Friday, July 30, 2010

Comic Con Impressions; Ray Bradbury

Confession time.  I thought Ray Bradbury was dead.  Yes, I'm an English major and yes I've read books and all that, but I've never been one to delve too deeply into the life of an artist.  I'm not sure why, but for me the art was always enough.  So when partner blogger Kid Shay asked me if I wanted to check out the Ray Bradbury panel, I thought, why not?  I've read The Martian Chronicles; hearing a bunch of people talk about Bradbury and his work would be interesting, but nothing to get real worked up about.  Oh-ho was I shocked when Josh informed me that the real Ray Bradbury himself would be there, live and in person.  'He's like 97 years old,' said Josh.  Naturally, I was game.  When you get the chance to see one of the more celebrated writers of the past 50+ years, you'd better be game.

I may catch some hell for this (if anyone ever reads it), but it seems to me that Ray Bradbury is a bit of an ass.  Certainly he seems to be living through a great spiritual contradiction.  A self-proclaimed Zen Buddhist, his passion is for humans to colonize Mars and other galaxies in order to survive as a species.  His grand vision that humans 'live forever' has little to do with Buddhism as I understand it.  And what the fuck is with this Mars talk anyway?  Does it make sense to let our perfectly habitable planet go just because there is a possibly (but probably not) habitable, mostly barren one next door?  I mean, we can't quite manage to make Afghanistan a safe place to live, so what the hell are we going to do on a planet with no oxygen?

Furthermore, his rationale for naming Ronald Reagan our 'greatest president' is an inspired stroke of Zen detachment: 'he gave the money back to the people.'  Money and Buddhism!  The perfect blend.  And I want to know just who was getting all this money back in the 80s.  Oh, and hey, Ray, do you know how much tax money has been spent trying to colonize Iraq?  Well try Mars on for size!

OK, the truth is, I think it would be pretty cool to put people on Mars, so enough with the Bradbury bashing.  Though wheelchair bound, his mind remains active.  He's still working, still writing.  The fact is, I liked a lot of what the old buzzard had to say about his love of old Prince Valiant and Buck Rogers comics, how they influenced his work and spurred his imagination.  Comics!  That's what the Con is about, right?  I was pleased to hear that he still reads daily comic strips, his favorite being the excellent Mutts.  He also seems to have a genuine love of fantasy and adventure and the works of friends and contemporaries like Richard Matheson and Roald Dahl.  Also cool is his participation in designing urban spaces, like San Diego's labyrinthine Horton Plaza, and his active support in sustaining public libraries, which he credits as his source of higher learning when he could not afford college.

I also loved hearing that he once banged Bo Derek in a train compartment.

Ray Bradbury!  Buddhist, conservative, sex god.  Thanks for the talk, old timer.


Photograph courtesy of Kid Shay

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Next Stop, San Diego

Having conquered Los Angeles in a mere four days, it was time for Alex and me to leave the city of Angels in the dust of our rental Kia and move a little further south.  Old friends and Comic Con awaited us in San Diego, and there we were taken in by the oldest of friends, Jeff F.  Jeff is not merely a longtime McBoner, not merely the brother of McBone's own Poet Laureate, he is, quite simply, my other little brother, and it had been eons at least since we were last together.

Jeff coinhabits his downtown apartment with his lady friend, Bre, whom in prior emails and phone conversations he had affectionately referred to as his 'fiance.'  Naturally I was anxious to see what kind of a trollop he had latched on to this time.  Given his track record, I knew more or less what to expect of his betrothed.  Hairy moles.  Oozing sores.  Halitosis.  I braced myself as we knocked on the apartment door.  Upon first beholding the woman to whom Jeff plans to bind himself in everlasting love, I thought, 'seriously?'  Here was a woman of surpassing intelligence, beauty and sophistication.  I wanted to know what the hell she was doing with this ass clown.  Carefully, I coated my question in a veneer of good taste:

What the hell are you doing with this ass clown?

Jeff was quick to remark that I was confusing him with his dad, a point I conceded as I kicked a small dog out of my way and dove uninvited into the refrigerator in search of beer and more beer.

The next several nights were spent in various states of food and alcohol-fueled inebriation, though I do remember some delicious fish tacos and what was, quite frankly, the best freaking meatloaf I've tasted in my life.  Bre, if you're reading this, my advice to you is to stop what you're doing right now, quit your job, drive to Indiana and make us some meatloaf, yo.

