there are fishermen on the dock next to the parking lot overlooking the lake. it’s raining. constant, consistent, crashing. like grains of rice in a wooden cylinder. they break against the rain coats, the hoods, and the waves.

one holds a net. a long pole extending over the dock and into the lake. they got one. it flippers in the mesh, and dances for his captors before disappearing behind the barrier. his head is cut off.

the fishermen celebrate as they cast the line out again. the one with the net sets it down and picks up his coffee mug. the smiles, the laughter, the camaraderie is palpable though silent.

he reels in quickly again and the coffee drinkers move in close to the one with the pole. does he have another? they peer into the blue, squinting through the rain. one goes for the net, poised. the pole is bent. something is there, on the line. the net falls, scoops, and withdraws. another one, just minutes after the first, does the death dance.

success breeds hope, and now three of the four pull out poles and casually whip lines out into the blue. within minutes, another fish does his dance in the net of his demise. rain must make them too hungry to stop and consider, or perhaps the rain just clouds their vision.

i wish i had a pole. i wish i was there with the fishermen, rain crashing against my unshaven face, shielded only by a raincoat hood. i wish i could feel the drops, like a shower, stream against my body. threatening cold, but offering security. i wish i could laugh, and tell them the story of the fish that needs feeding and finds instead his death dance on a line he didn’t mean to choose.

two of them have something now. they pull up hard, trying to set the hook, and they reel. they reel and they reel. there’s only one net, so while one fish flops, the other dangles. then they are both caught, dancing a dance together over the water, over the rail, and finally, over the dock where their dance ends.


play finishes, and the trees strip, shedding their clothing for a deep clean.
rinsing first, the rain washes away the reds, yellows, and oranges.
colors marring the luscious greens.

then detergent falls from the sky.
this is, after all, a deep clean.

its powder form wrestles away the stubborn stains, burying them. forcing them down.
stillness while it does its work.

then, as God is want to do, the cleansing finishes and the detergent is washed away through brief dry cycles, and of course a few rinse cycles.

blooms bud, and new clothes form.

the world, clean for now, anew.

bleep cancer

there aren’t any more words.

6 weeks ago Mom started chemo again. about 8 weeks ago, we learned the cancer was back. i left work in tears and ran 63 laps around an indoor track. my legs refused to go further. usually my cadence is the lap number with each step. that day it was

bleep. cancer.

bleep. cancer.

bleep. cancer.

Mom would not be proud of my language, but i’m out of words. we didn’t make it a year without cancer and it clawed its talons back into Mom.

i’ve been afraid to write it down. afraid to etch her reality into stone and it’s not fair. i can go about my day and think of her and pray for her, but i don’t deal with the nausea. i don’t deal with the bathroom race, and the exhaustion. i don’t deal with the million pound weight around my neck in the form of a plastic bulb of drugs.

all the feelings are the same. the ones i wrote about before. i have feeling fatigue. you might call it numbness, but it’s not that callus. it’s a thin veil pushing the feelings inside, down, out of reach. i coped with words last time, and now they’re failing me. i suppose that just leaves the f bomb.

the facts are simple: 6 rounds of chemo. dosage every other week. potential of radiation after chemo.

the reality is more complicated. nausea is a nice way to explain what mom experiences. diarrhea. vomiting. bloody noses.




bleep cancer. 

my niece keeps her spirits up. she has the softest skin and the cutest eyebrows. she wrinkles her brow more often than she smiles, and i think she already has the world figured out. when she talks, she can explain it all to me. Mom sees that. i don’t think i’ve ever seen her smile as big as when that little girl is in her arms.

God’s perfect timing sent Sarabeth because chemo was coming.

Dad caught Mom singing to SB after a treatment. no energy, but her lungs still work, and facetime brought Mom’s strength to her.

Jordan got to visit. it was an off week, but still Mom is weak until about Wednesday or Thursday of the off weeks. he filled her water, got her blankets, helped her walk. he loved on her even though we both fail to process our Mama Bear in this state. we’re the ones that get taken care of and when the roles are reversed we stumble.

not a day goes by we don’t think of her. pray for her. wish to take this yoke from her. Mom’s playful spirit and desire to mother shines through even when she’s the one in need of mothering.

we’re halfway home, Mom. i miss You. i love You. we’ll be celebrating soon.

the oscars are coming! the oscars are coming!

8 movies made it to the dance.

