Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pitch - Episode 1 Recap

So...who wants to talk about last night's presidential debate? Yeah, me neither. There was nothing else on TV and so I decided to re-watch one of my favorite new shows, Pitch.

Pitch is the story of Ginny Baker, the first female to compete in any of the four major North American pro sports leagues.*

Ginny is played by Kylie Bunbury, who also starred in another one of my favorite shows, Under The Dome. This show is of particular interest to me, not just because I like baseball and not just because Kylie is gorgeous. About 18 years ago I wrote a story about a girl who becomes the first female major league baseball player. It was much too long and terrible, but one professional critique called it "a story whose time has arguably come" or something. And that time is here.
Let's see what the pros can do with "my" idea...

*Manon Rheaume played goal in two pre-season games for the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning

If you're interested in the show and you're DVR'ing or planning to bingewatch at a later date I feel obligated to shout SPOILER ALERT at this time. Otherwise, read on...


When we first meet our heroine she's waking up in a hotel room full of fruit baskets. So many fruit baskets. One of them is from Ellen DeGeneres, another is from Hillary Clinton. Nothing from Oprah though. Hmm...

Flanked by security (and her agent) Ginny makes her way from the hotel room down through the bowels of the stadium while clips of Fox Sports commentators set the stage for her major league debut. Ginny blocks out the noise with headphones, reminiscent of a Beats By Dre commercial.

We learn through such commentary (by MLB network) that Ginny has been pitching in the San Diego Padres minor league system for the past five years and has been called up to start today's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Also, her agent's assistant thinks she's 'like Elvis'.

Ali Later plays Ginny's agent Amelia Slater. Very bossy, kinda of a snot. I will not like her.

Ken Rosenthal, Mr. Bowtie himself, says that Ginny's fastball tops out in the "high 80's" which is about the minimum acceptable speed for a major leaguer. Unless you've got good breaking stuff...

Ginny and her handlers arrive at the players' entrance, and a huge crowd of adoring fans are waving and cheering. This...is a big deal. Ginny starts to look overwhelmed, until she spots an adorable little girl holding a sign that reads: "I'm Next"

You ready, G?

Flashback. Overbearing dad trying to teach his boy how to play ball. He's scared off and runs inside the house. Meanwhile, the man's daughter (who can't be more than three years old) picks up a ball...and throws it waaaay over the fence. This man has himself a ballplayer.

Back in the present, Ginny meets the Padres general manager and team owner, and passes through more adoring fans. Her debut is the hottest ticket in town. The owner (who looks like one of the attorneys I work for) tells Ginny the team is excited to meet her. "No they're not." she quips. "Seventy five percent of them think I'm the next San Diego Chicken. The other twenty five just want to see me shower." Um, selling yourself short there, miss.

Padres manager Al Luongo (played by Dan Lauria) addresses his men. Gives them the old "It's 2016, be professional, treat her like a professional" speech. But one quick look around and you can tell this is an old-school group. Not exactly friendly confines.

Except...she does have one ally in the room - an old minor league teammate named Blip Sanders (played by Mo McRae). Where did the writers came up with a name like "Blip", you ask? My guess is, it's a nod to former Padres fan favorite Leon "Bip" Roberts.

Ever wonder where a woman would dress in a locker room clubhouse designed for men? Yup...they put Ginny in the supply closet. Oh sorry, the "clubhouse attendant's room." As her agent gripes to management about the substandard quarters, the owner indicates Ginny's jersey:

Amelia is annoyed that the Padres brass has subjected her to a pre-game press conference (highly unusual for a starting pitcher, though the show doesn't mention that.) Oscar Aguella, the Padres GM (played by Mark Consuelos) thinks it's no big deal - but that only earns him further lecturing from Amelia. While she describes Ginny as "Hillary Clinton with sex appeal" (ooh, tough visual) and "a Kardashian with a skill set." Oscar just smiles and pictures her naked. Amelia I mean.

Also, her assistant Elliot advises Oscar that he has "no chance". Something tells me that's not going to stop him.

Ginny takes the field at Petco Park and meets the Padres' veteran catcher Mike Lawson (played by Mark-Paul Gosselar.) She tells him that he's her favorite player- "I have your rookie card" -but he cuts her off for making him feel old. How's this for old: Saved By the Bell ended in 1992, which is a year before our 23 year-old heroine would have been born.

