jesse leo dot com - 2016 edition
Old junk:


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1/4/17 -- The story of Old Horse Charlie made me smile and sniffle at the same time.
1/1/17 -- I've long considered Disney's "Big Three" - Mermaid, Beast, and Aladdin - to be untouchable. Modern classics never to be matched. I mean sure, you've got your Toy Stories, Nemos, and your Monsters Incs, etc, and those are terrific. But for me that original trifecta stands alone. However, now having just seen Moana, I gotta say this one comes darn close. It's special. It's beautiful. Go check it out.

-- What choice do we have but to hope and strive for 2017 to suck less than its predecessor? Beloved celebrities dropping like flies, daily mass killings around the world, Donald Freaking Trump...

I choose hope. I choose optimism. These will carry the day.
12/27/16 -- Here's 2016 summed up in one brilliant cartoon...

-- Christmas morning/day was chaos, and that's just the way we like it. More later, back to work I go!
12/23/16 -- Last weekend we met some friends for pizza and visited the Torrington Christmas House. Aidan's teacher shared a piece he wrote about it:

I went to the christmas house i was with mom and dad
i opened the door with cds i said its me
your cousin josin and alexis its nice to see you
familymembers why should hangout in this place
and have fun and eating pizza i had leglamp
its frageley it must be italian its a statue of a
lamp i saw santa and msclaus inside the christmas house
i saw a train by the snow i was filled with joy and comfort
i couldnt believe my eyes it was experience i was
playing hockey by the snow dad toldme wayto
go your a good hockey player yes iamgood at hockey
hockey is a real sport the ice began to crack
this is fun like snowboarding i said to my mom and dad
iam skiing on one side of my sledding sport
i did know snowboarding is a real sport just for fun

The hockey and snowboarding was actually just skidding around on sheets of ice on the sidewalk. Funny thing - you think he isn't paying attention or really taking anything in - but sometimes he truly seems to catch and appreciate every little thing... We can't forget that.

-- Holly-jolly blitzkrieg... maybe I should've tried it these past few weeks?
12/21/16 -- At long last - a non creepy, non date-rapey version of Baby It's Cold Outside. Nicely done.
12/20/16 -- It comes down to the music, of course. As it always does. The production of A Charlie Brown Christmas we took in last Saturday was super cute and completely kid-friendly, which was quite a relief since Aidan was making all kinds of noise. By the end of the show we were Fa la la-la la'ing out loud (well, at least I was) along with the cast.

The jazz quartet who played Vince Guaraldi's masterpiece throughout the play did a damn fine job. I'm finding that as the big weekend approaches, it's the music that's singlehandedly saving 2016: The Christmas That Wasn't. Turn it up!

12/17/16 -- Christmas shopping with the wifey last night, followed by a spirity wrap session next to the tree. It's a Wonderful Life on TV, in its original black and white splendor (and with limited commercial interruption!). Waking up today to a gorgeous snowfall in progress. Tickets to a local production of A Charlie Brown Christmas this afternoon, weather permitting, and tomorrow night a showing of White Christmas at Edmond Town Hall.

Christmas 2016: Can't say we didn't try...

12/15/16 -- Yahoo users (all three of you): change your account password. Again.
12/13/16 -- By now you've probably heard about the terminally ill boy who died in Santa's arms. I can't... I just can't.
12/11/16 -- It's off this year, it's just off. It just doesn't feel like Christmas time. I know, I know, I sound just like Charlie Brown. There have been some spirity moments, but far too few of them. And here we are at the halfway point...

Still time to turn it around, though. Maybe Vince Guaraldi can save us...

12/9/16 -- Been using one of those humane mousetraps to great effect - three varmints in as many days, right off the bat. But a few nights ago we clearly messed with the wrong rodent. Checked the trap first thing in the morning and found it about a foot to the left of where I'd set it. There were green pastic shavings all over the place. The trap door had been knocked off, and our little guest was of course long gone. This mighty mouse must've shaken, clawed, dug, bounced, rattled, and rolled his way to freedom. Angry? Naw. Can't help but give props to the little bugger.
12/7/16 -- The evolution of Disney animation over the years. I'll take the charm of The Jungle Book over 100 computerized Zootopias any day.
12/6/16 -- Best Christmas ad ever? You could certainly make that argument. Though it's not necessarily Christmas-y until the end... eh just watch, and feel all the feels.

-- Check out Lebron and the Cavs dissin' Trump. For all the good it'll do...
12/4/16 -- In desperate need of some holiday spirit around here, so we attended a kids holiday play called Elf Jr. at the local theater. So so so damn cute. And I daresay we enjoyed it way more than Elf the movie.
12/2/16 -- Han and Leia in real life - I KNEW IT !

-- Say what you will about professional chess, but young superstar Magnus Carlsen is making it legitimately exciting enough for the masses. Hell, I'd watch it over golf any day.

It needs to be said, though (and keep in mind that I am a complete and total novice), the winning move wasn't as unexpected or spectacular as the article makes it out to be. Even with my feeble skills, I saw it. But hey, when writing about chess, I suppose one needs to take a few liberties for dramatic effect...

11/30/16 -- Aidan's obsession with lions continues (Santa, you listening?). Before you see him next, you'd best be prepared to answer the following questions:

- What do lions eat?
- What are baby lions called?
- What do you call that bunch of fur around their necks?
- Who does the hunting (the lion or the lioness)?

The more you know...

11/27/16 -- Sooooo many people out and about with trees strapped to their cars - my rule on this is simple: the calendar must read DECEMBER before any tree makes it to our home. Next weekend perhaps. But multicolored lights this year or all white? That is the question...
11/23/16 -- Shakin' things up this year and dining out for Thanksgiving. Now you guys know me and my annoyingly strict adherence to tradition, so needless to say I've been doing a fair amount of pacing on this one. But the restaurant we've chosen offers an old-school Turkey Day "all the fixins" meal, and I must say it'll be nice not having to spend hours washing dishes afterwards.

But let's not lose sight of what the day is all about. The fact that our family is able to sit down to a feast at a table - any table - is something I take for granted, and something I'm extremely grateful for. Enjoy the day!

