NNWM/26: Inception-ish

When I’ve talked about the plot of my new novel, a lot of people say, “Oh – like Inception!” And while both stories center around dreaming, that’s the only real common ground they share. But enough folks made the comparison that I began to worry. I saw Inception when it came out a few years ago, but only that one time. The truth is, I didn’t remember many of the details other than the fact that it was a visually stunning film and starred Leonardo DiCaprio. I began to worry that I might have inadvertently “borrowed” from the script and incorporated those elements into my book. The subconscious is a powerful tool, after all. Which is sort of the whole point of Inception, come to think about it.

So last night we watched it again. I’d picked up a BluRay copy at Value Village a few weeks ago for $4. God, I miss that store already. Tara had never seen the movie and I wanted a refresher course to ensure that what I was writing was, indeed, original. You’d think I’d have done this prior to committing to NaNoWriMo, huh?

But it’s all good. My book is, at most, Inception-ish. But barely. Overlapping themes aside, it’s totally original.


Today we picked up my parents from the airport. They have been in New Zealand and on a cruise for the past month. I’m glad they’re back.

We bought a Christmas tree this afternoon from the Boy Scouts lot across the street. I was surprised when Tara suggested a real tree, given that we’ve relied upon her artificial tree the past few years. I love the smell of fresh pine. Tomorrow we will finish decorating the apartment for Christmas.

Tonight we went to Shanahan’s for cocktails and dinner. I don’t think we’ve ever gone there on a Saturday night – usually it’s Friday after work. We had a great time even if our usual server, Alicia, was not there. Tomorrow we will finish decorating. It is taking so much concentration for me to type this post without errors, so I think I’ll wrap it up now.

Word Count Today: 2,081.
Total Word Count: 41,130.

NNWM/15: Cliff Clavin

Today was a very productive writing day. I dashed out over 2,000 words for the first time since Day 1. I have reached a crucial scene in my novel that is fun to write and the words are flowing. It’s a full-on writer’s high, and I hope it continues for the rest of the month. I am on a roll now.

One of the most enjoyable parts of writing, for me, is the research. I have always considered myself to have a bit of an encyclopedic nature and love learning things. I remember working at a job once where, quite frankly, I was often bored. I’d turn to the internet for entertainment – specifically, Wikipedia. I’d while away the hours looking up topics of interest in order to learn more. The subjects varied widely – one day I might read up on George Harrison, while the next, I’d be delving into D-Day or the Apollo missions to the moon or the lyrics to Supertramp’s “Breakfast In America.” It was all incredibly random. I fancied myself a Cliff Clavin of sorts, a guy with a mental library chock full of mostly useless information. And like the fictional postman on Cheers, I found myself approaching friends and coworkers and leading off conversations with, “It’s a little known fact that…”cliff-clavin

Nowadays, it’s all about authenticity. First off, I had to learn what made Elvis Presley tick. Now I’m studying up on police procedurals, and it’s a good thing I am. For instance: it’s a little known fact that the fingerprinting process involves optical scanners and digital prints rather than ink and cardboard, as I’d long assumed. Once upon a time, of course, but nowadays that manual process is extinct. My novel would have been hopelessly outdated had I not taken the time to look that up. Thank you, Google.

Which makes me wonder: how in the hell did authors research their stories before the advent of the World Wide Web?

Word Count Today: 2,106.
Total Word Count: 27,549.

NNWM/12: Mind Blown Upon Arrival

Today has been a very good day. After a leisurely morning, Tara and I took a walk through the park and stopped into WinCo to pick up a few things we needed for dinner. Then we headed to Regal Cinemas where we caught a movie, “Arrival.”

arrivalteaseronline1-shtdevonukcoordinatesI used to see a lot more movies than I do nowadays. When I was single and unemployed, going to the movies was a weekly ritual. Nowadays, it’s more of a rare treat. The last flick we saw in theaters was “Deadpool,” and that was months ago. Our choice today was “Arrival.” All I can say is: holy shit. What a cerebral mindfuck. This was one of those movies that has you scratching your head when the credits roll, wondering what the hell just happened. But in the best way possible. It’s a smart film that raises questions about the very nature of time and space and the interconnectedness of humanity. A quote from this review sums it up nicely:

Arrival may be the best science fiction film of the year, and arguably the most introspective movie in the last decade to broach the contentious topic of intelligent life beyond our own. Its clever approach to storytelling forces the audience to grapple with their preconceived notions of what the typical “alien” is thought to be like, of what it means to communicate, and ultimately, a reminder that humankind is young, powerful and still has a lot to learn about understanding one another.

