Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2009 to all of my readers!

As a former colleague once said, "May the coming year be rich in all that is good." Even though the next year was far from a good one, I always appreciated the sentiment.

It's been an interesting 2008 that we're wrapping up, to say the least. Even leaving out some of the sordid details, I did manage to get married, go on a honeymoon, essentially lose one job and find another, plus help a friend in serious need.

And that was just the second half of the year - and leaving out even more events!

As I mentioned to Marisa, we've managed to meet, go on our first date, get engaged, move in together, buy a house, sell another one, get married, go on our honeymoon and more... Next, in 2009, we can celebrate two years since our first date!

Don't let anyone tell you I'm not decisive when I know what I want.

Meanwhile, have a safe, healthy and happy 2009! And keep reading!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Colors of the wind?

I got this from Jewels...

Your rainbow is intensely shaded red, violet, and blue.


What is says about you: You are a passionate person. You appreciate friends who get along with one another. You share hobbies with friends and like trying to fit into their routines. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you've mastered it.

Find the colors of your rainbow at

Friday, December 19, 2008

Civil War music (anachronistically)

Marisa recently introduced me to a band called The Decemberists and we got tickets to a concert at the newly renovated Wellmont Theatre in Montclair.

So, of course, the concert rocked, and ever since then, I've been on a Decemberists kick.

M had told me before the concert that all of their songs tell a story, such as the legend of the crane wife.

How excited was I to discover they have a Civil War song?

And if perhaps - the son of an English professor, after all - I prefer the "Romeo & Juliet"-esque stylings of "O Valencia!," I nonetheless think "Yankee Bayonet (I will be home then)" is probably my favorite just because of the story.

Have you hit "play" on the video above? Catch the lyrics, then keep reading...

So the song tells the story of a widow of the Confederacy, who true love lies "far from the hills of the sea-swept Carolinas."

It always makes me think of Dorsey Pender, whose near-daily letters to his devout wife were one of the great love stories of the war - before they abruptly ended, far indeed from his North Carolina home.

Other Decemberists songs I recommend heartily include "Shanty for the Arethusa" and "The Mariner's Revenge Song."

Eh, I can't resist. Here's "O Valencia!"

Movies: Do you have a life?

I have seen 126 out of 239 films: I have no life!

Ripped this one off from my buddy Todd over on Facebook. Sadly, consider Todd is a walking pop-culture encyclopedia, I beat him.

Supposedly, if you've seen more than 85 films, you have no life. Mark the ones you've seen. There are 239 films on this list. Copy this list, go to your own Facebook account/etc., then paste this. Then, put X's next to the films you've seen, add them up, change the header adding your number, and click post at the bottom.

(x) Rocky Horror Picture Show
(x) Grease
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest
(x) Boondock Saints
(x) Fight Club
() Starsky and Hutch
() Neverending Story
(x) Blazing Saddles
(x) Airplane
Total: 8

(x) The Princess Bride
() Anchorman
(x) Napoleon Dynamite
() Labyrinth
(x) Saw
(x) Saw II
() White Noise
() White Oleander
() Anger Management
() 50 First Dates
(x) The Princess Diaries
() The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

Total so far: 13

(x) Scream
(x) Scream 2
() Scream 3
(x) Scary Movie
() Scary Movie 2
() Scary Movie 3
() Scary Movie 4
(x) American Pie
(x) American Pie 2
(x) American Wedding
() American Pie Band Camp

Total so far: 19

(x) Harry Potter 1
() Harry Potter 2
() Harry Potter 3
() Harry Potter 4
(x) Resident Evil 1
(x) Resident Evil 2
(x) The Wedding Singer
() Little Black Book
(x) The Village
() Lilo & Stitch

Total so far: 24

(x) Finding Nemo
() Finding Neverland
() Signs
() The Grinch
(x) Texas Chainsaw Massacre
(x) Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
() White Chicks
() Butterfly Effect
() 13 Going on 30
() I, Robot
(x) Robots

Total so far: 28

(x) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
(x) Universal Soldier
() Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
() Along Came Polly
() Deep Impact
() Kingpin
(x) Never Been Kissed
() Meet The Parents
() Meet the Fockers
() Eight Crazy Nights
() Joe Dirt
() King Kong

Total so far: 31

() A Cinderella Story
(x) The Terminal
() The Lizzie McGuire Movie
() Passport to Paris
() Dumb & Dumber
() Dumber & Dumberer
() Final Destination
() Final Destination 2
() Final Destination 3
(x) Halloween
(x) The Ring
(x) The Ring 2
() Surviving Christmas
() Flubber

Total so far: 35

() Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
() Practical Magic
() Chicago
(x) Ghost Ship
(x) From Hell
(x) Hellboy
() Secret Window
() I Am Sam
(x) The Whole Nine Yards
() The Whole Ten Yards

Total so far: 39

(x) The Day After Tomorrow
(x) Child's Play
() Seed of Chucky
(x) Bride of Chucky
() Ten Things I Hate About You
() Just Married
(x) Gothika
(x) Nightmare on Elm Street
(x) Sixteen Candles
(x) Remember the Titans
() Coach Carter
(x) The Grudge
() The Grudge 2
() The Mask
() Son Of The Mask

Total so far: 47

(x) Bad Boys
(x) Bad Boys 2
() Joy Ride
(x) Lucky Number Slevin
(x) Ocean's Eleven
(x) Ocean's Twelve
(x) Bourne Identity
(x) Bourne Supremacy
() Lone Star
() Bedazzled
(x) Predator I
(x) Predator II
(x) The Fog
(x) Ice Age
() Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
(x) Curious George

Total so far: 59

(x) Independence Day
(x) Cujo
() A Bronx Tale
() Darkness Falls
() Christine
(x) ET
(x) Children of the Corn
() My Boss's Daughter
() Maid in Manhattan
() War of the Worlds
(x) Rush Hour
(x) Rush Hour 2

Total so far: 65

() Best Bet
() How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
() She's All That
() Calendar Girls
() Sideways
(x) Mars Attacks
(x) Event Horizon
() Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
(x) Forrest Gump
() Big Trouble in Little China
(x) The Terminator
(x) The Terminator 2
(x) The Terminator 3

Total so far: 72

(x) X-Men
(x) X-2
(x) X-3
(x) Spider-Man
() Spider-Man 2
() Sky High
() Jeepers Creepers
() Jeepers Creepers 2
() Catch Me If You Can
(x) The Little Mermaid
() Freaky Friday
() Reign of Fire
() The Skulls
(x) Cruel Intentions
() Cruel Intentions 2
() The Hot Chick
(x) Shrek
(x) Shrek 2

Total so far: 80

() Swimfan
(x) Miracle on 34th Street
() Old School
() The Notebook
() K-Pax
() Krippendorf's Tribe
() A Walk to Remember
() Ice Castles
() Boogeyman
() The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Total so far: 81