11/20/16 -- What be this white stuff coating the ground and killing our plants? Yesterday was 63 and gorgeous... the birds have sprang into action, this morning it's standing room only on the suet.
11/13/16 -- I can confirm that tonight's moon is in fact quite super. Bundle up and go outside RIGHT NOW!
11/11/16 -- Hug a vet today. Seriously. Or at least thank one. We owe them everything, after all.
11/9/16 -- Puppies... new fallen snow... Mansion Beach... Christmas morning... my wife's bottom... a good book by the fire... sleeping late...

Someone please SPEAK COMFORT to me !

11/8/16 -- Well Halloween fell on a Monday this year (blech!), which means my beautiful wife's birthday also fell on that miserable day (it falls one week after my favorite holiday - impossible for me to forget!). But I think she had a pleasant day, and the festivities aren't over yet!

Happy B-Day babe, 33 never looked so good ;)

11/6/16 -- I rolled my eyes (inwardly of course, so as to not offend) when the kid at the packy described Elysian Night Owl as "Pumpkin pie in a bottle". See, I'd never even heard of it and was trying to convince him to sell me a single bottle instead of an entire six pack. Ya know, just to try it out. And man am I glad singles were against store policy... Of the dozen or so assorted pumpkin beers I sampled during these past two months, no one else even comes close. It's like the Seattle-based Elysian brewery found a way to bottle every little thing you know and love about fall - pumpkins, nutmeg, Halloween, candy corn, coffee, cinnamon, cozy outdoor fires, leaves, crisp night air, flannel shirts... uh! Flawless. Sublime.

I returned to the store a week later intending to buy up every last bottle, and of course by then it was gone for the year. Woe is me! I hit every liquor store in the area without any luck. Folks, do me a favor next August/September: when this one shows up on shelves, grab every bottle you can get your hands on for me.

So there it is, 2016's pumpkin beer winner. Honorable mention goes to Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale (always a powerful contender) and the ever reliable Dogfish Head Punkin Ale. We've got enough in the fridge to hopefully last through Turkey Day.

11/4/16 -- New Wonder Woman trailer... Two words: Yow. Za.
11/3/16 -- Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one's very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

-- George Elliot

11/2/16 -- Wow, check out this Demogorgon costume (from Stranger Things, of course). That guy officially won Halloween 2016.
11/1/16 -- Well once again the big night came and went. And of course I find myself wallowing yet again in post Halloween depression. This year my melancholia is compounded by the realization that I am way more into this holiday than my children are. And it's not just the night itself, of course -- it's the movies, the events, the cider, the pumpkins, the perfect weather, the fall beers, the foliage... all that corny stuff. I just want to cram it all into my pocket and keep it with me all year. Perhaps I will.

If nothing else I'll still be firing up those jack o's every evening 'til their proud faces crumple down like cantankerous old curmudgeons. SHINE ON, BROTHERS!

10/31/16 -- Halloween standards, you ask? Here are a few can't misses in our house every October:

The Nightmare Before Christmas
Sleepy Hollow
Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space
American Werewolf in London
The Corpse Bride
Scared Shrekless
Hocus Pocus
Hotel Transylvania (the first one)
Young Frankenstein (of course)

What are yours? We're always looking to expand on that list.

-- Admit it, you like this year's Walmart Halloween commercial almost as much as I do... Happy Halloween everyone! We don't have solid trick or treat plans as of yet, we'll likely hit New Milford Trunk or Treat on our way down to Grandma's neighborhood. Hope it's a spooky one!
10/30/16 -- A handful of vintage Halloween cartoons for your viewing pleasure. Can't believe tomorrow is the big day! October, we hardly knew ye...

This afternoon we zipped over to Edmond Town Hall for a viewing of the original Dracula. Nobody's ever done it better than Lugosi, the definitive Dracula.

10/28/16 -- My obsession with vintage Halloween postcards has reached a fever pitch. And I'm not ashamed! Originals are absurdly expensive and near impossible to find, but repros get the job done just fine. Santa, are you hearing this? There's just... something about them.
10/26/16 -- The Nightmare Before Christmas - the original poem, narrated by the late great Christopher Lee. This is a gem, how have I never see this? Good find, Kate.

-- Beautiful piece in Vulture about everything wrong with The Walking Dead - not just Sunday's much-anticipated season debut, but the show as a whole. Were the writing worth a damn, AMC wouldn't need to rely so heavily on long, drawn out splatter-fests. We're the real zombies. Maybe this is why the show has never reeled me in.
10/25/16 -- Obama reading mean tweets. Appreciate the presidential mic drop...
10/24/16 -- G. Love early 2017 tour dates announced, with nary a stop in CT. Lame sauce!

-- How to clean a Picasso masterpiece? SPIT.

-- "Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one's very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." -- George Eliot
10/23/16 -- Interesting bit about the history of time travel. Watch through to the end - as you might expect, Hitler's name arises, as it often does in any discussion about time travel in sci-fi storytelling. Would you go back and get 'im?

I find this stuff fascinating, the Butterfly Effect and all that. What if I'd worn a yellow shirt today instead of white? Drove to work the usual way instead of back roads? Not called mom? Engaged in polite chit chat with the woman scanning groceries at Big Y, instead of silently flipping through People magazine? I like to think through chain reactions of possible events, playing them through to absurd but plausible outcomes.

Now put it on a massive scale, what about going back in time and radically altering the course of human history? Stephen King's excellent novel, 11/22/63 (spoiler alert!), would warn you NOT TO MESS!. To quote Doc Brown: ...even if your intentions are GOOD, it could backfire drastically! But I dunno, I kinda feel like Hitler is the exception to the rule. Saving 6 million people is a chance you'd have to take... Thoughts?

10/20/16 -- Dogfish Head Punkin Ale tasting notes, briefly: Light copper color.. Thick foamy head... Bubbles bubbles everywhere ... Brown sugar ... Well balanced ... They found a sweet spot with this one!
10/19/16 -- Our beloved Block Island is a movie star.

