Monday, November 29, 2010

Harry Potter and The Seven Books

Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Support Potter Triwizard Champion banner
Okay, since my daughter tricked me into seeing Part I of the the latest Harry Potter movie, (meaning now I'm practically obligated to seeing Part II), I've started re-reading the series of books to get me caught up on what's happening so I can understand the movie I just recently saw.

I got through "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone" Friday, and I just today finished reading "Chamber of Secrets." The books were very easy to read, and since they weren't that long, I finished them in a flash.

Now I'm off to read "The Prisoner of Azkaban," but since my evening schedule is getting booked up (work and whatnot), I probably won't be able to read it as fast as the others.

Anyways, I need to finish all the books before July -- that's when Part II of the last Harry Potter movie comes out -- so I can be up-to-date on everything Wizardy.

So, Adios, amigos!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Harry Potter and the Tricky Daughter

She tricked me. My little girl put her arm around my shoulder and said, “Want to take me to a movie? It has a lot of action, violence and mayhem.”

Action, violence and mayhem. Those are the three “buzzwords” that will get me going practically anywhere. And she knows it and used it against me.

“And is it okay if one of my friends comes along?” she asked. “She likes action, violence and mayhem, too. I think you’ll like her.”

Holy cow. Any friend of my daughter’s who loves action, violence and mayhem can’t be too bad. But again, my daughter tricked me.

“And what movie shall we be seeing, may I ask?”

My daughter shifted her weight from one foot to the next. She looked down at the ground and kicked at an imaginary dirt clod. Then she looked up with a pair of sad, puppy dog eyes and said, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

No way! No how! Not in this lifetime! If I die without ever seeing another “Harry Potter” movie, I will think my life well blessed. Get your mother to go. Have some mother-daughter bonding time. You two practically don’t know each other. I’m sorry, what’s your name again?

“But dear, I took her to see ‘Twilight’ because you said there was no way, no how, not-ever-in-this-lifetime way you’d ever go see that movie, and don’t you think it’s your turn for some father-daughter bonding? She’s growing up and some day she won’t even ask you to go to the movies with her. She’ll just go by herself.”

That was my wife. She knows how to plan a heavy guilt trip – and I always buy the ticket.

So, I went to go see “Harry Potter.” I went with my daughter and her friend. They were giggly before the movie started. I kept shushing them to be quiet which only made them giggle more. I called my wife.

“Okay, so we’re here at the theater, they’re giggling, and I think this would be a great time for us to do a little tag-team switch. You know, like in wrestling. The first wrestler’s had enough, he needs to get out of the ring, and he tags in his partner to finish the fight. What do you say?”

I can’t print what my wife said. So, I watched the movie.

Now, I will admit that I’ve read the first couple of “Harry Potter” books, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen the first two movies. But somewhere along the way I got bored with the storyline, and just couldn’t take anymore of the whole witch and warlock thing. I mean, it was nothing like “Bewitched.”

Now, there was a witch for you. Samantha Stevens. I just loved the way she twitched her nose. And Endora, her mother, always making it quite clear that she didn’t approve of her little girl marrying a ... what do they call it in the Potter show? A muggle.

Did Harry ever twitch his nose? Absolutely not one single time. But then again, “Bewitched” never had as much action, violence and mayhem.

The girls stopped giggling when the movie began. In fact, I don’t remember hearing a peep from anyone in the theater (and it was crowded, I kid you not), not a peep through the entire show. And, believe it or not (because I certainly can’t), I sat there and actually enjoyed it myself.

Since I hadn’t followed along with all the books or movies, I didn’t quite understand all the references that were made; I didn’t quite understand who was who or what was what, but that didn’t matter. There was action. Lots of it. There was violence. Good vs. evil. And there was enough mayhem to make you want to jump out of your seat and throw a hex, or at least some popcorn, at the characters who were getting away with it all.

