Saturday, November 24, 2007

On the Couch Watching Football (Yep, It's Thanksgiving Weekend)

So, we're two days removed from Thanksgiving and I still feel like I'll never get my pants buttoned again. Seriously, I'm like a walking Alka Seltzer ad ... maybe Pepto Bismol. The food was great but there was just too much of it. As a result, I've decided to adopt an eating disorder for the remainder of 2007.

Quick recap before I hit the rack:
  • Thanksgiving: In the mountains with my wife's family, we ate too much and then sat outside by a fire. That night, we drank some beer around the fire and tried to see that elusive Holmes comet.
  • Black Friday: Sat outside for much of the day. Watched LSU get trounced by Mr. McFadden and the rest of the Razorbacks. Did no shopping whatsoever... even avoided commercials on the telly.
  • Today: Loaded the dog into the car to go for a hike. Arrived at trailhead in time to see no fewer than 20 people of various ages and athletic ability lumbering for the trail. Promptly returned home. Watched Dawgs trounce the Yellow Jackets. Saw Kentucky blow it. Smiled at the thought of my sister watching Alabama lose.
  • No Country for Old Men: Do yourself a favor and go see it. It's a fantastic Coen brothers film and a great adaptation of the book. I'll see it again this week. Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem both deserve nods at Oscar time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Country

So, today marks the wide-release of the Coen brothers big screen version of Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men.

A production still from the movie.

I gotta tell ya, today is my Christmas. Ever since I read the first page of McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses in 1993, I've been hooked on his work. With exception of a play published last year, I've read everything he's done. Hands down, he's my favorite author.

Yesterday, I reread the book in anticipation of the film. Today, I'm seeing it with my buddy Randy, who has scheduled an "off-site meeting" for this afternoon. I guess that we'll be among a few in the theater and probably in a minority of folks who are geeking out over it to such a large degree.

When Billy Bob Thornton turned in All the Pretty Horses, the studio massacred it. I heard his version was longer and, probably, more like the book. Unfortunately, it seems that the studio wasn't sure how to market the film, edited it heavily in post-production, and released a beautifully shot, well-acted film that was a shadow of the gritty, bloody, coming-of-age western contained in the novel. Thankfully the Coens' pedigree allow them the creative license to accurately recreate the story without meddling from the suits. From the buzz that the movie is already generating, I'd say they've done a kick-ass job with it.

Having the Coens at the helm of the picture seems to atone for the fact that Oprah selected McCarthy's The Road for her book of the month pick. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for McCarthy's success but I'd like Oprah to stay the hell away from him. Anyway, I'm thrilled to see the film today. I'll follow-up on it later.

More on Cormac McCarthy here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Best Biscuits (and, Formerly, Wildlife Painting) in Batesville

This past weekend, we went with several friends and their kids to my in-laws' place in north Georgia. We relaxed, stayed up late, ate and drank too much, and had a blast doing it. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, we managed to drag ourselves out of bed and head over to the Batesville General Store for breakfast. In addition to the "Best Biscuits in Batesville," we've come to enjoy visiting our favorite painting of a deer frolicking with its lupine buddies. Each time we see it, we warmly talk about how the wolves are just running up to say "Hello, friend!" to the deer. They're playing a cordial game of chase through the morning snow, like good friends sometimes do.

The Deer and His Wolf Buddies

Anyway, the painting is very much a part of the charm of the place. Over the last several years, it's become a highlight of the trip to the mountain house with friends. During Saturday's feast, we gazed on it with delight during our meal. On returning Sunday morning, we cast our eyes toward the familiar spot on the wall and were greeting with a pristine rectangle of wood paneling that hadn't been seen by anyone in years. Our painting was gone; the wall was bare. Before ordering coffee, we spoke with the waitress who told us that it was sold at some point during the previous day. As she told me this, she couldn't have hurt me more if she'd stabbed me with a piece of the cheap cutlery from the table. A small part of me died. Now, I'm not really sure that I can go back there. Part of the mythology of the place has gone and cannot be recovered.

I really, really hate it when stuff like that happens.

The Majestic
When I moved to Atlanta in 1996 and discovered the Majestic, I had a similar experience. My friends and I went so frequently in the late 90's that we quickly developed "pet names" for the wait staff. Presently, it seems that only Count Chocula remains there, occasionally hustling Patty Melt Plates to our tables. During the day, a wonderful older woman worked there. We called her "Marge." Honestly, she could've been the model for Linda Lavin's Alice.

One day, I was there with a good friend and my soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. We were telling my future ex about the names we had for everyone, how we'd invented personal histories for them, and how knowing anything "real" about them would ruin this fantasy world we'd created and occupied. Next thing you know, the dumb-ass I was dating goes over to "Marge" for a little chat, returns to the table, and blurts out her real name. My friend Ashley and I sat there looking at her, not believing what she'd just done. I never forgave her for doing such a mean-spirited thing.

I guess the worst part of it all is that, as adults, our lives are relatively void of the magic and mythology we had as kids. Neither Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny exists in the same capacity for us. Instead, we have bills, jobs, the pressures of relationships, and the responsibilities of family. When we do find and cultivate a little of that magic in a strange unexpected place, it hurts when it is taken away.