Lawson informs Ginny that she's the second prettiest teammate he's ever had. Who's number one? Leonardo DiCaprio.

Oh hell no, don't be slappin dat ass. Ginny gets tough with her hero about the old baseball tradition of ass-slapping--she's not having it.

Lawson gives an equally convincing rebuttal - and he's the captain. No special treatment, right? I could see how feminists might hate this exchange but I loved it - Mike lets her know she's one of the guys without giving an inch. Ginny gets it, lightens the mood with a Leo question, and slaps his ass right back.

After pre-game warmup, Ginny overhears the guys' locker room talk and recognizes Lawson's voice. He initially defends Ginny's place on the team...but only to needle the injured pitcher she's replacing. "She's a gimmick." Mike tells his teammates. But is he being loyal - or being candid? Ginny assumes it's the latter.

The big moment is nigh. First pitch is moments away, and television announcers Joe Buck and John Smoltz give us authentic (if a little sarcastic) play-by-play. Mike enters the bullpen to catch Ginny's warmup pitches. She puts a little extra oomph on her last one, just to let him know what's up.

When she takes the field in front of 43,000 fans the gravity of the moment hits her. She looks out into the crowd and sees her father - which ignites another flashback. This is where he teaches his young girl the screwball, her ticket to the majors.

Now she's here, on a major league mound, ready to make history. Will she rise to the occasion, or succumb to the incredible pressure of being the first female major leaguer?

Guess you'll have to tune in and find out...or wait till next week's recap. I'm running out of room here. if you liked this post and you want me to continue with these episode recaps, let me know in comments!


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday morning rambles

I wanted to do a cleaner, leaner, more focused post but I expended a lot of time and energy on Favorite Album Friday, and I thought I'd have the house to myself all day today but the in-laws are going to a football game and cannot watch my four year old while my six year old attends yet another birthday party. So I'll just do a genuine "stream of consciousness" and then make the Blogger rounds tonight once the fam returns from the bday party.

There is a lot to be stressed out about these days, in my home life and in the world. But I do have a few decent things going on that serve as temporary distractions.

My Red Sox have won 10 games in a row, and are red-hot heading into the playoffs. An AL East crown is all but certain, and I'm starting to believe that this team can win this year's World Series  -- if the Sox can find a reliable third starter behind 22-game winner Rick Porcello and $217 million ace David Price (who is 0-8 lifetime in postseason starts), and if the baseball gods do their part and keep the Chicago Cubs out of the World Series because that team scares the hell out of me.

Oh, who am I kidding? I would love to see a Cubs-Red Sox series. And I would be absolutely 100% okay with losing to Kris Bryant, Jon Lester, and the rest of Theo Epstein's squad. Next year.

My Favorite Girl hasn't posted anything on any social media platform in quite a while. Last week I was worried, and I sent her that anonymous message just to see if she'd respond. But I think now it's time to let her go for good. It is what it is... which is nothing. I hope she's okay, but I can't keep checking her pages to find out. Whatever I was supposed to learn from her never stuck with me anyway. Time to move on.

Taryn, you're My Favorite Girl now.

I've been watching a lot of TV lately, which is weird because I didn't think I'd have anything to watch once Castle ended. But I've got three new shows to watch - Designated Survivor, Pitch, and The Good Place - which airs right after Superstore. The in-laws have HBO so whenever I go there I bingewatch Ballers, and Any Given Wendesday because I'm a big Bill Simmons fan. That's six frickin' shows - and that doesn't include Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (which I watch online.)

I was reading an article about South Park on Bill Simmons' sports/pop culture/news website The Ringer and I had to share this with you guys because this is exactly how I feel about life and staff writer Mark Titus articulated it a thousand times better than I ever could have. (I don't have time to sign up for a Genius account and annotate this, so I'll just copy some key sections (full article here)

I'll preface this by saying that I don't watch much South Park anymore (though I probably should) but the fact that it is now in its 20th season makes me feel really old. I was in high school when it debuted, and my friends and I quoted and discussed the first season episodes every day in the cafeteria, in the classroom, and in the hallways. It's refreshing to know that kids today are doing the same thing we did back in the day, sort of like seeing a 14 year old wearing a Nirvana shirt.

I'm picturing Taryn wearin' this.

