Archive for September, 2009

Clearly The Force Was NOT With Me

Posted in Adventures in Aidan Sitting on September 30, 2009 by bigdaddygouda

(editors note)While this story may make sense to anyone and everyone who reads it, I believe it can only truly be appreciated by Star Wars Fans….all six billion of them.

……………………..

Tonight, as Aidan and I waited for Keely to finish cooking us dinner we decided to play a game: WHO AM I? THE STAR WARS VERSION.

The rules were simple. Each of us would write the name of a popular Star Wars character on a piece of paper, fold it up, and give it to the other person. Then we were allowed to ask 10 questions about the identity of the mystery character folded up on the piece of paper. They didn’t have to be YES or No questions. They could be anything. After 10 questions, you’d have to guess who was written on your piece of paper.

As soon as we went over the rules we got to writing.  I thought for a moment and then wrote down Jabba The Hut on my paper. As I folded it up and passed it to Aidan his paper was already folded and resting before me.

Aidan went first:

AIDAN: Is my character a Jedi or a Sith?

ME: Neither.

AIDAN: Is my character a man, robot or creature?

These are great questions I thought.

ME: Creature

AIDAN: Is he good or bad?

ME: Bad

AIDAN: I’d like to guess early.

ME: Really? You have still have five more questions.

AIDAN: Yeah, but I know it.

Sure enough, Aidan spouted out the correct answer:  Jabba The Hut.

Now it was my turn. I decided to steal Aidan’s line of questions. Surely I would guess his in at least five. I mean, it only took him two seconds to come up with it, so I’d assumed he’d written Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker or Han Solo.

ME: Is he a Jedi or a Sith?

AIDAN: Neither

ME: Is he a person, robot or creature?

AIDAN: Creature.

Instantly I thought that Aidan possibly could have also written down Jabba The Hut but had that been the case he probably would have given it away when he realized that my character had been Jabba. So I ruled that out.

ME: Is he bad or good?

AIDAN: Bad.

Just to make sure it wasn’t Jabba

ME: Is my creature the same as your creature.

AIDAN: (giving me a stern look) Uh, No.

ME: What movie did this creature make his first appearance?

AIDAN: I’m pretty sure it was Return of The Jedi.

I still think Jabba The Hut is written on my paper. But I don’t say anything. Then, I think Aidan could have picked an EWOK, while technically good guys, they started off kind of bad.

ME: Does this creature look like a little bear.

AIDAN: (once again the stern look) Uh, no not at all.

Bang! Then it hit me. I knew it. It was The Rancor! The creature that lived below Jabba’s Palace. I was certain my next question would lock it up.

ME: Was the creature crushed to death by a giant gate

AIDAN: Nope! That’s 8 questions Uncle Walt. You only have two more.

Truth be told I was getting a bit frustrated. I was thinking he was not answering the questions to the best of his knowledge. But I decided to work with what I had. A creature. A bad guy. Appeared in Jedi. It wasn’t Jabba, The Rancor or an Ewok.

Bang! I had it finally. It was one of Jabba’s Green Pig Guards. But Just to be sure.

ME: Did the creature wear a guard’s uniform?

AIDAN (laughing) Nope! Only one more question!

Okay. Now I was sure Aidan wasn’t playing fair. He wanted to win the game so bad he was lying about the questions to throw me off the trail. I had thought of all the “bad”  creatures from Jedi. The Rancor, The Ewoks, The Pig Soldiers. What was left?

Could it possibly be that thing inside Jabba’s palace with the tentacle on it’s head. The half man, half  squid man? Does that guy even have a name? Or maybe it was the little buzzard guy from Jabba’s palace that pecked out C-3PO’s eyes. Yep, it had to be one of those two and I’m sure Aidan just wrote some weird description of them on his paper. So, to distinguish between Squid Man and Buzzard I had one last question.

ME: Did this creature peck C-3PO’s eyes out?

AIDAN: Nope. That’s 10 Uncle Walt! You have to guess.

ME: I’m thinking the guy from Jabba’s Palace with the tentacle on his head.

AIDAN:(looking at me like I was crazy) Who?

ME: Jabba’s assistant. (I would later find out, from one of Aidan’s books this guy I was referring to is named Bib Fortuna)

AIDAN: No, it’s not him……whoever you mean. You lose Uncle Walt. Open your paper.

