Trick. . . or. . . Treat?

The spirits have attacked Grump Joe’s Place computer. What evil lurks within the bits and bytes of the iMac?

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Pumpkin Party

Pumpkins, photographed in Canada.

Image via Wikipedia

Last Sunday, I had a privilege not many grandparents get to experience. Grandma Peggy and I crashed a Pumpkin Carving Party in Michigan. My talented and creative daughter-in-law invited kids from school to come to a pumpkin carving fest. Participants came in full costume for the Halloween Costume Parade. Mary Beth made sure there were pumpkins and carving tools to spare, and the creations were amazing. She awarded prizes for the scariest, the most creative, the funniest, etc. Each carver got a prize, and he got to take his creation home to scare off the evil spirits lurking about on the days and nights before Halloween.

The prize I took home was a cold, or at least I think that’s where I got it. It was a fun time which I wish upon all grandparents.

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Garden Creature

This creature of the vine wants to eat you!

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Be very careful when going out into the night, he may be waiting in the shadows to jump out and steal you for his own amusement.

Sweet Miss Giving’s Cookie

I disagree with comments flashing around Facebook that 1% of Monsters consume 99% of cookies.

Grandma Peggy and I planned a beautiful evening out. We have theater subscriptions for Steppenwolf and had to reschedule our date from Wednesday to Thursday a week later. We did that because our theater date coincided with the funeral of a dear friend. Needless to say, the weather a week earlier was heavenly, warm and dry. The friends we usually go with reported the play was excellent and that we shouldn’t miss it.

The plan was to leave the house at four-thirty for the seven-thirty performance. We would valet park, dine at Gianni’s, and saunter across Halstead Street to Steppenwolf. We did leave at four-thirty. That was it for the plan. From that point on things went awry.

At forty-first street all traffic on the Dan Ryan stopped. Normally, we do not hit heavy traffic until the entrance to the last express lanes at twenty-second street. Traffic delays from twenty-second are more normal than the one we sat in Thursday.  It rained this time, and the line of semi-trucks looked like a railroad train from fortieth to the Loop.

The electronic sign at thirty-ninth said it would be twenty-seven minutes to Circle. (Chicago Circle Campus of the University of Illinois). Circle is at Roosevelt Road (twelfth street from thirty-ninth is twenty-seven blocks or roughly three and a half miles). Thirty minutes later, at twenty-second street, another electronic sign flashed “thirty minutes to Circle.” That didn’t sound so good.

Peggy and I had a wonderful conversation along the way as I watched the mpg indicator on the Death Star drop from 24.5 mpg to 22.5 mpg. We moved very slowly, so slowly that the speedometer needle never left the peg. I thought this jam would be the ideal scenario for the all-electric car. When you don’t move, it doesn’t matter if the electric can only travel forty miles on a charge. Although two and a half hours with head lights on would drain the battery too.

We finally, passed Madison Street, the geographic bisector of town. Traffic began to move north out of the loop at a light warping speed of ten miles per hour.

We pulled into the Steppenwolf parking lot a seven o’clock. Both of us made a mad dash to the rest room for relief. Once the pressure was off our mind the stomach growls kicked in.  We headed for the snack bar, where I spotted the cookies. Not just any cookie, these were Sweet Miss Giving’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I took two off the rack and waited in line to pay. “That’ll be six dollars please.”

Whoa, six bucks for two cookies! It didn’t matter I became the monster and Peggy was the monsterette.

I have to blog about this cookie, I told myself. I stuffed the empty package in my pocket.

The play was as great as our friends told us. I’ll write about it later. We left feeling pretty good about ourselves for having stayed awake for the entire performance, and we actually understood what was going on. Steppenwolf does, at times, present some weird stuff.

Our drive home took a sweet forty-eight minutes.

The following morning I read the label on the cookie package. No wonder these things were so good, one cookie is two servings for a total of five-hundred calories, but Sweet Miss Giving’s cookie made up for missing dinner at Trattoria Gianni’s, and the ridiculous two and a half hour drive.

“What Are We Seeing?”

Baseball has not been my favorite sport since my boys gave up Little League. When our freinds called to ask Peggy and me to the movies we accepted without knowing what the film title or story was. Spending time with our friends seemed a heck of a lot more important to me than knowing. As I walked up to the ticket counter, I asked, “what are we seeing?”

“Moneyball,” came the reply.

“Okay, two seniors for Moneyball please.” I went into shock when the little lady behind the counter asked for fifteen bucks. We normally go to show on the week days to get a reduced rate of five bucks apiece. I learned something new that day,  don’t go to see a movie on the weekend.

Peggy and I still didn’t know what the movie was about. Our friends just said they heard it was good. We sat in a center seat in the middle of a row half way to the top. There were about six other people in the show with us.

We soon learned that Moneyball was a story about baseball. A true story about the mechanics of running a team on a very low-budget.

The story begins with the last out of the last game of the world series. The Oakland A’s need to score the men on base to win. They don’t. The A’s choked and lost the world series to the New York Yankees.

During the winter the Yankees recruit three of the A’s star players, which leaves the A’s lifeless. The General Manager Billy Beane goes to the owner to ask for money to buy some good players to replace those who left. The owner tells Billie to find a way to run a winning team on a shoestring budget.

The rest of the movie told the true story of how Billy accomplished the task, and in so doing showed major league baseball that winning doesn’t take big money. How did he do it? Well you will have to see the movie to find out, but I can tell you the story won’t bore you. The story is fascinating, well told, and well acted. Brad Pitt was Billy Beane and he played the part so well I believed he was the real General Manager of the team.

If Brad Pitt doesn’t get nominated for this film along with his co-star Jonah Hill who played his assistant, it will be a surprise to me. Maybe I’m just easy to impress.

Go see this great film on any day Monday through Friday and see it for $2.50 per person less than I did.

Five stars * * * * *

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