Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stevie the Hedgehog

Brendan and Rachel bought a hedgehog.
Why didn't they just buy a dog?
It has spikes on its back and eyes like a bat,
What do you expect from an uppity rat? 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jeff & Carol

The above handsome couple are Jeff and Carol Sutor.  Jeff and I worked at the Mary Davis Home for several years before he went off and became a counselor at Henry Hill.  If you are ever in a depressed mood spend a half an hour with Jeff.  He has a particular knack for seeing the good in things or at the very least the not-so-bad.  He and Carol are free spirits who have experienced the feast of life.  Carol made cement garden thinga-ma-bobs for a while and we had one in our back yard.  Jeff makes beer these days I think, and has since retired from the prison.  
They stopped by a couple weeks ago after a cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale.  We had lunch at Three Birds and had a nice chat.  I had run into them on occasion up North now and again, and am planning on more in the coming months when I re-hab the house in Henderson.    

While we were there at Three Birds I noticed that tattoo on a girl at the bar.  Man, that's a lot of ink.  Speaking of tattoos, Jeff has inked himself up pretty good and seems to be going with a Wizard of Oz motif.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Run, Run Faster

A couple of weeks ago Mackenzie or Drew told me they had ordered a small shed and asked if I could help put it together.  I said sure.   Poor stupid Mike.  I have put together, through the years, book cases, entertainment centers, gas grills, computer tables, an outdoor pergola, brick patios, and things that have blessedly been removed from my memory banks.

The worst, absolute worst, was this project.  The instructions were abominable: a dearth of explanation or pictures probably prolonged the finish by 3 or 4 hours.  A run to Lowes to get more things to make it work, and back to the driveway to construct its skeleton.  Then on out to the back yard for its permanent home.  All in all, the building of this small 3'x8' shed was 11 hours, with anywhere from one to four people assisting at any time.  

Now, this is what you say to someone who asks you if you could help building a storage shed:  "I parachuted this morning and my chute failed to deploy, I'm a little sore.".  Say anything, run, ignore them, and keep running.  Take them out of the will, move to Goose Lick, Indiana and call it a life.  

Monday, March 28, 2011

Never Let Me Go



Saw a damn sparklingly interesting movie last night that was one of the most thought -provoking things I've seen in a while.  I say sparklingly because I have so few words that describes it.  And sparkling doesn't so it justice.  There are no car chases, gunfire, fist-fights, zombies or aliens.  It is an alternative history and takes place in England.  It is a movie of ideas.  Of course it made no money.  There is no money for movies of ideas, but if you've got an idea for an outerspace zombie who wrecks cars and blows up subways Hollywood will throw money at you.

This is a quiet movie that will shake your foundation.  It starts quietly, ends quietly but every moment is fascinating.  Rent it. Here is Ebert's review, but he gives too much away.  Don't read it if you want the full impact.  Otherwise, read and note that he gave it four stars.       


Roger Ebert's Review:

In my will, I have left to the next generation such parts of my poor body that it can salvage. That is the Golden Rule. I suppose if you take it literally, you would accept life as a Donor in "Never Let Me Go," because after all, that is the purpose for which you were born. In the film, there is a society within the larger one consisting of children who were created in a laboratory to be Donors. They have no parents in the sense we use the term. I'm not even sure they can be parents. They exist to grow hearts, kidneys, livers and other useful items, and then, sadly, to die after too much has been cut away.

When I read Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, the Donors' purpose was left murky until midway through the book. In the film, it's clear to us but not, up to a certain point, to the children. They live within a closed world whose value system takes pride in how often and successfully they have donated. They accept this. It is all they have ever known. One of the most dangerous concepts of human society is that children believe what they are told. Those who grow out of that become adults, a status not always achieved by their parents.

We meet three Donor children, first when young and then later. They are Kathy, Tommy and Ruth, played in their 20s by Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley. They were raised at Hailsham, a progressive boarding school for Donors: progressive in the sense that it's an experiment based on the possibility that these test-tube babies are real human beings. Well, of course they are, we think. But it doesn't suit the convenience of the larger society to think of them in that way. If you are about to get someone's heart, don't you tend to objectify the source? You should. If you get my heart, I don't want you moping around about me. It's your heart. You pay the bills.

The teachers at Hailsham aren't precisely progressives in the John Dewey tradition, but the school is the last one that still encourages the children at all. The society wants these Donors for one purpose and doesn't want to waste resources on them for any other. If you can walk through this plot without tripping over parallels to our own society and educational systems, you're more sure-footed than I.

