Jul 202017
  • I ran my mouth about a mild summer, and look what happened. Heh. Looks cooler next week, though with rain.
  • Molly is going to the vet this afternoon for (probably) an X-ray of her lower spine. Something’s causing her a great deal of pain back there. Hoping it’s treatable and nothing serious.
  • I shared Moon with Nathan this week. What a treat to enjoy it again! That is one of the finest science fiction films of the past ten years. Just phenomenally crafted, top to bottom.
  • It has been quite some time since I strayed from this life rule, but I did yesterday, and its infallibility was reinforced to me yet again: once you pick a lane at the grocery store, do not change lanes. For anything. If a woman begins giving birth in front of you, stay in your lane.
  • Tabasco has announced a new scorpion sauce that is 20 times hotter than standard Tabasco. I’ll try it, if I can get some. This is still not very hot, but it probably tastes good. (The habanero Tabasco is delicious.)
  • There are a few emulable characters on Breaking Bad, but Walter White really isn’t one of them.
  • College football begins in only 37 days.
 Posted by at 10:44 am
Jul 172017

Martin Landau has just died at 89.

Martin Landau has been in and out of most of my life. Some of my earliest memories of watching TV with my dad are of us sitting in the recliner together for Space: 1999.

When I think of him, though, the thing I always remember first (now) was his behavior at a Mission: Impossible film premiere party several years back. A young MTV correspondent (maybe Kennedy? can’t remember) approached him and said something cordial, which he returned. Then she asked him what his connection was to the event.

And instead of having a chuckle about youth and perhaps offering a vaguely paternal nudge in the right direction, he began viciously berating her for not knowing her stuff. I mean, he lit into her. She was deer-in-the-headlights. She apologized; he wouldn’t hear it. In fact, they cut back to her a few minutes later in a different part of the room, and he was still scolding her.

(I couldn’t find a video with a quick search. I’ll look for it again tonight.)

Now I get that we don’t really know celebrities. Sometimes that’s tragic (see here and here); other times it’s just potentially misguided. But that superficiality is really our entire relationship with these people, so it persists to some degree whether or not we like it.

It’s why I remember Martin Landau as a sour, graceless old man, and then an actor.

(See also Jay Leno.)

 Posted by at 11:15 am
Jul 142017

Perhaps the single greatest naïveté of my life (well, so far) is/was what I once believed about Generation X and divorce. It went something like this:

My generation is the first one whose parents divorced essentially without social stigma. So, they did it in greater numbers. So, my generation got a close-up look at divorce from a child’s eyes. Armed with that knowledge, we would move heaven and earth to prevent visiting similar pain upon our offspring. So, the divorce rate would go down.

How’d that work out?

My parents divorced when my sister had just turned 8, and I was not quite 11. So far, my wife Lea and I are holding up our end. We married in May 1997, and we’re still strong. I would call the possibility of divorce remote.

Societally, though, it was a silly thought to have. The divorce rate has hung in pretty solidly at flip-a-coin, and the results are devastating, particularly on the children whose plights are so often papered over with “children are resilient!” and “they’ll be better away from this toxic environment!” and other similarly trite catch phrases.

(That is not to say that divorce is never indicated. People need to get away from unrepentant addicts and/or abusers, for example. But children and their concerns all too often get a Band-Aid platitude and no further consideration, even in marriages that could have been saved with a little effort.)

Seventy adult children of divorce speak in Leila Miller’s Primal Loss.

In the Divorce Fantasy World, there are only two choices. Unhappy parents stay miserably married and fight for the rest of their lives, or they get divorced and everyone lives happily ever after. The idea that one or both parents should change their behavior doesn’t register as an option, nor does the idea that the divorce might seriously wound the kids. – from the Foreword

The book asks a different question in each of its eight chapters. Responses are organized by topic and for readability, labeled with a number that corresponds to a brief biography of the respondent available at the end of the book.

This was a difficult book for me to read. I’ve done the best I can to resolve the difficulties in that part of my life, because I certainly don’t want to carry around the hurt and resentment day to day, decades later. I had to tear scars open a bit and hurt again to really connect as I turned pages. And even though the problems my sister and I had as a result of our parents’ divorce weren’t as bad as they could have been, there was still plenty that happened to us—that was said to us, that was acted to us—that most certainly wasn’t “normal” or healthy.

