Tag Archives: entertainment

Indiana Experience 2011

Well, I had a fantastic week in Brazil, Indiana.

As I mentioned in my pervious blog about the trip up, which was basically uneventful, I wanted to make some observations about my old hometown and some of the people there. While my intention is not to be insulting in any way, I will have to admit that I come from one of the most backwards places I think I’ve ever been to. The streets, which haven’t been paved since I was in high school, are all the same. In fact, I think I hit some of the same potholes that were there last summer when I went to visit. It’s become sort of a running joke concerning Brazil, one that I’ve used on several occasions in a story or novel I’ve written.

The day after I arrived in Brazil my dad took me out of lunch at a little mom and pop restaurant called the Sunshine Diner. I had to have a sample of a northern delicacy that I have yet to find in Florida except during Bike Week, the breaded tenderloin sandwich. Okay, while that may not sound very important to you, the casual observer, it was important to me. You have never had a sandwich until you have munched on a tenderloin that is three times bigger than the bun, is breaded and fried to perfection, and is topped with the best condiments. For me, that includes a slice of cheese and some ketchup, although I have had them with pickles before and that is just as great. After my surgery, I can only eat about half of my tenderloin, but it was fantastic and reminded me of why I love those sandwiches so much. Darn Florida, learn how to make tenderloin!

The restaurant was filled with your basic Sunday afternoon crowd of older individuals who looked like they had escaped one of the local nursing homes, one old guy even had his oxygen tank in tow, and your average Brazilian. One guy came in dressed like a crazed biker, including leather chaps, vest, and hat. Only he was the skinniest guy I think I have ever seen apart from a starving children commercial. And his head looked like it had been shrunken by a witch doctor to boot. Now that was a pretty comical sight. They needed to start feeding him better or the wind was going to knock his moped over while he was riding it.

After we returned from the restaurant, my sister Dee came over and we sat and talked for while. Yeah, real excitement there. HA! It was great to visit, I talk to my sister way more than I ever speak to either of my brothers so it was nice to just relax and blather on about what was going on in the family. My dad, obsessed with westerns found an Encore station that is 24 hour westerns so that makes him extremely happy. I watched so many westerns up there it was ridiculous, ha! Reminded me of every Saturday afternoon growing up. So, that was nice in a way. 🙂

Sunday evening I went with my cousin Roberta and her daughter to see Puss in Boots. I’ll talk about that more in another blog. Needless to say I really enjoyed it. Afterwards I went over to her house and we talked for while.  And wouldn’t you know, right in the middle of the visit if Nancy didn’t call Roberta. Talk about bad timing! It made my cousin very uncomfortable having to talk to her, while I was there, but my cousin is a genuinely good and nice person and so spoke with her for a little while. Fortunately I had a homemade strawberry daiquiri to drink and forget about who was on the phone.

On Monday I went to Terre Haute with Dee just to run around and talk and stuff. Nothing too exciting there. I wanted to visit a store up there called Disc Replay to check out their DVDs but I couldn’t find anything I couldn’t live without so ended up not purchasing anything. I will say that I saw one of the funniest signs on a store that I have ever seen. It’s a serious sign but when I first glanced at it I busted out laughing the people in the car next me thought I was crazy. Okay, I AM crazy but that’s an entirely different story. Anyway, here is a picture I took of the sign:

During the week I also got to hang out with one of my old friends, Jesse and his two daughters Amelia and Arlie. Not sure if I spelled their names correctly, although I hope I did. It was great to spend time with Jesse. He is one of my best friends from up north, and one that I have attempted to keep in contact with over the years. He’s been through a lot himself and recently was divorced after his wife left him and his two beautiful children. She was never a real brilliant bulb anyway, just the same as the dim bulb in my life.

On Tuesday, I went back to Terre Haute with Roberta and Cassie (her daughter, I forgot to mention her name earlier) and ran around aimlessly for while. It was good to see the old stomping ground though I was sorry to see that the old comic book shop was now gone. I had gone to that same shop for over fifteen years when I lived up there. It was very sad to see that New Concepts was now just another memory. Sigh.

Oh! Before I forget, I was also able to partake of yet another delicacy I cannot get down in Florida. And don’t even say Krystals because they are pale imitations of the real thing: White Castle! Oh how I love those gut bombing sliders! And the onion chips are fantastic! Since I’ve been in Florida, Terre Haute finally managed to put in a White Castle that I had wished had been there since I was in high school! It is a true going home experience. Dang, when I lived up there we would often drive all the way to Plainfield, which is about an hour away, just to get White Castles! They are that good! The smell may make Cassie sick, but they were a bountiful bouquet of beauty to my nose! Yum yum get me some!

