Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone's Christmas Day was filled with joy and peace!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Stream of Gratitude

i was in the car going for take-out and enjoying some music i can buy music anytime i want i'm not rich but i have enough to buy nearly any piece of music within reason and i can put that on my iPod and on there i have four days of music "best of pantera" is what i'm grooving too nowadays but Marc from my office clued me into wolfmother so i bought the cd i've been working hard the past few months traveling back and forth to ohio and this coworker is from ohio and i'm glad for his musical recommendations and i'm grateful to be employed even though i grouse about work almost non-stop to my wife who cooked a great thanksgiving meal, preparing the turkey by a technique she picked up reading some cooking blog i don't cook i'm very grateful that my wife leads the way here cooking many many dinners and baked goods and snacks and other treats lately including bagels and whole wheat bread on which i make sandwiches only one i guess i'm on a diet and i'm grateful for losing all this weight though i sorely miss my care-free eating days i should be exercising more but with winter the ice rink will open soon and i'm grateful to know how to skate i miss my friend Paul but good thing we're connected on facebook and maybe he'll attend our twentieth college reunion though i'm not as sentimental or wistful about the past as i used to be because i have a daughter and she's focused only on her present and future and doesn't really care about my past which is how it should be and i'm glad she's doing well in school but has to take an h1n1 flu shot and thank goodness we live in an age and an area where we have the medical care that we need though we don't need a lot except this summer i did have that stomach thing which i'll blog about what's cool is that i can blog and i can twitter and people can read or follow me i don't care but someday i will finish Ulysses but i've been reading lots of great mysteries and i recently finished "Three Weeks in October" and now i'm hungry for pumpkin pie and maybe i'll watch some movies tonight my brother lent me some but then i lent my father some too and i'm glad my whole family is alive and well i don't see them too much but i love them and my dad gave me a Yankees hat and that's ok i hope the Patriots get into the playoffs but we'll have to wait and see and in the end i'm most grateful that i have things to look forward to small and big like getting on an airplane, eating sushi and playoff football it was raining the past few days subdued mist glasses streaked wish i had wipers for those but a cap would have shielded the rain but the bottom of my tee shirt can clean them i once wore contacts i'm glad i tried that those days were fun i have my present

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Clock Watching

6:20AM - Since my daughter was born, I have rarely slept past 6:20AM. Once, coming home from a business trip after midnight, I told my wife I'd sleep an extra hour. When I got up at 7:20AM, I felt disoriented.

10:30AM - By now, the day has been humming along. Right around here I usually have a snack, usually some kind of trail mix, maybe some fruit. In my past, I'll have another cup of coffee by this time, but I've somehow reduced my coffee intake to the two cups I have at breakfast.

12:00PM - Lunch time. If it's ice skating season, I'll eat a sandwich on the way to the ice rink. If it's warm, I'll try to get out for a walk.

3:20PM - Here's another snacking hour. Typically it's some fruit, though in my past it's been chips or candy. My levels of concentration start to wane around here, so I usually turn up my music louder.

5:00PM - I'm starting my process to leave. Putting aside work. Getting that last bit of code to compile. Writing or outlining that last section. I leave work promptly by 5:30PM or, if I can do it, some moments before.

7:30PM - I'm usually helping our daughter into her "night time routine" a little before this. Then it's dinner (microwaved). Then dishes. Then, depending if I'm in a slog, it's either more work or some reading. The TV will be on, usually tuned to sports, but I'm usually not paying too much attention.

11:00PM - Sleep.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Getting to Know Me

Some random details.

1. What time did you get up this morning?


2. How do you like your steak?


3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

The Hurt Locker

4. What is your favorite TV show?

Live, televised sports of any kind, especially in high-definition.

In the past, it's been "The Sopranos", "Law and Order", "Entourage", and "Big Break" (Golf Channel). And thanks to DVDs, I'd have to also include "The Wire".

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Paris, France.

6. What did you have for breakfast?

Bowl of Cereal (Cheerios Multi-Grain).

7. What is your favorite cuisine?


8. What foods do you dislike?

Overly sugary candies. Grapefruits.

9. Favorite Place to Eat?

Alone: Boca Grande (Kendall Square).
With my wife: The Rialto (Harvard Square).

10. Favorite dressing?

Lately, balsamic vinaigrette. In the past, ranch and/or blue cheese.

11. What kind of vehicle do you drive?

Subaru Legacy.

12. What are your favorite clothes?

Tee-shirts and shorts.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?

Tokyo, Japan.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?