8 films that register a notch above the field because of their cinematography. their group acting. their direction. their message. their ability to inspire awe, move emotions, and cause conversation.

8 stories rise above the hundreds released in 2014 vying for the best picture award of a little man named Oscar.

i used to love film more. i even created a spreadsheet of all the best picture nominations since the beginning of the awards to track my progress in seeing all of them. somewhere along the way, though, i discovered the beauty of television.

Lost lead the way and, somewhat embarrassingly, 24 helped suck me into the world of seasons instead of sequelsBreaking Bad took me through a character’s life. his motivations. his desires. his transformation as a person in a way that 2 hours of film just cannot capture. movies took a backseat because they were too short. they resolved too quickly. the characters weren’t deep enough. the medium no longer able to instill anticipation. i let movies become an afterthought. a nothing to do on a friday night event.

until this year.

they announced the 8 films, of which i’d heard of maybe two. i sighed at the decline of film and wrote it off as a waste of time. a movie about MLK, a cocky drummer, a burnt out actor, a little boy, Stephen Hawking (science? bleh), and another Wes Anderson film just didn’t sound exciting. i’ll pass. maybe after February 22, i’ll see the best picture just to reinforce the disintegration of film and the overpowering genius of television.

but then a friend said Birdman will blow your mind.

another friend said, Whiplash, best picture by far.

Richard Linklater, director of Boyhood, was on the WTF podcast talking about his film.

American Sniper’s trailer played every three commercials during the NFL season.

these became must watch. i devoured them in about 4 or 5 weeks, pushing two, sometimes three movies into a week. going out on weeknights and even going to movies by myself. it wasn’t a question of will i see these films, it was how fast can i see all these films?

on Sunday, i completed the viewing of all 8. i watched some that were up for smaller categories – best actress (Gone Girl), best actor (foxcatchter), etc – wanting to have an opinion on every category. the Oscars did their job, sucked me in, and took my money.

i’ve ranked the films in order from 8 – 1. 1 being the best picture of 2014 in my opinion. i welcome your insight, thoughts, or overall hatred towards my opinions.

disclaimer: i don’t take points away for violence, swearing, or sex. all three of these are a part of life, and i accept that. surprisingly, other than swearing, most of these don’t bother this violence or sex scenes to entertain. unless pertinent to my opinion, i’ve removed the overall story elements in favor of succinct opinions. if you haven’t seen a film and don’t know much about it, just click the movie title to jump over to the website.

oh. also… SPOILERS


Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten

i didn’t know Stephen Hawking had a sense of humor. he is a physicist obsessing over where life begins, and yet he’s funny. i’m not sure why these things should be mutually exclusive, but there we are. Eddie Redmayne played a young French Revolutionary in Les Miserables and somehow managed to put that off to become a brilliant britishman and portray Professor Hawking reminiscent of how Daniel Day Lewis pulled off Christy Brown in My Left Foot. i’ll law down on a pile of rubbish in his honor. well done, boyo.

Theory is a story of human commitment, of love that surpasses physical condition. as one friend said, Jane is a superhero. she cares for, loves, and remains faithful while she watches her husband deteriorate, mostly unable to help with their three children.

despite divorce, it lets you walk out of the theatre feeling happy and amazed at the life of one of the smartest men of our generation. that’s really all it offers, though. a look at a life i thought was boring and am refreshed to find out there’s something more there. while the makeup was stunning at time, it failed to adequately age any of the characters. i was left floundering to figure out the timing of events, and while Eddie was mind blowing, the rest of the cast was average compared to its competition.


Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner

David Oyelowo got snubbed. in most other years, Oyelowo gets an oscar nomination for his captivating portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. i squirmed in my seat throughout Selma, uncomfortable at the idea that humans could do that to humans. the terrors Selma displays and the realities of how our world responds to awful things wasn’t eye-opening, but it was a side of the Civil Rights Movement that hasn’t been portrayed much in cinema – in large part because MLK is an American folk hero to many of us. Selma changes that. it takes a caricature and makes him human. from fearless leader, to a man just trying to do God’s will in a broken world.

Selma touches on MLK as a human, but doesn’t dive in unabashed, and that’s where it lost me. it presents an idea of MLK that i longed to connect with, but dissolved into a documentary biopic more than something to discuss, ponder, and think deeply on. what it says is simple: racism is disgusting, and we still aren’t out of it.


Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan

there’s this moment where the Sniper – Chris Kyle – is looking down the sights of a sniper rifle at a little boy and a woman. he thinks he sees a grenade being passed between them and running at his squadmates as they move up the road. he’s forced to decide if he should fire and kill this enemy, or if the boy is just a boy running around.

this is the crux of the entire trailer, and it echoes throughout the film. what does it mean to go to war? what does it mean for your wife? your son? your brother? do you ever come back from war? when have you completed your duty?

American Sniper portrays war as an awful evil. something that ripples through every relationship, every decision, every moment of a soldier’s life. even when Chris is home, he’s at war. he hears gunshots, mortar explosions, and orders shouted. when he’s there, he’s never comfortable just doing his job – he’s looking for one more thing to accomplish. one more way to save his squadmates lives. one more way to make it all stop and protect America. something shown as noble, but horrendous.

Sniper falls short of best picture because of the old hat nature. perhaps that is unfair. perhaps that is cold hearted, but war is war. director Clint Eastwood has an obsession with capturing this reality of war, whether it’s current, or scenes of The Great War, it’s still the same message: war is atrocious. while it’s a new and compelling window to view this concept.


Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster

here’s a stick. here’s a round thing with some fabric stretched across it. make music. GO!

in theory, drumming is about as exciting as a toddler with a spoon and his mommy’s pan collection. noise. noise. noise.

until whiplash.

Whiplash made me care not only about drums, but about jazz – something i hadn’t thought about since i read Toni Morrison’s book of the same name. in a lot of ways, the movie can be reduced down to jackass teacher v. jackass student. Whiplash shows the sacrifice of an obsession to be the best at something, and the potential payoff of that obsession. it captures the complicatedness of reaching beyond your upbringing, and making your father proud to another level. one that leaves typical college students’ desires on the cutting room floor.

JK Simmons – yeah the guy that’s in all those Farmers commercials – shreds. like, it’s a shame he doesn’t get more roles, shreds. like i don’t understand why you’re known for insurance, shreds. he takes jackass and turns it into mentor. he takes obsession and turns it into a drive to push others beyond their limits. he takes insanity and makes it acceptable if it means achieving legendary.


Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson

most movies have a similar feel. a compelling element of realism captured for us to witness and feel emersed. Director Wes Anderson mostly says screw that in his films. Budapest starts with a man revealing to the audience that he was told a story, from a story teller, who learned the story from a bellhop, which told him this story over dinner.


immediately Budapest gains merit with me because it explores the element of storytelling. it breaks a fourth wall – or perhaps a fifth wall? – and adds the reality that most great tales are passed on, not created, and then, of course, it creates a crazy story.

Anderson tends not to believe in typical performances or assumed dialogue. he creates this weird arms-length feel to everything with a matter-of-factness that can be offputting, not allowing the viewer to fully immerse themself in his world. yet, that’s why the opening works so well. i’m going to tell you a story, that was told to me by a man that was told the story by a bellhop over dinner, and the dialogue suddenly feels very natural, and the acting captures this feel and sucks you in.

in a lot of ways, Budapest climbs the ranks because of its uniqueness. it doesn’t feel like the other movies feel. it moves through scenes, and sets that have a look of storybook rooted in reality, letting realism fall away and sweeping you into another world. to accomplish this while still being set in our world is quite a feat.

Budapest also gains ground by being entertaining, something a lot of oscar nominated films forget about. to be a great film, you must entertain audiences, and Budapest does this by taking the heist element of Ocean’s 11 and mixing in themes of love, friendship, legacy, and warmth in a quirky narrative. beautiful on all the levels.


Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman

Benedict. Cumberbatch.

oh right, yes there was a cast around him. i’d forgotten. Cumberbatch takes Sherlock, added a stutter, incorporated a complicated life of secrecy, and a drive to outsmart the world in a way Sherlock only fantasizes about between cases.

Game sets Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) up as slightly off, someone who doesn’t fit in. whose intellect puts him ahead of the class, and in a world far removed from social cues, and social requirements. it creates an image of Alan that develops from a cock-sure twenty something, to a man with friends he not only cares about, but cares what they think of him. Game depicts the transformation of a person through one of the most horrific time periods of this world’s life.

and then it spits in his face.

if Selma made me uncomfortable and disgusted in humanity, Imitation Game made me want to violently strike out. with pills of hatred, humanity wrecked the life of someone on the level of Hawking. on the level of Einstein. on the level of something greater than you or me, and people like us forced him to blow it to pieces.

