Rick's Ramblings

You have found Rick's Ramblings, a Web Log.

I have been writing in this space for a few years now. Visit the archives to get a feel for my style.

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Email: rickumali@gmail.com

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Saturday, January 17, 2004
When the Red Sox lost Game 7 way back on October 16, 2003, I was put into a sports depression. The following Sunday, the New England Patriots were at the Miami Dolphins. The hype: New England hadn't won at Miami in any of their previous September/October match-ups. In the mood I was in, I was prepared for yet another New England sports loss.

Instead, the Patriots won the game in overtime, on a thrilling 82-yard pass from Tom Brady to Troy Brown. They became 5-2 that Sunday. And from that point on they have not lost. (They had already won two-straight before that Miami game.) I have watched the Patriots win with all kinds of styles: defensive stops (Colts), dramatic touch-down passing (Denver), squeakers (Jets) and even a plain old ass-whipping (Buffalo). The Patriots have done more than get me out of my sports depression; they have lifted me back into the winners' section, feeling that winning feeling.

Tomorrow, the Patriots are playing the Indianapolis Colts for the right to play in the Superbowl. Listening to the local sports media analyze and dissect this game, you'd think that New England has already won the thing. But the Colts have a hot quarterback in Peyton Manning. And the Colts have lost twice to New England this season. I.M. Bettor of the Boston Herald opined on the radio that "lessons may have been learned."

As a Red Sox fan whose neck still tightens thinking about that roller-coaster week in October, it's hard to really let my guard down. I'm nervous for tomorrow. But I'll be there, to see if I can get that winning feeling again.

Friday, January 16, 2004
Minus-eight Farenheit outside when I woke up. As I write this, it's warming up. The temperature is now minus-three.

I think nearly every school in Arlington is closed. My car hasn't started for the past two days. Even after a jump start, it remains inert (it can idle, provided I keep my foot on the gas to give it RPMs). It's betrayed me like this before. I'm now driving a rental. Thankfully, that started up this morning.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

-5.4. That's right. Minus-five-point-four Farenheit. Right after I took this snapshot, I stepped outside, and closed the door. For the first few seconds, I thought: It's not so bad. But after ten seconds (I was counting) the bitter brittle air started to tighten its cold group around my exposed hands and face. I stepped back inside.

As I write this, nearly thirty minutes later, the temperature on my outdoor thermometer is reading -6.3. Minus six-point-three. My hands are only now beginning to feel warm.

New England is in the midst of its coldest weather in years. It's the lead story in every media outlet. The weekend's forecast is going to be in the mid-thirties, and we're looking forward to it! Our only consolation: No snow. But the blustery wind is making up for that deficit.

I watched 56 movies in 2003, twelve of which I watched in the theater. The rest I watched on DVD or on cable television. Here were some highlights:

Tuesday, January 13, 2004
I read seventeen books last year. Three of them were "graphic novels" (comics), which I read during the buzz of American Splendor. Two of the books, Mystic River and Matchstick Men, I read strictly because I knew I was going to watch their movies. These turned out to be terrific books.

My favorite book from 2003 was Empire Falls. This book is by Richard Russo, and it won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This is such a beautiful book, it's almost indescribable. Many times as I was reading it, I openly marveled at how lovingly the sentences were put together. They were rich with imagery.

One sample: "She gave him a smile in which hope and knowledge were going at it, bare-knuckled, equally and eternally matched."

Now how good is that? You don't even have to know the plot or the characters to see what her face must look like.

As a whole, the bookie story is about a man coming to terms with his own self, with his own dreams, with his own struggles. We spend a lot of time inside the main character's head, and I found myself pulling for him as I turned every page. This is a book I deliciously savored over the summer. I hope to devour this again!