Wednesday, May 31, 2006
When you fly somewhere, the whole trip is about the destination. The flight itself is usually nothing memorable – although my mom will occasionally take a few pictures of whatever plane she happens to be flying on when she goes on vacation, so it can have a place in a scrapbook. But let’s face it – one plane pretty much looks like all the others, so it’s not like if she pasted a photo of the same plane over and over in different scrapbooks anyone would take much notice. Whereas with driving, the destination is only part of the trip – with driving, the journey itself can become as remarkable as the final location.
When I was young, my parents used to pack up the car and travel with Eric and me to various vacation locations every summer. We went on so many road trips when I was young that by the time I was a teenager, I’d visited all 48 contiguous states and many parts of Canada. (I added Alaska and Hawaii to the list a few years ago, so I’m covered on all 50 states…) And one of the things I learned from all that driving is that every state – no matter what our preconceived notions might be – possesses something beautiful or interesting or unique. Take Kansas, for instance. I’ve never thought of Kansas as a particularly appealing state. It conjures up images of waving brown wheat and tornadoes. But drive down the interstate in Kansas at the right time, and you’ll be rewarded with fields full of sunflowers – miles of lemon-yellow petals perched atop brilliant green stalks. It’s a striking sight, and one that would be missed at 32 thousand feet…
And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to apply this same lesson to all of my travels (and even to people). I don’t like to judge a place before I’ve visited it, and I don’t like to judge a person before I get to know them. I figure if every state in this country has some kind of beauty to offer, the same can be said for every country in the world (not to mention a lot of the people who live in all those countries). It’s a simple lesson, but I have to wonder – would I have been the same person if I hadn’t taken so many road trips? If a butterfly flapping its wings in some far-off place can affect the wind currents (or however that goes) then perhaps a person can be shaped by something as trivial as a cross-country drive.
Personally, I think driving is more convenient. Not faster, by any means – but when it comes to plain old convenience, it’s hard to beat. Flying may get you from point A to point B hours (or even days) sooner, but it’s certainly not without its aggravations. When you drive, there are no lines to check-in and no lines to go through security. You can keep your shoes on OR take them off – it’s up to you. None of your toiletries explode (unless you happen to be driving up a mountain…), and if you have ten bags, it’s fine – as long as they’ll fit in your car. You can eat what you want, when you want. You can start your journey whenever you’re ready, and end it whenever you feel too tired. And if the person next to you is talking too much, chances are you can just tell them to shut up without worrying about much of a consequence. True, driving means paying for gas and hotels, but for a hotel junkie such as myself, the experience is worth the money.
So this week, as I’m driving toward San Francisco, I’ll not only be focused on my ultimate destination, but I’ll make sure to pay attention to everything along the way, as well. Dallas, Albuquerque, Las Vegas – and all the places in between. Because you never know what you can learn if you pay attention…
So what are people to do when they find themselves wrapped up in an inconvenient conundrum such as a major flight delay? What can you do when you’re caught in a thunderstorm? What can you do if your plane breaks down on the runway and blocks the hundred other planes waiting to take off behind you? What we need is some sort of improbable solution to all our problems. What we need, obviously, is a hero. No, wait – not just a plain old “hero,” because mortal heroes can only do so much. What we really need is a SUPERhero.
The problem with superheroes is that they’re so concerned with their identities. They try to hide their true selves behind glasses or suits when they’re taking a break from fighting life’s injustices, knowing that when a crisis arises, the glasses must come off, the tights must go on, and the crisis must be averted. (Why they need to wear tights to avert a crisis, I don’t know… freedom of movement, I guess…) Anonymity is key. Any random person we see on the streets could be a superhero, and we wouldn’t even know it. Because, I am certain, superheroes have an active system in place to preserve their identities. Even now, as I type, superheroes of the world are actively and adamantly advocating anonymity.
But all this anonymity, of course, means that those of us who are mere humans must endure the modest difficulties we encounter, never knowing who to summon when our plane is trapped on a runway and we wish we could fly away. Superman? He can certainly fly… Wonder Woman? She has her own plane… Captain Anonymous? (What? You’ve never heard of Captain Anonymous? Must be all the anonymity…) Captain Anonymous is the superhero who should’ve reminded me that I had my iPod when I was stuck on my grounded plane. But I think he was falling down on the job that day…
I suppose most superheroes can’t be bothered with things like flight delays and thunderstorms. Not when they have true villains to conquer and mortal danger to overcome. So it looks like, for the foreseeable future, us mere humans will simply have to take everything in stride. A flight delay is, after all, simply that – a delayed flight. A minor hassle in the midst of a life unavoidably filled with ups and downs.
But I still wish I’d remembered my iPod…
Waiting for a superhero... but I've got my iPod, so it's okay if I have to wait a while...
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
It was taking us an exceptionally long time to taxi to the gate, and we came to a complete stop several times for unknown reasons. At one point, I looked out my window and noticed what appeared to be a conga-line of planes waiting to take off. I told Rick I had a bad feeling about getting out of Chicago on time. But we had a good hour-long layover, and perhaps things would be moving more smoothly by the time we boarded our plane.
Inside the terminal, travelers and luggage and annoying little motorized people-moving carts were everywhere – it was a total contrast to the wide-open space of the Buffalo airport. Waiting in line at Starbucks was like waiting to ride Space Mountain at Disneyworld. But I suppose this should be expected in a busy airport like O’Hare on Memorial Day weekend. We managed to get some coffee and some food and found two empty chairs by the window at our departing gate. As I sipped my coffee and watched a 747 pull into the gate next door, I was noticing a very slight, subtle change in the light outside. It was still sunny, and I could still see plenty of blue sky, but off in the distance was a hint of a gray cloud bank. Before I even had a chance to mention it, Rick said something about how Chicago was expecting thunderstorms. (Rick knows that I hate any mention of approaching thunderstorms, so he likes to mention them as much as possible…)
The rest of our journey went something like this:
3:30 – We board our plane right on time, and settle into our seats. Airplane seats are never the most comfortable places to sit, but hey, it’s only a two and half hour flight to Austin, so no big deal. Before the flight attendants have even shut the door, the man in front of me is napping. Every few minutes, he’ll start snoring loudly and wake himself up, at which point I imagine he must have a “where am I? what am I doing here?” look on his face.
3:45 – We have pulled away from the gate and taxied toward the conga-line. I’m dismayed to notice it’s still there.
3:46 – Captain So-and-So: Well, folks, right now it looks like we’re fiftieth in line for take-off. (Did he say fifteenth? Or FIFTIETH??) We’ll get you out of here as soon as we can, but right now we have fifty planes ahead of us. (Uh, yeah, that was definitely fifty…)
4:01 – Captain So-and-So: Uh, well, it looks like they’re shutting down the south-bound runway because of some bad weather to the south of us. They’re still allowing planes to take off to the west, but right now we’re unable to go south. So it looks like we’ll be sitting here for a little while. I’m going to go ahead and turn the engines off. If you need to get up to use the bathroom or walk around, go ahead. I’ll let you know more when I hear from the tower…
4:18 – Snoring guy is still happily oblivious to our unmoving plane. I start to wish I was one of those people who can fall asleep anywhere. Like Rick. Rick could fall asleep on a cot in the middle of an interstate next to a busy railroad track…
4:39 – I start listening to the conversation going on behind me, between a man from Austin and a woman heading to Austin on business. I can’t tell if the man is flirting or simply being nice, but he does manage to find out what hotel the woman will be staying at… he then pulls out a computer or a PDA or a phone (I can’t turn around to see without being REALLY conspicuous) that can display weather forecasts, and starts talking about the storm heading our way.
