Monday, March 31, 2008

Play ball!

Baseball is back, and warmer weather is nipping at its heels. Hooray!

Although I was unable to root, root, root for the home team from the stadium or while the game was occurring, a DVR and avoidance of all sports news allowed me to enjoy Opening Day as though I had been able to skip out early from work to watch the Reds begin another season. No putting up with rain delays and commercials for this fan today. The swift deployment of the fast forward function took care of all that.

As it turned out, my team didn't win, but what a pleasure it is to have these games back. Just hearing the organ music from the ballpark seemed to increase the temperature by ten degrees and stir up the urge to drive to Cincinnati to take in a game posthaste. I even experienced separation pangs from fantasy baseball, although those went away once I reminded myself how maddening it is to play.

Plenty of writers have spilled plenty of ink extolling the game's virtues as a metaphor for life, so I won't bother. The reason why it receives such tributes is because baseball is embedded in daily life the way that other sports aren't. From April until the regular season ends in early October, there's a pro game being played every day except for the one before and after the All-Star Game.

Baseball is there like an old friend just about whenever you need it. What else inspires people to go backwards technologically? Anymore almost all of each team's games are on TV, yet the radio and its announcers are what many fans feel an affection for and have a relationship with.

I know, some of you probably think baseball is boring. At times it can be, especially if your team isn't very good. Still, now more than ever, when we're always in a hurry or at least feel constantly rushed, the sport is there to slow us down for a little while, a reminder that it's always good to take a little time to hang out at the park and play.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

The rite of spring

It seems that I always go into a funk the day before classes resume. Try as I might, I don't want to do anything. Should I get some writing done? Should I transcribe the interview I conducted Friday? Yes and yes. I've been paralyzed with this gnawing sense of laziness, though, so today has been for delaying things for another day or longer.

Tomorrow marks new beginnings, the real indicator of spring regardless of what the calendar says. It's a new quarter at the college. Notwithstanding the games in Japan or tonight's Nationals-Braves match-up, it is the start of the Major League Baseball season. It is also when I hope to get back to getting my act together again regarding diet and exercise. I did well for a long time, but I've packed on some weigh that I need to shed.

Whether on the needles or the list in my head, I have knitting projects that will be carrying over from the winter, yet I feel like I ought to have more seasonal appropriate ideas. Even if they aren't for me, hats don't seem like the thing to be knitting now. What connotes spring in your knitting? What might I consider casting on now that spring is here?

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Saturday, March 29, 2008


Ruggles Original Reversible Scarf

Yarn: Knit Picks Elegance (70% baby alpaca, 30% silk; DK weight)
Color: Cornflower
Needles: US 6s
Stitches: 40

I started this scarf a month ago and really wanted to finish it today. The weather has slowly warmed here, but it is still cool enough at times that wearing a scarf can be merited. Who knows how many days remain before the scarves must be put away for months. The opportunity to wear my own handiwork provided enough motivation to spend a few hours knitting the last several inches.

March has been a busy month, so I thought it might be nice to have a quiet afternoon with no TV or music, just me and my knitting. It didn't last long. Perhaps I couldn't stand listening to my brain spin, or I was bored with the ten row repeat. Whatever the case, I had to turn on the television as accompaniment.

I found inspiration in a cinematography documentary and a photography special on Ovation TV. I would hate to think that I can longer just be but must have some other distraction in the background.

While I did stitch after I gained greater appreciation for the knitting flurry I had as soon as I learned. I know that those were mostly garter stitch scarves on larger needles, thus meaning they didn't require as much time as my latest FO, but wow, I must have been a man possessed to knit as much as I did in that period of time.

I tried to use as much of the yarn as possible before binding off. In the end the scarf measures approximately 78 inches long and 4 inches wide. I've been in the habit of employing the long-tail cast on and used it for this scarf even though a stretchy edge isn't necessary for this item. Because I am fond of symmetry, I wanted to find an equivalent bind off. The best I could find was Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn bind off. It seemed like an easy method and a familiar one from sewing the toes for socks, so I gave it a shot. I still ended up with something of a bell-shaped end, but the same is true for the cast on end. It's just how I do it, I guess. The edges match more or less, though, which makes me happy.

I'm really pleased with how the scarf looks, especially against my dark blue overcoat. It's striking, not to mention luxurious to wear because of the baby alpaca and silk yarn. Chic is hardly a word I would use to describe myself, but I feel like it applies when wearing this scarf. I'm also proud of the time and hard work I put into making it. And isn't that what we seek to get out of knitting?

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Main Street USA

Looking west on Market St. in Brookville

Hope you're up for one more day of small town Ohio photos and reflections. I may have an FO to write about tomorrow.

Brookville, which is about five miles from my hometown, was among my day trip destinations for one reason: soft pretzels. I wanted to buy a case of them. Since the pre-baked pretzels must be kept frozen until ready for consumption, the company doesn't mail them.

Soft pretzels!

Walking into the business was like a blast from the past in that it appeared only one person was working and wasn't at the front. This was not unusual at our family business, but it's not something I run into much around Columbus. What I didn't anticipate--but should have--was that they don't take debit cards for single transactions. (It isn't a retail storefront really, just the place where everything is made and given to bulk purchasers.) When so many stores are geared around electronic purchases, it was a bit unexpected to have to pay cash and get a handwritten receipt with carbons. (For the record, it did occur to me that it would be easier to store the pretzels in the freezer without having the box in it.)

Since I had to track down my bank branch and dawdled a bit in my hometown, I ended up changing plans for the order of where I was going to go for the day. (I hadn't intended to go here first until I saw they were open only until 3 p.m.) I had lunch in a local restaurant that provided a taste of home, although the strawberry rhubarb pie wasn't quite up to snuff. Still, it was a good, inexpensive meal.

Looking west on Market St.

The area surrounding I-70 looked as though it was prospering, but the Market St. area seemed relatively barren. (This dynamic is one of the reasons why Cars touched me. It hits close to home.) Now, it isn't fair of me to generalize about economic conditions based on brief observations of the absence of people on the sidewalks on a cold, windy day didn't look to me like this street was thriving. Of course, that's a common theme in America these days. Small, independent businesses are having a hard time making a go of it.

Looking northeast on Main St. in Troy

Looking southeast on Main St.