But the article - and the paragraphs that jumped out at me - were about much more than just an adult cartoon:
It feels like America is growing more divided with each passing day, and maybe that’s a result of us generally hearing from two sides when an issue arises. Something happens, Side A yells about how wrong it is, and Side B counters by yelling about how right it is. Then Side A and Side B shout at each other in hopes that calling the opposition idiots loud and often enough will eventually get people to change their minds. But there’s a third side in most cases, and that side is made up of people like me, who wish everyone would calm down and shut the hell up already.

It’s on this third side — Side C, we’ll call it — where South Park thrives. Side C typically remains silent about important issues. We watch from afar, content to stay out of things because we know that sharing our opinion, 140 characters at a time, on the complexities facing modern society is a fool’s errand. As debates rage on, Side A and Side B become more entrenched in their beliefs, while it’s easy for those of us on Side C to contemplate our place in the world.

We notice that most people we interact with seem to have strong opinions about everything, and start to wonder if maybe we’re the ones who are wrong for not calling strangers “pieces of shit” on the internet. Am I the only one who has too many personal problems to start having problems with other people, too? Am I the only one who just wants everyone on Side A and Side B to take FIVE FUCKING SECONDS to put themselves in the other side’s shoes? Just when I start to think I’m the lone impartial observer, South Park comes along and says, “No. No, you aren’t.”

Trevor Noah brought up a similar point on The Daily Show while lamenting how the news (especially on social media sites like Facebook) has become so filtered to fit our already-entrenched views  that we don't even encounter opposing viewpoints. And to illustrate this point, he spent an entire show discussing Tomi Lahren.

She's pretty racist

You're right, Trevor. I have no idea who this person is. Let's hear what she has to say...

Awww hell naw! You tear that bitch apart, Trevor. DO IT NOW!!!

What?!?! No! No no NO! Stop fangirling over Racist Barbie!! The hell is wrong with you? Stewart!!!!!!

Oh, right...Jon Stewart's retired. Well, if you want to hear a decent smackdown of this future Fox News employee you can watch this video. But..like..don't. Cause that's just going to make you angry - either at the "Libtards" who dare criticize Tomi's take, or at Tomi herself.

I admit I fell into the "Side A/Side B" trap over this particular Daily Show episode. And then I read this comment re:Trevor's soft take...

Because this would actually drive someone like Tomi crackers (more crackers, that is.) She expects everyone that opposes her to attack with vitriol, and that just feeds her runaway ego. But just treating her like the breezy nothing joke she actually is? She won't know how to handle it.

Is that why Trevor Noah played it light and sweet? I didn't get that impression. But then again I may be too hardened by divisive political rhetoric to recognize it.

Maybe I need to watch more South Park.

Be nice to each other, m'kay?


Friday, September 23, 2016

Favorite Album Friday: Riot!

This is the first in (hopefully) a series of posts about my favorite albums - in which I will select a CD from my collection and write about each track. These are all standard full-length studio LP's; no compilations, double-albums, or greatest hits allowed. Some are well-known, others are quite obscure. I'll share a few opinions, a few facts, and embed a few videos of my favorite tracks. Hope you'll give these a listen and share your thoughts in the comments. Let's rock!!

Paramore - Riot! (2007)

Tennesee-based pop-punk band Paramore debuted in 2005 with All We Know Is Falling - a solid freshman effort with standout tracks such as "All We Know", "Pressure", and my personal favorite "Emergency." The lineup changed a bit between albums, with bassist Jeremy Davies joining brothers Josh Farro (guitar/vocals) and Zac Farro (drums). The face of the band, spunky singer Hayley Williams, co-wrote the songs with then-beau Josh Farro.

My introduction to Paramore came from my (wife's) niece, who was a pre-teen at the time of Riot!'s release. The members of the band weren't much older; nearly all of them were teenagers when the album dropped. After hearing a few of their tracks on the radio I became a fan - but once the Farro bros left in 2010 (a split they infamously announced on Blogger) the Williams-led remnants adopted a more pop-centric sound... and that's where they lost me. That said, Riot! remains one of my favorite albums of the 2000's.

Here's my track-by-track review, with a favorite lyric or two and a grade out of ten:

1. "For A Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic" (7/10)

A lively start, with Josh Farro's rolling riff and brother Zac's thunderous beat bursting open the door. The lyrics and Hayley's vocal are catchy enough but the boys are the engine here. When she wails "Why don't you stand up, be a man about it Fight with your bare hands about it now" you know she's just getting warmed up.

