Saturday, November 24, 2007

Son of a B______!

Beckett knows. He always knows.

Whenever the Headmaster heads out of town for an overnight trip, Beckett seizes the opportunity. Remember our Disney holiday? Beckett got the better of the Headmaster that day, but who's laughing now? Certainly not Beckett, whose body lies rusting in the Howard County landfill.

But Son of Beckett lives. The last remaining oil-fired appliance in the Academy - the furnace, source of all that is warm and good - carries the bitter grudge forward. The Headmaster went to North Carolina for the Thanksgiving holiday, and as he sat at the banquet table engaged in enthralling conversation with the In-Laws, perhaps pausing only to dab a spot of gravy from the corner of his mouth, Beckett went to work. The phone call from Academy staff came quickly enough - "The heat isn't working and we're FREEZING!" The Headmaster set his napkin gently on the table and swallowed hard. With veins bulging in his neck, he raised a fisted fork to the ceiling and shouted "BECKEEEEEEEEEETT!" A small piece of turkey and one green bean fell to the table as the father-in-law dropped his jaw open. Yeah, good times.

Although there was positively nothing the Headmaster could do to salvage what little remained of his reputation with the In-Laws, he awoke this morning (after a long, cold night) with some small hope that, by fixing the furnace himself, he might salvage what little remains of the Academy's endowment. The Headmistress was skeptical - she waited at the top of the stairs with a twitchy finger on the speed-dial, ready to call in the professionals.

Several hours later, with every tool in the Academy's workshop brought to bear, the Headmaster emerged victorious and positively reeking of #2 fuel oil. Who knew there were SO MANY parts in a furnace?!

So, Son of Beckett, who's laughing now?

Oh crap, we're in trouble....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Raindrops Keep Falling on my House...

Watching the rain fall at Fenway Park tonight, I suddenly became aware that it was raining pretty hard outside here in Highland, Maryland also. And then it hit me - I didn't care! Two years after moving in, I can finally say that I don't care if it rains. After two years of running around with buckets, squeegees and sponges, I could care less. Its all better now.

Sometimes the simplest of things can mean so much.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Beautiful Evening

What a beautiful evening it was last night. The leaves on the trees were shimmering yellow and fire-red, and even at twilight the moon was bright. Birds were chirping. Crickets were... cricking. The fire was snapping and crackling in the fire pit. Just a wonderful evening for pouring a drink and sitting back to watch....



Sunday, October 21, 2007

Check, please.

Today the entire faculty and student body of the Academy went to "Sunday in the Park" at Centennial Park. It was billed as the most fun your kids would have this Halloween. Five minutes into the affair, this was the look of fun on most faces:

That's because FIFTY THOUSAND other families had the same destination. We sat for 45 minutes in the line for parking, then stood in line for another 45 minutes to purchase tickets, only to realize that you needed to stand in line another 45 minutes to DO ANYTHING. Uh, exit stage left. On the way to the car, Josh says "Well that was a big bucket of nuthin'".

So we came home and set up our own "Sunday in the Park" on the west grounds. First we sat around sipping our "H-eye Ball" martinis. Then we spread hay all around and buried dozens of prizes, which the kids had to find in their "needle in a haystack". Then we bobbed for apples and made scarecrows using our carved pumpkins for heads.

Next year, I'm charging the kids admission.

Progress is as Progress does...

Eventually I hope to post some REAL "after" photos, but for now, these will have to do. Actually, its more like "during" and "more during" photos...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Put A Lid On It

The lower dormitories are now ready for the winter, with the access stairwell covered up and dry. This represents another success (of sorts) for the closer. Unfortunately, its all temporary. The entire structure will have to come down this Spring, so that the retaining wall beneath it can be razed and rebuilt with stone.


Welcome! Here, hang your coat on my nipples...

When the Headmaster was installing the new flooring in the conservatory, he had some leftover landing tread that he'd used around the stairwell. Being the frugal sort that he is (penny-wise, pound-foolish), and knowing that the conservatory needed a coat rack, he kept the material.

et voila.

