Harry Porter review

*My review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows PT 1 which appears in the Dec. 1 edition of The Stylus

The first installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is an odd combination of satisfaction and disappointment. The film itself does a fine job of keeping the audience’s attention, maximizing on emotional scenes and delivering random laughs. But, fans can’t help but leave the theater feeling a bit teased knowing that the exciting conclusion is only months away.

Fans of the books will be excited, as DH is perhaps the best book-to-film adaptation of the series to date. Director David Yates did a tremendous job of capturing the essence of the book from the action-packed Weasely wedding in the beginning all the way to the madness at Malfoy manor at the end.

Also, much like the book, the slowest, most boring parts of the film came during the middle. During this time, Harry, Hermione and Ron are hiding in the woods, planning how to defeat Lord Voldemort, finding his Horcruxes and destroying them. Although a lot of people will say these scenes are great – with the tension rising between the tree and eventually reaching a boiling point – the reality is that these scenes are boring and forgettable.

Prior to the film, Potter fans were trying to predict what scenes would be included in the first installment of the Deathly Hallows, and most weren’t disappointed, as Yates picked the best parts from the first half of the seventh book. They were all executed well. It was fun to watch all of Harry’s friends take polyjuice potion to look exactly like him as they escaped from Privet drive.

Later in the movie, Harry, Hermione and Ron used the same potion to break in to the Ministry of Magic in a scene that captures the desperation and anxiety of the text perfectly. Rupert Grint (Ron) and Emma Watson (Hermione) truly owned their characters, as they have for most of the series, but once again, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry was disappointing.

The best thing about Radcliffe being Potter over the years is the unintentional, hilarious one-liners he so often delivers. DH boasted a great one at the end when Radcliffe looked up and lazily said, “I’m going to bury him. With my hands.” It’s supposed to be the big moment of the film – the emotional pay off as Harry is dealing with the loss of a friend. But instead of people crying, most in the theater were merely trying to choke back their laughter as they witnessed another botched performance from the chosen one.

Harry Potter fans know what they are getting with part one of the Deathly Hallows: an exciting story with great scenery and even greater characters. But they also know that the film concludes with a tease. The real spectacle will be in part two, with the Battle of Hogwarts. While part one was a solid watch for any Harry Potter fan and a good movie by itself, it’s just an introduction to what we’re all really waiting for.

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Happy Thanksgiving

I’m thankful for everybody that has ever visited this site. I hope I update more often for you guys and I love everybody who has ever said anything to me about writing. For so long, so many people have told me I was never going to make it and writing is too ambitious. While I haven’t “made” anything yet, I know that I can. Thanks for the support and have a great Thanksgiving!

Chronicles of an Ultra-Ego

By Matt Driffill

 

**Note: This is the first short story that I’ve had the confidence to post. I hope to do more of this kind of stuff because it really is a lot of fun. This story was an assignment from my creative writing professor this semester, and he told me there didn’t have to be an ending to my short story. There is an ending to this one, but if it’s well received, I hope to continue for the next assignment. Enjoy.

 

November 10, 2010

Ben woke up with his heart racing and sweat dripping off his forehead. These nightmares are going to be the end of me, he thought as he reached for his glass of water, and took a swig. The moon shining through the window illuminated his extravagant bedroom. The light reflected off the Sony LCD TV that hung elegantly on the wall opposite the king-sized bed. The moon’s rays danced over the plush red carpet that Ben loved to sink his bare feet into.

He leaned over and checked his Blackberry: 5:04 a.m. He glanced over his shoulder and looked at his wife, Maria, sleeping so peacefully. Why can’t I do the same, he thought. Nightmares had been haunting Ben’s nights for weeks now. The bad dreams were always so drastically different with one crazy consistency: Elaine.

Elaine? I don’t know anybody named Elaine…. except that chick from Seinfeld, Ben thought.  He saw the mysterious dream woman almost every night, but she was always something different. An innocent 11-year old girl playing in the park, a seductive bartender in Brooklyn, or an elderly client falling for Ben’s charm. Always a different female, always a different scenario, but always the same name: Elaine.

Despite dealing with these dreams for weeks, he knew he couldn’t tell his wife. He assumed Maria wouldn’t take kindly to the idea of her husband’s dreams being haunted by another woman; she was always the jealous type.

September 15, 2007

“Who was that?” Maria asked, crossing her arms and leaning back from the dinner table.

“Tonya. Just an old friend from college,” Ben said biting into his chicken french. He could sense his girlfriend was unhappy about the two minute conversation that had just ended. “We took macro-economics together junior year, that’s all.”

“You seemed awfully excited to see her . . .” Maria said trailing off and looking away. “Maybe you’d like to just go sit at Tonya’s table and leave me here alone with my wine.”

“I haven’t seen her in forever,” Ben said, taking another bite into his pasta. With his mouth half full he managed, “You don’t have to be jealous.”

“You know I don’t get jealous,” Maria said leaning back into the table. “She was just very pretty, that’s all.”

“She is very pretty, beautiful even,” he paused for effect as Maria looked up from her seafood bisque. “But not my type.”

“What’s your type?” Maria asked coldly, apparently back to her concerned state.

“I don’t like a girl with just nice eyes, or great hair,” Ben began taking another bite of pasta. He had recited these lines to so many different girlfriends in his lifetime. He sets the routine in motion when he first meets them, and if they passed Ben’s rigorous character tests, he would reference their original meeting at a later time. He couldn’t possibly remember how many times the maneuver had been executed so flawlessly. However, he hadn’t used it on Maria until now — the one who he truly believed he cared the most for out of all of his former lovers.