2. "That's What You Get" (8.5/10)
This is embarrassing, but when I first heard this track on top 40 radio I thought it was a Miley Cyrus song. (I hadn't yet heard a song from either artist and Miley hadn't yet become a soft-core 'twerker'.) Zac Farro's drumming stands out again, but Hayley's vocal sounds so smooth and sunny I can't help but sing "That's what you get when you let your heart win" at the singalong cue. Bit of a guilty pleasure track for me.

3. "Hallelujah" (9.5/10)

No, this isn't a cover of the Leonard Cohen classic. It is, however, a high-spirited triumph that showcases the band at their very best. From the intro riff to the chorus "This time we're not giving up Let's make it last forever Screaming hallelujah We'll make it last forever" this track oozes hope and faith and love. I can absolutely picture myself blasting this track while driving down a picture-perfect coastal highway on my way to see my favorite girl, raising my arms to the sky and singing along as Hayley belts out the lyrics. Not that I've thought about it or anything...

4. "Misery Business" (9/10)

Ah, good ol' Miz Biz. When I heard my niece attempt to sing along to this on Guitar Hero I realized what an incredible vocalist young Ms. Williams is. The guitars and drums (hit that, hit that snare) are all on point... but this is Hayley's show, man. When she slows it down for the bridge "'Cause God it just feels so... It just feels so good" then crushes the chorus "Whoa, I never meant to brag But I got him where I want him now...." she had me hooked.

5. "When It Rains" (8/10)

A downbeat ballad with a bit of a country feel, Hayley sings this track with such a delicate tone that I had to hold back tears the first few times I heard it. "And when it rains Will you always find an escape? Just running away From all of the ones who love you From everything." Still gives me chills.

6. "Let The Flames Begin" (9/10)
The heart of the order right here. Hayley & co. follow up the first ballad with this standout track. Like a slow burn that explodes into an inferno at the chorus "This is how we'll stand when When they burn our houses down This is what will be, Oh glory" these kids are in complete control of tempo.

7. "Miracle" (6/10)

Another solid beginning by Josh... but then Hayley's vocal kicks in. "I've gone for too long living like I'm not alive" Wut? I try to cut 'em some slack on lyrics but this track lacks the depth of so many others on this album; when Hayley sighs "I just need this pain to end right here" you realize what the rest of the song is missing.

8. "Crushcrushcrush" (9/10)

The lyrics are kinda...all over the place. "Rock and roll, baby Don't you know that we're all alone now? I need something to sing about" But some of them are absolutely perfect, including one that really speaks to me: "Cause I'd rather waste my life pretending Than have to forget you for one whole minute" If you've read my blog at all you know I'm all about crushing.

9. "We Are Broken" (10/10)

"When It Rains" had me holding back tears; this somber song turned me into a puddle. The dreary tone and piano-driven arrangement is unlike anything else on the album. In live performances the band has dedicated this track to abused and troubled youth. "'Cause we are broken What must we do to restore Our innocence And oh, the promise we adored Give us life again 'Cause we just wanna be whole" Just a beautiful piece of music.

10. "Fences" (6/10)
...And then they get all Gwen Stefani on us. A funky track about the perils of fame "And it's obvious that you're dying, dying Just living proof that the camera's lying" I might like this track a bit more if it didn't directly follow their deepest, heaviest song.

11. "Born For This" (5.5/10)

I wish I could tell you that Riot! goes out with a bang, but that isn't quite the case. This track is probably best suited for live performances "Everybody sing like it's the last song you will ever sing" There's plenty of energy here, but very little substance. I wonder if Josh's background lyric "We want the airwaves back, we want the airwaves back" is directed at the top 40 charts - which Hayley has reached without him. And the call-and-response chorus seems a bit self-congratulatory - "We were born for this" - but it's not bragging if you can back it up.

Overall I'd give Riot! an 8/10 grade. Highly recommended to any fan of pop-punk, alternative, or female-fronted rock bands. If you've heard recent Paramore tracks like "Still Into You" or "Ain't It Fun" but you haven't heard these early hits I urge you to compare and contrast.


Monday, September 19, 2016

I want the peace and joy in your mind

"How can a beautiful soul such as yourself stay positive and trust in God when there is so much anger and hate and violence all around us? I’m about ready to jump off this sinking ship called life and take my chances with what comes next."