Even better than White Castle–I know, how could anything possibly be better–Tuesday night, at Roberta’s we had the best pizza on planet Earth! By far, this is the best pizza I have ever eaten and is something that I have to get every time I go back to Brazil. Maurizio’s Pizza in Brazil simply makes the best pizza anywhere. I have eaten a lot of pizzas in my time, remember I used to be 500 pounds just a couple of years ago, so I know what I’m talking about, and Maurizio’s has never been beaten. Oh, my goodness is it good! A big thank you goes out to Roberta once more for the dinner and the fine company that evening!

Wednesday evening my dad and I went to my brother David’s house for dinner. I had honestly been dreading this part of the visit as I was preparing myself of one of David’s famous lectures. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only had he invited us over but several others as well, which meant he wasn’t about to air my dirty laundry in front of everyone. The evening was surprisingly nice and laid back and we even went on a short boat ride in my brother’s pontoon boat on the small lake behind his house. Of course, I had fixed myself a rum and fruit juice drink and was feeling mighty good by then so the trip was great and I was able to take a few more awesome pictures. Oh yeah, speaking of pictures, I almost forgot the best part of the whole day on Wednesday. Before dad and I went over to David’s, we took a drive up through Rocky Fork in Parke County, Indiana. Now, Rocky Fork is an entire story onto itself and is a beautiful area out in the rural of Indiana where my mother was born and raised back in the 1930’s. When mom passed away back in 2008, dad and David took mom’s ashes and buried them out in Rocky Fork on some land that David had purchased to use for deer hunting season. So we stopped along the road where they had buried the ashes and I was able to see it for myself, and take some pictures. I’m sure mom would have thought it was nice to be back where she grew up, just up the road from the old homestead. I love that area of Indiana and have a lot of great memories of that place growing up. But, as I said, Rocky Fork is a story onto itself so I won’t go into any more details here.

Thursday I just lounged around the house with dad and watched some westerns and some old Godzilla movies I found on the movie stations. There was a really cheesy movie called “Rebirth of Mothra” which was really hilarious. I had no idea I was in for several more cheesy movies before the night was over. Thursday was the day I went over to visit my friend Scott in Paris, Illinois. Now Scott and I have been friends since the 8th grade when we met in math class. We both had Transformer watches and I remember telling him that my watch could beat his watch and our friendship grew from there. Besides Tim in Mississippi, Scott is my oldest and dearest friend. He’s been my music collaborator and writing partner for over 20 years. You don’t forget a friendship like that. So, anyway, over at Scott’s house we hung out for a while and went to Wal-Mart, which has been our tradition for the last two visits there. It was freezing at his house and his furnace is a joke so I ended up buying a space heater to use for myself that night and left it there for him to use. His old house that he rents is extremely drafty and looks like it’s ready to cave in all the time. Seriously, I wish I could convince him to move to Florida but for the first time this trip he admitted that he finally found a place that he grew roots and is going to stay there. I admire that in him. I hope that I can finally make that assertion about Florida, that I’ve truly laid down my roots, but with the uncertain future I face when it comes to everything else going on in my life, I’m not sure if I’m ever going to make that proclamation.

Wow, talk about getting off on a tangent. Ha! The movies we ended up watching were old sci-fi shows from the 50s. One was filmed at Silver Springs in Ocala, Florida called “Wild Women of Wongo.” Oh. My. Goodness. This cheese was so bad that it made Limburger stand up and say “what stinks?” Talk about hilariously bad acting and even worse dialogue. We followed that up with a pair of Japanese sci-fi movies from the 50s. “Prince of Space” and “Invasion of the Jupiter Men.” Wow. Talk about your crazy plots for movies. They were so bad they were good and kept us in stitches the entire time. Of course we sat there and made fun of everything, which made the experience all the better. It was like old times back in our early twenties, watching some cheesy B movie over at Quincy’s, making fun of it as it played as if we were MST 3000 or something. It was a great end to a great week.

So, now I’m back home, ready to get back to the old grind at WellHome and in the rest of my life. You never know what tomorrow will bring, ain’t that the truth? I hope it’s happiness for all of us–one way or another.




