Sunday, February 18, 2007

Posted by Mark at 7:45 PM

Happy Birthday (2/17) to My Dad, the Iron Man!

Yesterday was my dad's birthday, his 51st. He is an amazing person, and I will be writing a longer post on this wonderful person later.......

Posted by Mark at 7:29 PM

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Mark Martin Misses Daytona Win...Thanks to Matt Kenseth!

Mark Martin, driver of the 01 US Army Ginn Racing Monte Carlo, finished 2nd to Kevin Harvick today at the Daytona 500. After 20 years with Roush Racing, Mark left because owner Jack Roush felt he couldn't give a ride to a part-time driver; despite the fact that MARK made Roush Racing. If not for Mark Martin, Jack Roush would be a washed up drag racer in Ohio. However, Mark saw a great opportunity and took it. He is united with Ryan Pemberton and will drive a limited schedule in Nextel Cup, some Busch racing, and some truck racing as well.

Well, showing that he has no loyalty for the man who got him a job, Matt Kenseth helped Kevin "I lost Goodwrench as my Sponsor" Harvick to the front on the last lap charge. Mark survived challenges by Kyle "I'd wreck my Mom" Busch and two caution flags. However, the push by Kenseth did Mark in. And to think that Mark is the one who got Matt the job with Roush, who discovered Matt. Thankfully, this Roush loyalist/traitor got what he deserved when his pushing led him to wreck. Mark tried to fight back in the last lengths, but Harvick had the preferred position for momentum and won by 2 one hundredths of a second. It was Mark's 23rd 500.

However, did Mark get bitter? Did he show the same lack of class usually shown by Jack Roush and the young whiners that make up most of Nextel Cup? No, he blamed himself and said he didn't get it done. However, he did all he could do. It was his protege who did him in. Thanks, Kenseth, on behalf of all Mark Martin fans, for NOTHING!!!!

It's spring... And Ken Griffey Jr. is hurt. He has a broken wrist/hand. He had not revealed how he had gotten injured until now. He did reveal at last that he got the injury wrestling with his kids. Well, at least it was something wholesome, unlike Jimmy Johnson of NASCAR who acted like a total moron and broke his arm while doing jackass material on a golfcart.

I hope Griffey, who by the way is reporting to camp early, has a great year. This guy deserves it. He quite possibly is the best player of the last half of teh 20th century, but he has been snakebitten. I hope he does well, and on the flip side, may Barry Bonds rupture his achilles and be forced to retire, along with his Clear and Cream.

Star Trek Has Jumped the Shark...Again

Well, it looks like Star Trek, one of the greatest franchises ever, has finally jumped the shark. Instead of coming up with new ideas and characters, the current custodians of Roddenberry's dream have gone through the re-imagining route ala Battlestar Galactica and others. They have cast Matt Damon to play Captain Kirk, set in the early days of Kirk's career, at the academy; where he will run into Spocke and McCoy. ARGH! These people are totally loons if they think they are doing the right thing. First of all, Kirk could not have been at the Academy the same time as Spock and McCoy; both are older than him. Also, Matt Damon sucks as an actor (except the Bourne Movies, and that's mostly because he isn't talking), and him filling the shoes of Bill Shatner is an insult.

I am sure there will be other crap like characters being different genders and sexual preferences (all these reimaginings have those twists) which will tarnish the image all the more. You can't recapture that old Star Trek feel, no matter if you bring back the old sweaters of the 1960s. It disgusts me that they are going to spit on the legacy of these actors and characters, and create a bastardized version. It reminds me of what has been done to other classic tv shows and movies, like the disgusting remakes of Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky and Hutch, Mission Impossible 2 and 3, as well as Posiedon (the original is much better, having to flip the ship with Shelley Winters on board, that's hard!).