Earlier this week it dawned on me that we hadn't had any terrorist attacks in a while. Immediately I began praying that trend would continue. Forever? Impossible. For two months? Sadly, that's not realistic either.

Saturday morning a pipe bomb detonated in Seaside Heights, NJ. The explosion occurred in a trash can on the site of a 5K run to support the Marine Corps. Luckily, the start of the race had been delayed due to higher than expected participation, and there were no injuries.

Still, an explosion at a marathon site echoed the terror attack at the Boston Marathon in 2013.

Then, late Saturday night there was another explosion in the tri-state area. This one was in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, and there were reports of "multiple injuries" but when I turned off the TV before midnight the exact number had not been confirmed.

I had to get up early Sunday morning. We had to be in CT by 10am for a baby shower, and I set my alarm for 6:30am.

At 5:40am a loud BOOM jolted me awake. It sounded close, in the next town perhaps. I waited for the sirens. Didn't hear any. Soon I realized that it was just a dream, though it felt all too real. It wasn't the first time a phantom explosion awoke me, and it likely isn't the last. I could not go back to sleep. Too many worries and fears over the state of the world. [update: the suspect was apprehended in the next town over from me.]

When I turned on the TV an hour later I learned that the bomb was detonated at an Orange Theory gym. 29 people were injured. Are terrorists declaring a war on fitness?

This last month has been difficult. Everyday after work I have had to crawl into bed immediately, my energy has been so depleted, I was completely nauseous, lack of appetite, no interest, etc. It is frustrating when your monthly goal is “to wash your face and brush your teeth” every night. You know when all you want is to sit in a corner and cry, not for any reason but just because everything in your brain is triggered as “Sad”.

Days where my energy was low and I didn’t want to work out - my friends were there to remind me of what life is about, relationships. Long walks (10 miles on some days) with friends saved me.

This verse is my current anthem: The LORD your God in the midst of you is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over you with joy; he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I kind of don’t know where I am going with this. I just wanted to update you all because I haven’t been motivated to even get on social media, blog, youtube, workout, eat, shower, etc. But here is my life - and it is in God’s hands.

She's sharing much less of herself lately. The things she posts are mostly adverts for her new fitness plan. I get it. It's her job now, and one she probably got by promoting and hashtagging like crazy. It will certainly be easier to resist her social media sites if there's less personal content. This is a good thing for me. (though I do miss the 'old' her.)

I avoided her blogs for more than a month, and for four months before that. It seems I only check in on her when I'm stressed and depressed and in desperate need of a distraction. But much like my other bad habit, caffeine, the effect produces diminishing results.

There was a time when I felt a rush of adrenaline reading her posts and watching her videos. There was a time when the mere thought of her depressed the hell out of me (oh, the irony of someone whose stated mission was to help people out of the darkness being a trigger for self-destructive thoughts.) Now I feel neither of those things.

I still call her "My Favorite Girl" but it feels less accurate every day. She will always be this mythical figure in my mind: some days she's my muse, other days she's the personification of all my weaknesses. Always I wonder about her. And worry about her.

This affliction wont last much longer. The embers are fading. She doesn't feel real anymore.

A beautiful, funny, kind, caring, social media savvy girl whom I've never met, and have no tangible connection with? That could describe lots of girls. Hell, that could describe Taryn Southern. And I don't mark my calendars with a shameful 'X' when wandering onto Taryn's corner of the interwebs.
I don't worry about how the world is treating Taryn, and I don't dream about being her boyfriend. (okay, maybe once or twice)

(or a dozen times)

When I hear reports of an earthquake or a wildfire in California I don't ever think Oh God, I hope Taryn's okay. Is it because Taryn is "famous" and My Favorite Girl isn't? Is it because I've never actually communicated with Taryn? It's not like MFG and I had this magical connection. How the hell has she left such an indelible imprint on my heart?

The simple answer is, she's the key to something. I may have said this before, but she and I experience similar emotions. The only difference is, when life knocks her down she at least tries to get up. Sometimes she is triumphant. Sometimes she is defeated. But she has hope. She has faith.

And I just...don't.

There is so much about her that I envy. Her youth, her beauty, her background, her support system. But above all, the one thing that I wish I had is the light inside of her. The thing that gives her body and mind and soul the strength to persevere.