-- Update on our early morning visitor (scroll down to 10/13). It was in fact my neighbor, chasing his labrador puppy around. We had a good laugh about it. That said, I'll still be locking my damn car up at night.
10/18/16 -- Temps flirting with 80 today, tomorrow even warmer. Foliage is nearing its peak. October, please don't ever change.
10/14/16 -- RIP: The Great Barrier Reef. This is beyond upsetting. Nice job, mankind.
10/13/16 -- Creepy goings on a few mornings ago - around 4:30am, Luna is barking like crazy. I groggily stagger around the house and find her peering out the window. Sure enough someone was lurking out in the driveway by the cars, shining a small lantern around as if searching for something. Or perhaps casing the joint? Looking for coffee change in the car cupholders? Who knows. I flicked on some exterior lighting and headed outside, gazing around menacingly. Trying for the life of me to look like a tough guy. But not a soul around.

What's that old saying? Trust in God, but lock your car...

10/12/16 -- The trailer for BBC's Planet Earth II is required viewing. Among other things, you'll never underestimate a giraffe again.
10/11/16 -- There's a terrific hiking trail just up the road from us, and I've only just recently learned about it. I have no idea what it's called, I just know that it's my new default spot to take in the foliage as we get into the nitty gritty of sweet, sweet October. Luna approves as well.

-- How to clean your monitor properly. Now you know.
10/9/16 -- If you get the opportunity during these next few weekends I highly recommend visiting lovely Averill Farm up here in our neck of the woods. And make sure Pizza to the People will be on location that day - basically a mobile wood-fire pizza producing chunk of heaven. Bring a picnic blanket, stuff your face, and gaze up into that blue October sky.

-- US Chess Champ is boycotting the Womens World Chess Championship in Iran, since participation would require that she cover up with a hijab. You go girl!
10/8/16 -- I wonder what would happen if a recording surfaced of Barack Obama engaging in "locker room banter" such as this. But again, what's confounding me is that this won't matter at all. Sure, it'll come up in the next debate, and maybe lead to a few uncomfortable moments for The Donald. But days later it'll be forgotten. I simply don't understand.
10/7/16 -- Attending the Carnival of Shadows tomorrow night at the Ives Concert Park. Hoping for some super spooky fun, if the weather cooperates.

-- Below are some recent pumpkin ale tasting notes. Bland but passable was the theme of the day:

Blue Point Brewing Company Pumpkin Ale: A pleasant copper color, "looks like fall" I said out loud. Bubbles raced to the top, I just sat back and watched 'em run for a full two minutes. Thin head, but not overly watery. If nothing else this one is pleasing on the eyes. As for the taste? Pumpkin! Nothing more, nothing less. Drinkable, agreeable, but utterly forgettable. It meets the requirements, yes, in that it tastes like pumpkin and there's a picture of a pumpkin on the bottle. If Acme were to put out a pumpkin beer, this would be the one.

Saranac Pumpkin Ale: Light color, almost orange-y in fact. Taste is subtle, not at all demanding. Could almost pass for a summer beer. Easy drinking but definitely lacking any kind of wow factor.

Long weekend on tap (heh, get it?), there will certainly be some more sampling going on!

10/6/16 -- Happy to see a decent sized crowd turning out for YF last night (see below). All of the laugh-out-loud scenes and iconic lines, still drawing laughs so many decades later. A woman sitting nearby was in absolute hysterics, it was beautiful. Maybe her first time? As for me - I can easily recite every line and yet this movie never gets old for me.
10/5/16 -- Date night tonight will bring us to AMC Loews for a one night only showing of Young Frankenstein. I wonder if everyone will be shouting out the lines and acting out the scenes, a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show... If so I may be forced to join right in. Blucher!
10/4/16 -- Two episodes in I can safely state that Luke Cage is worthy of your time.

-- We've been talking about a "just the grown-ups" Columbus Day jaunt back to Block Island for almost a year now, but as September rolled into October we realized it just wasn't gonna happen. General broke-ness aside, there's simply too much going on right now for any kind of travel. It's been killing me, too, because October is truly magical out there: the colors, the laid back vibe, the empty beaches with the still warm enough for swimming Atlantic, the striper fishing, the perfect hike/bike weather... However the decision to cancel just got a lot easier, as apparently a Category 4 'cane is creeping up the coast and will most certainly make its presence felt around the island this Sunday. Ah well, there's always next year. And I gotta say, October around here can be pretty damn special too.
10/3/16 -- Started cleaning up down in the basement for our haunted house, and that includes prepping the downstairs bathroom to serve as a "spider experience". As it turns out, if that is our goal we won't even need to decorate...
9/30/16 -- Must. Have. THIS.

-- So the latest round of pumpkin beer sampling included New Belgium Pumkick, one that I don't recall ever having tried before. Held up to the light it had looked murky and still, but appealing overall. Not much of a head though. Took a hearty swig and immediately felt a surge of gingerbread, apple, cinnamon, and yes - pumpkin. It's all there. Bold flavors right up in your face. Very tasty indeed, but dare I say a bit over the top? Maybe they were trying too hard. It might be the first beer I grab out of the cooler at a Halloween party (I mean come on, a crow picking out a jack o lantern's eyeball? LOVE) , but it wouldnt be the second.

-- The cover designs for the new Harry Potter eBooks are gorgeous. And speaking of HP, how about that new Fantastic Beasts trailer, eh?

-- So creepy clowns are now a thing, officially.
9/29/16 -- Trying to book every moment of every weekend with fall harvesty/pumpkiny/Halloweeny types of events. But it looks like we'll be losing much of this coming Sat and Sun to rain. Waaaaaaaaahhhhh!

-- How to send an email in 1984. I almost think we were better off back then...

-- His name was Oscar Steadman, though on the court you'd call him 'Big O'. I never knew him all that well, really just a fella I'd played in pickup games with over many years. But in a cluster of trash talking knuckleheads, this was a guy with a welcoming smile and a calm, friendly demeanor. No showboating, either - just solid, efficient, unselfish ball. Imagine: ten or fifteen years of pickup basketball with some of the area's most unsavory characters - a missed shot or a turnover would usually earn you a three minute expletive-laden tirade... and yet in all that time I never heard a single negative comment to/at/about the man.