For a sci-fi movie, it’s light on action, focusing instead on introspectiveness and raw human emotion. I found it original and thought-provoking.

Definitely the type of movie that remains lodged in your brain for hours afterward, and warrants a second viewing. We may not get to the movies as often as we used to, but when we do go, we make it count. Tara is making a pork roast for dinner. We are planning to walk down to Cascade Bar & Grill later this evening to enjoy cocktails and live music. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Word Count Today: 1,701.
Total Word Count: 22,819.

NNWM/7: Method Writing

I think I might be suffering from Elvis overkill.

I was writing another Elvis scene this evening while listening to Elvis on Spotify and researching the Elvis Suite at Hartland Mansion in Las Vegas. You know how actors like Marlon Brando and Dustin Hoffman immersed themselves so completely in their roles they took on the traits of their characters in order to identify with them on an emotional level and thereby coax forth an expressive and realistic performance during filming? That technique, called method acting, has resulted in some very memorable movies over the years. Well, I think I might be engaging in a similar type of art form called method writing.

Turns out it’s actually a thing. The idea is you essentially “become” your character, immersing yourself in their world in order to understand their mindset. Very interesting. However, I draw the line at fried peanut butter, bacon, banana, and grape jelly sandwiches. I will not sacrifice my health in an attempt to delve into the mind of the King of Rock ‘n Roll.

I draw the line at wearing a white sequined jumpsuit, too.


Word Count Today: 945.
Total Word Count: 17,238.

That Time I Met The Boss

I can sum up the most surreal ten seconds of my life in a single photograph captured for posterity:


I don’t even know where to begin. How often does one get the opportunity to meet a famous person whom they have admired their whole life? And after doing so, how does one find the proper words to sum up the experience? Damned if I know, and I’m a writer. But I’ll give it a shot.

I left the apartment at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning and decided to take mass transit in order to avoid traffic and the hassle of parking, based on my mom’s suggestion. This involved catching a bus in Vancouver and transferring to a light rail train at a transit center in Portland. It cost $5 and was worth every penny. I arrived at Powell’s Books about 8:15 and joined the throngs of excited fans lined up around the side of the building. There was a party-like vibe to this communal once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I wish Tara had been able to join me. I felt a little out of place showing up stag because nearly everybody in line was there with somebody else, a spouse or parent or friend, but I felt lucky enough just to have snagged one ticket, so I can’t really complain.

Powell’s opened their doors at 9:00, and it took another half hour to make it inside for the official registration. Once there we presented our tickets to a cashier, were issued wristbands and handed our signed copies of Bruce’s autobiography, then ushered to another line upstairs for more waiting. People were sharing their favorite Springsteen memories, talking about his music, etc. I learned that one person flew in from Australia for the chance to meet Bruce, and another had seen him in concert 60 times. There is no doubt these people were all hardcore fans, so in that sense I felt right at home. I killed a lot of that time reading from his book, which is quite entertaining and well-written (naturally).

