Sunday, December 30, 2007
I'd been in the theater before but not to see a performance, so this was the first time for both of us. Our friends John and Lisa were telling us that the Fulton is the oldest continuously-running theater in the country and it is indeed a beautiful place. I knew nothing about the show going into it. I'd heard a couple of the songs ("Tradition," "If I Were A Rich Man," "Sunrise, Sunset") but didn't have any idea what to expect.
Sarah and I were both pleasantly surprised at the amount of humor in the show and the cast did a great job. The mostly silver-haired audience seemed a little cold at the onset but that didn't deter the performers. They kept at it and turned out a first-rate performance and by the final bow the crowd was on their feet with cheers of "Bravo!" being shouted all around us.
Sarah and I are fortunate that we were able to walk the few short blocks down to the theater and despite the grand spectacle on the stage, the walk there and back was probably my favorite part of the evening. Hand in hand on a cool (not cold) December night, the streets to ourselves, and only the sound of Sarah's heels and our conversation floating around us to fill the still night.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Sarah also got me a box set of DVDs. Yes, the one I blogged about a few months ago. The 10-disc Saturday Night Live "Best of" collection, featuring the best of Steve Martin (of course, we watched that one first), Phil Hartman, Chris Farley, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Will Ferrell, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, and Adam Sandler.
Yea, I got some stuff for her for Christmas but it's not nearly as awesome as what she got me.
Monday, December 24, 2007
But at least I'm aware of it. I'm not entirely delusional in believing that I am the end-all-be-all when it comes to musicality. Especially when I know there are people like my friends Brewster and Brad Moist who really have their finger on the pulse of what's hot...and good.
But I think I may be on to something here. A couple of weeks ago a local artist named Hiram Ring came in to the WJTL studio and performed a few songs live on the morning show. I came in to film the appearance for the station YouTube site and became a fast fan.
Hiram lies somewhere between folk and jazz but again I blame my musical ignorance for not being able to direct you exactly where his artistry resides. Sarah and I went to watch Hiram play live that weekend and we were blown away. Hiram and friends played with a string accompaniment and it was indeed a magical night.
Friday night Hiram returned to the WJTL studios to play live on the air on Radio Friend Phil's eclectic music program, The Audio Lab. Again, I was there with the cameras rolling.
This isn't the first time I've been impressed with music but when I'm impressed by the person...well, that's when I get excited. As someone who's spent his fair share of time in and around the music industry, nothing turns me off faster than someone (especially a musician) who wants nothing more than to use you to get a foothold in the industry. They're easier to spot than a fat guy at a Victoria's Secret fashion show. (And when someone thinks I can do something for them, well, it's all the more amusing.)
Thankfully, Hiram is nothing of the music-scene-nightmare type. He's very soft-spoken and unassuming. When he talks to you he looks you in the eye and there's a sincerity in his voice that is a welcome change. Hiram even allows the spotlight to be taken off of himself, allowing his friends to take the lead on some of the songs while he steps back from the mic and plays acoustic rhythm or literally takes a back seat and thumps away on the djembe.
I'll stop myself before I start to gush (excessively) and will wrap things up by saying this. Check him out. Check out the video I shot. Check out his website. If you're in the Lancaster area you can get his music at Border's. If you're not in the area, you can find him on iTunes.
In a world filled with Starbucks and EMI and corporate takeovers, it's refreshing to see the little guy stepping up to the plate and hitting a home run.
But in the last year or so, as much as I relish savoring these moments with friends, it's become relatively unsettling at the same time. I don't know what changed around (or in) me to bring on this new mindset, but I can recall standing around with my buddies and wondering to myself if this is all there would be. Will we continue to marvel at the same stories every time we get together?
Not that there's anything wrong with that, but why aren't we out there doing things, giving us more material to talk about in the future?
For instance, every time I get together with my good friend Todd in Indiana we enjoy talking about growing up together, working together, the time Doug dropped a beam on Sax and Sax cussed him out, the time Dad smacked Charlie's pipe out of his mouth, the time we were on TV....but I can't help but thinking "Is this it? Aren't there going to be any new stories?"
Is it just me, or do you find yourself guilty of the same thing? It's almost like, at some point, we decide we're good with the memories we have and stop trying to make new ones. I don't know about you, but I'm not done yet. I want to keep at it. Sure, people grow up and have families, careers come calling, and people move away. But that doesn't mean we should stop enjoying being with each other...or at least trying.
May your 2008 be filled with opportunities for new memories.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
This weekend was what I call a Woody weekend. On Sunday Sarah and I got together with Stacey to see Hiram Ring in concert. He did an amazing job and if you're in the Lancaster area you should definitely keep an eye on his schedule to see if he's appearing at a venue near you (otherwise check him out on iTunes or Borders).
After the show we went to Chuck & Ann's for a Christmas party and it was really cool just to gather around and talk about anything and everything. Relationships, Cinema Paradiso, Martin Sheen, cats and dogs.....we covered it all.
And it was good.
Maybe it's just the way I'm wired but if you ask me it doesn't get much better than getting together with your pals and yakking it up. Even if you're yakking about nothin'.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
‘Tis the season for my annual look back at the previous year, a way for me to keep you informed on what I‘ve been doing and a way for me to spend a Saturday afternoon. A lot happened in ‘07 so let’s get right to it (in some cases I have written a blog about the events mentioned below and will direct you to the link rather than force you to re-live it all over again here. I‘m thoughtful like that).
2007 – YEAR IN REVIEW
A Timeline by Ed Placencia
As the year began I was living in Auburn, Indiana. I was back in the area where I grew up and working with Dad as a painter/wallpaper/general decorator guy. I had set three goals for 2007: Return to NYC to perform again at the National Comedy Theatre, visit London, and kiss a girl. One of my goals I never came close to reaching (Sorry, UK), one of them I came close to (I visited the gang at the improv theater), and one of them I more than met (hello, Sarah).
January 1 I ring in the new year by spending time with the Merrells, my brother’s wife’s family. Everyone is split into teams and games commence. Bowling, ping pong, card games, and Guitar Hero. Of course, my team (I’m paired with Ben and Myka) emerges triumphant. At midnight, though, the victory turns out to be short-lived, as I have no one to kiss. So I drink Pellegrino instead.
January 6 I attend an IPFW men’s basketball game with my Dad, Uncle Rick, and cousin Ricky. The cheerleaders are especially captivating.
January 26 I find out the Sundance Film Festival will be posting all of the entries in the short film division online for the world to see. I watch them and am repulsed. Positive I can do better, I begin writing.
February 2 I begin filming my short film The Failures of Ed.
February 4 I stumble across a TV show on the SciFi Channel, Ghost Hunters. In 60 minutes I am hooked.
February 26 In response to a blog I posted online, my buddy John sends me a package of goodies to post on my bare refrigerator. It’s more than awesome. A few days letter, my friend Jen’s package of refrigerator art arrives. MARCH
March 1 I travel with Dad to the BelTerra Casino on the southern edge of Indiana. We have been hired to bring and set up our boxing ring for a fight that will be televised on Showtime. It’s a Don King production and my dreams of seeing a rigged fight in person are achieved.
March 17 Proving that racism, classism, and sexism are still alive and well, we travel to the Great Oaks Country Club in Rochester, Michigan (just outside Detroit). Their display of discrimination and segregation would make the old South proud.
March 28 I officially accept a job offer from Fred, the GM at WJTL, a radio station in Lancaster PA I worked at from 1999-2001. I am hired to do video and audio production. Not only is it a chance to work with people I miss and love, but is also conveniently close to New York City.
April 15 Todd, Dad, Ray, and I go to Ft Wayne to watch the double-feature Grindhouse. Todd and I laugh our heads off at the insane fun unspooling on the screen, Dad doesn’t know what to think, and Ray vows never to see another movie with us again.
May 3 My short story “5 Minutes of Fame” debuts online.
May 18 Still on my short film kick, I film the first in a series of three short films I have written called The Guys. Shooting on the first installment, The Coffee Shop, goes well and features a cast of characters I have met at Brewdaily’s, my Indiana coffee shop of choice. Matt, David, and Sarah make their video debut and more than exceed expectations.
May 24 Sarah and I officially begin “hanging out.” The rest is history.