9/28/16 -- Tsk tsk, Yahoo... tsk tsk.

-- Bummed that my gym is closing its doors forever after this week. It was exactly what I was looking for at a time when I needed to shake things up a bit. Yes, the word (or words) Crossfit is in the name, but it wasn't at all like the psycho kill yourself stuff everyone warns about. These guys are weightlifters, first and foremost, specializing in the Olympic movements: deadlift, clean, snatch, jerk, squat, and one or two others. You'd start each class with one of those, then move on to an accessory movement (e.g. core, lower back, balance, etc), and finish with a challenging but fun Workout of the Day ("WOD"). I've been lifting weights for almost 30 years, but this is a whole new ballgame. I was the novice in the room, and it felt great to climb out of my comfort zone.

Not once did I ever see anyone doing Olympic lifts for high volume as part of a WOD, which is exactly how so many crossfitters injure themselves. Those are precision movements designed to build strength, balance, and coordination, and should not be performed at high speed for many reps. Proper technique above all else. I questioned one of the instructors about this, and he agreed wholeheartedly. "We're primarily weightlifters here", he told me. The Crossfit stuff is sprinkled in to work the heart & lungs, and to keep the spare tire at bay.

I'll look around at some of the other local places, maybe take a freebie trial class here and there. But I dunno. There was a fond sense of community among the members here, and man I'll miss it.

9/27/16 -- The big debate last night... who won? Who cares? I watched the first half before going to bed, feeling more disgusted than ever about our political future. The damage is done, folks. The fact that he's made it this far makes us the laughing stock of the civilized world.

But if nothing else, there were some excellent #debates tweets bouncing around.

9/23/16 -- Anyone interested in buying Dracula's castle? Or at least the closest thing to it...

-- This time of year I keep a werewolf figurine on the dashboard, because, well doesn't everyone? This morning I accelerated into traffic and he tumbled down off the dash and brushed against the radio knob, changing the station to static. Guess he didn't like the song I was playing. How cool would it have been if he'd flipped to a station playing Bad Moon Rising, or Monster Mash...
9/22/16 -- Ok AMC Loews will be airing Young Frankenstein on Wednesday night 10/5, WHO'S WITH ME ?? ?
9/21/16 -- Passengers. Whoa.

-- On this 21st day of September we finally get an Earth, Wind and Fire September explainer. ...never let the lyric get in the way of the groove.

It is indeed the happiest song in the world.

-- iPhone 7 reviewed here. I'm considering finally upgrading my trusty ol' 5S (the best model so far IMHO), maybe after the holidays. Faster proc and improved photos are all I'm interested in. People are pissed about the headphone thing, but I don't use it much anywho.
9/19/16 -- 11 second book review: I Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh. Slick. Fun. Movie ready (it's inevitable). Same kinda vibe as The Girl on the Train. And I guarantee you'll root for the wrong person. Then you won't. Then you will. Wait, scratch that and reverse it. Oh, never mind. But if you're in the mood for a page devouring thriller, do pick this one up.

-- Whoa wait a minute. Number 4 Privet Drive is for sale? Sign me up!

-- Apparently Apple is doomed. Again.
9/18/16 -- Well we did lose day 1 on Block Island to Tropical Storm Hermine, but in the grand scheme of things it didn't matter one bit. Weather was gorgeous the rest of the week out there, and we made every hour count. And that surf... whooooaaaa Nellie.

We'd had reservations about the rental house, mainly because the realtor used the phrase "in need of updating" at least three times during our phone conversations. But our fears were put to rest upon arrival - the place sits overlooking the paradise known as Vail Beach, hell we even had our own private staircase down to the sand. It has bedrooms aplenty, a spacious yard, and views of the bluffs to die for. But the true charm of the place is found in the downstairs bathroom, where the walls are adorned with a half dozen collages assembled over the years by friends and family of the owners. They were photographic love letters celebrating the lives of Dick and Starr, who seem to have led charmed lives comprised of travel, laughter, lobster feasts overlooking the Atlantic, and of course endless beach days.

We spent the rest of the week bodysurfing those residual Hermine waves, stuffing our faces, reading, snapping photos, walking Water Street, and chasing that perfect sunset. All the usual Block Island stuff we do every time, and yet none of it ever seems to get old. She's a cruel mistress, this little lamb chop of an island... she simply won't let us go. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

9/15/16 -- Day two, back from BI. Settling back into our routines, readjusting. Imagining what we'd be doing were we still out there - planning a beach day, a hike, perhaps lunch at Los Gatitos. More later, right now there's work to be done! But in a word: stellar.
9/12/16 -- September on the Block. Nothing compares.
9/5/16 -- Well Tropical Storm Hermine be damned, we're going for it. All BI ferries were cancelled yesterday, so who knows if we'll make it out there on Tuesday. And if the boat does run, the surf conditions will likely transform the normally tranquil ride into a complete and total barf-o-rama. Pass the Dramomine!
9/4/16 -- You owe it to yourself to watch Stranger Things on Netflix. It's creepy and it's funny and it's wonderful. It lives squarely in the 80's in the best possible way. The opening scene featured four friends playing D&D in the basement, hooting excitedly while battling Demogorgon himself... at that point I knew there was no going back (though as much as I loved that scene it's worth mentioning that it wasn't entirely realistic. I mean come on, the mighty Demogorgon would never condescend to associate with mere troglodytes...). But ignore my nitpicking, this show is so so good. And I might just have a kid crush on Millie Bobby Brown. If only I could cryogenically freeze myself for a few decades, I think maybe her 30 year old self would dig me.
9/2/16 -- I simply won't let it bother me, the fact that a powerful tropical storm is meandering up the coast, just in time for our vacation. Such things are beyond anyone's control, so why obsess over it? It is what it is, as they say...

Ok we all know that's crap, I'm freaking out here. Hopefully Hermine will have fizzled before our Tuesday AM departure...

8/31/16 -- It didn't feel real, standing there with Jakey waiting for the bus on his first day of school. Weren't we just out there for the last day of school? Summer 2016 was a blur.