I was able to see how a main street (and Main St.) was doing in another southwestern Ohio city when I drove to Troy. From what I recall, it's a typical small city in the state. It was encouraging to see this old Main Street appear to be doing somewhat better, or at least have some activity. I thought I might have to go round and round in the traffic circle while looking for the local yarn shop. It was a nightmare to navigate when I was a young driver. Fortunately I spotted an open parking space, decided to pull into it, and figured I'd search for the LYS on foot.

Ewetopia Fiber Arts Boutique

As it turns out, Ewetopia Fiber Arts Boutique was directly across from where I left my car. The worker greeted me and then let me free to browse while I tried to determine if any yarn caught my eye. I'm not one who often buys without a project in mind, so that was a strike against the place even if I did have a 20% discount coupon burning a hole in my pocket.

It quickly became apparent that I am terribly spoiled with the number of good yarn shops around Columbus. I don't intend that as a slight of this one. I imagine that it is a wonderful resource for local knitters and crocheters who want something the chain stores don't stock, but the selection was more limited compared to where I usually go here.

Looking southeast on Main St.

Looking northwest on Main St.

I chatted with the store employee for awhile about how knitting and how local businesses are doing. In my observation it seemed as though more places were open and people were drawn to the area. She said that it had improved some, that there were strings of shops that attracted foot traffic. The fact remains, though, that these Main Street areas struggle, although with this being a historic district, it might fare a little better. There's even a small independent movie theater, the likes of which I'd bet are increasingly rare.

IKEA in West Chester

My final destination on the trip was the newly opened IKEA in West Chester. How ironic that I get wistful for small entrepreneurial enterprises and then wrap the day at an international enormo-store built at an artificial center of commerce by the highway. Who needs Main Street when there's exit number 19? All I can say is that's how things are, like it or not. And, umm, IKEA is cool.

I try to support local businesses when possible, although not foolishly so. I have a soft spot for those trying to eke out livings against the mega-corporations, but I'm not going to practice a consumer philosophy that ignores unsatisfactory service, high prices, or poor products just because one is the little guy.

As someone whose family business was harmed in part by big box retailers, I know the playing field isn't level and that Main Street USA often suffers for it. This trip wasn't meant to be a survey of local economies, and I certainly don't have the answers to what ails these parts of the country. I guess what I see in it all are familiar faces from home trying to get by and something important being lost. I know that there are other critical issues in this election year--and I don't mean to get political--but the candidates would do well to remember that this is where the country succeeds or fails.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hometown remnants

Tuesday's trip back to my hometown and other parts of southwestern Ohio yielded more than one post could contain, meaning I have a few other photos and reflections to add.

A note on the pictures: most of those taken in my hometown were shot pseudo-surreptitiously. Usually I sat in my car and snapped them quickly so as not to draw attention to myself. It didn't feel right to stand in front of other people's homes and near the school while aiming the camera. How strange to feel so exposed in such a familiar place.

The top picture is of one of my places of teenage employment. I had a few jobs prior to this--mowing the church lawn, working at the family business, umpiring Little League games-- but the library job in Brookville, about five miles away, was probably the first one for which I had to interview. I started it prior to my senior year of high school and quit sometime in the late fall/early winter. I already had a lot on my academic plate plus the stresses of the college search. If I'm being completely honest about my reasons for quiting, I should mention I was also angry that the head librarian was blaming me for misshelved books when I was certain it was a co-worker and the patrons themselves.

Except for the internet stations, the small library looks pretty much the same as it did years ago. I stopped in to use those computers to try and secure the basketball game ticket that my mom had yet to get. The friendly staff set me up since I no longer have a Dayton Metro Library card. (One must reserve a station, so I had to be assigned a visitor's random user number and PIN.) Who knows what they must have thought I was doing as I navigated the internet while using my cell phone to walk my mom through the ticket ordering process. It helps if you envision this scene with Dunkard women and children browsing the stacks.

Beyond my second home's backyard

Certainly I wasn't so bold as to go into the backyard to take this picture, so you need to imagine an empty field in front of that house rather than a dead patch of grass. The Dunkard family that used to live there (or still lives there for all I know) was a little more liberal in that they drove a light blue pick-up truck instead of a horse and buggy. I don't think the truck had a radio in it, but I don't remember. Their children, who dressed traditionally, went to school with me until they were permitted to be pulled out, which I want to say was after eighth grade.

Ball diamond in the neighboring park

This map should clarify the area we're talking about. The farmhouse was at the south end of the alley that extended the road that ended at our corner and was parallel to the community park. This diamond is a stone's throw from the yard on our home's west side. My dad, brothers, and I would sometimes take batting practice and shag flies on it. At one time it was used for Babe Ruth League baseball, but I think it was mostly for organized adult softball games when we lived there.

On the right in the distance you can see the building where the village offices were moved to. It used to be the community center. I can remember spending many Tuesday evenings there when my grandmother and great aunt served food to Rotary members while we played in the big back room. Tennis courts are next to it. In my later high school years I spent a good deal of time playing my dad and a brother on the concrete surface.

Not pictured but to the left of the diamond is the Hunters Club. Honestly, I don't really know much about it, but I recall that they would shoot clay pigeons on some Saturday mornings. It seems amazing to me that they would shoot so close to a park and homes, but unless I have a faulty memory, they indeed did this. Contrary as it might seem to where I grew up, I've never fired a gun and may never have held one.

I don't have any more Phillipsburg pictures left, but I have some others from the day trip that I'll post in a future entry. Library photo aside, it feels appropriate to let everything about the village stand on its own.

I didn't think I had this much to say about the place, but why wouldn't I have lots to write about the formative location in my life? Although my family no longer lives there, I have a feeling that I'll visit again at some point to cover the parts of town that I didn't photograph.

This process can be bittersweet, but it's useful as a way of understanding myself and for you to get to know me. From time to time I struggle with feeling like a fraud--as a professional, as a film critic--and I imagine that a large part of it stems from my roots. I'm not ashamed of them, but I feel it is necessary to respect them somehow. They are the hands that have shaped me, even if they are invisible.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Season's end

I've made my love for University of Dayton basketball known, so you can imagine that it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to tonight's National Invitational Tournament quarterfinal game in Columbus. UD hasn't played Ohio State in twenty years--a game I attended, by the way--and I was dying to see the Flyers knock off the Buckeyes for a trip to the NIT Final Four.