Today we called in the closer, and the Headmistress is pleased to see yet another capital improvement project successfully completed. Using the left-over tread and half-inch gas-pipe fittings, the Headmaster has built an industro-chic coat rack, très élégant.

Each hook on the inverted tread is fashioned from the following gas-pipe fittings:

- 3" flange
- 1.5" nipple
- end cap

What delight the Headmaster will take in welcoming guests with his new double entendre!

That is, until the Headmistress l'entend...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Feets Don't Fail Me Now

A member of the Academy's faculty completed the Baltimore Marathon this morning. The entire Adademy is appreciative of his ambition and dedication, and basks in the glory that his accomplishment bestows on our institution.

Erstwhile runner that he is, the Headmaster longs for such an experience. There is something primal about running - it is a part of human nature. In Plutarch's On the Glory of Athens, we learn something of the Battle of Marathon, which some scholars cite as a pivotal battle for Western Civilization. Plutarch relates that a Greek soldier was sent from the town of Marathon to Athens in 490 BC to announce that the Persians had been defeated. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the Senate exclaiming "Νενικήκαμεν!" Whereby he promptly collapsed on the Senate floor and died from exhaustion. In the gallery, someone presumably thought "Dude! Now that would make a great sport!"

Certainly, long-distance running predates this unlucky soldier. After all, mankind has been distance running since the stone age. Still, the Headmaster can't help but reflect on the wonder of running 26.2 miles in this modern age, without some motivating factor equal to the fear of being caught and eaten alive. Perhaps when they come out with something called the "Jurassic Marathon", he might have a shot at actually completing one.

To anyone who might organize such an event, it would be very convenient if the finish line could be located in the waiting room of an orthopedic surgeon, whereby the Headmaster could cross said finish line, proclaim "Νενικήκαμεν!", and promptly have both knees replaced.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Call in the Closer

I think the Academy needs a closer like Jonathan Papelbon. We never seem to be able to complete a project. The exterior project is officially on ice for the winter. The windows are in, the stone ledge is in, the brick is skim-coated with mortar, and the siding is up. The stone and the shutters will have to wait for Spring....

Booty Call

Just when you thought nothing could get weirder here at the Academy. I was talking on the phone when Kyle walked up with this one, and I almost lost my cookies laughing...

Slytherin House, at the Academy

By the time the boys got done playing with him, he was practically BEGGING for the axe. I know that there are people out there who think snakes are great, but to me the only GOOD snake is a snake that's... well, not around here anymore.

Sex and the Pity

Tonight, after sitting in front of the television from 7:30 to midnight watching the Indians beat the Yankees in the ALDS (WooHoo!!!), and then watching the entire postgame show with Cal Ripken, Frank Thomas and Ron Darling, I found that I simply could not extricate myself from the sofa. Try as I might, I could not fight through the 12 pound bag of chips from BJ's and the six pack of beer that I'd ingested.

So I had to endure (for the first time ever) an episode of Sex and the City. And I liked it. It was very funny. OMG. What is happening to me? I never thought I'd say this, but please come take the remote control out of my hands. I'm not worthy anymore. I am but a pitiful shadow of my former self....

Monday, October 08, 2007


A video by M. Ward, my new favorite artist.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Family Reunion

Members of the Academy recently attended a family reunion and took some pictures. Set to music here...

(props to for this movie)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Do you know me?

The Headmistress is in Germany this week, no doubt brushing up on her interrogation techniques ("Ve haf vays to make you talk"). I only have four days left to get all my stories straight.

The basement dwellers left for the weekend, upstairs occupant had plans, and the boys spent the night at a friend's house. Hm... a night all to myself... HOLY CRAP MAN! Do you realize how much trouble I could have gotten into?! I must be getting really old, 'cuz I just settled in with some warm milk and graham crackers to watch a movie - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. What a treat! A full feature movie intended for an adult audience, with cuss words and everything! Played at high volume!

I know I've posted this video link before, but I just have to post it again, because it is so cool. First, of course, I love Portishead. But the video features scenes from Eternal Sunshine, and the song is so perfect for it.

