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A Dedicated Follower of Fashion

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Good Things! [Nov. 24th, 2010|07:06 am]
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
My two big problems with writing on LiveJournal are:

1. Finding time to sit down and write, and
2. Writing something that's not 80% complaining.

You would be surprised at the number of times I've sat down and started writing only to erased what I've written because I realized it fell into the category of "Wah, wah, wah".

SO, a new "feature" to this journal is going to be a weekly catalog of GOOD THINGS. I'm going to start today but I'm mostly going to be updating it on Sundays but what the hell... let's just do it on Wednesday morning. Fairly warned, be ye.

Yes, those modern marvels of yard upkeep technology, I used a leaf blower for the first time this weekend. Previously, I've lived in the city for the past few years. Previous to that, the backyard we had at our townhouse had no leaves to rake. I must admit, after borrowing my neighbor's... the leaf blower shaved HOURS off of a normally excruciating raking job. Hurrah for leaf blowers!

The little guy is ambling around the house in fine style on all fours, but he's yet to make the leap from crawling to walking. Nor does he seem to be in any rush about it- I've read that the youngest in the family usually take their time with landmarks like walking and talking, as they have so many people around them to do for them. Yet toddling IS in the mail- yesterday Ellen was holding Hank up and, absent-mindedly, she let him go. He stood for a few seconds; long enough to realize that Mommy wasn't holding him anymore, at which point he collapsed on the floor and started crawling again.

For the past few years, we have been mobile on Turkey Day. Last year, we spent the holiday at Ellen's friend Sarah's mother's house (enough possessives in that statement for ya?) and the two years before that, we drove to Ellen's mother's place in Northeast Ohio. Not this year though! This year, we're doing Thanksgiving at our house for the first time and we're all very excited. What's even more exciting is that we have people coming! Ellen met a nice lady named Sally over the summer with whom she's become fast friends. Sally and her husband Adam have two kids, Charlie (who's Elliot's age) and Ella (who's a bit younger than Henry). They are Canadian expats who celebrate their own Thanksgiving in October, so we took the initiative to invite 'em up for dinner. Our friend Kelly will also be with us, and possibly one of Ellen's co-workers. It should be a good time!

I came home last week to find one of the most often comic thrift store finds I've yet had... and I didn't even find it! Ellen stopped at the St. Vincent DePaul store to pick up some plates for the art gallery and she happened upon a hardcover copy of Frank Miller's 300 for $4 dollars! While not exactly obsessive about the practice, I've been picking up more and more hardcover comic collections in recent years, and this is a welcome addition to the library. $4 dollars! It normally retails for $30 dollars!
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out in theaters this weekend. [Nov. 21st, 2010|07:04 pm]
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
Seriously? As I wrote that sentence, I became a little choked up. How stupid is that?

Recently becoming the highest-grossing film franchise ever, the Harry Potter series of films is interesting to me in that it's one of the first full-throttle movie series that I experienced as a cognizant movie-watcher. Now, when I say that I want to be clear when I make that statement. Star Wars, sure. I was a huge fan of the Star Wars movies growing up, but of the three movies in the original trilogy, I was only alive for Return of the Jedi, and I was TWO. I wasn't an active participant in enjoying those movies as they were released. None of the anticipation, none of the excitement in seeing them on the big screen... I experienced my love of Star Wars based on home video, thanks much.

That's also not to say there weren't franchises going when I was growing up... but they were less focused, more scattershot. The Batman franchise takes up a tremendous part of my childhood, but each of those movies seems so disparate from one another that often they don't even seem to be taking place in the same universe. Even the original Batman and Batman Returns are so tonally different that they seem like two movies that happen to share an actor in a rubber Batsuit. There were a lot of movies which took this path- one good movie, then Hollywood awkwardly tried to cobble together a sequel out of contract promises with the original actors made before sequels were de rigueur. Ghostbusters, The Matrix, I'm looking in your general direction when I say this...

I guess what I'm saying is that for me, (again, let me say that, FOR ME) the Harry Potter movies were the first successful gambit made toward sustaining a narrative momentum over a body of big-budget films rather than making sequels piecemeal.