So, as I unfolded my paper I fully expected it to say Jabba The Hutt or some random Star Wars creature, like “little brown thing walking across the dessert half way through the movie.”

But…I was wrong.  And couldn’t have felt more stupid when I read what 8 year old Aidan had written on his paper.

SARLAC

I laughed out loud. Of course.  Sarlaac! One of the best creatures in the history of Star Wars.

I was both impressed that Aidan had chosen the Sarlaac as his character and not the obvious like Solo or Vader and at the same time was frustrated that I was too naive to guess it. Naive or stupid.

As I’ve always known about the young Padawan: The Force is most definitely strong in that one.


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The Volturi

Posted in Movies on September 29, 2009 by bigdaddygouda

voluturi

Know when to fold ’em…

Posted in Stories on September 25, 2009 by bigdaddygouda

Now that dad is in the process of setting up his own Facebook page, I figure it’s time to get this story out of the way, before Porkchop realizes what he’s doing and suddenly stumbles upon this Web site through a FB link.

………………………..

In the late 70s, before I could even walk,  over the span of three years, my father had turned our attic into two extra bedrooms, turned our basement into a bar, ( complete with a fishtank built into the wall) and had purchased brand new cars for he and my mother.  The topper, so the story goes, after dad got tired of mowing the lawn in the backyard, rather than pay someone to do it,  he installed an in-ground swimming pool: Eight feet deep, three feet on the shallow end: complete with a diving board and a slide.

Not bad for someone who worked part time at the long defunct Regency Lounge as a bartender for his friend Carmine.

Dad’s bartending gig was similar to Tony Sopranos “waste management” job. It was all for show.

Anyone who was anyone in Torrington knew that my dad, “Gogo” as he was known back then, was the town’s biggest bookie. If you needed to place a bet on a game, then dad was your man.

Working at the bar was the perfect front. What a better way to meet clients: A bunch of drunks spending sunday afternoon bellied up to the bar watching football. All Carmine asked of my father was a little piece of the action. In return, he could use The Regency Lounge as his own personal Bada Bing!

According to Mom, the good life lasted about four years. Then, someone who was in hot water with the local police, flipped on my father to save his own ass.

As soon as the local pigs were turned on to dad they set “Operation Cook The Porkchop” into motion.

Bar patrons were interviewed and threatened.  And, worst of all, dad’s “private” phone line was tapped. I shit you not. The Torrington PD tapped our phones. Years later this made dad laugh, seeing, as he would say, “Half the police force would place bets with me.”

Unfortunately, only a select few were in on the little sting. They kept the whole thing so secret, no one who could have warned dad about the heat had any knowledge of what was going on.

In the days before it all fell apart, Dad was tipped off that something could be going down by our neighbors. Apparently, cops had visited a few of them to ask if they had seen a lot of different people coming and going from Dad’s house during the week. Especially on Sundays!

Of course they had! Who knows about your goings on better than your neighbors! But, as legend goes, not one of them said a thing. Yeah, the cops hit a big ole brick wall when they confronted all the Italians in the hood who would sooner go to jail themselves than rat out a fellow ginny.

It wasn’t until one of dad’s biggest customers/friends squealed. He sung like a canary. Told the cops everything there was to know about dad’s business.

The Police hit The Regency Lounge first and rounded up the usual suspects. Carmine managed to call ahead and warn my dad that he would probably be next.

Dad spent the next few minutes in the basement bar, destroying evidence. Then, the cruisers pulled up and banged on the door.

Dad opened it casually.

“We have a search warrant for John Gogolya,” the officer said.

“He’s upstairs,” dad said, calmly.

And, truth be told, he wasn’t lying. My dad, Pete Gogolya, was actually named John “Peter” Gogolya, named after his father, John Gogolya, who, like dad said, was upstairs.

So, the idiot cops went upstairs to question John Gogolya senior. My grandfather. Dad tried to use the precious extra seconds to get rid of all the gambling tickets and all the excess cash lying around.

I’m almost embarrassed to write this, but dad had a safe built into the floor boards. Invisible to the naked eye. By the time the cops figured out what was going on, Dad had everything that could be considered “incriminating” safely stashed away in the floor safe.

The cops came back down stairs. Angry and unimpressed. Before they could begin questioning him, the phone rang. The basement phone. The one no one in the house was allowed to answer except him.

“Allow me,” the officer said.

“Gogo,” the voice on the line said.

“Yeah,” said the deceptive cop.

“$100 on The Giants,” the voice said.