4:59 – As I look at the blackening sky, I realize that I don’t WANT to take off right now…
5:05 – The plane starts to move, but we aren’t actually moving. We’re bouncing around like we’ve hit turbulence, yet we’re still on the ground. Flirting Guy behind me shows off his meteorology knowledge to Business Woman next to him by explaining that the storm front is hitting us – and when I look outside, I see blades of grass blown horizontal by the force of the wind.
5:15 – As it starts to rain, Captain So-and-So speaks again: Well, folks, you can feel that the plane is getting bounced around a little bit from the storms moving through. Basically, at this point, the airport has been shut down. They’re not allowing flights to take off or land right now. We apologize… I know this isn’t how you wanted to spend your Memorial Day. I’ll let you know more as soon as I hear anything.
5:35 – Plane seat that didn’t seem so bad at first is beginning to feel less comfortable. Business Woman tells Flirting Guy that she’s been craving Indian food, and he tells her that all the Indians he works with swear Bombay Bistro near the Arboretum is the best Indian food in Austin. I make a mental note of this so I can try it sometime…
5:55 – The sky to the west of us appears to be clearing, and I can see slivers of sunlight slicing through the clouds. Flirting Guy strikes up a conversation with a flight attendant, showing her his spiffy weather forecasts, and predicts we’ll be moving within a half hour.
6:05 – Through the metal cocoon I’m trapped in, I can hear the sound of engines roaring down a runway. Planes are taking off again.
6:07 – Captain So-and-So: Right now, the tower is clearing a few planes to take off to the west. They’re still not letting anyone go south, but they’re plotting some re-routes and allowing planes to take off to the west, where they can head for a more southerly route once they hit the Mississippi. Uh, we should be able to get a route out to the west, but the tower won’t talk to us until we’re about ninth or tenth in line for take-off. Let you know as soon as I hear.
6:18 – The weather behind us seems to be clearing quite nicely. The sun is out again, and the runway is already dotted with dry patches. Snoring Guy is finished with his nap, and Flirting Guy has managed to shut up and mind his own business. My seat is starting to feel like it was constructed of plywood.
6:30 – Captain So-and-So: Um, well, folks, just a little bit more bad news – one of our competitor’s planes in front of us has lost its auxiliary power and is unable to start its engines. They’ve already called a maintenance crew to come out and tow it off the runway, but unfortunately we can’t go anywhere until it’s out of our way. So, as soon as they move the plane, we should have a better idea of when we can take off.
6:49 – I start to wonder if a plane has ever run out of gas from sitting on a runway for too long.
7:01 – Rick, who, up until this point has been reading a book, announces that he’s thinking about pulling out his iPod. MY IPOD! I have completely forgotten that my iPod has been sitting patiently at the bottom of my carry-on for the last three and a half hours, and it happily would have provided me with entertainment to pass the time. Instead, I have been dividing my time between a book, magazines, staring out the window at the lovely O’Hare landscaping, and eavesdropping on conversations around me. I also have, at this point, sent about twenty text messages to various people. (What did people do when they were trapped on planes before cell phones and laptops and iPods?)
7:05 – We’re moving! Slowly but surely, we inch our way up the conga-line. Thank goodness, because I am absolutely certain, at this point, that my seat is filled with jagged rocks.
7:15 – Captain So-and-So: Well, it looks like we’re first in line for takeoff on runway (insert random number of runway here), but I’m not sure where we are overall. But we’re definitely close, so I’m going to ask the flight attendants to prepare for take-off.
7:16 – I’m forced to turn off the iPod that I’ve only been listening to for fifteen minutes.
7:30 – At last, after four hours of sitting in a plane on a runway, we are airborne. Amazingly, my seat immediately feels less uncomfortable.
So, all-in-all, including our flight from Buffalo, we spent about nine hours on planes yesterday just to get back to Austin. That kind of time could’ve been spent flying some place much cooler, like London or Hawaii. Oh well… as I was saying on the plane when the storm was blowing through – I’d much rather sit on the runway and be sure to arrive safe, than fly in a storm like that and take chances.
And besides, if our flight had been uneventful, I might not have had much to blog about today…
Flying around the storm -- how can something so fluffy cause so much trouble?
Sunday, May 28, 2006
We had a great visit with family this weekend. We ate WAY too much ice cream at Alethea's (which has to be the best ice cream parlor in the Buffalo area), managed to completely surprise my grandparents with the anniversary party, and reminisced and told stories while we hung out in their log cabin home (Eric and I are certain that house was bigger when we were kids...).
But our trip hasn’t been free of the occasional snag. As we were checking in at the airport on Saturday, the woman behind the desk noticed that Rick’s driver’s license was expired. Apparently Texas no longer sends a notice when your license is about to expire, and we’re expected to stay on top of this sort of thing. The only problem is, most people don’t think to look at their licenses very often. In fact, about the only time I pull mine out of my wallet is when I’m getting ready to board a plane. Or when I order alcohol and I get carded. (Which DOES still happen. Shut up, Faisal…)
After a tense moment in which we were uncertain Rick would be allowed to board the plane, we were given the okay and proceeded to security. At this point, Rick found out he’d been selected for an extra-special security screening, and as my parents and I hung out near the bookstore, a TSA agent went through everything in his backpack and discovered a forgotten pocketknife. While the agent kept a close watch on the knife, Rick gave me his backpack to hold, then reclaimed his knife from the agent and ran with it out to the car (kids – don’t ever run with knives…). When he finally made it to the gate some time later, he was limping. All that running had caused his ankle to give out and he twisted it.
Our flights, fortunately, were fairly uneventful. But once we arrived at the Buffalo airport, we went to the rental car counter where my dad had made a reservation, and were told they were out of cars. This, of course, conjured up memories of “Seinfeld,” and the episode where Jerry tries to pick up his reserved rental car, only to find out there are no cars to rent. He tries to explain the meaning of “reservation” to the woman behind the desk, who claims to know the definition of the word, but Jerry replies, “I don’t think you do.” What, exactly, is the point of a reservation if nothing is actually reserved? After a few back-and-forth conversations between our rental place and the rental place next-door, we were able to procure a minivan from another company.
We then proceeded to dinner, where we met up with my mom’s cousin and her husband. Everyone except me ordered roast beef on kummelweck – a kind of roll dotted with salt and caraway seeds. “Beef on weck” is one of the specialties Buffalo is known for – less well-known than Buffalo wings, obviously, as I’ve never seen beef on weck outside of Western New York. And while my mom swore that the last time she’d had the beef on weck at this particular restaurant it was perfect, the dinners served last night were less-than-edible. No one ate much, but since we headed to Alethea’s afterwards anyway, we certainly didn’t end the night hungry.
