Category Archives: Project Blue Harvest

Friday Free for All

Happy Friday!

We’re getting ready to head for Richmond this weekend for a three-day volleyball tournament.  It was during last year’s Richmond tournament, you may recall, that I visited the Poe Museum on that gentleman’s 200th birthday — but this year, I’ve got nothing quite so exciting planned (though I will point out that the Poe 24 Hour Birthday Bash begins at the museum tonight at midnight, with a seance at 2:00 a.m. Dress accordingly.)  There’s lots of sitting around between matches, so I’m hoping to finish off Stephen King’s massive Under The Dome. And yes, I’m enjoying it very much, thank you.

On the homefront, we’re under a cloud of dust as our ever-reliable handyman works to divide our somewhat enormous laundry room in half to create a kitchen pantry on one side, and a cozier laundry room on the other.  Doing so involves cutting a new arched opening from the kitchen, replumbing 60-year-old pipes (always a crapshoot in our house) and replacing the Hoover-era wiring.

It’s one of those small things that we think will make a big difference — at the moment, we really have no pantry space to speak of.  When we were redoing the 1950s-era kitchen when we moved in back in 2003, we took bad advice from the Home Depot kitchen planner, who convinced us we would love having a pantry with roll out shelves.  “It makes it SO much easier to find things,” he told us.

Wrong.

Problem is, if you stack even one can on top of another, as you pull open the shelf, Newton’s law forces the cans to topple.  So it’s completely useless to store anything other than cereal boxes and bags of chips. We’re looking forward to having a place with stationary shelves where we can stack pretty much anything and everything.

Finally, for those of you wondering what’s happening on the Project Blue Harvest side of things . . . well, things are still moving.  As usual, I can’t say much until everything finally firms up — and I know it seems this has been going on forever, but when it all comes together, I’ll explain everything.  Really.

Have a good holiday weekend.

This Week in Nerdom

I took down the red, white and blue bunting we leave hanging on our front porch all summer long, retiring it to the basement until we’re ready to pull it out next Memorial Day.  As I walked past the big pot of dahlias I keep at the head of the driveway this weekend, I noticed some of the stalks browning slightly, and started to curse myself for not watering them enough when I realized that, yeah, it’s getting to be that time when the plants and flowers start to turn in for the season.

We decided to give summer one final hurrah this weekend with a hike out at Cunningham Falls in western Maryland, a waterfall that probably pales in comparison to those roaring cascades in upstate New York or the ones we traipsed over in Austria.  It sort of tumbles, rather than falls, but it’s ours and we like it, and it’s fun to see families scrambling joyously over the rocks, completely ignoring the state’s obligatory liability statement: DO NOT CLIMB ON ROCKS.

This is my last week of camping in my basement office full time, pounding away at Project Blue Harvest.  Starting next week, it’s back to my regular programming in Rockville, meaning writing time is relegated to the mornings, evenings, and weekends.  But I’ve made good progress, and I’m happy with what I’ve written so far.  It’s still a long way from even printing it out and letting my wife have the first look it, much less shipping it off to Agent J and having him read it.  I’m hoping to have everything tidied up my mid-October at this point.

Oh, and making things even more challenging as far as seat time is concerned, both The Office, Season 5 and Beatles Rock Band are shipping this week. I’m one of those knuckleheads who got a fairly decent discount by pre-ordering BRB back in the spring, then ate up the difference by paying to get Day of Release shipping—which means I paid about the same as the regular joe who walks into Best Buy tomorrow and buys it off the shelf.  But I still saved four bucks, avoided the crowds, and I get it in the mail early tomorrow afternoon.

Hmm, better get back to it, then.  I’ve got a lot of bass playing to do tomorrow.

The Bronx is Up, The Bowery Down

Madi and I spent a terrific day in New York City yesterday. We had to be up and on our way to Baltimore to catch the train by 7:00 a.m., and she couldn’t have been more of a trooper — especially since we’re approaching the final days of summer vacation, and teenagers like to get all the sack time they can get before the regular routine starts again.