Aidan still leaves with mom at 6AM. His anxiety attacks during the morning are unendurable, and by the time the bus arrives he's an absolute wreck. Best to get him up and out the door as quickly as possible.

8/29/16 -- Sad to hear that Gene Wilder has died. My annual Young Frankenstein viewings, which take place throughout the month of October, will be all the more poignant.

-- Listening to NPR this morning (full story here) I learned two things about the late great Bob Ross: 1. His hair wasn't always a poofy 'fro, and 2. He was 'a tyrant' when it came to how his show was managed/arranged...

I'm not fazed. At least once a week I pop in my earbuds and fire up one his videos for an instant ASMR de-stress session.

-- Score! Was rummaging around in the bargain basement of the Gunn Memorial Library and picked up an Advance Readers Copy ("ARC") of the next Jack Reacher novel two months before it'll be available to the general public. The cost? $1!
8/27/16 -- Obviously it's way too early to start my annual pumpkin/fall beer review, I mean it's 84 degrees out today for cryin' out loud! But damn that nifty Sam Adams packaging... In a moment of weakness I grabbed a six pack of their brand new seasonal offering, 20 Pounds of Pumpkin. How could I resist? After last year's lackluster Pumpkin Batch I was hoping the company would redeem itself... and wow did they ever.

It's pretty in the glass, I held it up to the sunlight and marveled at the twinkling reddish amber hue. Not much of a head though, alas. I took a cautious swig and found myself nodding in approval. Good beer! Just the proper amount of pumpkin spices, with maybe a hint of caramel. It didn't wallop me in the face like some of these fall beers do: I AM A PUMPKIN BEER!! SEE!! TASTE THE PUMPKIN! Nope, not this one. Subtle, easy drinking here. You may very well find this one lining the cooler at our annual pumpkin carving party this year.

-- As a kid I despised tomatoes, but as of this summer I'm irrevocably addicted to the cherry variety. How did this happen? Been poppin' 'em like candy and I can't stop.
8/25/16 -- Boys back to school next week... grocery shelves stocked with pumpkin beers and wood pellets... that chill to the air at night (ideal sleeping weather!)... this is all happening too soon!

-- Go ahead and take Gerlach's Quiz. I dare you.

-- Summer 2016: the summer of forgettable blockbusters. The one that I actually got around to seeing - Jason Bourne - was pretty damn good I gotta say.

-- Is Meanwhile Back in the Dungeon the greatest Tumblr ever? It just might be.
8/22/16 -- Good games. Not amazing games, but good games. All the talk about sewage & dead bodies in the waters, incomplete construction, a corrupt and broke Olympic host country, zika viruses, and on and on... it all worked out in the end. My only gripe about these games (Ryan Lochte's idiotic antics aside), was that the outcome of almost every major event played out exactly as expected: Phelps won big. Katie Ledecky was Secretariat-like. Bolt kicked everybody's ass. The US women's gymnastics and track teams dominated. Men and women US hoops teams both won handily. The only story that gave me the warm and fuzzies was Brazil beating Germany in dramatic fashion on the soccer football field. What a moment.

But even if the games were kinda ho hum at times, I still love this stuff. It makes me sad to think what an old fogey I'll be by the time the Tokyo summer games come around. But hey, we've got PyeongChang in 2018 to tide us over. And the freestyle bumps competition is mind blowing.

8/19/16 -- Bolt. Like there was ever any doubt.

-- Another earth-ish planet has been discovered? Sad to think that if you're reading this now, you and I are one or two generations too early for some really cool space discoveries and happenings. I guess in our lifetimes all we can do is gaze upwards into the night...
8/18/16 -- Found myself by the Newtown flagpole with 20 minutes to kill, so how could I not run into Cave Comics for some old-school Conan? Grabbed an Adventure Time for Jakey as well.
8/17/16 -- How aging athletes keep Father Time at bay. To summarize: move it or lose it. Articles like this give me hope that there's still a little gas left in the tank. But man they aren't kidding about recovery time... Pass the Advil!

-- Usain Bolt is up to his old tricks, winning big and making it look easy. The NYT posted a nifty side-scrolling forensic breakdown of the gold-winning 100 meter run. Bolt's lankiness makes him sloth-like off the blocks, but once he catches his stride he's unbeatable. Meep Meep! Phoooooom! I caught the 200 meter qualifying run last night, where he casually jogged his way into the final round. Barring injury or disqualification, he should easily win the finals tonight. It's basically Varsity vs JV.
8/16/16 -- Lovely photographic recreations of famous literary meals. Love it.

-- So initially we were only planning on seeing G. Love this summer. But June was approaching and there was still no mention anyplace of his summer tour schedule including a stop at Jonathan Edwards Winery. But Donavon Frankenreiter was already lined up, so why not? He's on the Brushfire label, and he has a few surfer-y tunes that we like. Like not love. So we grabbed a pair of tix. And then of course a week later G Love confirmed that he would in fact return to the winery, so we found ourselves "stuck" with the DF tickets. I'm ashamed to admit that at one point we even considered trading them in. What a tragic mistake that would've been! The show was an absolute delight - we were right up against the stage, dancing and sweating off the local wine as fast as we could drink it.

So now we're on the hook every summer for not one but two un-missable concerts. Oh the hardship.

8/12/16 -- New Rogue One trailer! And how about that little bonus surprise at the end, a cameo by a certain dark helmeted, muffled breathing baddie... goosebumps!

-- Well I can confirm the bat conundrum is real (see 8/9 post, below). Around dusk the other night I sat watching the attic window intently for a few minutes, and yep - they flutter in and out doin' their thang. So now what? Googling around, of course, mostly yields advertisements for pest removal. Will the critters up and leave by themselves when the weather cools down? Do they hibernate? Transform into vampires? I don't have time for this crap guano.

-- Pleased to report that my beloved butterfly bushes, which I was certain had perished during that bitter stretch of subzero days last winter, are alive and thriving. And we're starting to see visitors.
8/9/16 -- Dog overboard!