The match-up took place because both teams won Monday night. Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, which was when I was on the road driving back to my hometown, among other places. I tried calling the ticket office, but the network was flooded with calls. Fearing that I might never get through on the phone, I called my mom and asked if she could buy a ticket online. Talking her through the process was complicated by the website also acting balky. I told her what I thought she'd need to do, gave her my payment information, and hoped for the best. An hour and a half later the system quit cycling and put her through to place my order.

She did pretty well. I landed a club level seat, which meant I got to be on the hoity-toity level with the private boxes and fewer challengers for concessions and bathrooms. I arrived early to beat the onrush of traffic for the sold out game, so I had time to wander. I ended up talking for awhile with some UD fans, many of whom infiltrated the competitor's arena, while keeping an eye on another NIT game on TV. I must tell you, I was ridiculously excited for the basketball that was to come.

The commonly held opinion is that the NIT is ultimately for losers, but the Schottenstein Center was rocking like this was a huge game. (For what it's worth, I heard that a greater percentage of college football teams earn bowl bids than basketball teams that get berths in the NCAA and NIT combined.) I was thrilled that the Flyers were up at the half. Disappointingly, a win wasn't in the cards for UD, but I enjoyed the experience a lot, save for the nonstop drunken yapping of the sore winners sitting behind me.

A few hours earlier I took some time to soak up the most spring-like temperatures we've had in the young season. It felt so good to see the outside and not be under fluorescent light. This scarf may not get to be used until several months after its completion, but at this point I'm willing to make that trade if it means warmer, sunnier weather.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My hometown

No home delivery here

Today's travels provided more content than one blog post can handle, so I'm going to limit this entry to photos of and reflections on my hometown.

Phillipsburg is a single stop light village in the western part of Ohio and the southern half of the state. This rural community is bordered by farms, but the suburbs probably aren't more than five to ten miles away.

Other than his time in college and the military, my father lived here his entire life until he and my mom moved in December 2000. His mother lived here or on a nearby farm her entire life, and I reckon the same is true for his father, although I faintly recall that he might have been born in Germany. My grandfather built the grain elevator in the middle of town, and he and my grandmother lived across the street in a house he also built. The family business had been in operation for fifty years when it closed in the mid-1990s.

Looking south on State Route 49 at Main St.

It was a sleepy little place to grow up, but I have no complaints. I was able to roam around on foot or bike without any worries. I could drop in at my grandmother's at any time, visit my dad at work and probably get a bottle of pop (or a can, eventually) from the old Pepsi machine, go to the ball fields at the community park or the elementary school playground practically out our front door, and wander to friends' homes. Chances are that I knew most people I might encounter in the village.

We lived at two different homes. Until I was in second grade we lived on Walnut Street on the east side of town. To the house's east was a large yard that was also directly behind the Lutheran church. It was big enough to practice baseball with my dad, although obviously a lot of room wasn't necessary because I wasn't very old while we lived there.

My first home

I'm beginning to wonder if I have my time line correct because there would have been three of us kids when I think we moved from this house, but I'm not sure where there would have been room for the youngest. Anyway, I shared the bedroom at the front left in the above photo. The house was becoming too small as brothers arrived, which was what led to a move to the west side of Phillipsburg.

My second home

Again I shared the front left bedroom, but the big excitement about moving here, aside from more space, was the above ground pool in the backyard. And we were a hop, skip, and a jump from the elementary school and park, but it was all about the pool for us kids. I remember when my parents looked at houses that they checked some older ones that weren't in the village limits. My big concern was that moving into an old house meant changing one's lifestyle to the olden ways, which was also the impression I had of how people lived in Virginia. (Apparently I assumed that things hadn't changed there since the days of Jamestown's founding.)

It was at this location that I wore out a patch on the east lawn (and later on the west side) throwing a tennis ball against the side of the house to practice pitching and fielding skills. Of course, it was also a time of dreaming of future athletic greatness and, I suppose, trying out sportscasting in my head as I imagined entire games and scenarios. Thinking about it now, I wonder how I didn't drive my parents crazy, even though it was my bedroom wall that I was throwing against. It was thump, thump, thump as I tried to pitch the ball just above the gas meter, although errant throws would go in the bushes or hit the tube coming down from the gutter. To my credit, I never broke a window, and I do have pretty good accuracy when it comes to throwing things.

Sign commemorating Phillipsburg's hometown hero

Baseball was my favorite sport as a kid, and I imagine if forced to commit, it's tops on my list now. Although I'm from a small place, a Hall of Famer called it home. Jesse Haines, who was from here and lived next to the Methodist church, is in Cooperstown. Undoubtedly, this was a big deal to a certain kid who dreamed of playing for the Reds.

The elementary school

I attended kindergarten through sixth grade at the old school pictured above. At one time it held classes through high school levels. (I'm fairly sure my dad went to high school for one year here.) Come August it was always a big deal to run to the front of the school to see if the teacher and class lists were taped to the inside of one of the sixth grade classroom windows.

Rear view of the school

This photo is similar to a view I would have had of the school from home, although I was next door in the park's parking lot. It should show how close we lived to it, though. I just now realized that the storage building that was next to where we played kickball is no longer there. (Throws fired at you en route to first base would ricochet off of it.) It's possible that it was torn down while I was still around and merely forgot, although passing through today I noticed that many lots had been cleared of what used to stand there.

Former site of the grain elevator

The family business was knocked down years ago, although it's still weird to go past the space where it once was and not see it. (It's stranger still to be there and realize that I would now be violating the posted no trespassing signs.) The old firehouse that had been across the street hasn't been there for ages, but I'm still not used to seeing a decorative bandstand in its spot.

The building where the small independent grocery store stood has been reduced to concrete rubble. If anyone in the family said they were going uptown, that's where they meant. In some ways the village looks the same and looks like the intervening years haven't been particularly kind.

I stopped by the bank--the only bank--to get some cash and had to go inside because it doesn't have an ATM. I was shocked that it still looked about how I remembered it. The tellers are behind old-timey bars that may well have been there since the bank opened in nineteen aught whenever. (I have no idea how long it's been there, but it looks like something out of an old movie.) The Toledo scale is still in there, for what purpose I don't recall. The classic looking vault is easily visible from the customer's side. I wish I'd asked if I could take a picture because it is really cool.