1/2 full

15. Where would you want to retire?

Boca Raton, FL. Or New York City, NY. Or Paris, France.

16. Favorite time of day?

Late at night.

17. Where were you born?

Manila, Philippines.

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?

Ice hockey.

19. Who do you think will not tag you back?

Not sure.

20. Person you expect to tag you back first?

Not sure.

21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this?

My brothers.

22. Bird watcher?


23. Are you a morning person or a night person?


24. Do you have any pets?


25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share?

I have a great new high-definition video camera.

26. What did you want to be when you were little?

Writer. Journalist. Computer programmer.

27. What is your best childhood memory?

On the street where I grew up, a bunch of us neighborhood kids played "keep the ball in the air" with a soccer ball. I can remember that we kept the ball up a very long time, and every kid had one or two amazing saves. I remember how fun it was, the elation with each bounce, and our shouting. The game took place in the middle of a lazy summer.

28. Are you a cat or dog person?


29. Are you married?


30. Always wear your seat belt?


31. Been in a car accident?


32. Any pet peeves?

Pedestrians that don't acknowledge me when I give them the right of way (as a driver).

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings?


34. Favorite Flower?

The perennials in my yard (Asters, Irises, Peonies).

35. Favorite ice cream?


36. Favorite fast food restaurant?


37. How many times did you fail your driver's test?


38. From whom did you get your last email?

Ted Burns.

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?

Eddie Bauer or Nordstrom's.

40. Do anything spontaneous lately?


41. Like your job?

Most times.

42. Broccoli?


43. What was your favorite vacation?

Paris, France.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with?

My wife and daughter.

45. What are you listening to right now?


46. What is your favorite color?


47. How many tattoos do you have?


48. How many are you tagging for this quiz?


49. What time did you finish this quiz?


50. Coffee Drinker?


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Best Sentence I Have Read

"I am no one, nothing. I am an abstraction, an emotion, the ooze of terror, the sweat of horror, the shake in the air when a scream has departed."

That is probably the best sentence I read all year, and possibly in all of my recent memory.

A few months ago, Carlo Rotella profiled Jack Vance in the NY Times. Jack Vance is a respected fantasy and science fiction writer. I picked up his book, "The Dying Earth", using PaperBackSwap. It had a ridiculous cover, a man holding a flower up to a woman on horseback, which reminded my wife of a romance novel.

Inside "The Dying Earth" were six stories the likes of which I had never encountered before. Maybe this is because I don't normally read fantasy novels (I had read "Lord of the Rings" and the "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" back in high school), but each of these stories were, well, fantastical and jaw-dropping. Huge heads living inside walls of an ancient museum. Magic spells that render people invisible. Creatures being created inside of large vats. I read the book with a loony grin on my face half the time: "This is fun!"

And the writing is probably the most lyrical I have read in some time. Consider this: "I respond to three questions. For twenty terces I phrase the answer in clear and actionable language; for ten I use the language of cant, which occasionally admits of ambiguity; for five, I speak a parable which you must interpret as you will; and for one terce, I babble in an unknown tongue." That made me laugh out loud, so twisted and pointed was its meaning.

Jack Vance is 92, and The Dying Earth was written in 1950. Check it out, if you want to read a novel with a highly memorable writing style.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy, Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, passed away today. All of Massachusetts is in mourning.

Listening to the stories about Senator Kennedy, I'm moved to think about the politician's role as "representatives" of we the voters. They ultimately have to answer to us (for the most part). We get to vote them in or out (for the most part), so politicians have to strike a balance between representing their own ideals, and the goals and wishes of their constituents.

When I think about the work of our legislators, I think about how the great ideals of these United States have to be worked on and hashed out between representatives who are really proxies for us, the people. Everyone wants their piece and, by every report, Kennedy understood the meaning behind every phrase of every bill he ever looked at. He's been in the Senate for so long (third longest legislator) and has worked on so much legislation ("no one's even close", said one pundit today) that, by every report, he's seen as a model lawmaker.

But ultimately, the politician's life is a life of gestures. Every hand a politician shakes is the hand of a voter. Kennedy was a master at these graceful touches. Between opposing politicians and between those down-trodden and less fortunate, he was generous with his time.

Kennedy lived as our representative for almost fifty years. He has lived a distinctly American life, marked with distinct tragedies that no one else could bear. Through small gestures and large laws, he has reached out and connected with every one of us voters.

Americans will not see a politician and lawmaker like Ted Kennedy for quite some time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rowing My Boat

I rowed a boat for the first time this week.