Ben cleared his throat, “It’s not just about a smile, or legs. It’s got to be the complete package. A girl could have the most beautiful eyes in the world, but if they don’t compliment her smile or her face, than everything seems a bit off. It’s not that girls have certain physical features that I’m instantly attracted to, but the whole picture is what I like. If a girl’s features don’t play off each other then everything seems …unbalanced to a degree.” He paused to sip his wine.  “I know I’m very nitpicky about these things and am very particular about stuff that I like and dislike,”

This was the opening. He locked eyes with Maria in anticipation. He hoped this was going to work like it always had. “Do you remember what I told you when we first met two years ago?”

A violent smile immediately appeared on Maria’s face. “You said I had a balanced face,” she laughed.  “It was the most awkward compliment I’ve ever received,  but I loved it. It got my attention, that’s for sure.”

She remembered, phew, He thought. It works again…

“So, you see, you’re my type,” he said smiling. “So, for the millionth time, don’t worry about other girls,” Ben said reaching for a breadstick from the center of the table. He hated that he had to recite cheesy lines all the time, but he hated even more that he had given the same “You’re face is balanced” routine to countless other women in his life.  It was a borderline flawless pickup line that Ben had mastered, but he felt bad because of all targets it had worked on, he liked Maria the most. He didn’t want to think of her as just another girl.  “And by the way, you do get extremely jealous,” Ben said, downing the rest of his wine as a wry smile crept from the left side of his mouth.

“Shut up!” she said giggling. “How could I not get jealous though? Everywhere we go, girls stop and stare at you like you’re a movie star or something.”

“And you think it’s easy for me every time a guy does a complete 180 to stare at your ass as we pass by them?” Ben asked, diverting the attention away from him. “I never say anything about it though because I realize that I am the one with you. You should do the same.  There’s nothing to be gained from jealously.”

“More wine?” the waiter asked as he approached the table. Maria lifted her glass, but Ben interrupted the movement.

“Actually sir, may we have a bottle of Dom Perignon?” he asked

“Excellent taste sir,” the waiter said with a wink. “I’ll have that right out for you.” The waiter disappeared to grab the requested bottle.

“Champagne?” Maria asked. “What’s the occasion?”

“Oh it’s a very special occasion tonight actually,” Ben said, reaching into his pocket. Maria’s shoulder’s lifted with excitement. He pulled his cell phone out to check a text message, and could saw Maria’s body language scream, “Not a ring?!”

Ben sensed Maria’s disappointment. It’s too soon to propose, he thought to himself. Now’s not the time. Now’s not the time.

“Any night that I can spend with you is a special occasion,” Ben said putting his phone away. “But tonight’s extra special because of this…” Ben smoothly pulled out a pink coupon book from his suit coat pocket. Maria instantly recognized the coupon book from last year’s Valentine’s Day. She made the book herself and knew exactly what was in it. At the moment she realized that the two of them were in for a long, interesting night.

“Well, pour me a glass then,” Maria said. “I’m going to need it.” She faked her emotions really well, but Ben had an ability to read way past people’s words and facial expressions. He knew she wanted to get married, but he also knew that now, in this restaurant, was not the time nor place for such a proposal.

 

November 10, 2010

Ben checked his cell phone again. 6:28 a.m. Fuck it, he thought as he got out of bed carefully, trying not to disturb his wife. He made his way to the shower, but the idea of the nightmare mystery woman still haunted his thoughts.

Elaine. Why Elaine? He tried to remember over the years if there was an Elaine he had known. If he had forgotten about somebody, and the idea of her was creeping into his subconscious during the night.

That can’t be it. She looks different in every dream…

The cause for the nightmares was an issue. He didn’t know why they were happening, what was causing them, or how he could stop them. But, as a realist, Ben would have to try his best to not let something as menial as a dream dramatically affect his life.

He glanced at the mirror, then decided to linger for a moment.  He hated how narcissistic he was, but sometimes he couldn’t help but stare for a few extra moments at himself. The reflection of perfection, he told himself: His lean 6’1” frame, his perfect jaw, his deep green eyes, the definition of his muscles. He admired everything about himself, which ultimately, was his greatest flaw.

 

October 17, 2003

She was gorgeous; the best-looking girl at the party by far. She looked unfamiliar to Ben though, perhaps a freshman. The year didn’t matter to him, however; she was simply stunning. Her straight brown hair landed neatly at her shoulders. Her body, so tight and shapely swayed with the music so beautifully it was as if she composed the song herself. And even in the darkness of the room, he could see a smile etched on her face that took his breath away.

“Aaron, who is that girl,” Ben asked his friend.

“Not sure. She’s got an ass though.”

Ben nodded in agreement, but it wasn’t physical features that he was after. During his junior year he had been seeking girls with a “good demeanor” as he put it. He constantly tried to explain what that meant to the rest of his college buddies, but that usually resulted in his friends laughing at him — until he got the girl.

Ben mingled on all night. Dancing, drinking, just trying to enjoy himself. On any other night Ben would call this a great party, but tonight the unknown beauty distracted him from having any other fun.

He kept an eye on her from a distance, waiting for the right opportunity to make an introduction. I can’t believe how creepy I am being, he thought. I hope she doesn’t notice me staring.

Luckily she didn’t. She was busy with her other female friends. Laughing, drinking, and turning down guy after guy. Ben couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed him yet. It was an entirely new feeling to the guy who was so used to getting a girl’s attention.

As he formulated his plans to sweep her off her feet, the night was dragging on, and the hours were zooming by. Ben knew he didn’t have forever to make his move. Fortune favors the bold, he told himself.

“Mike!” Ben barked over the speakers that were thundering just feet away from them.

