Monday, October 25, 2010

On This Day in 1986...Magic

On October 25, 1986, my New York Mets played and won (the game was actually won in the wee hours of the 26th) Game 6 of the World Series to force a Game 7.

The Boston Red Sox had taken an early lead in the game, but the Mets managed to tie it up to bring it to extra innings. It was the bottom of the 10th, down by 2 runs and down to their final out, when the Mets staged a comeback for the record books, as one hitter after the next rallied to get on base. First it was Gary Carter, then Kevin Mitchell, followed by Ray Knight. Mookie Wilson was at bat with a 2-2 count, when a wild pitch slipped past the catcher and allowed the runner on third base (Mitchell) to score the tying run. With the crowd going wild, Wilson hits a slow ground ball up the first base line that appeared to be a sure out. As Mookie sprinted towards first base, the ball goes through the first baseman’s legs and trickles into right field, as Ray Knight runs in to score the winning run. Two days later, the Mets won game 7 to become World Series Champs.

Ahh, those were the good old days, when the team truly deserved their moniker “the Amazins,” now, not so much.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Our Next Governor?

In the last televised debate in the New York Governor's race, Jimmy McMillan, running in the Rent is 2 Damn High party, made his case to New York voters. This is priceless.

"As a karate expert, I will not talk about anyone up here..." What? I'm still scratching my head about that one.

The Story of Nicole

*In my recent '100 things' post, I mentioned the fact that when I go to the cemetery for my dad, I also bring flowers to Nicole, someone that I in fact have never met. As promised, here's the story as to why.

All I've ever known about her is her name, and the year she was born and died. After my dad passed away, mom and I would visit his grave regularly. We'd go to bring flowers, clean up so everything looked nice and of course, say a few prayers. One day we happened to walk down a different aisle near my dad's graveside, and noticed that one grave only had the simple metal marker provided by the funeral home, yet it obviously wasn't a recently dug grave. I knelt to read what it said and that's how I found Nicole. Nicole was born in 1983 and died in 1984. Only the years of her birth and death are listed on the marker, so I don't know her actual birthday and whether she'd actually reached the age of 1, but I've always imagined that she had. After finding Nicole, whenever mom and I brought flowers to the cemetery for Dad we'd bring something for Nicole as well. I still do to this day, even now that mom's no longer with me.

As I said, Nicole's grave doesn't have a stone or fancy marker, I assume its because of her family's economic situation. Despite the fact that her grave doesn't have a stone, she's not forgotten. She always has some pretty little knick-knack or plant to show that someone still thinks of her. Last winter someone left a pretty little angel, but unfortunately exposure to the elements broke both of the angel's arms, so I bought her a new stone angel. The little broken angel is still there. I wouldn't dare touch it, since it was obviously brought there with love. I left my gift, as I've left others over the years, with the hope that her family isn't upset by my gifts and that instead they take heart in the knowledge that someone else in this world was touched by their little girl.

I wonder sometimes what she looked like, or what happened to take her from her family, but I never wonder if she was loved for that answer is obvious. I brought that new angel to Nicole shortly after mom passed away, and as I knelt to leave Nicole her stone angel, I wondered and hoped that mom and Nicole had gotten a chance to meet and that among all the people there to welcome mom to her eternal rest there was also a little girl with a beautiful smile.

Easy A

Last night I went to see "Easy A", directed by Will Gluck and starring Emma Stone. Emma portrays the main character, Olive, a clean cut student who as such is anonymous, invisible, a non-entity at her high school. That is until she's overheard telling her best friend a little white lie about losing her virginity and the school's rumor mill starts churning with word of her promiscuity. It all could've ended there, but Emma makes the decision to embrace her bad girl reputation in order to help out a friend who has been the object of ridicule and bullying due to the fact that he's gay. Things quickly spiral out of control for Emma, as one bad decision leads to another, and she becomes a social pariah to her classmates a la Hester Prynne in "The Scarlet Letter."

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. This has got to be one of the better teen comedies to come out in a while. Emma Stone was charming, witty and thoroughly likable in her role, and the supporting cast was phenomenal. Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson nearly stole the movie with their warm and hilarious portrayals as Olive's parents. I especially loved the little homage to two classic '80s teen movies which comes at the end of the film.