The Big Year Review

If you’re looking for a clean, decent movie to take your family to see that has big stars and awesome cameos, then take your family to see “The Big Year.”

“The Big Year” stars Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson. Three strangers who begin a quest known to bird watchers, or “Birding” as The Big Year. This quest is to find and see the most bird species in North America in one year. Owen Wilson’s character holds the record for seeing 732 species and is determined to keep his record standing. Steve Martin is a very successful businessman who is retiring and is dreaming of completing his own Big Year, while Jack Black is a young computer programmer working for a nuclear facility who wants to have a Big Year so that he can finally do something big with his life after his failed marriage.

While not a laugh a minute comedy, it is still very light-hearted and manages to show you just enough of each character’s life to make you want to care about them. Steve Martin is charming throughout, making this one of his better performances of the last few years. And the normally crazy antics and jumping around behavior that can make Jack Black annoying disappears in this film almost entirely making Jack look and sound like a normal human being. For that fact alone, I found this film to be one of Jack Black’s better roles. Owen Wilson, on the other hand, plays predictable. You’ve seen this character out of him before and done better. While, I liked the character, he wasn’t my favorite by a long shot and made some really bad decisions that cost him a whole lot during the film.

I won’t give away any spoilers to the film itself but be on the look out for cameos by Joel McHale (NBC’s Community), Paul Campbell (Battlestar Galactica), Brian Dennehy, Jim Parsons (Sheldon from Big Bang Theory), and Corbin Bernsen (Psych).

I give the film 4 out of 5 Blackbirds. Go see the film. You’ll enjoy it and your family will too!

Weird Al Yankovic – The Awesome Live Show

Okay, let me start by saying that seeing Weird Al Yankovic is an experience that everyone should have. Not only is the man extremely talented when it comes to writing parodies, but he is a consummate showman! I saw him Wednesday night at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando and I will have to say that it was by far one of the most enjoyable live shows I have been to in a long time. The atmosphere of the venue was just fabulous. The crowd was excited but kept to their seats as they listened to Al’s classics “Fat”, “Amish Paradise” and “Smells Like Nirvana.” While not everyone knew all the words to his latest compositions like “Party in the CIA” and “TMZ” the crowd stayed pumped and excited throughout the show.

Keeping us entertained is a craft that Weird Al’s stage team has down to a science. Al had numerous costume changes during the show and while he was off stage a series of large television screens played amusing “interviews” that Al conducted with celebrities. Of course it was obvious that he was taking actual interviews and manipulating them but they were classic comedy bits that I wish I had a copy of. Starting with Eminem and including snippets from over the years with Keith Richards, Madonna, and Celine Dion, the spots were hilarious and had me rolling in the aisle. Snuck in between these mock interviews were TV and movie spots that Al had either had a cameo or was mentioned by name. One of the funniest was a clip from the TV show “’Til Death.” In it Brad Garrett’s character is talking to the wife, played by Joely Fisher and she is complaining that he had said she looked like Weird Al Yankovic from behind. Garrett’s character responds: “The man has great hair and a tiny butt, you should learn to take a compliment.” That was by far one of the funniest lines from a TV show I’d had heard and had me bursting out with laughter. What makes this even funnier is that Al has learned to take such comedic lines as a compliment and incorporates it into his show.

The costumes that Al wore were classic Yankovic fun. From the “grunge” look he wore in “Smells Like Nirvana” to the crazy lounge suit he donned in “Wanna Be Ur Lovr” each look was unique and inspired by the song itself. This was highlighted by the famous fat suit from the “Fat” video. To watch him dancing around on stage in that fat suit was the clear definition of having your cake and eating it too. And yes, that pun was intentional!

To end the show, Al’s encore consisted of “The Saga Begins” and “Yoda,” both Star Wars parodies. During the awesome rendition of  “The Saga Begins” a whole troop of Stormtroopers marched out along with Darth Vader. Watching them dance around, including the one doing the Macarena, was priceless. And the two minute speed chant that Al, Steve Jay, and Jim West participated in was concert gold. It was one of the oddest most insane things I have seen in a long time.

So, long story short. I hated the concert —NOT! Ha, it was awesome! Now if only I could join a caravan of “Weird-Heads” and follow him around on tour! That would be awesome!  (And for those of you who don’t know—that was a reference to the “Dead Heads” that used to follow the Grateful Dead around on tour. I don’t think there is anything like the “Weird Heads” in existence but I think it’s about time there was!)