“Yeah dude?”

“I need a favor,” he said, pulling Mike in close to whisper into is ear.

Mike leaned away. “Are you serious?” Ben nodded to assure Mike of his plans. “Aggressive. I got you. Five minutes.”

Ben prepared himself for his make-or-break moment. He filled up his beer at the keg, finished it. He filled it up again, and finished it again. Liquid courage, he said to himself, filling up his red cup for the third time. He lifted it for another swig when he heard Mike’s voice break the sound of the techno music.

Everybody at the party looked up, confused, angry, and disappointed about the stopped music.

“We’re going to slow it down for a minute because we got a special request, for a special lady,” Mike said into the wireless microphone. “Here you go my dude,” he said tossing the microphone over to Ben.

The moment he caught the mic, Eric Clapton’s “You Look Wonderful Tonight,” began playing loudly. The girls at the party screamed and broke into slow, rhythmic  dancing. The guys looked at their other guy buddies with a cliché camaraderie code of a look that said, “It’s Clapton, bro.” Everybody was into it. So far so good.

Ben, like the six times before, did what he always did. He casually mounted the coffee table in the center of the room, and rehearsed his pre-song lines.

“I don’t know what this crazy bastard is talking about,” he said as everybody looked at him. “I didn’t dedicate this song to anyone in particular, I just love it. So I’ll sing it for you anyway.”

The partygoers cheered as Ben began singing the 70’s classic. Moments like these always made him thank his mother for forcing him into choir lessons when he was younger despite his most violent of protests.

People began slow dancing, which was a plus for his performance, but not for his objective. He saw his target get approached by a gentlemen in a black hat. Ben needed to call an audible.

Normally Ben would finish the song, be applauded, and then go back to partying for the rest of the night. It was this approach that often led his targets to him.

But not tonight.

He waits for the last verse. Ben loves the feeling of being watched, and when the time comes, he knows what to do.

And then I tell her, as I turn out the light,” he sang, hopping off of the coffee table, weaving through the crowd, and approaching the girl. “I say my darlin, you were wonderful tonight,” She looked away from the guy she was just dancing with, and into Ben’s green eyes. “Ohhhhhh my darling,” he continued. “You were wonderful tonight.”

Ben could feel everybody at the party looking at him, but his green eyes were focused. The instrumentals of the end of the song blared loudly. Ben stood motionless. The whole party stood motionless. The whole world stood motionless.

He smiled, and she smiled back. Their gazes hung in the air while everybody watched the two of them like it was the New Year’s Ball in Times Square.

Ben titled his head to the side, ever so slightly. His smile pushed out just a bit more. Her smile stretched to match his happiness, and that’s when he knew.

The party erupted into cheers and applause as the song came to a close, and the two strangers embraced in a kiss that Ben would remember as the most romantic moment of his life.

“What’s your name?” Ben asked as the music transitioned back into a fast-paced hip-hop song and the party resumed.

“Tonya,” she said smiling and blushing. “What’s yours?”

Ben heard her, but couldn’t answer. The beaming smile on her face put one on his, and he could do nothing but stare at the most beautiful girl he had ever met.

 

November 10, 2010

I love mornings, Ben thought. How the coffee maker’s aroma filled the Manhattan apartment was a scent he looked forward to every day. He loved listening to the lighthearted morning news on his 52’’ HDTV in his living room as he looked through his emails on his new MacBook Pro. His material possessions reinforced his ideals that money could buy happiness.

At 28, Ben was the youngest Vice-President in SONY history, and it didn’t happen by chance. It was hard work, well-timed opportunity, and his endless stream of connections that put him in the fast lane out of the University of Pennsylvania.

You deserve all of this, he told himself. He poured himself a cup of coffee; no sugar, no cream. The clock read 7:41 a.m. Ben didn’t have to be at work until ten, but his nightmares had kept him from sleeping in. He walked over to his window, and overlooked the busy streets below. He knew he could save a fortune by living in a similar place in a different borough, but he loved the idea of being a wealthy male in Manhattan. The whole world at my fingertips.

Ben, as a product of success, wasn’t used to feeling vulnerable. And although they were just dreams, the mysterious Elaine was creeping into his thoughts during the day now; no longer were they restricted for nighttime.

He couldn’t understand the dreams, and that’s what bothered him the most. They always seemed peaceful at first, but ended in such devastating fashion. Waking up in an instant was the only way Ben ever could remember his dreams. He could feel the nightmares as harsh reality just before he woke back up to his seemingly perfect life.

He heard the shower start running. Well, since I got time, he thought. He went into the bathroom to see his wife with just a towel around her body.

“You’re up early,” Maria said, yawning just as she finished her sentence.

“Yeah, I had this horrible nightmare,” he said, looking away from her eye contact.

“Really, about what?” she asked, dropping her towel off of her body, revealing her near-perfect figure.

Ben took a step toward his wife and put his arms around her waist. He kissed her on the lips once. “I don’t want to talk about it. It was … too horrible.”

She kissed him back. “Maybe I can help you get over it. Tell me. Pleeasee,” she begged, stroking her finger down his chest.

“Fine, fine,” he said taking a deep breath. “I had a dream where I was at a Vegas strip-club, surrounded by naked girls everywhere. It was terrible. I didn’t know what to do.”

“You’re such an ass,” Maria said, turning to the shower with a smile. “For a minute I thought you were actually going to be serious, for once.”

“Ohhh you know that’s not the man you married,” he said grabbing her from behind. He kissed her on the cheek and held her for a moment.

“Did you already shower?” she asked.

“Well,” he paused. “Not with you.”

