Saturday, May 29, 2010


Today is a perfect day. 75 degrees and sunny.  For the first time in three weeks, I don't have to work on Saturday. I am sitting outside writing about wine and watching this symphonic play of wildlife in my front yard.  For a moment, I can forget about oil spills and chemical dispersants and enjoy the chirruping of:

House finch
House sparrow
Chipping sparrow
Mourning dove
There was even a ruby-throated hummingbird who took a sniff at the seed feeders before buzzing away.

I can also hear the rattling of a chipmunk in the storm drain and a gray squirrel is hopping here and there, no doubt wondering how to get to the seed, though I am ten feet from the feeder.

If you think that sounds pretty good, wait till you get a load of my sandwich!

Roast beef, ham, pepper jack, tomato, pickle and onion on sourdough.  The only oil I'm thinking about right now is the one mixed with vinegar and drizzled on this giant ass sandwich.

I believe I'll pour a glass of Chardonnay.  There may even be a cigar in my near future.

All is well with the world.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

McBone Mini-Reviews; The McBone Week in Movies

Iron Man 2 - I had high expectations for this one, considering that the first Iron Man is just about my favorite superhero movie ever.  Then again, we all know what a pitfall superhero sequels can be, which are given to overambition or, worse, are content to cash in on the success of prior installments.  Put Iron Man 2 in the first category.  Director Jon Favreau mostly gets it right; IM 2 does everything that the original does, only not as well.  Good story, but too much crammed in. The characters are solid, but again, a few too many.  As much as my male self enjoys Scarlett Johansson in any context, her character seemed a bit tacked on.  More to the point is Gwyneth Paltrow, awesome again as Pepper Potts.  Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell team up against Iron Man and together make for a decent complement of villainy.  Each has a bone to pick with Tony Stark, but I usually prefer one bad guy with a lot of character development.  One thing that Iron Man has that is truly rare--a protagonist who is more interesting than the bad guys.

I was delighted, though, that the film didn't suck.  In no way can it match the slick, stylish, snappy and emotional original, but Robert Downey, Jr. has certainly embraced the opportunity to play what should be one of the great recurring movie roles of our time.  His Tony Stark is irreverent, brilliant and, at times, haunted.  Oh, and I gotta say, the portable Iron Man briefcase suit is a pretty awesome touch. 3.0 McBones

Dead Snow - I'll take in a good zombie comedy anyday, especially one about undead Nazis and a pack of spoiled Norwegian brats vacationing in the snow capped mountains of Norway.  While the story and the main characters are just a cut above average, Dead Snow is worth seeing for its all around flesh eating competence and for the acting clinic put on by Bjorn Sundquist, who for five minutes slurps coffee, quaffs beer and rolls cigarettes with the artistry of a true master.  Hand him the McBoner now!  3.0 McBones

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - The more I watch it, the more I am convinced that it is the greatest western of all time.  Epic, sprawling, at times elegaic (watch Eli Wallach get beaten to a pulp as a band of imprisoned Confederate soldiers play a mournful lament).  Sergio Leone's masterpiece only improves with age, as does Ennio Morricone's seminal score.  The GBU features some of most desolately beautiful sets and parched landscapes.  The three leads excel, but this is Eli Wallach's moment to shine.  As Tuco (the Ugly), Wallace snarls and gestures and drinks and romps his way through almost three hours of cinematic nirvana, crafting a tour de force antihero.  The plot (three vagabonds lusting after buried gold) is solid but almost incidental in this character study.  5.0 McBones


Sunday, May 23, 2010

You Win, Squirrels

This bird hopper is, at the moment, squirrel free.  Notice however the perfect path from tree to feeder that the half dozen or so resident squirrels have trod in their relentless pursuit of a delicious sunflower, safflower and peanut blend.

I have come to recognize several of the rogues.  Here are a few who occupy my most wanted list:

No Tail - I don't know how No Tail ended up with a stump where there should be a furry, fluffy tail, but given his proclivity for plundering seed and running amok, I have a feeling it was retribution for some sinister act of squirrel malfeasance.

Mangy - Hideous and diseased, Mangy, with fur covering barely half of his face and body, sends all the little critters running, bird and chipmunk alike.  His total lack of remorse is his personal "f*!# you!" to a world that both hates and fears him.

Red - As fearless as she is unprincipled, Red, our lone red squirrel, is pint-sized, whippet quick and willing to take on all challengers in the name of looting.

I am fighting a losing battle.  These "pretty rats," as my grandfather used to call them, will win.  I wouldn't mind if the squirrels were more like birds, popping over from time to time for a quick snack, but these little flea-infested bastards climb up and plant themselves interminably on the hopper, stuffing their bellies and cheeks with the precious seed while the birds, helpless against the bigger, smarter and stronger rodents, wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Only when the loathsome little devils are satisfied, or if I have chased them away for the billionth time, do the birds get a turn.