(x) Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(x) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
(x) Lord of the Rings: The Return Of the King
(x) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
(x) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
(x) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Total so far: 87

() Baseketball
(x) Hostel
() Waiting for Guffman
() House of 1000 Corpses
() Devil's Rejects
() Elf
(x) Highlander
() Mothman Prophecies
() American History X
() Three

Total so far: 89

(x) The Jacket
() Kung Fu Hustle
(x) Shaolin Soccer
(x) Night Watch
() Monsters Inc.
(x) Titanic
(x) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
(x) Shaun Of the Dead
() Willard

Total so far: 95

(x) High Tension
(x) Club Dread
() Hulk
(x) Dawn Of the Dead
(x) Hook
(x) Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
(x) 28 Days Later
(x) Orgazmo
(x) Phantasm
() Waterworld

Total so far: 103

(x) Kill Bill Vol. 1
(x) Kill Bill Vol. 2
(x) Mortal Kombat
(x) Wolf Creek
(x) Kingdom of Heaven
(x) The Hills Have Eyes
() I Spit on Your Grave, aka The Day of the Woman
() The Last House on the Left
(x) Re-Animator
(x) Army of Darkness

Total so far: 111

(x) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
(x) Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
(x) Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars Ep. IV A New Hope
(x) Star Wars Ep. V The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Ep. VI Return of the Jedi
() Ewoks Caravan Of Courage
(x) Ewoks The Battle For Endor

Total so far: 118

(x) The Matrix
(x) The Matrix Reloaded
(x) The Matrix Revolutions
() Animatrix
(x) Evil Dead
(x) Evil Dead 2
(x) Team America: World Police
(x) Red Dragon
(x) Silence of the Lambs
() Hannibal

Total: 126

Now add them up and ... put "I've seen ... out of 239 films" and repost it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Monkey of the Day

A "pregnant" woman with a monkey belly!

No, it's not Marisa.

Monday, December 08, 2008

I weep for my (former) profession

On one of my media news feeds today, I saw an item about an essay contest:

Why I am the future of journalism.

I found myself thinking I'm a sure winner.

Because I have the horrible feeling I am the future of journalism:

A young, promising journalist who took the money and quit the profession for something more stable amid buyouts, threats of closing papers, fears management has no idea how to react to the struggling economy and changing times, and a general pessimism about the future of the industry.

I wish I didn't feel that way. I miss newspaper work almost every day. But one of my former employers filed for bankruptcy protection today, and that only serves as more evidence I did exactly what my former employers told me to do: What was best for my family.

Despite enjoying many of the challenges of my new job, I find myself struggling to adjust, struggling with whether I did the right thing, struggling with guilt, fear, anxiety.

Don't get me wrong. I have an interesting job, surrounded by good people, in what seems like a fairly stable place. Not to mention getting a free lunch and being home for dinner with the woman I love.

But I watch, with fear, as the industry I loved fights to stay out of a death spiral and I can't decide if I should feel the relief of a rat off a sinking ship, or the guilt of a survivor of a fatal train wreck.

It's not helping me adjust, I can say that much with confidence. And that may be the only confidence I have right now, in anything.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Awesome Army

I'm watching the Army-Navy game and something caught my eye.

USC-UCLA's uniform decisions may have gotten all the hype recently, but I have to say I love, love, love the camouflage uniforms Army is wearing.

So, the excellent UniWatch blog may have panned them, but I think they're great.

Camo helmets and pants, and the backs of the jerseys don't have player names, they say "Duty, Honor, Country," which truly sums up the expression that you don't play for the name on the back of the jersey, but the name on the front.

The uniforms also feature a service branch patch on the chest and Army slogans on the pants. The Nike "Enforcer" uniforms debuted in the game. (Navy's team is also wearing special uniforms.)

Not that the Black Knights' regular uniforms (above) are bad, with their traditional black-and-gold design.

Anyway, as you might guess, I'm rooting for Army, though they tend to be the worst of the Academy football teams. My father was in the Army Reserve during his brief military service, so I've always been partial to Army when it comes to service rivalries, though I have a soft spot for the old Air Force wishbone offense.

Plus, of course, my Civil War studies tend to focus on things like West Point graduates, so I've read a lot about their traditions.

And I have to say, no matter the outcome of the game (Army is losing as I type this), I am very impressed with the message Army is sending.

And, of course, I remain proud of all the men and women serving — or on the verge of serving — our country.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Coincidence? Dismissed as chance...

Watching "Kath & Kim" with Marisa tonight, I noticed one of the cast members is named "Day," which is the last name of the titular characters.

Which reminds me of two of the stranger character/cast coincidences in horror movies.

One of the more infamous co-stars (for her nude scene) in the "Friday the 13th" series is an actress named Debi Sue Voorhees — the same last name as the killer.

She was a victim in "Part V: A New Beginning," and has admitted one of the things that caught the filmmakers' eyes was her last name.

(Speaking of coincidences, IMDB trivia points out she went on to become a copy editor...)

But that's not the only last name match game in horror history.

One of the victims in the original "Halloween" was played by Nancy Loomis (born Nancy Kyes).

That actress, who played Annie Brackett, daughter of the sheriff, shared a name with the ostensible hero of the film, the mad Dr. Sam Loomis, Michael Myers' psychiatrist.

(She is now a sculptress — not an editor — according to the IMDB.)

Know any "Nightmare on Elm Street" coincidences for the horror hat trick?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Civil War trivia time!

You may be wondering why I'm starting a Civil War trivia post with a picture of CNN celebri-journalist Anderson Cooper.

Well, as I wrap up the book "The Class of 1861"on the May and June graduates of West Point at the start of the war, I find an interesting series of genealogical ties.

The foreword to the book, for instance, is written by George Plimpton, the author, above.

He is the great-grandson of this man:

Adelbert Ames, a member of the May 1861 class, who was the last living Civil War general at the time of his death (which statement somehow is grammatically incorrect, but I can't say how).

However, I think it likely that to today's tele-centric audience, the late Plimpton is not the most famous descendant of a member of the Class of 1861.

You see, the not-so-handsome man above, Judson "Kill-Cavalry" Kilpatrick — so nicknamed for his reckless disregard for his men's lives — is the great-great-grandfather of the handsome anchorman who tops the page.

Kilpatrick, who went on to serve as a minister to Chile, had twin granddaughters, one of whom became the second wife of Reginald Vanderbilt and gave birth to Gloria Vanderbilt; who is, of course, the mother of the host of CNN's "360."

(The other, by the way, was the mistress of the Prince of Wales in the early 1930s, until she made the tactical error of introducing the future Edward VIII to her friend, Wallis Simpson. That turned out about as well for all involved as Kilpatrick's cavalry charges at Gettysburg did for Brig. Gen. Elon Farnsworth.)

Aside, at the top of the May class, ahead of both Ames and Kilpatrick, was a fellow whose ancestors and descendants were among the rich and famous: Henry Algernon du Pont — of those du Ponts.