 

October 17, 2003

Tonya. Tonya. Tonya. He couldn’t get her out of his head. He didn’t understand why, either. She was gorgeous, for sure, but so were so many of the other girls he had hooked up with over the years.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do, man,” Ben said, looking to his roommate Paul.

“Is this about that girl again?” he asked. The tone of his voice indicated that he didn’t care, and one of Ben’s best skills was avoiding talking about his own problems. He knew people genuinely aren’t too interested about what his minuscule issues are, so he often just took conversations in a different direction. It kept him likeable, he thought.

“No, no, no,” he lied. “My macro-economics test. I suck at this shit.”

 

November 10, 2010

“Come on, let’s just have a skip day like we used to,” Ben said as he lay on the bed completely naked, trying to coax his wife into skipping work.

“You know I’d love to,” Maria said, as she slipped into her underwear. “But I have to be at the office by eleven, and you have to be at the office in eleven,” she said as she pointed to the alarm clock that read 9:49 a.m.

“Really? Check this out,” Ben said, grabbing the BlackBerry on his nightstand. He pressed a few buttons and lifted the smart-phone to his ear.

“Bill? Hey Bill, what’s happening? Not much over here. Listen, I’m going to be a little late today. Yeah, I’m just backed up with a few things. I can probably be in around eleven if that’s okay? Are you sure? Thanks Bill, I’ll see you then,” He said as he hung up the phone. He turned to his wife, tossed his phone over his shoulder onto the bed and said, “As easy as that.”

She stood there, just as impressed as she was annoyed. “Does anything bad ever happen to you?”

“No,” he said with an arrogant grin. “Except that one time in Cabo with your parents, the tequila, and the hot tub.” Just as he began to smile, Maria broke out into laughter.

“I can’t tell whether I love you, or hate you,” she said putting her arms around his neck.

“I think that’s how you know it is lust, actually,” he said jokingly.

“Get over yourself,” Maria said putting on a pair of Elie Tahari woman’s dress pants. “Do these look okay?” she asked, spinning for her husband.

“You look great in everything, you know that,” he said smirking. “That said, I’d go with the Vivienne Westwood’s. Make that ass pop.

April 18, 2008

The view was amazing from the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was one of those places that had become so extravagant that it was almost a cliché to say it was breath-taking. The Louvre, the surrouding gardens and ponds, the brisk Paris air; it was just one of those moments that couldn’t be captured in words, pictures, or videos, but just had to be experienced. Ben and Maria stood at the top of it, just the two of them. It was rare for the Eiffel Tower to be empty, but it heightened the intimacy of the situation right away.

Ben held her in his arms from behind as they soaked in the beautiful French neighborhoods beneath them. Ben had experienced a lifetime of fake, forced romantic moments in his life, but this moment, standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower with the women whom he loved was genuinely the most romantic. The authenticity of it couldn’t be faked.  Ben kissed Maria’s cheek as they let the silence and wonder of the moment set in.

Everything’s going according to plan, Ben thought to himself. For their first vacation as a couple, things couldn’t have gone more perfectly. His only concern was if she was thinking about the proposal again.

Ben had grown up imagining how he would propose to the one girl who he truly believed he loved. And he knew it would take place on this vacation, he knew precisely when and where he would do it, but here at the top of the Eiffel Tower — the most romantic location on earth — was too cliché, too predictable for Ben, who always liked to surprise people. He just feared how disappointed Maria would be after he didn’t pop the question in such a perfection location. But he hoped that the pain and anguish would be worth the wait for her.

“Beautiful isn’t it?” Ben whispered in her ear. Maria didn’t need to answer, the setting spoke for itself and the feeling it gave was more powerful than any words Maria could muster.

Ben could sense that the moment was becoming increasingly bittersweet for his girlfriend as every passing moment was a moment that Ben wasn’t proposing. He had to get them out of there before she brought anything up.

“Let’s go,” he said, kissing her cheek. “We’ll never have a more perfect moment than this. Let’s enjoy it.”

Ben, still holding Maria from behind could feel her emotions drop to the floor. She wanted that to be their moment, and Ben let her down. But she knew she loved him too much to say anything to him about it. “A truly perfect moment,” she said quietly, directed at the city of Paris and not to the love of her life.

Ben dropped his arms from around her and grabbed her hand to lead her to the elevator. They stopped and shared several kisses as their elevator descended back to solid ground. She wasn’t showing it by her actions or facial expressions, but Ben could tell she was upset, very upset. And he understood why, but he also understood that it was all part of his master plan.

Walking away from the tower now, in the midst of the beautiful landscape surrounding the French landmark, Ben slowed down and pulled out his cell phone.

“Who’s that?” Maria asked, stopping with Ben as he looked intently at his phone.

He laughed out loud, “I got to show you this, it’s really quite amazing,” he said, handing his phone to her. She took the phone and pressed a button to illuminate a locked text message. It was from December 2005 and it was a sent message from Ben that he had sent to his friend Steve. It read, “dude best 1st date eva. i love this girl. gonna marry her.”

Maria looked up from the phone and saw Ben on one knee in front of her with a marvelous diamond ring being presented to her.

“Maria, I know I should have done this a long time ago,” he said. She was trembling. The term speechless could never have been applied so appropriately. “But I wanted to know for sure that I found the right girl, and when I found that right girl, I wanted to make this moment as special to her as she was to me.

“Maria, will you marry me?”

She couldn’t even answer. Been got up from the ground, picked her up and swung her around in a circle before kissing her, as his fiancé, for the first time. It seemed the whole world had stopped again — and with the Eiffel tower watching happily over the two of them — Ben now had a new “most romantic moment of his life.”

