Friday, March 31, 2006

Here is a look at the right of way along which I walk to meet my ride to work every morning. You can see the most interesting things sometimes. For the most part every rock, twig and piece of loose garbage is in exactly the same spot as the day, week or year before. Suddenly the other morning there was something new and got me wondering.

About halfway down the length of the right of way I walk I found a loveseat. Shaded by undergrowth, facing the tracks, it sat looking like very retro with its faded goldenrod upholstery and no cushions.

Why was it there? How had it gotten there? Was it simply discarded as trash? Was this someone who, like me, didn’t have a vehicle so it was easier to drop it here than to bring it to the dump? Did one person move it? Did a bunch of people move it? Was it actually easier to drag it to the middle of nowhere, over railroad tracks and dirt than simply to the curbside for waste removal? Was I looking at some homeless person’s living room? Was this some inventive yet horny teenager trying for some secluded and comfortable makeout spot? In my day we went to watch the submarine races but this was perfect for the amorous pubescent without a car.

Could it be some trainspotter’s idea of a comfort station? To sit and relax as rains sped by in the cool shade. Maybe railroad workers improvised a break room in the middle of nowhere away from the boss’ prying eyes.

Where had it been before here? What type of home had it been in? Was there actually a time and place this material was stylish?!

Just something to ponder walking along the right of way.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I found one Bush apointee I like! Check out this story from the Boston Herald on Justice Scalia.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I am in heaven! A friend just informed me that a Sonic is coming to my area. Just 5 miles from my house. If you’ve read this blog with any regularity you’ll know of my obsession.

To give a quick thumbnail; I discovered Sonic in the 70’s during a visit to my sister’s in Houston and fell in love. Their burgers are fantastic and the whole 50’s drive-in/carhops on skates motif is cool and unique. Since they were only a Southern franchise they remained a fond memory for years.

On a roadtrip through Alabama I re-discovered them. Well, to accurately describe it; I almost drove off the road as I drove past. Since then I have become the textbook definition of fanatic. On any roadtrip I will scout out the location of the nearest franchise to my route. I have collected all sorts of merchandise, promotional items and clothing available on eBay and directly through begging at restaurants and gifts from friends. If I had the cash, I would invest in the company, as they are the fastest growing franchise in the country. My local group of friends has a standing lotto agreement; if one of us wins we build a Sonic and hire each other to run it.

Well, now Shangri-La is coming to my zip code!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

When I have a car I have to almost assault myself to go out walking. When I don’t have a car and am forced to walk I am amazed at how much I love walking and assault myself for not going out walking when I do have a car. I guess it comes down to the whole motivation thing and how we have become so used to the convenience.

I had to return the borrowed car to my friend, Patrick, and until the van is resurrected I have enlisted carpooling help of two coworkers who live nearby. My regular morning driver would have to go out of her way to pick me up in the morning so I decided to force myself into exercise by setting up a meeting place near her house.

Each morning I get up a half-hour early and walk my favorite route along the right of way on the train tracks. It quiet, secluded and an easy ten minuet walk. I listen to the “Bob and Tom Show” (with only one ear bud in so I can listen for trains – safety first), contemplate the universe and basically give my brain a change to wake up and catch up with the rest of my body.

The weird thing is that when I had my own transportation, I had sleeping problems; I would either end up watching TV or getting on the PC and stay up until 1 or 2 AM. Now, I drop into bed anywhere between 11:30 and midnight, forsaking Letterman, and wake fully rested and ready to move at 6:30. I don’t feel the need to nap during the day and nowhere near the fatigue I used to feel.

Amazing what motivation will do to you.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Somewhere around twenty years ago I was going to the Apponaug Hobby Shop with my good friend Jay. The Apponaug Hobby Shop is (or was, I'm not sure if it's still standing) a small hobby shop which sat in the middle of "downtown" Warwick, RI right next to city hall. As the city grew and changed over thirty years, this little building remained the same.

Sprouting up around this squat little 1920's style cracker box building were modern gas stations, hardware stores and national chain drug stores gleaming with chrome and glass. I doubt if three coats of paint changed on the clapboard walls and Victorian trim in the 34 years I lived in Warwick.

This one particular trip with Jay is etched on my memory. I had intentions of getting supplies and equipment to hone my model building and painting skills. I loved building model kits. For years I simply slathered on glue and slammed kit pieces together. I might do a passing paint job to help make the kit look more like the original but it always ended up being the minimal amount of work possible. The reason for my wanting to get better. Legacy.

As I explained to Jay, "I'm not into sports. I'm not athletic. I don't fish. What do I have that I'm going to be able to do with a child and connect with him or her? I want to have something I can sit down, explain the finer points, talk about some history, show how to do something, teach them how to do something from start to finish. This is all I got. If I'm going to teach my child something fun I want to make sure I'm good at it."

