Monthly Archives: October 2019

Knock, Knock, Knock And Then We’ll Shout… Halloween! 2019!


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I originally posted this one on a Halloween many full moons ago and it seems appropriate to revisit it when the leaves are falling, the wind is more crisp and Halloween is here. Special thanks this year to my sister, The Dedicated Librarian for uncovering the ACTUAL piano music book we had as kids!

When I was a kid, I had piano lessons once a week for years.

They didn’t take. I play guitar now…

But, every October 31st, I have the desire to sit back down at a keyboard and plunk out one of the few songs I think I still remember note-for-note. No, I am sure that I remember it.

Except for the title. The title, I didn’t remember, but a quick, internet search told me it’s called (creatively) Halloween Song. That same search revealed that I (and my sisters) are not the only people of a certain age who learned it. Many folks did.

I have great memories of Halloween and I am more mindful of them now because Halloween is The Cinnamon Girl’s favorite holiday.

I remember…

  • the spray painted gray robot costume made of boxes and brown paper bags, milk caps and 8-track tapes
  • wearing coats over my costumes on many, many Halloweens because of snow
  • perfecting the “Clark Kent-changing-into-Superman” costume long before I saw it marketed
  • choosing and making costumes for Stretch and Sous Chef when they were younger
  • HJ jr meeting my father for the first time at a Halloween party. Dad was dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow and HJ jr thought the fairly sizable hernia jutting under the costume was part of the costume… he was shocked when he next met Dad in normal clothes!
  • watching the joy that this holiday brings The Cinnamon Girl

But, I must admit, all of those memories are set to the sound track of Halloween Song. I remember it so well… I know all the lyrics!

So, happy fall, all! Great ready for All Hallows Eve and enjoy the song!

Halloween

Halloween the wind is blowing, spooks and goblins all about!

Halloween and out we’re going, now to play the game shout out.
Knock, knock, knock, and then we’ll shout!
Knock, knock, knock, shell out shell out!
Then a gust of wind comes blowing, blows my jack-o-lantern out”

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: October 23 – 29, 2019

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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

Screen Shot 2019-10-28 at 8.21.32 PM

The Best Comic I Read Last Week Was Batman: Curse of the White Knight #4

Writer: Sean Murphy

Artist: Sean Murphy

Writer/artist Sean Murphy is creating quite the compelling and complete world in Batman: Curse of the White Knight, the sequel to the popular Batman: White Knight. This alternate history of Batman has been consistently riveting and has illustrated Murphy’s deep knowledge of and clear respect for the history of the character. What makes this pocket of the Batman universe so good is that Murphy honors the traditional Batman tropes without being wedded to them.

In this corner of the DC Universe, Batman is an even more hard-boiled character than we have come to recognize but he is also somehow more connected to and committed to family. That family most immediately includes Dick Grayson, Jim and Barbara Gordon and Duke Thomas and the spins that Murphy has put on each of them are evocative and effective. More broadly, that family has room for a fascinating interpretation of Harley Quinn and a damned impressive one of John Paul Valley.

Batman: Curse of the White Knight is a terrific read and it’s beautifully rendered by the author with his collaborator Matt Hollingsworth. It’s the kind of story I don’t want to see end and it seems DC might be paying attention. Letting Murphy continuing playing in this part of the universe is a very good and very fulfilling idea.

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The 2019 Denver Broncos Week Eight | Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts


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LAST WEEK’S RESULT

Prediction: Kansas City 20 @ Denver 23

Actual: Kansas City 30 @ Denver 6

BACKGROUND

Is the season over?

It’s over in Denver for Emmanuel Sanders.

Some feel it’s over for Joe Flacco.

It’s over for many fans.

Not for me. There are too few opportunities to cheer for the Broncos, no matter the challenges and the struggles and, while I don’t see too many more wins on the horizon, I want to keep the faith… for the future.

KEY MATCH UP

The key match up here is the Broncos vs. the Broncos. It’s that simple. How does the team react to massively under performing – again – and losing an offensive star? How do they play when their chance to make the play offs are, realistically, zero? How do they play against a team that has everything to play for?

Can the Broncos beat the Broncos? If they cannot do that, they have no chance against a good Indianapolis Colts team.

X-FACTOR

Von Miller says he wants to get “spicy.”

Bring it, Von.

I am not (and cannot foresee ever being) on the “Trade 58” bandwagon. I am on the “Change a Game” bandwagon.

Winning this one is going to take a Spicy Von.

Get Spicy.

PREDICTION

There is no rational reason to pick the Broncos in this one. It feels as though they are reeling and stuck between trying to be relevant and committing to rebuild.