-- Nookie before athletic competition: does it hamper performance, or is that a myth?

-- Study: Being lazy is a sign of high intelligence. See, mom? Been saying it for years...

-- There's evidence to suggest that we have bats in our belfry, or more specifically our attic. I've been working up the nerve to climb up there to investigate, where I'm sure I'll face the double assault of 1: discovering a writhing horde of the fascinating yet creepy critters themselves, and 2: the realization that having them humanely relocated will cost big bucks. I will say this though - normally the mosquitos around our yard in the summer are intolerable, but this year they're a non issue. Eat up, my furry little friends!
8/4/16 -- A tale of two pole vaulters. Sad, but true. But hey, these are the times we live in. I wish them both well.
8/3/16 -- So did I like Cursed Child? I did. Liked but didn't love. First, keep in mind it's not a novel but a screenplay, and reads as such. Second, it's not written by JK Rowling. That is evident right away, and even now I'm not sure what her involvement was. At times it felt like highly polished fan fiction assembled by someone who'd just binge-watched all three Back to the Future films.

That said, how wonderful it was to plunge back into that universe for a few hours. To visit beloved Hogwartians (Hagrid! Snape! I could just hug them!) and much-hated nose-less bad guys just one more time! This could've gone horribly wrong, but I think it came out ok. One thing's for sure - if and when the play makes its way to the US, that will be one hot ticket, impossible to attain by ordinary muggles like us.

-- Back is much better, though still a bit of a twinge now and then. Doc looked at x-rays (above) and confirmed that the disks, which he likened to little jelly donuts, are healthy and still allow for decent spacing between the vertebrae. What likely happened while exercising that day is one jelly donut was overly stressed/tweaked and swelled up, touching a nerve. I just need to ease my way back into things.
8/2/16 -- Well ain't this nice - another little unexpected global warming gotcha: the thawing of permafrost in Russia has led to an anthrax outbreak.

-- Don't know about you but I was thinking that whole 1000-member band thing had run its course. But now there's this. Rapture.
8/1/16 -- Hey all you lame-o's who ordered Cursed Child from Amazon - Jakey and I attended an awesome midnight launch party over the weekend at our favorite local bookstore. While you waited for a drone to drop the package on your head, we watched a live Quidditch match, slurped butterbeer, ate chocolate frogs, got sorted (Jake went to Ravenclaw), and yes, even picked up a copy of the book. Head over to the Book Nook's Facebook page for photos. Mischief Managed!
7/30/16 -- I was well on the path to meeting my fitness goals for the summer, and then of course I'm walloped by the one injury I've feared most for the past 30 years - a tweaked lower back. And oooohhh it's a doozy. For the past three days the most routine tasks - shoelace tying, getting in and out of the car, sleeping, showering, getting dressed, etc - are agonizing beyond measure. Is this the setback that propels me into middle age mediocrity? I am taking it easy and will evaluate one week from today. 'til then, the ice and the Advil are in full effect.

-- Ok we may or may not have hit a few too many sidewalk book sales this summer. And it's not even August yet...
7/28/16 -- THAT is how it's done. Nanclyn's service was lovely in every aspect - the gorgeous hydrangeas by the altar (she always loved those), the readings, the home run grand slam of a eulogy delivered by my sister, and the luncheon afterwards at Chuck's (just the right number of folks turned up - there was ample time to catch up with everyone, without the place descending into chaos). I think she would've been pleased.

Naturally there were photos everywhere, and going through these old ones of our annual family reunions on Martha's Vineyard/Chappaquiddick have me wallowing in nostalgia. I was a punk kid for many of those years, more interested in cruisin' babes than taking it all in. Looking back, well, *sigh*. Those epic suppers in the Chappy farm house... having full run of beautiful Wasque Point every day... fishing The Gut... zipping into Edgartown at night for an ice cream... bridge jumping at Oak Bluffs... Illumination Night... I could go on and on.

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. Ain't it the truth.

7/25/16 -- Anne L. Morris (April 13, 1916 - July 21, 2016) Well, what is there to say? We all knew the day would come. Just not now. I'd always hoped that when her time came, she'd be sleeping soundly in her bed... smiling in the middle of the sweetest dream, where she finds herself walking arm in arm with Franklyn down to Katama Bay.

But reality is seldom so sweet. She'd taken a nasty tumble at the library earlier that day, and the rest is history. Whoever said life is fair?, as she always used to say.

I can't think of a single person on the planet more universally praised/loved/appreciated/respected than that grandmother of mine. Folks have been coming out of the woodwork to share pleasant memories and kind words. Facebook isn't completely useless in times like these.

So how do you say goodbye to someone you've known and loved for your entire life? Maybe you don't.

Nanclyn and I, we'll always have Paris...

7/21/16 -- We're back. We're sun bronzed. We're exhausted. But we are most definitely smiling.

Two quick nights on the Block is a tease, yes, but we'll take it. The weather was a 12 out of 10. We roasted on the beach and played in the surf. We ate mightily, largely through the good graces of some dear friends who are out there for the week. We drank absurd amounts of coffee, and maybe one or two other things as well. We ate ice cream. We maxed out our phones taking photos of that Block Island blue sky. We gazed at the full moon. We window shopped and gawked at things we vow to buy one day when we're rich. I even found an hour to myself to recline in a little park on Water Street with a good novel.

Those boys or ours, well, they did their share of bitchin' and moanin' but I have photographic evidence of them smiling and laughing. There was a horde of kids for Jakey to play with, in fact he even had a sleepover on Monday night. But Aidan gets homesick very quickly. We'll need to work on that.

I've said it before: BI in any quantity is always a good idea. Two nights are better than no nights, and I'm thankful for every hour spent on island.

7/18/16 -- If you're looking for us, we'll be laying low on this lovely mutton chop shaped island some 13 miles off the RI coastline. Just a two-nighter, so we're gonna make every second count. A bientot!
7/15/16 -- On a much lighter note - j'ever wonder what it's like to be a cover model for those awful romance novels? Meet the guy with the chiseled pecs who has appeared on hundreds of such covers... and no, his name is not Fabio.