In all, they were a good, nay a grand four days in Southern California.  To read all about our Comic Con adventures, make sure to stop by for the next few posts.  For now, we'd like to thank Jeff and Bre for opening their home not only to us, but our friends, Kid Shay and his wife, the mysterious Isis.  Indeed the So-Cal hospitality was overwhelming, particularly considering they were already entertaining another aforementioned guest.  I won't say who 'Crumpet' (name changed to protect the anonymity of both dog and owner) belongs to; suffice to say the party in question is richer and more famous than you or I will ever be.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nate and Alex's Big Adventure

I would like to begin this post by thanking our friend, the preeminent filmmaker Rosylyn Rhee, for opening her Venice home to us.  To give you a little background, Rosy and Alex became friends when they met at Centerville High in Dayton, Ohio.  Subsequent to graduating, Rosy spent a few years knocking around Middle-of-Nowhere, Massachusetts at some two-bit, no-account college for losers.  After earning a degree in pyrotechnic engineering (with a minors in cosmetology, Scientology, breakdancing and astrophysics), she changed course, picked up a movie camera and shook the world of documentary filmmaking to its very foundations.

Rosy may argue that I'm indulging in a bit of hyperbole.  I say she made two unbelievably good films, neither of which contained a single Transformer and which everyone who was ever born should see (sorry dead people; you lose). 

Without Rosy's disgustingly gracious hospitality (in what may be the most impossible city in the US), I would never have ever stumbled upon this:

Or this:

Yes, friends, the very bike that was ruthlessly stolen by Francis Buxton and obsessively pursued by Pee-wee Herman in his immortal Big Adventure.  And yes, that is the suit that Pee-wee wore every single day of his life.  I found these precious artifacts tucked in a remote, neglected corner of the Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles.  To encounter two objects so sacred to McBone was a singular stroke of good fortune and good friendship.  Thank you, Rosy, for making this happen (and thank you, wifey, for dragging me kicking and screaming to the Hollywood Museum).  Rosy, your grapefruit tree may produce the goddam worst citrus I've ever tasted, but your generosity to two wayward travelers will never be forgotten.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Going to California

We're off to Comic Con, McBoners.  See you in a week.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pauillac vs Napa Valley, Akron Edition

The stage was set.  Fourth of July at my buddy Than's place.  Every year Than throws an epic, orgiastic fete at his Copley farmhouse.  The usual suspects were on hand: Lisa, Dave, Lawson and Suzanne.  Good company, good food and wine, wine, wine.  We missed last year's celebration and a chance to rub elbows with and be repulsed by a former congressman.  This year, we vowed not to repeat that mistake.

Good thing, because the ante was upped this time around. Sushi, steak and sea bass cooked for about 300 hours in a sous vide oven. Suzanne presented a plate of fine cheeses and one hell of a godamned great wine to enjoy with dinner.  Gone was the oily politician, replaced by an infinitely less offensive pair of bottles from the Bordeaux region, the centerpiece of our holiday meal, procured by Than for what to Warren Buffett would have been a modest expense.  Indeed, Chateau Latour and Chateau Mouton-Rothschild are two of the six Bordeaux estates classified as representing the highest possible quality of Bordeaux winemaking. Here they are, ready and willing to make us drunk and happy:

Before drinking, let's back up to 1976 for a minute, the year that Paris-based wine merchant Steven Spurrier organized a blind tasting of French and Napa Valley wines.  In the red wine category, Napa's Stag's Leap Wine Cellars emerged triumphant.  Also competing was the Ridge Winery.  Alex and I brought a bottle of each for our evening.  After all, why not turn a pleasant night of sipping fine wine into a no holds barred cage match between heavyweights?  Only problem, what I brought was not from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, but Stags' Leap Winery.  To be fair to me, though, having two Napa wineries named Stags' Leap is way dumb.

No matter.  Blissfully ignorant of my gaffe, we proceeded.  Than started by decanting the Latour.  After letting it breathe for about an hour, we raised our glasses and swirled the inky elixir.  Sometimes a bottle of wine that comes with such high expectations can leave one wondering what the big deal is.  That didn't apply in this case.  This was a wine of many layers, but for me what stood out was a perfect balance of dark berry fruit, plum and smoky vanilla from oak casks.  Latour is velvet on the tongue, without a hint of hotness, nor any puckery astringency.  Than, in an enraptured state of stupefaction, declared he had just tasted the best wine of his life.  I was inclined to agree.  This killed anything Carlo Rossi ever jugged in his life.