Like I said, my daughter tricked me. She knew I really didn’t want to go see this movie, but she knew I’d probably like it. And not only that, because of her trickery, I now want to read the entire series of books, maybe even watch the movies, so I can better understand what’s going on when “Deathly Hallows Part II” comes out.

That’s right, she tricked me good. Bravo, Rebecca!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The countdown to Black Friday commences

It won't be long now until Black Friday, the busiest shopping day in the universe, and I’m on pins and needles with excitement just waiting for the chance to buy practically anything I don’t really need at substantial savings.

Is there a sale on? @ Lowestoft, Suffolk
I even bought some new running shoes for the day (I told my wife I bought them for exercise purposes, but you and I know the truth). I guarantee those shoes are going to get me in and out of every store within my credit limit, and maybe some beyond.

Yes, baby! You just know how much I like to shop, and I’m going to shop until everybody else drops, because what would be the purpose if I dropped until I shopped? Wait a minute. Reverse that. Shall we continue? I guess we must.

As I’m writing this, it’s actually a couple of weeks before the Big Event, but my fingers are just dancing across the keyboard in pure excitement over the fact that The Day is quickly coming. Holy cow I’ve never written anything with such abandon.

And that will be the word for The Day – “abandon.” We’ll shop with abandon. We’ll pull out our credit cards with abandon. We’ll swipe those suckers with abandon. And if you just happen to have that half-off coffee maker that I really wanted, but you got the last one on the whole planet, I might just rip it out of your hands with abandon. It’s Black Friday. That’s what people do. All’s fair in love and want.

Now, let’s see. The first thing I’m going for is the 50-inch Plasma HDTV with Realistic Surround Sound that’s discounted at 60 percent off its everyday low price. I have no idea what the everyday low price was, I haven’t a clue how to figure out what 60 percent off of it would be, but I’ll be hog swallowed if that thing isn’t sitting in my living room on Saturday.

“Excuse me, but haven’t you said before that you don’t actually get television reception at your house? That you refuse to purchase satellite TV because you don’t want to have to pay the monthly cost?”

Hey, who asked you? The TV is 60 percent off. It’ll look great in my living room, even if it’s just collecting dust.

Okay, so next on my list is a Black & Decker Lithium-Powered Garden Cultivator (battery and charger not included) with the detachable 24-inch PowerCommand String Trimmer that every REAL gardener should have in their shed, because you know precisely how much I love yard work.

I’m not exactly sure Black & Decker makes one of those, but if it’s on sale, it’s mine.

Tools. That’s what I need next. More tools. Tools to work on my truck. Tools to fix the leaky faucet. Power Tools. Socket Wrenches. Screw Drivers. A Nupla Handi-Hammer Handleless Dead Blow. Yessiree, that’s the ticket. I have no idea what a Handleless Dead Blow is for, but it’s going in my toolbox, on sale or not.

“Is that the same toolbox that is full of old rusty screwdrivers you never use because you’ve misplaced the toolbox?”

Hey, that’s beside the point.

And a grill. Boy hidey, who cares if I already have a grill sitting on the porch. A guy can never have too many grills. A grill for chicken. A grill for steak. A grill for burgers. Shoot, if you go to a fancy restaurant don’t they put three forks beside your plate, even though one will do the job? Then having three grills on the porch isn’t strange at all.

I’m going for one of those honkin’ big 1,000-pound cast iron grill/smoker combos that takes an 18-wheeler to haul around. Just give me 5 percent off the retail price and I’m putting one in the back yard.

Yes sir. Black Friday. Just hours away. And do you think I’m going to miss a single minute of it? Do you think I’m going to let unheard-of deals slip through my fingers? Do you think I’d let mere crowds of pushing and shoving shopping fanatics stand in the way of me getting exactly what I need, even though I didn’t know I “needed” it until I saw how much I was going to save on the regular price?

You bet your sweet bippy I am!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Cowboys need some AVM

I hear the Dallas Cowboys have a new stadium. I also hear they haven’t shown up this year to play in it. Of course I really wouldn’t know because I haven’t seen a single game. But then again, I have a feeling neither have you.

