one. About once a month he pulls one of those Witching Hour wake ups - he'll rise sometime around 3AM-ish and decide that sleeping is overrated. Makes for a looooong day for the missus or myself (one of us usually brings him to another room and takes one for the team so the other can sleep), though for some reason Aidan generally makes it through 'til dinner time without any noticeable impediment. If there is a silver lining it's that he zonks out easily the following night and sleeps like a log.
10/9/13: -- Chatting with an acquaintance yesterday about yes - the weather. I was talking up the merits of Autumn. "I prefer Spring." she replied. "In the Fall everything is dying." I almost short-circuited. But I gathered myself and, rather than gushing on and on about flannel shirts, pumpkin lattes, golden leaves, crisp mornings, Halloween(!), and a dozen other things that contribute to autumn's splendor, replied simply: "Dying yes, but going out in a blaze of glory!"

I win.

-- "Can't wait to attend a Surface 2 midnight launch party!" -- No one, ever.

-- Selling that old phone? Make sure you erase your data the right way.

-- First and last ever post referencing Miley Cyrus - this acappella thing she did with The Roots is actually kinda good. Will you ever forgive me?
10/8/13: -- Super secretive Apple event scheduled for 10/22. What will they announce? Diamond plated iPads equipped with an auxiliary oxygen supply?

-- Won't be seeing many of them myself, but here's a look at the fancy new $100 bill, which makes its debut today.

-- On Bond and the tie dimple.
10/7/13: -- Brew Review Number Two (ha!): Pumple Drumkin was next on our list of Halloween brews to sample, and in the immortal words of Randy Jackson: I'm just not feelin' it, dawg. Came off as a bit overly bitter for me. Drinkable, yes - I had no problem finishing the glass. But overall, not a beverage I'd come back to. Cute bottle logo though.

-- Fox's Sleepy Hollow has been renewed for a second season. I've been half-heartedly watching this one since it's vaguely Halloween related, and I'm pathetic like that. Know what? It's not too bad. The dashing British dude who plays Ichabod Crane is charismatic and convincing enough so you just might forgive the absurdity of the plot. And for the most part Fox isn't skimping on the special effects budget (though a couple of the sets look like they were shot in my basement). Give SH a watch if you have an hour burning a hole in your pocket on Monday nights, you can catch past episodes here.
10/5/13: -- Continuing our month-long review of pumpkin-y Halloween-y beers based on the Paste Magazine top 28 (?) list (scroll down to the 9/27 post), we splurged and grabbed a 4-pack of the #1 ranked Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale. It took a few minutes and a few sips, but yeah - it's bold and brash, yet somehow you never get the feeling that they tried too hard with the flavoring or the spices. More like they coaxed the pumpkin to present itself. I've only tried a couple on the list so far, but it's plain to see why this one grabbed top honors.

Next up: Pumple Drumkin, brewed out on the island of Nantucket! This one only ranked 22nd on the Paste list, I'll let you know our thoughts.

We'll see how long we can keep this up through the end of October, but of course there's no way we'll get to all of those brews. There simply aren't enough days in the month or dollars in my wallet. But it's been fun so far :)

10/4/13: -- A compilation of every James Bond novel cover (first edition). Stellar.

-- I'm Gaga over the new Machete Kills trailer. Sorry... couldn't resist.

-- Gravity this, Gravity that... Ok fine I'll go see it, if for no reason other than to shut the Internet up about it.

-- Tim Cook's company-wide letter to Apple employees on the second anniversary of Steve Jobs' passing.
10/3/13: -- Reports are popping up over issues with the motion sensor in the newest iPhones. This doesn't bode well for AAPL - if the issue is in fact hardware-based, I imagine a massive recall is their only option.

-- Everything you need to know about the six second toothbrush. Interesting, but I think I'll kick it old-school 'til the price comes down. A lot.

-- When you look at the science behind the Nacho Dorito, it becomes clear that we never really had a chance, did we...? (via Kottke).
10/2/13: -- Mega author Tom Clancy has died. Was never a huge fan myself, found his stuff kind of rah! rah! USA! Not to mention damn long. Maybe I'll give it another try. The two of his older novels I did get through - Patriot Games and of course The Hunt for Red October - were terrific action/thriller reads. NYT obit here.

-- Out on Block Island last month I asked the great Martha Ball, island guru and Malcolm Greenaway Gallery manager, how it is that we never see Mr. Greenaway himself sneaking around the island with his camera to get those heart-stopping shots. As it turns out, he takes summers off. She explained that the position of the sun, the generally subpar light conditions, and various other factors during the hotter months make for mediocre photos. I nodded in understanding, as if my untrained eye and $129 Nikon are receptive to such things.

But during my morning promenades this past week I'm kinda seeing it. Looking up where the reddening tree line meets the sky, that intensely amazingly heart breakingly blue sky, yeah... now if only SeptOber wasn't so darn short.

10/1/13: -- Oh, but this is good - Breaking Bad, In Memoriam is a video montage of everyone who was snuffed out across the show's five seasons. This is chock full o' spoilers, of course, so only proceed if you've already seen the finale or if you have no intention of ever watching the show (but seriously, what is wrong with you?).

-- The geek gaming world is all in a glow over the news that game maker/content distributor Valve Corporation has registered a European trademark for Half-Life 3. This is important because each title in the Half-Life series of games is considered a masterpiece of the genre. And oh how they left us hangin' all those years ago at the ending of HL2 Episode2... today's announcement is welcome news indeed.

-- WAPO lists the nine most tangible effects of the government shutdown, which is officially underway as of midnight. Did I read that correctly - 2 million federal employees' paychecks will be late, and those workers deemed non-essential may not be paid at all? Members of Congress, of course, will see no pay interruption while they continue to bicker and pout amongst one another. Bitches.

-- New trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug !

-- Fans of Girls will get a kick out of this SNL skit.
9/30/13: -- Man, what a ride. Breaking Bad wrapped things up beautifully last night (*spoilers in that link*), and I've never felt so satisfied by a series finale. Unwavering excellence spanning five seasons is no mean feat, and there's no doubt that it will go down as one of the all time great television dramas. Now that BB has concluded, TV seems like a barren wasteland of slop - I'm talking to you, Revenge...
9/27/13: -- Rating the pumpkin beers (thx Kate). My palate isn't quite sophisticated enough to pick up all of the subtle pumpkiny nuances described in this article. I'm just in it for the cool spooky designs on the bottles.
9/26/13: -- $'s autographed 'Flu Game' kicks are up for auction.

-- So apparently Google sneakily made some major changes under the hood about a month ago. Why am I always the last to hear about these things?

-- Jakey and I somehow started trading snaps the other night, I haven't laughed that hard since, well, the early 90's or whenever a snap was last uttered. For the uncultured, snaps are lighthearted, creative insults that can focus on a wide range of the target's characteristics - age, hygiene, financial status, hair, etc. And of course, your mama: Your mama's so old, her Social Security number is "1"... Your mama's so fat she irons her pants in the driveway... and so on. A bout of The Sillies took hold of us and didn't dissipate for a full 15 minutes. Classy, I know. Just praying we don't get a call from his school principal.

-- Wanna feel old, redux...

-- The Roots, Fallon, and Elmo et al. Riotous.
9/25/13: -- I had to repost this from Kottke, 'The Peruvian Immortal' is by far the ballsiest sacrifice of all time.

-- If you've been putting off getting into Breaking Bad, now is your chance to immerse yourself - AMC is airing every single episode of all five seasons starting tonight. The marathon will run all the way into Sunday evening, leading up to the series finale. Wish I could somehow daisy chain five DVRs together...

-- Wanna feel old? The cassette tape just turned 50 !

-- Been aching to jump on the Crossfit bandwagon, but it's too damn expensive. Plus there's this whole Rhabdomyolysis thing.
9/24/13: -- I'm too lazy to go back and check, but I vaguely recall raving about the Life is Good Festival around this time last year. Well that was no fluke, this thing is the real deal. From the unbelievably stacked musical lineup to the kids games to the schwag (seriously - I have enough Clif Bar samples, tote bags, etc to survive six years on a deserted island) to the overall earth-friendly hippie vibe, everything about the LIGfest just feels... right.

That's not to say our kids didn't try their best to wear a sourpuss at all times. Took some doing but I was eventually able to con Jake into a game of bocce, and - no joke - he bowled the most amazing dead-center ball in recorded history. Old Italian dudes couldn't have beat it on their best day. And the kid was all smiles. I swear sometimes all he needs is a sprinkle of success to see that it suits him. As for Aidan, he had a blast in a kid tent filled with giant squishy interlocking block and pole things. Kinda like Lincoln Logs on steroids. Later on in the animal tent he was hooting and hooting at the Audubon guy with an owl. And that evening I even caught him singing along to Jack Johnson's At Or With Me. So yeah, with some prodding I think the boys had fun in spite of themselves.

A bit of drama on Sunday evening - we somehow mangled Aidan's toe in the wheel of his assistance stroller, and man it looked bad. We had to flag down a volunteer driving a golf cart and have him rush us across a crowded field to the medical tent, Aidan shrieking and bleeding the whole way while revelers looked on in horror. Then onto an ambulance bound for a local hospital no one's ever heard of. There we were in the ER, Jack Johnson scheduled to take the stage in 20 minutes on the other side of town. Aidan, umm, politely declined stitches, but he was in good spirits overall so the doc simply gave us some basic bandaging instructions, a tube of Bacitracin, and sent us on our way. She was obviously a Jack Johnson fan, because once we told her what we were missing she practically shoved us out the door. Aren't hospitals required to wheel patients out in a wheelchair? Sure hope she didn't get fired. Anyway, we drove like a bat outta hell and made it back to catch about 90% of Jack's setlist under beautiful September stars. Aidan's toe will heal over time, so all things considered it coulda been a lot worse.

Same time next year for LIGfest 2014? Oh yeah.

9/20/13: -- Things I've been reading about recent sexual assault cases in the armed forces ("Article 32 proceedings") are appalling.

-- How to propose properly.
9/19/13: -- So you see something beautifully inspirational such as this Bill Watterson masterpiece, and you feel like anything is possible. You ride that surge of optimism all day long, and keep it with you even as you open up your mailbox that evening, and... and... and.. it's overflowing with bills. **poof**

-- The story behind the "f-ing hipster with the typewriter". This blew my mind. Next time I'm in the city I'll go out of my way to track him down for a story. Just goes to show you can't judge an Internet meme by its cover. Remember Grumpy Cat? As it turns out she looks like that due to a condition called feline dwarfism, and is otherwise a perfectly jovial feline.

