Saturday, July 25, 2009
All the President's Men
Gee whiz I love this movie. Total time warp (typewriters, payphones, pencils!).
Fanny and Alexander
We weren't sure what to expect with this one, and we both loved it to death. Weird.
This was my wife's choice. The music had me cackling myself to sleep (I passed out about 20 minutes in), with shit like "too much rejection... no love injection".
An Angel at My Table
Another great one that I've seen at least four times (!). First time I saw it I was coming down from a heavy acid trip and I nearly lost my mind. Not "lost my mind" tripping-style but "lost my mind" depression/guilt-style. Then I went to bed and everything was fine again.
Had some funny stuff but suffers from a super-low ratio of funny to not funny. When every line of a movie is a joke, they better be pretty damn funny (This is Spinal Tap, etc.).
Creepy and entertaining. We decided it wasn't appropriate for Lee Jr. after about 3 minutes (I even wondered if it was appropriate for Lee Sr.) and watched it after he went to bed, I believe.
The Fast Runner
I'm sure I've written about this one before. I wish we lived in a country where this film was required viewing in order to be a citizen. That would be so cool!
Didn't hold up as well as I'd hoped, but still funny as hell. I'm working on a theory that Michael Keaton's character here was among (if not the) first of the goofy-pop-culture-product-big-mouth-everyman protagonists in film history, along with Eddie Murphy's Reggie Hammond (not quite the same but same effect). We've seen so many of these kinds of performances by now that the movie's irreparably dated and damaged (although 48 Hrs. avoids this via Murphy>Keaton, Nolte>Winkler, and other film corollaries I'd rather not get into here).
Another Campion work... I'm pretty sure we watched this one but I have absolutely no recollection of it whatsoever. Netflix info indicates lots of nudity, which I also don't recall. Not sure what happened here.
Don't think we made it through this one. We banked on a laugh riot and got shut down by the cops... I hated it even more than the other times I saw it. Val's pretty darn good, but the whole thing's pointless. "Nico" is hilarious in a soft-porn portrayal by Christina Fulton (?), whose resume reveals other drivel like Red Shoe Diaries and Real Stories of the Donut Men.
My favorite rental in recent memory. I'm working on a proposal to send to my buddies at Yankee Stadium... they MUST show Randy's ring speech before his rematch with The Ayatollah as a new Rocky/Hoosiers/Animal House 9th inning scoreboard rally video!!! No closer would ever register a save against us in the Bronx again. Ever.
The Dark Knight
Returned unwatched after three months and eight days. This is the kind of movie that cannot be enjoyed properly with a little one in the house, as high volume is a must. I knew I shoulda saw it on IMAX while I had the chance.
Rachel Getting Married
Jury's still out on this one, but it's looking like guilty by reason of pretension. I loved it at times, but the idea of an impossibly multicultural and totally unconventional wedding in the middle of nowhere with more dysfunctional relationships than... wait a second, I went to a wedding just like this! Actually, a few of them!
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Charlie Simone made the trip down to the city for a nice weekend with the Mazzolas. We're still recovering from an exhausting vacation "down South". Despite an invitation to a fun, fun party out in Brooklyn, we decided to stay in for a nice night of burgers, Bud cans and baseball trivia.
We should've been reasonably well-rested for Saturday afternoon's Yanks-Tigers game. I got up at about 6:30 in anticipation of LJ's waking, and tried to squeeze in some computer time and general straightening up. The boy was up at 7:00, so we hung out and ate breakfast while Chuck and the Mz got a few extra hours of sleep.
Charles and I took LJ out to the park from about 9:30 to 11:30, giving my wife some valuable work time. Finding time to work out of your home with a little kid around ain't easy, and requires creative but strict scheduling. We're still learning how to do this at the Mazzola household.
So we had a lovely time watching LJ swing and bang and stumble around the park in what felt like high 80's in the sun. I was getting pretty beat already, and we were still two hours from first pitch. We got the boy home safely, and made our way up to the stadium.
As you well know, my new Saturday seats are way the fuck up in the Grandstand section. Not bad, but way the fuck up. I've been taking steps (or less steps) to make sure I'm not climbing up and down the upper deck every ten minutes, and one way to do this is to sit in other people's seats. I've always hated doing this, but you do whatcha gotta do, right? We sat in the same 2nd or 3rd row seats of my section that Gritt and I used in my last game (the one where I burned the shit out of myself). We even had sunblock this time, but were immediatedly booted out of the seats by a couple of Tigers fans. We looked around and didn't see many open areas of seats, and trudged up to our proper seats in lower Kathmandu.