I bought a model kit of the Enterprise from "The Next Generation", glue, paints, air brush, masking supplies and detailing brushes. I was going to make a detailed and professional a paint job which would rival a shooting model of the ship.

After six months the kit was retired to a closet with half of the saucer section completed and not a single piece glued together.

Fouteen years ago, my son was born. Just tonight, on our drive back from picking him up for our weekend together, we connected in an unexpected and wonderful way.

I introduced my son to Beatles music.

He talked to me about wanting to learn to play guitar. That led to a mention of Linkin Park appearing on the Grammys with Paul McCartney. When he was younger he would always roll his eyes when ever I played Beatles music. Now that one of his favorites names them as a major influence suddenly his father 's taste in music isn't that questionable.

We talked for almost and hour talking about Beatles history and influence during the 60's and then I played a few cuts from John Lennon's "Plastic Ono Band". He listened intently and commented on how the popular music he listened to sounded like it could be directly traced to what I was playing for him.


It was the connection I had always hoped for. Sure we go to conventions all the time. We watch movies together. We like some of the same TV shows. But this came completely out of left field and it was something he found in life that was interesting that has potential to really influence his life. And it all flowed so naturally and was a real exchange of ideas. He listened intently and soaked in all I had to tell him.

I think I'll have to go to my storage space and throw out that old unfinished Enterprise model; I don;t think I'll be needing it any more.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I am now a paid actor......WITH AN AGENT!!!!!!

A few weeks ago I sent a copy of "Runners" to an agent in the Orlando area. I simply went to the AFTRA (TV and Radio actors union) and found a talent agent listing. I waited and waited. I called and called.

"We got it but we haven't gotten to watch it yet. We'll get back to you."

"I haven't heard back from our boss yet."

"We'll get back to you."

At least I felt like a real actor getting rejection so early in the process.

Then I cam home last night to a message waiting on my answering machine. My poor machine; I must have played the message back to back almost 80 times.

"We all love your work and we believe YOU SHOULD BE WORKING FOR DISNEY. When sometime comes up we'll contact with no hesitation."

I don't think my feet have touched the ground yet.

I do realize this is simply an agent making contact. I know some of the realities of the business and am not pinning my homes on one phone call. But, you have to admit...


I have since talked with my contact there and things do seem very hopeful.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

My trip to Birmingham was for the annual Region 2 Summit. This is a working weekend when we get together for different panel discussions, awards dinner and a lot of fun time together with friends from all across the south. OK, most of it is for the fun part. I almost was not able to attend and at the last minuet I was given the trip as a gift from a very good friend.

The last time I went to one of these in Birmingham I drove with a friend of mine. The ride was relaxing and it was nice to see the rural pasts of the south as we drove for almost 13 hours to get there. It certainly was a nice change for the trip to only take 5 hours from the minuet I walked out my door to when I walked in the hotel room.

It was the usual gathering of friends and is always a good time. My chapter won an award for its website. My only disappointments were that Johnny was not able to go with me and that I did not get up early Sunday morning to go to church at the 17th Street Baptist Church. I had visited the Civil Rights Institute and have been looking forward to showing it to John and experiencing my first Southern Baptist church service. If I was going to go to one I at least wanted to do so at such a historical landmark as the 17th Street Church. Well, maybe next time.

Of course the reason I didn’t make it to church Sunday morning was because of the drinking I had done the night before. As usual with these weekends, when I don’t have my son around I am free to imbibe as much as I want. I call my son my “Designated Driver”. My friend, Wade, was mixmaster for the evening and after a while of mixing some wonderful drinks simply began playing “chemistry set”, handing me concoction after concoction of whatever looked good together in the glass. By then, of course, my tastebuds didn’t really notice what I was taking in anyway.

I gave the people in the room a bit of a scare when I finally realized just how intoxicated I was and that I had met my limit. I simply and quietly got up and went back to my room. After a few minuets the rest of the people in the party room noticed and wondered where I had gone. They began looking around expecting to find me like Belushi, passed out in a hallway somewhere. I got that same look of astonishment the next morning that I always seem to get, “Jack! You’re upright!”

Yes! It was a good weekend!

Monday, March 06, 2006

This weekend I flew to and from Birmingham, Alabama. I’ll get into the reasons for the trip in another post. I found myself suffering from two profound moments of paranoia.