I don't know a lot of people. Not even on social media. And when I found one I liked, I stopped. No more calls, we have a winner. I needed to know that someone like her exists. I don't even need to know her personally. 

I just need an occasional reminder that, even though this country is more divided than ever,
and social media has made us bitter and angry and suspicious of those who are different,
and there are more guns in this country than people,
and innocent people are being targeted by trigger-happy police,
and innocent policemen (and women) are being targeted by trigger-happy thugs,
and politicians are openly advocating for the assassination of their opponents,
and the internet has facilitated cyberbullying and hacking and identity theft and terrorism,
and our planet is getting warmer and warmer each year...

there is Joy in the world.

and if she can stay strong through all of these things...why can't I?


Monday, September 12, 2016

When September Ends

I'm still not all the way back from what happened at the beginning of this month, or the myriad annoyances that have piled on since. But I wanted to summarize the past ten days while I can, in the hopes that it will get me back to blogging and commenting on a regular basis. (and thank you to John Gray and Mr. Shife for the kind words.) 


It's Friday. I said to myself. Try to be happy. If she says something, break the silence and say something back. You've made your point.

But she didn't say anything. She got the message. We're in a Cold War now, and it may never end. So be it. 

How long can I keep this up? I switched the default printer on my work computer so that I don't have to share hers anymore. I make fewer trips to the fridge and the bathroom, and when I absolutely must get up and walk around the office I take everything with me so as not to pass by her desk multiple times.

Looking down, looking away, looking in any direction but hers. Cannot even look that woman in the eye anymore. Don't sneeze anywhere near her. Either she'll say "God Bless You" and you'll have to respond..or she'll say nothing. 

Our corner of the office was always quiet, but the silence has been amplified tenfold. Does she notice what's happening? Does she know why? Is she going to report this to her boss? Maybe she's e-mailing him now. Maybe he'll call me into his office next time he's here. Can he fire me for not speaking to his secretary? I haven't gone out of my way to speak to anyone - just in case I'm wrong about her. But I'm not. And she hasn't said two words to me, either. Not since Tuesday anyway.

"Good morning." She said cheerfully. I ducked into my office and said nothing. Ohhh no, we're not doing that anymore. 

I made as many calls as I could stand. I did all my work - except anything that required the internet. I tilted my computer screen to face the door.

Then, shortly before 10 a.m. I had to get up. I had to put something in my boss's inbox. I had to pass her desk. "Good morning," she said again. I couldn't play it off like I hadn't heard her, or that I assumed it wasn't directed at me. She was already on a phone call, and held the phone away from her to greet me. She was casting a fishing rod with that second "Good morning." You're not getting away that easily. But I did.

She was on vacation the Friday before Labor Day, for some Christian church girls' retreat. And on that day I was called in to a meeting with two of the attorneys. Friday morning meetings with the boss are always a sign of doom, but I had been doing my job. As paranoid and pessimistic as I am, I could not think of any reason why I would be fired - especially since it would be a welcome change at this point in my life. 

It had been brought to my attention that the attorneys had seen some "inappropriate images" on my computer. "Whaat?" I replied. This genuinely bewildered me. I've never been the type to watch porn or look at sexually explicit images on my own time - and certainly not at work. I told my bosses that I occasionally read news while using the internet for work-related things like searching tax records or pulling new files.

One attorney did most of the talking, and he sort of assumed that would be my response. But he made it clear that this was not one isolated incident. There had been multiple reports of inappropriate images on my computer - and when I tried to suggest that they could possibly have seen some advertising that I wasn't aware of he rebutted that by stating that there was one report of thumb-nailed images of women in lingerie..or some such nonsense. 

When I am at a loss for words, I have a habit of looking away from the person I'm speaking to and staring off into the distance, as if searching for the right answer. I looked out the window and thought what the hell did they think they saw? What sites have I visited?

And then, a few seconds later.... Ohh fuck. The J-Law post. 

Do y'all remember this post I wrote, about my very strange and realistic dream featuring Jennifer Lawrence? I wrote part of that at work. And I searched Google Images for an accompanying pic. Not sure why I did that at the office, probably because I knew I wouldn't be able to write at home until after 7pm. My bad, I guess. But if you'd like to see what happens when you search Google images for "Jennifer Lawrence" please click here.

