A man rounded the corner joining Queen and Orange streets, across from the pharmacy in its early slumber, past the corner bar and its empty chairs and tables. The breeze wrapped itself around him and then slithered my way, carrying a faint waft of alcohol. As the leaves rattled along the cold sidewalk, a police car rolled along Orange, humming its way through an uneventful patrol.
I strolled past the man, past darkened storefronts -- of hair stylists and pottery workshops and banks -- and turned onto Prince where southbound traffic sliced through the breeze on its way out of the city under the waxing moon.
A man in his late twenties/early thirties stood on the sidewalk halfway down Prince, looking out toward the sharp neon light crawling up the art school. Or was it affixed to the 150-year-old opera house advertising "Singin' in the Rain" on its bulb-framed marquee?
( "Excuse me. Sir?"Collapse )
- Current Mood: calm
- Current Music:"O Holy Night"
"American Horror Story" continues to kill it in season two (a review -- I haven't done one of these in a while)
The producers of FX’s “American Horror Story” found themselves trapped. Their show, a genre-bending horror drama starring a dysfunctional family stuck in a haunted house, carved its way to a juggernaut status. With a cinematic feel, a brilliant cast (including Jessica Lange in an Oscar-winning performance) and an enthralling plot twists and story developments, AHS revolutionized the basic-cable weekly drama.
But the story played out, the Harmons completed their downfall, and the network went all-in on a season two.
After reinventing the horror genre, “American Horror Story” was forced to reinvent itself – with new characters, a new story and a bar set higher than expected. The challenge drove the writers and producers to a mental institution.
( Welcome to Briarcliff...Collapse )
There was no traffic slithering up Willow Street Pike, no parade of taillights looking back on the city shrinking into the horizon, no set of red eyes hiding stories of nights out at the bars or stints at art galleries or visits with aunts and uncles.
The bar was closed. The Dirty Ol' Tavern, just off the bridge, hid in the shadows. Every night, you dive past it, out of the city and onto the bridge and home. You see the sign, 'The Dirty Ol' Tavern,' a beacon glowing white as your taillights watch it fade in the distance. Every night, you pass it. You read the sign. You know it's there.
Tonight, it looked like an old building, a structure of stone lurking in the shadows. The sign was not lit, and it glowed red as you drove past.
These are the things you notice in a real-life spook.
About a mile and a half up the road, you pass the McDonald's at your left. Open 24 hours. Every night, you see a stream of taillights, of eyes glowing red with the stories of hungry drive-through patrons.
Tonight, the building looks cold and empty, a roadside cave with the glowing golden arches.
And nothing else.
You continue up the pike, as bands of rain dash along the puddled road in front of you. The trees dance as if possessed. The leaves -- brown and orange and red and green -- whip around among the thick raindrops.
You pull onto your road, past the canvas of shedded pine needles, past parked taillights gone dark. You see your house. It's there. Lights on. The same as it is every night.
( And you breathe a sigh of relief.Collapse )
- Current Music:"Riders on the Storm" ~ The Doors
I covered a big cross-country meet yesterday. Which means I stood in the sun on an 80-degree October afternoon for five hours and six races. I like cross-country, though. It's a niche sport. The athletes and coaches and parents and followers don't expect you to cover them, but they appreciate when you do. If nothing else, runners are probably the most honest athletes you can interview.
Other than the unusual heat, the thing I remember most is the smell. It was a blend of wet grass, Porta Potty, sweat, vomit and ... chocolate (it was in Hershey, after all, and I swear a strong enough breeze could carry some cocoa wafts over the course). It wasn't a pleasant blend -- not like one of those new-fad "man candles" (by the way, I want one of those) -- but it was certainly unique.
The running community itself is unique, and a large contingent showed its support at the meet. If there's one thing runners love as much as running, it's embracing that love of running. And then telling people about it. The result?
I'm a sucker for puns and witticisms. All sports teams come up with their own, but it seems like these runners believe them more than most athletes. I loved observing the running community, and I picked out my five favorite T-shirts from the day.
( The Top FiveCollapse )
- Current Music:"Some Nights" ~ Fun
This story was originally published in the Oct. 20 edition of The Bona Venture, part of a sports history series I put together as the paper's sports editor. Since most of the online archives are lost -- or very, very hard to find -- I figured I'd post this one here. Tonight, the 2012 World Series kicked off. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Detroit Tigers in Game One. Both teams have ties to John McGraw and Hugh Jennings, two St. Bonaventure legends. Enjoy.
