Welcome to our web site. For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out artbystephie.com.
For Matt's writing projects, please go to storiesbymatt.net. Enjoy your visit here!

12/30/04: If you have Comcast Sportsnet Chicago on your cable (ours is channel 37) and you're home this Saturday morning (1/1) at 10:30am, you can see our cousin Frank on the premiere episode of his own fishing TV show "Time on the Water". Learn about fishing from one of the best!
      But Frank, where's the accompanying web site?

12/25/04: We hope everyone has a happy and safe Christmas holiday. (And click the picture to get a better look at our nativity set!)
      By the way, the painting behind the set is not one of Stephie's. It was done for us a while back by our friend Diane, of Banana project and Frog Listening fame. Don't you think it makes a perfect backdrop to the nativity? Thanks again, Diane!

12/22/04: As crude, vulgar and over-the-top the Father of the Pride can be, I still think parts of it are really funny.
    And if they made action figures of Siegfried and Roy as they are in that show, I'd buy them in a heartbeat!

12/21/04: Happy Birthday, Frank Zappa!

12/12/04: Earlier today, I finished reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Several months ago, a consultant at work was speaking very highly of the book when it somehow came up in conversation. I mentioned that I had it but was a little intimidated by an 1100-page paperback with tiny print, but he assured me it read fairly quickly. He went on to say that the book really influenced the way he looks at the things, particularly politics (this was before the recent election.)
  So I thought I'd give it a try. I'm not the fastest reader, and I typically only read before going to bed, which means I'm sometimes too tired to go more than a couple pages, but the book is a classic, and the guy in the office said it was a pretty good read.
  Anyway, several months later, and a lot of holding my eyelids open, and I'm done. All I can say is: Atlas Shrugged. And so did I.

11/28/04: We've been pretty busy lately, between projects and holidays and the new TV season, and I'm a little behind in updating the site. I have pictures of Stephanie's new painting, but I need to have her check them out to make sure the colors are true. In the meantime, we have some new Kisu pictures here for your browsing enjoyment. They are from her birthday back in September, which gives you some idea of how far behind on things I am.

11/11/04: I found this link on Mark Evanier's site. I wish I had found it last week, as it may have made me feel better.
(By the way, I'm referring to the entry, not necessarily the responses below it.)

11/02/04: It's Election Day! You know what they used to say in Chicago: Vote Early, Vote Often.

10/20/04: I was kind of bummed this week when I discovered that I couldn't find the Virtual Theremin on the Internet. Sure, I found the one that works with a webcam, and a shareware one that's mouse controlled, but I wanted the one where you actually control Leon Theremin's arms that I had downloaded at work a while back, as pictured here.
      Fortunately, I still have my old PC under my desk, and I was able to grab it and install it at home. It was only then that it was clear why it had all but vanished from the 'net. The guys that developed it (for the BBC) wrote it in Shockwave 8, and for some reason it doesn't work under the latest version of Shockwave, and to add insult to injury, older versions are not available at Macromedia's site!
      But you're in luck! If you have Shockwave 8 on your system, you can download the Windows version of the Virtual Theremin in a ZIP file here. And if you don't have Shockwave at all on your system, you can get version 8 here. Just keep in mind that it's not the latest-and-greatest version, but the latest-and-greatest won't run the Virtual Theremin, so how great can it be?

      Good news this week, though, is that we have a couple new pieces of art by Stephanie on her art page, which you can get to by clicking here.

10/05/04: Chalk it up to the power of childhood memories: I was heading out to do some errands the other day, and my first stop was Walgreen's. I picked up what I needed there, and on my way to the checkout, I figured I'd get a candy bar to sustain me on the rest of my tasks.
      I don't buy a lot of candy, but when I do, I usually gravitate towards peanut-type bars, like Snickers or Payday. But when I was scanning the rack before making my choice, one bar caught my eye. I know that there has been Wonka-oriented candy for a while, but this was the first time I remember seeing a Wonka Bar. But it wasn't the name that grabbed me. As you can see from the picture on this page, this Wonka Bar MIGHT JUST CONTAIN A GOLDEN TICKET! (You can click the picture for a better view.)
      I had that baby in my hot little hands before I knew what was happening. I had visions of peeling the wrapping back and seeing that gold leaf reflect the sun, just like in the movie. I was so excited that I had my stuff bought and was sitting in the car before thinking a) I don't even know what kind of a candy bar a Wonka Bar is, and b) I don't know what I would be winning if I had the Golden Ticket!
      Of course, I didn't win, but the bar was pretty good. And for a moment on a Saturday afternoon, I felt like I was Charlie!