At 11:30, Rick and I were finally exhausted from a day spent traveling, and, in our quiet hotel room, prepared to fall asleep. Through the thin wall behind us, I heard a faint noise that Rick at first described as sounding like “an owl.” But after a few seconds the noise got louder, and it was quite apparent that what we heard had nothing to do with ornithology. The couple next door was, um, sharing way too many sounds with us, which I shall not reproduce here. They, however, may be reproducing in about nine months or so…
Which brings me to tonight, and my hesitancy to try to fall asleep just yet. Not that I have any idea if those two are still staying here, but we noticed the “do not disturb” sign was on the door when we got back to our room, and I’d just rather not have to be a witness to that kind of thing again. Maybe I should keep the TV on, just in case…
Friday, May 26, 2006
I, however, am heading to Buffalo, New York, for my grandparents’ 65th anniversary party. My grandparents are not like the stereotypical retired people in this country who head down to Florida as soon as empty-nest syndrome sets in. No, they have tenaciously remained for years in the same log cabin they built with their own hands when my mom was a girl. My 91-year-old grandfather still plows his own driveway when the snow piles up every year, and during the summer, he and my grandmother grow vegetables in their garden. And if I’D built a log cabin with my own hands, I’d probably never want to leave it, either.
I think it’s funny that when you visit the Weather Channel’s website and search for the forecast for Buffalo, it pops up with an option to “get the beach forecast.” The beach forecast. For Buffalo. The one in New York. Not Buffalo in the south of France. I can’t remember ever visiting the “beach” in Buffalo when I was a kid. But maybe that’s because we had a pool in our backyard. And yes, we DID use the pool quite frequently during the summer. I’ve always thought it was interesting how Buffalo is notorious for its snowfall, but it’s the summers I remember most. If I’d stayed much longer than the nine years I spent there, I probably would’ve been old enough to start helping with the driveway shoveling. THEN I would’ve remembered the winters…
Family members aside, I can’t imagine a reason I’d want to live in Buffalo today. I’m kind of grateful that my parents moved away when we did, so I was able to explore a couple different parts of the country. It isn’t the cold weather in Buffalo that I find so unappealing – New York City gets plenty cold, and I love it… Chicago is downright freezing, but I think it’s a great city – no, I can’t really put my finger on it, but Buffalo never seemed to have that “spirit” you find within certain cities. It’s probably just my personal preferences – I imagine cites, like people, possess qualities we either click with, or we don’t. I don’t happen to click with Buffalo… Buffalo and I don’t have much chemistry. In fact, I’m seeing several other cities behind Buffalo’s back.
Don’t tell Buffalo…
Someplace other than Buffalo...
There are times when I wonder whether the things I think about are totally unique to me, or if other people out there think about them, too. For instance, I was driving down the road the other day, and I had a sudden overwhelming feeling of invisibility. Now, obviously the logical part of my mind understands the irrationality of such a thought. I can not, under any circumstance, become invisible. I do not own a magic Harry Potter cloak, and I know that no such cloak exists. And yet, as I stopped at a red light with dozens of other cars and drivers surrounding me, I couldn’t help but wonder how I could be certain they were seeing me.
And this wasn’t the first time I’d questioned my own ability to be seen. This thought crosses my mind quite often when I’m driving alone (although strangely, never when I’m driving with someone else – it’s as if I realize that whoever I’m driving with is definitely visible, so I assume everyone else must realize it, as well). I’ve also felt the “am I invisible?” vibe in places like crowded movie theaters and the mall – anywhere large groups of people gather, giving me the chance to observe them, while simultaneously questioning my own ability to be observed. Maybe it’s because I don’t WANT to be observed – so it’s simply some sort of wishful thinking on my part. I WISH I could walk through crowds unseen, and peruse items in stores without salespeople bothering me, and go for a stroll through my neighborhood and not be suspiciously curious about the laughter of small groups of children I pass (are they laughing at ME? What did I do that was so amusing?).
But even more than my yearning for invisibility is my fascination with the knowledge that every person on this planet has their own life, and their own thoughts, and their own questions, and their own feelings, and their own points of view. No two people can ever truly see the exact same thing from the exact same vantage point at exactly the same time. What I see through my eyes is different – even if that difference is miniscule – from what everyone else is seeing. When I’m driving in my car, surrounded by travelers from diverse areas of the city, or perhaps areas of the country – maybe even from different parts of the world – I find myself amazed by the idea that every person in every one of those cars is out there driving for a different purpose. What are they thinking about? What are they worrying about? When I think about the billions of people on this planet, and the billions of thoughts wandering around some kind of metaphorical pseudo-space at any given time, it’s overwhelming. If all those thoughts are out there, and all those people are thinking about different things, how can I be sure that my car is one of the things they’re thinking about? I’m even amazed that we all managed to see the red light at the same time…
For all I know, none of this makes sense to anyone but me. Sometimes that seems to be the case with the things I write. But I suppose it doesn’t matter. After all, there’s a good chance I’m invisible anyway…
Thursday, May 25, 2006
So last night on Lost… um, to be honest, I have no idea what happened. Oh, don’t get me wrong – I WATCHED the show. I wouldn’t have missed it. I’m just really not sure what, exactly, happened. Desmond came back in his sailboat – I saw that one coming. The guy disappeared from the island at the beginning of the season and no one ever bothered to say, “I wonder where that guy from the hatch ran off to?” Since he mentioned that he was in a sailboat race when he got stuck on Anti-Fantasy Island, I had to assume that sailboat belonged to him. What I loved is that he had it all stocked up with Dharma-logo liquor. Is there anything these Dharma people DON’T put their logo on? We saw it on the shark and the polar bear, it’s on the door of all the crazy hatches, it’s all over the boxes of food, and apparently they stamp it onto bottles of rum and tequila, as well.
I think my favorite part of the show was when Sun, Jin and Sayid were in the sailboat, heading for the Other’s outpost (which, of course, turned out to be nothing more than a staged façade…) and they discovered the giant foot statue. And amazingly, I can tie this in to yesterday’s toe discussion – because the giant foot statue only had four toes. Four toes. Like a Simpsons character. Sayid found this “disquieting” (I love that he used the word “disquieting.” Who uses the word “disquieting” on TV shows, huh?), as well as the fact that the statue had been cut off at the ankle, apparently suggesting it used to be one big GIANT statue of a four-toed (and, I’m assuming, four-fingered) person. Or maybe a monkey. Or, like, a monkey-man hybrid. I mean, really – who knows WHAT they’re experimenting with on that island…
Oh, and of course the show continued with its “don’t I know you from somewhere?” theme between all of the characters. Last night we discovered that Desmond’s boat used to belong to Libby, who was in the insane asylum with Hurley. Hurley, of course, had that imaginary friend named Dave, and Libby, interestingly enough, told Desmond that her late husband’s name was David. So was she really married? Or did Hurley’s “friend” have some sort of imaginary life of his own? We also discovered that Kelvin, the man who originally dragged Desmond to the hatch and taught him all about the crazy button, was the same guy who made Sayid torture prisoners in Iraq. I think this guy may have also had some connection to Kate’s dad, if I remember correctly.
