Sunday, August 8, 2010

rethinking the bird

I read something recently helped me understand why 'the bird' event seemed to resonate with me so much. I think. I'll let Mr. Dick take over.

"One day I was starting into a post office in some town down in California and there were birds' nests up in the eaves of the building. And a young bird had flown or dropped out and was sitting on the pavement. And its parents were flying around anxiously. I walked up to it with the idea of picking it up and putting it back up in the nest, if I could reach the nest." I paused. "Do you know what it did as I came near?"
I said, "It opened its mouth. Expecting that I would feed it."
Wrinkling her brow, Pris pondered.
"See," I explained, "that shows that it had known only life forms which fed and protected it and when it saw me even though I didn't look like any living thing it had ever known it assumed I would feed it."
"What does that mean to you?"
"It shows that there's benevolence and kindness and mutual love and selfless assistance in nature as well as cold awful things."
Pris said, "No, Louis; it was ignorance of the bird's part. You weren't going to feed it."
"But I was going to help it. It was right to trust me."

Lately I've been feeling an overwhelming need to be needed. To be depended on and trusted. Its hard to describe. I'm not sure why, but it explains why I've really jumped head-first into my job and put my personal life on the back burner. Maybe I should get a pet.

It sounds petty to rephrase it to as 'I want to be appreciated', but I suppose its not an uncommon feeling. Someone I work with is, well, a simple man. He's extremely frustrating at times, but his needs are few and modest. He seems to extract sustenance from basic gratitude. A simple 'thank you' goes further with him than anyone I've ever encountered. I try to make my appreciations known with everyone, but it seems to make me feel better when I let him know someone's benefiting from his actions.

The thought of someone depending completely on you, not even your physical presence, but the very concept of 'you', is completely terrifying.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I named him 'Lance'

I caught a bird at work the other day.

Walter called me and said 'James, there's a bird down here.'

'What?', I replied.

'A bird flew in the store and now it can't get out and it's stuck somewhere back here now.'

'How long has it been there?'

'Like 10 minutes. You should come down here.'


Sure enough there was a young fluffy bird hanging out above our desk area that isn't normally there. So I grabbed two boxes, one flattened, to deal with the intruder. I covered the bird with one box and it squawked, struggled and pooped a little. Then I slid the flat box underneath. Situation under control.

As I carried the bird out my co-workers looked on and asked 'Is that the bird?'

'Yes', I answered. The door swung back and hit the box. A tiny claw peaked out from underneath.

'Could you please hold the fucking door open?' I was focused.

As I walked for the front door my eyes locked with an older blond woman. Shit. We're going to try to get out of each others way and keep going in the same direction. The bird was going to get loose and claw her eyes out. Wait. She's looking at blueberries, clear path to the door. Go.
I get outside and prepare to let the little bugger go in the parking lot in front of people eating lunch and going to doctors appointments. It would be a little moment to brighten up everyone's afternoon. The headline would read 'Unknown man releases wayward bird in parking lot to ovation'.

Wait. What if the bird can't fly and just falls to the ground? Better go around back to an environment the bird is more accustomed to. When I arrived at the 5x10 patch of mulch with a single tree I took a deep breath. This is it little buddy. We've been through alot, but our time together is over.

I slowly lifted the boxes apart and the bird flew out as soon as he could fit through the crack. I didn't even see what direction the damn thing went. A young couple walk by and I smile at them. Obviously they didn't see the release because they're faces seem to say 'Why are you holding boxes covered in birdshit?'

Back to work.

I struggled, absolutely struggled, to gain something from this. Surely I could learn something from what had just happened. Lately I feel like I've needed direction, some event to break up the rhythm and show me where to go. I was thinking my only option was a long talk with one of the Mormons that are walking around this spring, so when the bird happened I was relieved. I was positive I could spin this experience in real life and apply it to one of the things that keeps me up at night. It could be my mantra. 'Remember the bird. Remember the bird'. I would get a tattoo.

But I was at a loss. The bird was just a bird. If it was a rat that ran into the store it would have run into a trap. If it was a homeless man he would get escorted out. If it was a bear it would probably get shot. Why did the bird have to mean something?

Let me rethink this.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

follow through

i should probably finish some of the stuff i write and share. more of that in the near future hopefully.