Around 11:30 cheers went up from the crowd, and though we couldn’t see him from where we were waiting, we figured The Boss had made his grand entrance. The line started moving again, upstairs to the Red Room. Powell’s is cavernous; it takes up an entire city block and has nine color-coded rooms on three floors. I have long called it my favorite Portland hangout, and that is twice as true when The Boss happens to be there. The third floor was closed off to the general public and it took about half an hour for the line to wind around the shelves and through the aisles. Meanwhile, reporters from The Oregonian were taking photos and interviewing people, which only added to the surreality. When we got close we were liberated from our wristbands and our books were collected for safekeeping. Suddenly I was there, right behind the curtained-off area where Springsteen was meeting his fans. The woman in front of me looked like she was about to faint. “I see him through the curtain!” she squealed. Then she parted the curtain and surreptitiously took a photo, holding her phone up for all to see. “I got a picture of him hugging a stranger!” she declared excitedly. Which was kind of silly, because she was just a few seconds away from meeting him in person herself, but I appreciated the unbridled enthusiasm. We were all feeling it at that point.

A minute later I was led into the curtained area, and there he was, standing on a raised platform a mere ten feet away. Unbelievable. Bruce freakin’ Springsteen, The Boss himself, right there in person. He looked larger than life and completely ordinary at the same time, an everyman who just happens to be a world famous rock star adored by millions. There were three Powell’s employees taking photos, and they did a great job of keeping the line moving efficiently. I brought along my point and shoot camera – this was far too important an occasion to rely on my phone’s camera – and handed it to a staff member. The woman in front of me had an iPad and was having trouble figuring out how to make the camera work. I really hope she got it figured out (or not, because taking pics with an iPad is pretty lame).

“You’re up!” an employee said, and suddenly it was my turn to meet Bruce Springsteen. I stepped onto the stage and he turned to me with a friendly smile. This was the quintessential OH-SHIT-I-CAN’T-BELIEVE-THIS-IS-HAPPENING-TO-ME moment of my entire life. For a few brief seconds I had his complete and total attention. Trust me, that’s an awful lot of pressure! It felt like the whole world stopped spinning for those next ten seconds. I’d had a little speech rehearsed – I suspect most everybody who was there did, too – but there just wasn’t enough time. How can you convey to a man how much his music has shaped your life in a few brief words? How can you let him know that his lyrics inspired you to become a storyteller yourself? Bruce breathed life into a cast of characters whose tales have intrigued me since childhood. There’s Crazy Janey and her mission man; Rosalita, jumping a little higher; Gunner breathing deep, his ankles caked in mud. There’s Wendy and Mary and Spanish Johnny; Go-Cart Mozart and Wild Billy and Bad Scooter (searching for his groove) and dozens more, all whose stories are etched into my brain as if they are living, breathing people rather than names in songs. The answer is simple: you can’t. Not in ten seconds. So I gave him a warm handshake instead and told him it was a huge honor to meet him. He was equally gracious and said the same to me, and did not flinch when I put my arm around him for the photo. There wasn’t the slightest bit of pretension whatsoever. And just like that, it was over.

Afterwards, Tara asked me what he smelled like. I replied, “Like rock ‘n roll and liberalism and the working class.”

And now I can cross a very big item off my bucket list.

When Life Hands You Lemons, Upgrade!

A couple of weeks ago, my Fitbit Charge broke. Oddly enough, this was exactly one year to the day that I got it (easy to remember, as it was an anniversary gift from Tara). It still worked fine, but the band had torn away from the plastic housing, which had also cracked. Bummer, right? I was dismayed for maybe 60 seconds, but then I remembered that Fitbit had just come out with an updated version of my tracker, which was called – drumroll, please! (and kudos to the marketing geniuses who burned the midnight oil to come up with this one) – the Charge 2. I probably could have gotten by with a little creative use of duct tape, but what am I, a hillbilly? I saw this as an opportunity to upgrade and jumped on it.

Turns out to have been a great decision. I’m really loving the Charge 2. It’s got a bigger screen, a better (and brighter) OLED display, built-in 24/7 heart rate monitor, hourly reminders to get off your ass and walk, and will even give you a massage and cook you breakfast if you hit your step goal. What more could you ask for in a device? fitbit-charge2-3qtr-cardio-blue-1472474863-p7eo-full-width-inline

Once upon a time, I was a huge fan of Survivor. I watched probably the first 20 seasons of the show, but eventually lost interest and gave it up.