I mentioned to the teller that it didn't seem as though it had changed. She agreed that it hadn't. (The outside appearance is different, but that's not what is so striking about the bank.) We talked briefly about this place and that it seemed like a lot of buildings had been knocked down.

The Phillipsburg airport

I visited with a lot of mixed emotions. I have no ill feelings toward my tiny hometown, which I know is not true for a lot of people who grew up in spots like it. I didn't have any burning desire to stay there, but I wasn't looking to run from it as soon as possible either. It's a quiet, unassuming place where a kid could go day to day without feeling the outside worries of the world. This is the sort of place people laugh at, an attitude likely stemming from classism, but it served me well.

The water tower

This is not a fancy exurb by any means; it's probably even more working class and lower than I realized at the time. I have fond memories of the place, but it makes me sad to see the state that it is in. I know that growing up here had a lot to do with making me who I am. I suspect that I probably don't fit in here any longer, which is to say that what I want and what it offers are not the same. That doesn't mean I've betrayed the community but that it is, I fear, being left behind.

From time to time I think it helps to remember where we've come from. It reminds me where I get the slight twang in my voice. Growing up I didn't hear that mild southern (or midwestern, rather) accent, but it was unmistakable when listening to the people around me today. It reminds me of my foundation in hard work and humility. And yes, even though it no longer is, it reminds me of home.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring break

On the administrative side, spring break means relief from the hubbub at work. Gone are the student days of bacchanal, not that they ever existed for me. (Frankly, I find such displays of spring break indulgence appalling, but that's neither here nor there.) No, the excitement comes in the form of having the building almost exclusively to myself, which means I might be able to get something done for a change.

I did feel better after stringing together naps and a good night's sleep yesterday, but I knew that I didn't need to push it today. With almost everyone in the department everywhere but in the office, I was able to kick back and watch a screener (that I needed to see for work) without any disruptions. I was even able to tap out half of a review before succumbing to the temptation to finish from home.

Make that attempt to finish from home. I'm still feeling a little tired and achy, so what's better than a well-placed afternoon nap to rejuvenate the creative energies? Post-nap I puttered around with the review some more, ate dinner, and then put work aside for some knitting and Dayton's NIT game. At least there were positive developments with the latter two. UD won and I'm on the last skein for the scarf. The review, well, I'll wrestle with it after this blog entry.

The outcome of the game determined when I was going to make my spring break trip: tomorrow. (Long story short: if Dayton was going to host their next NIT game, I was going to make it part of the trip. Since they'll be playing at Ohio State, my Dayton/Cincinnati drive will come on the day when they're not playing.) I know what you're thinking. I ought to slow down--and I should--but I'm feeling decent enough that I don't foresee any problems squeezing in a day's activities.

What's on the agenda? An IKEA recently opened between Dayton and Cincinnati. Since there's one item in particular I need to get (and can't order online), this is the ideal time to go. I'm also going to swing by my hometown to see how it's changed, take some pictures, and pick up a box of soft pretzels. If time permits and I'm feeling up to it, I may visit a local yarn shop too. (I should have a discount there from the Sticks N Stitches bag.) On the off chance that you're reading this in time and are familiar with the area, any recommendations for local places to eat around, say, Brookville, Englewood, and Vandalia?

It isn't a conventional spring break jaunt, but then again, I went to Cleveland and Chicago for a few days (or home) when I was a collegian.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008


I thought that I escaped illness from my nonstop activity of the past couple weeks, but it finally caught up with me today...or so I assume. I woke up not feeling all that great. Not sick, just slow and lethargic. I dragged myself to church for Easter service thinking I had at least arrived before it had started. By my watch I was a couple minutes early, but the service had already started, so I had to be escorted to a seat at the front. Terrific. I felt like I was capable of toppling over, and now I had to be before everyone in the event that it happened.

I made it through church but felt just as sluggish, if not more, after it was done. A sandwich from cold cuts didn't seem substantial enough for lunch, so I lugged myself to a nearby place for brunch. The food must have given me a slight boost--or maybe it was the coffee--because I rallied briefly before dozing off during the first basketball game of the afternoon.

I knitted a little after awakening, but as the afternoon progressed, all I felt like doing was sleeping and then sleeping some more. I even had close to eight hours the previous evening, so it's not as though I was lacking sleep. Still, I felt heavy and weary. I slept more often than not, rousing myself from time to time when I heard the basketball scores from the TV.

Having slept off and on for four or five hours in the afternoon, I regained enough energy and focus to knit for awhile. I'm ready to have the scarf done, if just because I'd like to be able to use it before the weather warms up until next fall or winter. I'm getting closer to the end of the third skein, but if I'd wager I'm at least a week from finishing the scarf.

Today's laying about does break one streak that needed to be broken. This is the first day since March 4 that I have not been in a movie theater. Whether it was going to the festival or playing catch-up, I've been visiting the cinema for almost three weeks solid. There's still something else I need to see, but I didn't feel up to it. It's not like I'm without stuff to watch. I was sent a screener since I'm interviewing the director in person this week, but as much as I like his films, I don't want to watch his latest tonight. Considering that I need to overnight it to another critic tomorrow, I guess I don't have much choice in the matter unless I watch it at work, an option that sounds more attractive as the minutes pass.

Not the greatest way to spend Easter, but if I feel back to normal tomorrow, I suppose I can't complain. And hey, my NCAA Tournament bracket is still a viable contender to win after the first weekend. There's a silver lining.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

This is spring?

It seems like I heard earlier this week that spring is officially here. So where is it?

We had snow this morning and afternoon, although none of it stuck. No evidence was on the ground by the time I awakened from my afternoon snooze through three-quarters of the Duke-West Virginia game. It was still plenty chilly, though, when I headed out for the Blue Jackets game.

So, with temperatures in the 30s and random precipitation more appropriate for January than late March, it still seems like winter here in the Midwest. That more than anything is what makes it hard to believe that Easter is tomorrow, the Major League Baseball season starts in nine days (sorry, overseas games don't count in my book even if they are official in the league's eyes), and that anyone would wear any of the warm weather clothes stores have had on the racks and shelves for a couple months.

Of course, I think my internal clock is still goofed up from the film festival.


Friday, March 21, 2008


It's been a while since I've done any substantive blogging about knitting. I'm sorry to say that this post isn't going to break the trend. Until I picked up the needles briefly this afternoon, I hadn't knitted since I squeezed some in between films on Saturday. I've been on the move all week--catching up on movies, of all things--and haven't had the time.