-- Well our odds of ever taking Aidan to Disneyland just went from about .002% to 0%, here's why.

-- Seems like holding off on iOS 7 was a good move (see yesterday's post), much of the interwebs is complaining about the download wait times. But on the other hand, is that necessarily a bad thing for AAPL?

-- This is blasphemy, I know, but the LI-based station I jam to at work is compiling a list of Beatles covers that trump the original. Thoughts? I'm a big fan of Steve Earl's rendition of I'm Looking Through You. John/Paul, can you find it in your hearts to forgive me?
9/18/13: -- Pogue reviews the new Apple iOS. He sums it up simply: "I think you should install it. The structure, layout and features represent some of Apples best work. The look of iOS 7  well, that judgment is up to you." I'll hold off for a week or so, as I do whenever a major update comes out. Let other folks find the bugs. If you've already installed it lemme know your thoughts.

-- Soaring like an eagle. They should call that the Gandalf Cam...

-- When it's March and all hope is lost and I'm shivering and cursing up into the frigid gray sky through chapped lips, I will think back to this day, this 18th day of September 2013, and I will remember why it is we live in New England. Absolutely flawless.

-- Grab some tissues and watch this commercial.

-- Everyone's worst childhood nightmare actually happened to this guy. I for one will be checking under the bed tonight!

-- "Intend on" still sounds wrong to me. I've used "intend to" my whole life, and I don't intend on changing now. Hey wait...
9/17/13: -- Daaaaaamn, and I thought my AT&T bill is high, check this out.

-- In the face of incontrovertible data it seems silly to deny climate change any longer. Yet tons of well-placed folks still do for political gain or whatever. C'mon, people. Be better than that.
9/16/13: -- Last night's Breaking Bad was so full of holy sh*t moments that only the warm & fuzzy season (series?) finale of The Newsroom brought me back to my happy place. Much of the Internet is bemoaning Newsroom's ending as over-the-top Rom Com mush, but so jangled were my nerves from BB that it hit the spot.

-- Minecraft (my youngest son's current obsession) as an educational tool? This makes me feel a tad better, now if only we could keep him under 15 hours a day.

-- James Bond's submersible Lotus sells at auction for $973,000. I would've paid up to $2M...
9/13/13: -- How NOT to feed your kids.
9/12/13: -- Aaaaaaand now my Saab has pretty much sh*t the bed. Or at least the exhaust did. Sounds like a stock car. I guess when it rains it pours.

-- Sorry geeks, a new study proves that the Jurassic Park DNA dinosaur thing would never work in real life.

-- Oh snap, Dwayne Johnson (fka 'The Rock') will star in a movie adaptation of 'The Fall Guy' ! I've been on fire with Sally Field, gone fast with a girl named Bo...

-- Fans of Game of Thrones, Girls, and True Blood can appreciate this: It's not p0rn... it's HBO. Grown-ups only!

-- J.K. Rowling isn't quite done with that Potter thing after all, a spinoff of sorts is in the works. Accio More Money!
9/11/13: -- On this 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, here's the story of someone watching from space as the events unfolded.

-- Triathlons as a career?

-- New iPhone roundup - click here for CNN's breakdown, or I'll save you some time: Apple announced two new iPhone models yesterday - the 5C is cheap(er) and comes in several fancy colors. The 5S features a drastically improved camera, quicker processor, and fingerprint scanner for security.

Since neither of these new models can wash dishes or park your car, the Internet is yet again predicting Apple's downfall. Personally I don't know what new features could possibly be heaped onto a phone, I mean what else are people looking for the darn thing to do? The iPhone is a terrific product as is, and now it's a heck of a lot faster, more secure, and takes incredible photos. There are no upgrade plans in my immediate future, but in a year or so when my AT&T contract expires I'll certainly consider the 5S -- if for no reason other than the fact that I take a ton of photos with my phone.

9/10/13: -- Best commercial ever? Best beer commercial, anyway.

-- Game of Thrones stars did silly things over the summer.

-- Some big AAPL announcements coming today, I'll be tuned into the Mashable liveblog of course.

-- Every so often the thing that you've been excited about actually lives up to its billing. Block Island this past weekend did just that. You know me, I always come back whining that a week just isn't enough out there. Well, departing after just 2 1/2 days felt even worse (is it better to have Blocked and left, or to never have Blocked at all?). A few years ago we switched our "official" BI family trip from September to late June, so of course this ignited the fierce debate as to which month is the best time to visit. Both have their pros - June with its early summer blossoms, school's out giddiness, and near-guaranteed pleasant weather... September has its warmer water temperature, crisp blue skies, and overall nostalgic vibe. So having spent incalculable amounts of time going back and forth about it (note: July and August are not factored into this argument at all due to peak season crowds), I will summarize as follows: BI in June is that torrid fling you have in your twenties. BI in September is the mother of your children that you'll spend the rest of your life with.
9/5/13: -- Stealing away to BI for a long weekend. Unplugging my devices. Purging my brain. Rebooting my soul. The plan is to bike 'til my legs fall off, put a dent in a novel, take copious photos, and maybe catch a few rays. I'll be a new man by Monday, mark my words. If I come back, that is.
9/3/13: -- Officially said goodbye to summer *sniff* with friends up in RI. Sadly, the clouds kept us from hitting the waves one last time. However it was great weather for an outdoor barby with a few rousing games of Kubb. Praying that Sept/Oct are chock full o' 71 degree blue sky afternoons. Otherwise how can we justify living in New England during the gray, frozen mess that is March?
8/30/13: -- A Syria Explainer for dummies like me.
8/29/13: -- Track sharks off the East Coast in real time! I dunno, if we were headed to the beach I'd almost rather not know what they're up to. Ignorance is bliss (however I reserve the right to sing a different tune when my leg is chomped off below the knee).

-- Even after all these years, I still struggle with occasional episodes of Muggle Inferiority Complex (MIC). And this isn't helping.
8/28/13: -- Update: NY Times site outage traced to phishing email. See? Opening a shady message can have disastrous consequences. If it seems suspicious, trash it. Odd attachment? Don't touch it.

-- Nintendo dropping price of Wii U. Still not tempted, I'm holding out for a PS4. Santa, you listening?

-- Wow, Syrian hackers have taken down the New York Times website.

-- Apparently another family member already has a Honda Element named Ellie, so that's out. Any other name suggestions?

So yeah, the big news is that we picked up a 2008 Element to replace our beloved '03 Pilot, which died last week. I actually visited the Pilot one last time yesterday and formally said goodbye. We traded in what's left of her for a paltry amount of credit towards the Element, and I wanted to grab the Thule off the top before the Pilot goes to wholesale. And yes, also steal a quick farewell kiss on the front bumper when no one was looking. So many fond memories... I still say that was the best car I've ever owned and hope to one day own another.

But back to the Element. It's quirky. Slow. Infuriatingly underpowered, yet somehow still fun to drive. We were attracted to its reputation for durability and kid/dog friendliness. People we've talked to seem to love 'em. And with about 41K miles she still has a long life ahead of her (*fingers crossed*). Now if only we could come up with a name.

8/27/13: -- Much fuss on the interwebs about this slowed down version of Dolly's legendary hit Jolene. Same track, mind you, just slower. And wow, just wow.

-- No thanks, iTunes algorithm gods, I do not intend to pre-order Katy Perry's PRISM. And I don't want to get "Roar" now. Go away.

-- I've spent the better part of two decades trying to determine who has the better laugh, George McFly or Lewis Skolnick. Please help me out here, I've lost enough sleep over this already.

-- At some point I must've let the Twitterverse know about my frugal tendencies, over the past week I've seen a massive influx of coupon clipping, deal hunting, bargain questing, discount seeking followers. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that... Last October I tweeted that a sheetrock knife makes for the best pumpkin carving tool, hours later I had some carpentry guy as a follower. Funny how stuff works.
8/26/13: -- I simply cannot grasp the fact that school is already back in session. It still feels like summer is just getting underway. How did this happen?
8/23/13: -- Kudos to AMC Theaters for hosting another sensory-friendly movie day. We've already seen Monsters University (scroll down to the 7/8 post), however it is enjoyable enough for a second viewing - this time without that rude guy shhhhhhh'ing us from the back row.

-- Ballmer to leave Microsoft. I guess being reviled by everyone finally became too much for him to bear.
8/22/13: -- Apple's latest patent has me thinking that the next gen Macbooks will exceed the legal limits of awesomeness.

-- Ben and Jack hard at work in the studio.

-- Some quack dentist has gotten a hold of one of John Lennon's molars in hopes of extracting enough DNA to actually clone the late Beatle. Ya can't make this stuff up...
8/21/13: -- Parkland chronicles the JFK assassination with a seemingly more thriller-esque spin and nary a hint of conspiracy theory. The trailer looks intense.

-- Antivirus vs Malware vs Spyware vs Trojans vs all the other nasty stuff Windows users need to look out for, explained (finally!).

-- Ok, it's time to start getting officially stoked for Batman: Arkham Origins. The first two releases in this series have been stellar.
8/19/13: -- Let me get this straight... Robin Thicke is so paranoid that his mega hit "Blurred Lines" will be considered a ripoff of the Marvin Gaye classic "Got to Give it Up" (which yeah, it kinda is) that Thicke is preemptively suing Gaye's family before they can sue him... or something like that.

-- An anonymous letter given to a Special Needs Mom is so laughably over-the-top offensive that I'm thinking it can't possibly be real. Can it?

-- Never thought my old clunker Saab would outlast our trusty Honda Pilot, but alas it's true. The tranny went last week, and given the car's age, mileage, and other miscellaneous issues, it just doesn't make sense to have it repaired. Can't complain though. That vehicle has been an absolute gem. Over the years we've pounded and pounded on it, and it always kept coming back for more. It was the quintessential Block Island vehicle, too. Bikes up on the roof, buckets of beach sand and treasures in the back, greasy take-out food wedged in between the seats... man I'm gonna miss that thing.
8/15/13: -- Nice bit on NPR this morning about Sue Grafton, author of the Alphabet Mystery novels. I'm wondering what the heck she's gonna do for the letter X...? Will someone use a xylophone as the murder weapon?
8/14/13: -- Ooooh I love this: the suits of Bond, James Bond (via Kottke). Absolutely fabulous detail in the analysis of Tanner's double-breasted rope stripe suit.