It's nice and cool up there (in Kathmandu), but kind of a pain in the ass. We're right in the middle of an aisle (kinda like being stuck between China and India), so it's always awkward to run down and get beer, food, bathroom, etc. You know the drill. So you end up in sort of extreme states of being: thirsty, hungry, too much beer, too many cardboard/plastic containers, gotta piss, etc. (kinda like climbing Mt. Everest without all the equipment).
The game itself was pretty great. Coney threw out the first pitch to Joe Girardi in commemoration of his perfect game ten years ago. Could CC Sabathia duplicate Cone's historic feat today?
Not with me in the building. It wasn't pretty, but CC did a fine job stymieing the Detroit offense. Verlander completely shut us down (with the exception of Jeter) until later in the game when A-Rod kinda blooped a weird home run to right (called a "timely tater" by the Yanks site). A borderline cheapo run gave us a 2-1 win, complete with save by Mariano.
We spent most of our time drinking Guinness and sorting out unfinished trivia questions, like "Who says 'Subdivisions...' in the song "Subdivisions"? I immediately answered "Neil Peart" (apparently incorrect) and the rest of us went with "Alex Lifeson" (probably incorrect as well). Thanks to AP and Frank Rose for the correct answer. Our other questions included players who won multiple MVPs at different positions, and teams whose names could effectively be used as slang for women's breasts. It was a day of rich discussion.
As always, the beer sales were cut off at precisely the end of the 7th inning. I think we're only beginning to understand the supernatural powers of the new Yankee Stadium, because my bladder's ability to evacuate waste was also shut down at this exact moment. Very interesting timing.
To make a long story short, Simone and I hopped in a car service from River Ave to in hopes of getting home in time to help out with LJs nightly routines. I had to piss so fucking bad in the car that I devised emergency plans every time we stopped at a light. Not "excuse me, can we make a quick stop at this Starbucks up here" but simply jumping out of the car and peeing on the curb. The pain was so great that I knew I wouldn't be able to walk reasonably, let alone stand on a damn bathroom line. I buckled down and just waited for home.
The car pulled over across the street, and Chuck helped me across the four-lane drive to my apartment. I couldn't walk at all, and I actually fell on the ground in front of an oncoming car. We looked like a scene recreation from The Deer Hunter, except we were wearing Yankee hats instead of torn bandanas. I commanded Chuck to just dump me into the stairwell in front of my building, where I could theoretically piss in a drainage grate while Chuck ran around and let me in from inside. The rivers still weren't flowing, so I writhed in agony and waited. We finally got into my place and I hunkered down in the bathroom for what seemed like hours, doubled over in agony.
A conference between the Mz and my doctor(s) produced a plan that would circumvent the bureaucratic hell of an emergency room (thank Jesus!), involving a cab crosstown (us) and a duck-out from hospital rounds to personal office (my doctor, on a Saturday, mind you). This is why my specialist is the best fucking doctor in New York at what he does-- he always puts his patients first.
Meanwhile, Charles is putting LJ to bed back home. I'm happy to report that he did an absolutely stellar job. Jr already likes Chuck, so we never expected anything less. I don't think a Purple Heart would really be appropriate for Simone's clutch performance(s) after the game, but maybe a Purple Spoon might make more sense.
I mewled in quiet agony for the surprisingly quick car trip to the east side, and staggered into the office and onto a medical table for the covert procedure (I almost felt like DeNiro in Ronin). There's little you can do as a patient to prepare for certain invasive medical procedures, so why try? I couldn't watch the whole catheter performance from my lousy view, but I bet it was kinda funny: me trying not to come off as a complete pussy, while my wife helped with clamping or elevating or whatever she had to do while my doctor siphoned almost two liters of wawa out through my weewee. The relief was instantaneous and beautiful on my end; I can't speak for the "beauty" witnessed by Mz and doc.
I was immediately hooked up to an IV mega-steroid drip, probably much like the one that revitalized Big Papi's offensive production this June. Pretty soon I was joking around with my wife, actually drinking water, and hooking monster home runs into right field at Fenway.
Probably gonna skip our next game against the A's so I can rest up for the next August game. By then I should be able to piss all over whatever I want, whenever I want. Bring on the Red Sox!!!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
My bug bite problems continued, however. Driving over to Corky's BBQ I was cluster stung by mosquitoes (or maybe a single mosquito?) on my left and right knees. I also discovered a double bite on my left wrist, which looks a lot like some of the "fang" style spider bites I read about on line. I really don't think I was bit by a black widow spider, but if you don't see any posts for two weeks, you might want to look into my situation.
