Friday, April 24, 2009

Under Pressure - 80s E

Love's such an old fashioned word -
Love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the light
Love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves

under pressure - queen

One of rock music’s most famous basslines. I’m only sorry that hoards of American youth only know it from Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”.

I had forgotten what a great song Under Pressure was – it’s more likely I didn’t appreciate what a great song it was at the time. The lyrics are packed with beauty and that angst we get as we mature over, well, pressure. How it affects us, our families, our peripheries. The end a realization of what’s really the most important, and our biggest challenge – to love.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What is UP with THAT??

OK, two weeks ago, I was treated to a Chick Encounter.  A week ago, we have a grisly and lurid murder // “almost” suicide event in the building directly across mine.  You’d think things would start to level off, get back to good, calm down, ease up.

My complex is normally very quiet and pleasant.  Everyone is respectful of everyone else – if you are walking your dog and see another person strolling ahead with their pet, you cross over to another side walk so there’s no fussy sniffing, no potential dog fights.  People nod, occasionally initiate a friendly greeting, “How ya doin’?  Nice weather.  Mornin’!”, some form of casual acknowledgement that you are part of the family of man.

Sunday morning, 11:30 am.  I am on the couch watching something with my daughter when we are treated to loud hip hop music.  Loud enough to rattle the windows; so I know it’s right outside my door.  I waited a few minutes, thinking possibly that some young buck was picking up his current amore for a frolicking day of love…and…loud music.

I waited more than an appropriate amount of time.  Five minutes passed.  I decided to stick my head out the door to see what I could see.

 meat-smoker-robert I saw a four door coupe parked, as I suspected, right outside my door.  All four doors were fully extended, the trunk flung agape, almost as if surprised at it’s exhibition of wanton abandon - - in an effort to fully maximize each decibel of sound.  On the grass next to my porch was a young man, lounging prone on a lawn chair, with a smoker puffing away, working presumably to provide he and his friends with smoked meats.  A little table was set up with what appeared to be ketchup and a few implements.  He nodded his head politely at me, I nodded back.  I quietly closed the door.

I don’t confront much directly – in fact, in my apartment complex, I like to keep way under the radar.  Occasionally I must hurl back after being verbally accosted (Chick), but mostly I keep to myself. I don’t complain to anyone and I try not to do anything that would make others complain about me. 

The goal is to not be discovered three weeks later bloated, wrapped in plastic under my bed.

Smokey turned down the music to a polite level after we acknowledged each other, but continued to provide delicious smoked nourishment to friends and family for most of the afternoon.  I am left with a burn mark in the yard and a few charcoal briquettes as a powdery black memory.

Who does that?  Three years I’ve been there quietly adhering to HOA rules and regs, and suddenly, I have someone screaming “I don’t want your dog sh*tting on my lawn”, then there is a dead lady across the parking lot, and the cherry on the April parfait is Smokey on my terrace. 

I’m hoping things quiet down now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Zombie Box

My son and nephew drove down last Wednesday to see his sister perform in the high school production of “The Wiz”.  Meg played Addaperle ~ the Feel Good Girl! ~ and she was fantastic.  I will hopefully get to post some video later this month.imac_ice

They also came down to see what they could do about my home computer.  It had crashed.  Messed up.  The plan - reformat.  I had already come  to terms with the fact that I was losing three years worth of downloads and files and pictures.  The heart breaks, but we move on, lessons learned, a system for backing up planned.

dawn-zombiesAfter some speculation about the sheriffs and CSI vans across the parking lot, I took them out to get some barbeque.  The boys challenged me on my belief in the resurrection by asking me what the definition of a Zombie was.  After explaining that zombies didn’t exist, but for the sake of argument, I declared that they were the un-dead.  this played right into their rebellious little hands as they claimed that Jesus had to be a Zombie – having been raised after His death.  We agreed to differ, after I declared them godless heathens for whom I would pray. 

They laughed.

The next day broke bright and early as the boys attempted to reboot my computer.  It didn’t work – in fact, we couldn’t even get the machine to turn on.  The boys took the entire machine apart, dusted, vacuumed, blew on a lot of parts and I was convinced it was hopeless.  I was going to have to buy another computer.  We discussed options – my nephew had a computer sitting unused a mere three hours away.  If we hopped in the car immediately, we could get there and be back just in time for my daughter’s play. 