Next up was the Mouton-Rothschild.  When Napoleon III requested in 1855 that Bordeaux wines be classified in an exclusive system, five Chateaux were chosen as the best: Latour, Lafite, Margaux, Haut-Brion and Yquem.  Relegated to second place was Mouton, an ignominy that the winery never accepted until 1971, when, after years of lobbying, it was elevated to the top tier.  And that's where it belongs, because for my (Than's) money, Mouton was instantly the pinnacle of my wine drinking career.  Exhibiting many similar dark berry notes, what separated Mouton for me were the yeasty, bready, funky-ass cheese and barnyard characters.  Though perhaps not as smooth as the Latour, I found the brief smack of tartness quite pleasant.

After draining our glasses with a final, rapturous sip, it was time to bring on my 'assassins,' as Than dubbed them.  I confess I was fearing for the Napa contingency.  We decanted the Stags' leap for a time and tasted.  Bam!  Napa proved its worth at once against the titans.  The thing that jumped out for me with these wines was their endless depth.  I could have kept my nose in that glass of Merlot for days, inhaling the dried blackberry and cherry working in combination with leather and beef broth.  So maybe this Stags' Leap didn't make the trip to Paris in '76; I'd stand it up against anything you can throw at me, bitches.

Things took a decided downward turn for us with the next wine, and this spot would have been an obituary for the Ridge, if not for the fact that it was Alex's second favorite of the evening, rating just behind the Latour.  I dunno, maybe I was reeling after all the decadence, but this very solid wine seemed slightly underwhelming by comparison.

Here's how I'd rate 'em:

1) Mouton

2) Latour

3) Stags' Leap

10) Ridge

Clearly, Bordeaux won this round.  It did get about a 2,000 year head start on Napa, though.  Just sayin'.

Thanks to everyone involved for a true hedonist's delight, and a special nod to our host, who is, incidentally, the foremost marine aquarist in the tri-state area.  Need some coral?  Tidal Gardens is the place.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Feeling Better about Those Student Loans

This is a picture of me holding a check.  The significance of this check is that it was issued to me for the book I wrote.  This means that I have not only done a good amount of writing, but I have been paid for it.  For one day at least I can hold my head up high and say: I was an English major, dammit, and I have no regrets.

Provided the check does not bounce, the missus and I are a little richer than we were yesterday.

Regrettably, I will not be able to retire on this check.  I will, however, be able to afford a few choice items that just yesterday were extravagances:

A belt sander
A fur hat

A 9mm Glock

Clearly the person who said money can't buy happiness never had: 1) a wall that needs sanding, 2) a really cold head or 3) a score to settle.

Now if you'll excuse me, McBoners, I've got some background checks to pass!


Friday, July 9, 2010

Fuck You Very Much, Cleveland

I didn't watch the farcical one-hour Decision and I won't, but I know what was said, more or less:

Jim Gray: You've made up your mind, LeBron.  Is there anything you'd like to say in parting to those you are leaving behind in Northeast Ohio?

LeBron James: Most definitely.  First and foremost, I'd like to say fuck you, Cleveland fans.  You cheered me from the beginning.  I made it easy by being the greatest high school b-ball player anyone had ever heard of, and when that ping pong ball came up Cavaliers, you were all on board the L-Train. Taking a 17-win team to the NBA finals four seasons later didn't hurt either, and neither did being a two-time MVP.  But hey, you were there for me during those times when I was screwing up, too, when I was accepting contraband gifts as an prep player, when I was driving 100 MPH down I-71, when I was wearing Yankees caps to Indians games, when I was openly showing up other teams with my clowning antics.  Even when I was falling flat in playoff games, you had my back: I didn't have enough help; my elbow was hurting; coach Brown needs to go.  Through the good and the bad you bought my jerseys, shelled out for tickets, filled the stands, never doubting I would deliver a title.  For your undying loyalty, I say fuck you. Fuck you for believing that, just because I tattooed "loyalty" on my chest, I actually meant anything by it.  Fuck you for believing, even up to the bitter end, that I would never betray you on national television.  For that I fuck you from the bottom of my heart.