The most interesting part of the night happened in the last two minutes – for the first time since the show began, we caught a glimpse of the post-plane-crash outside world. Up until that moment, the only time we saw the outside world was in flashbacks. Does this mean that next season we’ll start seeing more about what’s happening in the “present” outside world? And by the way, was it just me, or did it look like the kid who plays Walt grew about a foot taller since he was supposedly kidnapped by the Others? (Which, in show-timeline, would only be a few weeks… those Others have obviously been making him eat his vegetables…)
So, all in all, it was a very confusing season finale. We still don’t know if Eko and Locke are okay. And what about Desmond? They were all still in the hatch, right? So are we to assume all that magnetic energy destroyed everything in its path? Has the hatch ceased to exist? Does this mean no more showers for anyone?? If you don’t watch Lost, you might as well start, because there’s no way you could be any more confused than those of us who’ve already been sucked into this show…
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Okay, enough about Lost… So I saw the movie version of The Da Vinci Code last night, and I have to say I was a little disappointed. I loved the book – I’ve enjoyed all of Dan Brown’s novels. And while he isn’t always concerned with getting his facts straight (but it IS, after all, fiction) he’s always managed to keep me interested from the first page to the last. The guy can spin a good yarn.
(And as a quick aside – I have to mention that there are two groups of people who annoy me when it comes to The Da Vinci Code. First are people who read the book and believe every word Dan Brown says, and second are people who read the book and are offended by every word Dan Brown says. Even worse are people who DON’T read the book and decide to be offended by it anyway. How can you be offended if you haven’t read it? Okay, I guess that’s actually three groups of people… Anyway, The Da Vinci Code is, absolutely, a work of FICTION, and should be enjoyed as such. I think perhaps Dan Brown has been having a bit of fun playing devil’s advocate, as I’m sure he, of all people, is well aware of the factual mistakes and misguided assumptions throughout the book. But he’s certainly not going to mention any of that when the whole thing has stirred up such a ridiculous storm of controversy. If more people would understand that the book is simply an entertaining, fast-paced thriller and stop looking at it either as a history book or as heretical dogma, then maybe everyone could have more fun with it.)
So as I was saying – I was a bit disappointed with the movie. The book was so good that it seemed like perfect movie fodder – the kind of book that is destined to be transformed into some kind of cinematic treasure. All the elements were there – murder, mystery, puzzles, codes, chases, mistaken identity, striking locations, eccentric characters – and yet when this story was translated onto a screen, it fell remarkably flat. The most obvious flaw was the casting of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon – Tom Hanks was able to act with a VOLLEYBALL for two hours in “Castaway” and made it interesting. You’d think there would be nothing this guy couldn’t do. Wrong. He definitely does NOT do “Harvard-symbologist-turned-murder-suspect-turned-code-breaker.” In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tom Hanks acting so listlessly. He and Audrey Tautou (the French actress who was so good in Amelie – great movie, if you’ve never seen it) had absolutely zero chemistry onscreen. There was a scene at the end of the movie where they hug, and it seemed so strange – as if two people who’d just met on a subway decided to hug each other. For at least the first half of the movie, it seems their only purpose, really, is to explain what’s happening in the story... sort of like detached narrators.
And by the way, if you haven’t read the book, I wouldn’t see the movie. I’m not sure it would make much sense to someone who didn’t already understand what was going on. The parts of the movie that deal with the symbols and codes and anagrams – detailed so fascinatingly in the book – are rushed over so quickly that you’ll probably miss them if you blink. You’ll definitely miss them if you run out for a soda and popcorn…
The one real “character” in the movie is Ian McKellen’s Teabing – after an hour of mind-numbing Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou, he’s like a big cup of cappuccino with extra espresso. And Paul Bettany as the albino monk Silas wasn’t bad (although for some reason, Rick started laughing every time he appeared on-screen…). Another thing that made us laugh was this strange repetition of dialogue between characters – one character would say something, and another would repeat it back, as if to make sure the idiot audience understood what was being said:
“So what I’m saying is, the Holy Grail is not a cup.”
“Wait a second! So what you’re saying is, the Holy Grail is not a cup?”
“Da Vinci used codes in his artwork.”
“Wait a second! Da Vinci used codes in his artwork?”
“This dialogue is horrible.”
“This is really bad dialogue!”
So I guess the movie, like the book, can’t be taken too seriously. I’d probably watch it again some time, just to see if I missed some of the subtle nuances of Tom Hanks’ performance. But, as is usually the case when a story of such detail is transformed into celluloid – the book is much better than the movie.
So in half a second, your perfectly normal grape-toes are covered with grape-colored bruises and feel as though someone has used their OWN toes to stomp on yours in a vat full of smushed soon-to-be-wine fruit. And what if one of those little grape-toes is broken? Well, since apparently it’s impossible to make tiny little grape-sized plaster casts, the best you can do is tie on one of those weird half-shoes and hobble around for a few weeks while it heals. And THAT is the point when you realize you do, in fact, have toes.
Up until that point, of course, toes are barely noticeable… almost forgettable. They’re not like fingers, which curl so effortlessly around pens and pencils and doorknobs and coat hangers. They’re hidden under socks and buried within shoes and forced to keep ranks with their foot neighbors when we go for jogs and stand in lines at the grocery store. And the only time I’m certain those toes must get excited is when we pull out a pair of flip-flops – ah ha! Finally! At last! The toes are given a purpose. With flip-flops, it is the TOES themselves that prevent the entire shoe from falling off and being abandoned on a sidewalk. It is the TOES that embrace the responsibility of protecting the entire foot. For a few hours, at least, the forgettable little grape toes are transformed into tiny little hard-working heroes.
I once saw a show on the Discovery channel about a man who’d lost a thumb in an accident, and they were able to surgically replace his thumb with his big toe. Now THAT must’ve been a happy toe. It must’ve felt privileged to move from its unremarkable position near the dust and dirt of the ground to an elevated location replete with brand-new grasping duties. A big toe that can hold a remote control... how unique. Then again, maybe it’s not so unique – I’m sure there are guys out there with perfectly functioning hands who’ve felt it necessary to change a TV channel with their toes. I mean, if you’re already settled on the couch, and the remote is juuuuuust out of reach… (I certainly wouldn’t KNOW any guys like that…)
Anyway, I can definitely say, without a doubt, that this is the most I’ve ever written about toes. Who knew they could inspire four paragraphs? I have a sudden urge to find the nearest nail salon and ask for a pedicure…
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Oh, I’m just kidding. Actually, it’s Rosemary Clooney’s birthday! Yes, Rosemary Clooney, who sang such classics as, um, I think she sang that song about “come on-a my house” and something about how I’m gonna give you apples and pears and peaches… and maybe a kumquat or something. And candy. Yeah, there was definitely candy in that song. (What’s up with that song? Does anybody know? Is it supposed to be literal, or some kind of metaphor? I mean, that lady has an awful lot of fruit at her house…) Okay, so I really don’t know much about Rosemary Clooney. Except that she was George Clooney’s aunt. And apparently my mom used to sound like Rosemary Clooney when she sang in choir in high school, because someone left a comment about it in her yearbook. And, of course, today is Rosemary Clooney’s birthday!