Friday, May 29, 2009

fuck it, i'm buying a bike

fed gov: gm might have to stop making hummers even after all that money we gave them...... ZOMG GIVE THEM MORE MONEY!!!1

mass gov: hey maybe we should get sum of that gov cheese to help out the mbta...... nah, lets just raise fares and cut service. this cannot possibly hurt us down the road.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

THE Orange Showcase Cinemas

I could kick myself for not thinking to stop by to take a picture or grab something to remember it by. I'm sure it's too late now. By now most of what remains of the Showcase Orange Cinemas is on its way to the landfill. Actually, from what I heard, a good amount of it will be recycled. Which is comforting on some level and ironic on another thinking about how much recycled crap is coming out of Hollywood these days.

I don't remember exactly when the theater opened, but one look at it, and it's obvious that it was built during a time when the movie industry was lighting their cigars with $100 bills and were sure that the good times would keep rolling. With it's impossibly high ceilings, huge gaudy neon light mural, eight screens (that would now be enough room for 16 smaller ones), and sprawling multi-acre parking lot, this was THE theater that the blockbusters of my youth built.

1994 was a time of optimism for My favorite film genre: Romantic Disaster films starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxtonthe movie industry and it was reflected in this theater. And what timing too. What with your Twisters, ID4's, and Titanics coming around every summer, how could you not love a place that reeked of excess. I suppose though that one of the reasons I love this theater so much is the memories I have attached to so many movies i went to see there. For example:

-November 11th, 1999: Going into a crowded theater with 3 friends to see Being John Malkovich and being the only ones left in there when the lights came up. I have never walked out of a movie. ever. EVER!

-November 25th, 1999: Seeing The Insider with Brigham and getting asked to be quiet after we started talking about Police Academy movies too loud. BONUS: Watching a woman getting swallowed whole by a Mission to Mars display when she sat on it thinking it would hold her girth.

-January 8th, 2000: Sneaking into Magnolia with Rob after just having sat through Deuce Bigelow. This IS the most ill-conceived double feature EVER. It was like drinking a 40 and eating Taco Bell then deciding to run a marathon, but only you have to look at Tom Cruise for 2/3 of the marathon.

-March 1st, 2004: Taking a first date to see Passion of The Christ. Don't ask me why, but this movie gets chicks HOT.

The frequency with which I would go see movies TWICE was amazing. Now the thought of going to the local shoebox multiplex, even for movies I'm really excited about, is enough to put me in a rage. All I can think of is; "HEY, you! 3 rows up, I'm trying to watch Brad Pitt age backwards! Stop texting!" or "HEY, I'm trying to watch Viggo Mortensen and Mario Bello rage-fuck, WHY IS THERE A 4 YEAR-OLD SITTING NEXT TO ME?" Experiences like that coupled with rising ticket prices and its no wonder I have 148 movies in my netflix queue.

Granted most the stuff in my queue are off-beat movies that didn't get wide releases when they were new. But that was perhaps the best part of the Orange theater. After a certain point, they started showing all the small releases and none of the big ones. Imagine my surprise when perusing the showtimes in Orange to find a movie that wasn't even listed on IMDB. It had the art-house soul in blockbuster clothing. Being able to go see the indie hits or the newest foreign imports in big comfy seats with cup holders was always preferable to rubbing elbows with the Yalies down at the York Square in my opinion. It's funny, however, that the Orange theater closed less than 3 years after the multiplexes put down the York in 2005 while trying to cater to the same, ageing crowd.

All the while I knew that it couldn't last. A theater this size needed to be putting asses in seats. And that's just not possible without the big budget movie selection. Showing movies they were at that theater was like building a 100ft tall robot that runs on 6 AA batteries; it going to run out of juice. Fast. By my records (a box that I keep old movie stubs in) the last movie I saw there was 300, just before I moved. Maybe a last ditch effort on their part to start bringing in the crowds again. The Orange Showcase Cinemas closed less than a year later on March 8th, 2008.