Dad’s goose was cooked. Within seconds he was in handcuffs. The next day all over the front page of the local papers.

Dad blew all his money on a good lawyer. The lawyer argued that the search warrant was not valid because it had not been signed by the proper authorities.  It worked. Nothing the Torrington Pd obtained from Dad’s house that day could be used against him. He would later say this kept him out of jail. Unfortunately, the testimony given by fellow gamblers, looking to save their own skin, was enough to ruin my dad’s gambling business forever.

He paid some heavy fines and was put on probation for three years, in which time he had to show yearly proof of his income.

Although dad would never admit it, those that know him best, including my mother, would later say those years, “The Gambling Years”, were the best times of dad’s life.

And how could they not be. He was popular. He didn’t have to work a “real job.  And he never had to worry about money.

I remember in 7th grade, a few of us guys decided to run a weekly football pool. Over the weekend Mom found an envelope on my bed, filled with a schedule of all that week’s games and about $20 cash, all in one and five dollar bills.

She called dad to ask what he knew about this. He knew nothing and that was true. I had decided to do this on my own.

That night, I heard Mom remark to my step father about Dad’s response to finding out I was running a weekly football pool in school.

“It must be in his blood,” dad said of my new hobby.

I suppose he’s right. The rotten apple doesn’t fall far from the money tree.

In The Woods

Posted in Stuff on September 23, 2009 by bigdaddygouda

woodsI recently finished the novel “In The Woods” by first time author Tana French. I had never heard a thing about it before I picked it up at Borders about two weeks ago. I read the back cover, then the first chapter. Twenty minutes later I was in the check out line – book in hand.

In The Woods is the first book since In Cold Blood ( which I read junior year of high school ) to give me nightmares.

Set in the suburbs of Dublin, In the Woods is a multilayered story that combines the gritty worldliness of a police procedural with the eerie chills of a psychological thriller. Think Law and Order: SVU meets The X-Files.

Detective Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, must find a child-killer who has done his dirty work in the same woods where Ryan, twenty years before, was the sole survivor of a bloody incident that left him with a blanked-out memory. Looming on the horizon: the obliteration of the crime scene by a new highway.

Is the new murder related to the earlier disappearances? Are the anti-highway protesters involved? Will pursuing the case unlock Ryan’s memory – and does he really want it unlocked?

When the killer was finally revealed I must admit, I was not SUPER shocked at who it turned out to be, though I was shocked of the motive behind it. However, it’s the story of what ( may or may not have ) happened to Rob Ryan and his two childhood pals 20 years earlier that had me spooked and re -reading chapters trying to piece together the mystery myself.

I recommend this book to the casual reader and I can’t recommend it enough to those of you out there who like a good crime novel with a “whodunnit” storyline.

And while a few mysteries in the book may leave some scratching your heads, the answers are all there for you, it’s just a matter of whether or not you let yourself believe them.

Mysterious Ways

Posted in Stuff on September 21, 2009 by bigdaddygouda

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As we took our seats in Gillette Stadium about 15 minutes before U2 took the stage I instantly became nervous.

There standing before me, seeming so close I could reach out and touch it, was the Irish band’s $40 million 360 Stage, which Bono dubbed “The Spacechip”.  It kind of resembled a giant colorful spider and, from what I’ve read, was built mainly to enhance sound for the purpose of stadium shows.

I instantly pictured Edge strumming the first note on his guitar and like Marty McFly in Back To The Future, the sound from the speakers would send me flying to the back of the stadium, stopping only when I smashed into a wall somewhere.

How silly of me to worry. How naive of me to think that U2, a band who has been touring for 30 years, a band who was charging $100 a ticket in this poor economy, a band who craves audience adoration more than any other, how silly of me to think that they would spend $40 million on a sound system and have it suck.

Yes, my fears were assuaged the second the  band took the stage and began playing Breathe, a song from the new album. Sure the sound roared through out the stadium but it was perfect. Not too loud, juuuuuuuust right. Hell, at times the crowd was much louder than any sounds coming from “the spaceship”.

All in all a great show. The band played for a little over two hours, which included two encores. The last few times I saw the band was in somewhat intimate settings, like The Hartford or Providence Civic Centers and while our seats last night were pretty kick-ass, when you see a band composed of four guys, playing on a giant stage in front of 70,000 people, well, lets just say “intimate” is not the word I’d used to describe it.