The "goat"of the May class (the last-place graduate) was a fellow named Sturgeon. He had the good sense, after the war, to retire from the cavalry sometime before the "goat" of the June 1861 class led the regiment to the Little Bighorn.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Nuance is what makes good dramas into great ones.


Because nuance means a serious show can have a light moment in just a look, a glance, a moment. A funny moment can be a clue to a puzzle, in just a tilt of the head.

Right now, for my money, there is no cast on TV better at that than the cast of my current favorite show, "Life" on NBC.

Just picked up for a full second season a year after debuting in the writers-strike-marred 2007, "Life" also just got moved to a better time slot, between Wednesday's "Knight Rider" remake and the "L&O" mothership.

And after a bit of a shaky beginning on Mondays and then Fridays (yeah, all in one year), "Life" is starting to find the footing that made its 11 episodes in Season One so memorable.

The key, to any show with a "quirky" main character, is the little things. Unlike the broad comedy of "Monk" or the oppressive drama of "SVU," "Life" has a nice (if sometimes erratic) mix, thanks to lede actor Damian Lewis.

And, more importantly, his parter, cheerleader-turned-actress Sarah Shahi, who is so much more than a pretty face: She is the master of the "did he just say that?" look, and that offsets the odd remarks and Zen detecting skills Lewis' Charlie Crews brings to his dual missions as homicide cop and seeker of the truth behind the frame-up that sent him to jail.

Nuance goes a long way. Tune in Wednesdays at 9 Eastern if you don't believe me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Check it out!

Another movie I appear in will be hitting DVD soon:

John Paul Kinhart's "Blood, Boobs & Beast"is a documentary on the life and work of the late horror producer/director Don Dohler, who was one-half of Timewarp Films.

A lot of footage was shot by John and his Video Kitchen crew on the set of "Dead Hunt," and (at least in the version I saw at the premiere) I'm quoted in both my (former) role as a reviewer for HorrorTalk and in snippets during the on-set footage.

John got a Troma release for this one, so be sure to check it out!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Movie meme!

OK, so I stole this one from Jin, who stole it from this guy, who made up a bunch of rules she didn't repeat, so I'm not going to bother looking them up.

The gist of it is, you pick the 26 letters of the alphabet and list a DVD you own that begins with that letter, skipping things like "A" and "The" and so forth. Plus, you link to that first guy's website, I think. (Maybe it's a girl, that's a generic "guy," since I didn't bother reading the original post.)

I know y'all are a bunch of movie fans, so give it a whirl.

Me, just for kicks, I'm going for an action/horror theme. And I'm going to stick with flicks I like, so consider these recommendations, too.

A is for "Aliens," my favorite of all time.
B is for "Below," the underrated submarine scare flick.
C is for "Curious George," just because I like monkeys.
D is for "Dawn of the Dead," the remake that's better than people think. (You thought I'd say "Dead Hunt," didn't you?)
E is for "Event Horizon," with a ship's log to watch on slo-mo.
F is for "Friday the 13th," greatest slasher of them all.
G is for "Ginger Snaps," with luscious Kate Isabelle.
H is for "Halloween 4," "Halloween 5" and Danielle Harris, pre-Zombie.
I is for "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," a great comic treat for fans.
J is for "Jaws," and not swimming for years.
K is for "A Knight's Tale," which may be the late Heath Ledger's best.
L is for "Land of the Dead," Romero's fourth in the trilogy.
M is for "The Mummy," such brainless fun.
N is for the cult Nights: "... of the Comet," "... of the Creeps" (OK, it's a boot) and "... of the Demons."
O is for "Once," my wife's favorite low-budget music movie.
P is for "Planet Terror," the silly fun half of "Grindhouse."
Q is for, um, well, let's skip this one...
R is for "Resident Evil," with the best audio commentary ever.
S is for "Se7en," and what's in the box.
T is for "The Thing," with its awesome old-school effects.
U is for "Underworld," with vampires, werewolves and guns-guns-guns.
V is for "Versus," perhaps called yakuza vs. zombies.
W is for "What About Bob?" which came with the wife, and I've never seen.
X is for another X; read: N/A, I'm afraid.
Y is for "Youngblood," not action or horror, but hockey.
Z is for "Zombi 2," or "Zombie" to some, and we're done.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Don't forget to vote!

What are you sitting there for? Go out and vote!

This is important, folks!

I mean it. I regard voting as one of the most important rights/privileges Americans have. Making an informed choice is a civic responsibility, and one of the joys of being a journalist is knowing I have in some small way contributed to people being informed when they choose.

End of sermon.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Worst job of the day

Today, on the way to work, I saw an NJDOT crew picking up dead deer off the side of the highway.

They had a whole truckfull of roadkill.

I had a buddy who once spent a summer with PennDOT holding one of those "stop/slow" signs. Said it was great - in the sun all day, making union wage, turning his wrist every few minutes.

Of course, that's the state where the DOT infamously paved over a dead deer.

Here in Jersey, a couple of poor schmucks had to sling 'em into the back of a truck all morning.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Best thing of the day

If you deal with the business world regularly, as I do (until next week), you've probably seen countless photos of traders making faces on the New York Stock Exchange floor.

At last, somebody has decided to spice up the same old, same old, and thus:

Sad Guys on Trading Floors

"Lowest of the low"

Hey, politicians?

Want a reason why American voters feel disillusioned?

How about this ad from Elizbeth Dole, who I used to respect:

In the 30-second ad, a narrator says that a leader of the Godless Americans Political Action Committee recently held a "secret fundraiser" for Hagan.

The ad then shows members of the group, which promotes rights for atheists and the separation of church and state, declaring that neither God nor Jesus exists.

"Godless Americans and Kay Hagan," the ad continues. "She hid from cameras. Took 'Godless' money. What did Kay Hagan promise in return?"

The ad ends with a picture of Hagan and a voice that sounds like hers declaring, "There is no God."

But the application said Hagan never made that statement or accepted money from the group.

North Carolinians, if you were on the fence before, I think this should tell you everything you need to know about the kind of person Dole has become.

And to heck with partisanship and party lines, that disgraceful classlessness ought to be enough to get you to vote for Kay Hagan.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Let's take a little quiz, shall we?

Via the delightful Miss President, with whom I shared a line or two at Six Flags "Wait Adventure" the other weekend.

I could survive for 1 minute, 9 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Created by Bunk

Strange thing of the day

Just go read this.

I don't even know what to say. But it's awesome.

Lucky charm?

Last night, my best buddy Dave's Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series.

Earlier this year, my second-best buddy Ed's New York Giants won the Super Bowl.

Not since I won money in three straight office pools have I been on a streak like this (at least by proxy).

(For the record, it was the World Cup pool and the March Madness pool - OK, so the third one was for finishing last at fantasy football... I still won my money back!)

Who's next?