09/27/04: Stephie and I just got back from Indianapolis, where we saw her beloved Packers lose to the Payton Manning and the Colts. We didn't mind the loss so much, because it was a really great game, the city was great, and the Colts fans were really tolerant of the thousands of Packer fans that made the trip to see the game. We did hear of an incident in the men's room between a Packer fan and a Colts fan, but we didn't even see any pushing and shoving. It was a great time.

One thing that was funny, though, was that since this was the home opener, they were handing out these big blue foam horseshoes to everyone attending the game, a picture of which should be on this page. Some people wore it around their neck like a collar, some on their head, but more people than probably they intended wore it elsewhere. You can probably figure it out from the shape, but suffice it to say that the hard aluminum bench didn't seem that hard to a lot of fans. (And I don't mean just Packer fans!)

09/14/04: We're looking forward to going to see our neighbor Kevin's band, Johnny Justice & the Southside Railroad this Saturday, September 18th, at Hedgehogs in Stickney. Stephie saw them the last time they were there, and she said they ROCKED! You owe it to yourself to see them.

08/31/04: Happy Birthday, Moms! Matt's Mom (on the right) celebrates her birthday today, and Stephie's Mom (on the left) celebrated her birthday last week, on August 26th. We love you both.

Actually, between them, Rose (8/28), Matt (8/30), and Judy (9/2), there's lots of birthdays to celebrate around this time of year. And plenty of opportunities for CAKE!

08/26/04: According to the web site I check each day for trivia to put on my voice mail greeting at work, today is the birthday of French ballooning pioneer Joseph Montgolfier's birthday. How did I know who Joseph Montgolfier was?

Because I remember there was a Monty Python skit called "The Golden Age of Ballooning", featuring the Montgolfier brothers.

Knowledge sometimes comes from strange places.

08/17/04: Those of you who have known us for any length of time probably know that Stephie and I went to the Olympics in Atlanta in '96. We got there the morning of the Opening Ceremonies, which we attended, and left the day of the Closing Ceremonies, which we have on tape and haven't quite gotten around to watching yet. In between, we saw almost an event a day. (And no, we weren't around for the bomb. We were in Tennessee that day, visiting friends.) While we weren't able to get tickets to any swimming or gymnastics events, we did see a lot of competition that doesn't get a lot of broadcast time, like fencing or team handball. And it was great!
I was looking through the TV listings for what will be on TV for this years' Olympics, and I see that MSNBC in particular is scheduled to show a lot of those "other" sports that got virtually no coverage during the Sydney games. Before we went to Atlanta, my idea of the Summer Games was pretty much track & field, swimming, diving, and weightlifting. I mean, if not for Rulon Gardner beating the supposedly unbeatable Russian, would you even know that they had Greco-Roman Wrestling?
So while the evening coverage is all over the gymnastics, the pool events and the track stuff, I suggest tuning into some of the other, lesser-known events. After all, Stephie and I saw the women's soccer team win the gold in Atlanta, but the field hockey match we attended was just as exciting, with the participants playing just as hard as in any other event. I also recommend tuning in to team handball, which was a little bizarre to watch but no less exciting, and fencing, in which I hear on the radio that there's a chance for a US medal.

08/16/04: Chris, I took down the scans I posted last week. If you need them again, let me know

08/04/04: Stephanie has won an Honorable Mention ribbon in the August show at the LaGrange Art League. Click here to see her latest award-winning piece! And remember, you can click on the picture for a much larger view.