At the place where we stayed for vacation, there was a small pond with two row boats. I took my daughter Mia there after visiting a nearby swimming pool. "Let's have a row!" I said. She was game, and I was excited.

We both entered the boat, and after I figured out how to mount the oars, I began rowing. "How come we're not moving in the water yet, daddy?" Oh, she's a smart one! I pulled my oar from its mount, and used it to push us away from the little beach. We were at last adrift on the water when it hit me: I really didn't know how to row a boat.

I started by making the rowing motions of those Olympic rowers, but instead of a smooth motion around the pond, my boat lurched and jerked forward, backwards, and every way in between. If my boat could talk, it'd say "I got me a rookie here!"

Did I mention there was a large water fountain in the pond? Its generous spray of water would be enough to cover the entire boat if I were to row under it.

Of course, I began to head towards it. Each rowing action I took seemed to bring the boat towards the fountain. It seemed the more I tried to avoid it, the closer I would get to it. Mia exclaimed the obvious: "We're getting very close to the fountain water, daddy!"

My hands felt paralyzed. I could see Mia bracing for a dousing.

Very quickly I rowed with only my right oar. This caused the boat to turn, facing towards the fountain. Then I sank both oars into the water behind me. I heaved my hands and arms backwards and the boat obeyed, moving away from the fountain!

The feeling of relief was immense. As we moved away from danger, I spun the boat a few more times in a haphazard effort to get us back to shore. As we approached, I ended up taking off my shoes and stepping into the water so that I could beach her properly.

I can laugh about it now. In boating, as in life, it can be dangerous to just drift. You have to drop your oars in the water and take action, otherwise you could get rained on.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Rapper's Father's Day Sentiment

On the CD "Asleep in the Bread Aisle", rap artist Asher Roth sends forth a heartfelt father's day message on his song "His Dream". You can hear the song on MySpace. Some of the lyrics from the song:

So he's well aware how vital a father figure is
How big of a responsibility it is
To be a good husband and care for your kids
Papa isn't dumb, he understands what this means
His dream is my dream, my dream is his dream

I was quite struck by the words. Among the tracks about college drinking, marijuana, and bad travel days was this lovely poem to his dad. The chorus:

I close my eyes and I can see (His dream)
The sacrifices he made for me (His dream)
Put it aside for his family (His dream)
Yeah, so I'ma keep it alive, Yeah

The sentiment is clear: a father, a good father, necessarily suspends some or all of his dreams to take on the dreams of his children. It's a striking and unexpected insight on an album featuring a song titled "Blunt Cruisin'". That said, if I'm to believe the song, I would think that Asher Roth's own father is quite proud. I know I would be. His son is living his dream. For father's everywhere, when your children live their dreams, you're living the best dream possible.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009


"We are afraid, but that doesn't mean we don't want to fight."

Memorial Day is a time to remember the fallen, those who have died for "our cause." But there is a value to listening to those who lived, those who were there.

Earlier this year I read Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles, by Anthony Swofford, easily one of the best books I have read about war, and the nature of the combatants. Swofford's book came out in 2003, and I remember the rash of generally positive reviews. It was inevitable that a movie would be made based on Swofford's book. That came out in 2005, directed by Sam Mendes, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard.

Swofford's book is a high-testosterone retelling of the First Gulf War, under President George H.W. Bush. It was a short war (August 1990 to February 1991). Swofford was a sniper, but he never saw any "action." The book is a profane reminisce of his time "in the desert". He recalls the boredom of a war steeped in technology. He recalls, most eloquently, of he and his fellow soldiers' anxiousness to fight and to kill. He recalls the unending heat and the unending sand.

Swofford describes his transformation into a Marine. He became a jarhead, a grunt, and the change in his psyche was thrilling to read. Swofford is the embodiment of a tough guy, but with military training and weapons. He represents American might. And at the same time he openly acknowledges what a bad decision it was for him to join the Marines. Sexual frustration abounds. The food is miserable. Being "in shape" becomes a job. Drill Instructors direct violence and profanity towards him. "You must forget who you were before the Marine Corps. You must also forget the person you might be in the future..."

War is sometimes depicted as large arrows moving upward on the map of some country. War is made abstract, a simple "conflict." War becomes part of the narrative of the country, but Swofford says this holds "no sway for the warrior."

