Tuesday, August 03, 2021

All I Ask of You

There was this one time, more toward the beginning of Martina's and my relationship, when we were in her car and I began to sing. 

Singing is something I like to do sometimes—especially as a joke—and Martina had told me that she liked my voice, so I decided to go for it.

The song that I was singing on this day was "All I Ask of You" from Phantom of the Opera. As I said, I like to joke around, so in my best baritone, with the song playing in the background, I just let loose. 

No more talk of darkness/Forget these wide-eyed fears/I'm here, nothing can harm you/My words will warm and calm you

At first, I just took my singing as a joke. But when I looked over at Martina, I saw she was paying attention to the lyrics and had begun to take me more seriously. 

So I continued: 

Let me be your freedom/Let daylight dry your tears/I'm here, with you, beside you/To guard you and to guide you

Martina's interest continued to grow—she was totally digging it—and, suddenly, I realized that something was beginning to happen: what had started as a joke was turning into a real moment between us. 

So I barreled toward the refrain—because what a refrain it was going to be!   

Say you love me every waking moment/Turn my head with talk of summertime/Say you need me with you now and always/Promise me that all you say is true

That's all I ask of you

And when I looked at Martina after that line, after the refrain, she had tears in her eyes—and I can't say that mine were dry.

Monday, July 19, 2021


So today I have to celebrate a milestone: 99.2% accuracy. 

Let me explain. Many times after I play a game of chess, I analyze it after it's finished, and the website that I often play on, chess.com, has this pretty cool tool that helps me do this. See, after a game is done, all you have to do is hit the"analyze game" button and you are given a report that tells you, among many other things, how accurately you played. I've had games in which I played very accurately—i.e., I found the best moves 90 percent of the time—and of course, I've had games in which I played very inaccurately—I found the best moves, let's say, only 15 percent of the time. 

But today, I reached a new plateau. In one of the games I played, I had an accuracy score of 99.2 percent. Here's the game. I have the white pieces. Enjoy. 

Some of my favorite moves:

9. Qxd4. Usually, it's not a good idea to bring your queen out into the middle of the board so early in a game, but in this position, I knew that if I wanted to maintain an edge, I would have to do so. 

11. Qd3. This is actually my favorite move of the game, and the one I spent the most time trying to find. I knew after 9. Qxd4 my queen was going to be chased back; however, it was crucial to find a square where a) the queen couldn't be harassed any further and b) her majesty still had attacking potential. 

16. Be5. I fought so hard for an initiative in the opening and got it. But it was important to keep the pressure on, and this move did just that.  

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Oh, Jeff

When Nadi entered the diner, I waved to her and she immediately saw me. She walked over to my table and sat in the booth across from me. 

"So this is where you like to hide out?" she said.

I noticed that she had a bruise on her face, but I thought it best not to say anything...at least not yet.

"Well, sometimes you just gotta get away from the world," I replied.

The waitress came over. She took our order. Nadi only asked for coffee. After what she had been through, though, I couldn't believe she wasn't hungry. 

"You're not gonna order anything?" I said. 

"Oh, Jeff. You think I can eat? I can't eat. Eating is the last thing on my mind right now."  

The waitress came with the coffee. After she poured it, I said to her, "Actually, we reconsidered. My friend here will have a grilled cheese sandwich." 

The waitress took out her pad and pen. "Do you want tomato with that?" she asked Nadi. 

"I don't—"

I put my hand out. "With tomato," I said. "She'll also have a large chocolate milk, too." 

The waitress took the order. "With whip cream, or...? 

"Yes, with whip cream," I said. Nadi was smiling. 

After the waitress left, Nadi said, "I can't believe you." 

"Well, believe it," I said. "You're not gonna starve on my watch." 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Going Down

Rob was waiting for the elevator when I saw him. Originally, I was going to take the stairs, but I thought it might be better to use the opportunity to talk to—or dare I say bond with—my new brother-in-law. 

"You going all the way to the lobby," I asked. 

Rob turned to me. His expression was blank. 

"Sure am," he said and looked at the little digital display next to the elevator door. The elevator was currently on 37; we were on 10.  

"Nice day..." I ventured. 

Rob nodded, then immediately looked down at the floor. 

That was the final straw. 

"You know, Rob," I said, "we are in the same family now. I mean, we don't have to be best friends, but I think we should at least talk." 

Rob was still looking at the floor. "Yeah, of course...talk," he said. "What would you like to talk about?" 

"Well, for one thing," I said, "how about Mary Ann?" 

Rob took a step forward and pushed the elevator call button. It had already been pressed. 

"Yeah," he said. "Sad story." 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

"Mind Playing Tricks on Me"

Recently a friend of mine asked me to make a rap mix for him on Spotify. I decided to make the theme of the rap mix “storytellers,” i.e., songs that tell a story. I told my friend that I thought that songs that told stories had a hell of a lot more staying power than songs that didn’t. 

