Posted in Adventures with Brad, Creative Writing, Deep Thoughts, Empowerment, Home

Adventures with Brad – Starting out 2019 with a bang!

Hello dear readers! Happy 2019!

My apologies for being away. December was an insanely busy month – not only with the holidays and a visit to see the family, but also with an unexpected move!

That’s right, Jim and I found a house we instantly fell in love with, and jumped on the chance to take it. So, needless to say… December was a whirlwind. We were officially moved into the new house by mid-December, when we then left for the holidays. It feels like life goes fast forward so suddenly. What about you? Did you guys have an awesome Christmas? It was wonderful for us this year.

So much time has passed since I last wrote.

After moving into our new home, Jim and I decided to have our first group of friends over for dinner. We excitedly asked my coworkers (and friends) Tim and Kristen, and their adorable son Langston, over.

Jim and I carefully planned a menu. We love having people in our home and we love cooking, so this was exciting for us. Having friends check out the new place, enjoying dinner, and some wine sounds like a marvelous evening in my book.

Jim and I planned to make meatloaf, roasted Brussels sprouts, and cheesy mashed potatoes. I ran the menu by Tim and Kristen. Kristen exclaimed with a joy that transcends the English language indicating she loves Brussels sprouts. In her world, they are apparently better than sex.  Yay for us, bad for Tim.

A few days before our dinner, we made the grocery outing to prepare. This is where the Adventure begins… I always say my life should be filmed like a reality show.

We went to Safeway.  Jim has been feeling amazing lately, so we were strolling around the store picking up items we need. Going to the grocery store late in the evening with Jim is one of my favorite things to do. Yes, I know, nerd alert.

So, as we’re strolling through Safeway, and on the internal music system Whitney Houston’s (Rest in peace, Mama H!) “How Will I Know?” comes on. Before even looking at Jim’s face I started smirking, because Jim knows me so well. I finally look up at him and he just gives me his signature Jim blank stare… because he knows I will burst into song.

And, of course I do.

Best part of the night – Jim joins in. So we’re standing in the middle in the cereal and then coffee aisles just belting out “How will I know?” Some of the happiest moments happen when you least expect them. I feel so much joy in spending my life with Jim.

We swing by the produce section to get the rest of our groceries, and discover in horror that the Brussels sprouts bin is completely empty. This news is devastating. Who are we to deprive Kristen of Brussels sprouts goodness? Especially when her response to the mere idea of them was so … orgasmic.

Quickly, I offer, I’ll run to the store across the street on the way home and get them. Crisis averted.

So, we finish up the groceries and go to the check out. The cashier was fairly friendly. I’m my usual self, chatting it up with everyone I come into contact with. But here’s the weirdness… there’s a bagger at the end of the counter like usual. She was a younger woman, maybe high school aged.

She just stared blankly forward as she bagged. She had no expression, no eye contact, no human qualities whatsoever. She just blankly stared and bagged. It was staggering. It was … unsettling. Alarming. Disconcerting. And, well basically downright eerie. It’s hard to describe. I’ve never seen someone so robotic before.

I’m that person that pokes the dragon – I just can’t help it.

Picture it, this odd woman blankly bagging our groceries. I usually offer to help, but I couldn’t. All I could do is lean in and peer at her.

She didn’t even blink or respond.

I wanted to say “you sure seem to love your job” or something snarky, to at least begin a conversation… but I stopped. Just as I was about to say something, I thought, to myself “what is she’s blind, deaf, or mute?” I certainly wouldn’t want to make anyone feel bad for a limitation, so I tried to justify her unusual behavior, and then I felt supremely guilty.

I bit my tongue to force myself to say nothing.

But here’s the kicker… as we walked away, she mumbled, in the lowest volume possible without being silent, a half-assed “have a nice night”

It was weird.

Jim and I pushed our cart by her and just bust out into hysterical laughter.

The thought occurred to me, this is what would happen if Vicky from the 80’s TV show “Small Wonder” got a job.

Random side thought: Does the concept of “Small Wonder” ring off to anyone else? Inventor man creates a robot of a young girl and she sleeps in his closet? And he has to undo her dress to access her computer panel to program her? Maybe I’ve worked in prosecution for too long, but that sounds… alarming.

We leave and head across the street. To make it simple, I run into the store solo while Jim waits in the car.

And the adventure continues…

So I’m in store, it’s around 7:30 at night. The store is almost completely empty, just the way I like it. There were only 2 visible employees.

I briskly walk to the product section and horror of horrors, I step on a ketchup packet and it sprays all over the floor. If you know anything about me, you know that condiments horrify me. It’s the texture, the liquidness, the oiliness of them – the only words are blarrrggh.

Condiments – liquidy ewiness. Horrifying is the only word. Sour cream, mayonnaise, Miracle whip, ranch dressing, mustard. The concept of touching them, wading through them, it plagues me. I’d sooner die.

I’m aware that I’m in public and have to overcome  my horror,  but in my head I was screaming like the first victim to die in a horror movie.

Second crisis, there were no Brussels sprouts to be found. None. No sign, no empty bin, nothing.

I strolled to the cashier and said “so… am I just an idiot, or are there no Brussels sprouts?”

She responds with the loudest yell I’ve ever heard in a grocery store in my life. “We don’t have em? PETER! PETER! DO WE HAVE BRUSSELS SPROUTS?”

I was reacting with my eyes as if the camera from “The Office” is on me.

So, Peter appears and he walks around the produce section aimlessly and I follow him. I approach the ketchup packet murder scene and gingerly step over the spray. Suppressing a gag.

Again, I wish there was a camera crew following me sometimes.