Cowboy Stadium cost just over $1 billion to build. Now, if there are 53 football players on the regular roster, divided by $1 billion, minus $82 per ticket (cheap seats), times a family of four, plus $200 for snacks (per person), multiplied by 100,000 Cowboy fans (some standing in the standing-room only section) – well, YOU do the math because I’ve done pooped out.

(You can watch a Texas Ranger game for $6 and bring your own cooler. Plus, if you catch a foul ball, you get to keep it!)

There are three keys to winning a football game: Action, Violence and Mayhem. Without a whole lot of AVM (unofficial NFL acronym), a football game is nothing more than a bunch of big men pushing each other around while pretty cheerleaders shake their pompoms at fans to keep their minds off the fact they paid a large chunk of change to watch a bunch of big men pushing each other around.

In case you’re not familiar with the theory of AVM, let’s look at some definitions:

ACTION – A noun; the process or state of acting or of being active; energetic activity; an exertion of power or force; a military encounter or engagement; battle, skirmish or the like.

The word “Action” doesn’t necessarily have to imply “winning,” which is good considering there hasn’t been a lot of it going on in Cowboy-land. “Inaction” I think would be a more appropriate word to use in this situation, and I’m sure you’re already familiar with its definition.

VIOLENCE – A noun; swift and intense force; rough or injurious physical strength, action or treatment. Synonyms include: might, power, impact, and fury.

Let’s use “violence” in a sentence: “If the Cowboys end the season with a losing record, I will do violence on my television and buy me a bigger one – preferably with surround sound.”

MAYHEM – A noun; a state of rowdy disorder; the crime of willfully inflicting a bodily injury on another so as to make the victim less capable of self-defense or, under modern statutes, so as to cripple or mutilate the victim.

Now THAT’S what the Cowboys need!

Of course, I don’t actually get to watch the games (lack of television, lack of satellite, lack of interest), but I can watch vicariously through my “friends’” posts on Facebook. (Yes, I admit it – I’m a Facebook kind of guy. So sue me.)

Anyways, here’s how the game went this past Sunday (Cowboys vs. Green Bay) according to my Facebook friends. I’ve also included my illiterate responses to whatever was said:

JOHN: “I’m waiting for the Cowboys to play. Should I be rooting for them to win for my benefit, or lose to humiliate that idiot Owner Jerry (Skelator) Jones for yet another week? It’s problematic.”

ME: “The Cowboys are playing tonight? Says who?”

BLAKE: “I remember when Hee Haw was the most painful thing on TV to watch. That was before the 2010 Dallas Cowboys.”

ME: “Hey, don’t be badmouthing Hee Haw. Grandpa and his banjo were the stuff!”

MARY: “Has on her comfy Cowboys jammies in hopes it will bring good luck to ‘da Boys.”

ME: “Only time will tell!”

JOE: “Is it possible the Dallas Cowboys can win another game this season?”

ME: “Depends on the game. Football? Probably not. Tiddlywinks? Maybe.”

PAM: “Made the mistake of going from ‘Desperate Housewives’ to this new weekly show called ‘Pathetic Cowboys.’ Thirty minutes is all I can take. Someone needs to cancel this show.”

PAM: “The Texas Highway Patrol is cracking down on speeders going into Dallas. For the first offense, they give you two Dallas Cowboy tickets. If you get stopped a second time, they make you use them.”

ME: “Pam, saying such things is just downright cruel. Keep it up!”

KATHY: “Thinks this game is like a bad car accident. You know you shouldn’t look but you just can’t help yourself.”

ME: “So, I gather the Cowboys are losing? Again?”

And yes, my friends, they eventually did. Packers 45, Cowboys 7. So, I guess I’ve said all I’ve ever wanted to say about football. Anybody up for a game of Yahtzee?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Lucky" Barganski

This baseball fetish I've recently developed may be getting a bit out of hand. Now I'm writing baseball poetry.