Well, my buddy Stewie's Redskins are 6-2...

But Phil's Oilers are looking like a longshot for the Stanley Cup.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm dreaming of a white... Halloween?

First snowfall today.

This may not really be a big deal to those of you readers from Wisconsin or Canada.

But those in the Tri-State area may sometimes hear the New York radio stations refer to "north and west of the City" as the area where the bad weather hits. That's where I live.

And thus, we get winter a little sooner than many other Jerseyans. Like today, when it rained in Newark. And we had 3 inches of snow on the ground when I headed out into the Sussex County afternoon.

The last 35 minutes of my daily 50-minute commute took 35 minutes.

The first 15 took two hours.

That was fun.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thought for the day

Only a vegetarian would get stopped for speeding on the way to a farmers' market.

Back in black!

OK, now that most of the chaos in my life has straightened itself out, I'm back in action. Sort of.

For now, at least, I think I'm going to stick with a variety of short-form random thoughts and things of that nature, rather than the long-winded posts for which I'm probably best known to all of you.

My apologies for the delay, and thanks for your concern. Suffice it to say everything is going to work out fine, more or less.

As always, let me know what you think of the changes.

Editor's note: Also, watch for some adjustments to the various bits and pieces of the sidebars and the like. If there are any you want to see stay, or want to see go, by all means speak up!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Taking a TV timeout

I'm at a very difficult point in my life right now, which in the wake of the very pleasant changes in my personal life was followed by what may be a very painful and difficult job transition.

The net result may be very, very positive, but right now it's not feeling so much that way.

In short, those who know me know how fragile my psyche can be, and right now it's at its most fragile.

Which is a long way of saying I'm giving a lot of thought to the things I'm involved in and reprioritizing a lot of them.

And let's be honest, this blog is just an entertaining hobby, and thus pretty far down my list of things to focus on.

So let's consider me on hiatus for the time being. I will be back, and not away too long, I think. I hope.

I just couldn't tell you when right now.

Thanks for all the reading and commenting and so on. It's always fun to share my little slice of the world with y'all.

Thought for the Day

Because it's been too long since I've posted anything and, well, after a darn good weekend - including Marisa's birthday - this week pretty much already sucks and it's barely Tuesday.

Thought for the Day:

The other day, Sarah Palin told Katie Couric, in the course of butchering her interview that, in essence, she was qualified in foreign affairs because Alaska is in between Russia and Canada.

Which, I keep telling people, is like me saying I'm qualified to treat a sprained ankle because my next-door neighbor is an athletic trainer.

(That probably wasn't worth the effort, was it? But I forgot my other Thought for the Day and I'm too depressed for a real post.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Goodbye, Yankee Stadium

Tonight is the final game at Yankee Stadium and I'm watching the pregame ceremonies right now.

It's sad to see the Stadium go. I was lucky enough to see a game earlier this season, part of a recent tradition that has seen my father and I go to a game at the Stadium every year for the past several years.

Baseball truly is a game that unites fathers and sons, and it was one of the first things my father and I could talk about. My father grew up in the Bronx and the Yankees were his team. He went to World Series games as a boy, and he remembers being at Babe Ruth Day and other great occasions.

My first game at the Stadium was in 1983, and the Yankees were routed by the Toronto Blue Jays. Still, what a wonderful experience, one that continued through a great tour of the inside of the Stadium last year, and the game I attended in April with my father and some friends.

I've had good seats and bad, seen Monument Park, seen Japanese fans cheering on "Godzilla," Hideki Matsui, and seen the late Cory Lidle start his last game for the Yankees.

One of the last games we were there, there was a fight in the stands nearby, including thrown beers and punches, and my father remarked that in all the years he'd come to the Stadium, it would be the first time he went home smelling like beer.

Even when not at the Stadium, I have great memories of the Yankees. Watching the Martinez and Jeter home runs off "Byung-Hung Slider" Kim in the World Series after 9/11. Saw that one in a bar.

Saw Aaron Boone's home run off Tim Wakefield in a different bar. Then helped a fellow find the wedding ring that had flown off when he thrust his arms skyward.

My first game at the Stadium, now so long ago that Don Mattingly - a Hall of Fame candidate at first base - played left field as a rookie.

I remember watching, holding my breath, at my first full-time job, as the Yankees won the 1996 World Series for their first world championship since 1978.

But mostly, when I think of the Stadium, I think of my Dad, and the stories he's told, and the games we've shared, together and with my Mom and friends.

I'll be sure and get to the new Stadium next year if I can.

But somehow, although I suspect it will be wonderful, somehow, I wonder if it won't be the same.

Yankee Stadium, on the surface, is old, crowded, behind the times in terms of stadiums. But it has something so many wonderful new ballparks - in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Seattle - don't have...

A palpable sense of history, so thick you can practically see it.

There's something magic about Yankee Stadium. There always will be, in my mind, even long after it's gone.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's been crazy

Sorry for the lack of postage. It's been sheer anarchy at work since pretty much before I left for the wedding/honeymoon, and it took a turn for the worse this week.

Plus, you know, the Business world is falling apart so I've been up to my eyeballs in work.

And did I mention Marisa's allergic reaction?

So, like Sarah Palin when her sister's getting a divorce, I've been a bit busy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

George Washington (Munkee) slept here...

On the honeymoon, we made it a practice to stay in bed & breakfasts as we traveled.

Today's honeymoon highlight reel involves "oh, the places you'll stay" - in case you're headed to the Pacific Northwest anytime soon and looking for a spot to rest your head and maybe get a good meal, too.

Portland's White House
Portland's White House is a historic mansion, which earned its name because it looks an awful lot like the White House... (you know, where Barack Obama is going to live...)

Owned by the elegant and personable Lanning Blanks, the inn features wonderfully decorated rooms (even if we stayed in the smallest one!) with a mix of traditional furnishings and modern amenities.

But the highlight is undoubtedly the breakfasts: We're talking gourmet meals here, complete with a full staff, amazingly fresh fruit, hot coffee and fresh juice. From berry pancakes that went so far beyond the norm to the tofu in miso gravy made especially to suit Marisa's vegan needs, every morning serving was more than a meal - it was an experience!

And one of the definite highlights of the trip was sharing a glass of champagne with Mr. Blanks - and his cute little white Scotty dog, Prescott - to celebrate our honeymoon!

Place We Didn't Stay No. 1:

The Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, best known as the location for the outdoor shots in Stanley Kubrick's version of "The Shining."

Greenlake Guest House
Located on Seattle's lovely Green Lake, Greenlake Guest House was a stark contrast to the White House, but equally delightful.

This B&B is a small, homey Craftsman house, remodeled by the McAfertys, a couple who are epitomize the word "friendly."

The rooms are highlighted by TV/DVD players - there's a collection of Oscar-winning films available to borrow - and delightful whirlpool bathtubs. Breakfast is a simple, tasty affair, cooked by Julie McAferty, and the couple spends plenty of time socializing with guests during and after the meal.