...and WHAT a body of work, man. Honestly, I am sure Hollywood will take a run at The Boy Who Lived again sometime in my lifetime. There's too much money to be made in repackaging, repurposing, and revisiting the world to let these movies stand on their own. Even with that knowledge, I think these flicks will stand the test of time.

Putting that aside, a small part of my feelings go back to the literary roots the movies grew from. I remember exactly where I was (summer, mid-afternoon, in an oppressively hot elementary school library) when I first encountered the Harry Potter books. I am one of millions who have a deep and abiding affection for the source material. As someone whose livelihood now rises and falls on the reading whims of young people, it's funny to look back and recognize how wonderful I thought the books were then, and that they remain so now.

I also read the Harry Potter books just before they because the absolutely crazy phenomenon in America, and there was a sense, however small, that the books were "mine" for a short while. Let me stress... this was a manner of weeks. I don't have any knowledge on this besides my own recollection, but I remember HP becoming HUGE during the summer Goblet of Fire hit bookstores, and I read Sorcerer's Stone maybe three weeks before that happened.

So yes, I'm a book nut and that's one reason I love the movies. It's wonderful to see them realized so wonderfully. Even the inconsistencies and truncation of the sprawling stories to fit a two-hour running time added to the fun. Who among us didn't have a nit to pick with the movies? I'm also a movie nut, and that's another reason I've enjoyed all the Harry Potter flicks. There is one other reason why thinking this is the end of the line for this franchise gets me all sentimental. When I think about these movies, I think about the people who were in my life when they came out... by and large, people who aren't in my life anymore and never will be.

I think about my college girlfriend and how we saw it together. We bought our tickets online, the first time I had ever done such a thing. We squeezed each other's hands every time something came on screen that we liked.

I think about not seeing the second flick with that girlfriend.

I think about seeing the third movie in a drive-in.

I think about seeing the fourth one in Times Square during the worst time of my life as a single guy.

I remember NOT seeing the fifth one in theaters, but attempting to no less than FOUR different times with Ellen. She was eight months pregnant with Elliot and we spent that entire summer in the movie theaters of Southern Ohio, drinking Slurpees and waiting for him.

That's actually kind of funny, now that I look at it- during every one of these movies are entwined with some major moment of my life. It's something I never thought about before, but seeing it on the page there is somewhat surprising.
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Day 06 – Your day, in great detail [Nov. 7th, 2010|02:31 pm]
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
Ok, let's see.

I woke up at 7:30 (although as you and I know, it was actually 6:30 due to Daylight Savings Time) to Elliot and Henry's cries and pleas. We went downstairs and I allowed Elliot to watch some television. Elliot and television in the mornings has become quite a problem; he's really unhappy when we tell him enough is enough. He usually gets a half an hour of TV in the mornings and then, if he's good, another half an hour in the afternoon. On the days I wake up with him, I give him a whole hour. I rationalize it by remembering the good times I had watching TV on the weekends as a kid but the real fact of the matter is that I'm just being a lazy parent. I'll cop to it.

Elliot watched The Disney Channel for his hour: The Imagination Movers and Handy Manny. I have to admit, Disney might be a soulless corporation bent on world domination... but they do know how to make a quality kid's cartoon. Elliot usually moves back and forth between The Disney Channel and PBS, and in general the stuff produced for Disney is a lot nicer looking with better songs. While he was watching, I played with Henry. Henry was pretty contented to sit in the toy corner and dig through the bins of kitchen-toys we have.

After an hour, I brought them upstairs for breakfast. Normally on Sundays the boys and I go out to the store to pick up the Sunday paper and Panera for bagels but this week... we are SO broke it's not even funny. We have negative money in the bank. Luckily, Elliot was, for some reason, very opposed to going out this morning so we just had Cheerios. Henry had a banana and yogurt. You would not BELIEVE how excited Henry gets over bananas. Henry's not going to be one of those kids where Ellen and I are able to say "Your first word was _______" mainly because he's just sort of sidling into words through baby-talk. Like, he screams "nananananananaananana" when he sees a banana. Or he says "gog-gog-gog" when he sees Roxanne. He does say "Mamama" or "Dadadada" but I feel as though the whole "Henry's first word" ship has sailed already.