My scarf is coming along nicely, but I didn't have the focus to work on it much this afternoon. I did a ten row repeat and then put it back down to watch basketball and nap. I've done a lot of NCAA Tournament watching and napping yesterday and today. I'd be more than content to do that Saturday and Sunday, but there are probably two more films I need to find time to go see on top of going to the Blue Jackets game for which I bought a ticket back in the fall. I know, boo hoo. Seriously, though, I'm ready for everything to slow down for awhile.

My other knitting projects are floundering. There's a blanket I haven't picked up in quite some time. I don't have anything to show for the Knit 4 Lent knit-along. (Easter has come so early this year that I've hardly noticed that the season has been happening.) I've made zero progress on the Pay It Forward exchange.

So I'm stuck in a state of incompleteness in which I feel like I can't get out of. I'm sure I'll catch up eventually, but even as a person of great patience, it aggravates me to be far behind. (It's not just knitting, but why gripe about my other writing?) Bear with me. It's going to take awhile to get out of this hole.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Talk to my publicist

I never know who might read what I write, which is the main reason why I've worked at staying anonymous to a certain degree. Yesterday I received an e-mail from someone in the Communications office at the University of Dayton because of my entry about their basketball team.

He was complimentary about what I had written--he browsed more than just that single entry pertaining to the university--and wanted to know if I was an alumnus. If so, he wanted to write something about me for the alumni magazine and assured me that he could do so without using my name if that was what I desired.

I did not go to school there, so I expect that nothing will come of this. I am amused and a little flattered, though. I don't hold any illusions about what I write here being important or worthwhile to a broad readership. I'm fine with that even if, in one sense, this effort is profoundly narcissistic. Still, it is nice to receive a spot of attention and be considered interesting even if it baffles me.

This comes not quite a year after something I wrote on my other blog landed in the New York Times. Careful with what you write. Search engines might turn up the most innocuous comment that someone else wants to use.

Now when are the book publishers going to starting tossing seven figure contracts my way?

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This is how we do it

What is a day in the life of a critic like during a film festival, particularly if you go to every session? Essentially it's about running yourself ragged, hoping you eat enough to keep up energy, drinking enough water to stay hydrated without needing to visit the limited number of urinals and stalls in the theater's single bathroom, and keeping your eyes open through it all.

Although walkways can be cramped, this event is relatively easy to navigate, especially for pass holders. Free, validated parking is available underneath the shopping center and in a nearby overflow lot with shuttle service. All the films are shown at the same location, and a food court, disgusting as it may be after a few days, is a short walk away.

That being said, sitting on one's fanny all day is harder than it sounds. Although the seats aren't high-backed stadium models, they are reasonably well padded. It's just sitting in them for as long as I do that makes them seem less comfortable. I've learned that rolling up part of my coat can give me a nice headrest.

Here is my log of one day-plus at the festival.

March 14

12:02 a.m.: Finish hotel check-in process after a six-film day. (Midnight screenings are only for the weekends.)

12:55 a.m.: After doing my daily entry for this site, it's time for bed.

7:45 a.m.: Get wake up call. Grateful that no one is on the other end, unlike when the John Goodman-voiced Red the Bobblehead awakened Red Roof Inn guests.

8:30 a.m.: On the road. Eat two coconut donuts I purchased at Dunkin' Donuts on the way back to the hotel the night before. The franchise has little presence in Columbus, so I enjoy getting these particular donuts when up here.

8:41 a.m.: Highway traffic becomes stop-and-go.

8:48 a.m.: The regular flow of traffic resumes.

8:58 a.m.: Park underneath Tower City Center and head to the theaters.

9:15 a.m.: Knit in the dimly lit theater. Shortly before I put it away I get someone commenting about my knitting.

9:30 a.m.: First film begins.

10:00 a.m.: Scraggly looking guy comes in late, takes the seat next to me, and spreads out like he owns the joint. This could be a long day.

11:03 a.m.: First film ends.

11:20 a.m.: Write notes about first film.

11:30 a.m.: Second film begins.

11:40 a.m.: Another late arriver, this time an older woman who sits in the row in front of me. Not to sound uncharitable, but she brings with her an undeniable stench that is a mixture of the fecal and the chemical. My best effort to block the smell is to pull my sweater over my nose.

1:03 p.m.: In line at Master Wok in the food court for lunch.

1:22 p.m.: Take a seat for the next film.

1:45 p.m.: Third film begins.

2:00 p.m.: Start struggling to stay awake, even if it's just closed eyes for ten or fifteen second stretches.

2:30 p.m.: Feel like I've regained my legs, although I still have to fight off sleep for the next thirty minutes.

3:30 p.m.: Third film ends.

3:40 p.m.: Buy some cookies to stash in my messenger bag. I try not to eat too much during the festival, but having something small to snack on between films is a necessity.

3:43 p.m.: Buy Hi-C orange drink from McDonald's. I'm feeling thirsty and in need of a little pick-up. What could be better than the beverage of choice for summer camps and kids' church gatherings?

4:00 p.m.: Take my seat for the next film. Write notes from previous films.

4:07 p.m.: Knit.

4:45 p.m.: Fourth film begins. While it's nothing special in filmmaking terms, it is my favorite of the day and of the fest to this point.

6:23 p.m.: Buy Arby's regular roast beef sandwich. That's supper. Take it with me as I head back to get in line for film #5.

6:35 p.m.: Claim my seat for the film and read USA Today. While attendance has been pretty good during the day, things pick up for the evening sessions, especially on the weekend. As a pass holder, I should be guaranteed a seat until fifteen minutes prior to the film's start. I prefer to sit near the back on the side, ideally in one of the two-seat rows. The idea is to be able to get out of the theater as quickly as possible at film's end before the mass exodus. That's very important in this case, which has two sold-out houses for the film unspooling in forty minutes.

7:15 p.m.: Fifth film begins. I feel slightly drowsy at times but am generally in good shape.

8:50 p.m.: Walk around Tower City Center to shake off the rust that has accumulated by this point in the day. I discover that sports scores are displayed on a monitor in the RTA station, so I look down at it to find out how the Blue Jackets are faring tonight.

9:12 p.m.: Take seat for next film.

9:30 p.m.: Sixth film begins.

10:53 p.m.: With another movie down, I walk around again and check out the final score of the hockey game.