The director, Mark Romanek, wisely follows Ishiguro in burying any meanings well within a human story. The film is about Kathy, Tommy and Ruth and their world, and not some sort of parable like 1984. Essentially it asks, how do you live with the knowledge that you are not considered a human being but simply a consumer resource? Many hourly workers at big box stores must sometimes ponder this question.

"Never Let Me Go" would have made a serious error in ramping up contrived melodrama toward some sort of science-fiction showdown. This is a movie about empathy. About how Ruth realizes Kathy and Tommy were naturally in love with each other as adolescents, and how she selfishly upset that process. About how now, when it may be too late, she wants to make amends. About the old rumor at Hailsham that if two Donors should fall deeply in love they might qualify for some sort of reprieve — short-term, to be sure. But if their masters can believe they can love, they would have to believe they are human. Two of the requirements for a being with a soul in Thomist philosophy are free will, and the ability to love. Donors qualify for both.

This is such a meditative, delicate film. I heard some snuffling about me in the darkness. These poor people are innocent. They have the same hopes everyone has. It is so touching that they gladly give their organs to humankind. Greater love hath no man, than he who gives me his kidney, especially his second one.

This is a good movie, from a masterful novel. "The Remains of the Day," also inspired by an Ishiguro novel, was similar: What is happening is implied, not spelled out. We are required to observe. Even the events themselves are amenable to different interpretations. The characters may not know what they're revealing about themselves. They certainly don't know the whole truth of their existence. We do, because we are free humans. It is sometimes not easy to extend such stature to those we value because they support our comfort.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Flashback Friday - Missy Edition

Welcome to a new fairly regular feature called Flashback Friday. We will go through the old archives to come up with old photos of interest. For our first Flashback Friday we give you Missy whose 2nd year anniversary of her death was this week. As you can see she was a pretty good sport.

Yeah, yeah, yeah I wanna have some fun.

Where are we going?

Oh no.  Uh. My dignity has left the building.

Oh no, I'm a bag lady.

Oh no you don't, I'm not going through that again.

Believe I'll just have a nice nap.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Park Pics, People Pics

Great day for painting.

A little kid and the big world he occupies.

Huge ship in the Bay.

Hide and seek with the folks.

Just relaxing and soaking in the sun. 


Hang on.  One pooch can be trying, let alone three.  Squirrel!

A one-legged bird. 

I'm not sure what is going on here,  but it appears to be some kind of bongo backed martial art group.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oyster Bar, After A Walk In the Park, Of Course

A pretty neat looking tree in downtown St. Pete. 

It looks like one of Dali's trees in his paintings.  It is reminiscent of his "Melting Clocks".

Cinderella arrives for lunch.

OK, so it's a duplicate. 

The inside of Central Avenue Oyster Bar.  Love it, and love oysters, too.

Nice name.

                                            Cruise ship heading to Tampa.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Missy - Two Years After

It's been 2 years since I lost Missy Marie, and although it has gone fast, and I've made lots of changes in life since that time, something has been missing. You can't see it and it can't be bought, but it's there, I feel it; every time I step in a yard, every time I see someone with their dog, every time I move from one room to another. Everyone thinks their pet is the best, and that's why we buy toys for them, lavish them with our affections, track them down when they decide to go exploring, and spend unreasonable amounts of money on them when they are ill. Missy wasn't the greatest dog in the world, she hated adventure, had no ego, and didn't travel well. But she was the greatest dog for me.  I loved that I could pamper her, push her buttons so she would perform, and most of all her constant loyal companionship.  So, where are we?  Well, she gave me a legacy of love, and no dog can ever replicate her, but I am ready to find another friend.  Perhaps she's out there, just waiting for me.   

Rob Thomas and Now Comes The Night a song I discovered around the time she started having health problems.  I liked it so now I associate it with Missy.  Dumb.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Scenes Of St. Pete

Taking a break and going one-legged.

Interesting cycle/scooter hybrid I saw at the Park.  Apparently my motorcycle expert, Stewart, claims this is an extremely well-handling Vespa PIAGGIO MP3.  It comes in 150 and 250 cc and perhaps a larger one is in the works.  It has a great range with its small engine, doesn't need a kick stand,  and exceptional braking.  I might need to get one of these.   

The guy who does this comes out every weekend to the Park and makes a sand castle.  He works in construction and does this as an advertisement for his business.  He figures if people stop and marvel at his work, then perhaps they will think his building job will be good as well.   Each one he builds each weekend is different, and he leaves his business card tacked to the tree. 

Saw this on the street and as I suspected, it was a lady driver.


A tiny school of minnows.

Always stand by at your newly poured cement to prevent this.  I wonder how many kids asked their parents what this says? 

Exercise bars at the Park.  Good way to impress your lady.

Know what these are?  They are next to the cement abutment at the marina.

Give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed right.