Never Seeing No one Nice Again.

 I was a kid in man clothes. I was out at an expensive restaurant with a girlfriend and her parents. The night was long, the conversation dull, and I felt like a frat pledge at a debutante’s ball. When we were done, just while I walked out the door, I took off my coat, balled in in my fists and hurled it into the grass…in front of my girlfriend and her parents. (I did say “kid in man clothes.”)  Her parents, in no uncertain (and not particularly polite) terms, explained to me that my maturity level was not impressing them. They were right. I was a child throwing a tantrum. Kids need to be told when they’re acting badly, and this was no way to spend my 42nd birthday. If I were famous, if I were absurdly rich, my acting up would surprise no one. The difference, though, would be… Read More…

Fan Wars: Healthy Competition or Justice League Ex-Communication?

So it’s almost here. After over thirty years of cinematic irrelevance, the original superhero is less than a week away from climbing back to the top of the cinematic comic world. It’s no doubt that Richard Donner’s 1978 “Superman” is the DNA blueprint to all other superhero movies to come after it. What a great film. I remember watching it as a kid and just loving every minute of it; especially since it was my dad and Jerry Seinfeld’s favorite. The film is seriously great. John Williams’ score, Gene Hackman’s Lex. Christopher Reeve’s was just born to play Superman. Margot Kidder is so late-70’s hot, it’s beyond charming. And you can’t help but tear up every time Pa Kent kicks the bucket. It gets me every time. The film started DC’s long tenure on top of the film universe. From “Superman” to Tim Burton’s “Batman” and some over-saturated sequels, DC… Read More…

Arbitrary Arpeggios: Surrendering to “Shuffle”

Shuffle is awesome. Just something about that option; that every time we pick up our mp3 players, we lend our mood to musical fate. I don’t even make playlists anymore. I enjoy the spontaneity of the shuffle feature. What’s crazy, is when a song comes on that eerily relates to whatever is going on in your life. This happens in movies A LOT. Cynics and trolls will roll their eyes every time a piece of media playing in the background (radio, film clip, news reel) directly relates to and affects our main character. It happens so often in film and TV. It’s even been perfectly spoofed by Trey Parker and Matt Stone in this scene from “BASEketball”.  [Warning (and no surprise) a bit of vulgarity toward the end.] This scene is spot on in its attempt to make fun of how convenient diegetic music in movies can be and how… Read More…

Perhaps the “F” and “Y” stand for something else…

I might as well have said, “The crow flies at midnight.” It felt that cloak-and-dagger. “Can I help you, sir?” asked the manager. “Hi.  I just want to cancel my membership.” She frowned, nodded, walked behind the counter, grabbed a coupon and wrote on the back of it, handed it to me and immediately walked away. I looked in my hand and there it was.  The first step on my long journey out of The Stupid Tax. Financial expert Dave Ramsey has some great stories of how we’ve all made some silly decisions that end up costing us lots and lots of money. My Stupid Tax story began over a year ago when I was picking up a number of DVDs for a project.  I needed to get short clips of some classic films and couldn’t find what I needed at the library or the local Blockbusters (which may have… Read More…

My Dad’s Tribute Video: Someday I’ll watch this and not lose it…

It had taken me five years to gather the courage to put this thing together.  I lied to myself and thought I was ready.  I’d converted the wedding video, hauled thirty VHS tapes to school and scanned through all of the footage.  I’d loaded up each segment of my father’s life into pretty little categories:  Dad, Grandpa, Family, Friends.  Each with its own neat chapter on the DVD menu partitioning his life. Jim Walsh died suddenly in 1997 at the age of 57.  And I’d “been the soldier,” to quote my dad’s Uncle Jerry when I called him with the news.  After a year, I could say the sentence, “My dad died” without that vice-grip on my esophagus.  I remember at the funeral home, my sister saying, “I’m looking forward to it being a year after.”  It’s true, you go through those little anniversaries:  “Six months ago, Dad was up… Read More…

Amazon, My Guilty Conscience and the Decline of Detroit Shopping

I was waiting for some photos to get developed at Meijer–a Michigan-based store where I had done my shopping since they opened in 1977, a short bike ride from my house. It was an enormous place–“Thrifty Acres” they called themselves. Even now, when I walk through the produce area, I remember where the record and 8-track department was. I can still see the “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease” cardboard mobiles hanging from the drop ceiling. My favorite memory is the foot-long plastic containers that encased the 8-tracks to discourage shallow-pocketed shoplifters. Meijer also carried darkroom chemicals in their own specialized photo store, inside one of the acres. It was a pretty cool place for a kid creating a darkroom under the basement stairs. I felt naturally drawn down the photo aisle, almost smelling those foul developers, fixers and stop bath solutions I used to mix up in the laundry tub…. Read More…

Compulsive Sing-Alongs: What’s Yours?

It was the last day of high school exams and I was in charge of the playlist. My class ran the morning announcements and also was given permission to play music on the PA during the passing-time between the first two classes and right after school. The daily one-song DJ for 2,000 students became a popular job and students would often sign-up days in advance. The songs needed to be G-rated, and most of the times they were. Once a wrong lyric slipped through my radar and the phone rang within 5 seconds of the violation and I needed to issue a general e-mail apology to the building. Successful songs included the occasional Disney hit (Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You). It was fun to stand in the halls and see the students mouthing their childhood memories. We even had our own student bands premiere their songs and… Read More…