( Their storied baseball careers intertwined...Collapse )
- Current Mood: tired
- Current Music:"Somewhere Only We Know" ~ Keane
( Read more...Collapse )
- Current Music:"What Hurts the Most" ~ Rascal Flatts
But it seems like the people running for office don't think so.
I didn't watch the debate tonight. I watched the vice presidential candidates make jackasses of themselves last Thursday, and that was enough. I don't get into politics a whole lot, but even I've seen enough, read enough and heard enough about this race to feel disgusted. It's not quite mudslinging at its worst, and, true, we no longer live in a society that allows important political figures to duel, but the lack of respect these candidates have for each other is horribly unsettling.
One side portrays the other as smug and out-of-touch. But they're both smug and out-of-touch. One side accuses the other of manipulating statistics, but they both do that. There are no Democrats or Republicans. There is no lesser of two evils. There's one evil with multiple features and accessories.
Honestly, if a middle-aged man and a slightly above-middle-aged man can't share a room and hold a reasonable conversation about their differences, what qualifies either to be in charge of the Free World?
But worst of all, I don't feel that either side really cares about me. It's not that I feel that anything should be me-centered. I just wish I got the sense that at least one of the candidates really cared about my concerns or ambitions. When I hear one of them talk, I don't get the sense that he's speaking to me. Or even at me. And that's a problem.
In a few weeks, I want to vote for someone who not only can take responsibility for his actions (and, yes, his mistakes, too), but wants to. I want to vote for someone who considers all the options and viewpoints instead of screaming his own a little bit louder. I want to vote for someone who cares more about making this country great than he does simply winning.
I want to vote for someone who recognizes that my vote counts, that I'm part of the future and that I, as well as the rest of my fellow Americans, deserve a whole hell of a lot better than the sham that is this race.
P.S. Once, just once, could someone running for office say, "Hey, I understand that a lot of people in this country don't have a whole lot. I understand that this country is in a huge debt, and the obscene amount of money getting pumped into this campaign is better used elsewhere. I'm going to donate x campaign funding to y"? Trust me, you don't have to spend millions of dollars to look like a jackass for a couple of months.
- Current Music:"Everlong" ~ Foo Fighters
A late-night breeze carries the musty scent of impending rain through the September air. The crickets pump ambient air into the atmosphere with their collective song. In the corner of a small house in the middle of a suburban neighborhood, a spider’s web, influenced by the musty-scented breeze, pulsates with the heartbeat of the evening.
Rocking back and forth, swaying with every slight change in the September breeze does the web, a structure of the same size and shape as the average hubcap. As it dances in the corner of the house, its threads glisten under the house’s outside light, revealing a pattern akin to the rings of a tree trunk.
It’s a trap, of course, an ornate and beautiful trap pulsating in the September breeze before rainfall.
( In the middle of the trap, the delicate structure of death, the spider waits.Collapse )
- Current Music:"Shattered" ~ The Rolling Stones
The mammoth Liberty Bell-shaped structure beyond right-center field rocked back and forth, flashing its red, white and blue lights into a muggy late-August night in south Philadelphia. Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" blared from the PA speakers at Citizens Bank Park. The late Harry Kalas appeared on the video scoreboard in left field and serenaded what remained of the 44,256 in attendance with his signature rendition of "High Hopes."
Before the literal bells and whistles, the lights and tunes and the baritone voice, the Philadelphia Phillies dispatched the Washington Nationals, 4-2, that night. They gave their ace, Roy Halladay, two runs in the first, and in the sixth, John Mayberry blasted the first pitch he saw -- a fastball from Cy Young Award candidate Gio Gonzalez -- into the left-field stands for a solo home run.
They added a run in the eighth after Chase Utley was hit by a pitch as the lead-off hitter. He stole second. And third. And he scored on a sacrifice fly. In the ninth, Jonathan Papelbon struck out two of the three batters he faced.
( Bells. Lights. High Hopes.Collapse )
- Current Mood: excited
- Current Music:"For Whom the Bell Tolls" ~ Metallica
The following is a column I wrote for The BV's online edition, one addressing Bin Laden's death and the public's reaction. It's the last piece of writing I submitted to the paper I gave four years to, and it's one of the pieces I'm most proud of. A few weeks ago, I tried to find it while a friend and I discussed the new book about the night Osama Bin Laden was killed, but The BV's archives are down. So I'll post it here on Sept. 11 as food for thought and a request to find some perspective while "We Remember."
We can roll our flags, with pride, out the window. We can pound our chests and send patriotic chants through the spring air. We can say we finished what he started in the clear blue skies of a Tuesday afternoon in September almost 10 years ago.
- Current Music:"Real American" ~ Rick Derringer