-- Why, Worms? Why?? - most mornings if time permits I take a six minute stroll down the street near my office. It's a scenic and peaceful little hike, and I find it clears my head and prepares me for the mental onslaught the next eight hours will bring. But around this time every year I notice an alarming phenomenon that haunts my dreams - dozens upon dozens of worms make a doomed attempt to cross the street, only to end up frying themselves on the sun-scorched concrete! Every single morning! Charred little corpses twisted in agonized poses, just inches from the curb. What could be so tempting on the other side of the street? As far as I can tell it's just another stretch of lawn, identical to the one they abandoned.

Often I find a few of them still alive, writhing in pain. So between mid August and early September my tranquil little promenade becomes a desperate mission to save as many as possible - every few steps I'm scooping and tossing them back into the mercifully damp grass. Passersby look at me like I'm some deranged tree hugger, but I don't care. There are lives to save.

-- Everyone's been talking about Ashton Kutcher's Teen Choice Awards acceptance speech, so I finally gave it a listen. Never been a big fan of his (Dude, Where's My Car? aside). But wow! Nicely done, Ashton... errrr, Chris. Young, impressionable minds listen up!

-- Your iPhone is about to become outdated.
8/12/13: -- But even if you're not a fan of BB (see below) and just want a good laugh, check out this animated (spoiler free!) version of Badger's Star Trek Pie-Eating story. I was in tears.

-- I despise AT&T, mainly because every month I send them a small fortune for TV, phone and internet services. But I have a world of respect for their campaign against texting while driving. They engaged German filmaker Werner Herzog to direct a short series of films about people involved with texting & driving accidents, and it's gut wrenching viewing to say the least.

I still see at least one or two drivers doing it every day during my commute. So please, people: do us all a favor and watch the documentary. And one other thing - put down the goddamn phone while you're driving.

-- The first of the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad aired last night, and holy wow this is going to be one intense sprint to the finish line. The 'sode began with a highly telling flash-forward, but even so I have absolutely NO IDEA how they're gonna wrap this thing up.
8/9/13: -- Planning my Sunday evening around this, as you should be too.

-- Get an awesome workout at the playground. Ab roll-outs on a swing, whooda thunkit?

-- Wow, the trailer for Her looks really interesting. With the added bonus of Scarlett J talking dirty.
8/8/13: -- Encouraging news about my beloved Block Island bees.

-- Local grocery store already stocking wood pellets and Octoberfest. This can't be happening...

-- Tiny, brilliant dioramas depicting what will be left behind once we have rendered ourselves extinct. Could be any day now.
8/7/13: -- Lovely NYT piece: An Ardent Gamer Recalls How He Got Hooked. Even though I am starting to worry about Jakey's Minecraft addiction, I think we've entered an amazing era for gaming. With titles like Bioshock Infinite and, more recently The Last of Us (someone get me a PlayStation 3!), now more than ever there's no question that this medium can be used for artistic expression. From the article: The more I wrote, the more I played, the more I realized that games weren't inconsequential. They were important. They were exciting. They were beautiful. Like the printing press or moving pictures in previous eras, video games were a technology that introduced a new creative form, this one with a particularly intimate relationship between designer and audience.

-- Don't walk, RUN! Fatberg is coming !

-- The doc mentioned that bad breath might be a side effect of Jakey's recent surgery. But holy Mother of God you cannot even breathe in the same room as him. Hopefully this will soon pass...

-- Explained: why clowns are scary. Don't know about you guys, but for me it all started with the clown scene from Spielberg's Poltergeist. Haven't slept through the night since.

-- I and Love and You. Beautifully done.
8/6/13: -- Noted geek icon Will Wheaton is really pissed about Discovery Channel's depiction of the storied Megalodon. Hey don't laugh, this stuff is important.

-- Scientists have figured out why Usain Bolt is so fast: he develops more power than other runners. Well duh...

-- I won't tell you how much I spent on fresh, locally grown (supposedly) strawberries last weekend at The Smithy. But man do I love that store.

-- It's no secret that I despise Jay Z. Maybe it's just petty jealousy, but it boggles my mind that such a mediocre rapper has evolved into this uber rich mogul... I just don't get it. But I will grudgingly give him props for two things: 1) Beyonce, and 2) Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film. I suppose Picasso could be viewed as a lame attempt at building artistic cred by surrounding himself with legitimate talent from the art world, hip young actors & musicians, noted writers, hoity toity NYC socialites, etc. But he pulled it off. It was a daring venue and (with the help of some snappy editing) he made it work. If you are unable to endure the entire thing, Buzzfeed has dutifully compiled the evening's 18 most endearing moments.
8/5/13: -- Is it just me or does it feel like September out there? Not that I'm complaining, 71 and sunny is my cuppa tea - not to mention these cool nights are ideal for sleeping with windows ajar. But I'm concerned - does this mean that this time around the seasons have advanced by one month, and therefore September will feel like October, October like November, and so on?

-- Huge hullabloo over a recent Jeopardy decision to not count some kid's response due to a misspelling. Sorry folks, I gotta side with Trebek on this one. File it in the folder entitled "Life's Hard Lessons", along with the fact that some kids are bigger and stronger and better at dodgeball and that's just the way it is... The Aw come on, he's just a kid argument won't do him any good when he gets older. Sometimes kinda sorta correct just won't cut it.

-- So Jakey had some work done on Friday, his adenoids were removed and tubes were put in his ears. He's had issues with his hearing for quite some time, due to the fact that fluid build-up behind his eardrum has not been draining properly. Those of you who have met him probably noticed how LOUDLY HE SPEAKS.

Well it looks like those days are over - both operations were a success, we are pleased to report. The other night I was lying in bed with him and he expressed annoyance at those after dark late-summer bugs, you know the ones that make that deafening sound like reeds rustling together? Those have never kept him awake in the past. Yay !

8/1/13: -- Explained in one handy chart: how musicians really make money.
7/31/13: -- Cruel and Unusual Punishment: new Bioshock Infinite downloadable content was just released, and here I am stuck at work not able to try it 'til tonight! That is assuming I can pry Jakey away from Minecraft for a few minutes so I can get on the damn PC.

-- Out walking with the lads the other day and we happened upon a pristine stretch of raspberry shrubs, the likes of which we've never seen before. These suckers were absolutely flawless, glinting and winking at us from beneath the leaves like priceless rubies aching to be mined. We wasted no time in filling our mouths, but had no means of transporting them back home! And the bushes were kinda sorta adjacent to someone's property; we weren't entirely comfortable loitering for too long. Came back the next evening with a bucket, and while the berries were still quite edible they were juuuust past their prime. Alas the window for perfection is so painfully short...
7/30/13: -- I am basking in Star Wars geekiness, and loving every second of it.

-- Woman sues Equifax and wins big bucks. I feel like we missed out on a fortune here, we went through a similar nightmare with them way back when we first started house hunting. They had my wife's credit history mixed up with that of her mother, which I suppose is understandable given that they shared the same street address for decades and have very similar names. But after we informed Equifax of the error, we'd get the same song and dance that they apparently gave the woman in that article: Take it up with your creditors. Even when I politely pointed out to them that it would have been impossible for my wife to have taken out a mortgage at the age of three (one of several glaring errors on their report), they did nothing. Only after sending them a nasty letter with the threat of legal action did they clear the matter up and we were eventually approved for a mortgage.

I'm hoping the lawsuit will server as a cautionary tale for that company and they finally get their act together. They hold so much power over people's lives and yet seem so prone to basic record keeping errors.

-- From the Here's Something You Don't See Everyday department, check out this shot of Earth as viewed from Saturn. All of a sudden I'm feeling very... small...
7/29/13: -- If you poop in a federal building, make darn sure you clean it up. Consider yourselves warned...

-- HBO's The Newsroom vs real life news.
7/26/13: -- Has there ever been a better New Yorker cover than this one?

-- Some idiots defiled Honest Abe.
7/25/13: -- Stumbled upon a gem by Chicago Sun Times' Andy Ihnatko, as he recalls the Passion for Pulp that he and his late great colleague Roger Ebert shared. Ihnatko writes: Our passions as a child can consume us if we're not careful. But if we choose and define them well, they'll nurture and sustain us forever. Either way, our childhood passions hold a powerful mojo on us throughout our adult lives.

Man. So, so beautifully true.

-- Fold a t-shirt in two seconds! How the hell...?

-- Mysterious Canadian guy pays it forward, big time. Coffee anyone?

-- NY officials to Madison Square Garden: Please move. Whaaaaaaaaaat?
7/24/13: -- Dang, why didn't I think of this? Moments after the royal couple released the name of their newborn, someone scooped up

-- Back in June, HDawg picked up some sort of skin wound behind her right ear. It would've healed weeks ago were it not for Teddy licking it every chance he gets. So yesterday we picked up a bottle of yucky bitter stuff to deter him. This morning I sprayed it on her skin, then a few hours later was snacking on Sun Chips and BLEEECCCCHHH! Some of it must've gotten onto my fingers, ugh. This would definitely keep me from licking someone else's blisters. Consider this my official endorsement of that product.
7/23/13: -- Surfin' USA? How about Surfin' DMZ?

-- Read someplace that guinea pigs can swim, so we figured why not? But while they were more than capable doggy paddlers, we got the sense that they absolutely hated it. They seem no worse for the wear, but I don't think we'll put them through that again. Definitely good for a few laughs though!
7/19/13: -- These sleazebags have phoned my grandmother twice now, trying to scam their way into getting a credit card number. I called them up and yelled at some Indian fella, for all the good it'll do.

-- There has never been a better time for you, dear readers, to buy me that Macbook Pro I've been lusting after...

-- Steps to take if your email account is infiltrated.

-- *SIGH* Another Comic-Con is underway in San Diego... Can someone please bring me next year?!?!?!
7/18/13: -- Transform yourself into a B+ Coffee Snob with these easy steps.
7/17/13: -- In preparation for next month's return of Breaking Bad, here's one of those fast-talking, ultra condensed recaps to bring you up to speed. Such an amazing show.

-- Here's an early review of that new novel by JK Rowling Robert Galbraith.

-- Ahmir 'Questlove' Thompson shares his thoughts on the George Zimmerman verdict. Sad. Funny. Powerful.