Rumors have it the U2 will add a second leg to their US tour in the summer, when the weather is a bit more agreeable. Here’s to hoping the spaceship lands at Rentschler Field in Hartford.

btw, U2 more than any other band out there today is all about spreading peace and love through out the world. You would think this would reflect well on the audience coming to see the shows. Obviously not the case as I walked to the bathroom wearing my New York Yankees hat and some old cougar casually says, “Nice hat faggot.”

THE SET LIST:

  1. Breathe
  2. No Line On The Horizon
  3. Get On Your Boots
  4. Magnificent
  5. Mysterious Ways
  6. Beautiful Day / Blackbird (snippet)
  7. Elevation
  8. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / Stand By Me (snippet)
  9. Unknown Caller
  10. New Year’s Day
  11. Stuck In A Moment
  12. The Unforgettable Fire
  13. City Of Blinding Lights
  14. Vertigo / She Loves You (snippet)
  15. Crazy Tonight
  16. Sunday Bloody Sunday / Rock The Casbah (snippet)
  17. MLK
  18. Walk On
  19. One / Amazing Grace (snippet)
  20. Where The Streets Have No Name
  21. Encore(s):

  22. Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
  23. With Or Without You
  24. Moment of Surrender

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bono

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Posted in Stuff on September 18, 2009 by bigdaddygouda

Sunday night will be spent with 70,000 people at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Mass.  But not for a Patriots game. Something much much bigger.

For the fifth time in my life and only the second time in a Stadium setting, I will be taking in my favorite band, U2, as they bring their 360 Tour to the home of The Patriots.

I’m so excited I can’t think of anything else really. Seeing concerts is fun. Seeing the band you love is a whole different experience. Especially when it’s a band that only tours about once every four years.

I’ve seen U2 in concert every time they have toured since 1997, when they brought The Popmart Tour to Foxboro Stadium. The band was dwarfed by the extravagant stage and our seats were in the last row but it was still the best live show I had ever been to up to that point.

Hearing 60 thousand people sing along to songs that you love is an experience not to be missed.

U2 is not everyone’s cup of tea but even the non-fans who I have seen shows with (Cooter, Bub, Jay) have been won over by the live show the Irish rockers put on. They are polished, they get the crowd involved and the electricity inside the stadium can be felt from the front row all the way to the bleachers.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t go to concerts anymore. It takes a really special band to get my ass in the seats, but U2 certainly qualifies. And while nothing will ever compare to the first time I ever saw them live, I’m damn certain I’m just as excited today as I was 12 years ago when Myself, Christine and Sarah piled into Cooters Suburu and made the pilgrimage to Foxboro.


Connected

Posted in Stuff on September 15, 2009 by bigdaddygouda

Technology is a funny thing. It’s everywhere all the time. If I wanted to take it a step further I would say it rules the world.

Never was this more evident than Monday night on Facebook.

A lot of shit was going on simultaneously last night. First of all Patrick Swayze lost his battle with stomach cancer and died at the age of 57. And of course, I found out from Facebook. Then the comments started. Dirty Dancing quotes etc etc etc.

Meanwhile, on ESPN The Buffalo Bills were choking hard and The New England Patriots were staging an epic comeback on Monday Night Football. And of course, Facebook was buzzing about it.

There was also some spill over from the Kanye West/Taylor Swift incident from the VMA’s Sunday night.

Jamie was also posting a few pictures from Yankee Stadium where she was spending her birthday with Jay.

So while I was flipping back on TV between Football, America’s Got Talent, Monday Night Raw, and The Yankees game, I was also discussing what I was watching on the computer.

And, a buddy of mine who doesn’t have a Facebook account was texting me about The Jay Leno Show, which also became part of my viewing Monday night.

I was also checking CNN.com every so often for the latest updates on the murder of the Yale student.  I’ve always been obsessed with the news, especially the crime stories.

I can’t believe, even 10 years ago, we got most of our news from the papers. If we wanted to talk to our friends about TV we’d either wait till the next day or call them from our (gulp) land lines.

Yeah, that was just 10 years ago! I know it’s cliche but I can’t even comprehend what we’ll be able to do in terms of technology 10 years from now.

And while I consider myself fully immersed in this digital world, I’m still behind in the times. I don’t have an iphone or a blackberry. I can’t update my Web site  or Facebook from my wimpy $150 Sprint cell phone.

And, truth be told, That drives me fucking nuts!!!!