Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Everything I Consume: The Vengeful Virgin

What kind of book is this? I'll tell you what kind of book it is. While comitting a murder the protagonist is interrupted by his obsessive, drunken ex-girlfriend. This is what happens:

I hit her. I hit her so hard she ran sideways across the lawn, and fell in a heap. I went over and yanked her to her feet. I hit her again. I let her have it hard. Then I turned, with her sobbing and moaning, and bent her arm up behind her back and ran her staggering out on the lawn. her car was parked behind the truck. It was a yellow Buick hardtop.

Anthony Boucher said it was, "a Cainlike story of greed, sex and murder, culminating in a retributive horror worthy of Jim Thompson." and who am I to argue with him?

Monday, June 25, 2007

"Now We Have Lots of Animals!"

We adopted two cats yesterday. Or more accurately, two cats and a balloon unicorn. I'll focus on the cats. We'd been down to one cat since January when Pippa T. Cat passed away on my birthday. Our surviving cat, Syren is almost 19 and has dementia. She needs Metamucil and pees on the rug half the time. She spends most of her day either sleeping or scavenging food off our plates. I think Gwen is a little scared of her. The two newcomers have adapted nicely. Having lived with surly old cats for so long kittens are a shock. They play with toys! They explore! They crave love and attention! They run! They poop in the litter box!

This is Daisy Dumont. She walked out of the carrier as if she's lived here for years. She's about four months old and very sweet. She already sits on our laps.

This is Cleopatra. Her tail was pretty badly mangled when she was younger. She's ten months old and looks like Syren but is bigger. It took her a little while to get used to the apartment but now she's very comfortable and loves to play with cat toys. She's already using the Litter Robot!

The Litter Robot is a self-cleaning cat box that the other cats never took to. I thought it would be an improvement ofn the Litter Maid which broke every few months. Syren never used it and Pippa would sit with her butt hanging out and poop down the front.

I used to have this theory One Cat, Two Cats, Three Cats that applied the number of cats you owned to the level of your personal interests.

I own one cat was a casual fan, sort of a mild social identifier ("I like the Fantastic Four", "I root for the Mets").

I own two cats equalled a strong interest, entertaining but not threatening to others. ("I love the FF. Check out my Marvel Masterworks", "I have weekend season tickets to the Mets").

I own three cats meant you were a fanatic and a bit off-putting. ("I'm casting my own figurines of the first coming of Galactus because the Franklin Mint ones suck", "I'm hosting a Mets trivia contest in Patchogue Tuesday night, can you drive me?").

Anyway, three cats isn't as crazy as I thought it would be or else I've become immune to my own craziness.

Friday, June 22, 2007


As someone who used to pretend to be a gay cop whenever I was bored I enjoyed this post on Deadspin.

Run, Rabbit, Run

Two and a half months ago I felt like my body was rotting. I was mentally and physically drained from adapting to my second child, my job and a life of hurry up to hurry up. When I got home I would sleepwalk through the evening and then collapse into bed. I have a great the best wife, great the best kids, I like my job but somehow it was all too much.

I decided to start running again and I found help through the Couch to 5K Podcast. It's by Robert Ullrey, a guy from Northern California who decided to start running for his 43rd birthday. The first week was just 20 minutes alternating 60 seconds or running with 90 seconds of jogging. Having a podcast was a huge help because I never would have been able to keep the timing straight. Gradually, the runs built up to week 9 which was three days of 30 minutes of continuous running. Today was the last day. It wasn't easy--the only way I can find time to run is by waking up at 5:15 A.M.--but I stuck with the program and I did it. I think that's how you have to do these thing. That's how I wrote my novel. I found a good plan and stuck to it.

I feel better physically. Even if I've only lost 2 pounds I have more energy, feel happier, and things seem clearer. Mentally, I feel so much more relaxed from having the alone time and confident from having a goal that I picked and accomplished. It's the only way I can get all the stress and nasty images out of my head. For example, this morning I spent the beginning of my run stressing over my job and some family stuff that happened years ago. But somewhere on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade it all cleared away and I found a peace that was worth every every early wake up and shin splint I've ever had or ever will have.