07/31/04: Two articles in the latest issue of Comics Buyer's Guide are about the passing of a couple of people that I had been a fan of many years ago, but haven't really thought about much lately. For some reason, I'm feeling a little guilty about that.

First I read that Kate Worley passed away June 6th. She was best known as the writer of Omaha, The Cat Dancer, an adults-only comic book that Stephanie and I were big fans of. I don't remember how she started reading it (possibly by reading Chris' copies) but I know it was early in our relationship. It was one of the first (and few) titles that Stephie really read and enjoyed, and I think we grew a lot closer because I was able to share my interest in comics with her.
The book came out fairly regularly for several years, but then the time between issues seemed to be growing, and it eventually stopped. There was a time when Reed Waller, Kate's then-husband and collaborator, had been diagnosed with cancer, which put the book on hiatus. In fact, we met them at a convention shortly after a couple benefit comics were put out, and he was recovered enough to travel and to resume working on the comic. They signed some comics and were very friendly to the fans waiting to see them.
We lost track of the book, and now I read that they had a rather acrimonious breakup years ago, and only recently started talking again. The article in last month's CBG said that they had started work on some new material to try to conclude the Omaha story when her cancer, that they thought was gone, had come back. It was a little shocking to read that she was resuming therapy, then putting her name in Google and seeing all the death notices. As I said, I hadn't thought about her, or Omaha for that matter, in years, and for some reason I feel bad about that.

Then, the next article says that Rex Miller passed away on May 21. My first contact with Rex Miller was through an ad in CBG, when he was dealing collectibles under the business name of "Rex Miller Supermantiques". I can't remember if I sent away for his catalog, or placed an order first, but I loved looking through his catalog. It was a thick newsprint magazine with page after page of photocopied pictures of all kinds of collectibles that I had never dreamed existed. Stuff from the early days of comics was mixed in with stuff from movie serials, B-movies, comic strips. You name it, he probably had it. He's the guy that I bought my first copy of the 1940 Shadow serial from. I paid an arm and a leg for a third- or fourth-generation VHS copy, but it was the only place to find it at the time, and I loved every minute of the three tapes it came on.
I bought several tapes from him in subsequent years, and the catalogs were always fun to read. I should scan some of them in and put them up here. One day, an article in CBG said that he had written a couple novels that were about to be published. I picked up the first one, Slob, and loved it! It was like a cross between a detective pulp and a slasher film. It was supposed to be the first of a half-dozen books featuring the detective in the story, but the bad guy got all the praise. He even starred in a short-lived comic series.
When I would order things from his catalog, I would call the number listed, and I think it was his home. Once, shortly after the first book came out, I mentioned to him that I read it, and he asked me how I liked it. It lead to a nice discussion about some of the plot points in the book, and why he did some things the way he did, and he really seemed interested in my opinion.
Over the years, I lost track of him, as I did with the Omaha comic. I had trouble finding the last couple books in the series, and he stopped advertising in CBG, so I assumed he was writing full time and gave up the collectible business.
A couple years ago, I was on the 'net and I thought I'd see if I could find any information about him. I found out that several people were looking for him, and one finally found him living in a nursing home in St. Louis after a debilitating stroke. I briefly thought that I would send him a card, thanking him for the entertainment his novels and catalogs had given me, but it seemed, from what I read, that he was in pretty bad shape and I didn't know if he would ever get the message, so I never sent it. Apparently, he had another stroke recently and passed away.

I don't know why this news is lingering with me. Is it because I was a fan and just drifted away? Is it that I could have sent a card or something, but didn't? Is it because two of the people who entertained me as a young adult left us around the same time? I dunno, but I think I'm going to send that letter that I've been meaning to write to Will Eisner while he's still around to receive it.

07/17/04: Tonight: Molly Hatchet at Brookfest. 'Nuff Said!

07/10/04: What's this crazy dog doing? To be honest, we haven't the faintest idea. Sometimes when Stephie and I are occupied late at night, we lose track of Kisu. When we go looking for her, we often find her on the floor, at the foot of the bed, with just her head under the bed. During the day, she lays on the bed. When we go to bed, she's usually under the bed. What the deal is here is anyone's guess!