I dunno. Maybe if I started doing tons of sit-ups, got a spray tan, a wig, and some new teeth... maybe I could make some easy cash baring my rectus abdominis on the cover of a trashy Jude Devreaux book.

-- That thing in Nice, jesus... What's the answer? Do we simply stop attending public events? Hole up in our houses all day?
7/14/16 -- If nothing else I've always wanted my kids to appreciate books. And a few years ago I had such high hopes for Jakey as a reader. We dabbled in Harry Potter a bit, plowed through the Lovecraft Middle School series, and around Halloween time we'd tackle something spooky every night. Now.... not so much. He's on the hook for 20 minutes of reading daily, and it's like pulling teeth. We can blame video games, we can blame handheld electronic devices, but at the end of the day it's on us...
7/11/16 -- G Love and Special Sauce at Jonathan Edwards Winery is just a great time. Simple as that. In fact we're already thinking about next July. We arrived at the gorgeous winery grounds about an hour before showtime to spread out a picnic blanket with some cheese, crackers, and an excellent bottle of the local Chard. We drank, we pigged out, and we got caught up with our besties. Then as the big moment approached, Jeremy and I grew a bit restless (and maybe a little tipsy)... so we may or may not have wandered over and positioned ouselves near G Love's tour bus. Lo and behold the man himself emerges to take the stage, but not before pausing to shake my hand - "I'm Garrett." he grinned. Like I didn't know who he was.

For the next 90 minutes we danced and writhed and shouted our lungs out. Now don't get me wrong, I'd see this band anywhere, any time. But this venue is special. We are literally up against the stage, close as we wanna be. Close enough for my wife to lean over and pluck the set list right out from under drummer Jeffrey Clemmens' feet. Bad bad! But oh, you bet your butt we're having it framed.

The band kicked things off with Peace, Love, and Happiness because, as my new pal Garrett noted, "The world sure needs it right about now." Then they rocked some old favorites (Cold Beverage, Blues Music, This Ain't Living, Give it to You,, and others), some newer stuff (Muse, Sugar, Come Up Man, to name a few), and even a cover of I Would Die 4 U in honor of the Great Purple One.

It's been two days - my voice is still hoarse and my face muscles still ache.

7/8/16 -- G Love tomorrow night! Cannot. Wait.
7/6/16 -- Well well well, fiber to Block Island will soon be a reality. I dunno, I've always found sucky Internet connectivity to be a part of the island's charm...

-- Whoa, Mega Millions up over a half billion for Friday. That would definitely put a dent in some of these bills.

-- Aidan started summer school today, YAY for Mom! Boo for Aidan.

-- First and last photos of beloved pets with their owners. Because you need to start your Wednesday sobbing uncontrollably.
7/5/16 -- This fella was up a tree in our neighbor's yard the other day, huffin' and moanin' and looking for a snack. Seems his mom had dumped him recently - he looked to be in his "teens" - leaving him to fend for himself. I hope he finds his way. Ma Nature can be a cruel bitch sometimes, eh?
7/4/16 -- Took in the Young's Field carnival/fireworks display as we usually do, and I gotta say it's a town tradition we've grown rather fond of. The 'works aren't amazing, but they don't suck either. All of our peeps show up with blankets, foldy chairs, sparklers, and all the junk food you can eat. We make a night of it. And then fifteen minutes after the last oooh aaaaah, we're home and getting ready for bed - no mall traffic to deal with.

Anyway, Happy Fourth to all! Hopefully there's a sizzling burger on a grill with your name on it today.

6/30/16 -- I don't recall ALL of the details from the freakazoid dream I had the other night, but I do remember this: The head of Medusa in a semitransparent Hefty bag, staring back at me. I met her gaze, the thin piece of plastic blocking her powers of petrification. Or would it? I kept looking away, then glancing back. Tempting fate. That's all I remember.

Maybe it's time to cut back on the Melatonin before bed... ?

6/29/16 -- I take back every bad thing I've ever said about those shady looking mobile phone rescue places popping up all over the place. Over the past month it had become completely impossible to charge my iPhone 5S. For a while I was able to jiggle and maneuver the cable around and get it working, but gradually things only got worse. I'd visited Youtube University, of course, but none of the usual tricks seemed to help. So there I was in a panic at around 12% battery remaining, sprinting into The Phone Specialists on Federal Road in Danbury. The kind woman had me up and charging in about 5 minutes time - she had a teeny tiny little surgical tool and was able to dislodge a bit of lint from inside the charging port. Best of all she didn't charge me a penny.
6/27/16 -- Ok so Friday night we took in the Ray LaMontagne concert in Wallingford. Now if you've listened to Ray, you know all about that husky, mournful voice and the lovely but lugubrious tone of his music. You wonder what he did in a past life to deserve so much heartbreak and sorrow. After a handful of somber slow jams, the show received a much-needed kick in the pants as My Morning Jacket took the stage. This is a terrific band, folks, they can rock out one minute and then stop on a dime and get all Pink Floyd psychedelic on you. They meshed nicely with Ray, in fact I'd say the night's rendition of Supernova was better than studio quality.

On Saturday night we blew the dust off of an old White Horse Pub gift card (thanks Kate!) and had an official date night. But instead of gorging on overhyped/overpriced saucy entrees, we claimed a spot at the bar and opted for delicious specialty drinks and sinful desserts we'd normally avoid out of sheer guilt. I think that's the way to do it - rather than rolling home unbuttoning our pants and popping Tums, we left smacking our lips in gluttonous satisfaction.

Capping off my birthday bonanza weekend was a Sunday night burger on the deck fest, followed by a dizzying GOT season finale that warranted an instant re-watch, bedtime be damned. It was just that good.

I could totally get used to this birthday stuff.

-- A jam packed birthday weekend, I haven't had a minute to catch my breath. More later, work is nuts right about nowwwwwww!
6/23/16 -- Got up early for my birthday and hit the 7AM Crossfit class, now I can go around feeling smug about it all day. Plus I can eat lots of cake, sans guilt.
6/22/16 -- Sad: Prince was really close to getting the help he desperately needed.