-- Last night I lay sprawled on the living room carpet watching Water, because well, doesn't everyone re-watch old BSG episodes on a humid Tuesday evening? Felt something odd on my shoulder and went into a convulsive fit of skeeviness, frantically brushing and flicking at my upper self. It was a spider. A LARGE spider. Now keep in mind, I'm a self-described tree hugger/animal lover in all areas of nature, but I deeply dislike spiders (picture Ace Ventura and his bats). So of course since that moment last night I've been plagued by phantom creepy crawly sensations. Please, folks, no pranks involving plastic arachnids for at least a month. I'm already scarred beyond measure.
7/15/13: -- JK Rowling posed as a dude and sneakily released a new novel.

-- Love this - a couple snaps selfies at every single Manhattan subway station - 118 of them in total!

-- A pair of lucky Dave Matthews fans get the surprise of a lifetime en route to a DMB concert.

-- Over the years, our beloved Mansion Beach has accounted for an incalculable number of pleasure-filled hours in our lives. Here's an alarming study of Hurricane Sandy's impact on our favorite stretch of sand.
7/13/13: -- The world's most dangerous sea creatures compiled into one handy infographic.
7/12/13: -- Simply cannot get this tune outta my head.
7/11/13: -- Microsoft announces a major reorg. No one not named Steve Ballmer seems to understand what this means, let alone give a darn...

-- Twinkies are back! But guess what, they don't last nearly as long as you think they do.

-- Lessons from the kissing doctor. Having read this I'm feeling really insecure about my smooching technique...

-- Apple found guilty of price fixing ebooks. This is kind of old news, I'm just getting around to reading up on it. Hey you won't find a bigger Apple fanboi than me, but if they cross the line and need a DOJ smackdown, so be it. Scroll down through the comments section at the bottom of the article, some interesting points being made.
7/10/13: -- The SI Body Issue is out for 2013. Buff athletes in the buff, what's not to like?

-- Wired is gushing over Pacific Rim...? Color me intrigued.

-- Yes, please. White Walkers. Or maybe House Stark.

-- At the end of the day it comes down to work ethic.
7/9/13: -- Sorry Johnny Depp fans, The Lone Ranger is bombing spectacularly. Here's why.

-- All about The Chive, a site I'm rather fond of. And no, not just for the bewbs and stuff.

-- Awesome rumor debunked. Damn!

-- Uuugghhh, a busted right SHIFT key on my laptop... I'd rather have gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe every day for the next ten years. Forgive me if my emails are missing proper capitalization/punctuation.
7/8/13: -- Ya know I always wondered just how safe those waterpark slides are. My fear has always been that I'd get stuck in one of the loops or something, and then the next person would come crashing into me at 40mph. Or worse, I would accelerate to such a great speed that I'd fly right off the damn thing. Well apparently a lot of science and whatnot goes into waterslide planning and construction. Now if only they could come up with a way to keep your swimsuit from hiking all the way up your arse by the time you reach the bottom...

-- The case against flip flops. Too bad, author person, flops are damn comfy and easy. But I do agree that before venturing out into public be-flopped, one should at least perform a quick self-check for corns, bunions, dirt lodged under the toenails, etc. Hey we're not total savages here.

-- Took in Monsters University with the boys the other day. Not quite on the same level as Monsters, Inc, but how could it be? It was however a very solid successor and worth the lofty (damn lofty!)price of admission. We're given the back story of how Mike and Sully met at college, what motivated them to team up and eventually become the top scaring, scream-inducing, energy producing duo we all know and love. Randall has a big role (he actually wasn't a bad guy at first!), and we learn the history behind his furious rivalry with Sully. A few new lovable characters are introduced. And there may or may not have been a Roz sighting!

My highly scientific rating system has the original Monsters, Inc at a stellar 9.1 (outta 10), MU comes in around 8.4.

7/7/13: -- How is it that a four day weekend flew by quicker than a regular one? The story of the past few days, of course, has been the heat. This oppressive, stifling heat. We've more or less camped out at Gammy's pool, don't know how we would have managed without it.

Took in a carnival and some 'works Friday night at Young's Field, but sadly the best part of the entire evening was the cotton candy... the $29.99 box of sparklers and duds I'd bought at Stews the previous day packed more of a punch than the lame display put on by the town of New Milford.

7/3/13: -- Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...
7/2/13: -- The user community complained, and Microsoft listened. Pretty much everyone I've talked to that uses Windows 8 bloody hates it, maybe after the 8.1 update it'll suck less.

-- Don't know about you, but I'd rather be soaking wet than wear this thing...

-- Five gadgets Apple may or may not have up its sleeve.

-- How to summarize? It was a crazy yet overall blissful week. The marvelous outweighs the stressful, as it always seems to out on BI. As I alluded to in the 6/28 post, at times we felt the urge to pitch the kids off the top of Mohegan Bluffs. But then an hour later a vintage BI moment would erase all such impulses. Watching Jakey [finally] diving in and around that surf like a sea lion was something I won't soon forget. His fear is finally gone.

The weather cooperated for the first half of our week, then turned gray around Wed-Thurs. But off the record I was pretty sun frazzled by that point anyway. And there's plenty to do out there besides the beach - we shopped 'til we dropped, hiked, hunted for glass floats, stuffed our faces, drank absurd amounts of coffee, read our novels and/or just chilled. The value of doing nothing while on vacation must not be overlooked.

Our house was perched atop the cliffs of Black Rock and the view was stellar. But man that wind off the Atlantic whipped up at night, so sadly the after-dinner deck sitting/stargazing sessions that we so look forward to were out of the question. I'm glad we gave Black Rock Cottage a shot, but it may have been one-and-done for that one.

There were several BI to-dos on my list that we didn't get to. So until next time, sweet lil island in the sun... Oh yes, there will be a next time.

7/2/13: -- Back to life, back to reality. Anyone have a long dagger I could borrow for a few minutes so I can commit harakiri?
6/28/13: -- Tick tock tick tock... the week is flying by. Makes me sad. Gotta make it quick, I have about 11 seconds to post, suffice to say the island has not lessened its grip on us one bit. Mind you it hasn't been a challenge-free vacation - sometimes I swear these boys of mine were put on this earth solely to sabotage vacations. But overall we're finding ourselves smiling about 91% of the time. And that's a sign of a darn good vaykay...
6/23/13: -- All the preparations, all the dreaming about it... at long last we're outta here! Back to Block Island. It doesn't seem real. It never does. Maybe it isn't? Will try to post a few jealousy-inducing pics if I can mooch some wifi in town... have a great week!
6/21/13: -- A week ago Ida told you the knee I had scoped about a year ago has another Meniscal Tear. It just had that odd feel to it. On the advice of my drunk cousin I invested in a pair of Voodoo Floss Bands, and let me tell you - the difference a week later is night and day. Maybe it's just psychosomatic, all I know is the damn things seem to work. Here's what you do (and holy crap, look at that guy's quads!).

-- Ummm, wow? Check out these recent stunning submissions for the 2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. Snapping shots of the dogs with my little $149 Canon seems so lame by comparison... More here.

-- Renewed my license yesterday, in the new photo I look like I was just tasered. Or would that be tased? Whatever the proper word is, no you may not see my license under any circumstances.

-- It might've been the ugliest NBA Finals game on record, but Miami got the job done when it counted. It came down to San Antonio giving Lebron and Wade space to hit their mid-range jumpers (the alternative being playing them up close and getting beaten off the dribble and dunked on), and the shots fell when they had to. I'm not emotionally invested in either squad, though I guess it would've been nice to see the Tim Duncan and the rest of the old fogey Spurs get one more championship under their belts before they get any older and creakier. Father Time is a cruel bastard when it comes to professional hoops, at age 37 you are already playing on borrowed time. Maybe one or two more seasons tops, then we'll likely see a radical shakedown in San Antonio.
6/20/13: -- So here I was all excited that a super duper full moon is scheduled for the night of my b-day, but come to find out it's no biggie. Booooooooooooooo... Major lunar letdown.
6/19/13: -- On a much happier note, did you catch that game last night? Kept me up past midnight but it was damn worth it. Miami was blowing it big time, so much so that I was calling them out on Twitter to anyone who would listen. Then with scant seconds remaining and down by 3, Ray Ray (aka Jesus Shuttlesworth) hit the shot that every kid practicing long hours in his driveway dreams of making. On to Game 7!

-- So sad that Bella (aka Juanita Flores), our beloved cat of some 12 or 13 years, died last night. Since she was adopted we're not really sure how old she was. But she had a good long run for a big ol' cat, and we'll miss her dearly.

She wasn't exactly the most sociable gal you've ever met. In fact, even if you've been to our house you may never have met her at all - she generally made herself scarce when we had guests. But after dark when the kids were asleep and the house turned quiet, I'd be relaxing or watching TV and she'd creep out of hiding and transform into a lovable mushball. That thing cats do when they ram their forehead into you, presumably to show affection... she was an expert. We'd call them aggressive headbutts.

Would love to have had one more of those after hours cuddle sessions with her.

6/17/13: -- Nice bit this morning on NPR about Adventure Time. Jakey discovered this show a few years ago, I'd be half listening from another room and grow increasingly annoyed at Jeremy Shada's voice announcing each episode at ten million decibels: "What time is it? Aaaaaaaaaaaadventure Time!" But then one day I sat down and actually took in a few 'sodes with Jakey. I was instantly entranced. AT is a bright, imaginative, trippy beacon of hope in the ocean of noisy garbage that makes up modern children's TV. And as the NPR story repeatedly points out, it's not just for kids. Or stoners.

-- Chances are if you're reading this then you need to come with us to the 2013 Life is Good Festival in September. Jack Johnson is headlining, along with The Roots, Hall and Oats, Dawes, Amos Lee, Bahamas, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and a buncha others. You may recall me raving about this festival last time around when Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds headlined. The event was very well organized, clean, kid-friendly, and loads of fun. This coming from a guy who normally hates outdoor shindigs of this ilk. And, compliments of our Aidan, we may get within spitting distance of the musicians. So won't you join us????

-- Everything you ever wanted to know about N. Korea's Dear Leader, as told by his former sushi chef. An odd, odd tale, but fascinating nonetheless.

-- It was a low key Dad's Day, and that was just what I needed. Slept in a bit (7AM!), and got in a quick run. Mom and JD served me an excellent French Toast and egg breakfast. I was able to get a few chores done around the house, but at a leisurely pace of course. Squeezed in some lite gardening and a quick hike as well. Kate bought a pizza to wrap things up. All in all it felt great to bask in the simple pleasures of the day.
6/14/13: -- MS Office coming to iPhone. Kind of.