Fare thee well, deer painting.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Schools Update

It's been a while since I've posted an update on my school situation. Frankly, I was tired of my usual "blah, blah, blah working-on-applications-crap, blah, blah, blah" stuff. Here's the skinny: I'm finished with all the secondary applications that I'm going to submit this go around. If nothing pans out this year, I'll retake the MCAT and reapply next summer.

Interview at Mercer University School of Medicine, 12/2007
Earlier this week, I found out that they want me to come in for an interview. So, I'll be heading down to Macon to speak with them in early December. It's pretty good news! I'm excited and anxious about it. It looks like they're the front-runners. I'll post more on this as it develops. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Rejected by Boston University
So, I'm not going to be in Bean-town. A few weeks ago, I got their rejection letter via email. Seriously, it was the nicest thing ever. See for yourself:
The Committee on Admissions of Boston University School of Medicine has completed its review of your application. It is with great regret that I inform you that we will be unable to offer an interview this year. This is a disappointment, as much for those who are responsible for the decision as it may be for you, the candidate who is turned away.

Most of the candidates we are considering this year are qualified to attend medical school and are likely to make important contributions to our profession and to society. Sadly, with more than 100 applicants for every seat in the class, we are forced to deny many exceptional people.

We acknowledge and respect your accomplishments and recognize that our inability to offer you an opportunity to complete the admissions process is a loss for Boston University.
Please accept our best wishes for all your future endeavors.
As nice as the letter is, I strongly disagree with the last sentence of the first paragraph. It's as much a disappointment for those that made the decision, the rejectors, as for me, the rejectee? Somehow, I think I probably feel worse about it. When they made their decision, did they choke back tears while downing a cocktail and watching reruns of Judge Judy at 4 p.m. in their pajamas? My guess is "no."

Whatever. Hell, if they feel that bad about it, I'll interview with them; I've got the time.

Final List
So, here's a quick list of the places to which I submitted supplemental applications:

We'll see how this thing turns out.

That's it. The die is cast. Honestly, I'm tired of stressing out about all of it and of waiting to hear something from places. I'll post more updates as they happen.


This year, I think we beat our previous record of 10 trick-or-treaters. I think that we gave candy to about 12 or 14 kids. I know, I know... how can we afford all that candy, right?

My wife brought home pumpkins from her office. One of the principals of her firm bought 100 (!?!) pumpkins to decorate their landscape and to host an office pumpkin-carving contest. Unsurprisingly, they had a few left over. So, I carved one about an hour before the kids started dropping by for treats. I found a little artistic inspiration and created "Open Head-Wound Pumpkin."

Open Head-Wound Pumpkin, #1

Open Head-Wound Pumpkin is scarier at night!
Note: Gaping Monster-Mouth Pumpkin at top of stairs.

My Favorite Costume of the Night
My favorite costume of the night was the Human Torch from the Fantastic Four.

When I opened the door, I thought the kid was wearing some tie-dyed jumpsuit. At first, I thought he was a muscular, hippie Elvis. Then, I was able to make out the Fantastic Four logo on the costume's fake muscles. Pretty cool costume, I must admit. Personally, though, I felt the plastic molded wig detracted from it.

"Trick or treat," he says.

"Nice Human Torch costume, my man," I complemented while dumping a huge handful of candy into his bag. "It's pretty cool!"

"This thing is HOT! I am SWEATING in here!" he yelled as he snapped shut his bag and darted down my steps.

"The Human Torch is made of fire, you know, " I muttered to myself.

My Next Favorite Costume: Venom (from Spider-Man 3)
The little kid wearing this one was adorable. He was probably 5 years old, at most.

First off, the costume was way too big for him. He scurried up the driveway and the steps. When he finally made it onto the porch, he gave me a muffled "trick-or-treat." His mask was really twisted on his face which contorted it into some macabre death grin. It was very cute but a little creepy.

I dropped candy in his bag and he split. When he was in the driveway, his dad reminded him to say "thank you. So, I get a barely audible "Thank you" from him as his shuffling toward the next house.

"Why don't you take that mask off, boy? You know you can't see a thing with it on," pleaded the father as the boy passed him.

"You know you have zero chance of that happening tonight, don't you? It's Halloween. That thing stays on, no matter how blind he is," I told the dad.

"You're right on that one. Can't tell them nothing tonight."

And with that, evil Spider-Man and his dad faded into the darkness of the street, moving toward the night's remaining plunder.

Honorable Mention: Hannah Montana
When I opened the door, a cute little girl greeted me with a hearty "Trick or Treat!" She was nicely dressed with a fantastic blonde wig.

"And who are you supposed to be?," I asked.

"Hannah Mon-tannah!," she yelled and opened her bag.

"All right! You going to sing?," I asked her while dumping two pounds of candy into her bag.

She violently shook her head "no" and raced off to another house.

As I closed the door, I thanked God that she didn't tell me she was dressed as Blondie from the Clermont Lounge. I've been in this city a little too long, I guess.