Watch for an appearance by Emma, an adorable beagle.

Place We Didn't Stay No. 2:

The Kennedy School in Portland, a converted school (duh!), which M - a teacher - found adorable, but I found thoroughly creepy and disconcerting, possibly because I'd just seen "Silent Hill," part of which takes place in an eerie abandoned school.

And possibly because, well, let's face it: old schools with old pictures on the wall are just plain creepy, no matter how touristy.

Buffalo Run Inn
We spent only one night at the Buffalo Run Inn, so about the only things I can share about this former roadhouse at the edge of North Cascades National Park are:

• Large, apartment-style rooms with a demi-kitchen.
• Meals at the restaurant across the street (highway!) were tasty.
• The rooms' animal themes range from cute (quilt) to disconcerting (fake bear head).

Alma Beach Manor
As the Alma Beach B&B wound up being closed for the season, the owners put us up instead at the Alma Beach Manor, in Vancouver's awesome Kitsilano neighborhood.

No breakfasts, though we enjoyed a tasty vegan/vegetarian meal at the 24-hour Naam restaurant just a stone's throw away.

The Manor was a nice change, since it's designed like a short-term apartment - loved that sectional! - complete with full kitchen, bathroom and a giant, window-filled living room. The bedroom was small, but functional, and the mirrored closet sliders reminded me of my old house in Hillsborough.

The location was the best asset, though, as we spent not one, but two nights walking the neighborhood full of shops, beaches and restaurants. It's an asset the nearby Alma Beach B&B undoubtedly shares.

Birds of a Feather B&B
Birds of a Feather was our final B&B of the journey, on a pretty lagoon outside Victoria. Owners Dieter Gerhard and Annette Moen are obvious nature lovers, and have the perfect site for their inn. Kayaks (zoinks!) and canoes are available to cruise the lagoon, and there's a Zodiac boat Gerhard will take you out in on a charter basis.

The room was huge and delightful, and every one of the three rooms has access to an outdoor patio of some kind. We only had one breakfast due to our travel schedule, but it was a tasty one.

An interesting contrast is how each place handles "customer service." The White House was like a hotel, the Guest House like part of the family, and at Birds of a Feather, the emphasis is on your privacy - probably appropriate since two of the three guest groups were honeymooning couples - and there is something marvelously quiet and serene about the place.

The canine residents were a pair of basset hounds, Emily and Montgomery.

Fairfield Inn Seattle Sea-Tac Airport
Okay, the last night of the trip was at a typical Fairfield Inn, an airport hotel that was crowded, noisy and offered a pedestrian, if complementary, continental breakfast.

But for a few bucks extra, we got a Jacuzzi room, for one last little relaxing highlight to end the trip.

In short, even though M was a little nervous because she'd never stayed in a bed & breakfast before, we both found the experience delightful, reasonably cost-effective, and the combination of the inns' unique qualities and the innkeepers' pleasant personalities ensured our honeymoon lodgings were far more memorable than even the most upscale hotel chain.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The liquid portion of our honeymoon

For those of you who may be disappointed I/we didn't keep a running diary of our honeymoon, well, hey, we were busy...

But that doesn't mean there won't be a highlight reel!

Let's start out with the beverage portion of the post-game:

Portland, Oregon, and environs:
Big Horse Brewing, Hood River (bought beer sampler; drank it)
BridgePort Ale House, Portland (bought beer sampler; drank it)

Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon:
Duck Pond Cellars (tasted; bought Gewurztraminer; drank it)
Erath Winery (tasted; bought nothing)
Torii Mor Winery (tasted; bought Chardonnay; drank it)
Domain Drouhin Oregon (tasted; bought pinot noir)

Cascade, Washington, area:
All three we passed were closed, except one where the attendant was asleep!

Vancouver, B.C.:
Granville Island Brewing (see above - bought beer sampler, seasonal raspberry wheat ale; drank both)

Victoria, B.C., area:
Chalet Estate Winery (tasted; bought pinot gris; drank it)
Marley Farm Winery (tasted; bought rhubarb fruit wine - er, drinking it now...)
Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse (tasted; bought Kings & Spies cider - drank it - and Pommeau cider aperitif)

Make sure you check out the Missus' blog for more highlights!

Meanwhile, more to come soon here, too!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back in action!

I'm back at home, a married man.

Check out the Missus' blog for photos and more information!

And watch for updates here soon...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Meet Bernard Fernard!

This is Bernard Fernard, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. He's the official Travel Munkee of the Ace/Marisa relationship.

Bernard first came into our lives during last year's trip to the Bay Area, when he followed us home from the Napa Valley.

He majored in tree climbing at a special Munkee school in Asia, then traveled as far as the West Coast, where he chased our rental car and jumped on top. We tried to convince him to stay with his friends in California, but he liked us so much, he followed us to the airport, where he snuck into M's bag after passing successfully through security.

Anyway, while Mookie J. Monkey, blog mascot, guards our house with Butterscotch Bear, Bernard will be accompanying us back to the West Coast.

So, if we get the chance to blog at all from the road, don't freak out if you see some pictures with Bernard Fernard sneaking into the corner.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A tag before the 11th hour

I've been tagged.

To quote my tagger, Ms. jin:

As always, I can't simply copy. I must put my own spin on it. I encourage those I tag at the end to do the same.

It started as "5 famous people you're allowed to sleep with."

Jin made it "5 famous Peeps and the Pastries I'd eat off of with them."

As I am a) getting married in a week; and b) a straight guy (the ladies focused on the studs, eh?), I'm going to put an even different spin on it.

"5 famous people I'd have as groomsmen"

(And unlike my real groomspeople, whom I love dearly, there are no women in this group, because let's face it, I can't be marrying my beloved while pondering Jessica Biel in a black dress.)

Ben Affleck, the movie star who has made some of the best cheesy action films despite some of the least talent in the world. Not since Ron Popeil has a man achieved so much primarily on the strength of good hair. Why him? Because he's just that damn smooth.

Michael Biehn, the baddest man on the planet and famed action star. Besides, it's the only way I'll see him in August, since I'm missing his appearance at Horrorfind. Why him? Didn't I just say he's the baddest man on the planet?

Harrison Ford, the legend, and my favorite actor of all time. Why him? Because he's Han Solo and Indiana Jones, for crying out loud!

Barry Melrose, the new coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the former coach of the Los Angeles Kings (where, in one of my favorite all time media guide covers, he posed with GM Nick Beverly at the corner of... Melrose Avenue and Beverly Drive) and one of the great hockey analysts. Why him? Well, he gives about a quarter of my guests someone to talk hockey with. Plus, he has a mullet.

Jim Plunkett (on the right), the two-time Super Bowl champion and my all-time favorite member of the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. Why him? Because he's famous. Because he's my favorite Raider. Because he owns a beer distributorship.