11:01 p.m.: I sit down at a table on the periphery of the food court for some knitting time. (Security refuses to let anyone sit in that area once the shopping center is closed.) A festival volunteer stops to see what I'm doing. We have a brief chat.

11:37 p.m.: Find my seat for the last movie and resume knitting.

March 15

12:00 a.m. Seventh film begins. I check my watch frequently and consider leaving several times. I'm feeling tired, and my feet have had enough of being in shoes for this long.

1:55 a.m. Stagger out of the last film of the day, my thirteenth in two days. End up running into a friend/colleague who just got back from the film portion of South by Southwest and will be here the next couple days. We talk for a short time before heading our separate ways.

2:25 a.m. Back at the hotel, the internet isn't working. It's probably just as well because I need to sleep.

2:35 a.m. Go to bed.

8:00 a.m. Answer the wake up call to repeat this madness again.

For what it's worth, I rarely write full reviews of the films I see at this festival simply because I see so much (and it's not like anyone is paying me to provide that type of coverage). I will do some brief write-ups of what I saw, although as you might imagine, there's not enough time to do this while at the event.

Note-taking is essential because it's hard to remember critical observations. I attended 45 sessions and saw 43 films in eight days. (I walked out of a midnight film that wasn't doing it for me and didn't see the completion of another because the DVD, which was showing due to a missing print, froze an hour in.) The story particulars can usually be gleaned elsewhere if needed.

Of course, you might be wondering if pushing myself to the limit like this is worth it. Yes and no. On the positive side, I tend to see plenty of good films that I may not come across elsewhere. (Travel expenses aside, I'm doing this for free with a media pass.) It is also good to get away for a few days. On the other hand, there are times when I feel pretty dreadful and struggle mightily to stay awake. I overdid it this year, but spring break at work begins tomorrow, so I have time to recuperate without being too busy at the office.

If you're wondering, I've provided links (but not names) of the movies in an attempt to limit crossover with my film site. Feel free to ask any questions you might have about this experience. It was fun, but I'm glad it's over...except for the written recaps.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Out on a limb

Not much time to write today, so I direct you to a newspaper article about knits for trees. This seems like a very Yellow Springs activity. I may be headed to the Dayton area one day next week. If so, perhaps I'll swing by and snap a picture or two of this public art.

Tomorrow I promise to post my film festival log. I've just not had the time or energy to crank it out since returning home.

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Monday, March 17, 2008


This is the one day of the year when newspaper publishers know that their issues will fly off the shelves and libraries will futilely guard the sports section. (At least that's how it used to be.) The field for the NCAA Tournament (PDF) was announced last night, and today's publications have those glorious brackets splashed across their pages.

Although more opportunities than ever to consume Division I men's college basketball have popped up in my post-college years, I've become less informed. There are only so many hours in the day, and I suppose my time doing stats for a D-III teams and keeping up with movies have had a lot to do with that. I still try to follow my team, which was regrettably but not unexpectedly left out of this year's tourney, but even that can be a challenge.

No matter how few games I've seen during the regular season, I still love examining the brackets, reading the capsule information about the teams, and making my picks. While most pools have migrated online, I continue to enjoy using a pen to fill out one set of brackets that I check during the games to see how my selections are faring. I also like having another sheet where I write in the advancing teams. It's a completely unnecessary act, yet I find something gratifying in writing the names of the teams that I don't get from a website doing this.

I've missed a good chunk of the last couple years' tournaments because the film festival has coincided with the first and second weekends. I'm excited to be able to gorge on these games once again, in part because I'm ready to hang around the apartment. (I noticed bags under my eyes last night, something I've rarely seen. That is as accurate of an indicator as anything that I overdid it at the festival.) For several years the cable company has made games from all four regions available, meaning I can watch whatever ones look most appealing. I can't wait.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Home sweet home

It is good to get away for awhile, and it is good to come home again.

I spent the greater part of eight of the last ten days feeling as though I had been removed from society while at the film festival. Life had been reduced to an ant-like series of tasks. Crawl into a hole. Emerge to find food. Repeat.

In some ways it was nice not to think about anything other than responding to immediate needs, whether getting to the proper auditorium in time or finding something to eat. Work could mostly be put out of mind. There was relief from the Presidential election that I needed in the worst way. I was untethered from the internet except for some brief time upon returning to the hotel and after waking up in the morning. Sleep took a major hit, but that was a sacrifice I was willing to make for these days.

What are some of the lessons I learned during this time? I found that when I spend very little time talking to people--a substantial portion of these recent days--I can get very talkative when a conversation is initiated. I discovered that scented hand soap in movie theater bathrooms is worthy of appreciation. (I tend to rest my chin in one hand when watching movies.)

I learned that finding almost nothing but spam e-mails about "male enhancements" and expensive watches in my inboxes takes the enjoyment out of checking messages. I found that rolling up my coat a little bit made for a nice headrest on top of my seat and kept my head from bobbing if I dozed off for a few seconds.

And I learned that I am very eager to have some time at home. I ran around at a ridiculous pace. After watching 43 films in my eight days at the festival, I'm ready to stay home and relax on the couch.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Late nights

There is no reasonable explanation for how I am still awake at this point in time. I just finished "Friday's" entry at 4:14 a.m. Sunday, and now I'm tapping away at Saturday's. In the last three days I have seen twenty movies, including seven each the last two. Talk about sheer madness...

Attendees swamped the festival, making it next to impossible to get to the food court to purchase supper. So I didn't. It was straight from one film to the line for the next from late afternoon on. I got recharged by dozing for very brief but very frequent moments during one film, and my emergency supply of granola bars in my messenger bag provided what little nourishment I had after lunch.

I had been debating whether or not to bother with the midnight movie, but I went to it anyway. Another colleague from Columbus was there and mentioned getting something to eat afterwards. I figured I'd be fortunate to be semi-conscious by then, but the promise of food must have been enough to sustain my energy.

Keep in mind that I had been at the theater for almost seventeen hours and was running on about five hours of sleep. I felt wide awake after my seventh movie of the day, so I went for a drive on Detroit until we ended up at My Friends Deli and Restaurant. The desserts in the case by the cash register looked wonderful, but I was interested in heartier fare. Actually, I was in dire need of some good food, not the passable stuff from the mall food court that I am sick, sick, sick of.