War is ultimately waged between combatants, between warriors. Sometimes combatants die, but sometimes they live beyond the war. "The warrior celebrates the fact of having survived," he writes. Survivors of war, like Anthony Swofford, sometimes give us a chance to hear from the combatants of war. We should be listening.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


A house on our street is up for sale. The sign went up over the weekend. Since I live at the end of a dead-end street, we saw the tell-tale stream of strange cars. "Open house," my wife announced. In a few clicks, we found the listing, whistled at the price, and went on with our day, watching the cars go back and forth.

My family has lived in this house since March of 1997. Yep: Twelve years. My wife and I are rooted here in town. Our daughter was born in 2001 and now attends the nearby public school. We were just there for a school concert, and we saw lots of familiar faces, all rooted like us.

There are times when I badly wish we could just pull up our roots, and make a stake someplace else. Boredom is the cause. Sometimes I think it's just a desire to see if could lay down roots some place else. I like to think that I could do it. Of course, uprooting a whole family just because "I'm bored" is the height of selfishness.

I went out for take out during the open house. I saw the cars parked in front of the house for sale. There were a lot of visitors. Someone will be moving in over the next month or so (or sooner, who knows). I wonder if they were bored where they originally lived. I wonder if they were rooted like I feel I am.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Happy Birthday

Forty-one today.

I just now noticed that 41 (years) times 365 (days in a year) = 14,965 (days). This means that in less than a month I could be at my 15,000th day. For some reason this feels momentous. 15,000 days! That's huge!

I vaguely remember this concept of counting your age in days, and after rummaging around in my brain, I found a link: "Metric Birthday" (Kelvin Hartnall). According to this link, my 15K "birthday" will be May 1, this year. I wonder if I can get my wife to make me another cake?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Decline in Weight

I have lost almost thirty pounds over the last year. When I turned 40 in 2008, I made it a point to start visiting the doctor regularly (prior to this appointment it had been over five years since I saw a doctor). He ordered a blood test, and the cholesterol numbers that came back were high. With a glib note on the test results, he said "cut out dairy and meat fats."

My wife looked at the results, winced, then showed me exactly how much half and half cream I use in my coffee. Let me tell you: it's more than two tablespoons. "From now on, no cream in your coffee," she said. So...this was how it was going to be.

Since that change, I've made other adjustments, all of which I've accepted grudgingly. I've eliminated butter and toast for breakfast, favoring yogurt or cereal (and just a cup of cereal at that). I've stopped eating peanut butter. Every now and then, I'll enjoy a salad for lunch.

Just these few changes caused my pants to feel loose in a few months. We made other changes, including dropping out or greatly reducing certain take-out choices (good bye lovely Chinese food; good bye tasty sandwiches from Panera; good bye McDonald's; good bye Dunkin' Donut breakfast sandwiches). Over this period, I've become a fan of reading the nutrition label of anything I eat.

My next blood test seven months later showed a marked improvement, but the doctor still saw some high numbers, and he recommended a meeting with a nutritionist. This meeting was eye-opening. The nutritionist diagrammed how the body digests food, and how "bad" fat is created. He pointed me towards the South Beach diet for other principles. He introduced me to "heart-smart fats". He told me about the work of Dr. William Castelli and the Framingham Heart Study.

I didn't necessarily get "diet religion", but I have started taking Omega-3 pills, and redoubled my effort to eat more fruit instead of sugary or overly salty snacks (mixed nuts are good, in moderation).

My next cholesterol test will be sometime in late April or May. Who knows how these changes will affect those numbers, but the weight loss is undeniable evidence that these changes are having effect. The weight loss has been uneasy to me. I associate my weight with prosperity. Or maybe I justified it? Either way, tightening the belt is an easier thing for me today.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Boston in the Movies

By no means an exhaustive list, but here are my favorite movies that were shot in Boston. For the other great city of my life, Jersey City, New Jersey, I can't name one (other than a few episodes of "The Sopranos").

7. A Civil Action - This was a tough book to adapt into a movie, but the Steven Zaillian does an admirable job. There are some "beauty" shots of Boston Harbor, and as Jan Schlichtmann (the lawyer, played by John Travolta) walks through the backside of suburbia, the film evokes Woburn.

6. Field of Dreams - I saw this movie a second time at the Hatch Shell in Boston, right on the Charles River. It's the perfect outdoor movie, with lovely scenes in Kenmore Square, and a great overhead shot of Storrow Drive. The movie only stays in Boston for a few minutes, but we get to have a whole scene in Fenway Park!

5. Spartan - David Mamet's action/adventure movie rolls quickly through Boston's Beacon Hill as well through the Big Dig tunnels. It's probably one of the first movies to feature the Zakim Bridge.

