29 December 2008

The Magic of Simple Pleasures

A cardinal rule of my life has been to look to the simple pleasures to create pockets of happiness in a seemingly chaotic world. A cigar, a haircut, a simple adventure on a day off... Things like this can provide me with the stability I need to fend off the general weirdness that encroaches on otherwise normal days. Perhaps these simple pleasures are a talisman that wards off such things.

The universe stops running on greased grooves when the ever pressing weirdness encroaches upon the orbit of simple pleasures. . The blasphemy of a simple pleasure being tainted with the radiation of real world concerns is the backdrop of the events of last night.

One ritual Laura and I have taken up is going to a Mapco and getting a fountain Diet Coke. We have turned the trip to Mapco into a warding talismans with a complex ritual to make the magic stick. Like the alchemists of old, we even have named our hunting grounds for our raw materials. There's the "sketchy Mapco" on Spence and Lebanon Road; "our Mapco" at McGavock and Lebanon; and the "redneck Mapco" in Hermitage. Each fountain and location brings its unique twist on the Diet Coke experience.

Last night, after dropping my son Robert off, we found ourselves by the "sketchy Mapco". After a full day of work my head was not quite clear and I almost forgot the solace of the fountain drink. Nearly missing the turn in, I whipped Jane into the sketchy parking lot. Laura and I dismounted my CR-V with the deft precision of an Air Assault trooper unassing a Blackhawk towards our goal.

Before the clerk knew we were in the store, we had cups in hand siphoning off the life giving liquid from the fountain. The first press of the fountain's button told me that something was different. The flow of soda was not uniform and I had to hold the cup close to the nozzle. Thinking there was some CO2 malfunction in the unit, Laura as me greedily "Is it ok?".

Taking a sip I discovered whatever the unique properties the sketchy Mapco's fountain has taken on this evening had delivered the best mix of Diet Coke I had ever tasted. The last time I remember a mix like this was in '91 at a Thorton's in Henderson, Kentucky. I gave my cup to Laura for validation. The only words she could summon up was, "Tasty..", as her eyes rolled slightly back into her head.

The magic of the ritual and the treasure trove was split by the coarse voice of the clerk. "You can't use that. I've broken it down and that will go all over the place."

My cup was full and my shirt was dry. There was no problem here. But the rage of a man denied gave way to pouring my cup out. I would be hanged if I was going to support such poor service. A silent agreement passed between my wife and I. The bewitching liquid was poured down the drain and we slinked out of the store.

Our closest option to satisfy our need for carbonated beverages was the newly refurbished Shell station across the street. Mounting up in Jane we crossed the street. From the parking lot we could see that their fountains didn't have stickers on the individual heads. This was a problem we had run into before when breaking with the Mapco tradition. Like some Old Testament Judge smiting an idolatrous nation, we realized the folly of supporting foreign soda fountains.

By this point we were wondering if we should give up the hunt. We had been stymied at two turns and maybe this was a sign from above that we should pack it in. About that time, another sing passed by us on Lebanon Road. An old, half rusted limo pulling a pop-up camper whizzed past us. Surly this was a sign enough of the apocalypse that we should turn back.

The words "never give up and never surrender" itched in the back of my head. Onward we pressed to "our Mapco". Just past the Briley Parkway overpass, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle set against me. While talking about something that had happened at work that day, a freshly lit cigarette flew from my fingertips. Being the ever agile fellow I am, it had to be some breach in the laws of Physics that caused the malfunction.

Landing in the floor board at my feet, I began to freak out a tad. The duress was not only from the impending combustion of random flammable materials that collect in the floorboard of a car, but the sheer weight of symbolic pressure keeping us from a Diet Coke.

Once again I whipped Jane into the nearest parking lot. Images of WWI pilots burning alive in their cockpits filled my subconscious. The Red Baron did not have his day in the sun with me last night. The burning ember was found and quickly extinguished without the least bit of trouble. The only causality was the debilitating laughter coming from Laura that paralyzed her momentarily.

Forging onward, we arrived at "our Mapco" and got a Diet Coke. No incident, so midgets in clown suits robbing the joint. A simple pour, pay and leave.