June 2 Sarah and I share our first kiss, a so-romantic-it’s-almost-too-good-to-be-true smooch in a rain storm in the middle of the night. Jealous?
June 15 I introduce Sarah to my friends -- and the world -- via a short film simply called Meet Sarah.
June 16 I move to Lancaster PA to begin my new job at WJTL. Ann and Chuck are cool enough to open their house and let me stay with them as I search for an apartment and settle in.
June 22 My short film The Failures of Ed is complete and debuts online, complete with original music by Fred McNaughton. JULY
The Coffee Shop debuts online, featuring original music from musician Steve Bridgeman.July 21 Sarah comes to PA to visit and we take a trip to Nissley Vineyard where I propose to her. Luckily, she accepts. My friends Ethan and Aubrey are there to capture the moment through photographs. AUGUST
August 13 I find out a co-worker, Kate, is moving out of her downtown apartment and I am soon living in downtown Lancaster enjoying the city life once again.
September 2 I head up to John & Lisa’s lake house along with our other co-workers Stacey, Mindy, and Ann. Nice to be on a tube again!
September 18 During another trip to Pennsylvania, Sarah and I take the train up to New York City. We visit the National Comedy Theater and say hello to Kramer, JT, and Lepine. We meet Sarah’s friends Courtney, Will, Ryan, and Ferrin and get to take a tour of the Saturday Night Live Studios.
October 5 I experience my first “First Friday,” a monthly celebration in downtown Lancaster of arts, music, and food, with Ethan and Aubrey.
October 19 I return home to Indiana to pick up Sarah and officially move her to Pennsylvania. In a grand gesture of kindness, her mom Suzy and step-dad Ken follow behind with Sarah’s furniture.
October 25 Sarah and I fly down to Daytona Beach to get married!
October 26 My good pal Brewster officiates our wedding on the beach. Video of the event is captured and posted to share with our friends and family. The next day we leave for West Palm Beach, where we will spend the rest of our honeymoon.
November 7 Cleverly disguised as a night of Karaoke Revolution and Guitar Hero, the gang at the station throws Sarah and I a surprise wedding shower.
November 17 Sarah and I return to Indiana for our Indiana reception. We reconnect with old friends and have an in-general great time.
November 18 Sarah and I visit with her sister Stacy and her husband Nathan. We are introduced to the world of Settlers of Catan.
November 20 Back in Pennsylvania, Sarah and I buy a sequel to the board game Settlers of Catan, Starfarers of Catan, and geek out for a few days.
November 21 The film August Rush is released in theaters. I did extra work on the film back in spring of ‘05. It wasn’t worth the wait.
November 25 Sarah and I visit New York City again with our friends Lisa and Linda. We spend most of the day in The Village and enjoy a relaxing post-Thanksgiving detour.
December 1 Sarah and I travel to Reading PA to see The Katinas in concert with Michael W Smith and American Idol’s Mandisa. We get to go backstage and hang out with the guys and are treated to a private one-song concert.
December 6 My friend Mindy invites me to be the guest speaker at a theater class at LBC taught by her friend Kristen. For almost two hours I lead the class in a crash course in improv. Fun is had by all.
December 8 Our official Pennsylvania wedding shower is a blast. Good times with Ethan and Aubrey, Chris & Kathy, some of the Gross family, the Burkholders, the Blowereses, Stacey, Ashlea, and the Zucks!
December 13 I introduce Sarah to the game Perfection. And then show the world.And that’s about it. So far. I didn’t even come close to touching on everything that went down and our calendar is full of fun things coming up. It’s been a great year and I’ve been blessed way beyond what I deserve. As you can see, one of the best ways to keep track of what we’re up to is by stopping by my blog or even my YouTube page (and, if you haven’t already, sign up for Facebook and be the first to find out about when the two aforementioned sites are updated).
As far as goal for 2008...that’s a good question. I’ve been given so much in 2007 it almost feels greedy to ask for anything for 2008. Actually, you know what? My goal for 2008 is to take care of what I was given in 2007. To be the best employee, friend, and husband I can be. That’ll be more than cool.
Thanks for reading. I look forward to hearing from you to find out how you’re doing.
Keep in touch!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Aaron was a really good friend of mine who worked at Gotee Records with me in Nashville. He was an aspiring filmmaker who had traveled to Alaska to make a documentary on deep-sea crab fishermen. He then joined the crew for a season to earn money to finance the making of his film. It was nearly three years ago when his ship was lost at sea and Aaron went down with it. I blogged about his death in my old blog and when I look back on that entry now, it seems uncharacteristically short. One of those cases where there's so much to say you don't even make the attempt because you know you won't be able to capture it all, no doubt.
Since his death I've only had one other dream about him. It was December 2006 when that dream came to me and I blogged about it as well. In that dream Aaron was encouraging me to pursue my dreams and goals (i.e., comedy). The dream left me inspired and motivated for the new year.
Last night I dreamt of Aaron again only this time the message wasn't nearly as clear. In the dream I was a new employee at a big corporation and was being given the orientation tour. Jerusha, a friend who also worked at Gotee and was very close to Aaron as well, was also there as a new hire. As the group of hirees walked through the halls I told Jerusha about our other friends at Gotee and how a lot of them are all working together again at a new record label (which, in real life, is true).
Then, at the end of the hall, I saw Aaron. He was talking with someone else and my heart began to race. I approached him and he smiled at me and said, "Hey."
Aaron looked a little different. He was always a heavyset guy and the last time I saw him he had a thick bushy fisherman's beard (nothing like the clean-shaven Aaron that appears in the beginning of my Golgotha video). In my dream he was about 50 pounds lighter and looked healthy. He even seemed a bit taller and he had a full head of hair (something that would surely make Aaron laugh).
I wanted to touch his hand and see if he was real or if I was just imagining the whole thing. I went back and forth with whether or not I should and finally couldn't help myself. I reached out and touched one of his hands really quickly; he pulled away, laughing. "Hey, hey," he said, "That's a little weird."
I laughed too but it didn't make me any less incredulous. "What are you doing here? I thought you were dead."
At this point Aaron smiled again and his eyes got watery. "I told my parents, they know. But no one else does."
The first person I thought of was Brad, another close friend of Aaron's. Brad had to know. Brad would have told me if he knew. And if he didn't know, he should.
"I won't tell anyone," I said, betraying Brad in my dream.
And then I woke up and the dream was gone. I tried desperately to fall back asleep to somehow jump back in, but to no avail.
So what does it all mean? I don't know. The message, if there even is one, wasn't nearly as clear this time around.
I thought it odd that I dreamt about him again almost exactly a year after my first dream that had such a positive impact on me. I hadn't thought of Aaron in a while, so it was odd that he would come to me in my sleep.
Maybe the fact that in my dream Aaron looked better was a sign of how we often hero-ize people in their passing. With Aaron, though, I don't think that was the case. He really was a good guy.
I told Sarah about the dream and she asked if I thought Aaron was trying to contact me. I don't think so; I don't think it works like that. I have nothing to back up my claim but I think once you're in heaven, you don't really come back to hang out here and pass on messages (sorry, John Edward). But that's not to say that God couldn't use my memory of Aaron to encourage me or impart wisdom.
Or, of course, it could have just been a dream. Something I ate. Like Scrooge talking to the ghost of Jacob Marley, "there's more of gravy than of grave about you."
So there you have it. My dream last night that made me feel warm and fuzzy when I woke up but then mostly puzzled shortly after. I don't know what it means and won't pretend like I do. Your hints and suggestions are welcome, as always.
Monday, December 03, 2007
I've never really cared for that question because I don't have an answer for it. There are so many things I like to do, so many people I like to be around....any combination of those things could very well constitute a "perfect day." And just what exactly makes a day perfect? Is it the way I feel at the end of the day? Or could it possibly be the way others feel who I encountered? I don't have an answer, and won't pretend to be wise enough to tell you what would be the perfect day.
But I'm also not naive enough to deny when I've been blessed with a pretty good one.
Saturday was one of those days. I won't go into detail on how it began but suffice it to say Sarah and I are newlyweds and we enjoy partaking in activities that are common to those usually stereotyped with the recently-hitched.
I had an audition for a play at 1:20. Because it's a darker show I couldn't go in with my usual Steve Martin ha-ha monologue I usually use. I went in with a new one I had just learned a couple of days before and was ushered in to the audition room while Sarah waited in the lobby, excited to be joining me on an adventure where I had promised her sightings of intense actors in "audition mode".
