jesse leo dot com - 2017 edition
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12/31/17 -- Sad to hear that novelist Sue Grafton has died. Guess we'll never know what "Z" would've stood for.
12/28/17 -- My attempt at Christmas Indifference (scroll down to 12/6) was a worthwhile experiment, in that it gave me the clarity I was seeking: I am my best self when I am enthusiastic about the holidays and looking forward to them with childlike awe. The big day came, and the big day went. I put up a wall and simply let it pass - willingly - and now I know that just ain't me. I have, what? 30 - 34 more Christmases before I check out. And so if you're looking for me on 12/25/2018, I'll be doubling down on the cheer:

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!

12/22/17 -- That time a Grandmaster incognito took on a trash talking street player...
12/21/17 -- And speaking of Star Wars, I never knew just how awful the original (4th chapter, technically) might've been if not for some rockstar editing. The entire process is absolutely fascinating and can obviously make or break a film.
12/20/17 -- Finally got around to seeing The Last Jedi. I can't... I can't even... I need some time to process this.
12/18/17 -- I tried, really tried, to get into Fox's musical adaptation of A Christmas Story. Tapped out after about 50 minutes, though we do have the rest on DVR. We'll see. It ran damn long, apparently, and that's an awful lotta kid singing to get through.
12/11/17 -- Nanclyn's Civic hit the 100K mark this morning, so of course I had to pull over to snap a pic of all those zeros. This car has been an absolute trooper, and I fully expect to photograph those same zeros when she hits 200K.
12/6/17 -- December 6th, and I'm just not feelin' it. First time since childhood. Will grudgingly drag a tree into the living room this weekend, as tradition dictates, but not much decorating will happen beyond that. Haven't even listened to Patrick Stewart's solo rendition of 'A Christmas Carol', which normally I play on repeat this time of year.

There's comfort in Christmas indifference, I suppose... Isn't this how most adults go about it? I battled on for as long as I could, but sooner or later the bells fall silent for all of us.

12/1/17 -- Can't decide if this Elf Surveillance Santa Camera kit is cruel, or spot on. I guess it's basically the same concept as Elf on the Shelf (which by the way we are NOT doing this year), no?
11/28/17 -- I think we can safely consider Won't You Be My Neighbor? to be required viewing.
11/26/17 -- Last week was such a whirlwind, what with Turkey Day and a billion other goings-on, that our 14th anniversary almost snuck right by. Neither Maria nor myself are exactly certain of the date, we just know we were married 14 years ago on an unseasonably mild day - either the 22nd or the 23rd of November. Eh, close enough. Happy to say we were able to escape for a few hours and have a nice dins. And these days, it's time with one another that we crave more than anything else. When we strike it rich we can go back to buying each other extravagant gifts, etc. Or not.

And now with Thanksgiving 2017 in the books, I suppose the holiday season is officially underway. I'll make the same desperate plea I make every year at this time - please let us find a few Bob Cratchit / George Bailey-esque Christmas moments amidst the chaos. No matter how fleeting these moments are. I'll die if we don't. Last Christmas was such a depressing dud, and it left a sour taste in my mouth the whole year through.

11/15/17 -- Nice little write-up about the Block Island Old Post Bagel Shop guy, who as it turns out is quite the artist. Who knew? And where does he find the time to paint? I chat with him sometimes while he preps TBSitW (The Best Sandwich in the World) for us. The dude busts his ass every day - up at 3:30am from late April through Columbus Day.
11/14/17 -- All about the Bobby Fischer of Union Square (and why he tossed his cellphone into the Hudson). Every time I see those hustlers players in the park, I'm tempted to plunk down my money and jump in. Just can't seem to work up the nerve.

-- It was one of those situations where you expected the calvary to ride up at the last minute and save the day - surely, Bank Street Coffee House wouldn't really close its doors forever. The public outcry was such that everyone expected the landlord to reconsider. But alas, our little beloved downtown has lost a gem of an establishment. Evidently Blah Blah Blah Investment Group is redoing the building, and their future plans do not allow for a coffee shop.

Over the years I didn't get down there nearly as often as I would have liked, though during this past summer I would work out of there every so often. A kickass coffee house is essential to the pulse of every little downtown... such a loss.

11/10/17 -- Say what you will about November, but sometimes that evening sky is spectacular.
11/06/17 -- For her 32nd (give or take) birthday tomorrow, I'll be dragging the missus to a nice dinner at Upper Crust, then we're off to the Ridgefield Playhouse to see Citizen Cope perform a solo acoustic set.

Hey, she needs a break. Hoping I can deliver the goods.

10/31/17 -- Well here it is! The month has hurtled by and the big night is here once again. It's been a frenzied October to say the least, and I'm committing right now to slow down and do it properly next October. I know I said that last year at this time, but...

Whatever your plans may be, I hope you do something spooky and you wake up on 11/1 with a sugar hangover. We plan to hit up a friend's neighborhood in southern New Milford, and hopefully we'll close out with bulging candy sacks consisting of 85% Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and 15% Snickers. From there it's back home to fall asleep on the sofa watching Hocus Pocus.

As always, I leave you this Halloween with The Thriller. Keep it spooky!

10/25/17 -- Maybe this will bolster my Halloween spirit - a collection of delightful 1910 - 1930 vintage Halloween tunes.

-- Was asked why I haven't been doing my annual pumpkin ale tasting contest/reviews this year. Well, a couple of reasons - for starters, October has been flying by at lightspeed. And it's really breaking my heart. What with crazy work stuff, family stuff, and 100 other things, our favorite time of year is passing us by. Hell, less than a week 'til the big night and I haven't even watched Young Frankenstein yet... Hoping for some redemption this weekend, we're hosting a bash at the Pratt Center Saturday afternoon/evening, and if you're reading this you're invited - B.Y.O.P. (bring your own pumpkin).