So, there you have it. Five famous folks I'd love to have grace my wedding, even if I've already spent way too much on it, and they're like $70 a plate.

Anyway, speaking of weddings, I'm too darn busy to chase anyone down and tag. So if you're marrying me, in my wedding, coming to my wedding, can't get enough of reading about my wedding or are sick and darn tired of hearing about my wedding, consider yourself tagged. I have a gift bag to stuff, or something.

By the way, anyone notice I found pictures of all five of my guys in suits?

Well, Miss Biel cleans up pretty nice, too:

Saturday, July 26, 2008

An open letter to...

... The folks sitting at my table at a recent wedding I attended...

I've got to hand it to you: I have never seen anyone ask for a doggie bag at a wedding before.

Much less one for each course.

Much less tell the waiters the people who'd left the wedding were still there, so you could wrap up their desserts.

I should've taken a picture. Then I could've put it in the dictionary under "tacky."

Let me repeat, for those whose jaws are slacked in disbelief (much like mine at the wedding):

• They got a box for their appetizers they didn't finish.

• They got a box for their main courses, too.

• They tossed in their desserts.

• Then lied, so more desserts would be brought to the table.

• Then tossed them into the boxes, too.

Well-dressed, slightly wrong side of middle-aged people.

Yeah, we on the other side of the table, we were snickering at you.

Although I'll say this: At my wedding, since we're picking up the tab, for the love of munkee, if you don't finish your food, get it boxed and take it home. Every crumb. To paraphrase the words of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, "We're paying for it. You eat it!"

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another movie I'll be shilling - Watch more free videos

Three words for you:




Oh, yeah, and a fourth:


That's right. The producers of "Ninjas Vs. Zombies" have cast yours truly... as himself.

Well, as a character that looks suspiciously like me, shares at least a last name, and lends some Asian flavor - plus a couple of funny faces - to some combat-training sequences.

That's right. Movie No. 2 under my belt. Let's hope my scenes don't end up on the cutting-room floor in this one.

Do I live through this blood-soaked romp? Well, you'll have to wait and see, now won't you?

If you're wondering, the director is Justin Timpane, the fabulous star of "Dead Hunt" and the subject of my very first post.

As they say in the news biz, further bulletins as events warrant.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bend it like bachelors...

I can die complete. I have seen Beckham play.

Yes, for my bachelor party, my best man and best friend took the lot of us to see the Red Bull N.Y. vs. L.A. Galaxy game up in the Meadowlands.

Terrific game, even if the Red Bulls choked at the end - one fan near us was so disgusted, he ripped off his jersey and flung it over the railing into the lower deck.

Donovan scored the game-tying goal in the 92nd minute/stoppage time, then rang one off the post in the 93rd and final minute.

Beckham bent a free kick in the first half that a member of the wall actually headed away.

Rojas, who signed Thursday, racked up two assists and whiffed on an open net on Saturday.

I heartily recommend MLS to any soccer fan and really, any sports fan looking for a good time.

We had a big ol' meat lunch, tailgated a bit - Cap'n'Coke and hot sun do not mix - took in the game, then tailgated some more. Then a bit of evening-type entertainment, and voila, my single, hedonistic days are at an end. We'll skip the gory details. Suffice it to say no one left unhappy or unentertained.

Ten days, 13.5 hours to the wedding.

More posts, as promised, to come.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Warn notice!

A "warn notice" is a business term involving a company making public upcoming facility closings and/or layoffs, due to a federal law.

Today, here, it's not so much one of those as just a catchy term (punning on the just-debuted for Season 2 Burn Notice?) to warn you that I've got some real posts coming.

When I have time. Which, 19 days to the wedding, isn't that often.

But, before too long, and hopefully before the wedding, you'll see:

• A post on the movie I am involved in.
• A survey I got tagged for.
• And a small rant on some people I encountered at a wedding recently.

Life on the Rim... it's fan-tastic!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The very definition of frustration

I had a dream last night.

In my dream, I came up with a pretty good little short story, or fragment thereof.

As I've said many times, I'm a very momentum-based writer.

The problem was, in my dream, I couldn't write the story down. No matter what I tried - pen and paper, getting a hold of a computer - I kept getting interrupted.

So there I was, roaming the streets, reciting this fragment rhythmically to myself. The whole thing was done, and I was reciting it over and over again.

Only, I never got the chance to set it down.

I was confounded by friends who couldn't lend me their computers, by reporters with questions for their copy editor, you name it.

Meanwhile, I could tell I was drifting closer and closer to waking up, and getting more and more desperate.

Of course, eventually, I woke up. And now I can't remember more than bits and pieces, the rhythmic sing-song of the piece. But not the actual words, nor in the right order.

As I drifted awake, Marisa said something - probably the time or something - and I distinctly remember muttering under my breath as I came awake, "Great, now she's talking to me."

It's sheer agony. I tried so hard - in my subconscious - to remember this piece, which I swear was genuinely full of potential, and of course I can't put it together now that I actually can sit in front of my computer, in relative peace, and write it down.

I want to scream at the top of my lungs, "Everybody just shut up and leave me alone!"

But, since I can't remember what I so badly wanted to write when everybody shut up and left me alone, I'm writing this instead.

And thinking of the eight hours I get to spend on the road today, alone in the peace and quiet, with this stupid little jaunty tune in my head, trying to remember the damn words.


Editor's note: I do have a few more blogs for you - haven't forgotten them in the recesses of my mind. Just been busy. Watch for them sooner or later. Probably later.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A random thought

I know, I've been very busy lately. It's crunch time in Wedding World.

But today, as we near our Independence Day, I had a sort of random thought, so I figured I'd share - tell me if you agree or think I'm a nut.

The other day at the office, I saw some book full of birthday wishes for George W. Bush - it was an "art" project, so the letters were from ordinary folks, some supportive, some not.

And I was just remembering back to how, when Dubya ran back in 2000, he and his supporters talked a lot about how he was a man of the people, a regular Joe, an everyman. The right man for the White House, evidently, after years of Clinton/Gore... I don't know what, snobbery, or what have you.

These days, it's been popular in the '08 race to call Barack Obama an "elitist." To claim he's out of touch with regular folks, or something.

Let me ask you: Do we really want eight more years of an "average" guy like Dubya running the country?

I don't know about you, but I really don't want, and never wanted, an "ordinary" man running the country.

I want an extraordinary man - or woman - in the White House.

President of the United States is not a job for the weak, or the dumb, or the foolish. For the average. Much less the below-average.

President of the United States is a job for a man - or woman - of intelligence, wisdom, education...

In short, the kind of person who's probably too smart to get into national politics.

But really. When did being part of the nation's elite - intellectually, charismatically, educationally - become a reason to disqualify someone from taking on what is probably the single most important job in the world?

(Outside of the head coaching job for the Oakland Raiders, of course.)

I'm thinking that disqualification probably occurred somewhere around the time, as one of those letter writers in the book put it, when lying about sex became worse than lying about war.