We were ready to leave this morning by 6:00 to catch our 8:24 departure for LGA. Too bad we were in the middle of an insane electrical storm. Like, Donna fucking Deluge level. We said fuckit and jumped into the car at exactly 6:30am. LJ got about 40% soaked in our five-second dash to the car, Mz about 70%, and I weighed in at around 95%. We were ready to come home.
The drive to the airport was harrowing. I clutched the wheel white-knuckle style and stared out the windshield like Ray Liotta in Goodfellas. It didn't help that every damn road was called Walnut Hill or Walnut Shrove or Walnut whatever (I muttered "walnut brains" as we drove off at 6:31). We missed the turn-off for rental returns, as I'm sure thousands before us have, and pulled in to Avis relatively on time. We had some help moving our shit into the shuttle bus and shuttled away.
We got to Memphis Int'l in a full-on downpour. Mz handled LJ as I "handled" our bags and his enormous carseat. The driver grabbed a few of our things and put them near a wall where they'd be "drier". Drier than what? Underwater? I dragged three soaked bags, a plastic suitcase, a chair and my own sorry ass into the airport.
My socks and sneakers were completely soaked, and I was freezing my ass off. We got on line for the dumb-ass kiosks and got checked in, avoiding small talk with an idiot on line behind us ("you guys got wet, huh?") All told, we made it on the plane OK.
Our luck was about to change for the better. We sat in the front row of the regular class (bulkhead?) with lots of room in front of us. The seat next to us was a no-show, so we had plenty of room for LJ to cavort and wiggle around. Mz actually got to sneak in a rare nap while me and the boy watched a Thomas the Tank Engine DVD on our laptop (with George Carlin narrating!). It was the best flight we ever had with Jr, even though we were starving and freezing our shunts off. The guy in first class in front of us said he was the best behaved kid he'd ever seen on a plane. I thanked him and got as far away from the guy as possible.
Pretty smooth getting back from LGA too. A fair-to-middling cab driver (one of those 126th St types) did a fair-to-middling job and we made it home in one piece. My wife whisked the boy to safety as I dealt with the family of luggage one last time. He got a fair-to-middling tip.
I humped the shit up to the apartment and walked right into a horrified looking Mz outside the elevator. I feared the worst-- did water leak in through the A/C and destroy my Bronx is Burning DVD box set?"There are swarms of giant flies in the living room," my wife reported. "They might be in some other rooms, too."
I secretly chuckled. This is the kind of "problem" we love to face coming home from vacation. I grabbed a couple of junk-zines from the mail pile and asked, "Is that it?" out of the side of my mouth (I would shriek in terror about 10 minutes later when I discovered we were out of Diet Mountain Dew, but at this point I was feeling pretty solid).
Maybe I was still creeped out by my bug troubles down south, but I had a rougher time with these giant flies than I'd like to admit. I quickly killed about three with a Crate & Barrel catalog, and then realized that opening the living room window might be a better, kinder solution. I opened the window and was promptly met with a gust of sand-wind in the face. They're blasting the facade next door! That's what those guys are doing out there!
I left a few fly corpses out on the floor (these things are seriously fucking big!) to serve as warnings to the rest of the offenders. I would've mounted their heads on toothpicks and arranged them on the couch, but I just didn't have that kind of energy. Plus, the survivors seemed emboldened by the deaths of their comrades and were re-organizing in the kitchen. Pretty soon I was hacking away like a crazed lunatic, swinging at anything that moved. The bloodlust was so overpowering that I took a swat at an innocent USB flash drive on my desk and nearly fainted. Check out the bloodstained circular flyer pictured at right.
I bailed out and settled on the "trap them between the outside and inside windows and let them fly around for two days until they die" strategy that we usually reserve for more dangerous critters like wasps and hungover house guests. I knew we should've kept those darn cats of ours.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I missed my very first exit off of 40 about 20 minutes into the trip. Not a big deal, but missing the first exit always seems to cast a pall on a road trip. There were McD-style stops at every exit, so I wasn't real worried about finding a good place to make our first stop.
We didn't see a whole lot for quite a while. The speed limit kept getting lower, and so did the quality of our roadside options. When you're travelling with a toddler, shit like "Jimbo's Good Eats" just doesn't have the same appeal as it might on other road trips. We wanted cookie-cutter corporate chain stops with paved parking lots, diaper decks and whole fucking milk.