4. The Departed - This is the muscular gangster movie by Martin Scorsese that earned him his Best Director Oscar. The Zakim Bridge is also in this movie, as well as Boston's City Hall, and the Massachusetts State House.

3. Mystic River - Clint Eastwood has a gorgeous helicopter shot of the upper deck of Boston's Tobin Bridge, to introduce the two detectives in this grim movie. There's plenty of South Boston in here too.

2. Gone Baby Gone - Ben Affleck's movie is the gold standard if you want to hear the infamous Boston accent. This movie features the picturesque Mt. Auburn Cemetary, a flyover of Chelsea, and background shots of Dorchester and Roxbury.

1. Good Will Hunting - Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, two of Boston's most famous actors, teamed up in this soulful movie about a "city tough" prodigy who discovers his talents and his love. Robin Williams is awesome in this movie. Watch this movie to see MIT, Boston's Public Garden, the Red Line going South after it leaves Boston, and an older Harvard Square.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lunch Derailed

Around 11:30AM or so, after shoveling out our driveway and my wife's car, I took off for some lunch. I drove through our recently shoveled street, and then had to stop. A truck was stuck, blocking the entrance to the street that crosses ours. I live on a long dead-end road, and with the one entrance blocked, it meant no take-out lunch.

The driver of the truck was walking up the road, his ear pressed to his cell. "The road's blocked", he said, and I nodded, already thinking about what was in our refrigerator. On an off-day, I think I would have gotten very impatient, and even angry about this sudden change in plans. The driver walked by me after I executed a K-turn to head back home. "How about getting out another way?" he asked. "This is the only way out," I said. Then I put on a smile. "Well, someone's coming to help us out," he offered. "Good luck with it!" I said, as cheerful as I could. I didn't want take-out anyway.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Wrestler

After finishing The Wrestler, I felt a bit depressed. To say that this is a serious movie is an understatement. This is a somber, even dour piece of film making. Some said it was "gritty." I'll say. It's gritty like your mouth must feel after having been sucker punched in the face.

The Oscar buzz around Mickey Rourke is deserved. His character is relentless in his remorse. He knows he's alone, and he seeks the warmth of two women who won't give him the real time of day (a stripper, played by Marisa Tomei, and his estranged daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood). However, despite being rewarded by both for some sincere attempts at connecting, he finds the allure of the ring too strong to turn away from.

My wife kept talking about "the stapler scene", and yes, there's a lot of bloody violence in this movie. The director, Darren Aronofsky, very early on reveals that the violence is all pre-arranged, blood and all, but it's still slightly sickening to watch.

While reading the message boards about this movie, I learned that even though the ending felt "open", I realized that decisions were made, that conclusions were reached. I didn't think that happened for Mickey's character, Randy the Ram. But when he's in the ring, reveling in the adoration of his faithful fans, you get the feeling that he's made some peace with himself.

It's a fascinating though difficult movie to watch.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Valentine's Day Proposal

I proposed to my wife on Valentine's Day, 1993. It's mildly embarrassing that I don't remember much of the details, other than the restaurant (formerly known as the Bay Tower Room) and that she said yes.

Right after this, the wedding planning took on a certain importance. Every decision seemed fraught with meaning. The invitations, the gifts, the seating arrangements. After the day came and went, those things diminished in importance. Bigger things took over and I'm glad for it.

Earlier this week, we agreed that flowers wouldn't be missed this year (hey, it's the economy). This morning, we both discovered that we each decided to give one another some chocolate. Mine was a Kit Kat.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

Without further ado, here are 25 random things about me.

1. Earliest memory: swallowing a coin (I was likely three years old).
2. One of the childhood friends I miss the most: Jose Cornielle.
3. My Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: ENFJ.
4. Favorite book from childhood: "Catcher in the Rye".
5. Got Greg LeMond's autograph after he raced a criterium in New York City.
6. Once thought I'd grow up to be a journalist.
7. Met my wife in the personals.
8. First computer: VIC-20.
9. Best decision in my teens: Leaving home for college.
10. Contemplated becoming a Catholic priest.
11. Best sports thing I know how to do: ice skate.
12. Favorite movie from childhood: "Star Wars".
13. One of the best times in my life: Living and working in Pasadena, CA.
14. Favorite part of my morning: Watching my daughter in line for school.
15. Last concert: Joe Bonamassa, 2006 at Scullers.
16. Second best sports thing I know how to do: play golf.
17. Was a college radio DJ.
18. Dream profession: television production.
19. One of the best things I learned in high school: French.
20. Most awe-inspiring moment in life: Watching my daughter be born.
21. Prefer Pepsi over Coke, and Diet Pepsi over Regular Pepsi.
22. Favorite DVD commentary: "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster" (the commentary with the band).
23. Best sporting event watched live: Italy versus Spain, quarter-final of World Cup (1994).
24. Grateful for having two funny and interesting brothers. [1] [2]
25. On an airplane, I like the window seat.