 

An Excerpt from “Chronicles of an Ultra Ego”

A quick section of my new short story to be released sometime in December. Enjoy.

By Matt Driffill


November 10, 2010

Ben woke up with his heart racing and sweat dripping off his forehead. These nightmares are going to be the end of me, he thought. He reached for his glass of water, and took a swig. The moon shining through the window illuminated his extravagant bedroom. The light reflected off the 32’’ Plasma TV that hung on the wall. The rays danced over the plush red carpet that Ben loved to sink his bare feet into.

He leaned over and checked his Blackberry: 5:04 a.m. He glanced over his shoulder and looked at his wife, Maria, sleeping so peacefully. Why can’t I do the same, he thought. Nightmares had been haunting Ben’s nights for weeks now. The bad dreams were always so drastically different with one crazy consistency: Elaine.

Elaine? I don’t know anybody named Elaine…. except that chick from Seinfeld, Ben thought.  He saw the mysterious dream woman almost every night, but she was always something different. An innocent 11-year old girl playing in the park, a seductive bartender in Brooklyn, or an elderly client falling for Ben’s charm. Always a different female, always a different scenario, but always the same name: Elaine.

Despite dealing with these dreams for weeks, he knew he couldn’t tell his wife. He assumed Maria wouldn’t take kindly to the idea of her husband’s dreams being haunted by another woman; she was always the jealous type.

September 15, 2007

“Who was that?” Maria asked, crossing her arms and leaning back from the dinner table.

“An old friend from college, Tonya,” Ben said biting into his chicken french. He could sense his girlfriend was unhappy about the 2-minute conversation that had just ended between him and an old college friend. “We took macro-economics together junior year, that’s all.”

“You seemed awfully excited to see her . . .” Maria said trailing off and looking away. “Maybe you’d like to just go sit at Tonya’s table and leave me here alone with my wine.”

“I haven’t seen her in forever,” Ben said, taking another bite into his pasta. With his mouth half full he managed, “You don’t have to be jealous.”

“You know I don’t get jealous,” Maria said leaning back into the table. “She was just very pretty, that’s all.”

“She is very pretty, beautiful even,” he paused for effect as Maria looked up from her seafood bisque. “But not my type.”

“What’s your type?” Maria asked coldly, apparently back to her concerned state.

“I don’t like a girl with just nice eyes, or great hair,” Ben began taking another bite of pasta. He had recited these lines to so many different girlfriends in his lifetime. He sets the routine in motion up upon first meeting them, and if they passed Ben’s rigorous “girl tests” he would use this little number at a later time to bring it back up. He couldn’t remember how many times the maneuver had been executed to perfection.

However, he hadn’t used it on Maria until now — the one who he truly believed he cared the most for out of all of his former lovers.

“It’s not just about a smile, or legs. It’s got to be the complete package. A girl could have the most beautiful eyes in the world, but if they don’t compliment her smile or her face, it seems off. It’s not that girls have certain physical features that I’m instantly attracted to, but the whole picture is what I like. If a girl’s features don’t play off each other then everything seems .…. unbalanced.” He paused to sip his wine.  “I know I’m very nitpicky about these things and am very particular about stuff that I like and dislike,”

This was the opening. He locked eyes with Maria in anticipation. He hoped this was going to work like it always had. “Do you remember what I told you when we first met two years ago?”

A violent smile immediately appeared on Maria’s face. “You said I had a balanced face. It was the most awkward compliment I’ve ever received,” She laughed. “But I loved it. It got my attention, that’s for sure.”

She remembered, phew, He thought. It works again…

“So, you see, you’re my type,” he said smiling. “So, for the millionth time, don’t worry about other girls,” Ben said reaching for a breadstick from the center of the table. He hated that he had to recite cheesy lines all the time, but he hated even more that he had given the same “You’re face is balanced” routine to countless other women in his life.  It was a borderline flawless pickup line that Ben had mastered. He felt bad because of all targets it had worked on, he liked Maria the most. He didn’t want to think of her as just another girl.  “And by the way, you do get extremely jealous,” Ben said, downing the rest of his wine as a wry smile crept from the left side of his mouth.

“Shut up!” she said giggling. “How could I not get jealous though? Everywhere we go, girls stop and stare at you like you’re a movie star or something.”

“And you think it’s easy for me every time a guy does a complete 180 to stare at your ass as we pass by them?” Ben asked, diverting the attention away from him. “I never say anything about it though because I realize that I am the one with you. You should do the same.  There’s nothing to be gained from jealously.”

“More wine?” the waiter asked as he approached the table. Maria lifted her glass, but Ben interrupted the movement.

“Actually sir, may we have a bottle of Dom Perignon?” he asked

“Excellent taste sir,” the waiter said with a wink. “I’ll have that right out for you.” The waiter disappeared to grab the requested bottle.

“Champagne?” Maria asked. “What’s the occasion?”

“Oh it’s a very special occasion tonight actually,” Ben said, reaching into his pocket. Maria’s shoulder’s lifted with excitement. Ben pulled his cell phone out to check a text message, and could saw Maria’s body language scream, “Not a ring?!”

He sensed Maria’s disappointment. It’s too soon to propose, he thought to himself. Now’s not the time. Now’s not the time.

“Any night that I can spend with you is a special occasion,” Ben said putting his phone away. “But tonight’s extra special because of this…” Ben smoothly pulled a coupon book out of his suit coat pocket. Maria instantly recognized the coupon book from last year’s Valentine’s Day. She made the book and knew exactly what was in it and at the moment realized that the two of them were in for a long, interesting night.