I'm going to stick with the running, I can't imagine not doing it any more. I'm going to do another week or two at 30 minutes, maybe change my route to go over the Gowanus Canal to Park Slope, maybe tackle that hill at the north edge of the Promenade then go up to 35 minutes. Then I'm going to pester Robert Ullrey to do the 5K to 10K podcast.

You Are Welcome For My Interest in Kelly Clarkson

Got this e-mail from my man Dan at the iTunes store today:

To: Brett Sonnenschein
Subject: Regarding Your Kelly Clarkson Pre-order
Date: Jun 21, 2007 6:09 PM
Dear Brett,

Kelly Clarkson recently canceled her upcoming My December tour which
was scheduled to coincide with the release of her album. As a result,
Ticketmaster will not be providing pre-sale codes via email as
advertised in the original pre-order offer.

If you wish to cancel your pre-order, you may do so at any time before
the expected release date of June 26th.

Thank you for your interest in Kelly Clarkson and iTunes.

iTunes Store Customer Support

I did not draw the picture above. Please don't confuse me with this guy.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Everything I Consume: Suite Française

"What separates or unites people is not their language, their laws, their customs, but the way they hold their knife and fork."
This book was fascinating and highly enjoyable. The author, Irène Némirovsky wrote the book, which is incomplete, during World War II. She was later arrested and died at Auschwitz.

The book follows several people and families following the invasion of France in 1940. The first half follows them as they flee the invasion and the second half examines the life in a Nazi-occupied provincial village where some of them have fled. It's very ahead of it's time with many interlocking plotlines and often continuing a scene with the point-of-view of a different character. At times it seemed a bit overwritten or confusing but bear in mind this is just the first draft and Némirovsky didn't live to revise her work. She wrote the entire manuscript in pencil in very small type in order to conserve paper.

It is also interesting to read history of World War II as it is written with the future unresolved. Even the American films made during the war regard victory as a foregone conclusion. The Germans are surprisingly sympathetic with most of the author's scorn devoted to the French who are all seen as weak and oblivious.

I can see how this book is touching a nerve. The families fleeing Paris towards an uncertain future could be ourselves fleeing a terrorist attack or a hurricane abandoned by an incompetent government.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Everything I Consume: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

I love the Fantastic Four. If I was ever geeky enough to compose a list of my favorite fictional characters they and most of their supporting characters would be on it (#3: The Thing, #11: Mr. Fantastic, #15: Invisible Girl/Woman, #18: Alicia Masters, #26: Pogo Plane). One of my prized possessions is my Marvel Masterworks of the Lee/Kirby FFs of the 1960s. My daughter, Gwen discovered them and now I read her FF stories every night. The other day she made "Submariner lips" for The Wife. I have no idea what she was talking about but I'm very, very, proud of her; I'm even more proud than when she learned all that Passover stuff at pre-school.

Our movie-going evening started poorly as the movie we really wanted to see, Knocked Up was sold out. When you make fun of buying 10:30 tickets for a movie online you're gonna get sold out. That left us with a choice between FF:RotSS and Nancy Drew. My childhood heroes won out over The Wife's childhood heroine.

So, it was with some trepidation I went to see FF:RotSS; the reviews were pretty bad. But I liked the movie once I got over the fact it was made for ten-year olds. It was good clean fun, kept the spirit of the comic and came in at about an hour and a half. The movie was like a good heist, "You go in, you go out, nobody gets hurt." It kind of reminded me of the 60s FFs except without the snappy dialogue, Jack Kirby art and heavy handed symbolism. However, a few things items in the motion picture bothered me.