Anyway, I must say that for a chick flick, this movie ROCKS! Simply put, its brilliant. I'm a big fan of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's mind-@#$% style, but this movie rivals his best. Lets review:

Adaptation - in 1998, Susan Orlean wrote a book (The Orchid Thief) about orchid collectors. A true story, her book centered around the life of John Laroche, who'd been convicted of stealing wild orchids from a protected reserve. In the movie Adaptation, Charlie Kaufman (played by Nicolas Cage) tries to adapt the book for the screen, and has problems. Eventually, he turns to his less talented, but far more intrepid twin brother Donald (also played by Cage) for help with the plot. So actually, you're watching a movie about a screenwriter struggling with the script to the movie you're watching. hm... The film wasn't bad, but in the end he painted the plot into such a corner that only a growling, man-eating Florida 'gator could save it.

Being John Malkovich - comic perfection, all rolled up into one crazy, messy package. The movie centers around a secret portal, discovered in a secret "half-floor" sandwiched between two floors of an office building. Craig, a puppeteer, akes a filing job in this low-ceilinged office, and discovers the portal. This attracts the interest of a very sexy colleague. They discover that the portal leads to John Malkovich's head (the actor) - for fifteen minutes, you see, hear, and feel whatever Malkovich is doing. Then, you're ejected out onto the New Jersey Turnpike. Craig's sexy colleague (Katherine Keener) takes the portal commercial, selling trips for $200, but secretly she's more interested in Craig's wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz), but only when Lotte is inside Malkovich. Then, things get wierd. What a GREAT movie.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - My personal favorite, mostly because I think director Michael Gondry does a better job with the Kaufman script. In terms of script, pacing and delivery, this plays out like a foreign film without subtitles. The slow pace is helped along by the crude hand-held filming, which adds visual energy. Joel (Jim Carrey) is losing his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet), and discovers she's had an "operation" to have him erased from her memory. Since he can't face life without her, he hires her "doctor" to perform the same operation on him. Most of the movie centers on his operation - drugged and unconscious for the procedure, he has a change of heart and tries desperately to hang on to the memories that are slipping away. In the end, their memories gone, they find each other again. Mark Ruffalo masterfully leads a subplot - the doctor and his employees are using the knowledge they've gained from erasing these memories to seduce the patients.

Anyway, watching this movie, I had this sudden realization that there are people out there who know way too much about me. Let start with the recycling guys. They stand at my curb each Monday for a moment of silence. They gaze up at me over the mountain of discarded alcholic beverage containers, and I can't tell if the open jaws indicate awe or pity. At any rate, I'm sure they can't hear me shouting at them through the window: "HEY! There are TWENTY people living here!!"

So then last week the septic guy comes to pump out my overflowing tank; recently, my neighbors have been getting to know me a little better than they'd like. I wasn't here for the procedure, but the guy left me a note on the front door: "Your tank pumped as good as it could". Man, you think these guys are all beef and brawn, and then they go and leave you a sweet message like that. I felt like going out back and patting my septic tank on its little head.

He called me on the phone to report on the health of my tank, and to offer some tips for improvement. While I valued his advice, he seemed to know too much about what was going on at the Academy. I mean, he actually asked for Diane's Lentil Cake recipe.

So, lesson learned. Consumption is a way of life, and we litter our path with tea leaves for those who care to stop and read them.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Piano Man

Well Josh finally has the instrument of his future fame and fortune. The kids were so happy they were dancing to the tune of... well, I'm not sure what it was... a creative interpretation of Mary Had a Little Lamb?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

How To Lose A Guy In Two Days

The best way I know of is to require hardwood floors before a new piano is delivered, then schedule the delivery two days out.

I have completely lost my mind. I'm a walking zombie. I haven't stopped in 48 hours. Going from 50's era linoleum to finished hardwood floor in two days. What was I thinking?

Unfortunately, I didn't get "before" pictures of the disgusting carpet(decorated by incontinent dogs) or the linoleum that we discovered under it. But I do have "during" and "after" pictures. The finish is boiled linseed oil, if you can believe that. I love the natural wood look and the way it really brings out the grain without being too dark.

Piano? Bring it on baby.


AFTER pics