So another big reason for skipping the pumpkin ale-off - I made the big mistake (if you can call it that) of purchasing almost two cases of Elysian Night Owl in late September. This sublime brew ("pumpkin pie in a bottle", as it's called) was last year's winner by a landslide, and so really if you've had this one why bother with anything else? We'll be sipping these well into November and beyond.

Next fall I promise we'll be back on track, we'll start with a blank slate and begin ranking the pumpkin ales the moment they appear on shelves. Until then - cheers!

10/19/17 -- The perfection of this October weather cannot be overstated. This is why we New Englanders endure the long, miserable winters here. And yes, the cold stuff is a comin' up fast...

Our vet politely reminded us via automated email that Luna turns 3 today! She's been spending her days lounging in the sun and looking adorable. She can be stingy with her affection, this girl of ours, but that makes it all the more rewarding when she actually reciprocates via a quick nuzzle or fond tail wag. We love her so.

10/18/17 -- Lots of chatter about the stripped-down version of Take On Me, in fact it's practically broken the internet. Ah-Ha seems to have aged well, and I love the unplugged version of the song that pretty much WAS the 80's. It's like they're reminding us that that decade was ok, after all, and it's ok to reminisce once in a while.
10/13/17 -- Work travels take me to Palm Springs, CA, an emerald situated in the middle of the desert. Hotter than hell, but beautiful nonetheless. Golf Heaven, I'm told, if you're into that sort of thing. I like it out here but would certainly miss New England's seasons. CT foliage will soon be peaking!
10/10/17 -- Most of our Block Island trips in recent memory have been possible only through Grandma Rie Rie's generosity. Without her offering to housesit/babysit/dogsit, we would simply never get out there. But it's been bugging us that she's never actually in on the fun... So Sunday morning we piled her into the car and ran out to BI for an overnight, the goal being to get her on the beach for a couple of hours. It was gray and sprinkly, alas, but the temps were mild enough to accomplish the mission at hand.

By Columbus Day weekend a lot of eateries and shops have closed up, or are offering last hurrah sales - so we were treated to a cooler, quieter version of Water Street compared to high season. We caught a great meal at The Mohegan (window seat, of course), and did a little early Christmas shopping. Strolling the main drag on a foggy evening is sheer bliss.

October is a well-kept secret out on the Block - warm waters, 40% off in the shops, stellar fishing, and a sleepy autumn vibe. But please don't let the cat outta the bag. Just show up... you'll likely find us out behind the Surf Hotel, gazing out across the shoreline.

10/7/17 -- Visited the awe-inspiring Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze last night... ain't no finer way to properly kick off the Halloween season.
10/3/17 -- Probably the cutest 'Take On Me' cover you've seen in your lifetime.

-- What is up with the whales on BI??

-- Some days are diamonds... Some days are rocks. Tom Petty, gone waaaay too soon.

-- Not sure I want to live here any more #LasVagasShooting
9/29/17 -- Octopus cities. Cool.

-- Recently picked up The Underground Railroad, to see what the fuss is about. And I don't see what the fuss is about. I mean, it was beautiful, harrowing at times, and important. But I don't know if it's worthy of the gushing it's received.
9/25/17 -- J.R.R. Tolkein reads from The Hobbit ... Let me say that again, J.R.R TOLKEIN READS FROM THE HOBBIT! Are you kidding me? How have I never seen this before???

-- I love The Big Bang Theory as much as the next geek, but under no circumstances will I watch one second of the trash heap called Young Sheldon. Shame on you, CBS.
9/22/17 -- Check out this amazing lady, trained by none other than my cousin Blaine! Dude, what is up with that Brawny Man hipster beard?
9/20/17 -- Back. Bummed. Doing what needs to be done to keep our post-BI blues at bay. And failing miserably. Short on time, so I'll quickly recap the highs and lows:


- The weather! 5 days of glorious 70's, followed by three kinda sorta gray but mild - ideal for hikin', towning, etc. By day 6 we were sun-frazzled anyway.

- The waves! I don't know if the assortment of hurricanes lurking off the coast had something to do with it, but wowzers. Nice surf.

- Luna! She's visited BI before, but this time she really seemed to find herself and commit to having fun. She's now a certified Block Dog.

- Jake o' the Sea. Take away the electronics and Jake will probably complain that he's bored. But throw in some waves and he'll romp in the foam for hours. So proud of him.

- Snorkeling! Inspired by Peter Voskamp's excellent 2009 article, I ventured out to the "garden" and spotted an assortment of creepy critters. Such a gorgeous spot for a dive.

- Surfin'! Tried it for the first time, and I'm hooked. Just what I need - an expensive, all-consuming hobby.


- Coming home. Was hoping to avoid a funk this time around, but no.

- The kids. Aidan loves his routines and his bedroom. Even in an idyllic setting like Block Island, he just wants to come home. And Jake, well, when he wasn't in the waves he was bitchin' and moanin'. He did great when his pal Owen came out though.

Overall, the vibe and adoration for the island have not wavered. And post-Labor Day is still our preferred modus operandi... As the ferry pulled out of Old Harbor, we found ourselves (as we do every single time) staring wistfully off the back deck and wondering when we'll be back on island.

9/16/17 -- We've visited Block Island for I don't know how many years...35? 40? I thought I'd done it all, but lo! I've never tried surfing. Not body surfing, not boogie boarding, actual surfing. So today I plunked down my money at Blue Diamond Surf Shop, wriggled into a wetsuit and grabbed an old longboard.

I can tell you that after 10 short minutes, I felt the allure not just of the activity itself but of the whole vibe and lifestyle. I see now why people ditch everything to spend their lives chasing the perfect set. You see surfers sitting idle on their boards, watching and waiting for minutes on end, and you can't help but think how bored they must be. But I assure you, those were some of the most peaceful moments I've experienced in a looooong time.