Twice in this movie The Thing reverts to Ben Grimm which was common in the old stories but here comes across as a shallow attempt to show the Michael Chiklis's face to the audience like the dream sequence in Ray where we got to see Jamie Foxx without sunglasses.

It bothered me that Jessica Alba had blond hair to play Invisible Woman but they didn't change the hair for the actors playing Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch. In this case, I think I'm the one with the problem.

Another thing I didn't like was the Invisible Woman's obsession over her wedding in the face of global destruction. I thought it was sexist but The Wife didn't have a problem with it so either it's not sexist or I was really, really uninvolved during my wedding planning.

On the subject of weddings, the dock I was married on has now tumbled into the sea and that big factory across the street with the trolley's is now a Fairway.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Does It Come In China-Free?"

Recent weeks have given us tainted pet food from China, counterfeit drugs, counterfeit toothpaste, recalled toys, and of course there's the ever-present spectre of bird flu. Things are so bad the Chinese government is even executing their former chief food inspector.

I predict (though not fearlessly) that the efforts of the Chinese government to increase product safety and quality will not be enough to stop the desire for speed and profits. These stories of tainted/counterfeit/unsafe everything will continue. In the next few years products will start to be marketed as China-Free just as we can now buy fat-free, gluten-free, peanut free, USDA Organic, locally grown or American-made. A segment of the public will be so afraid of products from China they will actively avoid them and will pay extra for them.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Everything I Consume: Ocean's 13

I had a great Father's day, thanks. I got an excellent pair of shoes, was allowed to sleep in, played some NCAA football and my mother-in-law was in town so we had a babysitter! The Wife was determined, no matter what, to see some movies which is how I found myself at a 10:30 PM show of Ocean's 13 Friday night.

I don't think it's fair to judge this movie since I dozed off in the middle so herewith are 13 Observations on Ocean's 13.

1. Has anyone noticed Matt Damon can do anything? He's great in comedies like this, great as Jason Bourne, great as the weaselly guy in The Departed. I think he's the best movie actor working today, much better than his one-trick pony co-stars, George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

2. Can we just stop messing with casinos? They're fun places that provide a public service. I think people should rob something else for a while.

3. Andy Garcia and Al Pacino were also both in Godfather 3 (the Ocean's 12 of the Godfather trilogy) about 17 years ago. Too bad they couldn't have done a scene with Scott Caan.

4. I always mix up Eddie Izzard and Ricky Gervais.

5. They didn't squeeze that Chinese Guy into anything and that was kind of a waste.

6. I saw the movie at the Cobble Hill Cinemas which was used in the filming of Spider-Man 3 renamed Stuyvesant Cinema.

7. Two movies filmed on my block are Moonstruck and Shamus.

8. Carl Reiner's first IMDB credit is from 1948.

9. Brad Pitt really doesn't do a lot in this movie. But as The Wife observed, he looks cool just holding a cup of coffee.

10. Norman Fell was in the original Ocean's 11 and I once saw him at a diner in Marina Del Rey. He shot me a nasty look.

11, 12. & 13. I really overextended myself with this list. Sorry.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Everything I Consume: Smokin' Aces

This contains spoilers as if this movie needs any more spoiling.

As Homer Simpson would say, "This is the suckingest bunch of sucks that ever sucked." Admitedly, I was --sucked in-- by the premise of four teams of competing hit men trying to kill Jeremy Piven but I never got that far. The movie begins with fifteen solid minutes of exposition as characters talk and talk and talk some more. I just couldn't take it. I knew I would never care. So we just fast forward to the ending and listened to Andy Garcia explain the movie to Ryan Reynolds. It turns out the aging mob boss isn't killing magician turned mobster Jeremy Piven because they're rivals, he's killing him because he's his son and needs his heart for a transplant. Really. The shot where Ryan Reynolds tearfully pulls the plug on the two guys on life support was one of the funniest things I've seen in weeks.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Sad State of Affairs

The sports world is reminding me of a radio show I'm listening to about the Seige of Leiden in 1574. It was a place where all food and hope are gone.