All right, all right, seriously – HAPPY BIRTHDAY ERIC!!! My earliest memory actually goes back to the day Eric was born. Not that I can remember being excited about the prospect of a baby brother in the house (although maybe I was, who knows…) – no, what I remember is that my grandparents were staying with me while my parents were at the hospital. And my grandmother gave me a piece of toast with jelly for breakfast, but there was a tiny little black speck in the jelly so I refused to eat it. Thus began a lifetime of picky eating. And since it was Eric’s birthday, I suppose HIS lifetime of picky eating began that day, as well. I’m sure, even as a newborn baby, all wrapped up in a blanket in a crib somewhere in a hospital in Buffalo, New York, Eric was thinking, “I guess this place isn’t so bad… except for that mayonnaise stuff… eeeewwwww…” Eric is still the only person I know who really understands the way I eat. If we were in a roomful of people who all cleaned their plates, Eric and I would still have little piles of reject food parts on ours. There are just some things you can’t eat… and if you DO eat them, you’re just plain weird. (Yeah, that’s right, I’m turning it around – YOU are the weird ones. Not me. Not Eric. YOU. Eric and I are perfectly normal…)
So Eric, I hope you get a chance to run out to the Starbucks across the street and have some birthday coffee. Right after you have some birthday French toast at the Pancake House. And when you get the big jar of birthday mayonnaise I sent you, there’ll be no need to thank me. I KNOW you’re gonna love it… :)
Oh, don't look at me like that. I didn't REALLY get you mayonnaise...
Monday, May 22, 2006
Writing is like constructing a puzzle – each word must be comfortably nestled next to its neighbor… each phrase must compliment the one before. Only after every section has been locked into place will the entire picture be visible. And if one tiny piece is missing, the entire project seems to be ruined. Of course, there’s a fine line between “complete” and “overkill.” This was something I started to realize in school, when we were given assignments to write papers that were, for example, “at least 20 pages long,” and after about 17 pages, I’d run out of things to write. I had already made my point, I had already provided the proper amount of embellishment necessary for a research paper, and anything extra would simply be “filler” material. What’s more, I was certain whoever was grading the paper would be intelligent enough to recognize filler material, and would laugh at my insistence that I had a “really, really, really, really, really interesting time writing this very, very, very, very, extremely important paper.”
So I would take a chance and turn in my three-pages-too-short paper, and be quite surprised when it was returned to me not only with a good grade, but with comments about how “concise” and “to-the-point” my paper was. After a while, I started realizing those page number requirements were really more of a guideline – I was never given a lowered grade due to a shorter paper, and I suppose it’s because when you’re writing to make a point, it’s more important that you simply make your point. It’s more important that your message is received loud and clear than for a few more slips of paper to be added for embellishment purposes. As long as the entire puzzle is complete, what more can you say?
Creative writing, of course, is a different story (pun not intended…). Embellishment is half the fun. I took a fiction writing class at St. Edward’s University a few years ago, and one of the things we talked about was the difference between “showing” and “telling” in a story. Sure, you could simply TELL your audience that, “John was angry.” Or you could SHOW them by saying something like, “John threw open the door, flung the phone across the room, and slammed his hand down on the table.” You know John is angry, but the word “angry” doesn’t even appear in the sentence. And that’s part of what I find appealing about writing – the way that words can be used like clay, and sculpted into different forms until their collective meaning is apparent. These words can form pictures as multihued and vibrant as anything hanging in the Louvre or the Met. To me, talking just seems less colorful. Then again, I probably think about these things more often than a lot of people, seeing as the ABSENCE of talking and the PRESENCE of writing almost seem to be part of what makes up my nature. Or perhaps “almost” isn’t even relevant – they ARE part of what makes up my nature.
So I think I’ll go indulge in the vibrant layers of a novel. And hopefully, when I’m finished, I will find myself in a completely different place from where I started. Because that’s the adventure of holding onto a raft made of words…
Sunday, May 21, 2006
We are men. We live in the mountains...
We are men. We eat meat.
We eat meat as big as our shoes. Because we are men.
We are men. We build fire.
WE BUILD FIRE!
And we have guns. Because we are men.
Sometimes we play Charlie's Angels. But we are still men.
We are men. We like chocolate chip scones with our drive-through coffee shop lattes.
Yes, life is good. Because we are men.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Not much to talk about today... my dad came over yesterday to make copies of my Mediterranean cruise pictures so my mom can start making a scrapbook. And as long as he was making copies of mine, he copied all his pictures for me, too. So here are a bunch more random pictures to peruse:
Eric and Eric playing checkers in the ship's coffee shop. I'm not sure who won, but I'm guessing it was Eric...
Ah... silly Dutch hat night. I'll bet Dutch people don't even wear these things, do they? They just make us wear them so all the waiters can laugh at us...
Eric and Eric walking through an alley in Monaco...
The Attack of Lisa's Umbrella-Mutilated Finger!
Picture of Prince Albert in a store in Monaco. And no, he was NOT in a can. (You know, I had no idea what "Prince Albert in a can" meant until I Googled it... apparently it was pipe tobacco. And here I was thinking maybe it was some kind of weird lunch meat or something. Like Spam...)
Me and Rick... I look sort of crazy in this picture for some reason...
Stoic statue with a disrespectful seagull perched on top...
Proof that my brother is in cahoots with those scary demon bunnies from the Dallas World Aquarium...
...but I love him anyway (the exorcist has been contacted...)
Rick and me walking through St. Peter's Square...
Friday, May 19, 2006
I started to think about how Eric and I used to rent movies every weekend when we were teenagers. James Bond movies were our favorite. We rented every single one – even “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” with the very un-James Bond-like George Lazenby. Most of them we rented two or three times, until we knew the basics of every film: the Bond Girl… the likeable, hapless victim… the maniacally evil villain… and the completely improbable (and often downright impossible) blockbuster ending.
And then one weekend, we heard about a movie called “Miracle Mile” – I think it may have been recommended by someone in Eric’s class at school. So we rented it, and settled on the couch to watch. The movie featured Anthony Edwards (back when he had hair) as an average Joe kind of guy who picks up a ringing payphone one evening and hears a panicky voice talking about nuclear missiles. Whoever was on the other end of the line had just launched weapons heading toward the Soviet Union (yes –Anthony Edwards had hair, AND the Soviet Union was still in existence) and had meant to call someone else. So apparently the man was trusted with the codes to put a plan for world annihilation into play, but he was unable to dial a phone number correctly.
Anyway, in a nutshell, the rest of the story revolved around the small group of people who were privy to the fact that war was imminent, and their attempts to find a way to fly to Antarctica (as they assumed it would be the only part of the earth not contaminated with radiation). And to be honest, Eric and I were on the edge of our seats – literally. When we started the movie, we were lounging on the couch… after a few scenes, we were sitting up straight on the edge of the couch… by mid-movie, we’d moved to the coffee table… and by the time the film was drawing to a close, we’d abandoned furniture altogether and sat on the floor with our eyes perilously near to the “you’ll go blind if you sit there” position. In fact, the entire movie had had us completely interested and in suspense, waiting for the moment when our pre-ER hero would discover a way out of town, and start his new (albeit cold) life in Antarctica.