These aren't reimaginings or trying to bring the good stories and characters to new audiences. Like our in our education system, this is the systematic dumbing down and bastardization. And it is disgusting.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Posted by Mark at 9:28 PM

A Bittersweet Victory and Reunion

I attended the Ducks/Blackhawks game at the United Center Saturday evening. It was a gift to my sister who is attending college in Illinois. Myself and a family friend drove out and picked her up and took her to the big city. It was awesome to see the banners of people like Esposito, Hall, Savard, Mikita and those Stanley Cup banners. It was great to see (even though I rooted against the bulls) the bulls banners as well.

Let me tell you some things about the locale vs. Columbus. Columbus is much better situated, has friendlier staff, and has more competent staff. It was a runaround getting the ushers to get us to the right seats. But enough of that, on to the game.

When the teams came out for warmups, it warmed my heart to see that Ilya Bryzgalov was leading the way, meaning in all likelihood that he would be starting (and he did). It was a bittersweet moment. It was great to see all the former Cincy Ducks: Bryz, Gigger, Penner, Paulsson, Perry, Andy MacDonald, Getzlaf, Kunitz, and Shane O'Brien and the others, and for a moment, it was like yesterday. It seemed like a timewarp back to the gardens. They even played CrazyTrain by Ozzy Ozzborne during the warmups! As I sat in the seat I could almost envision the boys in the old eggplant and jade. Just as always, Mary and her friend were down along the ice, taking pictures and rooting the team on. Bryz was doing his usual warmup routine.

A few impressions about the team. The Niedermayers are old and slow, and they and Pronger are not the huge assets they are hyped to be. Their passing was rather elementary and they lacked speed. Penner has improved his skating and his shot selection. He scored what proved to be the gamewinning goal. Other former Cincy Ducks chipped in as well, as you will see in the stats at the bottom. Ilya played a great game, making some great shots, and he stayed focused even though Chicago was often kept away from the net by the forechecking, and their own inept passing.

Overall, Anaheim looked like a solid team, but I wish the Niedermayers and Pronger got less minutes. It would improve the passing and the speed.

It was a great experience, and I was saddened when it was over. I was so glad to see my old boys again, and I was happy Mary had her friend with her. With my recent injuries to my left knee and my degenerating condition of my right ankle, she had someone with her who could do what I can't do at this time. I would have loved to have been down there by the ice like I was many times at the old Gardens, but with my current injuries from softball and other endeavors, it just won't be happening. I was happy for my sister, but it was sad that I could not longer go with her around and explore the arena, as we did many years ago at the gardens, and at other arenas.

what was cool is that Shane and Penner and a couple other former Ducks noticed Mary wearing her Penner game used and Sara wearing my Byrz game used 3rd Jersey. I was up in the stands wearing my Ilja Cincy Swords game worn. I enjoyed it, but between the fact I couldn't do what I used to, and the fact that it was a reminder of what we no longer had, it was at best a bittersweet victory, but I will take it.

Stats and notes on the game:

CHICAGO (AP) -Ilya Bryzgalov earned his first shutout this season and Dustin Penner scored in the second period to help the Anaheim Ducks beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 Saturday night.

Bryzgalov stopped 14 shots and Andy McDonald and Rob Niedermayer also scored for the Ducks, who dealt injury-depleted Chicago (4-6-0) its fourth consecutive defeat and second straight shutout. Anaheim (8-0-3) and Buffalo are the only NHL teams without a regulation loss this season.

Bryzgalov, making only his third start of the season, posted his second career regular-season shutout. He had three in 11 playoff games last spring, however.

The Blackhawks played without four of their top players. Forwards Martin Havlat, Michal Handzus and Tuomo Ruutu, and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin are all out with injuries.

Chicago's Brian Boucher started for the second straight game in place of Khabibulin and made 19 saves.

Anaheim had the best chance in the scoreless first period with just 15 seconds remaining. Todd Marchant was unable to get his stick on a loose puck at the edge of the crease with Boucher down and out of position.

Chicago's Brent Seabrook knocked a rebound past Bryzgalov at 1:17 of the second period. However a video review determined that the puck didn't completely cross the goal line before Bryzgalov swept it out with his glove.