A recurrent theme throughout the responses in all eight chapters was that of emotionally unhealthy adults still trying to parent, and wow, could I ever relate to that. There’s no remaining bandwidth for your kids to get your best when you’re just barely keeping it on the road yourself. And I was adrift in some ways I shouldn’t have been in my adolescence.

I think Primal Loss‘s most important message is the same one I have preached for years, and one that needs to be drilled into the heads of any parents considering divorce: your children will never be the same. That is not to say they’re incapable of recovery and won’t have successful lives, but to say that when you look at them now, pre-divorce, anything positive you see is subject to significant trauma and subsequent emergency repair. Is whatever you’re feeling worth that risk?

Now if the seeds of addiction, promiscuity, criminal life, or anything of the sort are already there, then little can help them germinate more effectively than your divorce. But even if they aren’t, you are still knocking your kids—people you chose to make exist—for what is likely the biggest loop of their lives.

Do you need to end your marriage that badly?

Primal Loss belongs on the nightstand of any parents considering divorce, and certainly in any church library. It is a powerful counterattack to “comforting” platitudes about children and divorce, and I’m heartened it’s out there.


 Posted by at 10:44 am
Jul 132017
  • Baby Driver is a great summertime movie and worth a theater trip. The R rating is pretty soft; probably a PG-13 except for two or three brief scenes of graphic violence.
  • I have to start keeping a lunch in reserve at work, even if it’s just a can of Spaghettios. I deluded myself into Taco Bell yesterday. I don’t need to do that ever again. Counting the unsettled afternoon tummy, it’s like four hours of self-loathing.
  • Dear female Facebook friends:  The photographic filters that smooth all of your wrinkles and blemishes and whatever else you’re hiding also make you look ridiculously synthetic, like a plastic baby doll, and it’s not a good look. Please, knock it off. You are lovely just the way you are.
  • Our when-we-push-the-peanut tiling project in the boys’ bathroom is to the exciting part. Lea’s putting tile up. She’s doing a great job.
  • The IndyCar championship race is tight. Not following the series? It’s always a good time to jump in. Next race is in the streets of Toronto on Sunday at 2 PM CDT on CNBC.
  • I want an Echo Show, but not for that money. I’ll watch for a Christmas shopping special.
  • Still too early to call it in a mild summer, but we’re firmly into the part of the calendar that misery frequents. If we can tiptoe through another six weeks of highs in the low 90s, I’ll be a happy guy.
 Posted by at 2:43 pm
Jul 102017

This is part of an ongoing series reviewing hot wings in the Huntsville area. Visit #HsvHotWings for a comprehensive linked list.

Ale’s Kitchen is the restaurant portion of the new Straight to Ale facility at Campus No. 805 on Clinton Ave. Tommy, Trent, and I took in a weekday lunch there.

The restaurant is full service, with one wing size (an advertised one pound of wings plus fresh-cut fries) available for $13.63. This ended up being six drums and three flats, with a goodly portion of fries and a cup of ranch. The hottest of six varieties is xXx-tra hot Diablo, so that’s what I ordered. Our server John did a good job.

Quality: 6/10. The wings were of mostly consistent temperature, with a couple of hot spots. No excessive fattiness, but a rubbery bite here and there. Within tolerance on size, but toward the small end.

Flavor: 5/10. Some people would have salted these. There is a sweetness that hits early, followed by a botanical pepper vibe. Neither sensation is unpleasant, but the two flavors don’t really intermingle or have anything else to do with each other, so the overall taste is more muddled than anything. A little culinary TLC in the interest of a consistent gustatory message would be a good thing.

Heat: 6/10. There are a few fireworks here, hitting pretty much full-strength by the end of the first wing. The heat continues throughout the meal, and then persists for about 10 minutes of afterburn. I would say red pepper is responsible for most of the front, with perhaps a bit of a C. chinense cultivar on the back side, though I never specifically identified it. I was never uncomfortable, but I did apply ice water a time or two. Definitely hot enough to goose the uninitiated.

Straight to Ale at Campus No. 805 is a nifty place to visit, with marvelous ambience, numerous craft beers, and several good things on the menu. I finished these wings, but there is definitely room to up their game.

 Posted by at 1:08 pm

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