We began seeing little town signs with even littler populations (<1000).>
- a large sign with a grotesque caricature of President Obama in a turban, titled "Barack HUSSEIN Obama", followed by a list of things we can expect more of (abortion, same-sex marriages, gun control, taxes). [does anyone really think that gay marriage could possibly be correlated with a rise in abortions?]
- a store called "Lazy Lee's" featuring a Subway counter and at least 15 men smoking their brains out while eating $5 foot-longs. I had to whisk Jr out of there after about 4 seconds.
- a gas station called "Rebel Gas" completely covered with confederate flags and horrifying slogans.
I took an uncalculated risk and decided to boycott Rebel Gas, even though we had about 1/16 of a tank left (if you know me, you know I never go below even a quarter tank). As I proclaimed my refusal, my wife darted into Rebel Gas to buy milk for the boy. Dozens of nightmarish visions flew through my mind, some involving white hoods and others involving my Giants tee I was unfortunately wearing. I didn't even snap a picture of the insane storefront for fear of lynching, and tried not to spin my tires on the gravel as we fled.
Things started getting better real soon. We hit roads called Bill Virdon Blvd and Preacher Roe Expwy and we just felt plain safe (Lou Brock Lane woulda helped even more, but...). I didn't pay much attention to the throbbing itch on my right forearm as we pulled in to my brother-in-law's driveway after about a six hour drive.
Our nieces were in some sort of gymnastics exhibition ten minutes after we arrived, so I let the rest of the clan go ahead and stayed back with Jr. They had a rec-room-style area in the basement with cool seats on the floor, and we chilled like pills.
The lump on my arm had swollen to about an inch's hemispherical radius. My first thought was "bee sting" but I soon progressed to "scorpion sting" and "snake bite". It honestly didn't hurt that much, but looked like something out of a Cronenberg flick. Five days later and it's just starting to look normal. Probably a weird spider bite, but who knows?
Oh yeah, we watched a hilarious DVD. Taken is the story of a superhuman ex-spy trying to rescue his enslaved daughter. Except, er, it stars Liam Neeson. Never before has Neezy fit his "poor man's Harrison Ford" title than here. It's too absurd to even discuss here, but it did inspire me to compile a quick Top 5 Liam Neeson roles list:
1. Peyton Westlake, Darkman
2. Michael Gates, Husbands and Wives
3. Capt. Mikhail Polenin, K-19: The Widowmaker
4. Dr. Jerry Lovell, Nell
5. Oskar Schindler, Schindler's List
(apparently Abraham Lincoln, "Hannibal" from the A-Team, and Zeus are among his upcoming characters for 2009-2010)
We had fun in MO with good cookouts, Chuck E Cheese, and crappy baseball (Yanks 0-3 and completely inept Cards-Cubs and Sox-Royals games on TV). Our drive back to Memphis was uneventful (we took a bypass road around the Rebel Gas town) except for a hilarious bonus on our way out of Springfield. We hit an insanely crowded McDonald's drive-thru (two lanes!) for two breakfast sandwiches. I pulled up to pay and was told by two wholesome blond girls that "the last customer paid for y'all's breakfast." I quizzically asked, "Like, by accident?" and they replied, "Well, some people just pay for the next customer as a nice thing to do" and gave a couple of nice smiles. I gave a nice smile right back and drove off with our Mcsandwiches.
(click for part 3)
Monday, July 13, 2009
I've had internet access a few times on the trip, and maybe had a free moment here and there, but rarely both at the same time. My twenty minutes at my brother-in-law's were spent updating the damn baseball pool and then I was whisked off to Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World (there's something hilarious about parking your car and walking into a mall to see "Outdoor World"), so posts just haven't been possible.
We flew to Memphis from LGA without much ado, except Lee Jr's caterwauling during his mid-flight diaper change. Flying with an 18-month-old is quite an experience.
We arrived, exhausted, and shlepped our shit to the Avis shuttle bus. It was goddamn 98 degrees. Since we had five huge "bags" (if you include a 30-pound car seat as a bag) and a toddler, we fell behind in the race from the bus to the check-in counter. We were last out of six customers.
The Avis location was beautiful, and had seven employees on staff to handle the line for rentals. Five of the seven were standing in the middle of the lobby watching the Michael Jackson tribute, and another guy was standing outside. That left one barely competent girl behind the counter. I scowled at the lazing red-shirted Avis "workers" as they stared up at a 75 degree angle at the mounted TV set. John Mayer came on and started jazz-juking his way through "Human Nature" as one of the Avis girls shouted, "Hey, ain't that John Mellencamp?!" I fantasized about ratting out the entire staff on my cell phone, but I kept my cool.