No Tail!  Mangy!  Red!  May you find yourselves in an infernal drey when death comes to claim you.  May the acorns be hollow and the feeders of hell filled with poison and sand!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Jealousy Rears its Ugly Head

As my sister prepares a giant banner in anticipation of daughter Isla Sun's third birthday, big sister Seda Moon makes it abundantly clear what she thinks of having to play second fiddle for a day:

Wearing one of her signature "light pink, clean" leotards and showing no remorse, Seda unloads the contents of her upper gastro-intestinal system with the cold-blooded and ruinous accuracy of a true assassin.  Sabotage is hardly a novel tactic for the young sociopath, who in 2009, outraged over what she called "a government hijacking of our personal liberties," threw up on an early draft of the healthcare reform bill.

The chunky orange blob (McBone analysts have determined it to be a mixture of pizza, blackberries and gastric juices) is said to have caused several cases of "dry heaves" among witnesses.  Plans for the birthday celebration have been indefinitely postponed.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When Will it Stop?

I found this poor hermit thrush on our front doorstep last weekend, just one of many birds to meet an untimely end at McBone Outpost 1211, known in some bird circles as the house of death.  While several of these tragedies were clearly accidental (and some clearly not), this time I'm not ruling out foul play. 

And what a senseless killing!  All a hermit thrush does is mind its own business, hopping around the brush, eating bugs and warbling its little heart out.  They're not the most sociable of birds, hence the name, and I felt lucky to hear its song every morning outside the window.  Alas, no more.

What manner of evil was behind this brutal slaying?  The bold depositing of the corpse on our stoop and the perfectly placed puncture marks at the base of the scull lead me to believe the perpetrator was not just calculating and cold-blooded, but also very feline.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

McBone Mini-Reviews; The McBone Week in Movies

The NBA playoffs decimated McBone moviegoing for a while, but since the Cavs were dismissed in humiliating fashion, a year of steady Mini-Reviewing lay ahead.

8 1/2 - Fellini dazzled me with La Dolce Vita and left me slightly cold with Amarcord.  With 8 1/2, I was leaning toward the latter as I stubbornly sought some kind of linear plot.  Then, like that, something clicked.  I let go.  It didn't hurt that Claudia Cardinale is possibly the most beautiful woman in the history of film:

If you made it past the picture, I commend you.  Anyhow, a movie director's life, as portrayed by Marcello Mastroianni, is spiraling out of control.  Existing in varying states of chaos, hallucination, wife-alienating, obsessing over the past and fantasy-dreaming about Claudia Cardinale, Guido's paralysis is in direct opposition to the requirements of his vocation.  The director should be the controller of situations; Guido is anything but.  Our philandering protagonist's life has become an irony, and it has driven him to the brink.  Will he stop at the precipice, or fall into the abyss?  I'm not saying, but the payoff is well worth the zigzagging journey.  Netflix this, and sit back for the ride through Fellini's fertile imagination.  Oh, I also wanted to ask: was there ever a cooler film presence than Mastroianni?  Official McBone Rating: 4.5 McBones 

Darkon - Remember Roll Models?  That mildly entertaining movie about fictional people who dress up like Lancelot and wage fake medieval war?  Well, Darkon is a mostly inept documentary about real people who dress up like Lancelot and wage fake medieval war.  Wielding foam swords and spears, mortal enemies meet on the field of battle and beat the hell out of each other.

At stake is dominion over the fantasy realm of Darkon, inhabited by any manner knight, wizard and warrior.  Sounds like an interesting study.  Too bad the filmmakers focus on the blandest subjects and never reveal the way in which these battles play out.  I went in wanting to know what compels people to act this way.  By the time it was halfway through, I no longer cared.  Darkon is a poorly made doc.  1.5 McBones

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Perfect Fridge

If good things come in pairs, then this refrigerator is operating in a state of grace.  Two cases of beer, an assortment of fine lagers, ales, stouts and porters from Sam Adams and New Belgium, are flanked by two slabs of meaty pork ribs.  They await the arrival of two college buddies, Bradie and Siege, who will pull in late tomorrow for two nights of debauchery unrestrained. 

The three of us drank and ate and occasionally studied our way through three months abroad in Austria.  Our diets consisted largely of beer and ribs.  I do not believe I am going out on the proverbial limb when I say: these beers and ribs will not survive the weekend.

Should I live to tell the tale, you, gentle McBoners, shall hear it first.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Only 10 more to go....BUT


The Cavaliers made a statement in Game 3.  It wasn't that they are the best team in the playoffs right now, because they aren't.  They made a statement that they are the best team in the playoffs when they feel like playing basketball the way they know how.  But unfortunately they don't choose to do that every single game, and thus they continue to stumble through this 2nd round matchup with Rajon Rondo, errrrr... The Boston Celtics.

