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I post this here because I can't sound too obsessed on Facebook.

Last night's episode sealed it. In fact, I've already watched it twice. In my opinion, the current season of Doctor Who is the best since series four.

I knew I would like it even from the start, when they announced the names of the episodes in their entirety and it became clear most were going to be two parters. That seemed like a neat trick, and something they haven't done as much of since Russell T left. In fact, this entire season has very much been in the style of Russell T Davies time on the series, which I've  tremendously appreciated. It bothered me quite a bit that Moffat decided to essentially ignore the first four seasons of Who when he took over, except for some characters that he created. It's nice to see that's been remedied.

But on the whole, there's only been one weak episode all season, something I can't always say about the Davies seasons (each of the first four seasons has a clunker of two: Aliens of London in series one, Fear Her in series two, Daleks in Manhattan in series three, The Sontaran Strategem in series four. Oddly enough, quite a few of those are two parters). This series only misstep has been Sleep No More, which I'm not sure I'll ever be able to watch again. The found footage thing was simply too stupid and the episode as a whole made little sense. It was almost as bad as the episodes in the last season involving the moon coming to life and trees taking over the planet Earth, which were the worst concepts this series have ever had (bordering on a Great Vegetable Rebellion level of awful).

Last night's episode was the best of this season, and probably the best since the 50th anniversary special. I expect I'll be watching it several more times. Everything about it was perfect, and it stands up upon repeated viewing. There were things I didn't catch the first time around that only came to me after I knew what was going on.

Looking forward to next week!  

Happy Turkey Day 2015!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! I hope you all have a friend and family filled day, a decent share of Thanksgiving and stuffing in your belly by night's end, and a nice soft couch to rest your head on once the Thanksgiving madness has ended. And by the way, THANKS for being a part of my life this past year. I am blessed to know each and every one of you!

PS: Note to self, TJ went to Thanksgiving with us this year...



"I thought that was good," said Corb contentedly, as we drove home this past Saturday after seeing from the latest James Bond movie, Spectre.

I yawned and stared out the window, keeping a careful eye on the highway ahead of us, in my important role as passenger seat driver. "Oh, it was, was."

"I really liked everything about it," said Corb. "Everything. Except for the theme song. That was horrible."

"Yes, that song was awful. It was a good movie!"

"I did like the images they showed during the song from the previous movies, though. That was cool." He paused. I hummed along to the song on the radio. He looked over my way. "What did you REALLY think of it?"

I glanced over, amused. "I liked it! I really did!" A pause. "It was just..." I stopped, shaking my head.

Ah, here we go. The moment Corb had been waiting for. "Come on, what is it? You know you have something!"

"No no no, it's nothing!"

"Ted, I know you. There's SOMETHING."

"It's just that...well, I mean...well, James Bond and his girlfriend go to a hotel in Moroco and discover they have to take a train to the desert, right? And they get on the train and James Bond all of a sudden has a black tuxedo that he asks the bellhop to press for him? And then she shows up to dinner in the train in this absolutely stunning designer gown? I mean, where the hell did that come from? Did she stop off at a Morocan designer dress shop on the way to the train? And why in the hell would they have a gown like that, her exact size, waiting for her?"

Corb rolled his eyes. "Ted, you really have to suspend your disbelief..."

"For that, sure! But then James Bond blows up the secret hideout and flies back to London, and the bad guy is waiting for him there? But not only waiting for him there, he's set up this elaborate torture chamber that has cells with big black and white photos of all of his friends and enemies? I mean, how the hell did the bad guy get that going between his secret hideout being blown up and his plane trip to London? Did he call his henchman in London and say something like, 'Go to the nearest Kinkos and ask them to print up lifesize blow-ups of all James Bond's friends and the bad guys from the last few films. Oh, don't wory, I have a flash drive with all their photos on it! It will be easy! Oh, and then can you do me a favor and artfully paste them to a bunch of areas in the old M16 building? If you could get a fog machine, that would be really cool! Oh yeah, and lots of duct tape. For everywhere!'"