-- A friend graciously donated her trampoline, which now occupies a big chunka real estate in our yard. This is a big deal, since Aidan is stuck at home with the missus for the next few weeks. Any outlet for his boundless energy is a huge help.

-- Update: the stolen money has been returned! Oh wait, there goes my excuse for not paying the bills...
6/21/16 -- Bank account theft update (see 6/17, below): Account several hundred dollars in the red. Checks are bouncing like beach balls, and I've twice asked Wells Fargo to expedite the case... alas to no avail.

And yet it's somehow very liberating, as for once it is genuinely not my fault. Sorry y'all. Someone stole all my money. Waiting on the bank.

6/20/16 -- A whirlwind of a Dad's Day. Drove down to Danbury to visit my pops, then over to Grandma Nanclyn's for cheese & crackers. Back up to Kent for haircuts and the legendary Kent sidewalk booksale. Because you can never own too many books. Back home for some light gardening, and of course Game of Thrones Battle of the Bastards followed by game 7 of the NBA Finals (my golly, can we talk about that LeBron James block on Andre Iguodala???).

I gotta say it was a good day.

6/17/16 -- Logged into my online checking account this morning and found that some miscreant has electronically pinched a big chunk of money and moved it into a Capital One account. I called my bank right away and submitted a case, of course, and I'm praying the transaction will be halted in its tracks. I really don't have time (or money!) for this crap.
6/16/16 -- But then you'll come across something like this, and you'll feel like maybe there's hope for humanity after all.
6/15/16 -- Been feeling the need to weigh in on the Orlando shootings, but frankly I don't even know what to say anymore. Maybe I should just copy/paste from the last episode of mass murder. Or the one before that... or the one before that... CTRL-C, CTRL-V. I don't know what the answer is, if there is one. But the current system ain't working. Maybe these are simply the times we live in.

-- You'd think as old-school WoW'er like myself would've lined up on opening night to see the Warcraft movie. But nope. Just based on early reviews and the trailers, I smelled a stinker. And it did indeed flop mightily here in the US, but no matter - it's a monster hit in China... ? Bring on the sequel! I guess.

-- I mean, holy hell... a gator grabs a toddler and drags him to the bottom of a lake? Is this even real, or a ghastly scene from some horror flick? That poor kid. Those poor parents. I can't even...
6/14/16 -- A particularly cruel workout today at CFB - the 'Bring Sally Up' pushup drill. You start in a pushup position, and the instructor plays Moby's Flower. Every time you hear Bring Sally Up! uttered you push to the top position. AT Bring Sally Down! you lower and hold, hovering an inch off the ground. And on and on. Evil!

-- Ok, bring on summer. We had our first firepit over the weekend, and it was everything we needed it to be. There were s'mores, there were drinks, there were laughs. Therapy.
6/10/16 -- Tsk tsk, Google. Tsk tsk. To quote my favorite line from Hook: "Bad Form!"
6/8/16 -- James Patterson has introduced BookShots - super-condensed (150 pages or so) schlocky thriller novels supposedly aimed at getting busy people reading again. I don't know about this... As it is, even when I finish one of his full-length novels I feel like it's 5AM and I'm stumbling home from a brothel in Tijuana. If I do ever pick one of these up I'll certainly never fess up to it.

-- Ran my first 5K in about a hundred years last weekend. Let's just say that when it comes to running, use it or lose it very much applies. The years have been unkind in this regard. But on the plus side it was a beautiful night for a run, and - I wouldn't go so far as to say that I caught "the bug" - but I'm flirting with the idea of putting some time into 5K training and doing another in the fall. Would love to shave a minute or two off the pitiable time I posted. And 5K training can reasonably fit into a busy person's schedule. We'll see.
6/5/16 -- Interesting: what would happen to this planet if mankind simply vanished.

-- We hit the Danbury Fair Mall carnival last night, and what a gorgeous night for it. In years past Aidan loved every ride, but this time around he became downright panicky. He begged me to take him on Alien Abduction (picture an enclosed flying saucer spinning quickly enough to pin the riders against the wall). As we hit top speed I knew we were in trouble - Aidan was turned around facing the wrong way, howling in terror and calling for his mother. I struggled in vain to flip him around so his back properly faced the wall, but found myself completely immobilized by centrifugal force. Longest four minutes of our lives.

We also tried a pirate ship ride, which was basically a huge pendulum swinging us nauseatingly back and forth. Hey it was Aidan's idea - you know, pirates and such are his thing. But the results were the same. Next time we'll stick to cotton candy and the merry go round.

6/2/16 -- Plenty of bear sightings up by us lately, and I can confirm that some critter in the night made off with my bird suet. Freakin' thing.

-- A friend of a friend has two boys who are a bit older than ours, and over the years she has generously given us loads of hand-me-down clothing. Funny thing is that the shirts, sweatpants, hoodies, etc are all sports-oriented. Like my kids have any interest whatsoever in picking up a ball of any kind... but man do they look cool.
5/31/16 -- Apparently there is such a thing as a motion-activated LED toilet light. Hey, my birthday is right around the corner...

-- With Memorial Day 2016 in the books, I guess summer is officially underway? Sure as hell feels like it. Sweaty, muggy, underwear-stickin'-to-the-butt weather like this past weekend kinda has me yearnin' for the snow and the ice... ok not really.

Here, have a powerful dose of summer nostalgia to kick things off properly. That montage made me simultaneously weepy and joyful at the same time. How about Teddy around the 2:58 mark: "This IS my age. I'm in the prime of my youth. And I'll only be young once!"

*SIGH* ... Ok now back to work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: Babe

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

Me: There's nothing to GUAC about

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

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

Wife: Nah don't worry

Me: Ok then. If not today then maybe TAMALE

Me: TIJUANA keep punning?

Me: Not even JUAN more?

By that point the winner was clear...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- TRG (The Rotten Grandson)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thrones! April 24th cannot arrive quickly enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so on.

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

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

Wouldn't our Founding Fathers be so proud?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hot tramp, we loved you so...

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

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

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

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

1/1/16: --

Champagne Cocktail:

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

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

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