This plan met with little enthusiasm all around.

We considered taking it to the Geek Squad at Best Buy to see if they could run a diagnostic on it.  In the mean time, the boys continued to poke and prod – discussing power sources, mother boards, and processors.  I told them they might as well have been speaking Korean and I went for a walk wondering how I was going to buy a new computer. 

When I came back, the pc was on and the new install was underway.  Apparently, my genius nephew unplugged the fan, plugged it back in and voila – it sparked back to life.  You would have thought they invented fire, such was my amazement.  Geniuses both.  After all was installed, the time came to name my brand new computer – after some musing on their parts and after tapping in to their favorite creative muse, they came up with a name:  “Zombie Box”.  Risen as Our Lord was Risen, except they were the all powerful gods who brought it back to life.

The pen drive that stored some other critical applications off which the Zombie Box would feed?  It was called “Brains”.

Creative.  VERY creative.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Oh My

I, like many of my contemporaries, have a fascination with forensics.  The media does not disappoint - - television offers us plenty of opportunity to sate our macabre interest with shows like Law and Order, Forensic Files, CSI, Cold Case Files, Americas Most Wanted, etc.  When we can watch it from the security of our locked homes, in the cool analytical light of the television, we call it entertainment. 

The closest I had personally gotten to grisly and shocking was in upstate New York when I lived in the same village as a fella who dismembered the remains of his mother (who died of natural causes) and placed them in the freezer so he could continue to collect her pension checks.  Dreadful all on its own.  There was little extra side kick in the neighbor, fully aware of all the goings-on, who was extorting money from the son to keep quiet.  Word was he helped put her in the freezer. 

Caused quite the stir in our quiet little village.  The police tape remained undisturbed for years.

Fast forward my life nine years.  Loudoun County, where the grass is green, the spring comes early and the rich roam free.  My continuing- to-expand suburb is lovely and affluent (except me…I’m sure my salary brings the gross national product for the county way down).  My little development is quiet and well manicured.  You just don’t expect stuff to happen.

cavalieramug_tease_t599 10:00 am Wednesday, April 15, building across from mine.  Resident male contacts 911, indicating that he attempted to harm himself.  Upon responding and being taken to the hospital, the man indicates to the police officers that there was something else in the apartment, “…but you probably already knew that.”  “Yeah, we do.”

Apparently, Resident Male had strangled his girlfriend several weeks ago, wrapped her in plastic, kept her under the bed, and used her email account so that friends and family thought she was still alive. 

My cousin Starbuck had texted me that there was an incident in my complex, and of course my thoughts flew to Chick and the suspected bunker of doom.  Fortunately no.  But by the time I got home at 5:30 pm, there were 15 sheriff cars, 2 CSI vans and one videographer capturing the scene.  A uniform stood outside the entrance to ensure the crime scene remain unpolluted. 

Upon reflection, I realized who the perp was – I’d pass by his apartment when I walked Buddy.  He’d be outside early in the morning smoking a cigarette, we’d say hello, remark on the weather.  He had a big white dog who would watch us walk past from the living room picture window.  My daughter had heard the couple argue in the past.  Couple of broken windows in their apartment that never got fixed over the few months they lived there. 

Creepy.  Glad it wasn’t Chick. 

Read a little more here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Twilight; or How Dead Do I Need To Be To Like This Movie?

“Death is easy…peaceful.  Living is hard.” – Bella Swan

Nice.  Not exactly the lesson I’d choose to teach young girls who are impressionable, dramatic, and tend toward the suicidally romantic.

Seven months ago, I reviewed several of the “Twilight” novels by Stephanie Meyer.  Overall, I found the premise interesting but the delivery uninspiring.  Uninspiring.  HA!  They were sophomoric, insipid, poorly written dreck.  However, I’m the first to applaud Stephanie Meyer for making a gazillion dollars with this story.  God Bless her.

This weekend, I bought the dvd for my daughter.  She’d seen the movie several times during it’s release and was thrilled that she now owned it.  The minute we got home from the store, she popped it in the dvd player and popped her ass on the couch.  She was in for the night.