And then, a couple of months ago I got wind that the newest season would be an epic battle of sorts: Millennials vs. Gen X. I was intrigued, and set a series recording. Tara and I have caught the first two episodes so far, and I think it’s safe to say we are hooked.

I told her it feels both weird and natural to be watching Survivor again.

“Like slipping on an old pair of shoes?” she asked, and I thought that was the perfect analogy. It feels both comfortable and right.

I just hope Generation X kicks some ass!

In my last post I hinted at a meeting with my rock ‘n roll idol, Bruce Springsteen. ‘Tis true. Next Tuesday – in just four days! – I will have the opportunity to shake hands with a man I have admired my whole life. To say I’m excited is an understatement.

Here’s how it went down:

Two weeks ago, Powell’s Books announced that Bruce Springsteen would be coming to town October 4 to promote his new autobiography, Born to Run. A limited number of tickets would be made available to this special event, and we knew they’d sell out fast. Demand was so high that the system crashed the first day they went on sale, forcing Powell’s to find a new ticket vendor and try again two days later. I had logged into the site that morning and the moment 12:00 rolled around I immediately got through, but tickets had sold out within 30 seconds. Dejected, I called Tara to give her the news. While talking to her I was constantly refreshing my screen because the site said that even though all the tickets were gone, there was the possibility one might become available if a purchase didn’t go through. I figured I had nothing to lose, but didn’t really expect to get through again…until I actually did. Nine minutes later, on what must have been my 100th refresh, the “tickets available” screen popped up.

rs-227987-btr-700x1057“Holy shit!” I told Tara. Unfortunately there was only a single ticket left, but she gave me her blessing to snag it, knowing what a hardcore lifelong fan I am. So I did. And now, in a few days, I get to meet a man I have admired for three decades. One whose albums I have owned for 30 years and whose concerts I have attended, most recently six short months ago. It hardly feels real. Once I scored that ticket, I submitted a PTO request to take that day off, which my boss promptly approved. Thank god. I might have had to quit my job if he hadn’t signed off on that.

I got a confirmation email today with the details. Check-in starts at Powell’s Books on Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m. There’s a list of rules a mile long – no backpacks, must present photo ID, etc. The one part that jumped out at me was,

You are allowed one posed photo with Bruce Springsteen. An employee of Powell’s will take the picture using your phone or camera.

Hell. Yes.

In four days, I get to meet Bruce freakin’ Springsteen. I can hardly wrap my brain around that.

It’s Ethan HAWKE, Not Ethan “Who?”

Earlier this week I was telling Deb at work that I’d read in a Vanity Fair article that Bruce Springsteen did not hire a ghostwriter to help pen his new autobiography; instead, every word is his own. I told her that I really respected celebrities who did this. Like Ethan Hawke, who actually wrote and published a couple of novels. I have no idea if they’re any good, but kudos to him for writing ’em.

“Ethan who?” she asked.

No. No, no, no, no, no!!

How can a person have no idea who Ethan Hawke is?! I wondered incredulously.

“How can you have no idea who Ethan Hawke is?!” I asked incredulously.

And then I remembered that Deb is a Millennial. Still, I pressed on, naming a few of the actor’s better-known films. “Reality Bites? Before Sunrise? Boyhood?”

She continued staring at me blankly. And then Kathleen, another coworker, happened by.

“Kathleen, you’re not going to believe this!” I said, unable to contain my shock and bewilderment. “Deb doesn’t know who Ethan Hawke is!”

“Ethan who?” Kathleen asked.

%$@#&. SMH. FML. And any other appropriate acronym I’ve left out.

I should have known better. Kathleen’s a Millennial, too.

What kind of world do we live in where people do not know who Ethan Hawke is?

[Please don’t respond with “a world where you’re old enough to be their dad” like my smart-aleck friend Monica did].

Dear Millennials: this is Ethan Hawke.
Dear Millennials: this is Ethan Hawke.

