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Boohoo, whoa is me… April 26, 2010

Posted by osyrn in My life.
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Kevin Smith (the writer, producer, director) is widely known for his films Clerks, Dogma, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and many others. His dialogue can be pretty quick and witty, but is usually full of rude and crude “dick and fart” jokes, which, let’s be honest, in the right setting can be down right funny, and Smith excels in this area. All his movies have “dick and fart” jokes in them to some extent but none more so than “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.” The entire movie is basically one big “dick and fart” joke (how could it not be, it’s about Jay and Silent Bob).

In JSBSB, Smith has cameos of a lot (if not most) of the characters from his previous movies (see the movies I listed above). One particular scene has Ben Affleck reprising his role of Holden McNeil from “Chasing Amy.” Jay and Silent Bob have stopped by Holden’s to get money that belongs to them because they find out about a movie that is being made, “Bluntman and Chronic,” based on their likenesses from the comic book. At one point during the scene Holden says:

“Why in God’s name would I wanna keep writing about characters whose central preoccupation are weed and dick and fart jokes? I mean, ya gotta grow man. Don’t you ever want anything more for yourself? I know this poor hapless son of a bitch does. I look into his sorry doe eyes and I just, I see a man crying out. He’s crying out, “When Lord? When the fuck can your servant ditch this foul-mouthed little chucklehead to whom I am a constant victim of his folly, so much so that it prevents him from ever getting to kiss a girl! Fuck! When, Lord when? WHENS GONNA BE MY TIME?””

If you’ve never seen the movie, or are unfamiliar with Jay and Silent Bob, the hapless son of a bitch he’s talking about is Silent Bob.

Which brings me to my question, well, almost. I’d like to preface this by saying please don’t think I’m complaining, because I’m not. I mean, when I take an honest look at my life I realize that things really aren’t that bad, they’re actually pretty good. I’ve got my health, my family, the best friends in the world, a good job that pays well, a good place to live, food on the table, clothes on my back, and I basically don’t want for anything. However, it seems like lately (and by lately I mean over the last year or more), that between stress at work and personal issues that I won’t go into here, I’ve been…how to say…less than satisfied with my life, and honestly, I could really stand for something good to happen in my life.

Normally I’m a very optimistic, upbeat, energetic, outgoing person, but lately, I’m having a hard time staying positive, and feel like I’m struggling just to keep my head above water. I’m fighting the good fight and hanging in there like a hair in a biscuit, but sometimes I feel like it’s a losing battle. Yes, I know that I have control over that, but I feel like I’m stuck in a rut, and I’m not quite sure how to get out.

Which brings me to my question. I realize that with faith and patience the answer will eventually reveal itself (patience not being one of my better virtues mind you). I have asked this question many many times over the past year or more (and I ask this in a totally different manner than Holden did when speaking for Silent Bob), but the question still is this:

When, Lord when? When’s gonna be my time?

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I’m all at sea… March 9, 2010

Posted by osyrn in Music.
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Ever wonder what the world would be like without music?  I do sometimes and I can’t come up with a definitive answer.  I imagine it would be a dull, dreary place.  Would we as humans find something else to take music’s place?  Most likely.  Maybe music took the place of something else that we can’t even conceive of.  But music is what we have, and what a glorious thing it is!

I realize I’m not the first person to ponder this, but think about what music means to us.  I can only speak for myself, and I know I’m not the only one that feels this way; music is such an integral part of our lives.  It is everywhere.  We have radios (in our cars, homes, offices), mp3 players, walkmans, cell phones, internet radio, satellite radio, and on and on.  There is nowhere you can’t go and not have music with you if you so choose.  Why is that?  Why is music so important to us?  Why is it so important to me?

For me, I literally have music on almost all day, every day.  I listen to classical music when I’m in the car commuting to work, the gym, and home.  I listen to my ipod or internet music at work.  I listen to heavy metal on my ipod when I’m at the gym.  If I’m home, my kitchen radio is almost always on, playing classical music.  It’s such an integral part of who I am and my daily routine, that it’s weird, on the rare occasion, when there isn’t music playing.

And I listen to anything under the sun.  I like almost all music.  One minute I’ll be listening to one of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and the next I’ll be head banging to Avenged Sevenfold.  I may go from high energy techno to bluegrass or rap or R&B at the drop of a hat.  Depends on my mood.  And my mood usually dictates what I’ll listen to.

Sometimes I’ll have the radio on, playing classical music, simply because it fills the empty space nicely and is soothing and relaxing, but most of the time the music I listen to is directly related to my mental and/or emotional state at the time.  Sappy I know, but hey, I am who I am.  If I’m happy or joyous it’s likely to be something upbeat/uplifting, or something that brings good memories to mind, like Dave Matthews Band or Jamie Cullum.  If I’m sad or depressed it is almost always Alison Krauss (no comments from the peanut gallery).  That woman has a direct line to my soul.  Her lyrics speak to me like none other.