All was forgotten when our gorgeous champagne Grand Marquis appeared right in front of our bags, engine and A/C running. I squirmed in my seat and tried to adjust the steering wheel to a functional position-- apparently Marc Gasol is parking cars for Avis this summer. I felt around the side of the seat and depressed anything that felt like a button facing forward. In seconds I was howling in agony, as I protruded the lumbar support mechanism to its maximum jut. Imagine trying to drive a car with a fully inflated innertube around your waist.
Memphis was lotsa fun. We stayed at the distinguished Peabody for a few nights, which kicked ass. The St. Louis Cardinals AAA team plays right across the street, so I checked out a Redbirds-Isotopes game on our last night in town. I was coming from a cookout at our friends' place, so we were a bit late to the game. They weren't even selling beer when we sprinted in at the top of the 8th. I did get to see "Downtown" Dee Brown smack a home run to right before the game ended. Great little stadium.
We left for SW Missouri the next morning, which we'll pick up in part 2...
Sunday, July 5, 2009
I had high hopes for the event, as "festivities" were planned in honor of Lou Gehrig and general awareness about ALS. I was stoned out of my mind at a game seven years ago when James Gandolfini read the "luckiest man" speech before the first pitch. A surreal moment, to say the least. Who would they pick to deliver the speech this year? My money was on Mike Francesa, while Grit was rooting for Joe Pesci. I had Chazz Palminteri as a dark, dark horse.
All for naught, as the speech was hacked to bits by members of the Yanks on the scoreboard. True Yankees like Nick Swisher got to pay their tributes to the Iron Horse in what seemed more like a promotional spot than a heartfelt reading. I guess I shouldn't complain, but...
Then it got a lot more uncomfortable. They did a little piece on a guy who actually has ALS, and then wheeled him out to throw the first pitch. Pretty moving, but then they had to announced that he would be pitching underhand because of the devastating effects of his disease. Were they afraid we'd boo the freaking guy?! Maybe at a Knicks game, but not in the Stadium!
While I'm at it, apparently we've installed the world's most expensive video screen so fans can see a transciption of the lyrics to the Outfield's "Your Love" while we try to enjoy a baseball game.
Pretty mellow game, at least until the end. Most of the drama was supplied by a poor mom dropping her tray of fries right in the entrance to our section, splashing ketchup all over the stairs. Her white pants didn't help the situation. Happy to report that the Stadium's crack staff was right on detail, mopping up the red mess within minutes of the accident. They also made sure to warn oncoming foot traffic about the messy area.This might be the best thing about our new Bronx digs- the support services. I've had nothing but the best experiences with strollers, beer, bathrooms, you name it! Even the dumb ones do everything with such aplomb! Some lovely lady even took me and Grit's picture while we were standing around drinking beer, and gave us a card with a link to the photo! On top of that, we've been offered the option to purchase prints, engraved fridge magnets and other pieces bearing our collective likeness for prices ranging from $14.99 to $349.99! Let's go Yankees!!!
We had our usual rock critic back-and-forth during the middle innings, this time fueled by a Classic Albums installment featuring Lou Reed's Transformer. Remember Rolling Stones "Top 100 Albums" list from '87? Well, we sure do. That was good for a solid 30 minutes of rock-wank. Great fun.
Anyway, we ended up with our second walk-off Saturday game together- 2 for 2 on the year. Maybe we'll make one more trip together near the end of the season for one of the Sox games... Reverse the Curse!!!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
MLB PLAYERS WHO SLEPT WITH MADONNA:
10.Jay Gibbons (that's impressive!)
13.Jason Giambi (drunk, no doubt)
16.Aaron Boone (partying after game 7 '93 ALCS)
19.Roger Clemens (threesome)
28.Jose Lima (wow!)
37.Eric Byrnes (in ESPN dressing room)
42.Mike Cameron (four times!)
49.Francisco Rodriguez (fist pump?)
51.Alex Rodriguez (duh!)
52.Juan Gonzalez (ouch!)
53.Rafael Palmeiro (finger wave?)
67.Roberto Alomar (spit?)
82.Kris Benson (threesome?? please??!!)
83.Richie Sexson (ouch!)
85.Valerio de los Santos
88.Barry Bonds (never proven)
89.Andres Galarraga (aw jeez...)
94.Paul Lo Duca
98.Eric Gagne (lotsa times in a row!)
100.Luis Gonzalez (argghhhh...)
104.Jose Canseco (duh!)