-- Aidan's teacher sent this blurry but awesome shot. Apparently a traveling critter guy visited the school yesterday with snakes, bugs, rodents, and other assorted creatures. That expression of wonder sprinkled with just a smidgen of terror is absolutely priceless.
6/12/13: -- Oh, snap - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug trailer !
6/11/13: -- So most of the tech world seems underwhelmed by Apple's WWDC announcements yesterday (Apple is doomed, yet again!). I dunno, I happen to think the new Mac Pro is sexy as hell. And it's safe to say iTunes Radio will be the death of Pandora. Once again Apple finds itself a victim of its own success - they've raised the bar so high that anything less than a cure for world hunger sends AAPL stock prices tumbling...
6/10/13: -- Sad, sad news - Cousin ('Uncle') Brian passed away on Friday, just a few days after back surgery. The exact whats and whys are still TBD, not that it matters much at this point. Right now the entire family is still reeling.

Brian was the dad all other dads tried to emulate. When he wasn't in the thick of some adventure with his kids, he was deep in planning for the next one. You'd check his Facebook page and there he'd be, flanked by those beautiful whippersnappers, holding up some monstrous fish they just caught... grinning from behind the wheel of a race car... digging a snow fort you'd want to ditch your house for and move into. Bad back and all, when it came to his family his supply of energy was limitless.

And you've never met a guy more willing to help with, well, anything. He'd give you the shirt off his back or hours out of his day without hesitation. He'd fix your flat. He'd move your junk. He'd plow your driveway.

We hung out at Gammy's pool a day or two before the surgery. I remember casually wishing him good luck as we drove off, and that would be the last time we'd ever see him. Cherish every second, folks.

6/6/13: -- A new, improved Fred Rogers remix video to make you smile.
6/5/13: -- The actual cost of people who smoke at work.

-- First shot of Evangeline Lilly (remember her? 'Freckles' from ABC's Lost) as Tauriel in The Hobbit. Hey wait a minute, who the heck is Tauriel?
6/4/13: -- Should the next Doctor be a woman? Why not!?

-- You know I really don't get the new Vampire Weekend video at all. But it's a catchy tune, plus the dudes from Chromeo make an appearance. So I'm cool with it.
6/3/13: -- ... and it seems quite a few fans are pretty pissed off.

-- Thrones. Holy moly, Thrones. Can we talk about it? Ok maybe I should watch it again first. I won't post any spoilers, but a few of the recaps I've read this morning are calling the climax of last night's episode the most disturbing scene in the history of television. I think I need to lie down for a while...

-- Check out my beautiful Clematis. Man, that sentence sounds dirty, eh? My wife planted them during the first spring in our new house (it still seems new to me!), along with a small wooden structure so they could latch on. This is the first time I remember them jumping to life like this! I dunno, they just make me happy for some reason.
5/31/13: -- Paying for Finn. A great read (thanks Aunt Marion!), but at the same time... hoo boy. Even folks with means consider themselves pretty $crewed, where does that leave us?

-- 60 'Man of Steel' factoids. Gotta admit, my enthusiasm for this film is growing.

-- Check out this collection of Tywinisms. My God, Charles Dance is spectacular in this role...
5/30/13: -- Spent an enjoyable evening with cousins and sis/bro-in-law at The White Horse pub. Damn good grub, no wonder the parking lot is completely full every night of the week.
5/28/13: -- Monday was gorgeous enough to warrant bringing the guinea pigs outside to hopefully add some modicum of excitement to their unthinkably boring little lives. We ran out for a few hours and didn't think twice about leaving them in a small enclosure in the shade. The cavies seemed perfectly content to graze on the unmowed grass and run around squeaking at each other. Without giving it much thought, I closed the top of their pen and put some objects on top to give it some weight. And that turned out to be a life-saving idea, for upon our return we spotted a Red-Tailed Hawk lurking in the branches overhead! Oh, the horror of what might've been...
5/23/13: -- Oh snap! A 23-ton X-Wing fighter built from 5.3 million Lego pieces was unveiled today in NYC.

-- Gatsby is big and bold and beautiful to look at. And it does a decent job of telling the story - though I haven't read the novel since the 7th grade and only had a vague idea of what to expect (and man did I have the ending all wrong!). I dunno, overall it failed to grab me. I found myself yearning for more of those sweeping CGI-enhanced scenes of 20's-style revelry, which were glorious. You've seen the commercials I'm sure. And when I wasn't longing for those scenes I was craning my ear towards the wall of the theater in hopes of catching a snippet of Iron Man 3 next door...
5/22/13: -- Have you seen this cat?

-- For weeks I'd been clinging to my coupon for a free iced coffee from Dunks, but this morning in a moment of wild abandon I redeemed that sucker. Come to find out today Dunks is having a special - one day only, iced coffee is just $0.99. I'm obviously being punished for some wrongdoing...

-- George was in an accident! But thankfully he's ok.

-- Apple to the US Senate: Screw you guys, we pay our taxes.

-- The next gen Xbox looks like it might be a game changer. If it's as great as everyone says it will be, count me in.
5/21/13: -- Most puntastic headline ever...
5/20/13: -- Took in Shame over the weekend. Don't know if I've ever seen more flawless acting. Fassbender's character was appalling to watch, but I don't think I blinked once. How did he not win best actor that year? Anyway, see the movie. But brace yourself.

-- A collection of seriously lovely vintage library ads.

-- No, I didn't win. Some lucky bastid in FL did. Folks ask why I bother buying tickets in the first place. A "Tax on the Stupid". And yeah, that's probably true. I have a better chance of being struck by lightning. Twice. On the same day. On the same spot on my left ankle. So no, I don't realistically expect to ever win. But come on, it's fun to fantasize. And the counter argument I usually offer to the doubters is this: sooner or later, SOMEbody is going to win. SOMEbody who, like myself, thinks they have absolutely zero chance whatsoever. So for a couple of bucks, why not?

-- Kate: have a magically relaxing day. 33 never looked so good !
5/16/13: -- A geektastic comparison of Science Fiction's fastest spaceships.

-- So yeah, the dryer seems to have sh*t the bed last night. So it's the usual dilemma when this sort of thing happens: A) Call a guy and have him come out for like $125, then tell us we need a new flux capacitor for $300 just so we can squeeze another year or two out of the old clunker, or B) Drop a fortune at Sears, Home Depot or wherever while secretly wondering if our old one would've been alright with a little TLC... Suggestions? Comments?

-- Get those tickets! P Bizzle is up to a quadrillion dollars for Saturday night's drawing...

-- The App Store hit the 50 billionth download milestone, someone not named Jesse Leo won a $10K gift card.
5/15/13: -- Finally got caught up on Game of Thrones last night, another stellar 'sode. I won't bore you with a full recap, there are already oodles of 'em (I'm particulary fond of this one). But I gotta say - for all of the dazzling advancements that have been made in CGI technology during the past decade or so (I think that the Gollum and Oliphaunt effects used in the LOTR films were major turning points), it was refreshing and terrifying to see a bear in that final scene - an actual living, breathing, snarling bear - rearing up on his powerful hind legs and batting poor Brienne around like a rag doll. Computer animation simply would not have worked here.

Don't know about you but I really don't want this season to end.

5/14/13: -- Aaaaand there goes your productivity for the rest of the day. You can thank me later.

-- The view from the top of the newly installed WTC spire. Feeling dizzzzzzzy...

-- Guys, my birthday is right around the corner. A Rolston Reciprocating Repeater tee would solidify my geek cred quite nicely, how 'bout it?
5/12/13: -- Moms: I don't know how you do it, but you are amazing - each and every one of you.
5/10/13: -- Gatsby is either the best or the worst movie ever, depending which reviewer you ask (Roger! We need Roger!). I dunno... It's looking more and more like a rental a few months from now.
5/9/13: -- A collection of vintage ads that would cause a major uproar today. Good find, CBT and KJLS! Personally I think we need to return to these good ol' fashioned wholesome family values, but that's just me ;)
5/8/13: -- Old School rappers embracing healthier lifestyles...

-- Anderson Cooper interviews Charles Ramsay, the neighbor who rescued those three gals from a decade of hell. I absolutely love this guy.

-- Enjoyed this NPR inverview with Pierce Brosnan yesterday. I never knew that 1) he's a widower, and his late wife played a hottie in an ealier Bond flick, and 2) just how, well, Irish the man is. For the record I think Goldeneye and The World Is Not Enough are quite passable Bond films. Tomorrow Never Dies, and Die Another Day, meh.
5/7/13: -- Just like mom always said - sit up straight!

-- Is Windows 8 the next Windows Vista? I myself have yet to test drive it in real life, though everyone I've talked to says it's annoying as hell.

-- Ultra realistic VR Guillotine simulation... just in case you've ever wondered what it would be like. I'll pass, thanks.

-- Thrones fans - try your hand at Game of Butts. Don't beat yourself up too much if you don't score 100% like I did. After all, I'm an expert on the subject.
5/6/13: -- Five perfect 10 days in a row, feels kinda like September in reverse - cool and crisp in the morning, beachable by lunchtime. Really missing my old VW Cabriolet right about now. Which reminds me that I never looked into trademarking a phrase which I invented for days such as this: Topdownportunity. As the name implies, it describes any day above 60 degrees deemed suitable for top-down driving. Hey if Pat Riley patented Three-peat, why not?
5/3/13: -- Ladies and gentlemen, start your downloads... If you're lucky enough to be the purchaser of the fifty billionth (!) app from Apple, you could bag a sweet $10K gift card. Good Lord, fifty billion downloads...

-- Discovered Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN), a nifty (free!) tool for securely wiping out hard drives. I needed it for a work thing, but for personal use this would come in handy if you're selling or donating your computer. See, when you format a drive using the traditional methods, the data isn't truly gone until the space it used to occupy is written over. So a really clever, determined person may be able to retrieve your junk. But DBAN first writes to every block on the drive, THEN wipes. Not even the CIA is gettin' your stuff at that point.
5/2/13: -- Yet another reason to avoid Google Glass... aside from the inherent creepiness of the technology itself, it's simply impossible to look cool while wearing them.

-- A Korean-American has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea. Time to send in the Navy Seals. Or maybe Jimmy Carter.

-- Johnny Marr pretty much killed it last night on Fallon. Simply awesome.
5/1/13: -- Fear the Turkish Get-up...

-- Mick Fleetwood talks to NPR about the band's new material and tour. Anybody heard the new stuff? Haven't gotten around to it yet.