The two guys conducting the audition were really friendly. They took my picture, I did my monologue, we chatted for a few short seconds, and I was finished. I felt good about the audition but then again I've felt good about other auditions and nothing came of it so I don't have any expectations. Auditioning is actually much easier than many of my friends seem to think. It's my theory that ever since "American Idol" came around people tend to assume all auditions are conducted the same way. You go in, do your thing, and the panel tears you apart if they didn't like you. Fortunately, most people actually conduct their auditions in much the same way an 8th grade boy dates a girl. You go in, try to put your best foot forward (or at least an acceptable foot) and if you're not what they're looking for you just...never hear from them.
I left the audition and described to Sarah what went on inside as we returned to the car. From there we drove to Chuck and Ann's place. It seems they had a recliner they no longer needed and Sarah and I were more than happy to take it off their hands. Their house was all decorated for Christmas and it felt nice and cozy inside (not that their house isn't always nice and cozy. They definitely have what I refer to as "a grown-up house." Or at least a "more-grown-up-than-mine" house. There are no Simpsons DVDs on kitchen shelves or boxing trophies in the front room.). It's always nice to hang out and visit with Ann and so our little jaunt to Strasburg was a nice little boost to an already-pretty good day.
A few hours later Sarah and I drove to the station, picked up the video camera and the station van, and made the 40-minute drive to Reading, PA (pronounced redding....and yes, they do have a Reading Railroad) to catch up with my old pals The Katinas. They were one of the bands signed to Gotee Records while I was still there back in 2002-2004. They are five brothers from Samoa and are definitely the real deal. They actually remind me of hanging out with my uncles and cousins. Lots of laughing and then more laughing. The only difference is, these guys can sang. They are on the road with Michael W Smith and "American Idol's" Melinda Doolittle as part of a Christmas tour.
I hadn't seen the guys since December of '03 and I was really excited to get a chance to hang out and catch up. I had contacted their manager Niel about getting with them to record an interview for the station and was hooked up with their road manager Zander. He met us at the back gate and greeted us with a hug and a smile (we would later learn that Zander is the guys' cousin, which immediately explained how accommodating and welcoming he was). He led us through the backstage maze and into the guys' dressing room, where we would be doing the interview.
Four of the guys were finishing up eating in the craft services area but Joe Katina was already in the green room and I got a chance to introduce him to Sarah and catch up on what he's been up to. We talked for about 10 minutes and soon the other brothers began to trickle in. Sam, Jesse, and the twins John and James. There were of course lots of hugs and laughs and reminiscences (who could forget their endless hours of Madden NFL on the tour bus?) and after a few more minutes the interview was underway.
The guys did a great job - as always - and as I reached the end of my questions I decided to put the guys on the spot. I asked if they wouldn't mind singing a bar or two of something a capella. Until you've heard these guys sing, in person, with no instruments, you haven't heard singing. The guys smiled, whispered to each other for a moment or two, and then out of nowhere broke into an amazing version of my favorite Christmas song, "O Holy Night."
With their first note I felt my arms painted in goose bumps and Sarah teared up as well. Even though the camera was still rolling, she couldn't help but clap when they were done. Our own private mini-concert with some of the best vocals I'd heard live since I don't know when. It's hard to describe in words, so here's a link to the video I recorded of the song.
We wrapped up our time and Zander told us we could hang on to our All Access passes and stay and watch the concert. It was such a special night and I was so glad Sarah was there to share it with.
After the concert was over we got to check back in with the guys for a few more minutes and say our goodbyes. They even gave us three bags of Hawaiian coffee before we left!! When Sarah and I left the venue, we were still reeling, almost unable to believe what a great night we had. And it wasn't over yet.
After dropping off the video camera and the van at the station, we made our way to Reflections a bar/restaurant to watch Stacey's brother Aaron, who is the drummer for Kheris. Considering we were at the Lancaster Coffee Company the night before to see our buddy Tom Herr play (with percussive accompaniment by Mindy Lapp) this had indeed become a weekend full of great music (and friends!).
So, was it the perfect day? I don't know. I don't even know if such a thing is possible here on Earth but Sarah and I both agree that this weekend we got pretty darn close.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
But I digress.
First on the agenda is an audition at a theater in Ephrata. They are doing a production of the play "The Pillowman." I'd heard of it before but didn't know much about it. A bit of research revealed to me what an intense and dark drama it is and that would be fun to do. I'm not going in with huge expectations. It looks like it's only a cast of 4 people and I'm sure there are four people around that are more talented than I am. It'll still be fun to go in and audition. I haven't auditioned for anything in a while and I'm looking forward to flexing my chops again.
After the big audition I'm heading out to Chuck and Ann's to pick up a recliner they are being so generous to hand down. I am definitely looking forward to reclining.
Later in the afternoon I am driving up to Reading to interview The Katinas. They are in concert with Michael W Smith and I first got to know the guys when they were still on Gotee Records and I was still working for the label. They are the real deal and not only will it be fun to record a video interview with them for work, but I'm just excited to see the guys again. It's been a few years since I've seen them and can't wait to hang out, even for a short time.
And then, tonight, I'm going to see Stacey's brother Aaron perform in his band Kheris. They're playing at a place called Reflections and I'm looking forward to that. I've only seen them play one time (at the Purple Door festival) and I definitely liked what I heard. Sort of a U2 meets Coldplay meets coolness vibe.
And of course, best of all, is the fact that Sarah will be with me on each adventure. She'll get to see me in actor-mode, ex-radio rep mode, husband-moving-furniture mode, and out-on-the-town mode.
Not a bad way to spend a Saturday, really.
Friday, November 30, 2007
I don't think I ever realized how many words I'd put to paper in the last couple of years. Notebooks, journals, notepads, pocket memo books, you name it and it was filled with stand-up comedy ideas (some of them still made me laugh and others made me glad I had buried them in a notebook I'd forgotten about), short stories (including the original hand-written version of my short story, "Java"), and various quotes that struck me as humorous.
Still, I was struck by how much there was. Pages were literally filled with my familiar all-caps handwriting, all written with my trademark black-inked Pilot G-2 pen. Page after page after page after page. It seemed to just pour out of me, usually pretty easily.
It's been a while since I've written and the all-too-many empty pages at the back of each notebook only emphasizes the point.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
After relocating to PA I was asked by my pals Ethan & Aubrey if I'd ever heard of "Settlers of Catan". I told them my friend Nathan had just asked me about it but I had never played. They said it was a pretty cool game and we should play sometime.
A few weeks later I was over visiting my friends Linford & Trish and while they gave me the tour of their house I noticed a board game on their game shelf. That's right. "Settlers of Catan." I remarked how suddenly I was hearing about this game everywhere and from everyone. Trish and Linford also raved about the game.
Later, I was back in Indiana visiting with my brother Ray and out of the blue he asked me if I'd ever played "Settlers of Catan". What was going on here? When did he hear about this game? I usually pride myself in being the first to find cool new games that I tell others about (The Great Dalmuti and You Don't Know Jack are two games in particular that I got to introduce to my friends in the past) and this time around everyone I knew seemed to be on the bandwagon BUT me. What happened? And how did it happen?
Last week Sarah and I went to Ethan & Aubrey's house and were pleased to find they were the new owners of "Settlers". They busted out the game, spread out the board and distributed the appropriate playing pieces. And then tragedy struck.
Ethan was the only one of us who'd played before and he had forgotten how to play. Sarah and I tried to build little Jenga-like towers with our playing pieces as Ethan scanned the rule book and Aubrey chilled on the sofa. The pressure of re-learning the game mixed with the embarrassment of forgetting the game proved to be too much for poor Ethan and we ended up giving up on the game and playing Dutch Blitz instead (another game I found everyone but me knew how to play).
This past weekend when Sarah and I were home for our reception we got to spend some time with Nathan and his wife Stacy (Sarah's sister, for those of you updating your flow chart as you read this). It wasn't long before Nathan broke out "Settlers of Catan" and Sarah and I were on our way to learning the game.
It was, to quote Dane Cook, a blasty-blast.