So how'd I do? After a few awkward false starts and minor wipeouts I was able to get up a few times. These were dinky waves, to be sure, but snappy enough for me to feel that unique kind of energy surfers rave about, Ma Nature caressing the board and propelling you along.

Don't worry - this isn't something I intend to pursue more than casually. But it's certainly something to add to the agenda next time I'm out here.

9/11/17 -- Block Island bound! And man, do we need it. I'll try to mooch some sloth-like island wifi at some point and upload a photo or two. A bientot!
9/8/17 -- Chilling FB post from the folks on our beloved St John, USVI. And it's true - there has been almost no media coverage of Irma's effect on our own Virgin Islands. If you're not on FB, here it is:

Dear people who love St. John, we desperately need your help. Please contact the White House, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and all the other major news networks. We are being forgotten down here. As you know we have no cell service down here except for a quick blip here and there. We do have access to one NBC station out of New York. From what we are seeing, St. John and St. Thomas have completely been forgotten. The Today Show just now mentioned every damn island around but us - all non US islands too I'd like to point out. The United States Virgin Islands is just that - part of the United States. But right now, no one up north seems to remember that.

So why the desperate plea? People who I love so very much no longer have homes. They do not have possessions. Everything is gone. And it's not just one or two people, it's a lot. And if you've come here at least once, chances are you know the people directly affected. Those sailboats that you've all photographed in Cruz Bay- well at least eight of them are now slammed up against and jammed into Wharfside Village. Morgan's Mango is gone. Barefoot Cowboy is destroyed. We've heard Caneel Bay is gone. St. John Water and Ice is destroyed too. People cannot get ice or water. Our food will quickly run out. We wont have power for months. We still haven't heard anything about Coral Bay or the boats in Hurricane Hole, but we presume those are all gone too. We don't know when the airport will reopen. We don't know when our ferries and barges will run again. And we don't know if we're about to get hit again by Hurricane Jose.

So please, put yourselves in our shoes for a moment and start sharing. Start writing. Start calling. Start emailing. Get us some help please. We have never needed you all more than we do right now. I cannot beg you enough. We are United States citizens. Please do not forget about us. Please help us.

9/5/17 -- I feel petty, worrying that Hurricane Irma might affect our Block Island plans next week. Look at what happened to those poor bastards down in Texas, with Harvey. Lost lives. Countless homes destroyed. It'll take years and trillions of dollars for that area to recover...

Having said all that... WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH !!!!

9/1/17 -- This, fellas, is how a dress shirt is supposed to fit.
8/31/17 -- We say it every year around this time - holy sh*t where did summer go? - but this time, wow. Just wow. It seriously feels like we were just out there in the driveway, waiting for the damn bus. 2017: the summer that wasn't.

Mornings are chilly. Leaves are yellowing. We adore fall, but damn this is happening too fast.

8/28/17 -- That time the Wicked Witch of the West visited Mister Rogers...

-- Easily support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts via iTunes. Cool.

-- The other un-missable concert we hit each summer is Donavon Frankenreiter, who visits the JE Winery around mid-August. And after groovin' us for 90 minutes, Donavon himself lingered for photos and autographs. As we posed (Whew! He had bad BO!), I gushed that seeing him every August is the highlight of our summer, to which he humbly replied "Well this is the highlight of MY summer." This coming from a guy who travels the world with his family, surfing and playing his music for legions of adoring fans...

Another beautiful night of winein' and dancin' under the late summer stars.

8/23/17 -- Sage advice from billionaire Mark Cuban to whoever scores that $700M Powerball jackpot tonight:

-If you weren't happy yesterday, you won't be happy tomorrow. It's money. It's not happiness.

-If you were happy yesterday, you are going to be a lot happier tomorrow. It's money. Life gets easier when you don't have to worry about bills.

-Tell all your friends and relatives no. They will ask. Tell them no. If you are close to them, you already know who needs help and what they need. Feel free to help SOME, but talk to your accountant before you do anything and remember this, no one needs $1 million for anything. No one needs $100,000 for anything. Anyone who asks is not your friend.

I'll be sure to keep these in mind.

8/22/17 -- A beautiful trailer celebrating the ten year anniversary of Bioshock, the game that changed everything. That was the one that did it for me - transforming the gaming experience from a simple, brain-rotting blast fest into an immersive and gorgeous storytelling experience in which you are the star and you determine the outcome.
8/16/17 -- Everyone's favorite duel, Brienne vs Arya Stark, got the lightsaber treatment. Well of course it did.

-- Rare political post: if you voted for President Agent Orange all those months ago, well, I guess we can move past it. You hate Hillary, ok fine. But if you continue to support him now after this latest round of nonsense, that will really say something about who you are. Whatcha gonna do?

-- After hedging for a month or two and playing coy with us about whether or not he'd return, Daniel Craig has confirmed: he's IN !
8/14/17 -- Just a girl and her capybara...
8/11/17 -- People are Awesome (best of'17 edition). Bet you didn't know that extreme unicycling was a thing.
8/7/17 -- NPR has a laugh-out-loud hilarious recap of last night's Holy Sh*t-worthy Game of Thrones episode. "...napalm-halitosis of a flying dragon" - man, I wish I'd come up with that one... This season is moving events and action along so damn fast! I feel like we're charging into battle emptying the quiver of arrows all within the first 2 minutes! It's dazzling for GoT junkies such as myself, but will there be anything left for the end game?