06/29/04: Happy Birthday, Rick! It's a good thing your Dad got that brand spankin' new vehicle, so that when he teaches you how to drive, you have something nice to ride around in! We hope you have a great day.

06/20/04: Happy Father's Day! Whether your kids have two legs or four (or any other number for that matter) I hope all you Dads have a great day today and every day because you deserve it!

06/09/04: Well, I just renewed our domain for another two years, so we're going to be around for a while! I've been having a lot of fun with this site over the past year, and I hope you have enjoyed it as well. I have a couple ideas for some new stuff, but I have to make the time to do it! So stay tuned...

Stephie has been given a big honor this month. Her latest picture is in the front window of the LaGrange Art League, and it's right in the center! It will be on display for the rest of the month, so stop by to see it. You don't even have to go when they are open, but I would recommend it, because there is always lots of great art on display. I need to get over there to get a picture for the site.

In more art-related news, Stephie is going to be involved in an art demonstration at La Grange's 125th birthday celebration. She'll be at Denning Park, 4903 S. Gilbert Avenue, from 4PM until Dusk. (Dusk, you know, is when all the little fat men come out. Extra points for anyone who can identify THAT little obscure reference. But I digress...) Stop by and see Stephie in creative mode, and join in the festivities.

And don't forget that this weekend starts the Brandeis Used Book Sale 2004, running until June 18 in the west parking lot of the Westfield Shoppingtown at Old Orchard mall in Skokie. Because of the weird schedule this year, this is the only weekend that it will be there, so if you're a book reader who doesn't go out during the week, this weekend is the time to go! It's a great opportunity to stock up on your summer reading.

05/27/04: Kudos to our friend Diane, who earned a B recently in Calculus. Wow, she's talented, funny, good-looking, can make a bra out of a coconut, and knows Calculus. She is the complete package! Congratulations, Diane! We're proud of you!

05/15/04: I added a couple things to the site, just because I'm a computer nut. When I converted the main page to only show the articles from the last two months, I added links at the bottom to go to back to a particular month. What I didn't do was give you the opportunity to show all the articles in the database. I did that this morning.

The other thing I did was to put a simple search field at the bottom. This way, for example, if you want to find all the places I talked about Oliver Mtukudzi, you can just type in 'mtukudzi' and it would show you all the articles he was mentioned. (Just a tip: I wouldn't search for 'Stephanie'. I tend to talk about her A LOT!)

For now, the search only works for the main page articles, not for the sub-pages like Cheyenne's Pages or Stephie & Diane's Banana Project. Maybe I'll add that later.

05/07/04: We got the card in the mail this week for the Brandeis Used Book Sale 2004, happening June 10-18 in the west parking lot of the Westfield Shoppingtown at Old Orchard mall in Skokie. This is an annual event and something that we look forward to every year. This sale is one of the main reasons why we have boxes of books all over the apartment. If you're a book-lover, you owe it to yourself to take a ride up there.

04/26/04: I'm about halfway through the 8-hour BBC Radio adaptation of the first three Foundation books by Isaac Asimov, and so far, it's been terrific. The sound effects and the use of electronic noise make it a little cheesy in that early-'70s Dr. Who way, but I'm finding the story to be really interesting. Much more so than my previous exposure to Foundation.

It was the mid '70s, I was maybe 12 or 13, and the family and I were in Hyde Park. We probably were there for lunch at that place with the peanut shells on the floor, and we wandered into a bookstore in the basement level of one of the buildings. It had rows and rows of paperbacks, and I remember my parents talking to the shop owner about me. I don't recall the beginning of the conversation (I don't remember much of the conversation at all, really) but I do remember them asking the guy about science fiction books, and telling him that they were looking for something a little more "mature", now that I was getting older. Maybe they were trying to steer me away from the comic books that my brothers and I were just discovering.

Whatever the case, the guy pointed them to Foundation. He said that he thought I would really enjoy it. In fact, he said, if I didn't like it, they could bring it back and he would refund their money. So they bought it, along with another book that I picked out, the first volume of a series starring someone called the Avenger, with the eye-catching title of "Justice, Inc."