Relatively simple to learn yet deceptively cunning and strategic, Sarah and I both had a great time and Sarah actually ended up winning the game (much to Nathan's chagrin). We were officially hooked.
Last night Sarah and I were at Target shopping for Christmas trees when it dawned on us that we should get our own copy of "Settlers". The game isn't available in most stores like Target, K-Mart, Wal*Mart or other mart-type stores. I recalled Ethan had said the only place he was able to find it was a local comic book store called, obviously enough, The Comic Store. Despite the fact that Sarah and I were both risking countless cool points by stepping foot inside a comic book store, we knew it was a small price to pay for such a cool game.
We got to The Comic Store and began our search. There were two Comic Book Guys behind the counter that gave us a knowing look when we entered that screamed "STRANGERS!" I didn't wear glasses and my hair wasn't greasy and plastered to my head. I didn't have on a black jacket and my neck hair was well-groomed. And Sarah, well...let's face it. She's really hot. She definitely didn't belong in a comic book store. The only girls even close to being as sexy as her these guys had been around were drawn in pen and ink.
We began to weave in and out of the aisles as countless cartoon drawings of red-haired babes in bikinis and shirtless guys with pecs like cannonballs stared at us from the hundreds of boxes that lined the shelves. We saw Abe Lincoln as a super hero and even an issue of Howard the Duck. There were Jon Bon Jovi action figures and the red and blue neon signs in the windows added to the surreal mood.
I passed a guy in a wheelchair who was wearing a long green army coat and he leered at me from the corner of his eyes. He reminded me of Samuel L Jackson in Unbreakable.
Finally, we found the game shelves and it was pretty wild. There was a Sin City board game and even "Axis & Allies," a game my brother and I were into back in high school. And, of course, there was "Settlers of Catan". And the "Settlers of Catan" expansion pack. And "Seafarers of Catan" and its expansion pack. And 3 or 4 other versions of the "Catan" series. And their expansion packs. It was almost too much.
Which one should we get?
Should we get the one we already knew how to play and were familiar with or should we go with one of the others to add to the game the next time we play with friends? After an unsuccessful phone call to Trish and Linford to ask their advice (I had the wrong number in my phone) Sarah and I decided to go with STARFARERS OF CATAN. It was in the biggest and most impressive box, so much so that whenever I write the name I feel compelled to use all caps. STARFARERS OF CATAN.
This version was set in space and even came with spaceships and promises of fighting evil alien monsters. We were sold.
We approached the counter to pay and Sarah came across a plastic package of paints that also included 3-inch pewter wizard figurines to decorate. I could tell by Sarah's tone she was about to make a joke. "Hey what's this!" she exclaimed and the guy behind the counter looked up. Don't make the comic store guy angry! I thought to myself and my telepathy must have worked. Sarah switched gears and muttered, "You can paint little dudes." Inside I laughed my head off and am still laughing about it as I write this. You can paint little dudes.
We completed our purchase, zipped home, and busted out STARFARERS OF CATAN. And guess what?
It freakin' rocks.
We built spaceships, we colonized planets, we battled aliens--and each other--and it was great. Sarah told me she was never really much of a game player growing up and I've lived alone for so long it's been a while since I've had anyone to play board games with. Needless to say, we both enjoyed it.
So as you're gathered around the Thanksgiving table tomorrow trying to figure out just what in the world is in that Tupperware container and wondering if your family is as crazy as you think they are, trying to hold conversation while a TV blares a football game in the background, Sarah and I will be sprawled out on the floor drinking coffee in our pajamas, lost in the world of STARFARERS OF CATAN.
And maybe, just maybe, laughing about the little dudes you can paint.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I agree with Bob. Not that I mind the tone of my more recent blogs because, like the blogs before them, they are true to heart and reflect what was--and is--on my mind. But I am indeed aware that as a result, the humor and sarcasm seem to have taken a back seat.
I promised Bob that when I returned to PA I would make it up to him, even naming my next post "A Blog for Bob." I promised him a return of the humor he has come to look forward to (and subsequently miss).
I honestly thought about this during much of the drive back home from Indiana. As Sarah slept in the passenger seat beside me, I found myself wondering just what on earth I was going to blog about. Many of my more humorous blogs aren't necessarily me coming up with a silly idea; they're usually me reacting to an odd situation I've found myself in.
And I guess that's the problem. I haven't found myself in any weird or I-Can't-Believe-This-Is-Happening circumstances as of late. Or at least not that I can think of.
But now that I think of it, it IS really cold in my office. There are two ceiling vents that seem to blow air direct from the Arctic Circle and onto me on a regular basis. It's not as bad in the summer time because at least I can step outside to thaw out the icicles that have formed on my nose and/or ear lobes.
I mentioned this to someone here at work and was told there is nothing that can be done about it. The vents always blow cold air, always have and always will. The odd thing about it is that mine is the only area that seems to be this cold all the time. Part of me hopes my office is haunted. I want to fight a ghost.
The cold air hasn't stopped despite the fact that the weather has taken a chilly turn. I actually thought it would let up when the temperature dropped, but no such luck. Today I found myself balanced on a chair, taping two folders (that I had already taped together) to the vent directly above me in an attempt to divert the constant breeze that is blowing down my back.
It seems to have worked. For now. Either that, or the air has stopped blowing. Either way, I'm still hoping to fight a ghost. That would be cool.
So there you go, Bob. This entry probably won't end up being printed in The New Yorker or even Cracked magazine but if you've made it this far then chances are I'm on the right track to Ha-Ha Town.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
"This is so cool. We should have a booth. Let's by some wood." - Sarah, admiring the booth at the kitchen table in Aubrey's parents' house
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
I'm at work right now, but while I wait for the DVD I'm working on to finish burning I thought I would share some of those quotes with you. Enjoy!
"Give me back my baby!!" - screamed by a random woman on the streets of Garrett, Indiana
"This stupid thing. I'm gonna burn it. (pause) Will this burn?" - my brother Ray mad at his tape measure
"Tootsies don't pop. They only chew." - Sarah explaining why she prefers Blow Pops to Tootsie Pops
"I couldn't hear you. Sarah was talking to the fruit flies." - Stacy, during a game of poker
"I think of meat and milk a lot." - Kristi, on the way to the Creation Festival
"I'm not cool because I don't have an iPod."
"Then go buy one so you can buy your coolness." - Mindy and Kristi, in the car on the way to Creation
"I didn't think people snored like cartoons but turns out they do." - Sarah complaining about a loud neighboring camper at the Creation festival
"Man, I haven't blinked in a while." - Sarah, playing Bejeweled on the computer
"I never knew what a work ethic was. Neither of my parents worked." - Sarah on a Sunday afternoon
"I don't have a grudge against him because he sucks at his job. I have a grudge against him because he sucks as a person." - Kate, amid frustration
"You can if you're a genius, a super computer, or two albinos with a camera." - Fred, after being asked if you can upload videos to the Monsterpod website
"I didn't think you would eat it."
"It's a brownie, man." - Me and Ken at Outback Steakhouse
"I was going to say 'Look at the moon behind you' but it was a light bulb." - Sarah outside IHOP
"Actually, I played with eggs more than I did with dolls." - Sarah, walking past a store where everything is made of eggs
"I can tell by your writing you're sick." - Sarah, to me when I was ill
"What'cha not writing?"
"My name." - me and Ashlea, in an i-tickets meeting at work
Sunday, November 11, 2007
It doesn't look like I'll be able to do it, but I'm not taking this lying down (unless I'm reading, then I'll probably be lying down. You know what I mean. Shut up).
Friday, November 09, 2007
Every few weeks or so, I'll bring my PlayStation2 with me to work and a few of us will stay after hours to play Guitar Hero and Karaoke Revolution. It's always a lot of fun and usually around midnight we realize how long we've been there and pack up and head home.
A little over a month ago we planned our first post-Ed's-wedding Game Night. We were excited that Sarah would be able to join us and Wednesday I left work at 5:00 to pick up Sarah and the PS2. We got back to the station and walked upstairs and there stood the entire station staff. I'd only been gone about 20 minutes and in that short time the room was decked out with balloons, streamers, cake, presents, and food from Boston Market. They yelled "SURPRISE!" as we walked in and I called them all "jerks." They totally got me and I never suspected a thing!
It was a great time and it made Sarah and me feel all warm and gooey inside. It was like being home again, only this time Sarah was with me.