"Lucky" Barganski

By Tracy Farr

“Lucky” Barganski plays centerfield, mostly,
Sometimes he plays third, although just in a pinch.
He loves to snag flies that to catch seem impossible,
He makes it look easy, a guaranteed cinch.

I once saw a game where Barganski was fearless,
He darted and sprinted all over the grass,
He caught flying balls on the tip of his leather glove.
He rounded up grounders with panache and with flash.

And then in the 9th he jumped up in the air
To catch a hard hit going over the wall.
He flew 15 feet, like an eagle, I swear,
I’d never seen anything like it at all.

But “Lucky” won’t be on the roster tonight,
He’s sitting at home on the couch, yes it’s true.
For “Lucky” Barganski , the master at catching things,
Went out last night and came home with the flu.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

While we’re at it, let’s junk up the galaxy

God did not intend for man to own goats. God intended man to wish for goats, and when he finally bought them, penned them up in the back yard and then chased them around the neighborhood when they got out, to realize just how stupid he was for buying goats.

But this story is not about goats, God or stupidity. It’s about space junk. Lots and lots of space junk – stuff like bolts, gloves and broken-down satellites that are hurtling mere feet over our houses, threatening to fall out of the sky and bonk us on our heads without warning.

According to NASA, 19,000 objects larger than your cell phone but smaller than a school bus are known to be circling the Earth.

“Ethel, did you hear what that man said? He said there’s a school bus up there in space.”

“No, Howard, that’s not what he said. Now stop interrupting the story, and go back to watching football.”

Most of the big pieces of junk are spent upper stages of launch vehicles or satellites that have just pooped out. These objects are being tracked by NASA and the Air Force’s Space Command. But then there are approximately 500,000 small pieces of space garbage floating around all willy-nilly like, and even though they can be seen by radar, they’re just basically left to fend for themselves, which seems sad in a weird sort of way.

(QUESTION: If NASA can locate an iPod-sized piece of trash circling 1242 miles out in space, why can’t we find Osama bin Laden right down here on Earth? Just thought I’d put that out there.)

“Ethel, that man said NASA has found Osama bin Laden hiding out in space.”

“Howard, will you please just shut up?”

All in all, there are approximately 4 million pounds of junk floating around up there in our front yard, making us look like the “Sanford and Son” of the universe. All we need is an old washing machine and broken toilet to complete the trashy-neighbor picture.

Supposedly, our space-junk problem is not going to get any better. We keep throwing trash out our little rocket windows, and nobody as of yet has come up with a solution to pick it all up – until now:

I think we need some goats up there. Space Goats. Mechanical, computerized, artificially-intelligent eating machines that will gobble all that trash up there and give us back the pristine space that Newton, Galileo, and Copernicus looked through while discovering whatever it was they discovered.

Space Goats. Tools employed by Space Waste Management – the galaxy’s “leading provider of integrated solutions to reduce waste in space while recovering valuable resources and creating clean, renewable energy.”

Yep, that’s what the company’s website would proclaim. But you and I both know that goats like to wander off from their assigned coordinates, and Space Goats would be no different. They’d probably head over to the International Space Station, munch on some solar panels for awhile, then meander over to The Asteroid Belt and be pummeled to smithereens until they, too, become nothing more than space junk.

Okay, so since the goats won’t work, what we need is some enterprising young whippersnapper to develop a way to bring down all those pieces of junk and sell them at a roadside space junk stand. Maybe call it Billy’s Out-Of-This-World Flea Market.

Welcome to Billy’s. We have flecks of paint, pieces of destroyed satellites, nuts, bolts, screws, even an astronaut’s glove. Anything smaller than a lock nut is $5. Want to take home a complete satellite? We can finance that for you! New stock added every day. Come on in and look around. If we haven’t got it, we can go get it.

“Howard, did you hear about that new flea market out on FM 102? How about you and I go out and do some shopping? I’d really love you for it. Please? Please? Please?”

“Not now, Ethel. I’m watching the game.”

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hey Ron, how 'bout a beer?