At 9, I let the kids go upstairs and wake up Ellen. When she gets up with the boys, I usually sneak back into bed for an hour or so. I rarely go back to sleep; usually I'll just listen to a podcast or read a book or something. I decided to finish Moonlight Mile, the new Patrick Kenzie detective novel from Dennis Lehane. I read the whole series right after I graduated from Boston University and I enjoyed the way they reminded me of the town as much as I liked LeHane's characterization of his main characters. I was pretty disappointed when LeHane all but disowned the series to reporters when asked if he ever thought about writing another book starring blue collar private eye with the badass sidekicks and the cool-as-hell headquarters.

For the record, I completely understand why LeHane was ready to move on from the series. At its' core, the detective fiction genre is often played as an adolescent male fantasy under which a writer is shackled to certain unavoidable conventions. I enjoyed all six of the Kenzie books but it's hard to deny that the seams were showing by the last book- the writer had Patrick and Angie break up and make up so many times, you'd swear you were reading a Moonlighting novelization. Still, LeHane's insistence he'd never return to the series always chafed me. They were good books. I hated that he seemed to disown them.

The long and short of it is that Moonlight Mile is slight, but a good read and it was nice to revisit the characters... and especially nice that LeHane gave them a proper send-off.

Got out of bed at around 10:30 to find out that Ellen's friend Emma had completely blown her off for what is like the third time. Emma and Ellen grew up together; they were in each other's weddings. Emma just had a baby and was in the area visiting this weekend. She told Ellen about this weeks ago and Ellen rearranged her entire weekend so she could be here; she came home from visiting her parent's in Northeast Ohio early... only to get a phone call from Emma this morning telling her that they were just heading home. I felt so bad for Ellen; I definitely know what it's like to have people whom you think of as friends not give you the same consideration that you feel you give them. I'm sure there were some extenuating circumstances on Emma's part (like, I know her new baby son wasn't feeling well) but it's still sucky.

I watched the kids while Ellen jumped in the shower and had a chance to talk to Mom on the phone... and then I jumped in quickly after Ellen was finished. We gave Elliot his lunch (grilled cheese, oranges) and I fed Henry while reading about that Tony Danza teaching reality show on The Onion. I've been meaning to sample the show but I haven't had the inclination... much for the same reason that American Teen's been sitting in my Netflix queue for months on end- when I'm away from teaching, I don't really want to be watching tv shows or movies about teaching.

Ellen decided to do a craft with Elliot while I took Henry upstairs and rocked him to sleep. I listened to some of Kevin Smith's Hollywood Babble-on podcast while I was rocking the little monster. The jack that connects my iPod to the car radio broke a few weeks ago so I'm way behind on my podcasts. In general, I liked HBO; the co-host on that show does an AMAZING Harrison Ford impression.

Came downstairs and made some lunch and watched Back to the Future on ABC Family while Ellen left for the grocery store.

I will spare you the rest of the day in detail. Also please note that I spared you any and all times that I used to the toilet.
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a big weekend [Oct. 17th, 2010|09:02 pm]
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
[music |We Belong Together - Randy Newman]

I don't remember anything that happened on Friday, besides Ellen and I finally watched Iron Man 2.

I didn't see the first Iron Man in theaters and I had to suffer through six months of people telling me how unbelievably awesome it was... only to finally watch it and feel somewhat disappointed. With Iron Man 2, I had to suffer through six months of people telling me what a let-down the sequel was... and I thought it was pretty good!

We finally brought the car in for a tune-up. Ellen, the kids and I walked around downtown Mason. I went into the church thrift store and found a copy of the novelization of Batman that I read to pieces when I was a kid. I was thinking of writing something up about it for my comic website.

Elliot and I got Culver's for lunch and took naps.

Ellen got home from the gallery and we got ready to go out for the night. My work friend Michelle got all of us tickets to go see the symphony in Dayton, and her daughter Clarity watched the kids for us. I've never been to the symphony before; most of my knowledge of classical music comes from Looney Tunes cartoons. It was a fun experience although I don't know if I'd be queueing up for a second go-around.

After FOUR long months, Ellen and I finally have a new bed! We haven't slept together in the same bed since July.

