Restrepo: “Simply an incredible piece of film-making that allows the viewer to wear the uniform, then lock and load for 90 minutes.” – Matt Colvin, 29Nov2010
I arrived back in the city just as the sun was going down today. This is my favorite time to look across the Hudson at NYC because the light at that time sets the city on fire. Though the bus ride was lacking, I felt some kind of energy in the city today. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but something was there. Maybe it was because I was home where there is no fast pace, no slow pace, there’s just no pace. I don’t mind that for a while, but I think I start to go stir crazy after a shorter amount of time now. Stepping off that bus fueled me for another interesting night. I was feeling good. Partly because it was so beautiful out and partly because I was heading to IAVA to watch the premier of “Restrepo” on Nat Geo.
The documentary takes place over a 15 month period in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. This place has been named the most dangerous place on earth and for good reason after you see what these soldiers had to endure. I have seen this part of the country from above and even from up there it looked menacing. TICs (troops in contact) were almost a nightly event as we flew overhead. Now to see what it was like through an unbiased lens and through the eyes of those that lived it just puts those troops on the ground that much higher on a pedestal for me. Read more…
Looking back on my childhood, I am finding out that the people who raised me lied to me on many, many occasions. AND for some reason, many of these occasions revolve around bovines, “bos taurus” or “cows” in layman’s terms. If you havent read the other stories from my messed up childhood (whose wasn’t?) then check out “nintendo/nontendo” or this gem entitled “I wanna be a veal cow.”
I am not sure why there is a heavy connection to my parental and grandparental units lying to me about cows all the time, but there has to be some explanation. My mom grew up on a farm? My grandmother raised my mom on a farm? My grandmother was raised on a farm? I know you are thinking that I might insert some kind of joke here, but it’s not coming. I live in a smaller town that supports farms, I know people who run farms, and I used to play on farms…but was not raised on one. Maybe it’s because the cow population back when I was growing up rivaled the people population? I don’t think that’s a true statement at all, but I do remember a lot of cows.
When I was a young pup, no clue how young but young, I asked a lot of questions. Now I know that all of those questions lead to answers that involved cows. The correlation between strawberry pies, royalty, and calves for instance. And now the explanation for where chocolate milk comes from, all involved cows. Read more…
Because of the 0.00014% of me that is asian, I wanted to surprise the family with some Vietnamese pho for Friday’s dinner. I figured turkey pho was appropriate to the season so why not attempt it when we had all real components. I had thought about doing this since last week when the roomies and I had made our best chicken pho to date. The only thing that I didnt think about was that my hometown would not be the most ethnically diverse place like back in the NYC area.
The whole reason for this stretch from normal eating, you know turkey sandwiches and leftovers, was just to surprise Larry since he likes pho so much. He and I went out on Black Friday looking for all the accoutrement for the dish, but we were out of luck. We found most of the spices at a local country market, but when we went looking for rice noodles, we struck out in every location. It was funny to stroll the “ethnic food” aisle and have it only be one side of the aisle and as wide as I could spread my arms. Funnier still is that all ethnic food around here revolves around ramen noodles and assorted asian pre-made sauces or taco shells and cans of refried beans.
My hometown has its charm, but doesnt like to extend itself too far outside its comfort zone in many areas. One of those would be food. I think pho would be classified as “big city food” and might not make it around here where steak and potatoes and chain restaurants rule the culinary landscape. Dont get me wrong, I love me some steak and pototes, but I could skip out on an Olive Garbage or crApplebee’s for the rest of my life. Give me hometown, one-off cooking. Give me hole-in-the-wall, you-gotta-know-somebody-to-get-you-in type restaurants. And give me some damn rice noodles so I can make the first batch of pho Hagerstown has even seen. Please…
Excerpt from my bus ride ramblings:
One year for Christmas my brother and I asked for a Nintendo. The original Nintendo, that’s how long ago this was. On Christmas Brandon and I were greeted with said Nintendo. We played Super Mario Bros all damn day and night and into next morning. Delirious from lack of sleep and with thumbs swollen from too much button pushing, we wearily fell asleep. The next morning, December 26th, a little more than 24 hours since we had acquired our amazing gaming system, we found out that our Nintendo was gone. GONE! No not stolen during the 3 hours of sleep we might have had, but taken away. Apparently a woman that liked my father had bought the Nintendo to impress him and win us over. Sometime during those 24 hours when we were playing our little hearts out, she decided she had made a mistake in giving the game to us. The beach came over and took it from us. She said it wasn’t working out with dad and took our F@ck!n& Nintendo!! WHO DOES THAT? WHOOOOO does that to little kids?!!?
I hope you are reading this Nintendo Indian-giver lady and I hope you are ashamed. Think about how scarred I am from this to have it come up 20 years later in my life and in multiple drunken conversations when I told my friends AND complete strangers about what a beach you are. The laughing that ensued echoes in my mind forever. Im glad people could find satisfaction in my pain, the pain you caused me. I don’t know your name, but I wish I did so I could do the same to you.