If not then, then definitely when, as Brad Whitford said on Bill Maher's show, getting shot in the ass three times in Vietnam became less manly than being a male cheerleader.

While I'm on a rare political rant, let me add one more topic:

No, it wasn't very politically savvy of Gen. Wesley Clark to question whether John McCain's service in Vietnam qualified him to be president or not.

But that doesn't mean he's wrong. (In fairness, doesn't mean he's right, either.)

McCain's courage is unquestionable. His service to his country is admirable. His survival of years as a POW is remarkable.

You all know how I feel about Vietnam veterans, and American troops in general.

But when we're debating what qualifies anyone to be the most powerful man in the world, besides owning the Oakland Raiders, anything should be opinion to discussion.

McCain was a combat aviator in time of war.

That single fact alone probably elevates his ability to lead the nation above 95% of the population.

But does it make him the single most qualified person? Not on its own. There are many men and women who have similar military qualifications.

McCain was a POW who never broke under years of strain.

That probably elevates his ability to lead the nation above 98% of the population.

But again, does it make him the single most qualified person? Not on its own.

Wesley Clark, if looked at in a non-soundbite way, has a valid point. Serving as a junior officer in a time of war does not necessarily, on its own, make you a leader of men.

It makes you a hero.

But not every hero is fit to be president. And it does the nation a disservice for anyone to wrap themselves in the flag as a platform unto itself.

To McCain's credit, I don't believe he's done that.

But the whole controversy is one more sign that the political process itself is a vicious cycle that often keeps us from putting the best candidates in the best position to succeed, often keeps us from focusing on the real issues rather than the soundbites, the substance rather than the style.

We'll never, to use a military slogan, be all we can be, as a nation, if people's instinct is to rant over one sentence in a paragraph worth of remarks, and react in a knee-jerk, partisan way, rather than holding an intelligent discourse on the issue.

All right, enough ranting for now. Talk amongst yourselves. Share your opinions in the comments. Maybe I'm wrong. But at least I've (hopefully) got you talking.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Time to play the Feud!

I just noticed, laying around the office, a screener DVD for Celebrity Family Feud.

This, I have a hard time picturing.

Or maybe not...

Insert wavy "flashback" lines here...

The setting: Family Feud set. The Hiltons are on the left. The Hogans are on the right. Richard Dawson hosts, of course.

Dawson: All right, now we go over to the Hilton family. The topic: Popular celebrity quotes. Paris?

Paris Hilton: Umm...

Dawson: Show me, "Umm..."!


Dawson: Number 5 answer! Now, let's go to the Hogans. The Hulkster... Give me a celebrity relative most likely to embezzle!

Hulk: Well, brother...

Dawson: Show me "Brother"!


Dawson: Number 1 answer!

A thousand remotes click over to re-runs of Are You Being Served?...

Friday, June 13, 2008

I could've used a shot. Or a gun.

Last night, during a bout of insomnia, I caught an episode of A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila.

I think my IQ dropped about 10 points.

Look, I friended her on MySpace. I'm a lemming.

But dear God, is that show a train wreck of the first order.

And that's from a guy who watches American Gladiators.

By the way, I realize she's a pinup queen, so I'm in the minority, and maybe it was just late at night, but for my money, Tila's not really as smokin' hot as I expected? Great bod, no doubt, but not that great a face?

And no, I'm not posting any pictures. Go Google them yourselves, perverts!

Do you know what day it is?

Happy Friday the 13th!

Hey, you didn't think I'd let the day pass without a little tribute to my favorite horror movie series,did you?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A quick survey

Stole this from jin.

A few clicks, and it's generally, depressingly, spot-on.

Your Five Factor Personality Profile


You have low extroversion.

You are quiet and reserved in most social situations.

A low key, laid back lifestyle is important to you.

You tend to bond slowly, over time, with one or two people.


You have low conscientiousness.

Impulsive and off the wall, you don't take life too seriously.

Unfortunately, you sometimes end up regretting your snap decisions.

Overall, you tend to lack focus, and it's difficult for you to get important things done.


You have low agreeableness.

Your self interest comes first, and others come later, if at all.

In general, you feel that people are not to be trusted.

And you're skeptical that anyone else really feels differently.


You have medium neuroticism.

You're generally cool and collected, but sometimes you do panic.

Little worries or problems can consume you, draining your energy.

Your life is pretty smooth, but there's a few emotional bumps you'd like to get rid of.

Openness to experience:

Your openness to new experiences is high.

In life, you tend to be an early adopter of all new things and ideas.

You'll try almost anything interesting, and you're constantly pushing your own limits.

A great connoisseir of art and beauty, you can find the positive side of almost anything.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Funny how real life intrudes...

I should be fairly delighted right now with hockey.

My latest Strat-O-Matic season in the Jack Adams Memorial Hockey League has faced off, which is always a thrill - you want proof I love it, I'll e-mail you the first annual East Coast Earthquakes media guide, all 3MB of it.

And this is my year - I've mortgaged two seasons' worth of the future in draft picks with a vow to make the playoffs this year (after two years out of the money) or bust.

The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, my two favorite hockey teams, made the conference finals, with the Pens going to the Stanley Cup finals (where they lost, but still...). You'd think that would psyche me up big-time.

But somehow, there's a shadow over my season.

For one thing, my buddy Philbert had to resign his post as coach of my division rivals, due to a new job and stuff.

That's bad enough, but we'll still keep in touch. In fact, the Earthquakes have already made him a job offer as associate head coach.

The weird thing is, what's really thrown me, is something that happened far away, to someone I don't know, who doesn't even play for my team.

A couple of weeks ago, Vancouver Canucks rookie Luc Bourdon, the team's first-round draft pick in 2005, got himself killed riding his motorcycle.

He was 21.

Why has this affected me so? Besides the obvious tragedy, of course; the odds are pretty good that a professional athlete dies every year. Very few have really bothered me, in the way this has. Maybe when Stacey Toran, the Los Angeles Raiders safety, died - he was the first player on my favorite team to die so young and tragically, that I was aware of. Since then, of course, I've been aware of many more.

But I guess here's what gets to the bottom of it: In my old league, the Federal Hockey League, I was the Vancouver Canucks team.

I resigned at the end of last year because, quite honestly, I couldn't keep up with two leagues, so I stayed with the Jack, where I'd been a member longer.

But for two years, I ran the tie-in Canucks team, and one of the fun parts was that you get a "territorial" pick, to choose the best rookie from your team before the draft.

Needless to say, I did a lot of scouting, particularly since in the Fed, you could draft "uncarded" players, anyone who'd played even a single NHL game. (In the Jack, you have to draft "carded" players, who have received a full card in the game.)

And, of course, one of those prospects for this season - remember, it's a simulation game, we're always a year behind reality - was, of course, Luc Bourdon, who made his debut in 2006-07, before playing his first full pro season in 2007-08.