He just stopped aimlessly searching and dryly said “I guess we have none”.

I politely thanked him for his “help” and walked out empty handed.

I walked back to the car in defeat, and the look on Jim’s face was so sad. No bag in my hand. We MUST have Brussels sprouts.

So, we stop at Walmart, the metaphorical scab on my knee.

I ninja style stealth it into the store, power walk to the produce, grab ALL of the Brussels they have, and high tail it to the self-checkout to get the f out of there.

Voila, we have Brussels sprouts.

It felt like Gulliver’s Travels. Worst part ever, when I close my eyes I envision the ketchup packet over and over again. I hope I can recover.

The dinner was a smashing success. I love my friends, and I’m looking forward to many, many more dinner and wine evenings together. Hopefully sans any more ketchup disasters. It’s a wonder I was able to eat again.

Posted in Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Christophe Beck, Empowerment, Fantasy, Film Score, Geek, Sci-Fi, Television Score, TheWB, Vampires

Buffy

I remember that night like it was yesterday.

It was March 10, 1997. I was in 7th grade, turning 13 in just 10 days. I was working on my homework at the computer in the basement family room, where early evenings were dedicated to the mindless sitcoms Channel 11 offered. I watched “Growing Pains”, “Who’s the Boss?” and “Mad About You” reruns regularly between 5-7PM – they made a great soundtrack for my adolescent homework time.

“Mad About You” was coming to an end as I was finishing my homework. It’s funny how specific moments stay with you forever… I’ll just never forget how it happened. As the credits finished rolling, The WB programming began. The creepy-voiced narrator teased the premiere of a new show, and said “Virginia, 1866.  The frequent disappearance of Civil War Widows shocked an already grieving community. These events ended when Lucy Hanover arrived in town… 41 bodies were found near Union Station but shortly after the arrival of this young woman, the murders stopped… now, in 1997 it’s starting all over again… something strange is happening in Sunnydale.” His creepy monologue was intercut with spooky scenes of mysterious activity, murders, and other creepy stuff, and the slogan “For every generation… there is only one slayer” appeared on the screen. I was intrigued.

After some exciting action-y cuts, a young woman said “if we don’t find her… there’s gonna be one more dead body in the morning.” My pre-teen self thought “Ooh! Mysteries! Vampires! Excitement!”, and I closed my books, threw myself over the couch, and prepared to watch the 2 hour premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I’m so glad I randomly watched this show. To this day, I’m still a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes; Buffy. Yes, I know it’s a show with a silly name. But it’s actually incredibly smart. The writing is clever. The acting is quality. The show was and is a real treat.

The first season aired on Monday nights for 12 weeks. It was a short season, a mid-season replacement, and I can remember recording the episodes on my parents’ VCR when I wasn’t going to be home. [Yes, I’m aware that’s dating myself with a VCR reference.]

The main story arc of season one was the Master Vampire trapped underneath Sunnydale and his desire to get free and fight Buffy. There were also other great “monster of the week” style episodes, a subtle subplot of Buffy coming to terms with who she was, and a slow build romance between Buffy and Angel, the vampire with a soul. What made me love the show so much wasn’t necessarily the vampires, monsters & other supernatural elements (although I did love those things!), it was the empowerment. I could feel it. Even as a 12 year old geeky kid. Buffy, and her friends, were social misfits. They certainly were not the “cool kids” from school, and even they made a real difference in the world. They went unnoticed by the rest of school, but they mattered. And they made it cool for me to be different. As an adolescent misfit myself, that was key in my development and confidence. Buffy helped shape me, and give me the confidence, be myself, enjoy my weirdness, and eventually, come out as a gay man. It’s hard to believe that a TV show can have that much of an impact on someone’s life, but it can.

The big finale of season one aired on a night I wasn’t home. I have such a clear memory of watching the taped finale with my sister, sitting in front of the TV later that night. I even remember being a little scared! The Master Vampire was free and was Buffy was destined to die.  The show came to it’s big finish and I was enthralled. Yes, he bit her and Buffy died, briefly. But, fortunately she was revived. She would live to slay another day. I cheered in excitement and anticipation of her future adventures.

Over the course of the show, not only did I fall in love with the story, I also found another great love of my life, musical score. Some of the most beautiful pieces of musical score are featured in Buffy by one of my favorite composers, Christophe Beck. I recently bought an amazing album of his, and other composers’ works, and I absolutely love it. 20 years after the show began airing, and they are still releasing material from it! My interest in his work led me to discover the world of score. Today, I listen to a wide variety of score… but that’s a tangent for a whole ‘nother blog post.

I also became a huge fan of sci-fi/fantasy and mystery, especially reading. I have so many interests that I can directly attribute to Buffy. The Fever Series, Lost, The Giver, The Man in the High Castle, The Handmaid’s Tale, Mark Edwards, Anita Blake, Donnie Darko… the list is endless.  All future blog post ideas.

I watched Buffy religiously for seven years and 144 episodes. It spawned an entire generation of “TheWB” teen-focused dramas. Buffy launched the highly serialized sci-fi/fantasy programming that we take for granted today. It was a big deal. A trendsetter.

I own all of the episodes on DVD and still regularly watch them. It’s also streaming on Hulu. Buffy is the perfect the “I’m having a bad day” show, or the “Rainy Sunday afternoon” show, or the “Just because I freaking feel like it” show. And I love it. Always have, and always will. If you haven’t seen it, you absolutely must check it out.

In future blog posts, I’d love to write about some of my favorite episodes, and feature my Buffy collectible memorabilia. Do you guys love Buffy? Would you like to see and hear more?