-- From the Alright you imposter, what have you done with my son!? department: Not one but two visits to the Pratt Nature Center over the weekend - the first on Friday night for their monthly Full Moon Hike, and then again yesterday for their 50th anniversary picnic. On both occasions, Jake ended up wading into the river, floppin' around in the mucky muck, hunting frogs & critters, and generally having an old-school great time in the outdoors. And on BOTH occasions I practically had to drag him outta there when it was time to leave. Nary an iPod in sight.

It's these infrequent glimmers of awesomeness that give me hope...

8/2/17 -- And speaking of movies (see below), Father and I saw Dunkirk last night. I'll be honest, my first choice would've been Atomic Blonde. But I figured a war movie is more my dad's thing. And wow, it was a spectacle. Surely this movie will win multiple awards for sound editing, or whatever that category is. And the footage, particularly of those WWII fighter planes, was beyond belief. I have a new found respect for my grandfather Poppy, who flew missions over the South Pacific - and was even shot down at one point. Those planes seemed so clunky, heavy, fuel-guzzling, and prone to problems - I don't know how he did it.

Seeing Dunkirk was like reading classic literature - it's not as much fun as that James Patterson beach book you've been eyeing, but you know you ought to. So DO IT.

-- The most beautiful shots in film of the 21st century (so far). Don't ya just love going the movies?
7/31/17 -- A Rapid Recap of Recent Reads:

The Travelers by Chris Pavone - a capable (if a bit predictable) thriller.

Exit Strategy by Steve Hamilton - 2nd book in this series, and me still likey. I'd also like to audition for the lead role, as I'm sure a movie is in the works.

Rogue One: Catalyst by James Luceno - If you enjoyed Rogue One the movie as much as I did, then you have much to gain by reading this well-written prequel novel.

7/28/17 -- If trailers are to be believed, we need to talk about what a beautiful movie The Shape of Water might be. I'd see pretty much watch anything done by Guillermo del Toro.
7/25/17 -- On a (much) brighter note, took in G. Love and Special Sauce on Sunday up at the Jonathan Edwards Winery. This is probably the third or fourth consecutive year we've caught this particular show, and just like fine wine (heh) it gets better every year. It was a gorgeous summer evening, and after loading up on waaaaay too much of the local Chardonnay, we muscled our way right up to the front and danced the night away. And yes, we took home the set list - AGAIN - hand-written by the man himself. But unlike previous shows, there was *ahem* no need to pilfer it - I managed to make eye contact with drummer Jeffrey Clemens, who was then kind enough to hand the sheet over to Maria.

Back for Donavon Frankenreiter next month, can't wait!

7/21/17 -- My cousin Kyle passed away last weekend. Rather than focus on what happened to him in his later years, I'm reproducing a ton of excellent vacation memories from back when we were kids - bridge jumping, riding monster waves on Wasque Beach, clowning around in Oak Bluffs at night and barely catching the last ferry back to Chappy... Video games in the basement of their Maryland home 'til our fingers begged for mercy...

I don't think it's healthy to sweep the not-so-good memories under the rug, they are what they are. And they're important. But there's no point in dwelling on them.

7/18/17 -- New HP content coming this fall!
7/17/17 -- The story of Mary Lee, the massive Great White shark who was recently spotted lurking just off the coast of LI. Let's hope she's decided to move on well before our September Block Island trip...

-- Thrones is back after a waaaay too long hiatus, and holy wow. It feels like now with just two confirmed seasons left, the writers aren't pulling any punches or wasting time with "build-up". We are in turbo mode - things are moving along at a frenetic pace and it's a wonderful time to be a GoT fan.
7/12/17 -- More data to suggest that coffee can save your life...

7/11/17 -- -- Baby Driver. It's the reason we go to the movies. And that soundtrack, goodness me... Love love love love loved it.

-- Like you, I too hate when people share links to talent shows, etc. But my gosh, these people are incredible.
7/10/17 -- -- An alarming climate change read in NY Mag... with all the talk about freaky weather, coral bleaching and rising sea levels, no one seems to be addressing some potentially horrible, more direct and harmful effects on us as a species. Hey Donald, you listening?
7/6/17 -- Why Connecticut sucks. It's the cities, stupid.
7/5/17 -- If I'm having a bad day, I like to keep the BI Spring House webcams open in a browser tab. It keeps me going, it keeps me hopeful, it keeps me motivated - the proverbial carrot dangling in front of my nose. And last week I discovered a set of North Light webcams as well, oh rapture!

-- Celebrated Independence Day yesterday at a Dinosaur Park / sprayscape, and as these things go (by that I mean any event requiring the boys leave their electronic devices at home) it was actually a good time! Concluded matters later that evening with some rather tame, Walmart-bought fireworks out in the yard (j'ever notice how they all seem to do the same sparkle pop thing, then die out quickly?), and called it a night. God Bless America!
7/3/17 -- Downton Abbey movie? Yes please.

-- All about Martha...
6/30/17 -- All of Darth Vader's horrific injuries - explained.

-- So apparently Eric Clapton caught a massive fish...
6/28/17 -- Mr. Wonka: Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...
Charlie Bucket: What happened?
Mr. Wonka: He lived happily ever after.

Usually when you're so looking forward to something, it kinda sorta works out like you'd hoped. But to a lesser degree. But then about once a decade the thing actually exceeds your boldest dreams. And that's just how it was last weekend when Maria and I dashed off to Block Island - just the two of us - for some much needed battery recharging and us-time. As we lay on Scotch Beach reading our trashy novels and not thinking about work or kids or bills or car repairs or busted water heaters or any of the usual soul-crushing stress sources, I kept asking her if it was real... and we have the bronzed skin to prove that it truly was.

Major props to Grandma, Aunt Lynnie, Pat and Kate for all chipping in to watch the young-uns. We are saved.