-- After keeping quiet for almost 70 years, a woman who served as one of Hitler's food testers (for poison) tells her tale. Fascinating and tragic stuff.
4/30/13: -- Disney to formally coronate Merida... Yes, it's another slow news day.
4/29/13: -- Finally got around to renting Django Unchained. I'm late to this party, so what's to say that you haven't already read? It caters to our innate love of revenge fantasy in the same way that Inglourious Basterds did, and I actually rank this one slightly higher due largely to a standout (and hardly talked about?) performance by Samuel L. Jackson as a conniving, traitorous Uncle Tom type. Quentin Tarantino's knack for hypnotic exchanges of dialogue is on full display, as is the absurdly over the top violence. I don't need to tell you to tuck the kiddies in to bed before pressing play. Christoph Waltz is predicatably great, and though he and Jamie Foxx are an oddball duo they make it work. Leo DiCaprio... sure, why not? He's almost believable as a black souled plantation owner. See the flick, folks. You know what you're getting into with a Tarantino film, and even if he isn't your guy - this is solid entertainment.

-- Props to Jason Collins, the first [currently active] professional athlete to come out. Strong stuff, I tip my hat to him.
4/26/13: -- Don't know if the knee will allow me to participate in the Dirt Dash, but it looks like the Pratt Center is the place to be tomorrow !
4/25/13: -- The shrubs surrounding our little chunk of real estate (PJM Rhododendrons, or so I'm told) are boring about 97% of the time. But right around this time every April these adorable little purple flowers pop out (pictured above), reminding us that brighter days lie ahead. Finally.

-- Farhad Manjoo reflects on the iPad, Apple's red headed stepchild... for now.
4/23/13: -- This piece on NPR today convinced me that I've missed my true calling in life - a Coffeehouse Eavesdropper. No, that doesn't quite work. Brewhouse Busybody perhaps? I'll work on it.

You see, for some inexplicable reason when I step into a coffee shop I need to know everyone else's business. What is that gal typing on her Macbook? Those dudes in suits, why are they whispering? What kind of tablet is that student tweeting from? Is that a job interview going on over there in the corner? Maybe if I pretend to scan the breakfast sandwiches, I can maneuver close enough see what novel that older guy is reading... And so on. It's a weakness of mine, don't judge. Hey, Espresso: Call me. I'm your guy for Heard in the Houses.

4/22/13: -- NBA flopping set to opera music. Finally the L is cracking down and issuing fines, over the years this issue has reached epidemic proportions.

-- I like this bit about Tom Tom in yesterday's NYT. I've said it before: I couldn't care less about his apparent looniness so long as he can entertain me for two hours. And yes, the Burj Khalifascene scene from Ghost Protocol is genuinely thrilling, especially since he could've easily gone the CGI route.

-- So for the first minute, minute and a half I'm all like Yeah, I can do those moves. Not nearly as well as that big dude, but I can kinda hang... Then around the two minute mark, things take a turn for the psycho. Good gravy!

-- I don't know when a haircut became known as a "hoke", but there it is. Kudos to Aunt Kate for hooking us up yet again!
4/20/13: -- Hey Amazon, take the day off. Today is Record Store Day! Support your local shop, folks. They're a dying breed.
4/17/13: -- Apple is king. Is this a necessarily a good thing? I'm just hoping the company can stay hungry and not lose its way. I too was one of those zealots in the 90's, dutifully booting up Mac OS 7.5 while everyone else laughed. And even now I'm still not sure how I feel about Apple's runaway success.

-- When out and about if I stumble upon an interesting looking book or whatever I'll email myself a reminder to check it out in greater detail at a later time. The other night in my dream I did just that (though for the life of me I cannot recall what the book or item was, DAMNIT!). So of course the next morning I sprang out of bed and ran to check my inbox. Alas, nuttin'. How cool would it have been to have received an email from the in-dream version of myself? I'm thinking this is good sci-fi fodder...
4/16/13: -- On a lighter note, can we talk about Thrones? Finally caught S3E3 last night, and overall it was a great 'sode. But I am not happy about **spoiler alert** what happened to Jaime. To me he is one of the most interesting characters on the show, but without his blade bad-assery what will become of him? And I had been counting on an eventual showdown between Jaime and Bronn, and now that can never happen. Lame sauce.

-- The first thing that came to mind for me is a proclamation made by The Onion just after the Sandy Hook rampage - Just *$#& it all to hell. What kind of a world are we living in? Stop the ride, operator, I'd like to get off now...

But that kind of mindset assures victory for the murdering psychos. And that can't happen. So crack on, people. Justice will be served.

4/15/13: -- By now you've no doubt heard about the goings on at the Boston Marathon. Here are some of the first photos from the scene (warning - intense).

-- Giant snails invade Florida. There's a good pun in here someplace, I just can't think of one yet...

-- Catching Fire teaser trailer! Hey Katniss... How you doin' ?

-- If I had a dime for every time a Nanclyn-ism popped into my head at a key moment... phrases like Who ever said life was fair? when I'm dragging around feeling sorry for myself, or No such thing as a bad nap! when I'm trying to justify nodding off for a quick one. And so it is with great pleasure that we wish the Mother of this whole fam-i-lee a very happy [belated] birthday!
4/12/13: -- So David Lee Roth is still alive and [split] kicking, here's what he's been up to. The hot for teacher has become the teacher.
4/11/13: -- Finished Bioshock Infinite last night, and I'm in awe. Will blather on about it when I have more time, but for now consider my mind officially blown. Never before have I finished a game and felt an immediate impulse to 1) contact the game developers to personally thank them (which I did today on Twitter!), 2) cry, and 3) start over again. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the conclusion, sh*t got deep. As in **minor spoiler alert** Marty McFly bumping into another version of himself deep. Butterfly effect and parallel universe deep. Dudes singing a Beach Boys tune in 1912 deep. That kind of stuff... I'm old-school, no one gets a 10 out of 10. But Infinite is up around 9.8 or 9.9. Someone needs to make a movie out of this thing.
4/10/13: -- The 25 books that every child should have on his or her bookshelf. This list makes me feel like a terrible parent...
4/9/13: -- Thrones stars doing ordinary things. Awesome but yes, weirding me out for some reason. Guess I'm so used to them screwing and/or killing one another.
4/8/13: -- After a 25 year love affair I've been more or less ready to say goodbye to basketball. Time spent on the court has dwindled to a couple of hours per month, and lately even less than that due to knee issues. The knee that was scoped last year feels great, however a bone bruise behind the other one is taking an eternity to heal. And I've always said I will quit before I become Fat Elvis, limping and lumbering down the court when I no longer have any business doing so. It's one thing to fiddle around with my Saturday morning hoops buddies, but semi-serious pickup and/or league games have been off the menu for quite some time.

But ooooooh, if I didn't feel the calling this past weekend. I was preparing to leave after a few lighthearted early morning games, and as it turns out some very decent talent has been showing up Saturday mornings just after 8. Apparently it's become A Thing. Solid players, many of whom I recognized from a past life. No BS, no trash talk, minimal attitudes - just quality games. Ok knee, whenever you're ready...

-- Spring. And not an hour too soon...
4/5/13: -- Ebert's passing is a big deal to me. How to sum everything up without being overly sappy, and yet still do him justice? I'm already failing miserably. Counting tweets, it's safe to say I've read something written by him every day for the past, well, I don't even know. Five years? Six? I've already seen dozens of remembrances, obits and blog posts that have lamely used " 2006 when Roger lost his ability to speak, he found his true voice." (or words to that effect), so I won't even go there. Oh wait, I just did. It's just that it's so true.

His prolific career spanned several decades, and enough has been written about that already. I became a fanboi sometime around '08 or '09, when I started following his tweets. The man absolutely owned Twitter. He could cram that same inimitable style found in his reviews, blog posts and letters into a sub-120 character tweet. When so many old-school writers clung to their typewriters and their AOL accounts and went the way of the literary curmudgeon, he embraced social media and made it his own. I can't think of anyone who forged a more perfect online presence.

And let's talk about the reviews. If I had a dime for every time I found myself late at night poking around on his site, randomly selecting links from that towering right-hand column of archived critiques - not with any intention whatsoever of ever watching the movies themselves - rather to inhale another fix of that writing. How many thousands of these columns has he penned over the years? How is almost every one of them fresh, thought-provoking, and a delight to read? For a real hoot check out the write ups on films he truly disliked. Here are his thoughts on Twilight: Eclipse "... more impressive is the ability of both Edward and Jacob to regard Bella with penetrating gazes from 'neath really dope eyebrows. When my eyebrows get like Edward's, the barber trims them and never even asks me first." And then there's his take on that dreadful Conan movie from 2011. "The plot involves -- oh, never mind. You have your barbarians, and they kill one another in an unending series of battle scenes." He clearly had a lot of fun with these.

There are treasures to be found in his blog posts and reader correspondences as well. I've set a calendar reminder to read his autumn leaves post every September 1st. Jason Kottke dug up his fav Ebert piece entitled 'Dwarfs, Little People and the M-Word'. Classic. If you had something meaningful to say in the comments section of his site, there was a decent chance he would reply directly to you. Rare for a celeb these days.

I'm hoping the Powers that Be don't touch one iota of his online content, there's still so much to get to. Roger - thanks for everything.

4/4/13: -- Update: Roger Ebert has passed away at age 70.

-- Bummer for Girls fans, Charlie is leaving.

-- Here's a nice piece by Jason Gorber on Twitch for/about Roger Ebert, who sadly will be taking what he's calling a leave of presence due to his worsening health. Say what you will about his politcal rants, his writing on movies/life makes me smile.

-- Ok so apparently now we're NOT supposed to stretch before a workout.

-- Mommy made bunny butt pancakes this past Easter morn (pictured here). Took me a minute... yeah, the smaller pancakes are the bottom of the hind feet, the blob of Cool Whip is the tail. See? Pinterest isn't entirely useless.
4/2/13: -- So yeah, today is World Autism Awareness Day. Big whoop. You probably won't give it much thought unless you happen to know someone affected by Autism in some way. Hardly a mention on mainstream media today - CNN, NPR, Reuters... a blurb if anything. Why? The latest data shows that 1 in 50 kids will be "on the Spectrum" to some extent. Isn't that kind of a big deal? Why is this not right up there in the conversations (and funding) with cancer, Alzheimers, diabetes, and HIV? My guess is that a lot of folks don't entirely trust the 1 in 50 stat. The usual responses to those figures are that A) doctors are simply being more generous in handing out the diagnosis in order to render their patients eligible for services, and/or B) that the definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder has recently changed, and now encompasses more kids.