Well, we took the books home, and I started to read Foundation. Man, what a dry book! All politics and philosophy. Not exactly the thing to hold a 12 year-olds attention. But the Avenger? Wow! Two-fisted action of the highest order. I had to get more, which led me first to Doc Savage, then The Shadow, The Spider, G-8, the Secret Six, Captain Satan, and all the rest of the pulp characters from the '30s and '40s. Maybe not classic literature, but mighty fine reading, usually with a strong sense of right and wrong. Just what a growing boy needs. And they also fostered an interest in books that manifests itself in the hundreds of books that are stored away in bookshelves and boxes around our apartment.

And Foundation? We never got around to taking it back, even though I never did finish it. I know it's still around here somewhere. Maybe I'll give it another try after I'm done with the radio version. Right after I finish reading that next Doc Savage novel.

04/11/04: Happy Easter! Hope everyone has their Easter Bonnet on, except for our friends' daughter Mary, who says, "It's not a bonnet, it's a HAT!"

We have a new picture on Stephie's Art Page. It is a diptych that she did when she took an oil painting class at the Oak Park Art League.

Also, next Sunday, April 18th, we'll be at the reception and awards ceremony for the Best of the Best exhibit at the West Suburban Fine Arts Alliance at the Fine Arts Building at Triton College. The Southwest News-Herald says:
The annual "Best of the Best" exhibit of work by artists affiliated with art guilds in the west, southwest and northwest suburbs can be seen until Sunday, April 18 at Triton College, 2000 Fifth Ave., in River Grove. All of the work displayed has been judged at the local level and received an "award of excellence." Artists will be available to discuss their work at a reception from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 18. The exhibit is sponsored by the West Suburban Fine Arts Alliance. For more information, call (630) 257-9027.

03/30/04: One year ago today, this silly puppy came to live with us, and our life is better for it. She was a handful at first (sometimes still is) but we couldn't do without her. Click here to see a couple new pictures, and a bunch of old classics!

03/27/04: What is this strange and wonderful landscape pictured here? Why, it's Stephanie's entry into this year's Edible Art show. If you were unable to attend, click here to see pictures of all the entries, and many more pictures of Stephie's creation. It will be just like being there, except without the eating!

03/24/04: For anyone in the LaGrange area on Friday night, there's going to be an exhibition of Edible Art at the LaGrange Art League. Stephanie is working on something beautiful and tasty, and from what we saw there the past two years, there is going to be some very creative stuff on display. And the best thing about the display is after the judging, we all get to eat the art! If you're in the neighborhood, you should stop by. Check the link above for more information and directions to the gallery.

03/22/04: Yesterday was the second anniversary of the worst day of my life: the day Cheyenne passed away, and next week is the first anniversary of our adopting Kisu, one of the best days in recent memory. It's funny...the latter seems like it was only yesterday, yet the former seems to have been so long ago.

It's amazing how quickly, and how deeply, our pets can worm their way into our lives. There was a story on NPR's Living on Earth a couple weeks ago about pampered pets, and the quote that stuck with me was "Dogs are the world's most effective social parasites. That is, they have brilliantly injected themselves into the social system of another species, which very few species ever do."

Don't we know it!

03/18/04: So a couple years ago, the multinational conglomerate that I worked for was bought out by a larger multinational conglomerate, and they sent us to the new home office to get our picture taken for our new ID badges. They sent us in groups, so a sizable number of us were there at the same time, lined up in the cramped office just like in high school. And just like in high school, certain people started to get silly. Well c'mon: it was getting warm in there, it was right before lunch, we had to wait a long time as they took the pictures one after another. It was a recipe for disaster.

Of course, someone said that we should make faces on the picture. Smile funny, blink as the picture was taken, hold up numbers under your chin, something! I said that I should arch my eyebrow and try to look suave. Half the people said "Yeah, Do it!" and the other half said "You're not gonna do it!" I, of course, was up to the challenge.

Unfortunately, what was suave in my head turned out a little different when it hit my face. At least they didn't make me take it over.