"I mean, it just doesn't make any sense, if you think about it! Which I know, I know, you shouldn't. But there are just some things that it's hard NOT to think about. This one didn't make as much sense as some of the others. It was almost as bad as that silly invisible car that Pierce Brosnan had in one of his last films..."

Now Corb was full blown annoyed. "Why do you have to do that? Why do you have to pick apart every movie we see? It doesn't make it very fun to watch them with you."

I sighed. He's right. We drove back home for about fifteen minutes, irritated with each other, until something funny came on the radio and we forgot why we were bickering.


A few days later, Corb is watching his new favorite show, Parenthood. I only watch it occasionally, don't really know the names of the people, frankly. This one happened to catch my eye, though, as I was walking through the room.

This guy gets fired from his job and comes home to tell his wife. He starts rifling through the garbage, upset, and discovers a pregnancy test in barel. He thinks it's his daughter and runs to his wife, upset. While he is going on about how awful it is, his wife spills the beans: she's the one who is pregant. Surprise! They start hugging and kissing, all happy.

"Ohhh," I coo. "Isn't that sweet?"

"Sweet?" asks Corb. "What's so sweet about it? The guy rummages through the trash and grabs a pee stick, then runs into the house and hugs his wife! That's not sweet, it's gross and disgusting!"

"Oh, Corb," I reply. "Really, it's supposed to be romantic."

"What's so romantic about it? It's germy! It's plain gross, that's what it is."

I smiled, amused by the perspective. "I'm not the only one who has to pick apart everything we see, Corb. I think we just pick things apart in different ways..."


Picture parade: Horror at 876

"You know where you get your love of holding parties, right?"

That's my dad asking. Around mid-afternoon, maybe four hours before our great Halloween shindig was set to begin, right in the throes of getting ready, my parents show up for a visit. Thankfully, true to form (and part of the reason I love them so), they didn't show up unnanounced. They had booked the time well in advance, about a week ago. It took some of the stress out of the visit. "No, dad, where do I get my love of holding parties?" As if I don't know the answer.

"Your mom and your dad," he replies, his dimple showing. "Our house always was the party house. Each and every Halloween! Now, we've passed the party house tradition down to you."

He's right. I remember so many parties at my parents place. Halloween, St. Patrick Day, Christmas. At the house, at their beach house, at the little house in Westport. So many parties, so much laughter. And here we are, carying the tradition on. It makes me proud to be a Mitchell.

We went all out, I'll admit it. We created a task list on a yellow legal pad, and each day for the past week there was something party-related to do. Some were menial, like vacuuming upstairs or cleaning the bathroom, while others were more creative, like getting the witch set up by the piano and adding cobwebs. Finding the right branches in the woods to create the evil scarecrow was a biut of a challenge. I was the winner of that contest, but then, I had been the one who had lugged a ton of branches into the woods when we were cutting down trees to make way for the pool, so I knew where the bodies were buried. There again he had the more creative job: carving the actual pumpkin head and getting it lit up!

The highlight of the evening? The Golden Skull costume contest. There we three skulls that were awarded. As the invite said: "Who will be the recipients of the extremely rare, extremely beautiful golden skulls? Only three lucky guests: the one with the scariest costume, the funniest costume, and the overall best costume. Those fortunate three MAY be able to leave Green Victoria with them, alive. MAYBE! Who knows, it could be you!"

We had a good crew. About 35 people all together, and most everyone dressed up. That's Katie, who writes a column for a local alternative paper and likes to dress up provacatively most of the time. I think she's terrific. She came as part of a large contigent of people who dressed up from The Wizard of Oz. She's a Flying Monkey. To make her costume, she cut up some Sock Monkey feetie pajamas and applied them in critical areas. That sounds way dirtier than it actually is! She won best overall.
My buddy Coco came as Dorothy. She was also the ringleader and organized the entire Oz contigent.
Of course, the ex-wife showed up. She's looking good these days, don't you think?
Pauline and Jon were the Cowardly Lion and Glenda. Love in the land of Oz.
My friend Ted, in the center, won a Golden Skull for "Funniest costume." He went as an Italian guy who forgot his wife's birthday. It's hard to see why from the photo, but I think you can make out the meatballs and spaghetti, as well as the giant pan on his head.
This is the entire group...or at least, most of them. It was hard to take one big group shot, because people kept entering and leaving.