I tried.  I kept my mind open.  I had hoped the opposite might be true – maybe for once the movie would be better than the book!  I lived in hope.

Hope.  It springs eternal you know.  Unless you are one of the undead, the damned, one of the blood sucking creatures of the night.  Then there is no hope.  Only…perpetual high school. 

For those living in Forks, Washington, life is perpetually gray in the land of monsters and mud.  It is to this land of the mythic beasts our heroine arrives; Bella.  Emo Bella from Phoenix, Arizona - the land of sunshine and dry heat.  Bella of the Blue Foundation.  Bella of the Stuttering Awkward Dialogue. 

Bella the Monotone falls in love with Edward Cullen the White.  Edward of the Perpetual Seniors.  Edward the Deer Blood Sucking Vampire.  Edward is powerfully attracted to the wafting scent of Bella as she walks into chemistry class (HA!  Get it?  They have CHEMISTRY).  Edward and Emo.  Why, it’s practically a song. 

It was awful.  Good thing they had chemistry class together – since there was otherwise no chemistry to speak of with the lead characters.  Robert Pattinson as the tortured Edward Cullen might have been a more dynamic character had his Bella (played particularly badly by Kristen Stewart) not been awkward and stone-faced.  Every scene was painful to watch and easy to pick apart – it’s really a bad mark when I’m completely taken out of the movie and making jokes about the makeup.

harold lloydTHE MAKEUP.  Pwhphthawrpth.  Sorry.  I just threw up in my mouth.  It was like I was edward cullen watching Harold Lloyd in a 1920s silent movie.  Eyeliner, lipstick, and whiteface with an undercurrent of blue.  The girls’ makeup was no better.   Look, I get that these are the tragic undead.  I get that there is no blood flowing through their cold, black veins.  But if the hero of the piece – by all accounts as misunderstood as the classically romantic Fitzwilliam Darcy – grosses me out just by looking at his foundation?  Blech.

There was little redeeming about this film.  James, the scary evil human blood sucking vampire was a wonderful villain.  Jacob Black – very cute and engaging.  I know what happens to him a few books down and that could be cool.  Though they both have very small roles, they played them well.  Shame James didn’t kill Bella. 

Had there been more focus on Edward’s internal struggle to love a woman who was full of life…had we seen more conflict in Bella as she dealt with her attraction toward what amounts to a walking corpse – I might have bought it a little more and invested in the characters some.

As it is, I’m still choking down the bile.  I can’t recommend it.  Go rent Nosferatu, or “Salem’s Lot” or “Dracula; Dead and Loving It”.  Hell, wait for re-runs of “The Night Stalker”.  Anything is better than this.  “Death is easy…peaceful.  Living is hard.”  Yeah, who you tellin’?  Living through this movie…please pardon the expression - sucked.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Terrific Words

Soupcon.  I wrote soupcon today to someone and wondered where the hell that came from.  Other words that I’ve enjoyed recently:

  • panoply
  • huzzah
  • triumvirate
  • splendid
  • de minimis (LOVE the rhythm of that word!)
  • fubar (effed up beyond all recognition)
  • oeuvre

Yeah, yeah, I know that there is an acronym and a phrase in there, but blah.  Fun Words.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Punctuation Chick

I haven’t had a real Chick sighting since my appendix was removed. 

There have been, you know, moments when I walk by his condo and see the blinds move slightly, and a moment a few months ago when he was unlocking his door and I waved as he stared.  Oh, and when I came back from the hospital after having my appendix removed, I noted a stickey on my door that said I had flowers, but since I wasn’t home, that they were delivered to my neighbor.  I knocked on Chick’s door, but there was no response.  I went back home and just as I drove the deadbolt through, there was a knock at my door.  Strange, no one showed through the peep hole.  I opened the door, and there were my flowers, but no Chick.  He must have scurried away.

So there has really been no significant contact since the last Chick incident. 

Until yesterday.

6:20 am.  I was out walking Buddy the Immortal, as I always do.  You know I’m a bit paranoid (from reading too many Zodiac serial killer John Douglas Forensic Files books) and I occasionally change up my routine so it’s not so routine.  I like to thwart serial killers stalking my route, so they can’t kill and dismember me leaving only the DNA from my teeth to identify my charred remains. 