So the next day I brought in a DVD copy of “Reality Bites” and handed it to Deb. When she asked what it’s about I was tempted to reply, “It’s all just a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes,” to paraphrase Troy Dyer (a/k/a Ethan Hawke), but of course she wouldn’t have gotten the reference so I told her instead to read the back of the DVD case.

I’m curious whether she’ll like it or not. I mean, “Reality Bites” is the quintessential Generation X movie. But it came out in 1994, so there’s a possibility she won’t get it. It’s all about disenfranchised youth and misplaced idealism and the grunge scene and AIDS. Hardly topical stuff these days. There was no Internet back then, and no emojis. Ben Stiller did have a car phone, but it was attached to a cord and the size of a small brick. Maybe the film doesn’t stand the test of time.

All I know is, it’s damn good, and was super influential in my life when I was 23. After all, it taught me the meaning of irony after Alanis Morissete failed. Convinced me to change my answering machine message to, “You’ve reached the winter of our discontent.” Showed me that Evian is “naive” spelled backwards. And even made Peter Frampton seem cool. That’s no small feat there.

If nothing else, Deb will at least know who Ethan Hawke is.

Oh, by the way: the reason I was discussing Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography? I am going to be receiving an autographed copy on October 4th. Handed to me by the author himself. The one. The only. The Boss. Dream come true? You bet your ass.

But that’s a story for another day.

I’m Dying to Be Left Alone. Literally.

I may have finally learned how to beat telemarketers at their own game. Just tell ’em you’re dead.

One day last week, I got a call from a Nigerian prince telling me I’d just won the lottery, and would I like to buy some Viagra with my earnings while switching cell phone carriers? Or something along those lines. We never got very deep into the conversation, because when he asked for Mark, I got all serious and said, “I’m sorry. He passed away recently.” The caller on the other end of the line mumbled his condolences and could not get off the phone quickly enough. It’s been a week since I faked my own death, and they have not called back since.

Hmm. Could death be the secret to a stress-free life? I’ve tried every trick in the book to get telemarketers to leave me alone. None of them has worked, with the exception of my untimely demise. Turns out that dying was the best thing to ever happen to me!rip

Now I’m trying to come up with other ways to take advantage of this apparently foolproof excuse. Forgot to pay the electric bill? Sorry, utility company. I died. Missed that dinner with my annoying friend who won’t stop going on about her poodle? Didn’t mean to stand you up. I was dead. Didn’t show up to work on Monday? Sorry, boss. R.I.P. Me.

Turns out you have far fewer commitments when you’re dead. I should have kicked the bucket years ago!

Speaking of work, my team had a very interesting IM conversation today.

Kimberly was talking about how excited she was over the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. I don’t know much about WW other than the fact that she flies an invisible airplane. This became the source of an afternoon-long debate, mostly between me and Deb.

“How does she know where the throttle is?” I wondered. “Or the brake? How can she tell how much gas she has left? Or her altitude? I don’t think an invisible plane is very safe.”

Deb said, “Now, does she become invisible when she is in the plane? Or do you see her just popping around in the sky?”

I replied that WW isn’t invisible, but the plane – and, oddly enough, everything else inside it – is. Which, once you start to think about it, is mind-blowing.

Image courtesy of notey.com.
Image courtesy of notey.com.

“Won’t people be able to kill her easily?” Deb asked.

“Well, the bullets would bounce off the exterior of the plane, invisible or not,” I explained. “Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.”

From there, the conversation devolved further.

D: So the invisible plane is also bullet proof?
M: One bullet won’t take down a plane. It’ll just develop a hole…which you will never see. So if a bullet pierces the fuselage and gas starts leaking out…DO YOU SEE THE GAS?? No, right? Because it’s not like you see it when the plane is fully loaded.
D: What about window washing fluid? And brake fluid? And oil?
M: What if there is an in-flight beverage service???
D: Do you need a special license to pilot an invisible plane?
M: An invisible license!
K: [trying to steer the conversation elsewhere] You guys need some cats right now. [Links to hilarious cat slideshow. This one, actually.]
M: What if Wonder Woman brought a cat aboard her invisible plane? Would the cat be invisible?
D: I DON’T KNOW. This is really messing with me right now. What’s real. What’s not.
M: This is a blog post. Thank you for the inspiration, Kimberly!

