Hemo the Magnificient

Back in the distant past of the nineteen eighties we didn’t have dvds and even vhs tapes were expensive. And so, they used to show us films in school, using an actual film projector in a dark room. It was great.

Of course these films were usually of the educational variety. Some were good (such as the You are There series featuring Walter Cronkite) and some weren’t. My favorite, though, was Hemo the Magnigicent.

Hemo the Magnificent is an educational film, directed by Frank Capra and featuring Mel Blanc(!), about the circulatory system featuring cartoon animals and live action actors. It’s really a cute and funny film. Don’t take my word for it. You can check out the first ten minutes at YouTube. You’ll recognize Mel Blanc’s voice right away.

I really need to pick this up on DVD.

A Night At the Symphony

For my wife’s birthday she told me she wanted to go to a concert for our local symphony. It sounded nice to me for a couple reasons. #1 it would make her happy. #2, grownup night without the kids.

And so, after a hectic day and a quick meal/open presents/blow out candles dinner with my family (the babysitters in this equation – thanks mom and day and sister and brother-in-law), we were on our way to the symphony.

Now, when I say local symphony, I’m talking about the Nittany Valley Symphony. These are local musicians, but I’m pretty sure not all communities have these types of local musicians. Being this close to the university we get world class musicians that are also professors at the university. For example, the night’s featured soloist on the violoncello, Kim Cook, “has performed to critical acclaim as a soloist in 26 countries including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, China, Israel, Jordan, Latin America, and throughout the United States”.

You know how they say certain guitarists “melt faces”? Well, Ms. Cook melted my face with the violoncello. I lack words to describe the performance. You really had to be there.

The piece I most enjoyed was Cello Concerto in B minor, by Antonín Dvořák. If you click on that link you can listen to a performance of the Concerto, though again it’s not the same as being there in person. I still recommend it, though.

So yeah, it was just a great night. The type of night we won’t soon forget. Much better than the typical dinner and a movie night. There’s just something about witnessing artists doing what they love, putting every once of themselves into their work that’s just magical. Also, no dirty diapers or tantrums.

Charming Book – The Little House

As I mentioned Friday, I nearly lost my voice last week from what I eventually found out was a sinus infection. It was a rough week or so, but I am finally feeling a bit better. In fact I hope to be able to resume my workouts this week.

As all of you parents know, when you are sick and have little kids in the house, you don’t really get any time to just “be sick” or “get some rest”. You pretty much have to do your normal parenting routine, except with ten percent the energy. Just how it works. And so, I still had to read my daughter to sleep last week, even though I had almost no voice left.

And so, Thursday night, we went to her room for night time. She normally chooses the books (you will get in serious trouble if you try to choose, trust me), but sometimes I can make suggestions. I suggested the book above, The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. She agreed, along with several other book choices which I put on her nightstand, knowing full well she would only make it through one book. Still have to dance the dance though.

My daughter took her spot on the bed, under the covers and all peaceful, and I took my spot beside her, above the covers (for a more seamless exit when she was asleep) and sitting up. I knew as soon as I started reading I was in trouble, my voice just barely holding on after one page. It was then that I remembered that The Little House was a pretty long story for a board book. As my voice faded to a whisper, I contemplated skipping pages, but knew she would not go for it. The kid has an excellent memory and would surely notice such a scheme. My other hope was that she would fall asleep before the end of the book. Again, no dice. She held on to the very end of the story, at which point my voice was indeed a faint whisper. Luckily for me, there was no call for an encore and she fell asleep.

For those of you who have little ones in the house, or those of you that like a good kid’s book, I really do recommend The Little House. It’s a story of well, a little house, that is built in the country, but eventually get enveloped by the creep of “progress” and winds up in the city, only to be rediscovered by the great-great granddaughter of the man who built the house long ago. It really is a sweet story.

Health Update

First of all, Van Halen from the Roth, David Lee days. I actually prefer Sammy Hagar, but whatever. This song has one of my favorite guitar openings of all time. Go Eddie Van Halen.

You know, what they hey. Here’s a second video. This one from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. The song is actually by Kiss, the only their songs I like (God Gave Rock and Roll to You).

Yes, I’m phoning it in again. I finally feel a little better, though. Got some medicine for a sinus infection, after finally going to the doctor’s office after losing my voice. Maybe I’ll tell that tale on Monday.


I’m still sick, and now sound like a 10 pack a day smoker. However, something momentous happened that I just had to post about. My son, Luigi in the picture above, has taken his first steps at 10 months of age (almost 11 months). Walking is not his only means of transportation right now. He still likes to crawl and is much better at that. However, he’s becoming more brave with the walking.

Anyhow, just thought I’d share the good news. Now back to the sniffle sniffle, cough cough.


No real post today because I haven’t really done much, to be honest. After a week of the kids being sick, now my wife and I are sick. I hope to be back to posting on a regular schedule soon.

Life Would Be Better with a Movie Montage

My favorite movie montage of all time, from Karate Kid.