We made it into New York Penn Station just slightly after 10 a.m. – a bit late, and I had to be at the Paley Center for Media at 10:30 to do some talking head filming for a documentary piece that’s being put together on Washington Irving and Sunnyside. Rather than cab it, Madi and I opted to hoof it and, in spite of a false start by me, when I steered us in the wrong direction out of Penn Station, we arrived at Paley just before 11:00. An elevator whisked us to the 11th floor, where I spent the next hour sitting just near William Paley’s Emmy Awards and talking All Things Irving while cameras rolled, trying not to talk too fast or too much with my hands, which can be particularly embarrassing.  I have no idea yet when the piece will run — it’ll be a while, and will likely be just a regional thing — but I’ll let you know.  At any rate, it was fun, and I got to do my James Fenimore Cooper impression.

After the taping, Madi and I headed over to the Le Parker Meredien to meet my editor, Casey, and dine on what I’ve been told are the finest burgers in the city. The restaurant — a tiny little place called Burger Joint — is crammed in the back of the Meredien’s lobby, almost unnoticeable except for a small neon sign shaped like a hamburger.  There was already a line out the door when we arrived there at 12:30 — which, I was told, was the norm — and at the recommendation of an incredibly nice concierge, we got in line to hold our spot until Casey arrived, which she did within a matter of minutes.

The place was the size of a postage stamp, and the real trick once you’re inside is to watch for someone preparing to leave their table — at which point you hover over them like a vulture and slide into their seats while they’re still bussing their mess.  While standing in line, we spotted a corner booth being vacated, and managed to slip Madi into it just seconds in front of a fellow who had just gotten his food.  The food was, indeed, outstanding, though the slightly melted shakes left something to be desired.

Following lunch and bidding farewell to Casey (who texted me shortly thereafter to officially designate herself a Madi Fan), Madi and I spent the rest of the afternoon back over at the Paley Center for Media, where I had some clips I needed to take a look at for Project Blue Harvest. I had never been to the center before, and I gotta tell ya, it’s a Pop Culture Junkie’s Candy Shop.  You can scan through the center’s enormous video library, select any clip you want to see, then slide into a darkened room where your clip runs on a video monitor. I had them pull about an hour’s worth of footage involving my subject, while Madi chose an old Twilight Zone (“The Bard,” one of the humorous ones in which a hack television writer conjures up William Shakespeare to do some ghost writing for him) and for the next two hours, we sat in front of a monitor with headphones on, laughing and, at times, pointing to other monitors in the room (one was showing “The Trouble With Tribbles” episode of Star Trek, while another showed Lucy gagging on Vitameatavegimin).  We got a particular kick out of the old commercials that were still intact on the Twilight Zone clip, for Marlboro cigarettes and Reynold’s Wrap aluminum foil, the virtues of which were extolled by a straw-hatted barbershop quartet.

After shutting off our monitor and hanging up our headphones, we decided to spend a few hours watching some of the presentations that were running in some of the theaters throughout the building, and finally settled on the program in theater four, which featured over an hour’s worth of Super Bowl commercials — some good, some bad, and some shown only once and never seen again because they were deemed too offensive or too ineffective.  We thought one of the most interesting was Apple’s sequel to their incredible successful “1984” commercial — where they unveiled the MacIntosh, as we called it back in the Dark Ages, kids. In 1985, Apple was promoting Mac Office during the Super Bowl — and given the success of their 1984 ad, expectations were running high for the new spot.  The commercial — called “Lemmings” — was a failure, considered too dark and rather sick, and was never shown again. But see what you think.  Here it is:

We ended our day with a slow walk back to Penn Station, where we ate pizza in Bryant Park, tried unsuccessfully to locate an open bookstore, and munched on doughnuts (which I slobbed all over myself, much to Madi’s enjoyment) while we waited for our train. We finally made it home well after midnight — and here at noon now, I only just heard Madi get out of bed. But you know what? She deserves the late morning. It was one of the nicest days I’ve spent in a long time, just hanging out in New York with my kid.