The Celtics are old and they are slow, yet they continue to muster wins in this playoff series when the Cavaliers should already be at home resting for the ECF's.  While Rondo's 13 pts and 9 assists during the regular season are certainly solid numbers, they don't compare to his sudden transformation into Bob Cousy. 

Want to know who else average 13 pts a game this year:
84 Kelenna Azubuike
85 Nene Hilario
86 Thaddeus Young
87 Allen Iverson
88 Rajon Rondo
89 Ben Gordon
90 Jermaine O'Neal
91 Mehmet Okur 
92 * Jonny Flynn
93 Tayshaun Prince
94 Elton Brand
95 Anthony Morrow
96 Corey Brewer

Not exactly a list of Hall of Famers.  Yes some solid players, but Rondo also shot 21% from 3pt land in the regular season.  It just baffles me how a player that can't shoot from the outside can slice and dice a defense that is supposed to be one of the best in the league.  HE CAN'T SHOOT.  Make him shoot from the outside.  Nobody else on this team can hurt you.

Actually it doesn't baffle me.  It simply comes down to effort.  The Cavaliers are a great team, but they are not a championship team.  They still have time to establish that but it all comes down to effort.  They may be able to slip by the Celtics playing half-assed, but certainly they won't be able to do that against the Magic, Lakers or Suns. I'm hoping they know what they are doing.  I'm always an optimist.  I can't possibly see how this team could be beaten by any teams left.  I have to believe Lebron is playing this way for a reason. But I've been disappointed before, so who knows. 

All I can say is that I know basketball and I know we have a good enough team to win the championship.  I think we are going to do it, and hopefully all of you out there in Mcbone Land will believe as well.  This has to be the time.  It just has to be.

Go Cavs!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Don't Get It

This photograph is beautiful.  Could well be Jupiter or some other celestial body.  Unfortunately, this is not a photo beamed from space.  Behold the grim beauty of a planet vomiting 60,000 barrels of crude a day.  Oil gushes from a broken well and suddenly Earth is a little sicker than it was before.

I've always found it fascinating that our planet has this sort of inherent ability to poison itself.  All the materials have been there, but for millions of years one element was missing: us.

Whether or not we choose to believe Al Gore, our impact on the planet has been decisively negative.  I happen to believe in human influenced climate change, but I can also see beyond the talking points.  Throw out the rhetoric and glance anew at what we are doing.  The sheer lunacy of mining and burning dirty fuels and pumping the air we breathe full of millions of tons of equally dirty gasses is clear.  And let's look beyond the thermometer for a second.  We also like to: wipe out species, cut down forests, blow off mountaintops, dam rivers and dump garbage in the oceans.  None of this is good, and yet we continue to live with ourselves.  How? 

Nature has gifted us the sun the wind and the tides.  These resources are powerful, endless and clean.  Why, then, do we not tap them for all they are worth?  With our unfathomable need for energy, I can see the merit and opportunity in switching to sources that are sustainable.  That alternative sources can't meet present demand is a good thing, isn't it?  That means there is room for improvement and growth.  Improvement and growth require research and labor.  In other words, J-O-B-S.

So, with all this potential out there, why do we continue to punch new holes in the earth?  I'm not superstitious, but it's hard for me to not see a little karma in this oil spill, which comes about five seconds after Obama lifted the offshore drilling ban.  Is the universe telling in not so subtle ways to knock it off?  I don't know.  All I can say is that a lot of us are trying; we do do our best to recycle, turn off lights, compost, drive fuel efficient cars  and buy ecologically responsible products.  Meanwhile, the ones with all the power continue to rape and rampage.  How long can we keep it up?


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Still 11 to Go

Dear Cavs,

The Boston Celtics have won 17 championships.  You have won zero.  How can it be, then, that YOU were the ones who mailed it in on Monday night, on your home court, with a chance to go up 2-0?

Please explain,


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bald Eagle at Celery Bog

In honor of my wife's 33rd birthday, a bald eagle took time off its busy schedule to visit us at Celery Bog Park right here in West Lafayette.  Though difficult to see in a picture taken with our decidedly low-power lens, rest assured, McBoners, that this dark splotch is, in all its majesty, a genuine bald eagle.

For the entire hour we spent at the park, this gigantic bird remained perched in one spot.  Though that may seem a long time to spend without a laptop, facebook or the final season of Lost, I figure it may have been engaged in any number of these activities:

-Sharpening its razor-sharp talons.

-Sharpening its razor-sharp beak.

-Surveying the landscape for the very plumpest rodents.

-Contemplating American Freedom (a.k.a. Liberty).

-Removing parasites.

-Inspiring awe.

This bald eagle sighting represents a first for both Alex and me.  A sudden and overwhelming urge to join the U.S. Armed Forces passed quickly, and we contented ourselves to gaze in wonderment. Thank you, eagle, for deigning to spend an afternoon with us.

Also, I would like to point out that my wife is very attractive.