Who knows, maybe there's some truth to these explanations. Whatever the case, I wonder if one day we'll look back at this entire generation of lost kids and wonder why more wasn't done to find out what the heck is going on.

-- Well well well, look what snuck into yesterday's All Things Considered. I'm finding this game a lot more rewarding than any Greek tragedy I've ever labored through. And hey for the record, I too threw the ball at the announcer...

Ain't it grand when something not only lives up to, but actually surpasses your highest expectations? BS Infinite and GOT Season 3 Ep 1 have recently done just that.

4/1/13: -- Peter Jackson answers a few questions about the next Hobbit installment, which cannot be released soon enough.

-- A whirlwind of a weekend. Saturday was Jake's official party, since his actual b-day fell on a lame school day. Danbury's new Monster Mini Golf (9th hole clown pictured above) was a fun change from the usual boring Chuck E Cheese parties most kids have these days ... Of course the Halloween decor was right up Jake's alley. Pricey though. Trying to think back to when I was that age, I vaguely remember keeping it simple by inviting a bunch of rugrats over for cake, games, etc and having a perfectly stellar time just causing havoc around the house. But nowadays we can't seem to get through our boys' b-days without dropping a small fortune.

Easter Sunday featured the usual glucose spikes and sugar-induced stomach aches early on. In the afternoon we had a Mexican feast in Purdys at the home of Uncle Peter's awesome gf. Such a pleasant gathering, but by 5PM we were just DONE. Someone promise me there are no more children's parties or major holidays in the near future...

3/29/13: -- Gearing up for Thrones Season 3 on Sunday night. Need to catch up? Take 9 minutes.

-- Trouble brewing? Sh*t just got real, maybe this will prompt people to think seriously about climate change...

-- How long before all the bees are gone?

-- Sad to hear that Uncle Vernon Dursley (actor Richard Griffiths) has passed away. Loved him in the Potter films, and also as Magistrate Philipse in Sleepy Hollow.
3/28/13: -- So apparently the awesomely awesome wall of ice in Game of Thrones defies physics in real life. Leave it to the geeks to ruin my show... Undaunted, I still intend to watch the Season 3 premier this weekend.
3/26/13: -- Yahoo pays geeky teen about $30M for his smartphone app... well done, kid!

-- The Good Doctor is back this Sunday on BBC America. Ladies and gentlemen - start your DVR's.

-- I simply cannot believe that my Nakey Jakey is 7, where do the years go? Kid, you are a spark plug. Mom and I love you to death a trillion times over. Please don't ever change.
3/24/13: -- Today's NYT on Bioshock Infinite: "...a literary endeavor for a multimedia age". Full article here. My excitement has officially reached a fever pitch. The trailers have been all over primetime TV and the internet, and what impresses me is that they use exclusively in-engine footage. Most game trailers use eye-popping animation and/or cut-scenes, but then when you actually sit down with the game it plays like Atari Pong. Suffice to say that on Wednesday morning I shall require extra caffeination...
3/22/13: -- You should be training like this guy. Oh wait, you can't. No one in the world can. How is it that I've never heard of him before?
3/21/13: -- More art awesomeness from Dubya. Know what? A few of these ain't half bad.

-- A quick but interesting Q&A with Lindsey Buckingham. Sounds like he and Stevie have unfinished business...

-- And just like that, Farhad Manjoo has once again doomed American Giant by singing its praises to Slate's gazillion readers... a tragic victim of its own runaway success. That being said, I would love one of them thar hoodies if you can actually get your hands on one. XL in Smoke Blue please.

-- Oh snap, The Hobbit is out on DVD already?

-- Enduring an hour of i95 in hopes of winning some Dave tickets. Don't know if I'll make it...
3/20/13: -- Fred Rogers would've been 85 today. Here's the Esquire profile from 1998, lengthy but worth the read.

-- March Madness is up on us yet again. Filling out a bracket this year? I like this bit from NPR - you're almost better off not knowing much about college hoops, since the NCAA geeks tend to overthink things. And your odds of picking a flawless bracket by way of random guessing? 147 quintillion to one. I had never heard of a quintillion prior to this morning. A lottery ticket is much safer bet, just a lot less fun. Go Cardinals!
3/19/13: -- So apparently the going rate for a tooth under the pillow is FIVE BUCKS. I remember getting a quarter, if I was lucky.
3/18/13: -- Matthew Crawley looks like hell now. Serves him right... Yes, I'm still pissed about that whole situation.

-- An historic record has been shattered...

-- Thrones. %$#* yeah, Thrones.
3/17/13: -- Anybody know what channel the parade is on?
3/13/13: -- I'm taking great offense to Slate Magazine's new war on the email sign off. It's bad enough that I've stopped indenting new paragraphs in emails. When iChatting or texting I'm even finding myself *gasp* not bothering to capitalize the first letters of sentences. My God, WHAT HAVE I BECOME???? But I will always - ALWAYS sign off on emails in some way or another. Call it my miniature tribute to the lost art of letter writing. Remember back in the day when we used to put pen to paper? Well crafted sign offs have been an oddball obsession of mine for years, and I can heartily recommend two great books which are positively teeming with lovely examples - For Your Eye Alone, painstakingly compiled by Judith Skelton Grant, and As Always, Julia by Joan Reardon.

I am hoping my dear Jesse Leo dot com'ers will join me in this crusade. And so as ever I remain

Yours Faithfully,


-- New Bowie. New Clapton. A good week for music. Oh and then there's this guy. I thought Justin was a movie star now, why bother putting out a mediocre album?
3/12/13: -- Ten Days Alone in Cuba. This sounds like a beautiful experience in every possible way. TAKE ME !

-- Much ado about six divided by two... I got 9, and I stand by it.

-- Sad to learn that Star Wars: The Clone Wars has aired its final episode after a terrific run of five seasons...
3/8/13: -- What was predicted to be 3 wet, slushy inches turned out to be more like 7" of fluffy stuff. It was beautiful to wake up to, but I'm seriously done. Spring, whenever you're ready...
3/7/13: -- The trailers for the new Oz flick are absolutely dazzling, but Ebert's lackluster review completely squashed my desire to see it. I guess there's no place like home... as in, renting the DVD and watching it at home.

-- A collection of hilarious home wifi network names. I sincerely hope you all got the Super Mario and LOTR references...
3/5/13: -- D'Angelo comes out of hiding and jams with Questlove. Oh, to have been a fly on that wall. New album in the works?

-- There's a time to go generic, and there's a time to spend the extra dough on the real thing...

-- Almost lost it this morning listening to the great Pat Summitt talk about her memoir, Sum It Up. To have made such an enormous impact on sport, then not be able to recall huge chunks of your life's work... I can't imagine anything more cruel.
3/4/13: -- Jimmy Fallon is on way past my bedtime, but of course I DVR'ed Prince's performance on Friday night (think I'm in love with that lead guitarist). The man has quietly become the new Where's Fluffy, booking only very select gigs and generating intense buzz. Remember when he presented at the Grammy's a few weeks ago, who among us wasn't secretly praying for him to grab a guitar and start thrashing?
2/28/13: -- The Power of Words. Maybe a tad over the top, but wow.

-- I secretly love Steve Earl's cover of I'm Looking Through You. Funny thing about that song, I had randomly included the Beatles' original version on last summer's Block Island 'drivin' around/hangin' out' playlist (an essential part of every vacation). It instantly became one of Aidan's all-time favs. Meaning we heard it over... and over... and over...

-- Pretty girls, ugly gifs...

-- Today is Rare Disease Day. We're wearing blue in support of dup15q. Ha! I'm a poet and didn't even know it. People are showing us major love over on Facebook in appreciation of our little Duppy Conqueror. Thanks to all, seriously. It means everything.
2/26/13: -- Because I'm a "face your fears" kinda guy - shaved my face AND cleaned the litter box (my two least favorite chores)... ON THE SAME DAY! Things are going to start happening to me now.
2/27/13: -- Some optimistic thoughts regarding retirement...
2/25/13: -- Celebrated DC's 9th birthday on Saturday... good golly, NINE! My wife had the great idea of renting out The Maxx in New Milford and inviting many of the terrific Special Needs kids in our area we've met over the years... kids that normally don't get invited to parties. This was the ideal venue since the kids could run amok and make as much noise as they liked... no stressed-out parents trying to maintain order. No judgmental glares from bystanders.

A massive Cat in the Hat cake and a truckload of pizzas did the trick food-wise. The birthday boy himself was all smiles. Well, for the most part. Now we get to do it again a month from now for Jakey! Geez, what were we thinkin' having brothers with birthdays so close together?

2/22/13: -- Aidan's birthday party... the Oscars... another snowstorm... big weekend on tap!
2/21/13: -- My old clunker needs a ball joint replacement, ugh. But the peace of mind that comes with knowing my wheel won't fly off on the highway, well, I guess it'll be worth it.
2/20/13: -- Hear hear! Reclining seats on commercial flights - like the atomic bomb - should be un-invented. Ever had to stare at some guy's scalp for five hours? Ugh.
2/19/13: -- But let me tell you just why I'm pissed about the Downton Season 3 finale - one does not cook up a bit of tragedy in the closing seconds of an otherwise bland season for no reason other than to build anticipation for Season 4 (God knows when that will be)... **Spoiler Alert** The eyes open lifeless stare sealed the deal, they could've at least shut his eyes to keep us wondering whether he was merely knocked out. Killing off the two most likeable (and in passing, best looking) characters on the show was a boneheaded move IMHO. This was almost as upsetting as HBO's decision to lop off Ned's head in GOT... I may have watched my final episode.

Ok who am I bullsh*ttin'? Any word on Season 4?

2/18/13: -- So evidently whatever happened on the Downton Abbey season finale last night was a big enough deal to spark outrage across the civilized world. I was watching the NBA All Star game, so of course today I'm avoiding all human contact as well as resisting the urge to peek at any website that might contain spoilers. Must. Watch. Tonight.

The All Star game used to be a huge deal for me, and I even had the great privilege of attending a couple of them. And though it's lost a lot of its lustre it's still great fun, particularly in the 4th quarter when the fellas actually play some semblance of defense... Of course the true hoops-related treat of the weeknd was the endless barrage of Jordan highlights in celebration of his 50th. Man - $ is 50! I feel old. Don't get me wrong, some of these whipper-snappers can do some amaaaaaazing things. But not like Mike. Still the G.O.A.T.