Once I solved the mystery of what they saw, I quickly deduced who reported seeing such "inappropriate" images...

When I was a freshman in high school I was bullied and intimidated by a much larger kid, someone who probably should have graduated three years earlier. He kept taking my lunch money until I decided not to give it to him, just to see what he'd do. He let me off with a warning and said if I was empty-handed again he'd beat the shit out of me. 

I reported him to the principal or the guidance counselor or whoever, and I was told that they'd handle it. The school security guard reassured me that I wasn't his only target and so they would tell him that "multiple people" reported him for "a number of incidents."

So when my boss tried to convince me that "If it was just one person, that would be one thing. But there were multiple people." I knew he was lying to protect someone. 

There are six non-lawyers in our office..all women. One of them works downstairs and rarely surfaces. One of them is my "work mom" and even though she knows how badly I want to leave this place, she would never take it upon herself to force my ouster. Two other women in our office don't often pass by my door, though I couldn't dismiss them completely. Then there's our secretary, who isn't particularly friendly or loyal, and she passes by my office plenty of times a day. 

Those five women have been working there long before I was hired three and a half years ago. I haven't been doing anything now that I wasn't doing then - just reading sports news, political news, or blogs. (In fact three years ago I was looking at Twitter and Tumblr so I'm actually doing less than before. But that's neither here nor there.)

That left only one prime suspect: the new hire who has been there less than two months and has made no secret of her Christian faith. It just so happens that she reports directly to the two attorneys who called this meeting. It just so happens that her desk is directly across from my office. 

Church girl. Of course.

Since then the incident has been buried in an avalanche of annoyances:

~ My first grader started soccer this week. She's never played before, and we were not informed until a week ago that she would be placed on an already existing team because there weren't enough coaches. Her first practice was Wednesday, and she loved it. Then she had two games - Saturday and Sunday. 

Her first game was played in 95F heat, and one of her teammates had to switch sides mid-game and play for the other team because of an injury. Then, when the score got out of hand, my daughter's team was told to stop scoring. Basically whatever you've learned up to this point (which isn't much) unlearn it and do the opposite. I understand why they did it, and it didn't matter anyway since my little one ate too many grapes during the injury time-out and couldn't finish the game. 

In the Sunday game, the weather was much better and we were all prepared with chairs and sunscreen and extra drinks. For some reason my daughter played more - which was hard to watch because she looked clueless out there. She ran up and down the field, chasing the crowd and going where she was told to go...but when the ball came her way she forgot to do something. Repeatedly. It was as if she assumed someone else was more capable of handling this very important job of kicking the ball and she just deferred to them every time, even if they weren't a teammate.

My wife could tell I was in a foul mood about this, but she kept assuming I was mad because my daughter wasn't immediately displaying athletic greatness. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was embarrassed for her, and angry at the soccer association for throwing her on a ready-made team as an afterthought, with kids who have been practicing together for six weeks and playing organized soccer for at least a year. 


~ The air conditioner in my upstairs room keeps leaking, and I had to take it out of the window. Which means that my sanctuary - where I write and watch TV and sort my sports cards - is fairly uninhabitable for most of the day. I have a fan up here, but it only makes sitting at the computer slightly bearable.

~ The Yankees won't friggin' go away, The World Cup Of Hockey hasn't even started and I'm already sick of it, and apparently the U.S. presidential election is a choice between a physically ill candidate and a mentally ill candidate. I'm about ready to vote for what's behind door number three:

I'll be back to blogging and commenting by the end of this week. Hope you're all enjoying the last days of summer.


Monday, September 5, 2016


Something happened at work Friday morning - no I didn't get fired. It was worse. And I couldn't shake it off Saturday or Sunday and here it is Monday afternoon and I'm still pretty much useless and unable to concentrate on anything.

I need a new job. I've been saying that for three years, but now I really need a new job. Like...now

All of this has re-ignited my depression at a time when I was actually feeling pretty good. Blogging was making me happy, and I was excited to join the Battle of the Bands bloghop. 

And then Friday happened. 

All weekend I fought off the urge to delete my blogs and retreat into my shell like I did last year. I didn't want to disappear without an explanation (again.) But I do need a break. I need to get my head straight. I need to get a new job. 

I'm sorry I haven't been commenting on any blogs. You can remove me from the BOTB list if you'd like. I would have fallen behind eventually anyway. 