Ron Washington looks like the kind of guy you'd love to sit down and have a beer with. And if he'd prefer a Dr. Pepper instead, that'd be alright, too.

Washington recently signed a two-year extension to his contract, and no matter how much Nolan Ryan is paying him, it's not enough.

With Washington in the manager's seat, the Rangers are practically guaranteed another try at the World Series. But more importantly, that means he's going to be staying around Dallas for another couple of years, which means the chances are good of bumping into him and getting to sit down and chat about life, baseball and New Orleans jazz.

And what would be the first thing I'd ask him?

"Hey Ron, you wanna beer?"

(Gosh, I can't believe you didn't see that coming!)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I'm Cold

14 July 2011 UPDATE: Today I'm participating in Writing With Shelly's Poetry Schmoetry Blogfest. I wrote this one back in November when it was cold:

I'm Cold

By Tracy D. Farr

My feet are cold, my ears are cold,
My elbows, knees and nose are froze.
To sneeze would really not be nice.
I'd shatter into chunks of ice.

I originally posted this poem 13 July 2011

Little Sally Rode the Bus

By Tracy D. Farr

Little Sally rode
the bus
to school every morning
without fuss,
even though it
was bumpy,
and smelly,
and hot in the summer,
and cold in the winter,
because Josh,
who sat in seat 7,
was so cute,
and Little Sally was in love.

Thanks for reading my poems.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

It's not about winning

A young friend of mine likes watching the Rangers, but has given up going to the games because every time he went, the Rangers lost.

I told him it's not about winning. It's about atmosphere. It's about sitting in the upper decks, eating a hotdog, and watching out for balls heading your way.

It's about summer nights in the park with several thousand other people watching men whack at a speeding ball with the hopes of knocking it out of the park.

It's about history, and patience, and believing in something that really doesn't change the world, but oh does it make the place just a little bit more enjoyable.

It's not about winning.

He looked at me, raised his young-man eyebrows which meant, "You've been smoking something a bit illegal, haven't ya?", and then we changed the subject.

For me, spring training can't come quick enough.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Philosophy 101.5

It's only human to wonder why we're here, what our purpose is, or how we fit in the big scheme of the universe. I know I ask myself these questions quite regularly, and I've never come up with a good answer ...

Until today.

When a snowflake falls from the sky, it doesn't ask what its purpose is. It looks beautiful, we can catch it on our tongues, and we can examine its uniqueness under a microscope. The snowflake doesn't care. It's just doing what it's meant to do.

When a flower blooms by the side of the road, it doesn't ask itself why it's there. We enjoy its color, we stop and take a whiff of its wonderful aroma, and we may even take a photograph of it to hang on our wall. The flower doesn't care. It's just doing what it's meant to do.

When a watermelon grows from the ground, it doesn't ask itself how it fits in the big scheme of the universe. It grows; we wait until it's healthy and strong, and then we cut it from its vine, take it home, and enjoy its taste. The watermelon doesn't care. It's just doing what it's meant to do.

The snowflake, flower and watermelon's job is not to worry about how unique they are, or how beautiful they are, or how delicious they taste. Their job, during the short time they have on this planet, is to bring joy, beauty and happiness to the rest of us.

I know my place in the universe. I know my purpose. Do you?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Morning After

Rangers baseball
Well, that could have gone better.

The Rangers get all the way to the World Series, The Fall Classic, and don't actually show up. The pitchers couldn't find the plate, the infielders were scratching their crotches, the outfielders were picking daisies, and ...

Wait a minute. I have no idea what I'm talking about. I couldn't even watch the game. I was stuck with watching MLB's Gameday cartoon batter, live from the internet, and he didn't swing a lick. Not once.

It's time for me to subscribe to some TV so I can watch the games next year. I've got to see some sweat. I've got to see some action. I've got to see some half-naked cheerleaders.

Oops. Wrong sport.

Hey, why don't baseball teams have half-naked cheerleaders? That would bring in the audience, don't ya know.