6/23/17 -- So apparently we now have two cats. We adopted a young mama and her son from the local shelter earlier this week. Some initial, um, growing pains shall we call them? Hoping things will settle down soon, the primary issue is that mama is very protective of her boy, and lashes out at the dogs if they venture too close. She's a total sweetie to us humans, however. And her son is adorable. Aren't all kittens? Now if only we could come up with a couple of good names.

The other big news- my birthday! Eh, it came and it went... exactly what I look for in a birthday these days.

6/20/17 -- Having finally seen Wonder Woman, one thing is very certain: Gal Gadot needs me in her life.
6/16/17 -- Last October it was Young Frankenstein, and this month it's Some Like it Hot. Fathom Events is my new best friend, bringing a pair of my all-time favorite films back to the big screen.

And yes, Hot still holds up as well as ever, and still pulls new giggles out of me each viewing. And while most modern movies are all about actors and actresses getting bare-butted and nekkid, let me tell you - I'll take Marilyn Monroe in that dress in that scene over every single one of 'em... The late great Roger Ebert penned it best, as he always did, in his 'Great Movies' review:

The situation is as basic as it can be: a pretty girl standing in front of an orchestra and singing a song. Monroe and Wilder turn it into one of the most mesmerizing and blatantly sexual scenes in the movies. She wears that clinging, see-through dress, gauze covering the upper slopes of her breasts, the neckline scooping to a censor's eyebrow north of trouble. Wilder places her in the center of a round spotlight that does not simply illuminate her from the waist up, as an ordinary spotlight would, but toys with her like a surrogate neckline, dipping and clinging as Monroe moves her body higher and lower in the light with teasing precision. It is a striptease in which nudity would have been superfluous. All the time she seems unaware of the effect, singing the song innocently, as if she thinks it's the literal truth. To experience that scene is to understand why no other actor, male or female, has more sexual chemistry with the camera than Monroe.

If you've spent any time around me, you'll likely notice that every fifth sentence contains some quote or indirect reference to this film. And I don't apologize for that. My favorite line? No, it's not the iconic closer uttered by Osgood Fielding just before the credits roll (come on, you know that one) - it's Josephine after watching a heartbroken Sugar sob her way through I'm Through With Love... he simply can't help himself, and honestly who could? He marches right onto the stage - high heels and all - and kisses her tenderly, wipes away her tears, and utters: None of that, Sugar. No guy is worth it."

Uh! Gets me every time.

6/14/17 -- Rise of the Machines: a computer has beaten Ms Pac Man, a feat long believed to be impossible. How long before we are living in a Terminator 2 / The Matrix kinda world?
6/13/17 -- These swelteringly hot, sticky days... if nothing else they yield to beautiful evenings, once the sun has settled itself. But for whatever reason this accursed house retains the heat of the day and we lie in pools of sweat, tossing and turning and making deals with the devil for a few hours of sleep.
6/12/17 -- Winners of the 2017 Apple Design Awards.

-- Hate on Apple all you want, the new barbershop commercial is fantastic.

-- LSD opened for Jack Johnson last weekend at the Xfinity Center, and we were fortunate enough to be on premise. It was a beautiful night for an outdoor concert, and Jack did all of our ol' favs.

One could argue that Jack plays it a bit safe at his live performances, and we get that. If you're at his concert you know exactly what you're in for. But for Maria and I he's comfort food, going back to our dating days. Sometimes that's just what we need.

-- It's a comfortable 147 degrees here, how are you holding up? And to think, a week ago I was driving around with the heat on in the car...
6/8/17 -- Been watching the NBA Finals? The Cavs are in deep yogurt. How do your two superstars combine for 77 pts, yet you still lose the game? AT HOME? As beautifully recapped here, Cleveland had a terrific 45 minutes. Unfortunately the game lasted slightly longer than that... Golden State's Kevin Durant will take home Finals MVP honors, and deservedly so.
6/2/17 -- The Potter Project (see below) is still going strong - Jake plowed through Sorcerer's Stone and has plunged into Chamber of Secrets... This one is only costing me $10. Mom peeked in on him last night around 9pm and caught him in bed with the book, smiling and giggling out loud. I guess this is a good sign. Trouble looms for book three, however, as Jake strongly prefers the new illustrated versions (which are wonderful, btw). That version of Prisoner of Azkaban won't be out until October.
5/30/17 -- Paying Jake $40 cash to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Hey, we do what we must...

-- The 50 Most Beautiful Shots from the Star Wars universe. Thoughts?

-- Been to see a doctor more often during the past two weeks than the entire 1990's and 2000's combined. Firstly - a plantar wart which has nagged me for about a decade suddenly became intolerably painful, and then a second one joined in the party on the other side of my foot as well. I've basically been operating on one foot for two months. So after two rounds of scraping and acid dabbing - BOOM! Just like that I've upgraded from hobbling to walking. Next - a pebble-sized cyst on my chest which has sat dormant for quite some time decided to balloon up and start stinking like rotting zombie flesh... So off I go to the walk-in clinic for a recreation of the Alien torso eruption scene - the doc made an incision and foul stuff spurted all over the place. The ensuing pressing and cutting hurt like a mofo, I'm surely traumatized for life. But there's a silver lining - I'll no doubt have a badass scar, maybe I'll tell people it's a bullet wound. And with all of these bandages, I now have a legit excuse to manscape my chest without it seeming vain and silly.
5/25/17 -- Hey ABC - if you're gonna remake a beloved classic like Dirty Dancing, you'd better bring your A Game... and last night was downright cringe-inducing. I had a late night work thing going on, otherwise I wouldn't have lasted through the botched 'Watermelon' line... as it was, this abomination dragged on for three hours.

TWitter, of course, was less than kind. And it was hilarious. The #dirtydancing Twitter feed, along with Nicole Scherzinger's shapely bottom (she was actually pretty good as the sultry dance instructor who gets knocked up by Robbie the Creep) - were the only high points of the evening. If you DVR'ed this thing, trust me - hit delete and free up the hard drive space.