Since I doubt anyone else will vote, I'll announce the winner now. It was Lacuna Coil.

Keane got out to an early lead, but Lacuna caught up on day two and won 5-4.

I'll be back as soon as I'm able to function. Please bear with me. Thanks everyone.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Enjoy The Silence (My Battle Of The Bands Debut)

I have been invited (okay.. allowed) to join Stephen McCarthy's Battle Of The Bands bloghop. 

Here's how it works: On the 1st and 15th of every month, BOTB participants choose two different versions of a song and the artists 'battle' for your votes. On the 7th and 21st of every month, participants count up the votes and reveal the winner. 

You don't have to be part of the bloghop to vote - all you have to do is listen to each cover version (and the original if you're unfamiliar) and leave a comment about your choice.

For my initial attempt at this, I chose one of my all-time favorite tracks: 

Enjoy The Silence by Depeche Mode

Read the lyrics here

(In my own words...)

Depeche Mode originated in Basildon, U.K. as an electro-pop band during the new wave era of the early 1980's. Throughout the decade the band evolved from synthesizer-centric dance and pop music to a modern rock tour de force, punctuated by their sold-out performance at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California in the summer of 1988. A year later the band recorded the critically and commercially successful Violator, which yielded worldwide hits like "Policy Of Truth", "Personal Jesus"...and "Enjoy The Silence". 

As a child of the late 80's/early 90's, I was raised on a steady diet of MTV. I can still remember being captivated by videos for songs like "Take On Me" by a-Ha, "True Faith" by New Order, and this video - featuring lead singer Dave Gahan as a lonely king wandering about the world, folding chair in tow.

Here's the original video from 1990 (please do not vote for this version). 

Now for the battle!

Our first artist also comes to us from the United Kingdom, Sussex to be precise. 

Similar to Depeche Mode in composition if not sound, Keane rely heavily on piano/keyboard melodies and percussion rather than guitar-driven power. Unlike DM, however, Keane were unable to achieve sustained North American success equal to their fame back home. "Is It Any Wonder?" and "Somewhere Only We Know" (which was used in a recent Battle of the Bands by Cherdo on the Flipside) are the only two singles to chart in the US. However, in the UK, Keane have amassed a baker's dozen of top selling singles

I became a huge Keane fan after hearing these two tracks. I immediately purchased their first two albums Under The Iron Sea and Hopes And Fears and played them on my iPod all through college, often while daydreaming about a gorgeous curly-haired girl in my Economics class (AKA the OG MFG.)

Here's Keane with their version of "Enjoy The Silence":

Our second contender is a female-fronted rock band from Italy, Lacuna Coil. I don't know much about them, so let's consult Wikipedia for more info:

Lacuna Coil is an Italian gothic metal band from Milan. Since their formation in 1994, the group has had two name changes, being previously known as Sleep of Right and Ethereal. Inspired by the combination of gothic imagery and music, the members have been known, musically, for composing mid-tempo songs consisting of prominent guitar lines and contrasting dual female/male vocal harmonies to help create a melodic, detached sound. Much of the band's recent material, however, sees a heavier and more down-tuned style, featuring a more distinct bass line and a higher mixing of the guitars within the songs. The band's 2012 release, Dark Adrenaline, peaked at number 15 on the Billboard 200. They have toured internationally and were nominated for a MTV Music Award.

I was first introduced to Lacuna Coil by way of the song "Our Truth", which was their contribution to Guitar Hero: World Tour. Once I heard their cover of "Enjoy The Silence" I was hooked. 

And here it is, Lacuna Coil's version of "Enjoy The Silence":

Now let's hear from you! Who wins this Battle Of The Bands: Keane or Lacuna Coil? Share your thoughts below and don't forget to visit the other BOTB participants listed here:

Battle Of The Bands Blogroll
Arlee Bird - Tossing It Out
Cathy Kennedy - Curious As A Cathy
Cherdo - Cherdo On The Flipside
Debbie D - The Doglady's Den
DiscConnected - discconnected
Janie Junebug - Righting And Editing
Mary Burris - Jingle Jangle Jungle
Michele - Angels Bark
Mike Spain - Mike's Ramblings
Robin - Your Daily Dose
Stephen McCarthy - Battle Of The Bands

(If I've missed any active participants please let me know)

The winner will be revealed September 7th. Hope to see you then!