Friday, October 22, 2010

If I Stay

Thanks to a glowing review on NPR's site, I recently read "If I Stay" by Gayle Forman, eventhough it's a young adult book. The story centers around Mia, a talented 17-year old cellist, whose life changes in the blink of an eye. During an unexpected school snow day, Mia is enjoying time with her loving family when tragedy strikes in the form of a horrific car crash. The next thing she knows Mia is standing beside what's left of the family car and the bodies of her dead parents, watching as parademics work on her little brother and her own seemingly lifeless body. It is at the hospital, where her body lies in a coma, that she realizes that she can choose whether to fight for her life or to let go and be with the loved ones that she just lost. The story interweaves past and present, as Mia stays with her body in ICU all the while recollecting some of the recent events of her life, including being accepted to Julliard. It is through those recollections that the reader gains a better understanding of the scope of her loss but also how much she has to live for.

The book wasn't bad, but I never really felt any of the suspense which the author probably intended given the title. The ending seemed never in doubt and that's what makes it a bit of a letdown.

People of the Fall

I got a particular kick out of this picture, because seemingly everyone I know, both family and friends, have been apple and pumpkin picking as of late. At work, I've been reaping some of the benefits of that bounty because my friend brought in what seems like a bushel of apples to share with us. If the saying is true that 'an apple a day, keeps the doctor away', then I should be good until next year's annual physical. I've gotten my daily dose of fiber plus some.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The King's Speech

I can't wait to see this movie. If the preview or the rave reviews the film has garnered are any indication, Mr. Firth (he'll always be Mr. Darcy to me) may well be on his way to winning his first Oscar for the role. With a release date of November 26th, the movie is sure to be fresh in the mind of Academy voters once Oscar ballots reach their mailboxes.

100 things

I've read 100 things on various blogs, and thought it was such a cool way to share more of myself with the friends and family that read my blog. So, here goes.

1. My name is Maria.
2. Maria Magdalena (Mary Magdalene) to be exact, like the fallen woman in the Bible
3. Not sure what mom was thinking with that one
4. I was born in Uruguay South America
5. I was 8 when I arrived in the US
6. I didn’t know a word of English
7. It was very lonely and scary
8. I’ve lived in the same town for 34 years
9. My family means the world to me
10. I took care of my mom the better part of my life
11. It gave my life purpose
12. I lost my mom over a year ago
13. I still miss her
14. She was my best friend
15. I have two brothers that I love very much
16. My younger brother was my best friend growing up, and still is today
17. I wish I was more like my younger brother. He’s brave and funny.
18. My brothers have blessed me with 3 nephews and 2 nieces between the two of them
19. The youngest two are my knuckleheads
20. They’re my babies
21. My sister-in-law is kind enough to share them with me
22. I love them to the moon and back
23. I’ve had 3 jobs in my life, 2 were when I was a teenager
24. I’ve been at my current job for almost 23 years
25. My co-workers are more than friends, they’re like family
26. I want to visit Scotland one day
27. I think it’s all the romance novels I’ve read over the years
28. Or the possibility of being swept off my feet by the laird of a powerful clan
29. I love cartoons
30. And Sunday morning news shows
31. I love the crisp cool air of Fall
32. I love snowstorms and the mad frenzy of people in supermarkets before the storm, like this is the storm that ends it all
33. I hate shoveling snow
34. I hate hot weather (anything over 85° is too hot)
35. I watch too much TV
36. I love to read
37. I’m shy and socially-awkward
38. I do better one-on-one (I think)
39. I wish I were braver
40. I blush over anything, I hate it
41. I’ve never been in love
42. I’d like to be one day
43. I believe in love at first sight
44. I’m Catholic
45. My faith gives me strength
46. I always feel close to God
47. I know he cares about me and that gives me peace
48. I believe in heaven
49. I believe in hell
50. I believe in the power of prayer
51. I love my cat, Jasmin
52. She used to belong to my mom
53. I wonder if Jasmin remembers her
54. I like Dunkin Donuts caramel swirl iced coffee
55. I became friends with a patient at the nursing home where mom was before she passed away, and I visit her still. She begged that I not forget her. She has no one else.
56. I like my house to be tidy
57. But I rarely make my bed
58. I don’t have many friends
59. Never have
60. I’ve always been nerdy
61. I hate feeling left out
62. I felt like that a lot when I was a teenager
63. I hate flannel sheets
64. I love the cool side of the pillow
65. I love falling asleep to the sound of rain
66. I hate going to the dentist
67. I get hives when I go
68. I volunteer
69. I’m grateful for everything God has blessed me with
70. I’ve saved two lives in my lifetime, a squirrel and a bird
71. When I go to the cemetery to visit my dad, I also bring flowers for Nicole
72. I never met Nicole (a story for another day)
73. I love rooting for the underdog
74. I love happy endings
75. I’m a fan of the Jets and Mets, but root for all NY teams
76. I’m not athletic
77. I wish I were
78. I would love to learn how to swim, ride a bike, play the guitar and speak a new language
79. I taught my younger brother how to ride a bike
80. I’m afraid of heights and public speaking
81. I’ve never done anything wild and crazy
82. I’d like to one day
83. I have a wall plaque that says “once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives you a fairy tale”
84. I wish one day that would apply to me
85. I love to feel needed
86. I love a comfortable pair of jeans and a big sweatshirt
87. I hate long flowing nightgowns and pajama pants (my legs feel like they’re in a straight jacket)
88. When I was younger my dream was to write a book or a screenplay
89. And win an Oscar
90. I’d thank God in my acceptance speech
91. I used to practice my speech in front of my bedroom mirror
92. I’ve considered getting a little tattoo on my ankle
93. It would be of a little butterfly
94. I used to call my mom “mi querida mariposa”
95. I’ve never been drunk
96. I think it’s important to be kind
97. I love bread and chocolate, the two together is paradise
98. I look forward to growing old
99. I can’t wait to see my knuckleheads grow into wonderful men
100. I pray that they’ll always be happy