The first was when I landed in Birmingham and waited at the baggage claim carousel for my luggage to appear. When I left Orlando Southwest’s system of checking luggage seemed odd and confusing. After getting my boarding pass from an automated system I was told to bring my baggage to the x-ray machine on my way to the gate. Ahead of me were two massive machine in two different locations and the attendant at the check in area was hoping back and forth between four different kiosks at once and did not give the clearest direction which of these was the one where I supposed to leave my belongings. I was perplexed why I was suddenly turned into a baggage handler when there was a perfectly good conveyor belt sitting directly behind the check in area.

As I stood in Birmingham, 480 miles from where I last saw my clothing the fear creeped in that I had put the bags at the wrong machine. I had this image of one bag in Tahiti and another in Nome. I knew, by looking at my Southwest napkin with the little map showing all the destinations they flew, that was impossible. The other image crystal clear in my mind was a trail of my clothing and belongings trailing behind the ripped and torn remnants of my duffel bag.

With each bag that slipped through the vinyl curtain I could feel the anxiety increasing. Each squeal and bump of the serpentine conveyor belt hammered the images of lost and destroyed luggage deeper and deeper into my brain. Although it was crisp and cool in the airport I could feel flop sweat dropping down my back.

The sight of my luggage appearing safe and intact quickly turned my mood fright to righteous indignation aimed directly at myself. “You idiot,” I yelled silently at myself, “I knew it would be safe all along!”

The other moment of paranoia came on my return trip and proves just how pervasive the messages we are fed about terrorism are. As I waited by the security checkpoint I smiled at the young parents and their infant child in front of me. At first I didn’t think twice about the child seat covered by a homemade quilt. The line moved along, the family ahead of me moved up but the car seat remained untouched.

Ever thoughtful, L leaned forward and tapped the father on the shoulder, “You left your car seat over there,” I whispered.

“That ain’t mine,” he said trying to keep his baby quiet.

My eyes bulged as they turned to look again at the car seat. I was sure the blanket with cute little kitties and elephants was swaddling C-4. As my heart pounded louder and louder it proved the soundtrack for the Joel Schumacher fueled images of explosions and death. And here I was inches away from the next Ground Zero.

I HAD TO act. I HAD TO do my part. I quickly leaned over to the Homeland Security person at the security checkpoint and whispered to him so as not to cause a panic. In my most serious but controlled voice of authority said, “No one seems to be with that car seat.”

With the look of a teenage checkout person at the 10-item express lane just as you lay down your 13th item he responded, “Sir see that man over there; it’s his. I know all about it. Please get back in line.”

“You idiot,” I yelled silently at myself, “I knew it would be safe all along!”

Saturday, March 04, 2006

If you are not a fan of “24” this posting will mean little to you.

If you are not a fan of “24”….what the hell is your problem?

The logical side of my mind tells me the story line is getting more and more ridiculous......but the rest of me is enjoying the heck out of it! The tension has not let up for one second this season.

The way they ended Monday night's episode was classic; right in mid sentence! Sean Astin's rant as he was walked away was cliché Captain Queeg stuff, but great!

This president makes Nixon look better than Washington. They even threw in a glaring Nixon reference with him and his chief of staff kneeling to pray (Nixon made Kissinger do exactly the same thing, almost word for word). I was cheering for this guys downfall by the end of the episode. "You are SO SCREWED!" "IMPEACHMENT!" It's a wonder my neighbors didn't call complaining about the noise.

I know that the president's limo can take more of a beating in real life than it did last night but again it was so well played it was too much fun to care about the logic.

Peter Weller....WOW!

Manny Coto is Da Man!

Another show you SHOULD be watching is “Two and a Half Men”. This stars Johnathan Cryer and Charlie Sheen. I have not consistantly laughed out loud during a sitcom in a long time. And they push the envelope of acceptable humor is this post-“Janet Jackson Superbowl” era; which makes me enjoy it more and more.

Even better than the performances and the writing is the creator and Executive Producer, Chuck Lorre. Someday I have got to meet this guy. He has been producer on such shows as “Rosanne”, “Grace Under Fire” and “Dharma and Greg”. At the end of each show there is what is called a “vanity card”. It is a slide that flashes on the screen very quickly and looks like some kind of legal disclaimer. Upon further review while the playback is paused you will find it is filled with some very funny writing.

This is a collection of all of his vanity cards for all seasons of “Dharma and Greg” and “Two and a Half Men”. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

If it weren’t for bad luck….

I recently had been trying to move into the training department where I work. I had a meeting a week and a half ago with the head of that department about the possibilities. She made it clear that they would love to have me and that there was one position, which could easily be mine. This position had been open for more than three months and none had shown the slightest interest in it. With the future possibility of becoming an orientation trainer and finally getting off the phones I quickly filled in the transfer paperwork and patiently waited for the cogs of corporate machinery move me through the process of interview and selection.

Three days later the finance department decided the job was not justified for current business needs and eliminated it.

Our CFO is now off my Christmas card list!