As I was preparing the mix, I chose to put the Geto Boys 1991 song “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” on there. I first heard “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” in the early '90s, and even though I didn't fully grasp the messages in the song, it made a big impression on me. 

Now that I’m older, I can see why. The song is about paranoia. It’s about how leading the street life leads to a lot of paranoia—always thinking that the bogeyman is around the corner. 

Anyway, one particular verse of “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” really shines in my opinion. It’s the last one, sung by Geto Boys member Bushwick Bill.  When I was younger, I basically just liked Bushwick Bill's voice in this song. But recently, when making the mix, I realized that Bushwick Bill's verse was pure poetry—just an excellent piece of writing.

So...without further ado, here's Bushwick Bill’s verse from "Mind Playing Tricks" on me. 


This year Halloween fell on a weekend

Me and Geto Boys are trick-or-treatin'

Robbin' little kids for bags

'Til a lawman got behind our ass

So we speeded up the pace

Took a look back and he was right before our face

He'd be in for a squabble, no doubt

So I swung and hit the n**** in his mouth

He was goin' down we figured

But this wasn't no ordinary n****

He stood about six or seven feet

Now that's the n**** I'd be seein' in my sleep

So we triple-teamed on him

Droppin' them motherfuckin' B's on him

The more I swung, the more blood flew

Then he disappeared and my boys disappeared too

Then I felt just like a fiend

It wasn't even close to Halloween

It was dark as fuck on the streets

My hands were all bloody from punchin' on the concrete

Goddamn, homie!

My mind is playin' tricks on me


Saturday, July 10, 2021


Image by Sirius214

So last night I had a very interesting dream. It all started on 64th Road in Forest Hills, Queens, in front of the apartment house that my old friend Gina used to live in. However, instead of Gina's building being there, the Dakota, John Lennon's apartment building, which is actually on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, was. 

Anyway, I was standing in front of this building with a young man, a guy maybe in his late teens/early 20s. He said that he lived in the building and asked me if I wanted to go inside with him. I said to him,  "Are you kidding me? Of course I do. I've forever wanted to check out the Dakota." He rang the bell and his mom came down to the main entrance. When she did, I gave her my elbow because that's the kind of way people greet each other nowadays. 

When I got into the apartment building, I got my first shock. In the dream, I had always thought that if you entered the main entrance of the Dakota, you would see a grand foyer or something like that. But it wasn't a foyer that was on the other side of the main entrance. Instead, it was this kid's apartment. I remember saying to the kid and his mom, "Holy shit. I thought all these years that if I entered the front door of the Dakota, I would see an amazing foyer, but it's actually just your guys' apartment." 

Then there was the apartment itself. It was big, but it looked super old. The high ceilings had ornate cornices, but the molding hadn't been restored in years. The furniture was old and had no rhyme or reason to it. The cushion colors that I saw were pea green and mustard yellow. 

I walked deeper into the apartment, and I saw that the place was absolutely huge. One part of the apartment faced 64th Road, but there was a massive corridor that was parallel to Yellowstone Boulevard.  As I was walking down this corridor, which had tombstone-shaped doors on either side, the young man's siblings appeared. He apparently had a lot of brothers and they were a little bit obnoxious. 

At some point, a familiar motif from prior dreams of mine again reared its head: the gum. In many dreams I've had recently, I've had a mouth full of pink chewing gum—chewing gum that impedes me from speaking. During last night's dream, the gum impeded me from speaking to this guy's mom. There were also girls, girls in their 20s, in the apartment, and I was barely able to speak to them, again because of the gum. However, this time, I decided to do something about the sticky stuff. I walked over to a fountain that was outside the apartment and began digging in my mouth for the gum, trying to get it out. I was mostly successful, but I got a lot of strange looks from people who saw me digging in my mouth. 

Back in the apartment, I continued to hang out with the young man. Apparently, he and his family also had a lot of pets. They had something like seven cats and three dogs and maybe even a few wilder animals, too. I remember seeing a burrow in one of the rooms, like a rabbit burrow or a fox's den, next to a sofa. I remember wondering how an animal could dig a hole in an apartment, but nevertheless, there it was. 

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

The Hockey Mask

Believe it or not, but in the movie Friday the 13th Jason is not wearing a hockey mask. Also, he isn't wearing a hockey mask in Friday the 13th Part 2, either. Jason first "gets" his hockey mask in Friday the 13th Part 3.

That leaves me wondering: When the makers of the movie made "Friday the 13th [Part 1]..."

1) Did they know the hockey mask was going to become The Hockey Mask? 

2) Did they know the hockey mask was going to become the Hockey Mask? 

3) Did they know that the hockey mask was going to become the hockey mask? 

4) Did they know that the hockey mask was going to become the hockey mask

5) Did they know that the hockey mask was going to become the hockey mask

6) Did they know that the hockey mask was going to become the hockey mask

I would say that I would choose number 1. However, number 3 would be a close second. I don't think anyone underlines anything anymore, so six would obviously be out.