Halfway through the dinner, Sarah leaned over to me and whispered, "Do you think we'll still get to play Guitar Hero?"
Of course we would.
We opened presents and laughed and were reminded again of what great friends we have here. Soon people started to leave and others started to get antsy: they were ready for Guitar Hero, too. After some mingling and catching up, we were down to our core group of gamers and the festivities continued.
All in all, it was a great night.
I've worked in places before where they claim to have a "family" atmosphere or profess to be more of a family than a workplace, but here at WJTL it's actually true.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Sarah stirred and asked "How do you feel today?"
I sat up and felt pretty good. So, just to make sure, I punched myself in the gut. Hard. I winced. I wasn't better yet.
"That was dumb" was all I could say and then Sarah and I laughed.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Last night we got home from the movies ("Back to the Future"!) and not long after getting back to the apartment I started feeling ill in my stomach. Almost like a light version of the stomach flu. I woke up a couple of times in the night to smell up the bathroom and when I woke up the woozy feeling was still there.
I came in to work today and smelled up the bathroom here a few times (I don't discriminate) and am now considering just going home early. Ugh.
Stupid imperfect body.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Here was my awesome idea: Radio waves are everywhere. Radio stations are sending out all these signals and they're all over the place. I then wondered how the radio waves from all the radio (and TV) stations affected our bodies. And sometimes you come across people who are sick all of the time for no apparent reason. Well, what if it's the radio waves that are affecting their bodies and making them sick?! And what if I just cured someone? Has no one else ever thought of this? I'm a scientific genius!!
I remember laying there and priding myself in being such a deep thinker and if I have these awesome ideas in the morning by just laying there, maybe that's how I should start every day and who knows what story and movie ideas I would come up with.
But now that it's later and I'm pretty much fully awake I realize I should keep most of my half-asleep revelations to myself.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Sarah and I have been married for just over a week now and it's been amazing. Our wedding ceremony was pretty simple by most modern standards and I wouldn't have changed a thing. It was just Sarah and me on the beach in Florida with the preacher and a guy taking pictures.
It seems wedding ceremonies have become so complex and involved, it's become very easy to focus on all of the non-essentials: Renting the church, coordinating colors with bridesmaids' dresses, choosing music, deciding who to -- and not to -- invite, decorating, who will sing which song, whose niece will be the flower girl, will we take communion and light a unity candle, coordinating who walks down the aisle to which music cue, wondering if everyone will be able to fly in and get a hotel, buying and booking flowers, photos, videos, and commemorative mugs.
All that and more.
Needless to say, people in the wedding business are making a good chunk of change off of America In Love.
We go through such a rigmarole, instead of two people pledging love to one another the process transforms us into mini-producers trying to put together the perfect performance that will outdo anything we've seen, will be more memorable than the next couple's ceremony, and will also be pulled off without a hitch.
Sarah and I decided to approach it all from a different angle entirely. We wanted to skip all the flair and go straight to what was important to us: Pledging never-ending love to one another. Let's be honest. Ten years down the road no one but Sarah and I will care -- or remember -- what we did or didn't do for the ceremony and we agreed we'd much rather look back and remember the day not as a big blur that cost us thousands with nothing to show for it but a few fancy photos sitting in an album no one ever looks at (how about we save that money to put toward our future together instead?), but we'll remember October 26 2007 as the day we made a promise to each other (and God) that this was it.
When Brewster, my buddy who officiated the wedding, asked what kind of ceremony-on-the-beach we wanted it felt great to be up-front about it without having to impress anyone with our "wedding show". "Nothing fancy," we told him, "We want this day to be about what it's supposed to be about."
And it was good.
After the ceremony Sarah and I ran into the ocean, wedding clothes and all. Why did we decide to do such a thing? For no other reason except we wanted to. And why not? I can't think of a better way to start a great adventure. And admit it. It looked fun and you wish you jumped in the ocean, too.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I recall reading a review for The Woodsman when it first came out last year. The reviewer liked it but, because the content was so touchy, predicted it wouldn't do big business in the box office. The reviewer was right. I never heard anything about it since but tucked it away in the back of my head as something I'd like to see sometime.
I'll do my best to not reveal any major plot points or give anything away, so continue reading with no fear of spoilers.
Kevin Bacon stars as Walter, a man returning to society after spending some time away. Walter was a bad man and did bad things. He's haunted by his past and his actions. He knows what he did was wrong and wants desperately to change as he tries to fit back in. More than once he asks his analyst, pleads, "When will I be normal."
Unlike many movies, Walter doesn't (and can't) change overnight. Walter struggles against temptations that are right outside his front door...literally. He wants to change...he really does. It's hard to sympathize with Walter too much, however, because we know what he's done in the past and his crime is indeed a horrible one. Is it right to empathize with someone who's done something so wrong? If someone commits what can very easily be considered an unforgivable sin, does it make you just as bad as the criminal if you forgive him? Should we really forgive those who trespass against us? Can we?
At one point in the film Walter finds himself giving in...we see him giving in...and I found myself pulling for him, hoping that he wouldn't do it...I really wanted Walter to stay strong and found myself getting angry at the fact that Walter was failing. Again. And then, at the last possible second there is a revelation that changes the direction and flow. It's not one of those twists-for-sake-of-a-twist that is so popular in movies now but a moment of clarity for Walter that may not have come if he wasn't tested.
I'm not trying to annoy you with my vague details, but one of the things I liked so much about the film was that I knew very little about it going in, so I never knew what to expect or what was coming next. I will say this: One doesn't walk away from the film with the false idea that every bad person will change their ways. But it hints at the fact that they can.
Friday, October 12, 2007
In reality I probably won't do either one, but I still like the feeling it brings.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
The film version of the book came out in (I believe) 1975 and I blame it for my fear of sharks that is still with me to this day. I'd love to go scuba diving someday but know that in the back of my mind, no matter how beautiful the underwater scenery, I am going to be thinking shark, shark, look for the sharks, shark, shark, they're sneaky, they want to eat you, shark, shark, shark.
And part of the fun of watching shark movies and "Shark Week" is facing that fear (kind of but not really) and learning more about it, getting that little adrenaline rush that comes with a good scare. Needless to say I was excited to begin Jaws. I wondered if it would keep me up at night or if I would find myself going to the bathroom as quickly as possible (like I did when I was a kid) because I was sure a little tiny shark was going to find its way into the sewer, up the pipe, and chew my butt off.
Before I go any further, let me just say that I'm not finished with Jaws yet and so I realize I have no business complaining or criticizing. I can hear you now... "Finish the book before you complain about it!!!" I know, I know, I'm not ignorant of that fact and it's more than valid. I recognize that.
But until I finish it, I'm going to do a bit of griping.
There's hardly a shark in it so far. In fact, the shark has only appeared twice and only for a total of about 10 pages (hey everyone, look at me complaining about a book that came out 30 years ago...am I on the cutting edge or what?). Come on!! Scare me!!! Please!! Scare me!!
But that's not it. The story -- so far -- isn't about Chief Brody and his hunt for the shark that is terrorizing his community. It's about his wife, how unhappy she is, how bored she is, how miserable her life is, and how she ends up having an affair with Hooper, the shark expert (the Richard Dreyfus character in the movie).
What the freak is that???
This may be the first time that a movie was made based on a book, and the movie ended up being better. Not that they changed much or "Hollywood"-ed it, but they pretty much left out the whole affair scenario. And that's fine with me.
Maybe this blog ends up sounding ultra-conservative -- and I think most people who know me probably wouldn't categorize me as such -- but it's just not what I signed up for. I've never been a big fan of books or movies that have the characters fooling around on their significant others (American Beauty, The Last Kiss). That's probably the thing I feel the strongest personal conviction about and I'm sure the fact that I'm about to be married doesn't help much.
I don't know. I thought I was going to get a scary shark book and instead I ended up with some lame soap opera.
I'll let you know how it ends.
Two hours later
I finished it. The last fifty pages were exciting as the trio of men faced off against the shark. If only the rest of the book had been that way.