-- Sad to hear of Roger Moore's passing this week. Look, I'm not gonna sit here and praise those campy 80's Roger Moore Bond flicks as Oscar material. But they were tons of fun for a lad like me at that age, and even now I get all kinds of nostalgic if I'm channel surfing and stumble across For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, The Man with the Golden Gun, and others. And I got a bit misty eyed when my beloved WFUV played a medley of every Moore Bond title song (cue the swirling colors and floating naked women)... I read somewhere that Ian Fleming considered Moore his favorite Bond actor, and with good reason. I can't think of higher praise than that. I'm hoping maybe FX or TBS will host a Moore Bond marathon during the holiday weekend... if not maybe I'll make my own.
5/19/17 -- Finally, something useful on the Internet... an index of every color cardigan worn by Fred Rogers over the years. The data suggests that he favored green more than any other, I personally think he looked best in blue. Don't you agree?
5/18/17 -- Holy shit, a Dark Crystal Netflix series is in the works...
5/16/17 -- New plan: I'm traveling all the way to India for a scalp massage from this guy !

-- NYT: Trump is neither an authoritarian nor a corporatist. He's a freaking idiot.

-- Apple's new campus is predictably otherwordly. And I bet there's pretty good wifi, too.

-- Much ado about the recently discovered, near-perfectly preserved dinosaur remains in a Canadian mine. And rightfully so, it's a spectacular find. Basically we have a statue of an actual dinosaur, exactly as he looked all those years ago. My six year old self is jumping up and down.
5/15/17 -- Happy BDay to my pops!
5/12/17 -- Ok whoever you are, HAND OVER THE HP PREQUEL !
5/11/17 -- You WISH you had data entry skills like this dude.
5/9/17 -- So apparently leeching is still a thing over in Russia...

-- Summer camp registration is underway, we're trying to do everything we can to get Jake off his sizable rump throughout July and August. Camps cost a fortune, now accepting donations!
5/8/17 -- Blade Runner 2049 trailer, anyone? Yes, please!
5/7/17 -- I suppose you could argue that ticks are just doing what they're programmed to do, what Mother Nature, God, Tom Bombadil, and/or whomever you believe in intends them to do. So you really can't blame them. But then consider that it is a tick's goal to bore into your skin and drain your blood, vampire-style... and then I'm reminded that our beloved Honey Roux would still be with us were it not for these loathsome insects... So no, there is no remorse when I pluck them off of myself, my wife, my kids, or my dogs, and drop them wriggling into the toilet bowl.

You've seen the headlines by now, no doubt- tick-wise this spring and summer could be New England's worst ever. Something about a relatively warm winter and an infestation of mice. We've outfitted both dogs with the pricey Seresto collar, which proved so effective last season but now seems to be losing its potency. Perhaps the local ticks are building up an immunity? Whatever the case, take all the usual precautions... and show them no mercy. For you shall receive none.

5/4/17 -- Star Wars Day! A proper fan should take the day off and do a Star Wars Marathon (understood if you skip one or more of the dreadful prequels, of course)... but I think a re-watch of Rogue One is all I'll have time for tonight.
5/1/17 -- I guess it's official: BI is now operating on wind power.
4/27/17 -- Nice little write-up on The Darius, a seemingly charming B&B we seriously considered for a romantic June getaway. But in the end, price won the day - we're opting for two nights at the spartan yet adequate New Shoreham House, and actually spending less than one night at The Darius would've cost.

-- Was guilted into running the 2017 Pratt Center Dirt Dash last weekend. I finished! So, there's that. When I look at my 5k times in recent years, and then look back at what I used to be able to do... *SIGH*. But hey - use it or lose it. Now that we're into spring I'm hoping to get out there at least once or twice a week. I don't particularly enjoy running, but I recognize it as the one exercise we as a species have evolved to do.
4/26/17 -- Reddit thread: What is your single biggest regret? Some of these are painful to read. A few had me sighing, going Yeah, me too... But most of all it's the follow-up comments that stand out. In an ocean of nastiness, Reddit is the one internet community comprised (largely) of seemingly decent human beings.
4/25/17 -- The Frasier Tewksbury scene. Such a great TV moment.

-- Had to drag him out of the house kicking and screaming, but was able to steal 30 minutes at the coffee house with Jake the other day. We both read our Warriors books (yes, I'm reading one too... at this point just looking for a common interest), him chomping on a scone while I slurped some coffee concoction. Had a few laughs. Strolled through Play, afterwards.

There aren't may of them, but these kinds of moments with him do exist. Work in progress...

4/21/17 -- A collection of drool-worthy LOTR posters. Gorgeous.
4/20/17 -- NPR has a new(ish) series called Reading the Game, in which they examine popular video games from a literary perspective. And of course their bit about Bioshock:Infinite (and by extension the entire Bioshock series) is right on point.

"That game, the original Bioshock, made dump trucks full of money and became not just a hit, not just an Art Deco Atlas Shrugged in bang-bang drag, but a paradigm-shifting triumph of narrative-driven storytelling told at the business end of a smoking shotgun."

Still generating discussion after all these years... makes me want to go back and replay the whole damn thing.

4/14/17 -- Star Wars: The Last Jedi Official Teaser!!
4/13/17 -- Spring Break this past week, and though our boys wanted nothing more than to stare at their handheld electronic devices all day, we tried desperately to enrich their experience. We started off the week with a day trip to Central Park - it was the first truly sunny and gorgeous day of spring, and I'd forgotten that the best days in NYC are sometimes the ones with nothing on the agenda.

A few days later we hit Pirate Day at Mystic Seaport, and despite some bitchin' and moanin' the scurvy landlubbers actually enjoyed themselves.