“Well, pour me a glass then,” Maria said. “I’m going to need it.” She faked her emotions really well, but Ben had an ability to read way past people’s words and facial expressions. He knew she wanted to get married, but he also knew that now, in this restaurant, was not the time nor place for such a proposal.

 

November 10, 2010

Ben checked his cell phone again. 6:28 a.m. Fuck it, he thought as he got out of bed carefully, trying not to disturb his wife. He made his way to the shower, but the idea of the nightmare mystery woman still haunted his thoughts.

Elaine. Why Elaine? He tried to remember over the years if there was an Elaine he had known. If he had forgotten about somebody, and the idea of her was creeping into his subconscious during the night.

That can’t be it. She looks different in every dream.

The cause for the nightmares was an issue. He didn’t know why they were happening, what was causing them, or how he could stop them. But, as a realist, Ben would have to try his best to not let something as small and insignificant as a dream affect his life.

He glanced at the mirror, then decided to linger for a moment.  He hated how narcissistic he was, but sometimes he couldn’t help but stare for a few extra moments at himself. The reflection of perfection, he told himself. His lean 6’1” frame, his perfect jaw, his deep green eyes, the definition of his muscles. He admired everything about himself, which ultimately, was his greatest flaw.

November 10, 2010

I love mornings, Ben thought. The aroma from the coffee maker and how it filled the Manhattan apartment as it brewed was a scent he looked forward to every day. He loved listening to the lighthearted morning news on his 52’’ HDTV in his living room as he looked through his emails on his new MacBook Pro. His material possessions reinforced his ideals that money could buy happiness.

At 28, Ben was the youngest Vice-President in SONY history, and it didn’t happen by chance. It was hard work, well-timed opportunity, and his endless stream of connections that put him in the fast lane out of the University of Pennsylvania.

You deserve all of this, he told himself. He poured himself a cup of coffee; no sugar, no cream. The clock read 7:41 a.m. Ben didn’t have to be at work until ten, but his nightmares had kept him from sleeping in. He walked over to his window, and overlooked the busy streets below. He knew he could save a fortune by living in a similar place in a different borough, but he loved the idea of being a wealthy male in Manhattan. The whole world at my fingertips.

Ben, as successful as he was, wasn’t used to feeling vulnerable. And although they were just dreams, the idea of Elaine was creeping into his thoughts during the day now, now longer restricted to nighttime.

He just couldn’t understand the dreams. They always seemed peaceful at first, but ended in such devastating fashion. Waking up in an instant was the only way Ben ever could remember his dreams. He could feel them as reality even as he awoke back to his seemingly perfect life.

He heard the shower start running. Well, since I got time, he thought. He went into the bathroom to see his wife with just a towel around her body.

“You’re up early,” Maria said, yawning just as she finished her sentence.

“Yeah, I had this horrible nightmare,” he said, looking away from her eye contact.

“Really, about what?” she asked, dropping her towel off of her body, revealing her near-perfect figure.

Ben took a step toward his wife and put his arms around her waist. He kissed her on the lips once. “I don’t want to talk about it. It was … too horrible.”

She kissed him back. “Maybe I can help you get over it. Tell me. Pleeasee,” she begged, stroking her finger down his chest.

“Fine, fine,” he said taking a deep breath. “I had a dream where I was at a Vegas strip-club, surrounded by naked girls everywhere. It was terrible. I didn’t know what to do.”

“You’re such an ass,” Maria said, turning to the shower with a smile. “For a minute I thought you were actually going to be serious, for once.”

“Ohhh you know that’s not the man you married,” he said grabbing her from behind. He kissed her on the cheek and held her for a moment.

“Did you already shower?” she asked.

“Well, not with you,” he replied.

Brad Childress lobying for Cowboys job

Satire/11.12.10

By Matt Driffill

 

With half of his locker room seemingly uniting against him, Vikings head coach Brad Childress has made it public that he’s ready to move on from Minnesota.

"Chilly thinks his time in Minnesota is up. Chilly likes to speak in third person now, and Chilly likes the nickname 'Chilly'"

“I’m not fool. I know when a situation is working and when a situation isn’t working,” Childress said. “This situation isn’t working.”

Childress has been the head coach for the Vikings since 2006 and has several playoff appearances with them on his resume. But with as talented as a roster as the Vikings has had since Childress has been calling the shots, they’ve failed to advance to a a Super Bowl. And after a disappointing 2-5 start to 2010, it appears that he’s already looking for other job opportunities.

“You don’t need to be at the end of your contract to be considered a ‘lame-duck’ coach,” Childress joked. “My body of work here in Minnesota is no-good. It’s time for me to roll up my sleeves and look elsewhere.”

Several Vikings players have stepped forward, anonymously, to acknowledge how much they don’t care for their head coach.

“He’s a f*ckin’ dick,” said a Vikings player. “He really doesn’t do shit but watch CSI in his office all day.”

“I just wish he’d run the ball more,” said another Vikings player. “I mean I’m… I mean… We have one of the best running backs in football and all we do is throw the ball. Let me… I mean…. our running back … get some touches in crunch time.”

One player wasn’t afraid to give up his name when talking negatively about his coach. He said it’s because, “He doesn’t giev a f*ck about the Vikings.”

“He’s just not a good football coach,” quarterback Brett Favre said. “He’s good at some things …. Like CSI trivia…. and….. Uhhh….. he has a great Pee-Wee Herman impersonation. But he’s not very good at handling a football team.

Even Randy Moss — who was recently traded to the Vikings and then released shortly thereafter — had bad things to say about Childress.

“The guy is inept,” Moss said, donning his new Titans jersey. “You give that guy one of the most talented rosters in the league and what does he do? He goes and f*cks it up. He motivates players to want to struggle in hopes that he gets fired. F*ckin’ guy is ridiculous mang.”