Imitation Game entertains through suspense, and engulfing audiences in World War II to a degree that hasn’t been explored to date. MI6 comes to life rather than a playful Bond joke, and it’s this intrigue that carries the movie to the point of social commentary that isn’t preachy. it doesn’t scream from rooftops that treatment of homosexuals is wrong, or deserve this that or the other. Game simply says here is a gay man greater than than the sum of British’s greatest minds, and here is how humanity wrecked him for being different.


Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland

this movie will disappoint you. it doesn’t have explosions. it lacks suspense. it doesn’t pose a world altering threat. it simply just is. and within that is something magical. something that captivated me through two hours and forty-four minutes of life.

shot over twelve years with an evolving script, Boyhood depicts a life both foreign to me – my parents are still together, and were a lot more hands on in their upbringing – and incredibly relatable. it captures simply – a thing foreign to film these days – the transformation of a boy through moving, his mom’s abusive boyfriends, and a real father that shows up at his convenience until the end of the film.

boyhood captures a broken family through ups and downs, and it captures life as it is. Linklater, the director isn’t exploring something life shattering, he’s exploring the passage of time and the effect it has on all of us. whether we’re a mother prone to abusive relationships due to self worth issues, or a daughter that just seeks to slip through untouched and unphased. it captures family as it is, and moves it through time in a way that is both familiar and yet looks through that familiarity with a different lens.

throughout it holds this promise of a life unlived. of something that can still be changed, or discovered. of a life trapped in brokeness escaping to something greater. or maybe it doesn’t escape into something greater. maybe it just is what it is, and maybe that’s OK. maybe sometimes life is a simple thing we get through, savoring the goodness despite the badness.

add to it the unique nature of shooting a film over 12 years, workshopping the dialogue and being able to take advantage of scenes rooted in those years not because they’re contrived but because that’s just what is available.

when it was over i wanted to cry, but i couldn’t. there was no reason to. i just had this sense that crying would be the right thing to do. a mourning for the moments passed and the friendships forgotten, but a celebration for how they all formed me in some way.


Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole

if you can explain the trailer and its relationship to the actual movie, you’re one step ahead. i’ll give you a cookie for being a genius.

90 percent of the films is shot in one take. you’re literally the camera – a fly on the wall – experiencing this backstage look at forgotten actor trying to build and leave a legacy. add on the layer of family dynamics, wanting to connect with his daughter, his ex-wife, his current girlfriend. then there’s the layer of can you leave a legacy in film, or is true acting on the stage? the layer of identity, and in acting (or any medium) is there more living than in your real life?

this doesn’t need to drag on. it’s simply the best, most complete, and innovative film. from the acting, to the cinematography, to the writing, to the set design, to the highly bizarre way it entertains and keeps you yearning to see these characters connect and wake up out of their lives. it’s oddly mesmerizing, leaving you discussing for days, and giving you dreams of flying through New York.


there you have it, those are my rankings. a lot could be argued between 3 – 8. depending on my mood, i could mix it up and still feel good about them. in the end, it comes down more to what you value in a film, and how any film executes that value. when it does so sublimely, that’s when it takes home your top seed.


all pictures were taken from http://oscar.go.com/. visit them for more information on who’s nominated, and watch them on ABC on Sunday, February 22, 2015.

i am a runner

45 laps.

9 laps to a mile.

5 miles.

7, 357 steps. about.

my shoes have holes where my heel rubs against the back and now it’s just sock on plastic. the laces used to be hard to tie and now i can pull them tight, double knot them and still have giant bunny ears flopping over the sides.

it never used to be this way. running. this horrible act that gets you no where. accomplishes nothing. running for the sake of running. silliness.

the track is at the college gym. i get in for free because of my wife. when it’s raining, or the temperature drops below fifty fahrenheit and my breathing becomes troublesome i go there. i flash my badge at whoever is looking and take the steps one at a time to the track – delaying the pain.

sports are a reason to run. basketball. baseball. football. even neighborhood games like hotbox or free the bunch. these things justify the act of running. running just to run. what is the purpose?

they painted the SRC (sports and recreation center) orange with navy accents to match the school colors. i’m not sure who signed off on it, but they should be fired. it takes a glorious facility and makes it chinsy. a word that should never be associated with my alma mater. inside, where they hide the track, it is now familiar.