The Blackhawks wasted a 1-minute, 50-second 5-on-3 power play early in the second period, managing only one shot on goal during the span.

The Ducks failed to score during a 1-minute, 42-second 5-on-3 advantage midway through the second.

But Penner's even-strength goal, with 8:25 left in the period, gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead. From just in front of the crease, he swatted in a rebound of Scott Niedermayer's shot from the right point.

McDonald's power-play goal at 2:18 of the third made it 2-0. From the right circle, he one-timed Corey Perry's cross-ice pass in off Boucher's pads.

Rob Niedermayer banged in a rebound of Samuel Pahlsson's shot just over 2 minutes later to extend the Ducks' lead to 3-0.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Posted by Mark at 9:30 PM

The Adam Era needs to Be Dunn and Gone

I heard this story on the radio, and I had to respond to it. It was on 1530AM HOMER today on the Lance McAllister Show, which prompted me to call in and voice my opinions on the air.

The Cincinnati Reds have been in a terrible swoon lately. They went in a three week period, from being tied for first in the Division, to being six games out of the Central and 4.5 games out of the Wild Card. One of the chief suspects in the swoon is Adam Dunn. One thing most fans are thinking about is if the Reds have the mental makeup, if they have the mental drive to get it going again. With his words and actions, Dunn proves he is not worthy of the Reds uniform or the number 44. From the Dayton Daily News:
The other day Hatteberg questioned if the Reds — who haven't had to play for anything in recent Septembers — still have guys who think they don't have to show up every day.

Is resolve giving way to resignation?

Dunn shrugged at the questions: "I have no idea. We're just playing bad at the wrong time. There's nothing we can do. I guess we could take extra batting practice, but that's not really going to do anything ..."

But as he left the clubhouse, the big outfielder showed he was going to get some swings in.

He picked up the golf bag by his locker, slung it over his shoulder and, with clubs rattling, headed for the door.

Might as well start working on the game he'll be playing when the postseason starts.

Adam Dunn has talent. He wouldn't have made the majors without it. He wouldn't have had a football scholarship without it. However, what separates the talented from the Great is the extent to which you work hard to get better. Adam Dunn, with his words and actions here and on the Jim Rome Show a few weeks ago, show that he doesn't want to get better. He doesn't want to work harder to improve his poor batting average, or his dismal performance with runners in scoring position. He does nothing to work on his abysmal fielding in left field, and refuses to learn how to play first base. He says coaches meetings don't help, and batting practice doesn't help.

Basically, what we have here is someone with an ego problem. See, ol' Adam knows chicks dig the long ball. As long as he can make googly eyes at the girls in their "git er dunn" shirts and occaisionally hit the ball, and of course get his pay check, that is all that matters. He doesn't care about winning. He doesn't care about improving his game. He doen't care about improving himself or his abilities. Oh, and you Dunn apologists, where are those 55 HR and 135 RBIs he was on pace to hit? Where is the 240 average you said was acceptable? Hmm? He cares only for the money and the fame. Yet, even as he engages in his own largesse and is showing himself to be a lazy sack of goo, he whines to another reporter about how no one likes him.

He is unworthy of the uniform that men like Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Frank Robinson, Gus Bell, Dave Parker, and Eric Davis wore. They cared about helping the team and improving their own game. Adam Dunn cares only for his libido, his fishing, his golf, and his money. He obviously doesn't care about the team doing better. He makes predictions about going to postseason but God forbid Captain Lazy actually work to make it happen.

Scott Hattieberg is right. There are too many guys on this team with the phone it in mentality, and it starts with Adam Dunn. He should be traded this offseason, preferably for someone who doesn't have such a fragile ego, and who has a smaller hole in their swing than Mt. Everest. Most of all, the person should be a gamer. Which Dunn is not and never will be. Say what you will about Aurillia, Hatteberg, and even Freel--you know they are bringing it all the time. YOu know they are working hard to get it done. They bleed to win. Dunn just shrugs his shoulders and lollygags after yet another ball he misplayed or takes his bat and trudges back to first. He is a disgrace.