Believe it or not, it was actually a very productive afternoon. Productive in that, we learned all kinds of interesting facts about Wonder Woman’s invisible airplane. Did you know that it’s actually an allegory? Per Wikipedia,

The invisible plane represented the “invisible” feminine compliance that allowed women of the Depression Era to enter and survive in the hostile male dominated work place with less resistance from that hostility. To demonstrate this, it was allegorized that the Invisible Plane would be undetected while moving quietly at super sonic speeds so that it would not be shot down by the guns of Man’s World. The idea was avoidance of conflict rather than meeting hostility head on.

All along, I thought it was just an invisible plane.

I certainly never imagined some deeper hidden metaphor action was happening behind the scenes. But I have an even bigger question: Wonder Woman flies, right?

…so why does she need an invisible plane…?

Oh, Sheila

I was out walking on my lunch hour yesterday, phone in hand, which I was checking periodically. There is nothing unusual about this; I often look at my phone while walking, either to track my workout progress on MyFitnessPal or queue up my camera for potential photo opportunities. There were lots of people out and about, and many seemed to be smirking at me as I passed.

“Petruska,” I chided myself, “You are being paranoid.”

But the weird looks continued. And then it dawned on me why: they obviously thought I was swept up in the latest mega-craze, trying to catch Pokémon on my phone. I mean, that’s how it is these days. I can’t even go for a walk around the block without running into roaming packs of teenagers glued to their phones in pursuit of these virtual reality creatures.

Once I realized this, I got immediately defensive. I started overcompensating by laughing out loud and making random comments directed at my phone. Ha-ha, I chuckled. “Oh, Sheila!” The weird part is, I do not know anybody named Sheila (unless you count Prince’s former protege from the late 80s, Sheila E. And I can’t say I know her per se, but I have heard “The Glamorous Life” on the radio approximately three million times. That must count for something.) “Oh, Sheila” was simply the first thing that came to mind. Guess I had that old Ready for the World song lodged in my brain.

It didn’t help anyway. Now, instead of a guy chasing after Pokémon, I was a guy laughing to himself and talking out loud. I shoved my phone in my pocket and clammed up for the rest of my walk, but by that point the damage was done, the ridicule self-inflicted.

Gotta catch 'em all!
Gotta catch ’em all!

As far as crazes go, this Pokémon one came out of left field. About a week ago Audrey asked if I’d heard about it.

“Pokémon?” I asked in disbelief. “Wasn’t that popular about 15 years ago?”

It was, because Rusty used to collect and trade the cards. Seems quaint now in this mobile age. I think he had a Nintendo 64 game, too. I simply did not believe my daughter when she said that Pokémon was popular again. Now that I can’t walk around the block without running into packs of teenagers glued to their phones talking about Pikachu, I have to concede that she was right, after all.

I never would have imagined this happening.

And, okay. Confession time. I wasn’t just looking at MyFitnessPal. I was also – ahem – playing around with Snapchat.

Never would have imagined that happening, either.

But I work with a bunch of Millennials. Deb, in particular, was touting the virtues of Snapchat to me and Kimberly (who is a fellow Gen X-er). She convinced us to download the app and see if we liked it. In typical fashion I resisted for weeks.

And then got hooked.

badgalrihanna.w190.h190.2xWell, kinda. But not really. I think Snapchat is a fun diversion, but impossible to take seriously. The impermanence of it bothers me. I have a hard time getting over the fact that everything you send (or post) disappears in 24 hours. I know you have the option to download Snaps to your gallery now, but that’s an extra step and really, what’s the point? So I’ve been playing around with it, usually via videos and goofy-as-hell daily stories that chronicle my day, but I feel the novelty is already wearing off. Maybe that’s because few people my age use it? Other than my SIL Esther, who has fully embraced it. Tara joined too, but she’s even less enthused than I am. It’s tough to justify creating Snaps when you have at best two or three people viewing them before they self-destruct forever. I suppose if I had more friends using it things would be different, but we old folks just aren’t that into it.