Here’s a tweet I wrote last night, after completing my workout:

Starting to work out again would be a lot more fun if I were in a 1980s movie montage and had some really mean villain to fight at the end

How true is that? So, remember my goals for the year I posted? Working out and finishing a novel? Well, I’m happy to say I’m well on track with the working out thing. I lifted weights three times last week and twice so far this week. I’ve also gotten myself into this fitness challenge at work and am attempting 100 pushups, 60 sit-ups, and a certain amount of parallel bar dips at least three times a week. I’ll get back to the sit-ups in a moment. If only it were this easy.

Before last week, I hadn’t really worked out much in 10 months since the boy was born. Just looking at me, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell one way or the other. I haven’t really gotten fatter. Actually, I think the opposite has happened. The muscle that I had not noticed when I was working out started to disappear. That I noticed.

Anyhow, lifting weights on my little weight bench in my basement, I couldn’t help but think of movies from the 1980s, where the main character gets discouraged and let’s themselves go, only to be challenged and then start working out again. Cue music montage. A few minutes later, the protagonist is ready for the final battle/fight/confrontation with the villain/antagonist. If only it were that easy.

Back to the sit-ups thing. To be honest, I never thought sit-ups as a real exercise. Just never had problems with them. Well, things have changed at age 32. I did three sets of 20 sit-ups on Monday. It was difficult, but I managed. Then, Wednesday night I tried to do the same. I got to 1 sit-up and thought I was gonna die. So painful. So old. I managed to get to 3 sets of 20 again, but I’m pretty sure I took a couple years of my life away, like that machine in Princess Bride.

In conclusion, 80’s movie montages good, sit-ups bad.

Of Interest

Some quick things of interest.

First, somebody on twitter linked to this letter Kurt Vonnegut sent to his family during WWII.  Very powerful.

On about February 14th the Americans came over, followed by the R.A.F. their combined labors killed 250,000 people in twenty-four hours and destroyed all of Dresden — possibly the world’s most beautiful city. But not me.

Second, my wife has written an entry for the Clarity of Night short story competition. Her entry is entry #144 titled Looking for Fun. It’s a fun, unique little story. You should check it out.

The only other big news from me is that a house has come on the market, most likely out of my price range, but only by a little bit. It has everything I want in a house. We’re probably going to take a look at it this week. Now if I could only finish a novel, get and agent, and sell the novel, I might have just enough money to cover a down payment. Easy, right?

Just Like Old Times

I had the most fun playing hockey last night that I’ve had in a long time. So much fun, in fact, that I don’t even mind, too much, the soreness now gathering in my legs.

For those of you that don’t know, I play in an adult ice hockey league Saturday mornings and Sunday nights. When I say mornings and nights, I mean 6:30 AM Saturday mornings and 9:00 PM nights. It can surely be difficult to muster motivation to get to the ice rink at those crazy times, but last night I’m really glad I did, because last night I got to skate on the same line as two of my friends.

When I say friends, I’m talking friends with a capital f, the ones I’ve known since I was a kid and grew up with. The same ones who played street hockey with me on summer nights until the sun went down. And if the sun went down and the game went into overtime we’d keep playing, using the headlights of our cars (or the cars borrowed from our parents) for artificial light until somebody scored a goal to end the game. These are the same guys who would trek with me a mile or so into the woods through the snow just to play a little puck on the the choppy ice of the pond, or as we called it The Icehouse.

We didn’t have a real ice rink or real hockey team in my little hometown of Houtzdale. We didn’t even have a school soccer team (don’t get me started). So we played on the street or on the crappy sheet of ice in the woods, our Stanley Cup not a piece of metal, but the rush you get from competing against and with your friends.

And here we are playing in an organized league, on real ice, against and with guys that were actually taught to skate, and shoot, and didn’t have to figure out the rules from watching games on television.  Sometimes it shows, and other times I think we hold our own. Times like last night.

The “Houtzdale Line” did pretty well last night. In fact, we scored all four of our team’s goals in our 4-4 tie against one of the better teams in the league. More than that, though, it was just a lot of fun. Even better, we didn’t have to walk a mile to get to the game.

Flash Fiction – The Traveler and The Game

Here’s my entry for the 12th The Clarity of Night Short Fiction Contest. There’s still plenty of time to enter.

The Traveler and The Game

An old man stopped me on my way to the mountaintop. He had a beard as black as coal stretching to the tops of his feet and a long flowing robe so filthy that tiny green buds sprouted upon its surface. A rock, a stick, and a gun lay before him. “Stay for a game,” he said to me. “If you win I’ll let you pass.”

“And if I refuse?”

The man said nothing, instead turning his eyes toward the gun. I got the message.

“Well, what’s the game?” I said.

“Using any one of these items, rid me of that wicked creature,” he replied, pointing a crooked finger at the raven circling overhead. “In one shot.”

I considered the objects at hand.

The rock. Too light and insignificant, it would do nothing but agitate the bird.

More substantial, but terribly inaccurate, the stick was not worth the risk.

The gun was my only true option. Lifting the weapon, I trained my sights on the winged creature. Moving the barrel just to the left of my target, boom click boom, I emptied both chambers. The creature departed.

“Thank you,” said the old man, fading like mist in the breeze, the shot still ringing in my ears. The rock, the stick, and the gun followed.

The land compelling me to rest, I sat in the very spot the man had been. And there I remain, seated, watching the raven fly above, waiting for an unfortunate soul willing to play my game.