Hello, I Must Be Going (Again)

I know, I know — it’s been slow going here on the ol’ blog, for which you have my apologies. I had a conversation last night regarding Project Blue Harvest that’s going to involve some serious library, interview, and writing time — so the blog gets the back seat for a while. I know, I know — I’ll miss you too. *sniff*

Until then, take it away, Groucho . . .

London Calling

Or, rather, Oxford, to be more precise, where I’m coming to you from our room at Keble College at Oxford University.  We’re staying in the dorms — which is actually providing for more comfortable accommodations that it sounds.  Barb is down attending the first of several day-long meetings, while I . . . well, I was scheduled to join a bus (excuse me, coach) tour of the Cotswolds, but the other day, I came down with a slightly more than mild case of food poisoning, so I’ve been taking it easy.  So while Barb works hard down in the main part of the college, I’m sitting up in the room, looking out at the rain-slicked roads, flicking through the U.S. papers online, and reading Simon Callow’s fine biography of Orson Welles.  It’s not the Cotswolds, but it’s still not a bad way to spend a quiet day.

Not that I’m not enjoying the British newspapers.   Each day, I pick up one of their “red tops” — the trashy ones — along with a proper newspaper like The Observer and read them from front to back.  There’s been a general uproar over bankers and financiers awarding themselves enormous bonuses only a year after the government bailed out their banks with taxpayer funds — sound familiar? Meanwhile, the Trials and Tribulations of Sarah Palin led to much headscratching, until The Guardian finally declared that she was most certainly preparing to run for President…or maybe not.  Plus, I now know more about British tennis history than I ever though possible by following the swell of national pride the British had invested in Andy Murray when it looked like he might roll past Andy Roddick and become Britain’s first male Wimbledon finalist in eight decades — until he didn’t, and thus went from being Britain’s great hope to just “the Scotsman.”

We spent the Fourth of July in London for dinner and a show — we saw The Woman in Black, a very loud and creepy two-man show — and the next day wandering the banks of the Thames behind our hotel in Teddington.  Our hotel — which was actually a country club — sat right down the street from Pinewood Studios.  “They filmed all the James Bond movies there!” our cab driver excitedly told us — and that’s certainly true.  They also filmed The Dark Knight there, as well as one of the greatest TV shows of all time . . .

Finally, I had a very productive day earlier in the week running down a few of the sites associated with Project Blue Harvest. I took a few photos, dropped off business cards, made a few calls, and found everyone quite willing and excited to talk with me. I’m not gonna lie to you, Marge: this is gonna be cool.

Off To The City

I’m getting ready to head up to New York tomorrow morning, so Jonathan and I can attend a lunch meeting with some really, really neat people.  It’ll be one of those mornings where I have to leave the house around 5 a.m. to catch the 6:30 train — and I debated whether to head up there today and stay the night but decided against it, based mainly on the costs of staying in the city.  Barb suggested that next time I stay in Philadelphia, where it’s a bit less expensive, then take the train from there, cutting my commute in half so I don’t need to get up nearly as early.  I may give that a try next time.

Anyway, I’m looking forward not only to the meeting, but to the city, to seeing and talking with Jonathan, and to the train ride itself.  For some reason, I really enjoy train rides — there’s something vaguely old style about it, like stepping into an Agatha Christie novel, if only for a moment . . . until the lady across the aisle from you begins talking loudly into a cell phone and the moment is shattered.

Suffice it to say, I’ll be sitting in the quiet car.  See you later this week!

Back At It

My apologies for the lack of posts here lately — I’ve been hunkered down trying to get some work done on Project Blue Harvest.  It’s been slow going, but that’s mostly my fault, since I preferred spending some time with Madi during her Spring Break, and trying to get some work done in the yard while the weather was pleasant, rather than spending some seat time at my desk.

While I more than managed the first of these two items (quality time with The Kid), I waited too long on the second one.  I opted not to mow on Friday when it was 70 degrees, holding out instead for the promise of some wonderful Easter weekend weather.  Fat chance.  It rained all day Saturday, and Sunday was cold and windy.  I mowed anyway.

Anyway, now that I’m mission accomplished on those two important items, it’s back to the desk.  But I’ll see you back here shortly, I promise.