Friday, September 28, 2012

I Nearly Became Road Pizza

When I was seven years old, a friend of mine and I were walking on the sidewalk near my house. We were one house away from home when my teenaged neighbor pulled out of the driveway at idle speed, knocked my friend back and ran him over in her little Gremlin. I had narrowly escaped simply because he had been walking in front of me. The incident didn't do much more than traumatize the poor kid and mess up his clothing. That memory stuck with me, though. Over thirty years later, I still have nightmares about it. I can still hear him screaming as he goes under and I can still hear him crying while he's trapped under the car. Sometimes, I dream that it's me accidentally running him over. And, because of that, I have always been paranoid about making sure pedestrians aren't in front of me when I pull out. It never dawned on me that I'd actually be the pedestrian in that situation.

This afternoon, while I was walking to lunch with a friend, it happened. We set out into the cross walk, me first, him following. A college aged lady wasn't paying attention and proceeded to attempt a right turn on red while I was right in the center cross-hairs of her SUV. She was just idling, but her vehicle nudged my arm and she kept going. I nearly lost my balance but managed to brace my hands against her hood as I walked backward to attempt to keep from falling under. And, right in my mind, I saw my childhood friend falling under that Gremlin. I beat relentlessly on the woman's hood while getting dangerously close to the cross street. Thankfully, she heard the ruckus and stopped before any harm could come to me.

For the briefest of moments, I thought to myself how crappy it was that I was going to get pasted to the street by an SUV. I always imagined it would be a runaway beer truck. It had been such a good day. I had just dropped my daughter off at her grandmother's after an early dismissal and had promised to bring her McDonald's for dinner. I wondered how close I came to not being able to keep that promise. Later, though, I thought about how we all need little miracles like this to remind us not to take the world around us for granted and to live life in the now. And also to pay better attention to our surroundings.

Look right. Then left. Then right again. THEN turn.

I'm going to go crack open a bottle of Samuel Adams Octoberfest. And, I suspect it will be the best beer I've ever had.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Jalapenos Are Growing. Finally.

I have probably joked about my brown thumb on this blog every year for the past three years. My lack of gardening skills were never so evident as they were this past Summer where, due mainly to drought-like conditions, I managed to kill off several flowers and two large evergreen bushes. My jalapeno plant hung in there like a champ, though. Even though it flowered several times over the Summer, it never bore any fruit until just recently.

We had what seemed to be an incredibly hot Summer, and, I have learned that in high heat, jalapeno blossoms tend to drop off at temperatures over 90 degrees before pollination can occur. And, of course, without pollination, there's no fruit. So, now that the heat wave is decidedly over, my jalapeno plant has already sprouted at least 5 little fruit buds. Now, the trick will be to judge when to pick them. Mature jalapenos are usually 2 to 3 1/2 inches long and exhibit lines or small cracks on the shoulder.

I'm hoping I end up having enough to make a decent chili.

What's Happening, Hot Stuff?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Saw The Metlife Blimp

It's not often that you see a blimp in the air when you walk out to your car to go to lunch. But, that's exactly what I saw the other day. It was one of the Met Life blimps. They've got two, actually. They're both A60+ models named Snoopy 1 and Snoopy 2. It was the Snoopy 1 that graced my sky the other day. The MetLife blimp's primary mission is to appear at sporting events and support special fly-over events for employees and clients. Basically, it's a great way to advertise.

I'm no by blimp fan by any stretch of the imagination, but, if you are, then the MetLife blimp has a lot of resources for you, such as The MetLife Blimp tracker, MetLife Blimp Twitter account and event schedule.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Large Undertaking

About five years ago, I wrote a script that was essentially a parody of the VH1 series, Behind The Music. I drew from my own experiences as a musician, DJ and radio personality and ended up putting together a script that was proclaimed as hilarious by everyone who read it. I even tried to film some of it but the footage was nearly all unusable. So, the script sat in a folder in my desk for years until I happened to bring it along with several other scripts and half finished ideas to a local gathering of actors and writers.

I had been hoping to polish up a script I had that was essentially a serious look at a troubled man in a mental institution. It ended up bringing this normally jovial group down, especially since they had expected me to have something comedic. In order to redeem my clownish reputation, I showed everyone my old Behind The Music script and was encouraged to get out and bring it to life. After all, I had a group of actors at my disposal and the means to turn this vision into a reality.

So, for the past month, I have been doing exactly that. It has been incredibly difficult casting, filming and editing this piece. I'm used to coming up with an idea, shooting it and editing it within a few days. Here I am a month into this and I'm barely halfway done. I've filmed about a dozen bit parts and have about three more to fill. Adapting to the schedules of other people has been tough, and sifting through footage for "the" cut I want is even tougher. Along the way, I've worked with some amazingly talented people and have found enough inspiration to add some last minute jokes to the script. The ending is still somewhat up-in-the-air as I've never been 100% pleased with how I ended the story originally. So, it has been a good experience working outside of my comfort level, but there's still a lot more to do.

Look for the results of my labor in about a month or two.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Little Something About Labor Day

I drove my brother's Cadillac around all weekend with the windows down, the sunroof open and the tunes blasting. I don't get to see JohnMac more than about once a year due to how far away he lives, so when he suggested picking me and kiddo up and us all driving up to hang out with the parents and the rest of my siblings, I readily agreed. What ensued was a Labor Day weekend filled with pizza, beer, cookouts, basketball tournaments and friendly discussions about whether or not my Mustang was superior to his Cadillac. Not a bad weekend for the unofficial "Last Weekend Of Summer".

My brother was off to see a bunch of his old high school friends and graciously allowed me the use of his Cadillac during the day while he was gone. I drove around through Chicago, zig zagging through the railways and recalling how many of the worker benefits we enjoy in the United States today such as the eight hour work day and the celebration of Labor Day were borne out of the Chicago labor movement.

We've come to see Labor Day as the the last change to have an epic weekend before the weather starts to turn. What we often forget, however, is that we owe thanks to organized labor for making this sort of celebratory experience possible. Labor Day was first proposed as a holiday back in 1882 by organized labor officials (reports vary as to which specific individual deserves the credit). Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 in the aftermath of the Pullman Strike in which 13 strikers were killed and 57 were wounded, many of them at the hands of US Military which had been called in by President Grover Cleveland to break the strike.

It's almost ironic now that retail corporations see Labor Day as the perfect time to have a sale, thus forcing employees to work longer hours.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tommy Stark Is Iron Mac

This is an effects test video for my upcoming spoof called "Iron Mac: The Apathetic Avenger". This was done with the help of the folks from InstFX and should give you an idea of how the short movie will shape up once I finish it in a few months. Aside from testing the effects, I was able to make this particular video funny as well.