But then the helicopter he was riding in (with his girlfriend by his side) crashed in the middle of Los Angeles, and his hope for escape was cut off. But wait – the improbable James Bond-type ending was still on its way, right? Or perhaps the whole thing was simply a dream? Yes! That must be it! Eric and I waited for the “Surprise! Time to wake up!” scene, as Anthony Edwards spouted some sort of ridiculous dialogue about Superman, and how the heat of a nuclear blast could turn coal into diamond. As he and his girlfriend huddled in the back of the disabled helicopter, a white flash filled the screen. And then – the credits started to roll.
WHAT?? THAT’S THE WAY IT ENDS???
After watching the movie, Eric and I both agreed that Miracle Mile was one of the best suspense movies we’d seen, up until the final second. I’ve never seen a film that was completely ruined by ONE second, but that final moment left me feeling as if absolutely nothing was resolved. And if that was the case, then what was the point of the film in the first place? I mean, the word “miracle” is in the title, for goodness’ sake – was it too much to expect that SOMEONE would survive? Why didn’t they just call it “Everybody Dies” or “Futile Efforts” or “Nothing Happy Will Occur Within the Next Two Hours”? At least then we would’ve gone into it with a bit of preparation. Not that I think every movie I watch has to have a happy ending – but there’s a difference between “the end” and “THE end.”
After that, I think we pretty much stuck to James Bond movies. Yes, they can be a bit absurd, but at least you know that if James Bond is stuck in Los Angeles when nuclear warheads are on the way, he’ll be able to fly to Antarctica using his specially-designed suit jacket and ballpoint pen. And as long as he brings a few of those Bond Girls along, there should be no problem with repopulating the earth…
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
But text messaging does present a problem – most phones seem to allow a maximum of 160 characters per message, including spaces. Which doesn’t give you much room to convey your thoughts. You couldn’t have a truly heated text message argument, for instance. Because by the time you got around to writing out “you are SUCH a--” you’d be at the end of your character limit. And would you really want to waste one of your messages to complete the thought? I guess that’s where unlimited messaging comes in handy…
The other problem with text messages is the struggle to convey proper tone within such a tiny, confined space. If you’re simply writing “how are you?” or “let’s meet for lunch” the intentions are pretty clear. But what about happiness, or sadness, or sarcasm, or annoyance, or confusion, or any of the other myriad of emotions or moods or inflections someone might want to make understood in a message? With only 160 characters, it’s not always easy to be clear. (And yes, Faisal, if you’re reading this – this entire post was inspired by our strange text message conversation about Chacon yesterday. :))
Text messages have also given way to one of my biggest pet peeves – the use of “text message speak” in everyday writing. I can completely understand typing “how r u?” in a text message, since not only can finding the proper key for the proper letter be a bit of a chore at times, but also, again – only 160 characters. So you leave out the “yo” in “you.” You spell “love” and “know” and “eye” phonetically. You use numbers in place of letters, like “2sday” and “gr8.” And when it’s a text message, I get it. No problem. Do whatever you have to do to stay within that cramped little phone prison. But I absolutely HATE (or should I say h8?) to see someone write that way in a regular email – “How r u 2day? Gr8!!” Does it honestly take up too much precious time to type out y-o-u? A-r-e? It’s a little disconcerting to see this trend. Will we one day end up with a country full of people who have no idea how to form a complete sentence? And will any of them know how to find India on a map? (Can u see it? Nope. Can u? Nope. U r so stoopid. No, U r.)
Perhaps the proliferation of email and cell phones is contributing to a sort of “dumbing down” effect on our population. I’d say we should just get rid of them all, but we can’t very well go around destroying all the rides at Six Flags now, can we? What fun would that be? Anyway, I suppose that’s enough rambling for today…
C u ppl l8r.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Instead, every time I attempted to wear my contacts, it would feel like little bitty eyelashes were trapped under the lenses. So I’d take them out, rinse them off, put them back in – same result. Eventually I gave up and resigned myself to wearing my nerdy librarian glasses – which everyone else seems to really like, but personally, I prefer the contacts. And since I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to actually wear the annoying little things again, I made an appointment with my eye doctor to ask about LASIK surgery.
Rick and my dad have both had LASIK, and they’ve both had really good results. But I tend to be rather cautious when it comes to the idea of allowing lasers near my eyes. Lasers. Like Luke-Skywalker-Star-Wars lasers… Don’t look directly at the sun! But you can look at that laser if you like…
After chatting with the doctor about LASIK, he led me to a room with a TV and asked me to watch a DVD detailing the procedure. Which didn’t seem too strange – until the narrator of the DVD introduced himself as So-and-So who plays Somebody on General Hospital. Wait a second – they couldn’t find a REAL doctor to narrate? They had to take the “I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV” route? Is that kind of thing supposed to appeal more to the masses? As if we would lose all interest in the ramblings of an actual doctor… but oh, if that dreamy guy from General Hospital tells me to laser my eyes, I am SO there!
Slightly less disturbing was the description of the actual procedure. The laser cuts away a flap of cornea, which is peeled away like the skin of a grape. The underlying tissue is then burned away until the proper shape has been formed, at which point the grape-skin corneal flap is replaced. It’s smoothed into place like wallpaper, and voila! 20/20 vision. That’s the hope, at least – Dr. General Hospital was legally-bound to explain that there are no guarantees, and side-effects can include double-vision, light halos, and silly little things like blindness.
At my appointment, I found out that my eye irritation had been caused by too much Benadryl – I’d been taking one a day for several weeks, and apparently the antihistamine had dried out my eyes to the point that my contacts felt like tiny little blocks of cement. As soon as I stopped taking the Benadryl, my eyes felt progressively better until my contacts worked just fine again. So with my frustration over my contact lenses abated, I’m back to feeling more wishy-washy about the LASIK surgery.
Maybe I’d be more certain if Derek Jeter had narrated that informational DVD…
I always feel like I have huge eyes in pictures... hmmm... should I get my big, giant eyes lasered?
Monday, May 15, 2006
And here are a couple pictures of Mr. Bill Bridge, which is officially a Montana landmark now. All that's left to build is a little booth for a guy to sit in while he collects tolls...
1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18 and write down line 4.
“You return empty-handed, tailor! How could this be?” From the book I’m reading now – Tokyo Cancelled, by Rana Dasgupta
2.Stretch your left arm out as far as you can.
Uh, is this supposed to be some kind of pre-quiz workout? And stretch two three four… now the right arm! Okay, I think I’m ready for the rest of this…
3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
Watched the end of the English Patient on Cinemax last night… I don’t know why… that’s one of the most depressing movies ever.
4.Without looking, guess what time it is?
5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?
10:49… Ooooo… so close.
6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
Actually, I can’t hear the computer because I’m listening to my iPod… I’m on Gavin DeGraw’s “Chariot” right now…
7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
Went to Seattle’s Best for my usual morning caramel latte…
8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?
Um, I dunno… checked my email… checked my baseball lineup… looked at the menu in Seattle’s Best even though I practically know it from memory (and I get the same thing every day anyway, so why would I look at it?).