Dateline Cleveland! The Cavs are all but eliminating dashing the hopes of the good people of C Town and destoying my perfect record at Fearless Predictions.

Dateline Los Angeles! The Mets woes continue as John Maine, who is also on my fantasy team, gives up three homers on three pitches.

Dateline New York! The Yankees continue their winning ways with their seventh win in a row.

Dateline WhatIfSports! My team is 12-16 and 6 games out of first place.

Dateline: My Living Room! My NCAA team's hopes of an undefeated season was dashed by the Florida Gators.

At least my NASCAR team is in fourth place whch is impressive since never watch the sport I can barely drive a car.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Google, She Knows Everything

I was Googling myself last week. We all do it, like picking our noses, masturbating and taking money out of cash registers when nobody's looking. There was the usual Amazon profiles and smart ass book reviews, wedding, birth and death announcements, back issues of Penthouse with my freelance articles (I was in the same issue as Kingsley Amis and Ben Stein!), and lots of people named Brett who work for Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, a giant law firm that owns the Sonnenschein.com domain.

Then I found this. I'm in a book? I'm in a 10-year old book and nobody told me? It's called Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture, has anyone read it?

In case you don't know I was editor and publisher of a zine called Roulez, The Magazine for and About the Serious Mille Bornes Player in the early nineties. I have no idea who this Stephen Duncombe is or what his zine was that I traded for. Since the page I'm on isn't in Google I have no idea how I'm referenced and the suspense is killing me.

I've purchased a used copy on Amazon. More info as it becomes available.


Ugh. Our free HBO finally went out Saturday after three plus weeks. Anyone know if I missed anything big this weekend?

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Cutest Little Guy In The World!

I can't believe my little man is almost six months old!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Everything I Consume: Lucky At Cards

One of the first detective books I ever read was by Lawrence Block. I forget what it was called but I remember two things from it. One, the detective takes a date to a Chinese restaurant and they both get the same fortune. I've been waiting for that to happen to me ever since. Second, at the mid-point (where detective writing books tell you you should have a major plot twist) two seemingly unconnected cases are connected totally out of the blue. I now know that's a pretty common twist but it blew my early teen mind.

This book is from the early sixties. It's not bad, typical of the good but not great output from Hard Case. If you like hardboiled you'll like this. It's about a professional card cheat who winds up in an anonymous midwestern city after he's told to leave Chicago. He is pulled between his life of crime and surprising success at a straight life. But wouldn't you know it, a femme fatale pulls him back in.

I thought the book had a nice start but it petered out. There were a few very good scenes when a woman reveals she knows Maynard, the protagonist, is a crooked dealer and another towards the end when the main character is on the lam. The style is very pulp-like reminding me Jim Thompson and Ross MacDonald. There are some good sex scenes written in a lurid early sixties style as befits a book originally released as The Sex Shuffle (I definitely need a bedroom move with this name). I didn't like the happy ending which seemed tacked on.

I'm selling it if you want to buy it.

Fearless Predictions

Well, the Ducks did it! I'm 1-0 in Fearless Predictions. Now it's on to the NBA Championship. This is tricky because I don't watch a lot of basketball and I only say I like it to have something to talk to my friends about. But I'm feeling lucky after having the ball to pick Anaheim when they were down 1-2 in the Western Finals. So, here goes...

San Antonio has Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, multiple championships and plays in a tougher conference. Pretty much everyone say they're the better team. On the minus side, the only good thing to come out of Texas is the Dixie Chicks.

Cleveland has LeBron James, a 2-0 record against the Spurs this year and, most importantly, my wife and her family are from Cleveland. If my brother-in-law got me an academic copy of Quark for $99 how can I root against the Cavs?

Cleveland in five.

Doctor's Visit

Updated since my original posting.