Say what you will about the last star to wear 44 in Cincy, Eric Davis. No, he never lived up to the promise that was set for him, but he worked very hard. He left it all on the field. He gave up a kidney for the team. He fought cancer and beat it just for the chance to play ball again. He sacrificed his body to make a play. Dunn doesn't sacrifice breaking a sweat.

Get this clown out of my team's uniform, out of my ballpark, and out of my city. Better to have a 250 hitter with heart than a home run slugger with no heart and no desire to better himself.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Posted by Mark at 5:11 PM

Mark at the Movies

I've been going to the movies alot here lately. Over the past few months, I have seen XMen 3, Superman Returns, Clerks 2, Pirates 2, among others. I also Over the Hedge, the lighthearted cartoon romp. I will begin with Over the Hedge.

Over the Hedge

Featuring the voices of Bruce Willis, Gary Schandling, and my personal favorite, Bill Shatner, this film tells the tale of RJ(Willis), a raccoon who is in trouble. He tried to take Vincent the bear's (Nick Nolte) food and has two weeks to replace it or else. RJ's plan, to con a group of foragers into collecting the food for him. Lead by Verne the turtle (Garry Shandling), who does not trust RJ, the group is impressed with RJ's knowledge of suburbia which has recently invaded their forest and has built a hedge around of what is left of their environment. The group decides to follow RJ, but will it be their undoing?

Shatner steals the show as the fatherly possum, who overplays dead, much as Shatner has been famous for overacting. It is a lighthearted romp, a family film in the truest sense of the world.

I did not want to see the film, but my sister made me go see it with her. It was a nice little film. I loved the way it brought together all these great voices with solid characters and crafted a nice little escape of a story. I fully expected it to be preachy about how the suburbs are destroying our ecosystem blah blah blah, but that was barely hinted at. Allison Janney from the West Wing does a great turn as the head of the homeowners association, a villain if I ever saw one. The film was great, even if it is a cartoon, and I enjoyed it mightily. I recommend it to all families. It gets 3.5 out of 5 stars.

SuperHero Hits and Misses

X-Men: The Last Stand

They should have called it X-Men: Phoning It In. The performances for the most part by the principals and recurring characters was dismal, and only the surprisingly wry portrayal of the Beast by Kelsey Grammer saved this movie at all. The varying plotlines and twists all conveniently culminate in a final battle sequence meant to evoke the passion and emotion of Anakin vs. ObiWan, but all I get is heartburn, not heartache. First, the summary:

The X-Men, mutant heroes sworn to defend a world that hates and fears them, are back! This time, with the help of new recruits The Beast and Angel, they must face evolution itself in the form of their former teammate, Jean Grey. Possessed with the cosmic power of the Dark Phoenix, the resurrected Jean Grey has become a danger to herself, her mutant comrades, and the entire planet. To stave off this imminent threat to humanity, a potential cure is discovered and processed to treat -- and ultimately eliminate -- genetic mutations, once and for all. Now, as the battle lines are drawn, the X-Men, led by Professor Charles Xavier, must contend with both Jean Grey's world-consuming powers, as well as the malevolent Brotherhood, a band of powerful mutants organized under Xavier's former ally, Magneto.

First, Bryan Singer's touch was missing from this film, though his imprint was on it. The respect for the integrity of the characters was sorely absent. Jean Grey became little more than a jilted little girl, and the normally saucy and vivacious Famke Janssen gave a lackluster performance, her sole sinister act being staring menacingly while grey veins distort her lovely features. The elimination of James Marsden's Cyclops amounts to little more than some revenge by Marvel for jumping ship with Bryan Singer to join the Superman Returns crew over at DC.

Halle Barry has no business carrying this type of movie. While she is hot, she lacks the physical skills needed and the depth to portray Storm. She is great at portraying waitresses who shack up with Billy bob Thornton, but when it comes to action heroine, she is lacking (see Die Another Day, Catwoman). Patrick Stewart, normally even his phone ins are great, gives a miserable and too short run as Professor X. Even Magneto looks tired and off character. Yes, he is evil, but would he stand by and let Jean Grey do what she did to the Professor? Probably not. Hugh Jackman is the only one of the regulars who upholds the integrity of the characters with his continued mastery of the role of Wolverine. Rebecca Romijhn would have been great as Mystique, but she is underused and her character ruined in this film.