Fuck you, too, teammates.  You put up with my lack of faith in you.  You stayed positive when I would demand the ball and stall the offense, when I would jack up two or three standstill three pointers in crunch time after running down the shot clock.  You never said a thing because we were a family, after all (I have a tattoo on my chest to prove it).  You never complained because you knew there was always a chance for a title on a LeBron James team.  In the end, though, you were only my teammates, not my Team, and my Team and I are headed to South Beach, fuck you very much.

Can't forget to say fuck you, Dan Gilbert.  You built a state-of-the-art practice facility in my backyard.  You indulged my demands to upgrade the roster.  You turned a 45-win team into a 66-win team.  You were willing to take on one of the highest payrolls in the league, spending millions in luxury tax and committing financially at levels that other owners wouldn't touch, especially in a recession.  All along I held free agency over your head, scaring away the best free agents who sure as hell weren't going to sign without knowing if I was going to sign.  You never balked at approving trades that made the team better and always after consulting your superstar, me, LeBron James.  You spent money on the arena, revitalized a dead franchise, instilled a culture of success.  When we got our asses handed to us in the playoffs year after year, you finally chucked out the most successful coach/GM tandem in team history.  Why?  Because your number one priority, aside from a title, was keeping homeboy at home.  For your devotion to winning and willingness to appease me, I say fuck you very much.

Here's a quick fuck you to Coach Brown.  Fuck you for teaching me how to play defense, and how to win in the playoffs.  Fuck you for guiding me and a collection of overachievers to the NBA finals.  You showed me that great defense trumps great offense.  You staked your job on this philosophy paying off.  It didn't.  Fuck you for getting us close.

I'm not forgetting you, Danny Ferry.  You made some truly creative trades in an effort to win and win now.  You traded Damon Jones for Mo Williams.  Sasha Pavlovic and Ben Wallace for Shaquille O'Neal.  You persuaded arch rival Washington to give us Antawn Jamison for free.  You staked your job on these moves paying off.  They didn't.  Fuck you for all your hard work.

Oh, I should also say fuck you to coach Scott.  You took a real chance, signing a contract without knowing if I would stay or go.  Fuck you for having faith in me; I wish you all the fuck in the world without me.

Fuck you, Downtown Cleveland.  You invested in my potential and it paid off...until now.  Winter after winter you provided oases for hungry and thirsty fans to whet their whistles and watch a game.  You understood how much a successful sports team can bring to a city, and not just financially.  Sports are what make strangers gather in public places and become instant friends.  You plastered my face and name on buildings and bridges.  You were grateful for all I brought to the region, for the revenue that a championship caliber team and a global icon brought to a local economy operating in a constant state of desperation.  Hey, you're welcome Cleveland, and fuck you.  Fuck you so very much.

Gotta say fuck you to Akron, too.  You gave birth to me and raised me, saw me transported from a hundred childhood homes to a palace in one of the city's most affluent areas.  I'll always be the King of Akron.  Fuck you, Akron, forever home to the King.

Fuck you, underpriviledged kids of the Boys and Girls Club, for providing an adorable and heartwarming backdrop to my hour-long ego stroking session on ESPN.  I'll never forget that, a mere seven years and 500 million dollars ago, I was one of you.  Fuck you, broke kids, for participating.

Jim Gray: Well, that should just about cover it, I'd say.  Thank you for being here, LeBron.

Lebron James:  Fuck you for having me, Jim.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

1/16th Armenian

When I first met my cousin-in-law Silas, I was immediately struck by his beard, which was clearly authentic, well conceived and chock full of potential.  Furthermore, his diabolical laugh made me think he was simultaneously laughing at my jokes and plotting my doom.  I liked how that deep rolling baritone made my blood run cold. To me, he seemed the perfect mate for my dear cousin Abigail, a bit of a femme fatale/man eater whom only an evil genius and a mind-probe or two could possibly tame.

Enough talk!  Sprung from his loins, behold the fruit of her womb!

Greta Ann was born somewhere in New England on June 30th.

Official Baby Statistics (McBone certified)

Weight: 6' 2"

Length: 17 3/4"

Official Baby Rating

5.0 McBones

McBone codebusters, working overtime, quickly discovered the anagram "Nate Regan" in the newborn's name, perhaps signifying the parent's favorite 1) cousin and 2) president.

McBone would like to offer a enthusiastic McBoneulations to Abby and Silas for a job well done.  May we meet young Nate sooner than later.