My wife did this exercise, listing 100 things on her now defunct BLOG. I have 75 more random things coming, if I'm to meet her standard!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fires in Trash Cans

One of the images I have in my head about the Great Depression are those small groups of desolate men, surrounding a fire that they've lit up in a garbage can. They're homeless, and huddling around the fire and each other for some warmth. I don't even know if this is a real image, but I can't help but think about that now, in the wake of all the jobs lost over the last few months.

Thanks to electronic social networks, I can see the electronic version of these garbage can fires. On Facebook, punching in "laid off" produces over 200 groups, with group titles like "I just got laid off due to this craptastical economy", "I Got Laid Off from Dell", and "I got laid off from IndyMac Bank and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt." On Twitter, I see a layoffs hashtag, but searching for "laid off" produces tweets that are only minutes old.

It's in the air, the demise of steady work. The jobless among us are gathered around their families, and around these electronic garbage cans, talking about their firings. Misery loves company, and those garbage can fires are online now. Good luck, all of you. I'm hoping that the economic stimulus plan works, so we can all be in a better place tomorrow.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Cold is All Relative

Today the temperature descended back to winter. It was quite chilly in the mid-20s (Fahrenheit), but it felt even colder because it "warmed up" to about the high-30s on Friday. I was beginning to think about March. Instead, January reminded me today that it's still the first month of 2009 here in New England.

Seasons get us prepared because of how slowly they turn. It's sudden change that gets us, I think. Indian Summer. Snow in April. New Englanders usually have a brisk Fall which puts us in "warmer" jackets, and the lighter sweaters and fleeces, before Winter comes in, forcing us into heavy jackets and boots. We get acclimated. I think this is natural.

So it's back to the cold weather. I'm not worried about it. We're all hunkered down anyway, so it's not too bad. Like I said, it's all relative.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Best Movies Watched in 2008

(This is my eighth such list. I have done this for my movie viewing in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.)

I watched 19 movies in 2008. My favorite movie from this list was WALL-E, the Pixar animated movie starring a wistful lovestruck robot. It's wondrous! It's a classic "boy meets girl" story, but the settings and the back-story and all the gritty then gleaming images were dazzling.

My second favorite was The Contender, a political thriller that harks the feel of "All the President's Men". This is an adult movie, in every sense of the word, full of super performances starting with Joan Allen, a strong senator fighting for her nomination for the vice presidency.
  • Best DVD Commentary: Panic Room (out of the three, the one with the special guest screenwriter)
  • Favorite Male Acting: Sam Elliott (The Contender)
  • Favorite Female Acting: Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain)
  • Finally Glad I Watched: Brokeback Mountain, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Best Books Read in 2008

My Previous Best Books: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007.

I read 18 books last year, with one I finished on the very last day of the year: Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. I like the list. A nice mix of fiction and non-fiction.

My favorite non-fiction was The Outlaw Sea, by William Langewiesche. This book explores the open sea, and its inhospitable nature. There are pirates, storms, and descriptions of ships as they're being disassembled for parts. I felt it blended in well with Uncommon Carriers, by John McPhee, which I read later in the year (and which was my second favorite).

Honorable mentions: Ball Four (Jim Bouton), Hammer of the Gods (Stephen Davis).

My favorite fiction was Then We Came to the End. This is a novel set in a modern workplace, and it concerns itself with petty rumors, office politics, and layoffs. In other words, it's a fiction of the lives led by many people in the white-collar world. It has a lot of spot-on observations, and a tricky literary point of view (it's told from the first person plural ("We saw him come out of the elevator"), with a brief interlude to take on another character's point of view). This was Joshua Ferris' first novel, and it's a winner.

Honorable mentions: Tree of Smoke (Denis Johnson), American Pastoral (Philip Roth), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Philip K. Dick).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Resolution 2009: More Posts

There were plenty of weeks in 2008 when I didn't write a BLOG post. This year, my resolution is to write at least one post a week. How hard can this be? Happy New Year again. Coming up soon: my favorite books and movies from 2008.