This may sound like nostalgia nonsense and it can be argued that this was the Walmart of theaters, paving over wetlands and swallowing up century old independently owned places. But this is the place that started my love affair with movies. If I had high expectations for a movie I would see it in Orange. Rarely would I be disappointed or bothered by a cell phone or someone dropping a glass bottle 45 minutes into the film. If it was something I could care less about having ruined for me I would go to Milford, or even worse North Haven. Orange was like the good whisky or the pair of pants you only wear on the weekend. It was my favorite place to do one my favorite things. And I miss it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Right as Rain

I took a little trip down to see Rob this weekend. While the weather didn't want to be friends, or even buddies, we managed to have a good time. The trip can pretty much be summed up in 2 pictures.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Missing Ingredient

It was like any other Friday night at 10:30. I was outbound on the redline having just gotten out of work. Contrary to the people I was surrounded by, I had not been drinking. Nor was I on my way to a party or from one. I wasn't taking pictures or carrying a 30 rack of anything. I was carrying something much more heinous. I was hoping no one could smell it. Then I wondered; How are my priorities tonight different from those of my fellow riders? Go to a party? Nope. Have a drink? Certainly, but not with the company of anyone else. No, my task for this evening with to prepare. Not a meal, but simply an ingredient. I was making fish stock tonight.

I had gathered my other ingredients during my break in preparation of my afterwoMany factors indeed!rk activities. One of the most important, I had been told, being white wine. After a long debate with myself regarding many factors I settled on a nice pinot grigio. Aside from the dubious task of acquiring the secret ingredient I had read that fish stock was relatively easy to make, but was worth it's weight in gold in adding flavor to soups, stews, and chowders. Even though I had no plans for making any of those things in the near future I decided that I must make stock, you know, just in case.

As I continued onto the 71 bus with 1 1/2 pounds of red snapper bones and heads on ice in my backpack, I started to wonder if I'm loosing touch with people my own age. I know I'm not some pioneer leading some sort of culinary revolution. People have made stock for ages, both for personal and professional use. I'm a cooking novice, no doubt about that. I was going to be using a book recipe that I had no intention on straying from. I also happen to have access to fresh fish heads, so it only seemed like the logical thing to do. But it dawned on me that this is what I had chosen to do on my Friday night.

With my ingredients layed out, I began to contemplate the task ahead of me. Some chopping, some defrosting, some simmering, ALOT of waiting, then some straining. The only thing I decided to add to the recipe was a fat sack of thyme. Why? Because I love the way it smells and I don't often have a good reason to use it. I thought about bay leaves, but I'm getting kind of sick of them.

This whole endeavour came about from a gentleman at work that day that had wanted me to fillet some red snappers for him. I explained to him that this is not cost effective, and that we had other fillets that he could substitute for snappers. But he insisted, so I complied. All that was left after filleting the two fish was a head and tail connected by the spine, with soft white flesh in between each pinbone. I had been wanting to try my hand at stock for a while, so with my Friday night schedule open, I decided to wrap them up and take them home. I felt good about this, taking someone else's leavings and doing something constructive with them. About 20 minutes later a co-worker brought me the fillets that the customer had unwrapped and left unrefrigerated in the baking aisle. dick.

Chopping vegetables for stock is easy. You leave the skins, peels, and ends on most vegetables since you won't actually be eating them, just taking the flavor out of them. I was also surprised at how little salt most stock recipes call for, just 1 teaspoon in this case. Evidently canned stocks and bouillon cubes substitute saltiness for strong flavors. While I was going pretty much by the book I can see where there is alot of room for customization, especially if you have a use for your stock in mind.

After I set my brew to simmer, I didn't have much else to do but wait. I had thought the process might be a bit more intense. But in reality, I had time to cook a whole other meal while the stock was simmering instead of settling for a turkey sandwich. I started to contemplate if using the bones of a fish is really worth it for home cooking? The only people that ask for them at the store are old ladies with moustaches and indeterminate accents. Why on Earth was I wasting my time making broth from garbage? Well, I thought, maybe I'll be emulated. Maybe this recession we're in will last into the '10's and people will start re-embracing fish heads and chicken bones as a way to bring serious flavor into their home kitchens just like their grandparents did. But then again I was also deep into that bottle of shitty wine.

Someone I asked at work said the most important part of making stock is letting it cool down. This is absolutely true. When it was still hot it tasted bland and I thought I had done something wrong. But gradually the flavors seeped out and by the time it was room temperature I was really surprised with what I had. As I put the stock into plastic containers and into the freezer I was disappointed that I hadn't planned to do something with this right away. Not to overstate things, but it seemed that I had discovered the apex of the vortex of flavor. I thought it a travesty to just shove it in the freezer. But it was late and I was tipsy, so I went to bed feeling much the wiser.

I think that if I am to conclude anything from this, it's that I need to get out more.