Instagram is more my speed – I’m on there every day. (adios.ghost, if you’re so inclined to stalk me look me up). I don’t even post that much to Facebook anymore. It just seems to have lost its appeal over the past year. I like to follow my friends there, and enjoy looking back at my memories, but actual updates are rare. I can’t even really pinpoint why…I guess maybe it’s just mostly run its course for me? I seem to be experiencing a lot of “what’s the point?” feelings lately. I like the simplicity of Instagram. I’m a visual guy. I dig pretty pictures.

Especially ones that don’t disappear in 24 hours.

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

Last night I was getting a haircut, and there were banners on the salon walls promoting Shark Week. [Weirdest marketing tie-in ever, by the way. Makes about as much sense as seeing an advertisement for patio furniture in  Red Robin.] Sitting there, staring at a poster of Jaws, I wondered who the genius was that decided Shark Week should take place in June.

The first movie I ever saw in an actual theater was Jaws, back in the 1970s. Fortunately we lived in Ohio at the time, so there were no oceans within 1,000+ miles. Good thing, because for the next two years I shied away from every large body of water I came across. Which is exactly my point: watching sharks kill people sort of makes people want to avoid going swimming. It’s June. Summertime is synonymous with the beach. If it were up to me, Shark Week would air in the middle of December, when any self-respecting large body of salt water is about the same temperature as the inside of a refrigerator.


The original intent of Shark Week, when it premiered in 1988, was to promote conservation efforts and help correct misconceptions about sharks. Nowadays it’s a bunch of sensationalized dramatic fiction like Lair of the Mega Shark. Even the actual documentaries are pretty lurid, though. I don’t think Blood in the Water or Wrath of a Great White Serial Killer are going to have people clamoring to take a dip anytime soon, you know?

Hence my midwinter plan. Too bad nobody ever pays attention to me.

Last Saturday, we drove up to Alder Lake, north of Mount Rainier, to meet up with Anne and Anthony for the day. On the way there, I convinced Tara we should listen to Hamilton. This was my third time through, and it just keeps getting better and better with each repeat listen. Tara liked it, but I wasn’t sure at first because she said it was “interesting,” which is often a polite way of saying you’re not really into something. It’s like when you are setting a friend up on a blind date and you tell him the girl “has a nice personality.” 9 times out of 10, that phrase means she’s ugly. Fortunately in this case my wife meant “interesting” in the literal sense, in that, she found it “engaging or exciting and holding the attention or curiosity.” She said the songs were catchy and clever, and she’d like to listen to it again and see an actual stage production someday. Whew! Anyway, the weather was perfect that day – low 70s, sunshine, fluffy white clouds, a breeze blowing off the lake. We did a little fishing (but didn’t catch anything), might have broken a few open container laws in the park, and grilled hot dogs. Oh, and at one point Anthony said he didn’t want to go in the water because he was afraid of sharks.


Gone Fishin'

Sunday was a much more laid back day. One of my coworkers was raving about the movie Prometheus and loaned me her BluRay copy a few weeks ago. I was like yeah, sure, I’ll watch it. Someday. Maybe. Well, every time Monday rolled around she’d ask me if I’d seen it yet and what I thought about it, so after briefly considering fake-watching it – surely Google would help me come up with a few coherent talking points should we engage in a lengthy conversation over the merits of the film afterwards – I figured I might as well actually just watch it. This turned out to be a surprisingly good idea, as both Tara and I ended up liking it. A lot. It’s an unofficial prequel to Alien, so if you’re into that sort of thing (coughDadcough), check it out.

I guess I should start taking people’s recommendations more seriously. I usually do end up liking whatever it is they suggest. And worst case, if I’d found Prometheus awful, I’d have simply told Kimberly it was “interesting” and nobody would be any wiser.