Note for Spring Break 2018: have a plan. It makes all the difference.

4/6/17 -- Hey, NYT: Tell us how you really feel about Trump's foreign policy agenda...
4/4/17 -- Some high schoolers have been recently volunteering to work with area Special Needs kids, and just like that my faith in humanity is restored. Over the years, my attempts to get Aidan to dribble or shoot a ball have ended in frustration for both of us. But there he was the other day, hooping it up and having a blast. Even if his helper friend was providing most of the muscle behind the shots, Aidan's follow-through looked pretty good. As did his smile.
4/1/17 -- For her entire life she wanted nothing more than to be held. But on her last day, we couldn't get near her. Her body was failing.

I picked up Madeline (aka Beetsy) at a pet shop some 15+ years ago. Don't look at me like that - back then rescuing wasn't really a thing. Though she was clearly the runt, she seemed far more energetic than her siblings and choosing her was a no brainer.

She was the quintessential lap cat, everything you could ask for in a companion. Loving and affectionate to a fault. I keep catching myself glancing over at the various nooks and crannies she would occupy. Today at the Feed Barn my hand instinctively reached for the packet of treats she loved. For so many years she was just so... present. That first night I brought her home, Maria and I were living in the barn next to Nanclyn's house... Beetsy was our last living link to simpler times.

Folks, I encourage you to grab your kitty/doggy/goldfish/whatever and hold on tight. I would give the world for one more night by the pellet stove with her curled up on my lap.

3/29/17 -- Hosted Jake's birthday party last weekend, and lived to tell the tale. His preferred celebration modus operandi in recent years has been to invite three or four of his most trusted cohorts over for a slumber party consisting of pizza, video games, regrettable music, body odor, sugary drinks, and bad behavior in general. Hey, it's one night a year - won't kill us. And I must say it's much easier on the wallet than most other party options...

So, his brother is 13 and Jake is 11. It's truly happening too fast...

3/23/17 -- Rogue One ends, A New Hope begins. Cool, right? (Spoilers, obvi).

-- Kong: Skull Island is pure popcorn fun and I loved every second of it.
3/21/17 -- So this new stove, which arrived today from The Home Depot, turns on. And gets hot. And cooks food. And does not have a family of mice living in it. By these measures it is far superior to its predecessor...

It was a ton of money but it was time.

3/15/17 -- So apparently subway racing between stops is a thing.

-- Still shoveling out from Snowmageddon 2017. The cars are barely visible and I owe the plow guy a small fortune. Done with this crap.
3/14/17 -- RIP Windows Vista. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

-- Cuz every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed toad...

And again I ask: What would we DO without the Internet?

3/12/17 -- I love Emma Watson just like everyone else, and of course I'll be lining up with the masses for Beast as soon as it comes out... But what is up with that VF photo shoot? Just not feelin' it.
3/10/17 -- Leave it to March to get us all hyped up for blue skies and 65 degree days, and then kick us in the arse with this nonsense...
3/8/17 -- A collection of staggeringly gorgeous LOTR posters.
3/6/17 -- Report: 2017 will be a whopper of a year for Lyme Disease. Greeeeaaaaaaat.

-- John Legend is cool and all that, but Ariana Grande is no Angela Lansbury... And since we're on the topic, grab the tissues and click here.
3/1/17 -- A little freaked out when I heard celebrity trainer Bob Harper had a heart attack. I recently started doing his Daily Burn program (Bob is no Shaun T, but they're decent workouts overall), and by all accounts he's an icon of health. Just a bit older than myself...

Past a certain age even if you take care of yourself and exercise 'til the cows come home, strange things can happen. The stressors of the past year or so have aged me about 5 years, and I'm not working out nearly enough. So if I keel over tomorrow, well, please write on my tombstone that I was a decent guy who did the best he could.

2/28/17 -- I really think we need to talk about the latest (and final) trailer for Kong: Skull Island.
2/25/17 -- I'd heard it a million times - It passes so quickly. Cherish every moment. Bah! How trite, I'd say...

And then I blinked, and Aidan is a teenager.

To the moon and stars, Duppy. And don't you forget it.

2/22/17 -- A nice little write-up about the morning show guy I listen to sometimes. I love that station.
2/21/17 -- Took in Lake Street Dive in New Haven over the weekend - quite possibly the best band you've never heard of. They have such a fun catalog of tunes we know by heart, and they're so painfully talented. One minor gripe about the venue - our seats weren't conducive to dancing! How could we be expected to stay in our chairs during Call Off Your Dogs? Next time we'll be up in the mosh area for sure.
2/16/17 -- In space no one can hear you poop.
2/13/17 -- Our DVR is perpetually full, flirting with 98% capacity and warning us that certain beloved shows are in danger of being auto-deleted. But no, I shall not erase last night's Grammy Show, because the Prince tribute - a quick set by The Time followed by Bruno Mars doing Let's Go Crazy - deserves a permanent place in our home. I didn't think anyone could do Prince justice, but Bruno delivered... and who knew he could shred like that?

The other tribute I was really looking forward to was Adele doing George Michael, and when she announced that she was doing FastLove I nearly lost my sh*t. See, that's one of my fav dance tracks in recent memory, but then Adele flipped it on its head and did this mournful dirge typa thing... just wasn't feeling it.

The rest of the night? High highs and low lows... How about Busta Rhymes thanking President Agent Orange for (his) "unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban." You just have to watch it. And ain't it lovely to see A Tribe Called Quest back in the thick of things?

2/11/17 -- My future home.

-- That dog food commercial, the one with Duck the Chocolate Lab... I can't, I just can't.
2/9/17 -- A collection of staggeringly gorgeous Adventure Time title cards. It's a shame that before each episode the card only flashes on screen for about one second... so much time, love, and creative mojo goes into them.