In fact, in the draft I never got to run in the Fed, I was - as the coach of a distinctly lousy team; I never said I was good at this game, just that I love it - debating how to wind up with a trio of Canucks rookies of '06-07: Alex Edler, Patrick Coloumbe and Bourdon. If I territorialed the best of the three (Edler), I'd have to take the best prospect (Bourdon) with a "regular" pick and take a chance he'd still be there.

It was a tactic that worked well the last season, when I'd territorialed the guy who was the most immediate help (Alex Burrows) and drafted the guy I really wanted (Kevin Bieksa).

Meanwhile, in the Jack, where my team has a distinctly Vancouver flavor - I was on something of a quest to have similar teams, full of players I liked, in both leagues - I was figuring on Bourdon as a mid-round pick next year, because he didn't have much of a rookie season.

Remember when I said I'd traded away most of my future to make the playoffs this year? Well, that meant the mental debate whether or not Bourdon would be around when I got to pick in the third or fourth round, having traded my top two picks.

In essence, I'd been scouting this kid for two years, strategizing around how to draft him in two different leagues. Thinking of all the potential he had as a player.

It wasn't so much that he was by all accounts a leader and a great guy, it was that he seemed like such a great prospect all around, but one who was struggling to break into the NHL and therefore, someone to draft and follow, "groom" as it were, for a bigger role.

I love hockey. I love playing Strat because in its own way, it gives me my own team to obsess over. And I love the draft, and all the scouting and intrigue that comes with it.

I love following young players and watching them bloom.

But that's not really what's got me down. What's got me down is that this kid, so full of life, won't get the chance to bloom. At hockey, at anything.

I'm 33 years old, two months from getting married. I've got a lot on my mind.

But somehow, this kid, this great, beloved kid who I never knew, he's on my mind, too. It's hard to explain why, and it's hard to explain why without sounding selfish or silly ("waah, my fake team won't get to draft him"). But I guess it's a combination of three things: a) A fan's love of sport always gives him a kinship with the players he watches; b) He was just a kid, and had everything ahead of him...

And c) I guess, like anyone else in my position, I spend a lot of time thinking about the future, trying to imagine the joys ahead, and trying not to think of what disaster's around the corner.

Whatever it is, this tragedy has thrown me for a loop this season. My heart goes out to his friends, family and teammates.

Rest in peace, Luc. I just keep thinking I might draft you anyway. Like, if I do, I'll wake up and it was all a dream, and you'll still be that top prospect, taking the ice next fall, and none of this ever happened.

I wish I knew why I feel this way. But not as much as I wish you'd made that curve OK.

Luc Bourdon,

Monday, June 02, 2008

Eloquence and envy...

My old classmate Blakeslee has a song called "Opiates and Envy," but this is probably a little different.

This is a writer's lament.

Well, assuming it's fair after assorted journalistic endeavors, a college degree and a direct-to-DVD movie to call myself a writer.

Sometimes, as a reader, you hit a passage in a book or story that just sucks you in. Just insists you must, must read more.

Perhaps he scarcely cares for fame, though he will do his full duty. He has lost both wife and child and finds himself the last of his line. He goes on a difficult mission down the ridge of South Mountain, where he lacks adequate support, and he does not come back.

It's a wonderful feeling, if occasionally costly (in terms of tracking down, say, the full-length biographyof someone mentioned fairly briefly in another work).

This is Douglas S. Freeman, the famed Civil War historian.

His two claims to fame - besides Douglas S. Freeman High School and Freeman Hall at Richmond University, of course - are his seminal biography of Robert E. Leeand its follow-up, the magnificent Lee's Lieutenantsabout the Army of Northern Virginia's subordinate generals.

(Blatant off-topic mention: The University of Richmond, home of Freeman Hall, is also the alma mater of brand-new Oakland Raider Arman Shields.)

He is alloted a glorious day on Groveton Heights, and then he has a narrow escape at Sharpsburg. After that, at Fredericksburg, there is a wound, an affecting interview with Stonewall Jackson, and the long, long silence.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah, Lee's Lieutenants.

Let me tell you why I love this book, for more than just its fascinating history.

I love it for the writing. Not just the overall scholarship and eloquence, but for the little bits. The little moments, phrases, expressions that draw you in, as a reader, and make you - demand - you read more.

With them, under Jube Early, he goes to the Shenandoah Valley, and there, at a moment when he did not know the battle was lost, he leaves unanswered the question whether he would have realized fully his promise as a soldier.

Why the envy?

Well, obviously, as a writer... I hate this man. Well, not really. For one thing, he's dead. For another, it's not so much hatred as...


See, I often say that there are few things quite so pretentious and cutthroat as a college creative writing class. Of which, I might add, I survived more than a few, with the psychological scars to prove it.

But one thing I never quite got the hang of, was why writing need meaning. Could writing as entertainment not serve its own purpose? That being, of course, to entertain for entertainment's sake?

This, perhaps, is why my fiction so often got shredded in workshops. But the point is, my writing was often aimed at bringing out an emotion in my readers, something visceral and fundamental.

Be it fear, laughter, love, whatever.

As the army enters Pennsylvania, this new major general tries to relieve the concern of his young wife that the Lord will not bless the Southern cause if the Confederacy does more than defend its own territory. He knows, as a trained soldier, that a whole-hearted offensive often is the most prudent defensive. The campaign must be fought. So run his letters. Then, abruptly, they stop.

And one of the best ways to do that, I've found, is an eloquent turn of phrase. You can capture a character in an action novel in a well-crafted paragraph, and make you care in that moment whether this man or woman lives or dies over the course of the next 500 pages.

It's one of the reasons Ice Stationis my favorite action-fiction novel. Matt Reilly makes you care about his characters, even as he blows them away a few pages later. A quick phrase, a paragraph, even a short chapter, and you want to see one soldier survive even as another dies.

Freeman's work, though historical nonfiction, has that essence. That way of catching your eye, exciting your mind, making your heart race just a little faster.

Ramseur has the promise of something dearer than military distinction. One day, when a battle is in prospect, he hears that the crisis is past and that the baby is born. More than that he never learns.

Remember Starship Troopers when that voiceover keeps asking, "Would you like to know more?"

That's what a great phrase is, that voiceover that makes the answer "yes."

Freeman does it over and over again in Lee's Lieutenants.

And yes, as a writer slogging through Novel No. 1, I'm jealous. In so many ways.

Editor's note: If you're curious, every one of these quotes was from the introduction of the Dramatis Personae that opens the book. That's right... they're not even from the meaty part. The descripions are of, in order:

• Samuel Garland, killed at South Mountain
• Maxcy Gregg, mortally wounded at Fredericksburg
Robert Rodes, killed at Third Winchester
William Dorsey Pender, mortally wounded at Gettysburg
Stephen Dodson Ramseur, mortally wounded at Cedar Creek