We partied until around one in the morning. All that work for six hours! Jesus and Mary did show up, but didn't end up being the ones snogging in the driveway at the end of the night. That honor went to my friend Matt, who did tarot card readings in the most active part of the house, and Anthony, a hunky Italian guy who knows it and is a little bit of a man whore. They kept their lights on in Anthony's car until three in the morning. Man, if we only had a pair of binoculars!

Anyway, it was a great party. Here's my favorite photo of the evening. :)

Fright Night 2015

Happy Halloween, y'all!

This is actually what the mantle in our living room looks like right now. We're kind of going all out this year.

If I've been quiet for a while, it's because we've been so busy. We're planning a big Halloween party for tonight (our second one at Green Victoria) and have spent the week planning and preparing and getting ready for the festivities. Of course, Corb needs to take a lot of the credit. He really is so creative with all of this...in fact, I think I've convinced him to help me with the set dressing when I direct Jekyll and Hyde. It'll be right up his alley.

Tonight should be a blast, and I promise to post photos of all the craziness in the morning. This will surely be a night to remember!  
I've mentioned Corb's rustic side of the family before: they are the NRA loving folks who live in New Hampshire and come down to Massachusetts every now and then to ruin our family gatherings.

The strangest banana in the bunch, Bryan, who is about 35 and still lives with his parents, has been trying desperately to branch out and diversify. He's even made a lady friend: a friend of Corb's mom who he picked up at the funeral for Corb's grandmother. No, I'm not making that up. I guess they kind of bonded while grieving over the coffin.

Anyway, he decided to join Facebook the other day, and it was with great dread that I realized he sent me a friend request. He also sent Corb a friend request, too, which he accepted. I'm kind of torn, though, because some of my stuff is kind of political, and I don't really want to piss off a right wing, gun loving good old boy who obviously is going to have a hard-on for Donald Trump.

"But I don't think he's getting the whole Facebook thing," Corb said to me last night at dinner, after the third day of me not accepting his friend request.

"Why not?"

"Well, he doesn't get the idea of the 'like' button," replied Corb. "So, for every entry his lady friend, posts, he is literally replying by typing out the word LIKE."

I think I spit some food out of my mouth at that point. Wow. Now THAT'S rustic!

The Great Piano Roll

So, Corbie has a new obsession. Old upright pianos.

Oh no, he doesn't want to learn to play them. He wants to refurbish them. He wants to take one and turn it into something along the lines of this:

Cool idea, right? Try putting it into practice. This week-end, we embarked upon our task: the acquisition of our first upright piano. Finding one was pretty easy, because it turns out, there are a lot of folks with upright pianos out there just dying to give them away for free, if you'll go and takem them off their hands. Seriously! Check it out on Craigslist if you don't believe me. These things take up room and are really, really heavy.

Corb, naturally, chose the piano farthest from where we lived, out in West Cranberryfuck, Cape Cod. The guy who had it admitted it was out of tune and didn't work, which Corb liked because among his other choices were pianos that had recently been tuned and worked perfectly. He doesn't have the heart to destroy a perfectly working piano. Also, he thought it had the best design overall, with some of those old Roman columns for legs and at the top.

The guy we were getting it from also admitted that the piano had been in his wife's family since she was a child and she was heartbroken to see it leave. "Not that she knows how to play it," he said. "She's gone this afternoon. When she comes back and sees it missing, she's going to break down and cry."

We got our first taste of what a bear this was going to be getting it out of his house. Even with the truck pulled all the way up to the front steps, it still took four guys (me, Corb, the owner, and what appeared to be the owner's gay lover) a bit of effort to get the piano into the hitch Corb had rented. I must admit, this made me a little nervous, because I knew that at Green Victoria, there was no way we were pulling the truck up to our front porch. No, we had a long driveway and then a lovely stone path to contend with, which was picturesque, but going to make life a living hell.