2/15/13: -- I really hope NASA's calculations are correct, and this thing misses us today. A cataclysmic asteroid collision could ruin my entire weekend.

-- Oscar, what the hell?
2/14/13: -- The debate raging over at Wired regarding the Battle of Hoth is absolutely delicious. Give it a read and let me know your thoughts.

-- Let me get this straight... The Dowager Countess herself does not watch Downton Abbey? What madness is this?

-- A pair of impossibly romantic letters written by Johnny Cash to his wife.

-- Roses? Bah! Card? Rubbish! I woke up to find a buncha chocolate (MILK chocolate, mind, none of that dark nonsense) and Skyfall on DVD. I heart my wife.

Happy V-Day to all, I hope you're feelin' the love.

2/11/13: -- This has been blowing up the Internet today - an interview with the Navy SEAL guy who shot bin Laden.

-- Hey wait, people were just having a hard time translating from Latin. Turns out His Holiness is just going on a 2-week vacation.

-- Here's a whole buncha info about the massive rock that will soon pass alarmingly close to this planet we inhabit.

-- Major props to the road crews, they did a stellar job clearing things up in our area. By 1PM on Saturday the major roads were fine. Take that, Nemo!
2/8/13: -- George Dubya... aspiring artist?

-- The Weather Channel taking some ribbing over the name Nemo.

-- This bit of news will likely disappoint the ladies... and many dudes as well!
2/7/13: -- Mr. Bean likes (and can afford) fast cars, if only he could drive worth a damn...

-- Well played, Jeopardy producer people...
2/6/13: -- Dad gives teenage daughter $200 to quit FB. And apparently it was her idea!

-- Star Wars character spin-off movies? Yes, please.

-- A cat? A CAT? Bring back the iron!

-- So on Friday we might get an inch... or maybe two feet.
2/5/13: -- Hang me upside down for more than a few seconds and it feels like my head will pop. But if it works for big bad Laird, I'm willing to add some inverted time to my daily ritual.
2/4/13: -- And speaking of the Bowl, here is a compilation of more animated Beyonce than you'd ever need in a lifetime of halftime shows...

-- Pretty good Bowl yesterday, eh? And this time around the highlight was the actual game itself - not the commercials. In fact aside from Bar Refaeli making out with some nerdy guy, none of the pricey pitches made a memorable impression at all (and seeing as the airtime cost something like $4M per 30 seconds, that's pretty sad). I was multitasking so very well may have missed a few. Slate has a full roundup/recap.
1/31/13: -- Nevermind, they fixed it. But still, even those few minutes of downtime are a big deal for them. Heads will roll!

-- Holy wow, Amazon appears to be down.

-- Paperman is a beautiful breath of fresh air. The fluidity of the movements reminds me of classic Disney, films made with actual elbow grease instead of pointing and clicking. Let's hope this is where animation is going.
1/30/13: -- Had an hour to kill and watched the premier ep of Banshee. Know what? Not half bad. Give it a watch.

-- Well this settles it, I'm not doing any more housework...
1/28/13: -- And speaking of Apple, can we talk about the state of their retail stores?
1/25/13: -- Rumors of Apple's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Even when you're winning, sometimes you just can't win.
1/24/13: -- Don't hate on Sir David, he calls 'em like he sees 'em. He is 100% correct in his assessment of how we treat this planet.
1/23/13: -- ...or was she???
1/22/13: -- People Are Awesome 2013 (via kottke). I have never said "holy sh*t" so many times consecutively.

-- So she lip-synched. Yeah, I know, slow news day.

-- Got caught up on Downton last night. Am I the only one who doesn't have a problem with Bates?
1/21/13: -- Fascinating and disturbing look inside North Korea, as informally documented by Sophie Schmidt (daughter of Google boss Eric). It still blows my mind that in this day and age an entire nation of people live like this. As Schmidt aptly describes: They're hostages in their own country, without any real consciousness of it.

-- Photobombs of the Inauguration. Ooooh that one of Bubba Clinton gawking at Kelly Clarkson and the grip she has on that microphone... The captions that come to mind are absolutely hilarious. But this is, after all, a family website so I'll behave. Reluctantly.

-- Belated birthday dins for dear Mother at Mexicali Rose last night. Respectable grub, decent prices, and a darn cute server. Of course the true gauge of any Mexican restaurant is the quality of its margarita, of which I did not partake. But other members of our party gave it the thumbs up, so overall I'd say add this lil hole in the wall to your must-dine list.
1/18/13: -- Book Review Time: 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Finally finished this one a while back, thought I'd post a few thoughts... not the usual King fare. More of a love story than anything else, and a sweet one at that. The plot, briefly: a down-on-his-luck English teacher travels back in time with a plan to thwart the JFK assassination and create a better future. At least that was the idea. But things turn complicated when he falls in love, and also discovers that the past might not WANT to be changed... The past is obdurate, you'll find that phrase on almost every other page. Does everything happen for a reason?

I liked this novel. It was intriguing to think of the past as an almost sentient being who will fight tooth and nail to remain unaltered. It also got me thinking about what I would do (besides play the lottery with winning numbers I'd memorized), and what I would try to change if I could go back. Tip off the Feds about 9/11? Warn people about the 2004 tsunami? Noble as these ideas may seem, in this novel the consequences of preventing these tragedies might be far worse than the events themselves. Sorry Stephen, I would at the very least prevent what happened in Sandy Hook last month, repercussions be damned.

-- Ooooh, this is too good not to share. A real-life attorney analyzes Bilbo's contract with the dwarves from The Hobbit.

-- Some moving guys at the office today, so of course the door is propped open and it's 23 degrees! I'm at my desk bundled up in full winter garb, fingers numb on the keyboard. If only there was a candle on my desk, I could make like Bob Cratchit and warm my digits over the flame when Scrooge isn't lookin' !
1/17/13: -- Hmmmm... January 17th. The date stands out for some reason. Jan 17th. 1/17... Hmmmm... Oh yes - MOTHER'S BIRTHDAY! Mother, hope it's a happy one. We'll dine on tortilla chips this Sunday to celebrate!
1/16/13: -- Ladies: eat berries.
1/15/13: -- Facebook's new search engine thingy. I can't decide if this is exciting or not.

-- And this, friends, is how you send it down properly...

-- Noticing how email spam categories come in odd batches, usually lasting about a week or so. Last week the subject lines in my inbox read things like "New ways to enhance her pleasure", "Leave her wanting more", etc. Those stopped abuptly, now it's all about hot stock tips. There's got to be a method to this madness.

-- Sorry Lance. A cry on Oprah's couch isn't going to help. We're all really pissed at you. It's over. Just fade into obscurity.
1/14/13: -- Talkin' 'bout the weather: weird is becoming the new norm...

-- Stars lined up for old-school Polaroid shots after last night's Golden Globes.

-- In my haste I think I accidentally grabbed a pair of my wife's jeans this AM. I am not leaving this chair until 5PM...
1/11/13: -- Yes, The Hobbit was long and meandering, and yes it was shamelessly embellished, and yes there were scenes and characters and goings-on that were not in the beloved novel... well too bad, I friggin' loved every minute of it. All you Hobbit movie naysayers can kiss my furry feet. Bring on Part 2 !

-- You get what you pay for... Thinking I'd start off on a frugal note for 2013, I eschewed my usual $18.99 (plus shipping) St John wall calendar in favor of a $4.88 "Gardening" cal I stumbled upon at Walmart. Bland but effective! That is until I started thumbing through to June, in order to pencil in a few appointments and days I'm hoping to take off. The pages start at January, February... then back to January, and February again... then all the way to September, October and November... then once again September, October and November. At least it ends with December. But are we skipping Spring and Summer this year? I rather like those seasons.

-- This craziness with the flu continues. Effective immediately I'll be wearing a surgical mask 24 hours a day, and twice a day I plan to immerse myself in a vat of Purell hand sanitizer.
1/9/13: -- Ouch. Mark Cuban fined $50K by the NBA for a single tweet...

-- Ok now maybe people will start taking climate change seriously, read on...
1/8/13: -- We might as well resign to the fact that we are all probably going to get the flu in the near future.
1/7/13: -- Winners of the National Geographic Photo Contest 2012. Stellar!

-- Whether you're a geek or not, news that an Architeuthis has been caught on film for the first time will quicken your pulse...

-- Took in Chaplin over the weekend. Was expecting ho-hum but came away feeling great. It had been years since either the missus or myself had seen a show, and Chaplin reminded us just how special it can be. I'd say get yourself some tickets, but the last show was Sunday the 6th! Hopefully it'll make another run.

After the show we did the NYC walkaround thing, and Times Square on a Saturday night is not to be missed - even in chilly January. Where else can you see Darth Vader, Spongebob, and Iron Man strolling around and signing autographs like they own the place? Plus there was a massive billboard image of Beyonce, easily hundreds of feet by hundreds of feet, with a Pepsi logo emblazoned on those full lips. I swear she winked at me.

1/4/13: -- My most vivid, whacked-out and nonsensical dreams occur in the early morning hours, when I'm drifting in and out and begging to the high heavens for ten more minutes. This morning I dreamt that I was sitting with my wife describing the erratic motion of R.A. Dickeys unhittable knuckleball, and she was listening in absolute rapture. So why on earth would I dream this? Neither of us give half a damn about baseball, and that knuckleball video is something I barely noticed as it was bouncing around the Internet a few weeks ago. And while I found it very cool (especially the flinching of the catcher and the dumbfounded expression on the batter's face), I hadn't given it much thought at all... So what gives? What would Freud say?

-- I like Farhad Manjoo's geeky resolutions for 2013. And his 91,109 unread emails eases the guilt I feel about my paltry 332...
1/3/13: -- It's our own fault for writing her a sterling letter of recommendation... but how could we not? Aidan's primary one-on-one is leaving for a better position elsewhere. She's been a rockstar in our corner for years, her ability to keep our guy focused and on task is almost mythical. It's a great move for her and well deserved. But damn she will be missed...

-- It's officially time to start getting excited about Downton Abbey, just a few more days 'til Season 3! Here's The Atlantic on why we simply cannot get enough...
A few sites I dig:

Boing Boing
Me on Twitter!
MVY Radio
WEHM Radio
The Awl
ars technica
On St. John
National Geographic
Calvin & Hobbes
Daring Fireball
Jason Kottke