"I don't wanna say anything bad now, but that guy... he was a ..."

Childress says he has no hard feelings about the future departure with the Vikings and thinks the split will be best for him, his family, the Vikings organization and the state of Minnesota as a whole.

“Let’s be realistic, I’m not the type of coach that handles Super Bowl expectations very well,” Childress said. “I don’t handle any kind of expectations well. Ask my wife about or sex life, she’ll tell you. I live to disappoint.

“That’s why I’m excited about applying for the Cowboys job,” he added. “They continually have high expectations, but since they always disappoint, I already know what’s expected. Yup, Dallas is the city for me.”

NFL Picks Week 10

Got an hour or two on this lovely Thursday in Brockport, NY, So why not look like a jackass to you all by picking every NFL game wrong like every other week I try.  Ladies and gentleman (Probably not too many ladies on this site) your Week 10 picks….

(Hometeams in bold)

Baltimore (+1) over Atlanta

Gotta figure that a home team on Thursday night is gonna have a crowd that’s amped up. That helps the Falcons alot, but maybe more helpful to Atlanta is how good they actually are. After a disppointing season last year where they missed they playoffs, I think people sort of forgot about this team. Now they’re one of the best teams in the NFC.

That said, I like the Ravens in this one. I think we’re yet to see this team’s peak. In these next few weeks I think Joey Brows and Ray Fried Rice are going to show the league why the Ravens should be Super Bowl Champs.

Pick: Ravens 27, Falcons 17

Minnesota (-1) over Chicago

"... Or my 23 district titles ...."

Have the Vikings found their edge? Has the team come together in support of hating Brad Childress? This story is really more amazing than you know.

Childress is like Varsity Blue’s coach Bud Kilmer — except without 23 district titles. Everybody hates him, but the team is so talented they can get by with horrible chemistry and tension in the locker room. But once they start turning on him, and Chilly leaves at halftime of the state championship, than the team can really reach it’s full potential.

Also, they’ll need a 5-star recruit —preferably somebody who looks like Paul Walker — to step in as coach for the final half.

Pick: West Canyon Coyotes 27, Bears 24

 

Indianapolis (-7) over Cincinnati

7 points is never a gimme in the NFL. But Peyton Manning at home against a team that blows? Just about a gimme.

Pick: Colts 31, Bengals 21

New York Jets (-3) over Cleveland

"We're gonna be best friends....FOREVER!!!!!"

Cleveland has already chewed up the Saints and spit out the Patriots this season. Will the Jets be the next-preseason Super Bowl favorite

that the Browns defeat?!

Probably not.

Pick: Jets 24, Browns 9

Houston (+1.5) over Jacksonville

The Texans started strong and have faltered in their last few games. As usual with this team, they are right on the cusp of the postseason but, like every other year, will likely finish just outside of the top-6. It happens every year with them.

However, if they even want to get into the mix this season they’ll have to dispose of the Jaguars who have been sneaky good through the first half of the season. Winner of this game has an outside shot of the wild-card, and the loser can probably start talkin’ to Todd McShay about possible draft picks.

Pick: Texans 23, Jaguars 10

Miami (+2) over Tennessee

These team’s rating are probably pretty similar in Madden, so I went with conventional wisdom and chose the home team who’s getting points, right? That makes sense. Even if NoodleArm Supreme Chad Pennington is starting for the Dolphins. Doesn’t matter if he can’t throw the long ball, he threw the best 5-yard ins, and 8-yard curls in Marshall history!

Or the reason I’m taking this Fins team is because I recently added Ronnie Brown to my fantasy team. He’s the sparkplug the Smush Captains have been waiting for all year. This week against The Dirty Wizards, the Smush Captains will make their STAANNNND!!!!!!

Pick: Dolphins 19, Titans 17

Buffalo (+2.5) over Detroit

"Yeah you see that? Right there? That's not good, right? Just tell me I don't have to play, please?"

 

THIS IS IT!!! NOBODY CIRCLES THE BANDWAGONS LIKE THE BUFFALO BILLS!!!!!

Pick: Bills 3, Lions 0

 

Tampa Bay (+6.5) over Carolina

The Buccaneers have been my dudes this season. Josh Freeman and Coach Raheem Morris have done a great job of turning this godforsaken team around in just two years. They’ll probably be a couple games out of the playoffs by season’s end (hurts that the Falcons and Saints are in the same division), but the improvement over one year is substantial and it’s apparent that this team is going to be a contender in the next few years.

Pick: Bucs 20, Panthers 13

St. Louis (+6) over San Francisco

I think the 49ers will probably pull this one out, but I like the Rams to cover. Coach Steve Spagnola has done a tremendous job of transforming a door mat defense into a unit that routinely makes big plays and stops. He brought his system over from the Giants and his guys are  bying into it.

On offense it appears that Sam Bradford is the favorite for offensive rookie of the year. For a first year player on a team that was far and away the worst in the league last year, he’s done amazing. Is he the next Peyton Manning?

Pick: 49ers 20, Rams 17

Denver (+1) over Kansas City

"Is coach gonna ever let me throw the ball?"

NOBODY COMES IN TO MILE HIGH AND DEFEATS THE BRONCOS!!!!!! HERE WE GO BRONCOS HERE WE GO!!!! HERE WE GO BRONCOS HERE WE GO!!!!!

Pick: BRONCOS 78, Chiefs 22

Dallas (+13.5) over New York Giants

This game in the Meadowlands is probably going to have a bigger blowout than Pauly-D. I’m just hoping that the Cowboys play their hearts out in favor of Jason Garrett who’s been the coach-in-waiting for what seems like forever. Jerry Jones has made it public how much he wanted Garrett to stay on staff, and here’s his chance.