Which hits on the main point I’m driving at.  Music speaks to me, as I’m sure it does others.  It’s those emotions that music evokes, those memories that come flooding back when you hear a song you haven’t heard in a long time and suddenly stop and think back to a certain time in your life, what you were doing, what you were going through, and what the song meant to you at the time.  It’s like music is a time machine.  Each song a time capsule with the ability to transport you wherever you want to go.  Often times it’s a journey within my own mind.  Jamie Cullum’s song “All At Sea” says it perfectly:

“I’m all at sea, where no one can bother me
Forgot my roots, if only for a day
Just me and my thoughts, sailing far away

Like a warm drink it seeps into my soul
Please just leave me right here on my own
Later on you can spend some time with me
If you want to, all at sea”

Often times I’ll sit at home and just listen to music, or play it on my guitar, and get lost in remembering the good (and yes, bad) times that each song has the abitily to evoke.  It’s those memories that keep me listening to those songs over and over.

Case in point, and probably the best way I know how to explain it, this past Sunday I saw Jamie Cullum (for the 3rd time!) with some great friends of mine.  From this day forward, every time I hear one of his songs (especially one of the ones he played that night), I’ll think of that concert, being with my friends, and all the emotions and feelings that I personally experienced that night.

That, in a nutshell, is what music is to me, and why I have chosen to make it such an important part of my life.  I wonder, what is music to you?

Ray’s (ing) the bar! March 4, 2010

Posted by osyrn in Miscellaneous.
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A good friend of ours, who several years ago got married and moved to New Jersey, has been in town for the past week or so for military duties (she comes to town every few months for this).  Every time she’s in town she talks about how she wants to eat dinner at Ray’s the Steaks in Arlington, but until this trip we have not been able to schedule it.  Two nights ago, six of us found ourselves enjoying the culinary experience that is Ray’s, and I must say our dinner was like all the other times I’ve eaten there, amazing!

A quick blurb about Ray’s.  It was opened (in it’s original location in Rosslyn) back in 2002.  It was a basic, no frills steak house (and pretty much still is today, even though it has moved to a new fancier location in Courthouse).  The walls were bare and the furniture somewhat plain, but honestly, you weren’t there for the decor.  You went for the steak, and oh baby, the steak is good!  I can’t speak to how the restaurant is run today, but when it originally opened and was nowhere near as popular, the owner, Mike, hand selected all his beef and hand cut every steak.

My first experience at Ray’s was back in ’02 when my good friends Justin and Laura held their rehearsal dinner there.  They wanted a small, intimate atmosphere, with impeccable food to share with their loved ones, and Mike delivered.  They reserved the entire restaurant (which at the time was tiny), and before I finished eating my first steak at Ray’s, I was hooked.  It is, without comparison, the best steak I’ve ever had.  Mike has ruined me for steak forever, because every steak I eat now is compared to what I get at Ray’s, and so far, nothing has come close.  While I have sampled many of the steaks on the menu (off of my friends plates, hehe), I always get the fillet au poivre.  It is a thing of beauty!

But, believe it or not, it’s not all about the steak (although it’s mostly about the steak, haha), but it’s several little things that Mike does that make the entire dining experience so enjoyable.  In the wintertime, when the check is brought to your table, you also get a demitasse cup of homemade hot chocolate.  It’s a perfect little sweet something to top you off after eating a huge meal.  His side dishes (homemade mashed potatoes and creamed spinach are standard with every meal, at no extra cost) are served family style on little skillets.  Also, his appetizers are very good (especially the sherried crab bisque, mmmm), and his deserts are incredible (the white chocolate mousse will make you want to go home and smack yo momma).

I think it goes without saying (but I’m going to anyway), I love Ray’s the Steaks.  Now, while Ray’s is by far not even close to being the most expensive restaurant in the DC area, it’s not the cheapest either.  Because of this (and because my money tree in the back yard has yet to bare any fruit) I only go to Ray’s once every 6 months or so (maybe 3 times a year at most).  Which, actually is for the best, by only eating there 2-3 times a year, I appreciate it even more when I’m there.  I think the old saying is true, “too much of a good thing can be bad.”

Mike certainly has a hit on his hands, and is expanding on his success.  He already has a few other restaurants, including Ray’s Hell Burgers which serves awesome gourmet burgers.   My recommendation to you, if you get the chance, check out Ray’s the Steaks.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  Will it be the best steak you’ve ever had?  Maybe, maybe not.  I’ve had folks tell me they’ve had better, but, everybody has their own tastes, so that’s okay.

For me, every time I eat there it’s a wonderful experience.  One, because I’m always there with great friends or family, and two, because the food is so incredible.  I guess you could say, it’s a food of love thing.