My imagination is colorful.  The color is blood red, but still, it’s colorful. 

So I varied my walking route this week.  I think it’s good for Buddy too – then he doesn’t get tired of all the same old smells.  And smell he does - Buddy likes to sniff!  It’s really all he has left after 17 good years - he can’t see so well, he can’t hear much, and he’s got stiff old bones.  He spends a lot of time sniffing around, seeing what’s what ~ it’s his final joy and I don’t like to rush him. 

Buddy decided to spend a little time sniffing Chick’s “lawn”.  The 10’x10’ slice of heaven that ever he’s tending.  As I waited for Buddy to reach his conclusions about the scented patch he was working on, I heard Chick’s door open.

“Mind getting your dog off my lawn?”

Understand, that there was a time in my life that any confrontation made me feel like a bad girl and I would noiselessly comply.  That time is over.

“Why?  He’s just sniffing.”



We stared each other down for a beat of three seconds.  I could hear the music of a thousand western high noon stand offs in my head.

I didn’t back down.  I was the bigger person.  I still think that creep has a bunker hewn out of concrete in his condo and I don’t want my daughter or I to become a tenant in it.  Discretion, better part of valor, all that. 

“But yeah,” I said, “I’ll get him off your lawn.”  Buddy and I moved away.

As I prayed some of my regular prayers later on, I realized I’m supposed to try to see Christ in Chick.  OhhhhKayyyyyy.  Some times it’s harder than others. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Just for Writing’s Sake

It’s been a while since I’ve just posted shite, isn’t it?  Just to write for writing’s sake.  Let’s say we give this a try.

Work since Christmas has been unbelievably busy.  Partially because the first quarter of each calendar year is the end of our fiscal year and partially because I’ve had more temporary support staff through here than can possibly be healthy.  I’ve had four temps in the last six months.  I think the mail room staff and human resources are starting to wonder if I beat them.  One was here a week, told me she didn’t like filing, left one day for lunch and had her agency call and tell me she wasn’t coming back.  She left two desk drawers full of work left undone and an expensive Starbucks’ ceramic travel mug. I did her work and I kept her mug.

Spoils of combat.  I figured it was an even trade.

Got one in now that’s good!  Here’s hoping she sticks!

Holy Week!  Indeed, it’s Holy Thursday.  I haven’t posted much about my lent.  For the first time ever, I gave up meat.  You know, it was tough the first week.  When Sunday came (one doesn’t fast on Sundays) all I could think of was meat.  Meat meat MEAT!  Went out and bought steaks that Sunday for my daughter and I.  The sacrifice got easier after that.  It’s amazing what you can find to eat that is meatless. 

Both Campbell’s Healthy Choice Tomato Soup and their Vegetarian Vegetable Soup are really good.  Canned salmon is kind of gross.  My macaroni and cheese isn’t as good as it used to be.  I can fill up on a lot of celery.  I still like peanut butter and tunafish.  Vietnamese delis make a tuna on a hoagie roll that’s pretty tasty.  I’m a little sick of McDonald’s fish filets.  I also learned I make a really good seafood salad. 

It wasn’t just the meat I gave up.  I also gave up reading anything that wasn’t spiritual (this really = no J.D. Robb “…In Death” books).  For years, I’ve been trying to finish Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s book “The Life of Christ”.  I start it each Lent and never get through the whole thing.  I did well this year - I have 100 pages to go and it looks like I’ll finish it right around Easter day, if not a little sooner.  A really wonderful work and highly recommended.  I found it easier to read a chapter at a time and let it soak in.  It’s filled with lyric descriptions and classic Sheen analogies that bring Our Lord to life. 

I’ll admit that I was less faithful to my commitment to stay off the computer after 8:00 pm.  I was on it less to be sure, and since the PC is heaving from a some sort of spyware rash, perhaps the Lord is punishing me because of my faithlessness.  I don’t really believe that, but I can’t get on it at all now.  It begs the question of the vengeful punitive God and how much involvement He had in my technological breakdown.

Overall, it’s been a good Lent; one of my most spiritually fruitful I think.  Will attend services on Good Friday, do some spring cleaning on Saturday, attend mass and enjoy the company of family and friends on Sunday. 