The Beast and the Angel, the two best new additions to the film, were sorely underused, and were rushed into the plot. Where does the Beast get his authority in the team, since he hasn't appeared in the others? How is he able to mesh so quickly with the team? Why is Jean turning gray when she uses her phoenix power? how come we never see the Phoenix except twice?

This movie tried to do too much in a limited amount of time. Crossing the cure line with the rise of the brotherhood, along with the dark phoenix saga, was a horrendous mistake. Tried and true continuity and truisms of the characters were ignored for the sake of expediency; for example, the true love between Jean and Scott; Magneto's twisted honor; and the wishywashiness of Rogue. Only the Mutant Cannonball done by Wolvie and Cyclops reminded me of anything close to a great XMen adventure. The cast looked tired, the script was disjointed, and the characters were not true to their archetypes. This movie blew the franchise. The only redeeming values were the breakthrough and surprising performance by Grammer as the Beast and by the actor who played Colossus. The rest of this movie is a travesty to the Dark Phoenix saga as well as the House of M. Go get the graphic novels and rent this one cheap, or better yet, pass. Sure, there might be more X movies, but hopefully after a long enough time to forget this one. Even the device used to revive the professor was tired and too camp and predictable. I give it 2.5 stars out of 5.

Superman Returns

Though it has been about 18 years since we last saw the Man of Steel on screen, only five years have past since Superman II. Superman has been gone for five years, but then he returns. Brandon Routh portrays the Last Son of Krypton, with Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush) portraying Lois Lane, and 'Cyclops' James Marsden making the comic brand jump to DC playing Richard White, nephew to Daily Planet publisher Perry White (Frank Langella). First, the summary:

After eliminating General Zod & the other Kryptonian arch-villains, Ursa & Non, Superman leaves Earth to try to find his former home world of Krypton after astronomers have supposedly found it. When he finds nothing but remnants, he returns home to Earth - to find out that Lois Lane is engaged to a relative of his boss, and that Lex Luthor is at it again - after swindling an elderly, terminally ill woman. The psychopathic Luthor, whose plans to destroy California failed because of Superman's heroics, vows vengeance against the Man of Steel and contrives a new sinister plot - using the crystals of Krypton to build a continent that will wipe out most of North America! Embedded in the continent's structure is Kryptonite - the lethal substance that is Superman's only weakness. Upon learning of Luthro's sinister scheme, Superman must again race against time to stop the psychopathic Luthor before millions - possibly billions - are killed.

I had mixed feelings about this film being made. To me, Christopher Reeve WAS Superman. Yeah, I liked George Reeves, but he fit into that whole Adam West as Batman but not the archetype mode. To me, Chris Reeve was Superman. The look, the mannerisms, the subtle differences in posture between Clark and Kal-El, the voice inflections, the whole thing. And the way he looked in the suit! Chris Reeve was and is the Man of Steel. Those movies (at least I and II) were iconic.

And the fact that this one was going to use THE THEME, the John Williams Superman theme! was something I was not impressed with. Also, who the hell was Brandon Routh?

Color me pleasantly surprised. When that theme came on, I was immediately drawn in. Seeing the old school lettering of the titles and cast, it was like those 18 years had never passed. This movie, while not on the par of I or II, is a worthy addition to the Superman pantheon (much more so than IV, oy!). This film was very well done, as director Bryan Singer brought respect for the past and an eye to the future to this franchise which has gone through so much in the last two decades.