How Benchley resolves the whole Brody's-wife-has-an-affair-with-Hooper scenario is ridiculous. While Brody, Hooper, and Quint are on the boat chasing the shark, one of the other town characters pays a visit to Mrs Brody out of the blue and confesses his love for her. I'm still wondering where this came from. As a result of this almost-laughable-because-it-was-so-improbable plot twist, Mrs Brody decides that her life is perfect and fine and she loves her husband after all and her fling with Hooper was just sex and nothing else.
And I guess it's good she came to that conclusion because on the next page Hooper is eaten by the shark.
Convenient, huh? And by "convenient" I mean "retarded".
Friday, September 28, 2007
But I digress. Big time.
While Sarah was here we went up to New York City for the day. Her friend Courtney was going to be in town visiting from Scotland and so we hopped on a train and made the journey. We got off the train at Penn Station in the middle of Manhattan. Because we were only a couple of blocks from the improv theater I was part of while I lived in the city we decided to stop by the National Comedy Theatre as we made our way to Central Park and see if anybody was home.
I had so much fun performing at NCT and the people there are like family to me and, in many ways, they're like home. If you've read any of my old blogs you're used to me gushing about them. When I found I would be returning to Pennsylvania I was excited because I had visions in my head of returning to NYC on the weekends to perform.
It hasn't happened yet.
I'll try to explain why, but I'm not a Master Wordsmith so bear with me.
To be honest, I hadn't felt that tug, that pull, to get back to the city. I just didn't have the motivation. And I think it's because of my job.
Nothing against my job and nothing against NCT, but I'm doing what I love to do at WJTL. I'm making movies. I'm filming, editing, tweaking, writing, storyboarding...I love it. And I think because I have that creative outlet I was missing that hunger to perform I might have if I had a run-of-the-mill 9 to 5 office job. Does that make sense? Because my creativity had an outlet, I never had a chance, I never built up that yearning, to perform.
Not that I didn't want to. I just didn't have that drive. I don't know if I'm correctly explaining myself or not, but I don't have the energy to go back and do it better.
But all that changed last week.
As soon as Sarah and I stepped in front of the theatre, it was back. I could feel the energy and the excitement, and when I saw my friend JT inside it was a little overwhelming. I knew I had been away too long.
Kramer and Jeff were also there and the three of them were downstairs in the green room putting down new flooring. It immediately took me back to my time there, painting the green room, putting all this work into the theatre we loved so much and I missed it.
It was so good seeing those guys again, I wished I would have seen some of the rest of the gang too, and that fire is back. I can't wait to get back there.
And you know the best part of it? Sarah was happy to be there, too. After we left she was so excited for me. It was encouraging and such a great feeling (and quite frankly, a new feeling for me) to be with someone who was genuinely supportive and eager for me to get back there. Sarah told me she wants to go back soon, and often, so she can watch me in the shows.
I didn't have that support and encouragement in my last relationship. And now that I do, I can't believe I lasted as long as I did without it.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The rink was divided into two basic sections. In one half were the newer books (for 1-3 dollars apiece) and the other books were all a dollar each for hardcover and 50 cents for paperbacks. There were so many people there it was often times hard to move and, I'm sorry, the Amish guys in attendance gave me a really bad headache with their overpowering body odor. I'm not even trying to be funny. For real. They smelled really bad. So bad that I left earlier than I had intended. That's not right and the smell coming off of them was anything but godly. Come on, Amish. You ride in cars. You often use cell phones. You shop at Wal-Mart. Do you honestly think God's going to be upset if you grab some Speed Stick? (It's not like I'm asking you to undergo the Axe effect or anything)
I returned this afternoon for a bit and there were significantly fewer books. And also significantly fewer people. I was able to browse freely and a little more comfortably. Tomorrow (the last day of the sale) everything is half off but I don't think I'm going to brave the crowds again. I ended up spending about 20 bucks for 30 books so all in all I feel like I did well. I mostly bought some classics I never read but felt I probably should have (such as Melville, Haley, Shelley, Orwell, and Dumas).
I've been seriously slacking off in my reading habits this year so far and this was just the jump start I needed to get my nose back in some books.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
As I was pushing my cart through the warehouse's aisles, I of course made sure to swing by the DVD section. Not that I was looking for anything in specific but if you know me then you know I likes my DVDs. A few things caught my eye and a few were so interesting I had to pick them up and give them further examination (the first two seasons of "The Muppet Show" and the M. Night Shyamalan 2-pack). But it was very easy for me to put them back on the shelf and continue my shopping.
I'm going to be getting married soon and I need to be a little wiser with how I spend my money.
And then I saw it.
The Saturday Night Live 10-pack. That's right. Ten DVDs featuring the Best of Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Will Ferrell, Christopher Walken, and--oh snap--Steve Martin. Depending on where you go, these DVDs are usually available for anywhere from $9.99 to $14.99 apiece. This convenient box set was selling for $47.
I mean come on, that's a great deal, right? I slowly put the DVDs back on the shelf and continued on my way.
And a few minutes later I returned. I slowed down to a crawl and did a drive-by second-looking. I didn't stop. I kept going.
I snaked in and out of the aisles until I was satisfied with the items in my cart and then made my way back to the DVD section for a third time. Again, my cart did not stop, but holy schnikeys I wanted to.
I made my way back to the front, paid, and made it out to the parking lot. I called Sarah immediately to brag about how strong I was.
Nice try, SNL. Close. Very close. But no cigar.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Today I was giving Ann a hard time in the office, mostly because she's fun to make laugh. I can see sometimes the determination in her face, having decided in her head that she's not going to laugh. And so of course, I have to make her laugh.
Today it took me a few minutes but I finally got a nice big laugh out of her and I felt I had accomplished something. And then I surprised myself. I proclaimed to Ann, loud enough for the others around to hear, "I'm just joking with you, Ann. I tease because I tolerate."
And then I laughed at myself.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Well, I didn't go tonight. Sorry.
But I won't leave you empty-handed; that's not who I am. I wouldn't think of leaving you with nothing, and so I'll share this quick amusing story with you:
A couple of weeks ago Ann and I were going to HersheyPark for a WJTL event. On the way there we passed a gas station that had a huge sign advertising
IN TWO WEEKS
Yea, I know. I think the word you're looking for is "Huh?"
I gave her the address for my old blogs and suggested a few she might enjoy. I skimmed through them and actually enjoyed reading them. So much so that it inspired me to try to be a little better at writing. The operative word, of course, is try. I plan on going to Costco later today and if that doesn't give me fodder for a blog, I don't know what will.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
That's a big blighter!
Saturday, September 01, 2007
The Sundance Film Festival had posted all of the short film entries on their website for the world to see--and they were horrible. Films that were so obviously trying to be "arty" for the sake of "being arty". I figured I could make a crappy short film as well as the next guy and if I could make a somewhat decent short film, then maybe I'd have something.
Sarah was working at the coffee shop that day and had forgotten to put the cheese on my turkey sandwich. To be honest, I didn't even think about it--or even realize it--but she came out to where I was sitting and told me she suspected she forgot to add my slice of cheese.
I checked the sandwich and lo and behold she was right. I told her not to worry about it but she did, and was very adorable as she apologized for the oversight more than a few times.
It was at that moment I got the idea for my short film: A cute girl working at a coffee shop and a guy, not unlike myself, who's not very adept at talking to girls but wants very much to talk to her. Maybe he's there with a buddy of his, talking about how he wants to ask her out and his buddy who of course is much better at it and more confident is trying to show him the ropes.
I named the characters Ed and Paul (Paul, after my roommate in California who not only was very good with the fairer sex but also had a way of bringing home some of the hottest California girls you'd ever find). From there the script pretty much wrote itself.
I knew it would be easy to film and wondered if I'd be able to shoot it at the coffee shop. And for that matter I wondered if Sarah would be willing to play herself. That would be cool.
I went up to the counter for a refill of my coffee and mentioned to Sarah I had written a short film that revolves around a girl who works in a coffee shop and asked if she'd be up for playing the part. Of course, I didn't mention the part about her inspiring the whole thing...I didn't want to creep her out or anything.
I was very happy that not only did she agree to do it but also seemed very eager and excited about it. When I returned to my table and sat down again I realized I'd have to make a revision and change the main character from me to someone else. Mostly because I didn't want to freak her out that I was playing a character hitting on someone (her) 13 years younger than me. Sure, it was just a film, but I didn't want Sarah...or her sister...or her brother-in-law....to think I had less-than-innocent intentions. And I can honestly tell you my intentions were indeed very innocent. I don't know how believable that sounds now, especially since we have since gotten engaged, but believe me it's true. I had not ulterior motives. I just wanted Sarah to be in the film.