I don’t think this game changes that equation much.

I also don’t think they win it.

Denver Broncos – 17

Indianapolis Colts – 33

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The Essential Story of My Mother on Her Birthday


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To honor my mother’s birthday this year, I thought I would share the essential Mom story, the one that really captured who she is as a mother and a person, how she made me the man I am and what her life has meant to me, to my sisters, to her grandchildren and to those who are lucky enough to know her.

I set to work outlining a few ideas about this, jotting down notes and memories to share, searching for the best one – the quintessential story.

I made a list that included her laying beneath my sisters’ and my cribs and shaking them with her feet to entertain us, putting a toy with a suction cup on her forehead to make my sister laugh before Mom and Dad were going out to a public event and pulling it off – leaving a broken circle of blood vessels, always talking to me about superheroes and Stars Trek and Wars, coming to all of my plays, listening to songs I wrote as a kid, being my best supporter in romance young and old, listening to every story of heartbreak I endured and enduring them with me, always being my biggest supporter, reading the novels I have written, sharing laughter and tears, sharing in the birth of my children, in my marriages, in my life.

But here’s the point: there are too many stories, too many notes, too many memories that are wonderful and perfect about my mom. There are too many moments to choose just one that is truly quintessential.

Here is what is essential: I have, always and forever, known the true, deep and abiding emotion of unequivocal love. There is no greater gift I could ever have received. Mom’s love made me who I am and it’s a gift I try to share.

And I love you, Mom. Forever and unequivocally.

Just like you.
unnamed

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Filed under Birthday, Family, Mom, Mother, Mothers, The Mater

Link’n’Blog – 10.25.19 | Respect Unites

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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as fun or thought provoking as I have.

It is said that sports often bring out the best in people.

Hard to argue when you watch the clip below. It doesn’t matter what jersey one wears… respect unites.

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: October 16 – 22, 2019

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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

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The Best Comic I Read Last Week Was Batman #81

Writer: Tom King

Artist: John Romita, jr.

Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

It cannot be that easy, can it?

Tom King and John Romita, jr. are certainly making it seem that way.

If one could have found a complaint with King’s Batman run in recent months, it may have been that the pace was playing out in the slowest of burns.

Yeah. No longer.

As the action of City of Bane continues to ramp up with Batman’s return to Gotham City, King illustrates that he has as much facility with big screen action payoffs as he does with smaller, intimate character beats. In fact, its the contrast between those types of storytelling that make this issue pay off, pay off and pay off. For those who wanted Batman back, retaking his city and re-establishing himself as the alpha in Gotham, that story is here. For those who enjoyed the slower connections of Batman and Catwoman, that story is here. For those who wondered how all the plot points from King’s entire run might tie together, that story is here.

Every story is here.

And so is John Romita, jr., whose very style defines pay off.

What a ride. It’s a shame to anticipate its end.

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Link’n’Blog – 10.18.19 | Empty Cup Awards

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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as fun or thought provoking as I have.

I have never had a cup of coffee.  This is true.

It is also true that I could do a better job convincingly drinking a fake cup of java than these professional actors…

This is a delightful video from Slate the #emptycupawards.

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The 2019 Denver Broncos Week Seven | Kansas City @ Denver Broncos


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LAST WEEK’S RESULT

Prediction: Tennessee 16 @ Denver 26

Actual: Tennessee 0 @ Denver 16

BACKGROUND

Make no mistake. Denver is on an upswing and Kansas City is scuffling. Over the course of the last two weeks, the Chiefs have not only looked beatable, they have been beaten. The Broncos, on the other hand, have looked like they can actually win a game and have won two.

And last week featured a shut out. In the NFL, shut outs are big deals no matter against whom they come.

KEY MATCH UP

There are two here. I cannot pick one.

Denver’s run game vs. Kansas City’s defense is the first key. If Denver gets the ground game going, they can keep Patrick Mahomes off the field. He cannot score from the bench… I don’t think.

The second key is Mahomes vs. the Denver defense. Keep Mahomes and his wounded ankle hemmed in, and Denver has better than a puncher’s chance at this one.

X-FACTOR

Courtland Sutton, Emmanuel Sanders and Joe Flacco are the x-factors in this game. If the ground game rolls – and it might – play action should be featured and Number 5 should be able to hit a few big ones. Do that, that the complexion of the game (and the AFC West) changes.

PREDICTION

Kansas City is hobbled. Denver is hungry.

Will those factors be enough for Denver to win?

If the Broncos pull off the upset, they are relevant at the halfway point of this season. Given that they dropped their first four games, that would be something, indeed.