What you were thinking there would have been something grand at the end of the road? No, just validation that the talisman of the simple pleasures does work. The trip home was uneventful and the rest of the night was peaceful. So there is some magic in a ritual and the stability only a fountain drink can bring...

13 December 2008

Grail Seekers Hits the Podcast Waves Once Again

Just a gentle reminder that I will be taking the podcast waves tomorrow night on the Errie Radio show at 6:00pm CST. The show deals with all sorts of normal and paranormal topics. I've been slated to talk about the Grail Seekers blog and web site. In my experience with interviews of this type are concerned, one never quite knows where the conversation will lead to.

I've never been on this show, so I'm not quite clear on how their podcasing format works. I'm assuming that you will be able to listen in to the show live. In past shows I've listened into they've had callers, so that would tend to make me think that there is a live feed to the show.

So listen and call in if you can. I'm sure it will be an experience...

26 March 2008

Frank Herbert's Dune is being Adapted for Film, Again




Variety announced last week that Peter Berg will direct Paramount's adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune. I hope that third time makes the charm, because the last two tries to bring Dune to the screen fell short of the mark. If Berg follows his predecessors, I don't think he'll be too popular at Dragon Con after the film's release.

The article mentions nothing about anything other than a slap on the back to those who snaked the rights from the Herbert estate. Given how Frank's son Brian has been whoring out the licensing for dime store knockoffs of dad's classic, that couldn't have been too hard. I'm surprised there hasn't been a "How to Cook Sandworms with Muad'Dib" show on Food Network.

There are two other elements of this article that perplex me. The first being that, "The filmmakers consider its theme of finite ecological resources particularly timely." Really... It's too bad the Hollywood Left just got the message about how the Fremen tried to live in harmony with their environment. Yes, that one of Herbert's themes throughout the entire Dune series. Wouldn't it be much more instructive to remind ourselves how the political situation of Dune gives us dire warnings to present day global terrorism and international financial marketing woes? I'm assuming that subtitle distinction was missed on the producer's first read.

Finally the article goes on to say, "Paramount envisions the project as a tentpole film." That makes me wonder who they've got in mind for Jessica and Chani. If we're lucky, Miley Cyrus won't be cast as Alia....

If Berg is planning on deviating from the book's story line; may his film chip and crack in his camera. Long live the fighters!

11 March 2008

William Cullen Bryant and Gertrude Stein Looks alot like Buddha

William Cullen Bryant Statue at the
New York Public Library

Gertrude Stein Looking quite Buddha like
in this statue at Bryant Park


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An Easy Morning In New York

Bryant Park


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10 March 2008

The Algonquin

The Algonquin


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Red Lobster, the Musical!



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Atlas Shrugs and Rockefeller Plaza Symbolism



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A Walk in Central Park with No Dead Bodies



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The Dark Tower Rose and Free Tibet March



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I really have to be one of the world's biggest nerds. I went to the site of the Rose and the Tet Corporation from Stephen King's Dark Tower series while I was I New York. Now there is no empty lot, but the Turtle Bay building has been built and rests of the site of the mystic rose.

After walking around in my fictional nostalgia, I decided to walk down to the UN building. Much to my surprise, I ended up smack in the middle of a Free Tibet and Beijing Olympic protest march.

The Saw Lady


The Picture is a little out of focus, I didn't want to scream to New York... "Look I'm a tourist, fleece me!"


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World Trade Center, Ground Zero

Going to Ground Zero was something that I felt I had to do. I almost didn't because I knew what my reaction was going to be. It was a monumentally emotional event for me, but I'm glad I was able to honor the fallen by going to the site.

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Big Al's Pizza



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Kountry Come to Town



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09 March 2008

Footloose Premires in New York



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Chumley's Gets Smacked by the Hand of Fate



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Greenwich Village Author Bar Quest


White Horse Tavern where legend has it Dylan Thomas took his last drink before going to the great beyond.


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Flying on a Red Cross Evac Plane



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TSA and Social Darwinism



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A Voice on the Lonely Road

Though the magic of the Internet, and little dancing faeries, you can keep up with my travels this week here. There's no telling what adventures I'll get into taking my first bite out of the Big Apple! So stay tuned to this channel for my adventures carrying a mojo hand made out of the ashes of Wilford Brimley mixed with a lock of Doug Henning's hair!