And you can be damn sure that everybody in Dallas knows how much Jones likes Garrett and how if they don’t play up to the level that they think they can (just used “they” three times in one sentence) then they (+1!!!) will get cut/releaseed/fired/traded/punched.

Pick: Giants 35, Cowboys 24

New England (+4.5) over Pittsburgh

Serious potential to be our AFC Championship preview.

"Yo Carson, you have really pretty eyes bro."

But that’s a pretty vague statement that any given writer can say about any given match up on any given week. Jets vs Ravens, AFC Championship preview! Patriots vs Steelers, AFC Championship Preview! Colts vs Ravens, AFC Championship Preview! Jets vs Steelers, AFC Championship Preview! Patriots vs Ravens, AFC Championship Preview!

And that’s without exaggerated teams like the Chargers, Titans, and obviously, the Broncos.

Pick: Patriots 27, Steelers 24

Philadelphia (-3) over Washington

WHEWWWW!!!! So excited to Michael Vick on Monday night!!! So much cooler than any subplot with some old quarterback playing against his former team that had recently traded him to a division rival like he was Gus Ferrotte or something.

Orrrrrrr, I don’t get to watch MNF because my fuckin’ job. SHIIIIIIIT

Pick: Eagles 38, Redskins 20

David Akers thanking the big man upstairs for helping him on that one.

Unite to light Prop 19

*This article appears in the Novemeber 10 issue of The Stylus, or online, here http://media.www.thestylus.net/media/storage/paper1380/news/2010/11/10/Opinion/Unite.To.Light.Prop.19-3956345.shtml

By Matt Driffill

California had a chance to spark some sweet legislation, but instead, chiefed it

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 54 percent of California voters voted against Proposition 19, the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act.” In 1972, 66.5 percent of California voters put down a similar proposition. An 11 percent increase in 38 years is encouraging to those fighting for the cause. But it wasn’t enough to pass the legislation that would allow the sale of marijuana in authorized establishments, the consumption of marijuana in non-public places and the opportunity for government to collect taxes that could be implemented on the substance. That all sounds lovely.

But we lost.

Proposition 19 was our chance to really change something that should have been changed years ago. It was California’s chance to light up a nice piece of law and pass these policies to the East for the rest of the country to enjoy. If Proposition 19 passed in California, it may have passed in Colorado, Vermont and every other state until all 50 states were no longer divided by red and blue, but united by green.

But we lost.

I’m sorry, I’ll try my best to not turn this into a legalization rant – I’m sure you’ve suffered through five or six of those throughout your time here at Brockport already – but I will hit you with a couple of reasons why it should be legalized as soon as possible.

If all the decade’s economies since the Great Depression were football teams, then this decade would be the Buffalo Bills. Homes are being foreclosed, people are being laid off everywhere and the country falls deeper and deeper into debt every day. If marijuana was legal, farming, transportation and retail jobs would be created immediately. Estimated billions of dollars in taxes could be renovated if cannabis was taxed comparably to the taxes on tobacco and alcohol. Economically, it makes perfect sense for marijuana to be legalized.

For health purposes, it should be legal as well. I’m sure that anybody who has ever tried smoking weed would be happier if his/her herb was being regulated by the FDA and not some gentleman named Bill down the street who’s recently re-upped. It would be nice for Americans to be able to enjoy marijuana that they knew was being closely watched and regulated by government officials instead of neighbors.

If legalized, police officer’s time would be spent preventing violent crimes rather than cracking down on 18-year-olds with dime bags. If legalized, money would be taken out of drug-dealers’ hands and put into the economy. If legalized, our prisons would stop being overpopulated with people who have no business being there in the first place.

But we lost.

I keep saying we, because it must be a group thing. We, the people of this country who aren’t afraid to say we smoke marijuana, must be united if we ever want it to be legalized.

If you don’t smoke pot, that’s amazing. I love you for it and want you to be proud of that because it shows you have strong morals and that you stand for them. But if you do smoke pot, let people know. It’s this back-alley hideaway thing that has kept marijuana illegal for so long.

In the 1920s when alcohol was temporarily illegal, people who drank were forced to be quiet about it for years. Of course, people who drink aren’t typically quiet, so the loud rebellion began, prohibition was repealed and the country was back to enjoying itself for a change.

Flash forward 80 years. Our economy is struggling. A different substance remains illegal despite widespread use in our country. The stark difference between the prohibition movements of alcohol and marijuana is the effects the two substances have on the people who use it.

People who get drunk are going to get rowdy. People who smoke pot are going to sit in a circle and giggle. One of those reactions has a bit more probability for working toward a cause, right?

But it’s this keep-it-to-yourself mentality that’s kept marijuana illegal all these years, and until people come out and rally for the cause, it will stay off the shelves of stores and on the streets in sketchy bags.

This modern-day prohibition has become borderline farcical. There’s a plant, which grows naturally, that we as a society have strictly said “no” to. While if we said “yes” to it, our economy would be instantly stimulated, our weed would be cleaner and safer to smoke and Taco Bell would become America’s most successful organization.

I’ll admit it in print, I occasionally smoke marijuana. I know there’s a million reasons why I shouldn’t, and I know that writing about it so passionately is just about the least professional thing I could do. But that’s why I smoke pot, because I know these are the times in my life I’m allowed to not take things seriously. I know there will be a time when I can’t smoke because of my job or responsibilities, whatever the reason may be.

But I also know there are a lot worse things that I could be than a 20-year-old college student who occasionally smokes pot.