03/06/04: There's a couple new pictures on Stephanie's Art Pages. You should go check them out RIGHT NOW!

03/04/04: According to my favorite birthday and events page, on this day 80 years ago, "Happy Birthday To You" was first published by Claydon Sunny. Which raises an interesting question: What did they sing at birthday parties before 1924? Was there a different birthday song that everyone knew? And did they have those candles that keep re-igniting themselves after you blow them out?

Inquiring minds want to know...

02/25/04: Happy Birthday, Chris! Probably because we haven't lived in the same state for many years, I don't have any digital pictures of you, so I swiped this picture off of an interview site I found. Had I known you were coming in for Dad's birthday, I would have brought my camera! Anyway, I hope you had a great day, and your present is late (as usual) but it's on its way!

02/23/04: And we're back! The main page has been down since Friday, probably because of a user ID problem (I'm waiting for a follow-up message from our ISP) but it seems to be back up now. I don't know that it had inconvenienced anyone, but it bugged me. Thanks, Parcom for getting us back on-line.

Stephie and I spent a couple hours last night watching Junkyard Wars on TLC, and I have to say, it was pretty interesting. What got us to watch was the blurb in the TV Guide describing the show. They had teams from three Hollywood special effects houses (ILM, Henson, and KNB) building "the ultimate fighting robot — it must breathe fire, shoot bullets, and save the world from an alien invasion." It's being rerun Tuesday night (2/24) and next Sunday (2/29). We enjoyed it so much we watched it with the commercials! Check it out.

02/15/04: Happy Birthday, Stephie! You are the best, too!

02/15/04: Happy Birthday, Dad! You're the best!

02/09/04: I've noticed that a lot of people use their personal web sites to list what music they are listening to, what they are reading at the time, or what movies or TV shows that they like. Well, in addition to keeping up with our regular broadcast TV favorites, we've just finished The Adventures of Captain Marvel serial (which I bought for the second time: never did get the Laserdisc), and Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (which I just recently read in paperback) that we got from Netflix.

We're now watching the late, lamented Tick TV series complete on DVD. I have to commend Fox for taking a chance on this series, but condemn them in the same breath for the way they dumped it on the market. No, it's not a series for kids (actually, neither was the hilarious Saturday-morning cartoon, really) but to delay it to mid-season, bury it on Thursday night against the last 10 minutes of the "Super-Sized Friends" nonsense, and constantly pop-up those annoying ads for "Temptation Island" over the action was just like pounding a big red "cancelled" stamp over the series before it got a chance to get going. I'm not saying that it would run longer than Gunsmoke if it had the chance, but it deserved better than it got. Just like the other program by the same producers, the criminally short-lived Maximum Bob. Quality TV like this gets dropped like a hot potato, while the networks give us the next "Who Will Survive A Fat, Obnoxious, Average Joe, Bachelor/Bachelorette Apprentice Idol Makeover?" Bah.

01/30/04: It's three degrees below zero Fahrenheit (and who knows what the wind chill is!) and Kisu wants to go outside to try out her new booties! Check out the fun.

01/28/04: I recently changed the web site to use PHP to pull these little articles from a database. Initially, this meant that I could add items without changing the page itself, which saves me some time. It also gave me the ability to make the change that I did today. As of now, the main page will show only the articles that I added in the last 60 days. This will make the page load faster, which is especially important for people with dial-up connections.

But don't worry! If you really have a burning need to read my comments about how Kisu broke the retractable leash, or anything else I posted since I started this page, just scroll to the bottom of this page and select the month that you want to see (the leash incident happened in July, by the way.) Of course, this doesn't affect any of the special pages, like the Cheyenne Story. Those are still accessible from the menu bar on the right of the screen.

01/24/04: Well, our childhood memories took a beating this week, with the loss of Ray Rayner and Bob Keeshan within a couple days. When I was a kid, I didn't know (nor did I care) that Ray Rayner was based in Chicago (as was Bozo and Frazier Thomas on the Garfield Goose show) but Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers were not. They were just my TV buddies as I was growing up. And while I haven't seen either Ray or the Captain in many years, it still saddens me that they are gone.