9. What are you wearing?
I’m not sure I know you that well, Mysterious Asker of Questions…
10. Did you dream last night?
I dream pretty much every night, and I can usually remember at least a couple of the dreams I dreamt… but nine times out of ten, they make absolutely no sense…
11. When did you last laugh?
Um, haven’t really been keeping track… yesterday some time, I suppose. Perhaps after visiting Austin’s annual Showcase of Homes and heading back to the parking lot with four dozen other home viewers on a shuttle bus designed for three dozen people. So the dozen of us who were unlucky enough to make it to the bus after if was full were told (by a driver who no doubt will be losing his license soon…) that we should simply stand in the aisle. Which made for an “interesting” ride back to the parking lot. The floor underneath my feet kept squeaking ominously, as if it were planning on falling away and introducing me to the asphalt. I’m just glad we didn’t have to travel on any steep gravel roads, because who’s to say whether that overloaded bus would’ve stayed on the road and avoided tumbling over the side?? And while it wasn’t necessarily all that funny at the time, as soon as we were safely back at the parking lot it was HILARIOUS…
12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
Well, I’m looking into the kitchen, so mostly cupboards…
13. Seen anything weird lately?
I saw Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible III – does that count?
14. What do you think of this quiz?
Eh… I’ve seen better…
15. What is the last film you saw?
Uh, that would be Mission Impossible III. Duh.
16. If you became a multimillionaire overnight, what would you buy?
Plane tickets to everywhere… hotel rooms everywhere… and maybe a snowglobe from everywhere… so I could have a big set of shelves in my house full of snowglobes from everywhere, and people would come in and be like, “where’d you get THIS one?” And I could say, “oh, that’s from Uzbekistan.” And perhaps next to the shelves, I’d have a giant map – the kind of map you could cover with pushpins to signify the places you’d been. So my map would be covered with multicolored pushpins, because I will have been everywhere. As would be evidenced by my snowglobes, of course…
17. Tell me something about you that I don’t know.
Um, I like to dip French fries in mayonnaise… most people seem to think that’s gross…
18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
That’s a difficult question… I guess I’d love it if everyone could understand that people are people, no matter what they look like or what they believe. And each person, individually, is unique – so assumptions can not be made based on the superficial. The superficial things mean nothing – what matters is what KIND of person you are. The world spends way too much time and energy dividing itself over ridiculous things…
19. Do you like to dance?
Only if no one is watching. But Rick swears he has hidden cameras all over the house, recording my Shakira-like dance moves for everyone on the internet to see. I believe the address is www.dancelisadance.com
20. George Bush.
Um, what’s the question here, exactly? And are we talking Sr. or W? Are we talking about the one who CAN pronounce “nuclear” or the one who can’t? And can someone tell me why, exactly, no one in George W’s entourage has ever just gone up to him and said, “Mr. President, with all due respect, it’s pronounced NU-CLE-AR??”
21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?
C’mere… It would just save all kinds of time when I wanted them to come into the house if they were outside – “Hey You! C’mere!!”
23. Would you ever consider living abroad?
24.What do you want GOD to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
“Okay, lemme explain all of THAT to you…”
Now isn’t everyone glad I answered all those questions? Everything makes so much more sense now, right? No? You don’t think so? Nah, me either… :)
Saturday, May 13, 2006
These days, my mom is still one of the most compassionate, generous people I know. She’s always willing to help out with anything she can… She happily makes coffee runs and brings me a caramel latte even on days I’m too sleepy to leave the house in the morning… She always seems to discover extra stamps for me after she’s made a trip to the post office… She’s the best amateur travel agent in the world, and plenty of friends and family members can attest to the vacations and cruises she’s planned with the precision of a Swiss watch… She almost always has chocolate in her house (almost…) and makes better pies than anyone I know… I know I could call my mom, day or night, and she’d always be there if I needed anything. And I’m sure I don’t thank her enough for everything she does. So mom, thanks for all the coffee, stamps, cruises, pies, bird-watching tips, motherly advice, encouragement, compliments and support. I love you!
By the way, I’m thinking of getting my bellybutton pierced – will you come with me? But you’ll have to go first…
Mom and me in Hawaii, before she got her cool new haircut... :)
Friday, May 12, 2006
Fortunately for me, Jeter was one of the Yankees actually playing to win last night. I ended up with 11 points from Jeter alone – more than any of my other players managed to eke out. But it could’ve been worse – two of the guys in the league finished with -2 points last night. So it’s always nice to see that smidgen of validation that assures me I’m not a total loser.
And on a completely different subject (unless I can manage to tie it back in to the first two paragraphs) here’s another picture from Montana:
This is Eric and Dave at a place called Odie’s Big Sky Café. Odie’s is famous for its overabundance of fried food, its “can’t be bothered to update” décor, and it’s scary, mustached man-waitress. Okay, maybe it’s not actually “famous” per se… Odie’s also has great pie, as evidenced by this picture. Eric and Dave were not eating lunch. Or dinner. Or a midnight snack. This was breakfast – coconut cream pie and orange juice. And I’m told the pie was followed by blueberry pancakes and bacon. Pie, pancakes and bacon? Ugh… gotta go buy some Pepto Bismol…
I’ve also been told that Scooter the Mouse has met an unfortunate demise, and, thankfully, no pictures are available. I can only imagine that Eric saw the little thing scurrying across the cabin floor, pulled his gun, and ordered it to stay where it was. And when Scooter, in a display of mousey defiance, continued to scurry, the bullets must’ve started to fly. Honestly Eric – it was a MOUSE, and you’re in a cabin in the middle of Montana. Couldn’t someone have lured it outside with a cube of cheese so it could continue to run free with all the other living creatures that make those unnerving noises in the dead of night? Poor, poor Scooter…
“Scooter,” by the way, is ex-Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto’s nickname. And what do you know? I really DID manage to tie everything together…
Thursday, May 11, 2006
So I was impressed with the strong “don’t drink and drive” message the Lost writers doled out yesterday, when both Ana Lucia AND Libby were quickly dispatched from Anti-Fantasy Island. They were portrayed, of course, by the two actresses charged with DUI a few months ago. I think the message was clear – you do something stupid when you’re working on this show, and your character is toast. No one is safe. Everyone is expendable. We’re making this all up as we go along, so don’t think you have job security…
As much as I couldn’t stand Ana Lucia, I actually like Mr. Eko – I’m not even sure why, since the guy borders on crazy at times. The weird thing is, Eko seems to have picked up on the spirituality that Locke has apparently misplaced. Last season, Locke was the one talking about “faith” and saying cryptic things that made it sound like he believed the island was some sort of living, breathing entity. But this season, Eko is the one holding onto faith, building a church, walking around with his Jesus Stick. (Ha! You people who don’t watch the show are just DYING to know what a Jesus Stick is, aren’t you??) Anyway, next week’s previews look intriguing…
On a completely different subject – I was faced with a horrible fantasy baseball conundrum this morning. Shawn Chacon of the New York Yankees is pitching against Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox tonight, and BOTH of these pitchers are on my team. I had to decide whether to pitch one of them, or both of them, or simply bench them. SOMEbody has to win, right? I could not, in good conscience, pitch Wakefield. I did that a couple weeks ago when the Yankees were in Boston, and felt like some sort of horrible Yankee traitor. Not to mention that since then, my team hasn’t exactly been piling on the points. I am certain that this is some sort of karmic punishment for my betrayal of the Bronx Bombers. In fact, now that I think about it, this subject isn’t so far off from what I was talking about with Lost – sometimes you just have to have faith that the creepy island you happen to be inhabiting is capable of speaking to you. And if that’s the case, then my creepy island is telling me to pitch Chacon. Or maybe Faisal told me that. I can’t remember…
So while I’m watching the Yankee game tonight, I’ll be holding on to the belief that Chacon can pitch a no-hitter. And if I’m deemed worthy, perhaps some mysterious force will guide me to the secret hatch that leads to the Yankee locker room…
C'mon Jeter... quit slacking in the dugout and get me some runs...