But that was a challenge for another hour. At that time, we simply bolted up the piano and drove back to Eldredge.

"So, any ideas how to do this?" I asked Corb, once we arrived home.

Corb clutched at his blond hair. "I'm thinking, I'm thinking."

The first part was the easiest. Get it off the hitch and onto the small dolly Corb had purchased to help it roll better. That got us to the edge of the driveway and right next to the picturesque crushed stone walkway. How to move it forward? The dolly was going to get in a whole mess of trouble if we moved it any further.

Believe it or not, I was the one who had the bright idea. Me! I remembered reading about how the ancient Egyptians were able to move heavy stones to create the pyramids, and thought the principal might work in this case. "Why not grab the plankwood we have in the backyard and place them over the stones? That will give the dolly something to roll over."

Corb was a little skeptical. But it turns out, I was actually right!

I will admit, we had one really rough patch. Rolling uphill and at a curve was a real challenge, and the planks started to break at one point, forcing us to buy a few more. Plus, one of the dolly wheels started to bend back, after the first hour. But by the end of the day, right before the drag show was about to begin, we had the piano right by the front porch. And now we had a new challenge:


This turned out to be a challenge that was insurmountable for two whole days. Turns out, the two of us are incapable of lifting the heavy piano up the stairs to the front porch. We tried everything: trying to tip it on its side, purchasing ropes and pulleys. We even bought this strap-on thing that looked more like a sexual device than a means of moving the piano. It didn't work at all. We called some movers, but they wanted at least $200 for what was sure to be a five minute job. That seems ridiculous. FInally, we managed to get Hot Coco to come over with her latest boy toy and help us lift it over those three little steps. The price was only cost the purchase of her Chinese take-out that night.

And there it sits. I am not sure when Corb will get to it next. I am sure it will used as a prop for our annual Halloween party. Maybe we can even put speakers next to it and have it play spooky music. But in any event, the next great refurbishing adventure has begun at Green Victoria. Hopefully, we will all survive it!

My life in pictures

Thursday I participated in my first ever golf outing, which I was dreading like the plague. It was a company thing, so I had no choice in the matter. But as it turns out, I didn't totally suck and my team came in second place! This is probably the first-ever sports award I have ever won. Plus, I liked driving the tiny cart and drinking beer.

Friday night, Corb and I visited a haunted house (I mean, one that's not our own.)

Saturday, we lugged an old upright piano to Green Victoria...

...and then attended a drag show with Josie.

Sunday, we went apple picking in New Hamster with Ashes, her best friend Michaela, and Corb's mom.

And finally, exhausted, capped off the week-end with nachos at our favorite restaurant in Eldredge.

It was a great week-end. Hope to follow some of the pics up with some stories in the week ahead. But right now, I actually have the plague! Well, I picked up a nasty cold, at least, while I was out and about... 

Learning to fly, nine years later

About nine years ago, I spent one of my favorite summer vacations trying to grant some wishes. The first one I was able to help fulfill was teaching my son how to ride a bike. The look on his face as he took his first steps to freedom was priceless and one I never want to forget.

This Thursday he took the next big step and passed his drivers license test. He doesn't smile the big broad smiles the way he used to, but you could tell he was pretty damn excited.

The test itself was excrutiating. Excrutiating! Oh. At least, for me. For one thing, the week before, Theo dyed his hair blue. See that bicycle helmet in the photo? It's that same exact color. Maybe bluer.

(By the way, I am secretly posting this photo. Theo made me promise I woudn't post it on Facebook. This isn't Facebook, though, right? But I did insist he let me take a photo. "Why?" he asked. "For future blackmail," I replied. And he still let me do it!)

"Do you think the test giver will get mad when he finds out I have blue hair?" Theo asked as we walked to the car and waited for him to arrive. "I know he's going to ask me to take my hat off."

"Hmmm. Don't take it off unless he says you have to," I replied.