We also bought a new bookcase from Ikea.

I already want to sleep in tomorrow.
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verizon mom makes me want to die [Oct. 12th, 2010|09:49 pm]
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
Some of you may be aware of the Sunday routine I keep with Elliot, and more recently, Elliot and Henry. On Sunday, we get out of the house early to allow Ellen a few hours to sleep in. We usually go to Panera to get bagels and then drive over to our local Meijer's to get the Sunday edition of The Cincinnati Enquirer. We also stop regularly to pump pennies into Sandy, the cheapest ride-on horse in the Midwest.


Sandy the Horse is set up right next to Meijer's Verizon store. Inevitably, as I'm standing there waiting for the boys to cycle through a dime's worth of horsey rides, my eyes wander into the store. It doesn't open until 10 on Sunday morning so it is blocked off to customers.


Every week, I find myself looking at the banner photograph for the store.


I HATE this photograph. LOOK at that Mom! What a stupid face to make! You're supposed to be a mother, not some drunk sex maniac looking to score. Is it just me, or is that an inappropriate look for Verizon Mom? The Verizon Kids both have the same stupid faces! At least Verizon Dad looks kind of sensible.

At any rate, the entire picture is crazy creepy and I hate it.
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Day 04 – What you ate today, in great detail [Sep. 19th, 2010|05:52 pm]
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
On Sundays, the boys and I have a routine which I believe I've written about before. We get out of the house so Ellen can sleep in, and I pick up bagels at Panera. In general, I'm not a huge fan of Panera bagels (they taste like stale donuts to me) but I'm outvoted by my family. I got a cinnamon crunch bagel with honey walnut cream cheese, hilariously labelled "Low Fat". I also had a glass of orange juice and a big glass of water.

We were at the Mason Arts Festival for lunch, so I had something from one of the vendors. I had a not-entirely bad pulled pork sandwich with North Carolina barbecue sauce. Elliot, Ellen and I also split a small cup of Graeter's black raspberry chip ice cream. Graeter's ice cream is legendary around here (and around the country, I guess) but I find I only really enjoy the stuff once it's a soupy, melty mess.

We came back home, the kids took a nap and I graded papers. At some point I wanted a snack and had a bowl of cinnamon apple sauce. Huh, I ate a lot of cinnamon today. Didn't even realize it.

Ellen came back from a second-run at the arts festival with dinner. We made skirt steak on the grill, green beans, and pasta.

I don't know if I'm going to have dessert, as I've already eaten quite a bit of junk today, but I was thinking about making cookies this evening so I would imagine I might have one or two of those if I pull the trigger and decide to make 'em.
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cincinnati comic expo 2010 [Sep. 19th, 2010|09:32 am]
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
I went to my first comic book convention in over a decade last year when Ellen and I went to the MidOhio Comic Con. I had a very good time, and to my complete surprise, Ellen had a lot of fun too. When I heard there was going to be a convention right here in our backyard, I asked Ellen if she wanted to go and bring the boys, but she begged off, pointing out one of the reasons she had a good time was that we were at the last con without Elliot, and Henry hadn't been born yet. She gave me the go-ahead to spend the morning there before she had to go off to work.

I spent about two hours at the con and it was just the right amount of time to see everything and move on.

Some highlights:

* Buying Elliot and Henry a signed copy of a Dora the Explorer Little Golden Book by artist Dave Aikins. Elliot hasn't ever been into Dora, but his friend Gus is and unless I'm off with my guess, our house is about six months away from worshiping the bi-lingual adventurer. Little Golden Books are some of the most beautiful pop art done for children in the past fifty years so it was a trip to get one signed by the artist.

* Having Michael Uslan sign my DVD of the 1989 Batman flick. I've mentioned my devotion to the '89 Batman a couple of times, both here and in comics form... and Uslan is generally recognized as the dude who got the ball rolling away from "Holy Shark Repellant, Batman" and more toward the Dark Knight, as least as far as the movies are concerned.