Every few years I have to get a very important part of my body checked out. I have a birth defect that can in some cases cause really serious problems. I'm fine and have never had a problem and none of my doctors thinks I ever will. But it's a little stressful to get it checked out unless you have the doctor I had yesterday.

First, he put me on one machine because it was broken and wanted a sample to show how broken it was. I said OK, I'm a team player. Then he had me put on a gown because I had to walk to the other machine. He asked me about my name and its origin, which I get a lot. Then he started talking about The Sopranos. After a minute the doctor remembered I had mentioned a movie about my family name and wanted to know about that. Then his assistant chimed in about The Sopranos and there was some confusion about whether Christopher and Adriana were married or engaged and who exactly killed Adriana. Around this time the doctor said, "Interesting! The machine not your [very important body part]."

Please keep in mind this is all going on while I am in an uncomfortable position.

I guess The Sopranos made the doctor think about Big Love which led to him giving me his opinion that pro-polygamy people were using gay marriage as an excuse to legalize polygamy. Then he was theorizing about a polygamous world where many men were unmarried because the multiple wife people had all the women. I said this was what was happening in Asia where they abort of give up for adoption all the girl fetuses. My doctor didn't realize that almost all the adopted Chinese kids were girls. Huh. Then back to this season's Sopranos and the doctor's story about how he did mushrooms during a college visit to Jamaica. One of his friends did a double dose and was high the entire trip. This reminded me of a very funny joke on Reno911! where a dog got into the mushrooms in the evidence room and Trudy said, "He eats his own vomit, he'll be high for weeks!" but I couldn't break in to tell it. Somehow the conversation turned to something or other and I mentioned how antibiotics always cleared up my bad skin and the doctor claimed to have never heard of that. Then he proceeded to describe how he uses benzoil peroxide followed by a moisterizer ("None of that cheap stuff. I use Oil of Olay."), gel shaving cream and not to use disposable razors.

Thank you doctor whose name I never got for keeping me distracted. Normally, I hate people who never shut up but you were the right guy at the right time.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Slug It Out, Bitch

Come for the pop culture but stay for the snails. Sorry the first one is out of focus.

Hug it Out, Bitch

I love Entourage, or Entourajjjj as Michael Scott calls it. In fact I think I relate to it more than anything else on television. I'd take it over Sopranos, Sex in the City or The Office in a second.

What's that? A 40-year old middle-class dad in Brooklyn relates to the Hollywood hipsters on Entourage? Are you insane? We all know I'm not from Holywood. Let me explain.

There's a lot going for Entourage. Last night's episode was the best yet. The cast is excellent; plenty has been written about Jeremy Piven but Kevin Dillon is gloriously over-the-top as Johnny Drama, Kevin Connolly is dead-on as Eric and who can resist Adrian Grenier's limpid pools? The cameos are entertaining and much better done than in season one, it's a great parody of celebrity culture, a window on behind-the-scenes Hollywood, the scripts are funny and the plot is engaging. There's lots of hot women, too.

But Entourage is really about stress.

Every episode is a pressure cooker, there are deals, deals within deals, competing agendas, a sense of having no idea what you are doing, a hostile outside world waiting for you to fail and often conspiring against you. The show is filled with ticking clocks, ticking clocks inside ticking clocks (a recent episode had a deal that had to be concluded by sundown but it was Yom Kippur and two Jewish characters had to walk between temples working it.). It's all contained within the giant ticking clock of Vincent's ephemeral career.

That's my fucking life. I rush everywhere to hurry up some more. Too much of my life is controlled by other people. I need a flow chart to keep track of the possibilities for my daughter's pre-K. My building is a money pit filled with neighbors who are always looking for ways to spend money. My life alternately goes in fast forward and slow motion and nobody totally gets it or can help me as much as I want. And there's not enough time to don everything much less do it right. I'm also the happiest I've ever been,
I just with I had an Ari Gold to make all my difficult phone calls for me.

Now I just have to hope my free HBO holds out (See? More stress!).