Routh was great as Superman and as Clark. More than Dean Cain, more than the kid on Smallville, more than the kid from Superboy, Routh captured that same dichotomy of spirit that Clark/Superman has with his mannerisms as both characters. From the posture, to the gestures, you can tell where Clark ends and Supes begins. At times, I thought that I heard Chris Reeve's voice when Routh was saying lines. I almost saw and heard that same old magic from the first two movies. However, this is also a criticism. Routh needs to do more to make the character his. While an homage is great, he is going to have to fill his own boots, not Chris Reeve's. I think Routh will grow into the role much the same as Pierce Brosnan or Roger Moore grew into Bond, and will make the character more his own. He gets a seal of approval for his efforts.

Kevin Spacey was BRILLIANT as Lex Luthor. He was able to bring his own evil genius as well as taking the best parts of Gene Hackman's portrayal of the bald badman. His turns as being both humorous and diabolical really capture the psychosis and the, for lack of a better word, endearing, characteristics of the evil genius. He brings both the acting chops and the actor's craft to this role, and I look forward to future encounters between the Man of Steel and Lex Luthor in the future.

The film has an epic plot, with nice subplotting thrown in. Unlike the XMen movie, it does not try to fix every little thing in two hours. They stay on point, and mix both humor and adventure, and show a great deal of respect for the original body of work. There are some nice homages to the first film, including the mentioning of Lois Lane's interview "I spent the night with Superman", Supe's monologue on the safety of flying, as well as the origin of the Kryptonite from Addis Abbaba, Africa. And, as in the previous movies, those who brought Superman to the small screen are given their rightful place--Noel Neil, the original Lois Lane, plays Luthor's wife; and Jack Larsen, the original Jimmy Olsen, plays the bartender. The film overall held the audience and crafted a nice story, with us along for the ride.

However, all was not sunshine. First, the lighting. This movie, well, was dark. No, I don't just mean that the Luthor in this one was much darker. This film was dark. Even Superman's suit was dark, too dark. Even during the day things looked like a 7 o clock world. This was a little much. Also, Kate Bosworth was terribly unbelievable as Lois Lane, although more believable than Katie Holmes as Bruce Wayne's femme fatale in Batman Begins. She looked too young to be a single mother, too babyfaced to be the hardnosed reporter. I am not a big Margot Kidder fan, but she typified Lois Lane.

The blatant attempt to "modernize" Superman by making him an international, instead of an American hero was pathetic. Perry White's "Does he still stand for truth, justice, all that stuff?" reeks of political correctness. Superman himself said it. He is an American super hero first. HE grew up in the Midwest, for God's sake! This was unacceptable. There were other attempts at this which were not cool either.

Lastly, the key plot twist of Superman's possible progeny is a bit too risque and much for this iconic hero. It also throws continuity and the whole idea of Superman being the Last Son of Krypton out the window. I was not a big fan of this. Superman, folks, is an iconic figure. Making him into a possible deadbeat dad to "modernize and connect him" to us today is ridiculous. People don't go see Superman because they want connection. They go to escape. They go to see those virtues we love but so often don't practice shown before us. They go to see a guy who still says swell and aw shucks, they don't go see a guy who runs out on his commitments. This took away from the film, even though I thought the handling of it was interesting and suggests several plot twists for the love quadrilateral between Clark-Lois-Richard White-Superman.

Overall, while this movie has some minor issues in terms of continuity and the defacing of some of the veneer off of Superman's image, it is still a summer hit, a good comic hero film, and one worthy of being added to the original Reeve work. The understated but respectful tone of Singer toward the body of work that is Superman's legacy helped endear this film to me. Singer will take good care of the mythos, barring the one thing about the progeny. I think the franchise is in good hands and I look forward to the continued maturation of Routh as Superman. Hopefully, he will continue to grow into the role, and hopefully, he will add his own legend to that of Reeves, Reeve, and the rest. DC definately won the battle of summer comic movies this time. I give this film a 4 out of 5 stars, though Matt thinks it is creepy and finds the S on the belt to be totally unacceptable. :) Also, I loved the way they tied Superman in some ways to a Christian fable, and even used it as the basis for a sermon. This film was well done, and I recommend it. Not creepy at all, and it could turn the tide to DC for the best comic films.