Okay, back to The Rangers ...

There's nothing for me to complain about. They made it to the World Series. And if they made it once, they can make it again. And when they do, I'll be sitting in the nosebleed section, in the cheap seats, but I'll be there, by golly!

So, when does spring training start?

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Rangers need a little help

Dear MLB Fairy Godmother,

I know I'm a bit late in asking this, but if you could look down upon the Texas Rangers tonight and give them a little extra boost, I and a lot of other Ranger fans would greatly appreciate it.

I guess you could say they're in need of a little good pitching. Okay, maybe a lot. But that's not all. I think they could use some magical bats that are not shy about slamming the skin off those balls.

And then maybe the Rangers need a bit of offense -- or maybe defense -- I always get those two confused.

They have a great ballpark, they have a great manager, Nolan Ryan is in their corner, the fans haven't quite given up on them yet, but I think I little bit of pixie, not pixie dust. Maybe just a wave of your magical, forget the wand.

Hell, they just need a bit of oomph, pizzazz, zing, zest and a whole lot of other words that mean exactly the same thing.

So, if you don't mind and can spare a few minutes, could you do your magic on the Rangers? We'd be forever in your debt.


Tracy Farr, I'm Just a Guy

(yep, that should do it!)

I'm a Born-Again Texas Ranger fan! (redux)

With two outs in the top of the 9th, I wonder what Alex Rodriguez was thinking when he stepped up to the plate against the Rangers.

“That’s right – I’m Alex Rodriguez and I’m in the house. Time for you little boys to learn why I get paid the big bucks.” Either that or, “Alex, Alex, I’m your man. If I can’t do it, nobody can.” And I'm sure in his mind he thought it with an Antonio Banderas accent.

But, as we all know, Mighty Casey struck out (I feel quite certain as he headed toward the locker room, A-Rod thought, "I want my mommy"), and now the Rangers are in the World Series, making history as we speak.

Oh, did I mention I was a Ranger fan? Well, to be honest, I never gave them much thought until they were winning, which proves I’m a shallow guy who only jumps on the sports bandwagon when a winner is in town – but I’m sure there are a lot of other “born again” fans out there just like me, so don’t judge me too harshly.

You see, it takes a mature mind to appreciate the game of baseball. It’s not for those of us who are constant channel surfers, or people who need continuous oral or visual stimulation. I’m sure Wall Street financiers detest the game, and it’s too fast-paced for peach farmers.

No, it takes a mature mind to sit and watch practically nothing for hours and then get excited at extra innings where you can sit and watch practically nothing for a little bit longer. But I actually did get excited about the Rangers winning the pennant for the first time, even though I have no idea what a pennant is, or how you're supposed to wear one.

I guess my problem is I just don’t know much about the game. In fact, everything I do know about baseball I learned from the late comedian George Carlin. He said, and I paraphrase, baseball is a game played on a field by men who hit a ball with a stick and run real fast to get home where it’s safe.

(You have to admit, George Carlin had a way with words.)

And now, since last Friday, I’m a true blue Texas Ranger fan, and I think this love affair will last at least for another week. Who knows, I might even buy a Ranger T-shirt, or a sweatband. I might even start quoting stats to my friends and neighbors, and reading the box scores, or whatever they’re called.

“Wow, did you watch that game last night? The stadium was packed. That’s 2 for 3 in the ‘standing room only’ category. And if everybody ate 1.4 bags of peanuts, that’s well over 100,000 tossed bags without relief throwers in the bullpen, not to mention the hotdogs and beer.”

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand baseball stats, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

Let me wrap up this story by saying this: I’m glad the Rangers made it to the World Series, and even if they lose, they have still accomplished something that my grandpa would have said was "a foolish waste of time enjoyed by rich boys who have no idea what it's like to milk cows, or eat potatoes for a week because that's all you got, or mow yards just to bring in a little money to provide food and shelter for the ones you love. It's just a game."

Yes, grandpa -- but oh what a game.