So, we worried about that. And besides the blue hair thing, the DMV where we took the test had the worst parking lot imaginable. Don't believe me? Just look at it!

Okay, okay, maybe it wasn't THAT bad. Maybe that's only what it felt like from a father's eyes. However, the spaces to park were small and tight and no one semed capable of parking between the lines. As I sat there stuffed in the back of my Mustang waiting for the test giver to arrive, I worried he would fail before he even got out of the parking lot. Simply trying to back out of the space.

After five minutes of waiting for that slowpoke test giver, I forced Theo to back out of the space we were in and move to a safer spot. I wanted him to have every edge he could possibly have.

Of course as he backed out, I started over-engineering that. "No, back up straighter, STRAIGHTER!"

"Dad, I am backing up straighter!"

"Are you sure? It doesn't look...ah, wait! You're pulling to close to that other car!"

"Dad, I've got plenty of room."

"Hold it. Hold it! Look, let me get out and direct."

I got out of the car. I assessed the situation. Son of a bitch. He had more than enough room.

Then, as we waited some more, I started worrying what the test giver might think of the condition my little blue Mustang was in. Dammit, why did you have to volunteer your cars for these things? It's a different perspective, sitting in the back of your own car! When was the last time I cleaned it? When you're just sitting in the driver's seat, you don't think much about the stuff that you're throwing into the back. When you're actualy sitting in the back, I was shocked to discover what it actually looks like:

Note to self: clean up that puppy this week-end! (By the way, that is NOT the inside of my car, I PROMISE. I don't own a Nerf gun.)

After what felt like an hour of waiting in growing anxiety, the test giver arrived.

He was an older man named George and had a gentle manner and easy way of talking that immediately put Theo at ease. He insisted on calling Theo "Eddie." Theo didn't seem to mind.

George spent most of the time asking questions about the road we lived on and what it looked like. Occasionally he would give Theo an instruction every now and then, like "turn left" or "turn right." Even I started to feel a little better about things. Damn, maybe Theo was going to pull this through after all.

Then he got to the parallel parking request.

"Parallel park right here," George instructed. I could feel my stomach twisting in knots. The dreaded parallel parking. The curse of every auditioning driver. And something I absolutely suck at, by the way. To this day, I still refuse to, unless I am forced to...but then again, I'm the type who tries to avoid left turns whenever I can.

Theo pulled in. Adjusted his wheels. Backed up. Bumped right up against the sidewalk. It went kee-runch.

He immediately stopped the car.

I held my breath.

And George?

It's like he hadn't even noticed. "Okay, and what would you do if you were parking at a road where there were a lot of children? What would you do?"

Theo went through the motions, being very careful to look out for those imaginary children and explain what he was doing.

I knew he had aced the test at that point. George didn't say so, though. He kept him going through the motions for another three minutes, until we returned back to the DMV parking lot (which miraculously didn't seem so horrible any more). Theo was instructed to park in a spot. Turn off the engine. Then George turned and said, "Congratulations. You've passed."

Passed! Theo didn't say a word. I did the happiness for him. "Yes!" I cried out, punching the back of the seat.

By that point, George and I were old friends. He started talking about his granddaughter, about how wild she is. I couldn't help myself and said, "George, does your granddaugher have blue hair? Theo, take off your hat!"

Reluctantly, Theo took off his baseball hat, something he had been dreading George asking him to do the entire drive.

George wrinkled his nose. "Blue hair's okay. She has that and a tattoo. Tattoos are worse. At least hair you can wash out!"

 With that, he was gone. We went back to the registry to get his license. I whispered to Theo, "Think they'll take a photo of you with your blue hair?"

They didn't. They used an old photo on file. Didn't even ask. Theo was disappointed.

My boy, learning to fly. Again. The world is his to explore.



Closing time.

Have to close the pool today.

We should have done it last week, when the whether was still in the 80s. Now it gets really cold at night and I am positive the pool water is just as cold.

My weenie is so going to shrivel! 


Snapshots from Green Victoria

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