I would plan to meet you in the grocery store as we both reached for a bottle of Women’s One-a-Day or Centrum Silver. We would share a small awkward laugh and sheepishly I would allow you to take the bottle. I would explain that I was getting the bottle for my mom and then tell you that there is no way that bottle is for you because you don’t look a day over 40. You giggle and blush using your liver spotted hands to cover your dentures. This gets your blood pumping a little harder as you think, “could he really be complimenting me? Is he hitting on me?” I’ll do you one better lady, I’ll even ask you out for a coffee. The coffee would lead to witty banter on my part and you would look like a deer in the headlights as you marveled over the fact that a strapping young man could want anything to do with an old bag like you. To take it even further, I would pull a page from the Will Ferrell Classic Anchorman. I would take you out for a nice seafood dinner, then NEVER CALL YOU AGAIN! I look forward to our chance encounter in the pharmaceutical aisle. I’ll grab the Boniva, you grab the Metamucil and we’ll hang out, I swear. Ill call you, promise…
I woke up a little too late today, 1130 to be exact. I havent slept like that in a long time, I kind of feel bad for it. I grabbed a coffee and jumped right into Thanksgiving mode and helped out wherever I could with the prep work though mom and Larry had most of it under control. We were deep frying the turkey again this year, the only way to do it in my opinion, so I was in charge of frying the bird. Easy task when your equipment is working, but not so easy when people dont return your stuff like you leant it out. I didnt test the burner out before I put the oil on, but after 15 minutes I knew this wasnt going to work. Larry confirmed that the regulator wasnt working properly and on Thanksgiving Day we have to replace it or not have turkey. Lowe’s is closed and WalMart is the only place we could find. We had to buy a whole new setup and of course when we got it home and assembled, it didnt work correctly.
The burner wouldnt stay lit so after almost throwing it across the garage, we rigged it up with a nut and zip tie so the flame was wide open. Redneck ingenuity rules again!! Full flame burning and the peanut oil was ready in minutes. Its turkey time!! One 14 lb bird done and crispy in 45 minutes, ding dong! Yams, green bean casserole, oyster stuffing, regular stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry/orange zest relish, baked corn, and baked pineapple on the menu! Because of the turkey fiasco, we were behind the 8 ball with everyone of these fixins as well. Timing’s off in every aspect of the preparation and this really screwed with the day. We were almost 3 hours late on eating so tensions were a little high, a perfect thing on Thanksgiving Day. All in all we had a good meal even with all the troubles of the day. Im thankful for the company and for being home at this time. Im thankful for my friends and for my family being around to “enjoy” the day. I just wish little brother would have come through to make an appearance. Selfishness claims another family holiday. Not just for us, but for anyone who has been there and seen that. Just glad he is still around even if he isnt “around.”
If people could put aside their differences and really sit down to hash things out, life would be easier. Instead of being hardheaded, take a breath, calm down and realize time is short. My family is getting older and who knows how many more we all have together. Its sad to think about this, but its true. And its sad to think that my brother is missing out on these times. Selfishness get us nowhere. And nowhere is where “we” are right now little bro.
The biggest bar night of year and one of my favorites, like many other people I assume. I always look forward to this night because most of the old high school crew is back in the area and it lends itself to some randomness. This Thanksgiving Eve though presented some unforeseen challenges that lead to confusion and indecision with our bunch. Our original destination, Oliver’s, had shut done over the last year and this threw a major wrench in the machine. I had personally gone there for the last eight years so I had no idea what the plan was now. Come to find out, many of us were all in the same boat.
With no real plan, I went to the local redneck watering hole called the Wolfe’s Den. It’s exactly like the name would suggest, a shit hole. But it is OUR shit hole. I showed up early to find that no one other than the locals were there. I am a one man wolf pack at the Wolfe’s Den, imagine that? A couple sets of overalls, some dirty beards, and Maryland pride sat around that old bar and I could not help but laugh at the start to this night. Then to my surprise Yuengling drafts in super frosty mugs were $1 for happy hour! Darrell was the first to show up and then the Everett clan, even Ms Glo showed up for a drink at the famous S-Borough landmark. Wood paneling a plenty and even some diamond plated steel in the bathroom, make this place a near one-of-a-kind redneck cantina.
We all laughed at our situation and had a friendly debate on the next stop in the Turkey Eve tour. We concluded that the cookie cutter Green Turtle would have to be the next destination because it would offer up the most room and the most people. As we talked, happy hour ended and the beers went up a whole quarter to $1.25. BREAK THE BANK at the Wolfe’s Den!! You can’t get anything for one dollar and twenty-five cents anywhere but here. This absolutely killed me. I put $20 on the bar and all 7 of us drank for that much the entire time we were at the WD. To top that, some random drunk lit up a cig while playing pool. It hasn’t been legal to smoke in bars for years, but this dude thought it a good idea. The final and best laugh from our time at the Den occurred right as I was leaving. The whole left side of the bar wished us Happy Thanksgiving as we were exiting and as I was the last to leave I received a fantastic compliment. The tipsy elderly grandma with a slight case of the shakes informed me that I had a “great ass!” Word for word, here’s how it went. Corner in unison, “Happy Thanksgiving you guys!” Our crew, “Happy thanksgiving back, have a good night.” Shaky Grandma, “You have a special holiday…oh, you have a great ass!” Read more…