I would review pirates, but this post is already way too long. I will leave it til later. Let's just say, I hate the middle movies in trilogies generally, at least the style that is used in terms of storytelling in the middle movies. Until then, thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Posted by Mark at 12:38 PM

Thanks, Buddy!

Among the Millions and Millions of My Fans...

One emailed me with some sharing and encouragement! Thanks, Gangsta! It means a lot....

God bless and thanks for reading.....

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Posted by Mark at 5:17 PM

Running Mark Down Over the Past Few Weeks

Things have been very hectic over the past few weeks, been getting subbing in as much as possible, in addition to job searching and continuing to work in political activites. However, there have been some relaxing times. Over the next few lines, I will relate some of what has been going on.

Congratulations, Tony and Justina!

My friend from one of my jobs, Justina, married her man, Tony, yesterday in Covington, KY. I have known Justina for almost 2-3 years now, as we both were brought in as temps at the job we work at. I hate weddings, but I gave my word to Justina that I would come for the nuptials. I don't like weddings because they in some cases remind me of what I don't have--a lover, someone special. Also, I hate getting all fancied up. And, I can't dance. And, since my knee injury, I have been afraid to cut loose, so to speak. Therefore, it was with great trepidation that I met up with another co-worker, Pam, and her family to find our way down to the ceremonies.

Pam's husband Terry drove down in the lead car, with me following behind. If I would have known it was going to be the Brickyard 400, I would have driven my Thunderbird instead of my Sable. Those six cylinders were screaming to keep up with the 8 in Pam's Taurus as Terry swerved in and out of traffic. We survived and made it to Covington, and found the place. Terry and Pam are a great couple, and their children are wonderful and respectful as well. Terry had a singular tie on that defies any explanation other than phallic. I will leave it at that.

Anyway, the entire Burke crew showed up. There was Debbie and her husband. Debbie is a real party girl, and she and her husband had driven to Covington all the way from Oxofrd Ohio to be with Justina. In Oxford, their daughter was competing in basketball tourneys. Anyway, with Debbie and Pam together, the PG rated highjinks are bound to ensue. There was Margaret, the colorful cabbie's wife, as well as Janice, the mild mannered friend to all, and Becky, the fiesty Fayetteville mother. We were a motley crew.

What a great ceremony. Justine was resplendent in her gown, and the music for the ceremony, as well as the early music at the reception, was very classy. The Bride wore a beautiful White gown, and the groom and his men wore tuxes with chucks. It was a lovely time, and it was neat to see coworkers in different ways than the usual time spent in the cubes at work. I love them all dearly, and to Justina and Tony, on their way to Vegas, I wish you all the best, and may your venture coming together be a Sure Thing! God bless you both!

I'm Charlie Freakin Brown

Well, a week or so ago, I was subbing at a school, and their drama dept. was putting on the play, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," based on Charles Schultz's characters in Peanuts. Well, I enjoyed the show, but I grew introspective. I have come to the conclusion that I am friggin Charlie Brown. Let's look at the relevant data:
1. Charlie Brown always lost. So do I. I played for several seasons on a baseball team that won two games in six years. Also, I seem constantly losing ground to others. No matter what I do, I always seem to fall back into last place.

2. Even Charlie Brown's friends belittle him. This is no knock on my friends, but even they are well aware of my losing status. While I do not share Charlie's round head or his choice in wardrobe, my station in life is eerily simliar to Charlie Brown's. I do my best at playing by the rules and being fair, but I still get crapped on. Even my dog laughs at me, much as Snoopy does to Charlie. My friends engage in witty banter about our issues.

3. Charlie Brown was afraid of voicing his feelings. Like Charlie, I am deeply introspective. I keep things to myself. I am also quite shy. There is a girl I have been wanting to say certain things to for some time, but I don't. I don't know why, but I have always been this way. Call it cowardice, cal it shyness. Me and Chuck are screwed up.