01 March 2008

Latest Iron Man Trailer

This trailer surfaced on this week on My Space for the upcoming Iron Man movie. I always liked the character of Tony Stark as the flawed hero. The real allure of the Tony Stark/Iron Man character is that even a geek can strap on some high tech armor and become a hero.

For those of you not familiar with the comic, think of Stark/Iron Man as a boozing, womanizing, gad-about version of Batman. Strike that, make that Batman with much more destructive toys. Strike that, think the Great Gatsby in exoarmor. If Jon Favreau did his job and stayed as true to the comic as you can in a movie, it will be all that.

Iron Man opens in theaters on 2 May 08. If this doesn't turn into the Punisher or Fantastic Four, it will be so money...

Iron Man Exclusive Trailer

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21 February 2008

Highlander: The Source Review


Last night, I treated myself to a geek fest of pizza rolls and a late night viewing of Highlander: The Souce . (The folks at M80 Marketing were gracious enough to send me an advance copy of the DVD. Everyone else will have to wait until next Tuesday to score a copy.) I was a little giddy remembering sneaking a watch of the original Highlander movie on HBO when I was but just a lad. At 35 the prospects of pizza rolls after 9:00 PM is a risky proposition at best, but I felt duty bound to forge ahead.

It was around 3 this morning that my nostalgia caught up with my acid reflux and I tried to digest my earlier experience. The original Highlander movie was a watershed moment for a young geek. What was there not to love about a movie that combined trench coats, swords, flying heads, a bad guy as evil as Darth Vader, and the girl next door charms of Roxanne Hart? For a young adolescent, it was one of my first brushes with the cult classic.

The gas pains of the pizza rolls then forced me to remember the pain of watching Highlander 2 in all its planet Zeist glory. By that time, I was beginning college and a general disenchantment with the world had started. What was one more fond youthful memory that got smashed? It was with this baggage I returned to the Highlander saga. But this time it was with the hopefulness that being a 30 something father brings to one’s life. Maybe this time around would be different.

The Source takes place in the “proverbial not too distant future”. The society in Eastern Europe has broken down due to some unnamed malady. There is a very “Escape from New York” feel about the chaos that now rules the streets. It is against this backdrop that a loosely aligned group of Immortals recognizes that the time of the Source is at hand.

The lovesick and apathetic protagonist Duncan MacLeod finds himself wandering like an Errant Knight amidst events he could care less about. Sick of being playing Immortal’s games, Duncan reluctantly joins the quest to find the origins of the Immortal’s powers. Their way is stymied all the while by this incarnation’s psoriasis skinned baddie, The Guardian.

As I got into the movie, it seemed like pretty standard Highlander fare. All the elements of a heroic tale are present to an almost text book Joseph Campbell tee. I do applaud the script writers for not dumbing down the political details and secondary characters. There are enough clues to both elements to let the viewer’s imagination fill in the blanks.

The script attempts to use the same “fill in the blank” technique with Duncan and his role in the quest for the Source. It seems the writers were shooting for a less cerebral Immortal version of The Fountain. Just like the Aronofsky opus, The Source addresses some fundamental concerns of the human experience.

The realization of this small plot device forced me to reexamine my initial opinion of the movie. The Source obliquely speaks to us in our 30’s and 40’s who grew up with Highlander in what we consider its purest form. Impending mortality, personal legacies, disenchantment, broken relationships, and lost life goals all nag in the subtext of the script. While the elements of swashbuckling that appealed to me as an adolescent are ever present throughout The Source, there is a more “grown-up” appeal.

This makes the Connor MacLeod story a fairy tale of our younger days. What else could explain the continuity issues and the franchise turning its back on the original movie? The Source and TV series then become the grown up, real world Highlander. The things of childhood have been put away and the real issues and struggles of life begin. Not the imagined and petty problems of our teen years.

After making this mental leap, I felt a little warm and fuzzy about The Source. My bloodlust and emotional needs had been met. Now, since I’ve resolved that issue, will someone tell me how to stop my pizza roll induced heartburn?