-- No, she's not ours. Lilah is Kate and Grover's newest addition to the family, and she's a doll. She'll likely grow to over 100lbs, so that's the last photo you'll ever see of someone actually picking her up.
2/4/17 -- Do not trifle with JK Rowling on Twitter. She will blast you back like a Ginny Weasley stun spell. Rowling's recent criticisms of Trump had her facing some backlash on Twitter, one former fan even promising to burn her books and movies. Rowling returned fire: Well, the fumes from the DVDs might be toxic and I've still got your money, so by all means borrow my lighter.


2/3/17 -- 11 second book review: Steve Hamilton's The Second Life of Nick Mason - A compelling thriller. Solid, likable characters. Entertaining and highly reusable plot - expect a sequel. Also highly movie-able, in fact I think it's in development. This one belongs in your summer 2017 beach bag.
1/31/17 -- Check out this handsome fella we spotted en route to Kent a few weeks ago. Something about owls, I freaking love them.
1/27/17 -- It was getting late, but G. Love kept coming back for encore after encore at The Brooklyn Bowl last night. At some shows it feels to me like the whole encore thing has become so predictable: make a bunch of noise and they'll do another jam or two, more so out of obligation than anything else. But not this guy. Last night the energy of the crowd and the vibe in the room made it so he wanted to do it, and it really came across in the performance.

And what a great venue, that Brooklyn Bowl. As with G. Love shows we've attended at JE Winery, we were able to slither right up to front and center stage. In fact during My Baby's Got Sauce, he singled out my beautiful wife and leaned in for an extended hand-hold (check her FB feed if you don't believe me). Haven't seen her smile like that in years.

And here's the topper: as we grabbed our coats and walked out into the chilly Brooklyn night, an unmarked side door opened up and out popped Garret himself. Before boarding the tour bus he stopped to show us some quick handshake love and assured me that he'll be playing JE Winery again this summer.

A good goddamn night.

1/24/17 -- The next Star Wars movie now has a name: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I can work with that. So right off the bat we recall the ending of The Force Awakens and we're thinking Luke, or perhaps Rey. But let's not forget that the word "Jedi" can be singular or plural, hmmmm...
1/23/17 -- Proud of wife and son for joining a local Women's March this past Saturday. I find myself torn between two arguments: What good will it do? and Complacency and indifference is siding with the bad guys.
1/20/17 -- Welp, with the final season of Black Sails kicking off next week I have no choice but to add Starz back to my cable bundle. As if the bill isn't high enough already... So I called and as it turns out there's a special promotion - three months of Starz for free! Huzzah!
1/19/17 -- Well the results are in. 2016 was the hottest year in recorded human history, beating out 2015. Which beat out 2014. See a trend here? And our President Elect thinks the whole thing is a hoax.

-- Flew out to Seattle earlier this week, and even in the chilly rain I'd forgotten what a lovely city it is... and how unendurable sitting six hours in coach can be - middle seat, no less.

-- Remembering how last inauguration day was historic must-see TV... tomorrow it's unlikely I'll tune in at all.

1/17/17 -- Mother, the birthday light is ON! Hope it's a great one. Let's get a margarita this weekend?
1/16/17 -- Sad to hear that my sister and bro-in-law will be saying farewell to Oscar, their beloved dog of I don't know how many years. That handsome mug, that boundless energy, and that loyal heart... You couldn't ask for a better friend.

I don't know, I think I might be done. That whole is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? thing... I wonder if dogs are the exception. We love them like people, but they're only around for a tiny fraction of our time.

1/11/17 -- After watching the trailer for A Dog's Purpose, we simply looked at each other and said "I can't. I just can't." Too much Honey.

-- Was scolding the missus for feeding the Trump Trolls on social media. I went down that road back in the George W. Bush days, and I've learned that there's really no point. The internet can be such a nasty place, and no one is going to change their political views based on something they see on Facebook. I'll never forget one particularly nasty online debate I took part in back then (there was no FB at the time, but plenty of forums), it pertained to the seemingly bogus reasons for invading Iraq. In response to Why are we even there?, one Dubya supporter chimed in: "So your sister won't need to wear a burka."

In describing our current situation I've coined a phrase that I'm rather fond of: The system may be broken, but the system has spoken.

1/9/17 -- Took in La La Land yesterday, and yes it deserves every single award it nabbed last night at the Globes. You'll leave smiling and humming and tapping your feet, even if your heart is a little broken.
1/6/17 -- Hey wait a minute...
1/4/17 -- So here it is, the long-awaited list of what I liked and did not like about that dreadful voyage around the sun called 2016. Ready?


Block Island in July (briefly)
Block Island in September
The foliage... not the best ever, but still lovely
October, every hour of it (me new fav month?)
Rogue One
Changing jobs
Titanfall 2
G. Love live
Donavon Frankenreiter live
Game of Thrones
Crossfit Brookfield / Getting into shape

Did Not Like

The campaign. Our Founding Fathers would be ashamed.
The election results (seriously, was it all just some terrible dream?)
Mass killings on the news every morning
Stress / Depression
RIP Grandma Nanclyn
RIP George Michael
RIP Carrie Fisher
RIP Gene Wilder
RIP Prince
RIP David Bowie
RIP Crossfit Brookfield / Falling out of shape
RIP Sadie (our beloved guinea pig)

2017 Resolutions? Sure, why not...

Live better
Parent better
Eat better
Work better
Get in absurd shape
Read more
Blog more
Figure out the money thing
Get the kids outdoors
Fix things in the house

How very trite.

1/3/17 -- The story of Old Horse Charlie made me smile and sniffle at the same time.
1/2/17 -- 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.
1/1/17 -- 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.
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