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
So when I was at the Dallas World Aquarium, I went into the gift shop and bought a stuffed jaguar and a mood ring. Yes, a mood ring. I was buying the jaguar anyway, and they had the rings up by the register, and they were only three bucks, and I thought, hey – how better to measure my emotional ups and downs than with a cheap metal circle of color-morphing wisdom? Now, setting aside the obvious question (why were they selling mood rings in an aquarium??) I have spent the last few days inquisitively pondering the various shades of my mood-minding novelty and wondering if – as the color guide that came along with the ring says – my three-dollar trinket can actually “reveal my inner emotions.”
Right now, for instance, I appear to be hovering somewhere between purple and green. And since there is no “purplish-green” color on my little guide, I have to assume I’m feeling a combination of purple, which is “cool” (is “cool” considered a mood? Can I be in a “cool” mood?) and green, which is “mixed emotions.” Okay, but hold on – wouldn’t a combination of two moods be considered “mixed emotions”? In which case, shouldn’t my ring be all green, with no purple?
Some of the colors are listed twice – yellow can be “nervous” or it can be “lovable.” Nervous or lovable, lovable or nervous. Kind of a bizarre choice to have to make. Dark purple can be “calm” or “very happy,” which seems less of an emotional leap. And green, along with “mixed emotions” can be “romance.” Wait a second – romance? That’s not even a “mood.” You could be in a “romantic” mood, maybe. But if someone asked you what kind of mood you were in, and you answered “romance,” you’d just sound like you were throwing out random words:
“So what kind of mood are you in today?”
“Um, let’s try this again – what kind of mood are you in today?”
“I’m sorry, WHAT kind of mood are you in?”
I’ve noticed that most of the time, my ring seems to settle into a uniform blue color, which I suppose would make sense, as the guide tells me that blue is “normal.” But what is “normal,” exactly? I could never pretend to be “normal” by most standards of society – not with my aversion to seeds and my fear of pool drains and my blog full of nonsense – so is my blue ring everyone ELSE’S normal? Or is it simply MY normal? And how would the ring know, anyway? What knowledge is hiding within the confines of this slender circle of dancing shades? Can it speak of inner conflicts I’m barely aware of? Can it caution me against venturing into dark, scary alleyways? Can it remind me that there is nothing to fear except fear itself?
Nah, probably not. After all, it was only three bucks…
Happy? Crazy? Normal? It's anybody's guess... but I'm going with crazy... if only I had my ring so I knew for sure...
Monday, May 08, 2006
Right, Nick? Yankee away uniforms rule! :) I wanted to get some pictures up last night, as long as I was looking through them all on my computer anyway. And now that I've done that, I can write a recap of my weekend (because, in keeping with the baseball theme, I’m sure everyone would like a play-by-play of how I spent my time). Remember when you were a kid, and your teacher would make you write an essay entitled “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”? And everybody in the class would always groan and roll their eyes and dread having to write out two or three paragraphs about their trip to Disneyworld. Remember that? Yeah, now I write stuff like that for fun… and I kinda miss the grades… :)
Anyway, so here’s the most interesting observation about Ameriquest Field, where the Rangers play – it’s actually easier to get to, and park near, Yankee Stadium in the middle of the BRONX than to get to the Rangers’ stadium. But after wending our way through insane traffic and settling on valet parking (we’d already missed the first inning of the game, and the line for “general parking” seemed to stretch to infinity…) the stadium itself was very nice. I was a little worried that our Yankee shirts and caps would stand out in the crowd, but for no need – I’d say at least a third of the people in the stadium were Yankee fans, if not more. It might’ve been closer to half – the crowd noise seemed about even, no matter what was going on. If a Ranger got a hit, the crowd would cheer… if a Yankee scored, the crowd would cheer… if a section would start up a “let’s go Rangers” chant, it was met with an equal number of “let’s go Yankees” shouts, until the whole stadium was ringing with a resounding “let’s go Rankerees.”
The first eight innings went by pretty quickly, with the Yankees scoring 8 runs and the Rangers down by seven. Mussina was pitching a great game, but when he allowed ONE little run in the eighth inning, Torre decided to pull him out and replaced him with Aaron Small. And suddenly three more runs scored. Out goes Small, in comes Farnsworth, and in come two more runs. At this point, every Yankee fan in the stadium just wanted the carnage to stop. The Rangers fans were getting much too loud and obnoxious, and needed to be stopped (Yankee fans are NEVER loud and obnoxious…). There was an ancient-looking Rangers fan sitting in front of me, next to his equally-ancient-looking companion, and he managed to rasp out an emphatic “go home Yankees” in the middle of an enthusiastic Yankee chant. I curbed the urge to toss him down the stairs toward the dugout, knowing that nature would eventually take its course anyway. And finally, FINALLY, with Rivera pitching, the seemingly never-ending eighth inning DID come to an end, but the Yankees’ comfortable seven-run lead was whittled down to one. The ninth inning was tense, but the final out elicited a victorious – if not completely smug, arrogant and Yankee proud – cheer from the crowd. And for the millionth time in my life, I wondered – why would anyone want to be a fan of any other baseball team??
Rick and I, fortunately, stayed in Dallas for the weekend – but my mom and dad left in the seventh inning to get a head start on the traffic heading back to Austin (they missed the nail-biting eighth inning) and our friends Tim and Ed drove back after the game and hit some serious thunderstorms on I-35. We’d been worried all week about the possibility of storms raining out the game in Dallas, and strangely enough, Dallas never got more than a nice light show from the storms in the distance. It was the people driving back to Austin who had to deal with the storms. (You guys shoulda stayed in Dallas! :)) So all in all, the game was a great experience. We’re hoping to go back again in July, when the Yankees come back for another series against the Rangers. And hopefully, we can get seats directly above the Yankee dugout. Because I want to be able to just crawl over the top, poke my head in, and say hi to Jeter. I’m sure he won’t mind…
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Ameriquest Field (which used to simply be called The Ballpark at Arlington... a much cooler name, in my opinion...)
Starting pitcher Mike Mussina, who pitched a great game -- the score was 8-1 when Torre took him out, and as soon as he did, the Rangers promptly scored another six runs...
Jeter waiting to bat
Jeter performs his pre-swing ritual
Jeter (yeah, I like Jeter... I have about thirty more pictures of him, but I'll try to refrain from posting them all to the blog... :))
Giambi tagging Young
Matsui, Damon and Bubba Crosby hanging out in center field during a pitching change
Jeter flips to Cano for an out at second base (oops, another Jeter picture...)
One of three pitching changes during the game (what DO they all talk about when they're huddled up on the pitcher's mound?)
Rivera in to close the game (and hopefully save it...)
And after two really nervous final innings, the Yankees managed to win 8-7