I ordered the honey dipped fried chicken, not the lightest thing to eat before going to bed. Who cares, though? I was starving, and the chicken was outstanding. It may be the best fried chicken I've had in years. Hot, fresh, and so very tasty. If not having eaten anything more than a granola bar in twelve hours meant that this was the reward, then sign me up again.

One of the unfortunate aspects of being absorbed in the single location event is that it doesn't really offer the chance to explore local places like this for meals. Luckily I had a friend who knew of this spot. Otherwise I wouldn't have ventured this far away from the venue, particularly in the early morning hours. What a shame it would have been to miss it. While I've seen many worthwhile films during my stints in Cleveland over the last week-plus, this meal is the most spectacular part of my time here. That's not the lack of sleeping overestimating it either...I don't think.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Still secret

A problem with internet access forced my unexpected disappearance from daily blogging. Since I'm doing this Blog 365 thing, I'm backdating what I would have written at the time. There is also a change in plans for my intended Friday entry. I'm keeping outrageous hours, so I'm delaying my log of a day at the film festival until Sunday or Monday. We now returned to regularly scheduled programming...

My public knitting drew attention at this morning's early session. From behind me I hear a guy who sounded like Brian Doyle-Murray exclaim that what I was doing made me a rarity at the film festival. I have not seen anyone else knitting at the event, but of course his surprise was not knitting per se but a male knitting. I detected a hint of confusion and skepticism as to why I would be doing such a thing...but whatever. He also suggested that someone should do a piece about me knitting for the festival's daily newsletter.

Being written up in such a thing is not something I would desire. I have not been approached about it, nor do I expect to be. If I were, I would do it only if my name was not used and no identifying photo included.

Still, you ask? Yes. There are times when I feel as though I may be too candid on this site, so I'm not exactly seeking to get my name out, especially to those with no interest in the knitting. Plus, for all intents and purposes I am anonymous up here. People may recognize my face just like I recognize the pass holders who end up in many of the same screenings as me, but I couldn't tell you who they are. I am certain they have no clue who I am.

It catches me a little by surprise when anyone comments at all since I've found that knitting here tends to keep people at a distance. It's a surefire way to ensure that no one sits next to me unless practically all other options have been exhausted.

Near the end of the day a festival volunteer asked what I was working on, so we chatted for awhile about knitting. That conversation was more my speed than the one in the morning.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Back into the cave

I'm going to make this quick because I desperately need to get some sleep. I rose at 6:15 a.m., was on the road by 6:50, and pulled into the parking area underneath Tower City Center around 8:50. My first film began at 9:30 a.m., and my last one ended near 11:30 p.m. So it has been a full day.

The nice thing is that I'm not tired. I rode out the logy parts of the day without too much difficulty and was alert from mid-afternoon on. My eyes didn't do that weird thing when it seems like they're losing focus from being too tired. Perhaps my "nap" before one film helped. I took a seat a half hour before the Public Enemy documentary and closed my eyes for fifteen minutes. I didn't sleep, but I felt somewhat refreshed afterwards.

Anyway, Ruth's questions in the comments to yesterday's post have given me the idea for tomorrow's entry. I'm going to keep a log of what I do during the day. Prepare to be astonished and horrified by film critic life during a festival. The best part about it is that I'll be able to have it written by the time I get back to the hotel. I'll just have to type it up.

All right, it's time for me to hit the sack. Enjoy the unseasonably warm weather while I'm holed up in dark auditoriums for sixteen hours.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Packing time

Is it time already?

In the morning I'll be headed north again to do the film festival thing. Keeping with the rapidly shifting weather, last weekend's blizzard looks to be replaced by temperatures in the 50s. Go figure.

Over the next four days I have 25 films on my potential schedule. No, that is not a typo. We'll see how I fare with the 9:30 a.m. and midnight screenings. Those can be categorized under Most Likely to be Scratched Due to Sleep Deprived Crankiness or Sheer Exhaustion. Staying fifteen to twenty minutes away increases the possibility that I'll bail, but you never know.

When I find the time to write about those films is anyone's guess, but like last weekend, I'll continue to blog here about whatever passing fancy inspires me. A reflection on the soul-crushing quality of four days of the food court diet? A piece in praise of Dunkin' Donuts coconut donuts? The possibilities are endless.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The aftereffects of my film festival attending and sleep deprivation were liable to catch up with me. I'd peg the moment when they hit at 5:45 p.m. while struggling to stay awake through 10,000 BC. (Yes, I'm catching up on movies for the show despite having just seen an obscene number of films over the last four days.) Since I'm ready to crash, here's a quick post with a knitting update and information about a new knitting book.

I finished the second skein for the Ruggles Reversible Scarf last night. I estimate that I knitted seven inches during the festival, which isn't bad considering that I did it in fits and starts. A few minutes here, a few minutes there. Although I have the pattern memorized, it was difficult to see in the theaters, so that slowed me down a bit. I received a few words of knitting approval during the event, but mostly I think I confused everybody.

As far as knitting in the festival movies themselves, it was seen briefly in a documentary about Ethiopian women with medical problems stemming from childbirth injuries and in a scene from an old William Castle film with Joan Crawford working the needles.

One area where I don't expect interests to cross is knitting and indie rock, yet there it was today on Pitchfork. The music site featured a story about an upcoming knitting book by Kelley Deal of The Breeders. (And there's the Ohio connection too.) Bags That Rock: Knitting on the Road with Kelley Deal is due in October.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

The waiting

Cleveland was so good to me that I had a hard time leaving. Like not until midnight on Tuesday, March 11. (Yeah, I know what time the stamp says I'm writing this. It's called backdating.)

That's right, I stuck around for another day of the festival. I called back to the office and didn't have any trouble getting approval to hang around northeast Ohio a little longer. I didn't intend to stay for five more films--the plan was three--but I was feeling pretty good . My stamina was up enough that I thought I could make it through all of the movies and a two hour drive home beginning around 11:30 p.m. Chances are that my internal clock is still on the pre-Saturday "spring forward" time change. At least that's how I justified it to myself.

I was running on a good night's sleep, which I didn't get the previous evening thanks to some louts in the hotel who thought no one would mind if they yelled and ran around in the hallway at four in the morning. The day started well when I discovered that the hotel parking charge was just $15 for the entire stay, not the $15 per day that I thought it was. Everything from this point on was a comedy of testing one's patience.