I quickly changed my character to "David". Granted, David is her brother and it sounds really weird to cast her brother as someone trying to ask her out but I mean come on, in the story they aren't related. And David has an innocent shyness about him I thought would translate well. He ended up doing a much better job than I ever could have done (I think I would have come across as goofy instead of shy) and he nailed the part brilliantly.
The only other guy I knew who was around their age and could play the confident, good-looking ladies man was Matt, who also hung hung around the coffee shop quite a bit. He is Ken's son, and--that's right--Sarah's step-brother. So yea, I totally made a film about a girl and cast her real-life brother and step-brother as the two guys vying for her attention. If you never met any of them in real-life you'd have no idea of the odd casting choice, but to our friends around town...I think it really confused some of them at first.
We filmed on May 18 and it turned out really well (you can see the film here). The three of them did a great job and to say I was impressed would be an extreme understatement. As we filmed I had Sarah behind the counter and asked her to perform basic actions that I could use as cutaway shots. Simple tasks like working the register, answering the phone, sweeping the floor, etc.
I can still remember reviewing the footage later that night. I was sitting at the kitchen table of my little upstairs apartment and as I watched Sarah, it really hit home: "This girl is beautiful."
I recall rewinding the tape and re-watching a few times. There she was doing everyday mundane tasks and I couldn't keep my eyes off her. I remembered how much fun I had working with her up close and wished I'd written a bigger part so I could work with her more. Her friendliness, her warm smile, her considerate spirit...those weren't things that were merely part of her at-work customer-service mode (not that I ever suspected they were)...but that's truly who she is as a person.
Looking back on it all now I realize that although I'd already known her for about nine months, I already knew how funny, kind, sweet, and beautiful she was...the night we shot that film is the night I fell for Sarah.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
The time from August 2006 to May 2007 may seem pretty uneventful on the surface but in reality it was a time of building a nice solid foundation of friendship on which we could build from there.
I began to visit the coffee shop on a pretty regular basis. I soon learned that Sarah was 23 years old, only a mere 13 years younger than me. In my head, that pretty much sealed my fate, as the last thing in the world I wanted to be thought of (especially by Sarah) was "that creepy older guy." I also learned Sarah was seeing someone else at the time and I would have no part in trying to move in on someone already in a relationship. I accepted the situation and moved on into "the friend zone."
What I didn't realize at the time was the fact that this was probably the best thing that could have happened. I'm not too naive to admit God knew what He was doing. If circumstances had been different I would have changed the way I acted around her. I don't know if I"ve mentioned this before but I'm not a good single guy around pretty girls. I become awkward, unsure of myself, very self-conscious, and I usually end up coming across as a goof. And not in a good way. Trust me on this.
But when I know there's no chance (or, in this case, think there's no chance), I can talk to anyone. Whether she is the one in the relationship or if I happen to be with someone, all of that goes out the window and I can talk to anyone. Why? Because of the simple fact that I don't care what they think of me. If I don't impress or woo them, it's all right, because it wasn't going to happen anyway. And so because Sarah was seeing someone, I was able to just be myself. I know. Crazy.
The Coffee shop is owned and operated by Sarah's sister Stacy and Stacy's husband Nathan. The are two of the coolest, kind-hearted, down-to-earth, mellow people you'd ever want to meet and I got to get to know them through my frequent visits as well. Sarah's younger brother David also works there and because Sarah's family was always around that also made things for the future even cooler.
You see, what was happening was this: I was getting to know and love Sarah's family.
Don't get me wrong, they're great people and I'm not saying it wouldn't have been fun -- or easy -- to get to know them if Sarah and I started dating right off the bat, but this way there wasn't any of the pressure that is sometimes there when you "MEET THE FAMILY" for the first time. It was really cool.
Speaking of cool, wait until you hear this. It may be a little harder to follow reading it than if I were there to explain it in person but hear me out and try to follow because it's worth it.
I grew up going to church in Auburn, Indiana. One of the kids who also went there was a boy in the same grade as me named Chris McCormick. We became really good friends and it became a common occurrence that after church I would go home with him or he would come home with me and we would hang out and play and get into whatever kinds of mischief fifth graders get into. Sometimes I would get to spend the whole weekend at his house. I have fond memories of us pooling our Star Wars action figures together so we could create epic adventures. I remember that my Princess Leia action figure was cross-eyed, so she became Chris's Princess Leia's retarded twin sister.
Chris's Mom had remarried a guy named Ken Stine and because I spent so much time at their house I got to know the two of them pretty well over the years (and vice versa). Ken spent a few years working as the guy who refills candy machines and I remember Chris sneaking me aboard the candy truck on more than one occasion to sample the goods.
As sometimes happens, things change, and a number of years later Ken and Chris's mom separated. And, you guessed it, a few years after that Ken married Sarah's mom. Small world, huh?
So, From late summer of 2006 to spring of 2007 I got the chance to get to know Sarah and some of her family. They're great people and now, as Sarah and I move closer to marriage, I can't wait to call them not only friends, but family.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
There's a small town outside of Lancaster Pennsylvania called Strasburg. It's quiet. Quaint. It has a nice Amish population and an ice cream shop on the corner that attracts a fair share of tourists. It's not much different from a lot of other small towns on the East Coast. And, like a lot of small towns on the East Coast with any history behind it, it has a ghost tour.
Every half hour or so a small group of people will converge, led by a woman wearing a long black cape. I understand the mood they're going for but this far away from Halloween it just has a tendency to look silly.
I spoke to a woman who is on the Strasburg city council and apparently many of the ghost stories are just that: stories. Totally made up with no real basis in fact or history.
By the way, they charge 15 dollars a head to go on this Tour of Lies. And people pay it. On some days they have as many as six tours a night. They're making out pretty well if you ask me.
Why couldn't I do that?
Who says I couldn't?
I talked to my friend about this and she told me they do indeed require a license to perform these tours. And the license is only twenty bucks. Even if I did a half-assed job of it, I could make that back in one tour. But I wouldn't do a half-assed job. Not me.
My only other expense would be a cape. Where do you get one of those? I'd need to get a cape, though. Maybe one with sparkles or sequins. I bet Sarah would be willing to Bedazzle the crap out of a cape for me. Really show up those amateurs.
I wouldn't charge 15 bucks a pop, though. I would only charge 10. And I wouldn't feel like I was sacrificing anything because if you want to give me 10 bucks to lie to you and a bunch of your friends for half an hour...I'd totally be down for that. And I can pretty much guarantee you my lies would be way better. Please. That's easy. I'll make up a story right here on the spot:
This mansion was built in 1872, not long after he Civil War, by John and Olivia Worthington. John fought in the Civil War and came back missing an arm. Nevertheless he continued building the house he'd always promised his young bride. One day while he worked on the roof he lost his footing. He tried to steady himself but because he only had one arm he had to let go of the bucket of materials he held in order to save from falling from the roof. Unfortunately Olivia was right below working in her garden and was struck on the head by the materials. She died instantly. Mr. Worthington was so distraught he threw himself from the rooftop where he plummeted to his death, impaling himself on a decorative stick in the yard. To this day if you ever find yourself in the garden at night, you'll see a huge shadow on the roof that leaps off right at you. Of course, the ghostly figment vanishes before it lands but not before you hear the haunted scream of a woman right beside you. And then your lips fall off.
OK, so granted I need to work on the ending. And I'm not really sure why they had a "decorative stick" in the yard, but I just made it up. I bet if I took some time to really think about it I could make it into an awesome story. But my point is I can make up stories and lie about ghosts and accept ten dollars from people to do it.
At first I thought about charging people half of what the other ghost tour people charge, which wold be 7 dollars apiece. But after some consideration I decided to make it an even 10 dollars because I'm not good (or fast) at math. If a family of four wants to go on the tour at 7 dollars each and they pay with a fifty-dollar bill, how much change would I owe them? Maybe you know, but I don't. So yeah. Ten bucks each. Easy. And also that way I never have to worry about running out of one-dollar bills. That would suck.