My orange colored glasses say they get it done.

Kansas City Chiefs – 20

Denver Broncos – 23

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Star Wars Rise Prep: Attack of the Clones | Video Game Nightmare


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the countdown is on!

WEEK TWO: ATTACK OF THE CLONES

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Thoughts….

  • Every bad choice George Lucas could have made as a writer, he makes.
  • Every bad choice George Lucas could have made as a director, he makes.
  • This movie has all the depth of a bad video game.
  • Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman have NO chemistry.
  • I could have written (and I do really believe this is true) better puns for C-3PO.
  • Ewan McGregor and Christopher Lee are far better than the material.
  • Samuel L. Jackson is just happy to be there.
  • Does Boba Fett really pick up a helmet with his father’s severed head in it?!?
  • How video-game inspired is the Geonosis scene with Anakin, Padme, R2-D2 and C-3PO?
  • The Tusken Raider attack by Anakin is actually a very good set piece.
  • Jimmy Smits is a welcome addition.
  • Jar-Jar Binks is to blame for everything.
  • The music is truly incredible.
  • The real settings, especially the idyllic retreats on Naboo, are much more breathtaking than any digital creation.
  • This is the LOW POINT of all Star Wars movies as far as I am concerned.

Retro-Reaction

Attack of the Clones is, for my Republic Credits, the worst Star Wars movie of them all. There is so little story, so little creativity, so little logic to sustain it. I once read that George Lucas said he only had enough story for one prequel movie. That really seems to be the case here. Attack of the Clones is really a bad movie with very few redeeming points. Knowing that Revenge of the Sith is coming next is one of them.

The Schedule 

  • Week One: The Phantom Menace
  • Week Two: Attack of the Clones
  • Week Three: Revenge of the Sith
  • Week Four: Solo
  • Week Five: Rogue One
  • Week Six: A New Hope
  • Week Seven: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Week Eight: Return of the Jedi
  • Week Nine: The Force Awakens
  • Week Ten: The Last Jedi

May the Force Be With Us!

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Joker – A Movie Review


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MV5BNGVjNWI4ZGUtNzE0MS00YTJmLWE0ZDctN2ZiYTk2YmI3NTYyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTkxNjUyNQ@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_Joker is a very, very well made movie. It would not have received a standing ovations at the Vienna Film Festival if it was not. Joaquin Phoenix is immediately a Best Actor contender for February’s Academy Awards with his lead performance. Both mesmerizing and repulsive, Phoenix’s Joker is quite a creation and the actor absolutely carries a movie that has far more in common with street-tough fare from the 1970s than it does with today’s comic book films. 

The publicity surrounding the movie as it was awaiting its US release was that it was a glorification of violence and that it romanticized its title character. I did not find either of those concerns founded. Phoenix’s creation might elicit some early sympathy in the film but, as events play out and as Arthur, his character, makes the choices that inevitably lead to him becoming the Joker, those moments are fleeting. The overall impression is that this is an evil, damaged character – one who is aware of what he is doing and is doing these things of his own volition, not because an uncaring society pushed him over the edge. The Joker is cruel and unhinged and those who worry that this movie makes him into some kind of anti-hero for the modern age are missing the point.

Assuming there is a point to be missed. On reflection, I don’t know that there is a broad point here.

I liked this movie and I know it is good. It evokes a gritty time and place and a movie making style years in the past. It borrows from Scorsese and Freidken. It involves the audience in a bleak and dark existence. It leaves nothing to chance as it does so. 

Joker is an accomplishment. 

Director Todd Phillips stated over-and-over that he did not base his movie on any existing comic book material (a statement which seemed to me to belittle the very source material from which he was lifting) and, while I can say there is no direct adaptation of a Joker story line, this movie owes everything it is to the Bob Kane and Bill Finger creation. While Phillips’ movie impresses, he has not impressed so much in dealing with controversy and in trying to somehow suggest his film is somehow better than its origins. You don’t get to have your cake and eat it, too. 

By the end of the movie, Phillips is telling a story the audience has seen before. He is trying to put his own spin on it, yes (because everyone wants to put their own spin on Hamlet), but he finds himself pulled inexorably back to the center of a universe that can support an evil like the Joker.

We all know what is at that center or, rather, who. And, while Joker is impressive and attempts to center itself in a world without a Batman, it cannot quite pull it off. 

Evocative. Exciting. Compelling. Joker  is one of the best films I’ve seen in quite a while, if not the most original.

JOKER receives FOUR HARD BOILED HOMAGES out of a possible FIVE

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