At least Bill Jackson is still with us!

By the way, when I was trying to find if B.J. was still with us, I found this cool web site about Chicago Television that looks to have some interesting stuff about the local Chicagoland TV stations, including many of the kids programming over the years, even before my time! I'll have to spend some time going through it, even though it says I "must use Internet Explorer" and I don't as a rule.

(I wonder if they have anything on the theme music to the"All-Electric Magic Lantern Moving Picture Show")

01/18/04: Stephanie's Banana-project buddy Diane came over yesterday, and we went to the show and saw "Big Fish". We went to the matinee and got there as the coming attractions were showing, so we had to sit in the third row. Now, when I used to go to the show a lot, we always would sit in the first couple rows, but that was in the good old days of big screens in big theaters, where the screen was set back a little from the front row. Now, with these megaplexes trying to make use of every inch of real estate, sitting in the first couple rows is almost like going to see an IMAX film, where the screen fills your peripheral vision. It was the first time I can remember having to turn my head back and forth to follow a conversation on-screen. And there were a couple scenes were I couldn't really tell if the camera angle was odd, or if it appeared that way because we were sitting so close. But the movie itself...


It's hard to describe the overall plot without making it sound very sad. A son receives a call that his estranged father is dying, so he and his wife return to his childhood home so that he could try to reconnect with his father, and to get some perspective on parenthood, as his wife is about to give birth to their first child. The father was a traveling salesman, so was rarely home when the son was growing up. And when he was home, he told the most fantastic stories about his travels, about enormous fish and mysterious towns and giants. The son was always embarrassed by these stories, and wants to know the truth before his father passes away.

The sad scenes, where the son stubbornly refuses to believe anything his father says, are offset by the scenes of the father's stories, which are full of the fantastic imagery that you would expect from a Tim Burton movie. Some of the scenes are touching, some are downright hilarious, but all are entertaining as we follow the father from his birth, right up to the end. I can't remember the last time I heard so much sniffling in the theater at the end of a movie. This was one of the best films I have seen in a long time, and I think it's one that's probably best seen on the big screen (just not from the first three rows.) I highly recommend it.

01/08/04: For some reason, I woke up this morning thinking about this little "game" we used to play back when I worked at Dominicks. Back in the good old days before the "bulk" style presentation of produce, everything had to be wrapped, weighed and priced. This meant that on busy days there were up to eight people working in the back room, at two tables facing each other.
    Most of us were music fans (except maybe the guy whose only record he owned was a picture disc of Rush’s "Hemispheres" that was still in the shrink-wrap), so the game consisted of someone choosing a letter, then the two tables taking turns naming bands that started with that letter. The back-and-forth continued until one "team" was stumped, at which time the "winning team" would declare victory, briefly deride the other team, then pick another letter and continue. We obviously didn’t have access to the Internet, or any other reference materials, and there was nothing at stake other than brief bragging rights, but it was a pretty good way to pass the time while trimming cases of broccoli, or traying up grapes.
    They had been playing this game before I joined the department, but the manager always counted on me as his "not-so-secret weapon". He was a music aficionado, but I was more heavily into music at the time, reading as many of the music periodicals as I could, haunting used record stores, and listening to anything I could get my hands on. As such, I knew about many obscure bands that no one else ever heard of. It was somewhat surprising that they rarely questioned me. I knew of some pretty strange band names (Ethel the Frog, Throbbing Gristle, Einsturzende Neubaten), which were real bands, but I probably could have said anything, which of course I never did.

01/06/04: Over the weekend, I was going to make breakfast, but I didn't know what I wanted to make. I really had a taste for breakfast burritos, but all we had were corn tortillas, and the last time I made them using corn tortillas, they split open as I tried to roll them.
Then I had an idea. Sure, I could have looked in one of Stephie's many cookbooks, but this is the "information age", right? So I went to Yahoo and searched on "eggs, sausage, corn tortilla, cheese, and salsa" and the first item that day was a recipe for Sausage and Cheese Chalupas. They turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. (And Stephie concurs.) Give 'em a try.

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