4. Through it all, we keep on going. Despite never getting ahead, despite feeling the urge to give up, Chuck and I keep on going. Even though it all seems futile, even as our dogs laugh and our friends do their thing, Chuck and I keep on going, hoping, praying that one day we will actually make that kick, or actually win that game. Why? Call us gluttons for punishment.

Or, Is it George Fn Bailey? If so, where is Clarence?

Who is George Bailey? George Bailey is the character played by James Stewart in the classic film, "It's a Wonderful Life." I feel tied to George Bailey as well. Like the character, I had/have big dreams of riches, adventure, glory and such. Like the character, I put those dreams on hold to stay in my neighborhood. As with George Bailey, things haven't turned out as I had hoped. Things I do don't work out. My family isn't the best shape it could be in. My civic ventures are mixed, and let's just say that the standard of living isn't that great.

Even as this goes on, others around me are doing great. Friends are moving along and progressing. They are moving up and doing well. They talk of me doing this or that, but I have commitments they don't. I have responsibilities. Things happen in my life where I ask the inevitable question: would things be better off without me? What would be so different if I weren't here.

So, I am left with feeling as George Bailey did on that bridge that night. Now, that is not to say that I am considering jumping off the bridge, so to speak. However, the questions he asked are there. And, quite frankly, the answers are not all that great. My impact on the lives of others is either minimal or possibly negative. Whether it be organizations or relationships, I don't see me being what I should be. Some tell me otherwise, but I don't see it. This leaves me asking: where the hell is my Clarence to show me the way? Where is the silver lining? With a crisis going on with my sister, I am left wanting. With my situation not being what it should be, I am left wanting. I keep working the best I can, praying as much as possible, and still my sis suffers, I am useless, and life is what it is.

Again, without me in the picture, what difference does it make? What is the good I have done? I really need Clarence. Someone ring some bells or something.....

Not to say that everything is negative. My friends are good to me overall, my sister is a light from God, but at this point in time, it just all seems like a big waste of time. Maybe I am still just smarting from the primary. I dunno. Things right now are just too much in flux for me. It is hard to explain. Clarence needs to come along, or the ghosts of Christmas, or whatever.....

Well, hate to leave things on that air of negativity, but life is hectic, things are going on, and I have to go. God bless you all and thanks for reading.....

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Posted by Mark at 6:33 PM

Good News, Bad News, and Some Fun Times

First, the Good News

I won reelection as a member of my county's GOP central committee, Ken Blackwell won the nomination for Governor...

The Bad News

A good man, a great candidate, and someone I have come to call friend, Bill Pierce, was defeated by Senator Mike DeWine in the GOP primary last night.

Some Fun Times and Thanks

Last week, I turned 30. Yes, my palm began blinking and it was time to risk the fiery ritual of Carousel (for those of you who don't get it, go out and rent two movies: Logan's Run, then Free Enterprise). I didn't do much celebrating, I am too busy. My friends, all of whom have met that number and advanced, and I had a nice dinner. I got some cards and money. Yippity do, right? No biggie, just another day.

Well, last Saturday I got hoodwinked. My sis and her friend (mine too) Sara engaged in subterfuge and staged a modest surprise party for me. A friend who lives a decent piece away showed up, there were some festivities, and a cake I will never forget.
To all of you--Mary-the first 12 years were great, but the last 18 have been amazing because I have had a chance to watch you grow up, lil Sis, just stay true to God and yourself and who gives a damn what some old farts think;

to Sara--thanks for being there, being my shrink and my sister's shrink, and being a good photographic gopher, and being a friend. Thanks for taking care of Mary and showing her all you have, and being there for her and me...

To Doug, thanks man, it was great having you there. The silver dollar eyes were priceless! I don't think I have seen a look like that since Judge Reinhold and Phoebe Cates in Fast Times. Now you are a member of the club, so to speak. Seriously though, You are a true, loyal friend, and the rest of the guys and I take you for granted and don't appreciate you near enough. You are the silent glue which holds us together, man....

And to Hayley, wherever you are, thanks for an amazing night! WOOOOOOOOOOOO!