* This was a big one: I bought my first piece of original art! You're going to laugh at this but I bought an original Archie newspaper strip, as seen here:

Ok, Calvin & Hobbes it ain't, but I'm glad I bought it for the following reasons:

1. I have ALWAYS wanted to own an original strip from a newspaper comic. Always. I was planning on asking Ellen to get me an original Spider-Man strip off of eBay for Christmas, but this was a fraction of the cost of that.
2. I'm on a bit of an Archie kick right now; I've been finding those Archie digests in the thrift store every week and I kind of admire some of the stories.
3. I used to do this kind of work over the summer at my town's elementary school.
4. The writer lives one town over from Middletown! I'm going to see if he'll come into my school and meet my classes.
5. It was only $30 bucks!

* I got Tony Moore to sign my classroom's Walking Dead anthology. I know a couple of kids who are going to flip out when they see I got the artist who did the first six issues to sign the book. No knocking Charlie Adlard, but in general, a lot of my kids have told me they preferred Moore's take on the zombie apocalypse.

The only disappointment of the day was not being able to get a sketch off Mr. Moore. I put myself on his list for a nice drawing of Rick Grimes, but unfortunately I had to run home before he made it to my request. He and his wife were very nice about the whole situation and super apologetic, which was very nice of them.
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dinner! theater! Both! [Sep. 18th, 2010|04:00 pm]
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
Ellen and I sorely needed some alone time. The house is still a wreck, both our jobs became crazy in the past month and we haven't been seeing much of one another. To wit, we decided to go out on a date this past Friday. After kicking around some ideas, we settled on something so utterly and suburban and domestic that I can't believe I'm typing these words: We bought tickets to a dinner theater.

There's a small dinner theater over in Springboro that we've known about since we moved here, but neither of us was ever really interested. In fact, I'm pretty sure the only reason we did go this time is that a few months ago, I got us a good deal one one of those Entertainment Books that are filled with coupons and discounts; the biggest discount in the whole book is a 2 for 1 deal on dinner and a show at La Comedia. That coupon's only good until the end of October; Ellen and I decided we'd give it a shot. The show La Comedia was putting on a shortened version of the Broadway production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Look, I'll be honest with you: my expectations for this thing couldn't have been lower. When you have two kids of the ages that Elliot and Henry are, just getting out of the house with them for a couple of hours is entertainment enough without wanting to see dancing and musical numbers. I would have been happy sitting in a bar with Ellen for four hours. That being said, we had quite a fun time. Although standard fare for a venue such as this, we enjoyed the food. La Comedia is supposedly "famous" for their sweet potato souffle, I far more enjoyed the roast beef and potato au gratin. Like I said, simple stuff.

I did not see the original production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels on Broadway, so I can't judge it against the original staging... but there were some pretty good actors in the play. The guy who played Steve Martin's role was an adept physical comedian and the budgetary limits that you'd imagine a small dinner theater in Southwest Ohio labor under did not distract me. There was one major piece of set that was continually wheeled in and out, but to a minimum of distraction. The thing that really bothered me is the way that the show worked overtime to shoehorn in references to the area; I think this is common practice for most dinner theater performances. You know, you have an actress in a role where her character originally said she was from Boise, Idaho and the local production will re-frame that so she said she's from CINCINNATI, Ohio. There were also a ton of dated references in the script that aren't aging well- a bunch of GW Bush jokes fell flat.

Besides those quibbles, we enjoyed ourselves! I'm sure the attitude I had going in probably helped my own enjoyment; I was prepared to look down on the thing and instead I found myself having a fun time. Go figure.
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day two of thirty [Sep. 14th, 2010|08:48 pm]
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
Day 02 – Your first love, in great detailCollapse )
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Day 01 – Introduce yourself [Sep. 12th, 2010|11:15 pm]
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
I did one of these "Thirty Days" memes in August, but frankly about 30% of the topics on that thing sucked and were hard to write about. I enjoyed the writing (especially since Melissa was doing it at the same time) but by and large posting the thing was a pain in the butt... especially since I made the boneheaded decision to try and link every post I did.

A new one of these is making the rounds, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm going to be a lot looser this time though. Although it's asking you to write for thirty days, I'm just going to write if and when I feel like it. I'm also not going to do any of that insane linking.

Day 01 – Introduce yourselfCollapse )
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