I had to press the button repeatedly to get someone to buzz me out of the hotel's lot. I got to Tower City Center parking and sat in line waiting for a semi truck driver to stop blocking all outgoing traffic. (The garage was full, so I had to go to overflow parking.) The attendants were getting impatient, so one waved me through to search for a spot underneath the building. Knowing that a free space was unlikely to be found, I asked if there were any. It didn't really matter. They just wanted some cars to move.

After a quick drive through the packed garage I got back in line to exit and head to overflow parking. I picked a lane where the driver was holding up everyone, so I switched to the one next to me. The cashier vacated the stall, extending my wait even more. Finally I got through only to drive to the rear of overflow parking and finding one of the few spots remaining.

Almost every seat was taken, but one guy waved down the driver to wait for him to get to the bus. His buddy then proceeded to take forever to leave their vehicle, holding us up in the process. Eventually they decided not to get on.

Finally I made it to the theaters and flitted from one to another in the mad dash of watching and refueling. It was fitting that the last film of the day was a deadpan Swedish comedy about rolling with life's punches. Adding to the significance was the fact that I saw an hour of the film the day before. The print had been stuck in Pittsburgh, so they tried showing the screener DVD on Sunday. After sixty minutes it froze up and was unwatchable. This was high on my must-see list, so the arrival of a print was a mitigating factor in my decision to stick it out until the 10:00 p.m. session.

But the waiting wasn't done. We were promised that the shuttle ran until midnight, so a few of us festival attendees waited and waited and waited for it to come to take us to our vehicles. None of us wanted to walk because of the distance and the safety. I joked about the possibility for getting murdered down there, something which is probably unlikely but not entirely out of the question.

It took nearly a half hour to go the mile or two to my car, but I was still feeling fine for the drive ahead of me. I followed the signs to the interstate on this twisty back route, and then I saw before me something that had me wondering if perhaps I shouldn't have joked about getting killed in the area. In my lane was a stopped car with the driver's door open. In the other lane was a guy on a cell phone. Welcome to Carjack City? It certainly looked like the place where something bad would happen. He waved me by, and I was more than happy to speed off.

Fortunately the rest of the drive home was uneventful. I didn't even turn on the radio but instead listened to the sound of the wind blowing by and tires propelling me down the road. I'll regret not getting enough sleep when I'm at work on Tuesday, but the experience has been worth it.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

The perfect storm

I don't know what technically allows a snowstorm to be categorized as a blizzard, but apparently yesterday wasn't blizzard-like. It was a blizzard. Back home we got 20-21 inches. A similar total was reached here, but my impression is that Cleveland and Clevelanders are more cut out for handling massive snowfall than central Ohio and its residents.

Although I dealt with the snow, ice, and wind firsthand, I feel like I sat out the whole thing. After all, shouldn't a blizzard inconvenience you? I went about my film festival attending without any weather-related problems. If I were staying in the same building where the event is taking place, it would have been possible to be almost completely oblivious to the blizzard.

The big glass windows on the southern side of Tower City Center (and the smaller ones in the ceiling and northern side) gave the illusion that we were inside a gigantic snow globe. Actually, it was kind of magical to be get to enjoy watching the snow fall for hours upon hours while remaining untouched by it. I might be singing a different tune if the snow caused trouble for me, but I got the best of the situation. I could take pleasure in the snowstorm's beauty and remain relatively untouched by the havoc it was wreaking.

Coming up here to see the movies was the primary reason why I made the trip, but I just needed to be somewhere else too. Sometimes it is necessary to get out of town for a few days, breathe in some different air, and leave things behind. This hasn't been a perfect getaway, but it has given me a different focus while I've been here. I'm a little sad that I missed the fun of being cooped up at home while the snow hit, but I imagine those opportunities will present themselves again.

I have been able to do some knitting during the festival, although not as much as I thought I might. My film schedules have been pretty tight, so it's been all about satisfying the need to eat and ability to squeeze into the crowded restrooms at off-peak times if at all possible. (Planning visits to the overtaxed restrooms is an art in itself.) Anything beyond is bonus time.

I depart on Monday, although I haven't determined when. Having paid to stay an extra night, I've thought about maximizing my dollars and catching a couple festival movies to get me past evening rush hour. I'm kind of ready to be home too, so it's probably a decision best left to morning.

For those readers who got hit by this storm, what did you do during it?

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Saturday, March 08, 2008


The funny thing about being in the middle of all this bad weather is that I really have no idea what's going on or how it is being portrayed in the media. I got up this morning, watched a little local TV, and then headed over to the film festival.

It took a few guys with shovels and a snow blower to clear a path so I could get my car out of the parking lot. I passed a live truck from a TV station that was positioned nearby. My hotel is across from the street from (formerly known as) Jacobs Field, so I'm at the heart of the downtown spot weather reporting.

Even with my drive of less than a mile, the blowing snow was already problematic. Visibility was reduced enough to be noticeable. The roads were OK for my exceptionally short trip, but I wouldn't want to be spending a lot of time on them. I got to Tower City Center around 11:15 in the morning and was camped out there for thirteen hours. It would have been fourteen, but the Indonesian film noir was doing nothing for me. With an hour being lost to the time change tonight, I figured it was advisable to bail midway through the movie.

I was amazed to see that it was still snowing whenever I emerged from the cavernous theater area. Sometimes it was blowing very hard. The bridges and such in the distance that can be seen without any effort from the mall were obscured quite a bit. It was actually quite comforting to know that I was secure where I was and would have no difficulty getting back to the hotel.

The brief times I poked my nose outside to get a sense of the snowfall gave me more than I wanted. The wind was fierce, and the flakes were flying sideways. I can't remember the last time I've seen it snow this much and for this length of time. That makes my decision to drive up here yesterday seem all the more incredible now.

On the way back to my accommodations I saw The Weather Channel's truck parked in front of the hotel. They have to be loving this stuff. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find a place to park in the lot because it appeared that most people hadn't budged all day. (Honestly, why would they?) Luckily, someone pulled out of a spot as I was driving around, so I got a nice, clean parking space and shouldn't have to go to much trouble to get out of it tomorrow morning. My room hadn't been cleaned because the hotel is operating with limited staff due to the difficulties in getting around. That ought to tell you how bad it is.

The films haven't been amazing, but it's been relaxing to be away from home, if that makes any sense. Thank God I was smart enough to bring boots.

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