my wife insists on punishing herself most mornings. she wakes up early and she does this running thing. when i started my beer hobby she insisted that i work out in some capacity. the easiest and cheapest form of exercise is running for running’s sake. as depressing as it is, i started.

there’s a sign on the railing that borders the interior of the track – a giant oval cutout over looking three different basketball courts that are used not just for basketball, but indoor baseball practice, lacrosse, and a rock climbing wall – that points that day’s direction. there are people already in flow. i pull the jacket off, double check my armband, and merge into oncoming traffic. i have no counter and rely on my memory. with each step i mentally say the words. lap one. one. one. one. one.

my first mile after not having a gym class in years was brutal. thank the maker i didn’t record it. eventually it got easier, and i tacked on distance. winter came and i went to the SRC with a friend. we upped our distance to 2 miles running and went almost daily. then to three. all in the name of my beer hobby.

the first two miles go quickly. a phrase i never dreamed i could say. two miles. quickly? still, 18 laps later i feel good and i have time. all the time. i decide 4 is my new target, pending lap 28 – a lap that causes a mental block. there’s something in me that needs this, though. today, i need 4. i need 36 laps. 36 defined ovals that just require a mindless foot in front of the other. i can do this. i’m doing this.

three is my sweet spot. i’m still slow, but three is where i live. on a bad day it takes 30 minutes. on a good day, under 27. reliable timing. not too much of an inconvenience. the outside route is now familiar and i know how to pace myself. 27 laps when indoor running is required is enough to avoid insanity. three. i like three. three is enough to feel like i’ve worked out, but few enough that i’m not a runner. i’m enabling a hobby. three is good.

i started running around 11:00am, having woken at 6:30. i knocked out a list of tasks, including a delightful americano, but forgot the part about food. this works to my advantage as lap 28 comes and goes. no cramping. legs are fine. breath is good. 36 will come quickly. i entertain the thought of 5 miles. 5 would be good. haven’t run 5 in a long time.

a friend convinced me to a to do a 10 mile race. i agreed, and i trained. i roped Dad and the whole family into it. the only way i’d finish. as a family event i maintained that i was not a runner. this is a family event. bonding.

lap 36. my mind blanks. there’s nothing left to think. just the numbers. 3. 6. 3. 6. right, 3. left, 6. i’ve zoned out the podcast squawking in my ears without realizing it. i stare ahead, footfall after footfall, and dream of lap 45.

when we trained, i dreamt of chocolate milk. always chocolate milk. a giant cold glass of it. smooth and rich. maybe i’d have a second glass? i’d probably need a second glass. each footfall brought that glass closer. training – running – sucks.

at 40 these young goons enter the track. they’re younger and they’re quicker and that is the most annoying. they lap me. i scowl. 5 laps to go. nothing i can do.

after the race, i kept at it. habit forming and what not. i reverted back to three because three is my sweet spot, and then if i’m only running 3 miles 4 – 5 times a week, i’m not a runner.

lap 45 is my favorite lap. it’s the final lap. all the energy left in my legs is let loose. my legs are long and i use them. i push my strides longer and i feel lighter. i pass the three goons as i round my final ninth of a mile. the air changes around me as i pick up speed all i see is the end. let me get to the end.

it’s time i own up to it.

i am a runner.

that tastes like skunk mixed with a lysol baby wipes. bleh. i am a runner? disgusting. the trouble is…

it’s true.

i rearrange my schedule to get runs in. in the summer, when i can run outside, i run 7 days a week. in the winter, it goes down to 5-6 because of the track’s availability but that’s still a lot of days. a lot of miles. a lot of running. when my personal plans interfere, i rearrange my work schedule to get the miles in. to get the laps in. to get running in.

it’s despicable, really. a terrible drug. there’s this idea of a runner’s high floating around runner’s circles. there’s no high with running. if there was, maybe i wouldn’t feel so sick at the thought of it. it’s torture, really. each stride makes me hate myself a little bit more, but i need it like i need to breath. i have to get it in. i can’t miss days. i need the running. if someone would like to have an intervention, i’d gladly allow it. please, take this running from me.

i finished the 45th lap and started walking to cool down. i caught myself wondering if i can fit a run in between 2-4, the open track hours on sundays, tomorrow. foolishness. too much going on. still, it’d be good to get it in.

uffda. i am a runner.

Switch to our mobile site