*Sigh.  Thanks for letting me write.  Felt good.  Missed you.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

High Noon; or How high do I have to be to like this?

Yeah, sorry about that.

After watching most of "Lifetime Presents the World Premiere of Nora Roberts' High Noon" (their emphasis, not mine), I wish I had a gun so I could take some hostages. Unfamiliar? Let me explain.

High Noon is the story of Phoebe MacNamara, played by Emilie deRavin, gun totin' single Mom of sweet little Carly, daughter of an agoraphobic Cybill Shepherd, primary hostage negotiator in Savannah...Georgia presumably. Phoebe's car needs to be fixed ($400) and her ceiling is leaking ($600) and needs new pipes throughout the house (don't even make me tell you what that will cost). She meets bar owner Duncan Hottie (forgot his last name) and they click. We find out in short order that Duncan won $100M in the lottery a few years back and runs a couple of bars...because he's a nice guy.

Played hotly by Ivan Sergei, we should all have a little Duncan in our lives. I will refrain from posting the incredibly lewd pun that my fingers are just itching to type. It's Sunday, afterall.

Anyway, this connection with Duncan is a little remarkable, since little Phoebles seems to have serious man issues. I imagine it all started when she was 12 and her Mom's boyfriend took her whole family hostage. Phoebes put sleeping pills in his food expertly diffusing the situation. (I guess if I was Mom, I'd be afraid to go outside after that too). Later in life Phoebe marries a creep who abandons her and their one year old baby, doesn't pay support and doesn't contact the kid. Niiiiice. Then, there's this disgruntled uniform who has issues reporting to a woman (likes 'em booby and stupid I guess; such depth of character) who beats the snot out of Lieutenant MacNamara and tosses her down a stairwell. He gets off with some probation. The coup de gras is the psychotic cop sniper albeit accomplished photographer, who holds a grudge against the lieutenant because a hostage taker killed the chick he was banging.

It's a real mystery why she doesn't get many dates.

Lifetime had been touting the "2009 Nora Roberts Collection" for a while and since I'm such a fan of J.D. Robb and the "In Death..." series, I thought I'd check out how one of her books translated to the screen. I think that the "In Death..." series would make good television. And I like Nora Roberts - I really do. I promise I was giving it some slack - there are limitations to the medium. Limitations to character development and plot depth and blabbity blahhhhhh.

I was disappointed in most of it and could see where it was going early on - how they were setting up Meeks (disgruntled booby loving cop) as the bad guy of the whole piece when in actuality it was someone else with an axe to grind. How Duncan Hottie was every woman's version of the perfect guy, "I re-hired Suicide Joe, the one you talked off the roof. He's in therapy, seemed like the right thing." or better: "Wait, the flowers aren't for you, they're for your sweet little daughter Carly!" Awwwwwwwww. Every woman needs a little Duncan. Did I say that already? Sigh* We all need a little obscenely wealthy nice guy who likes our kid and is nice to our crazy mom.

But I lost interest when she was talking down psycho sniper at the end; recreated here, tongue in cheek:

Psycho-Sniper Jerry: "The security officer has a new jacket on, Lieutenant. I don't think he likes it."
Phoebes: "Have you wired him with a timed incendiary device Jerry? Is it connected to the pocket of his with little silver buttons and wired up to a box you created in your own garage? Where you keep photos of me and my hot boyfriend, Jerry? "
Psycho-Jerry: "You're quick Lieutenant"

Lke I said, I wanted to see how Roberts' stuff translated to the screen. Sadly, not well. I immediately was forced to compare Phoebe to JD Robb's Eve Dallas. Both strong women, both lieutenants, but that was where the similarity ended. There wasn't the strength of character and toughness that Dallas has - Phoebe was certainly more needy. Which is ok. This isn't Eve Dallas and Duncan Hottie, though hot and wealthy, is no Roarke.

"High Noon", though I had some aspirations for it, was exactly what I imagined most Lifetime Movie Network movies are - cookie cutter. I was disappointed. The good news is, I won't be watching anymore of the "2009 Nora Roberts Collection" on Lifetime.

I talked myself off that wall.

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