My ghost tour would also be better because I would include my friends to play crazy characters we meet along the way. Believe me, I know people who would totally be down for playing a creepy man on the corner with a story about the old firehouse or abandoned livery. Not that there's an abandoned livery in downtown Strasburg but believe you me, when I tell the ghost stories one of those old buildings is going to end up being an abandoned livery.
There will also be stories about people dying in fires, secret lovers murdered by over-protective fathers, and at least one death by monkey. That one might be tough to make sound convincing but I'm determined to be the only ghost tour storyteller with a monkey death tale to pass along.
You'd pay ten bucks to hear that, right?
Yes you would.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
I made my way to the coffee shop downtown, Brewdaily's Cafe. I was impressed from the moment I opened the door. As soon as I walked in, it didn't feel like I was in Smalltown, USA. It was huge inside with really cool decor and big comfy couches to sit in. This place would easily fit in Santa Monica or Greenwich Village. The girl behind the counter was really cute. And not cute in a "oh hey she's cute" kind of way but in a "wow, who is THIS" fashion. The thing is, I'm horrible at the "how old is this person" game (seriously, never ask me how old I think you are if you don't want to be offended) and I didn't want to do or say anything too forward lest she turn out to be 16 and I find myself in jail and the talk of the town.
She was really friendly and made a mean white chocolate mocha. I sat down to write a little bit and knew I would be back. I had to find out more about this girl.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 23 2006
I visit the coffee shop once again and again, the beautiful girl is working behind the counter. I'm so happy with the fact I have found a new place to hang out I am inspired to write a short story, called simply "Java."
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
*Just a warning: There will probably be inaccuracies, lapses of memory, and free association. Sometimes it might seem like what I am writing has nothing to do with Sarah. Trust me.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 16 2006
I hadn't been back in Indiana for very long. I was previously living in New York City and to say The Big Apple had a few coffee shops would be putting it lightly. To say I frequented those coffee shops would also be putting it lightly. I usually went to Starbucks, not out of brand loyalty, but because in New York every third building you pass is a Starbucks.
After moving back to Indiana it didn't take long for my coffee craving to kick in. But this was Auburn Indiana, not New York City and I didn't know what I would find (if anything) in the way of coffee shops.
One day I happened to notice a coffee shop in a strip mall across the street from a grocery store. It didn't really stand out and it was one of those places you had to know was there in order to find it. I didn't think they were getting a lot of drop-ins. I went in armed only with my notebook I always carry with me. I intended to do some writing and enjoy some quiet time.
I ordered my coffee (white chocolate mocha) and sat down. The coffee wasn't very good, but it was warm and it was made of coffee beans, so I figured I'd force it down. I began writing in my book when the owner of the shop began to make a loud fuss (all of the details are here). Turns out the owner knew my brother and was shouting loudly to his wife across the shop about me and who I was. To say I was a little embarrassed would be pretty accurate. I vowed never to step foot in that place again. And so far I've made good on my vow to myself.
I told my brother Ray about the incident and he and his wife Piper told me about another coffee shop that was located in downtown Auburn. And when I say "downtown" I don't mean like on Sunset Boulevard or Michigan Avenue or 42nd Street. I mean "downtown" as in the courthouse square in Back to the Future. Seriously. It looks just like that, with the huge courthouse and the big clock and all of the little shops all around. Apparently there was another coffee shop located in the square and I intended to check it out.
Monday, July 30, 2007
In between movies I made my way to the restroom and happened upon an old man at one of the urinals. He was standing there like Superman, proud and with his hands on his hips. ON HIS HIPS.
I don't know about you, but it's been my experience that you just don't do that. It's a good idea to always keep at least one hand in charge of aiming. And I would think that is doubly important at this guy's age, what with unstable stream strength and sudden hacking coughs that could pop up to throw a monkey wrench in the business.
But there this guy stood, looking around, as if to show everyone what he was up to. I figured his wife was probably passed away, because otherwise he would know better than to try a stunt like that (unless she likes a toilet seat, stand, and bathroom floor covered in pee).
As he stood there, hand firmly on his hips, and just being cocky about it (pun sort of intended) I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to the urinal next to him and pretend like I was peeing but instead reach up with both of my hands and streeeeetch. And then I wanted to put one hand extended in front of me and one behind, as if I were going into a yoga warrior stance. I wanted to clap my hands and do jazz hands and pound on the walls, just to show him what I can do with my hands free.
But I didn't. Instead I picked the urinal furthest away from him to avoid any overspray.
Stupid old man.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
There are countless things I love about you. But this past week when you came to visit, I discovered a few new ones. Here are some of them:
1. I love how you take pictures inside of stores, even though it upsets the staff.
2. I love how you narrate interpretive dance.
3. I love how I got to help pick out what you wore when I proposed to you.
4. I love how, when you were trying to figure out what to wear, you made everything look amazing.
5. I love how you smile when you meet someone new.
6. I love how you give people the benefit of the doubt, even when they don't deserve it.
7. I love how impulsive you are, even in a crowd, and it makes me laugh.
8. I love how you can be yourself because you know nothing you do will ever embarrass me or make me think any less of you. In fact, it only makes me love you more.
9. I love how you can't wait for the future to start now.
10. I love how a ring looks on your finger.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Ok, yea, I've been noticeably absent for a bit (and if you're reading this on MySpace, it's not only because I have jumped ship and abandoned Tom for Facebook.
Sarah came to visit last week and to say I've been a little preoccupied would be an understatement. And because people want "the whole story"...here it is. A little condensed. But just a little.
Sarah got in last Wednesday afternoon. Her train ended up getting into town about an hour late and we crossed the street to go to A Loaf of Bread, a wonderful bakery here in town owned and operated by Sadie, Phil's wife. It was a lot of fun to hang out with Phil and Sadie and to say Phil gave Sarah a welcome she won't soon forget would be putting it lightly (it included Phil opening the door of the bakery and screaming to the people outside "Sarah's here, everybody!!").
That night Sarah and I drove out to Chester county to visit The Whip, an English pub out in the middle of the Pennsylvania countryside. The food was incredible and when we left that night there was a beautiful mist in every direction.
Thursday Sarah and I visited the gang at work at WJTL and lunched at the Lancaster Coffee Company. That night got together with Chuck & Ann, Lisa, Stacey, and Mindy for dinner and conversation. At one point during the evening, as we were all seated around the dinner table enjoying our grilled burgers and salmon, I commented that I felt like I was in a Woody Allen film. Everyone agreed. After dinner we enjoyed a rousing game of Celebrity.
Friday afternoon Sarah and I ran around downtown Lancaster, taking in the sites, the market, and the sun. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed a great lunch at the Prince Street Cafe. That night we hung out with Tom & Mel. We had some great food, enjoyed a lot of heartfelt laughs, and watched "Freedom Writers" to wind up the night.
On Saturday Sarah and I went to the Park City Mall to kill time before heading up to Nissley Vineyards. We met Ethan & Aubrey and some friends of theirs as we settled in to enjoy a night of wine, cheese, and a live band playing both swing and latin music. It was a perfect night and Sarah and I found ourselves alone for a short bit. Ethan is a very talented photographer and I mentioned to Sarah he brought his camera along. I suggested we ask him if he would take some pictures of us while there was still sunlight. When we returned to where the group was picnicking, Ethan asked if we'd seen the inside of the winery. I told him no, and asked him if he would bring his camera along to take some photos of us.
The three of us headed inside the winery and I motioned to the racks of wine that stood before us. "Maybe we could stand in front of these for a good shot?" Sarah and I made our way further in and Sarah began to look around.
"How should we pose?" she asked, "What should we do?"
Sarah was facing away from me when I answered, "Why don't you stand there and I'll give you this?" Sarah turned back to me and saw I was holding a small box with a ring inside.
I asked Sarah if she would marry me and her face lit up. It was beautiful; SHE was beautiful. She answered "yes" and we hugged and kissed and hugged some more. The energy was amazing and all the while, Ethan continued to click away on his camera.
Hours after the events of that night Sarah was still beaming, still glowing. It was amazing and couldn't have been any more perfect.
Yesterday we spent the day at HersheyPark and this afternoon Sarah got back on the train for the return ride home. I put a bunch of pictures from the week on my Facebook page. It was a great week; An amazing week. I'm in love with my best friend and I'm going to marry her.