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jane Austen's "Emma"

If you love historical romances, and who doesn’t, then you must watch Emma from PBS Masterpiece Classics. This latest production is by far the best I’ve seen. It stars Romola Garai as Emma Woodhouse, and Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley.

From the perfect cast, to the lovely costumes, to the incredible scenery – whether the English countryside, the Woodhouse mansion or the village square – each scene is a page from Jane Austen’s novel brought miraculously to life.

The production originally aired at the beginning of the year, but I just happened to come across repeats this past weekend. I’m so happy that I did. If you’re interested, visit to get the schedule for the local PBS channel in your area.

Calling All NY Jets Fans

My Jets are 5-1. I say that with hesitant optimism. As a Jets fan, you always live with the expectation that the bottom will fall out and the season will go down the drain in the blink of an eye. This is a sad fact that any Jets fan can attest to. You don’t boast or get raucous in your glee. You step lightly through the season, because just like a delicate soufflĂ© our hopes can be quickly deflated.

Now that I’ve shared some insights into the inner workings of a Jets fan, let me get to the real reason for this post. I wanted to give any other Jets fan reading this post a heads up to the fact that the Jets are running weekly ticket giveaway contests on their website. Visit and you’ll be prompted to either enter the contest or jump directly to their homepage. This week’s contest prize is 4 Touchdown Club tickets, 4 pregame sideline passes (would love this! Mark Sanchez here I come!), 1 VIP parking pass and a Jets Halloween merchandise package. The contests are for home and away games. From what I can tell, home game giveaways are usually for 4 tickets, whereas away games are only 2 tickets because they provide airfare and hotel.

Anyway, I figured I’d share the news, one - because I’m thoughtful like that, and two - because it increases my chances of going to a game. After all, if a friend were to win, don’t you think the considerate thing would be for said friend to take 'me' to the game, the person that made it all possible? No? It was worth a shot.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest

Lately I've been keeping my eye on The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest. I've regularly visited the contest webpage, voted in ongoing contests, and longingly hoped I'd get the nerve to actually submit an entry. I've flipped through the pages of the magazine while hosting fanciful dreams of seeing my caption and name underneath one of the magazine's cartoons. Well, today, I finally through my hat in the ring. I submitted my first caption.

For those of you in the dark, The New Yorker magazine has a Cartoon Caption Contest in which a cartoon is posted online and on the last editorial page of each print issue and readers are given the opportunity to submit a possible caption for said cartoon. After all entries (according to an article in Slate, approximately 6,000 entries per week) are tallied, the powers that be select three finalists and readers once again work their magic, and vote for the winning entry. The winning caption appears both online and in the print magazine (two issues after submissions were received). Plus, the winner of each Cartoon Caption Contest receives a print of the cartoon, with the caption, signed by the artist who drew the cartoon.

Let me forewarn each of you, that if, in the very unlikely chance that I were to be insanely lucky enough to be one of those three finalists, I will be sending out a mass email to anyone and everyone whom I've ever been remotely in contact with to request, beg, that you each log in and vote for me. This will be your chance to make a homely, chubby and socially awkward young girl's dream come true. OK, OK...I know "girl" is a stretch and "young" is just downright ludicrous, but you get the would make me very happy.

Where am I going? Where have I been?

Hello, hello, hello…Is anybody there, there, there? This place is like an old West ghost town. All it needs is a couple tumbleweeds rolling by.

Life has been good in the past eight months since I last posted. Nothing momentous, neither great nor horrible, just a solid good. Healthy, happy, and working (thank God!). Earlier in the year my younger brother, Joseph and I drove down to Virginia to visit my older brother, Eric, who had to have open-heart surgery (quadruple bypass). This is only two years after Joseph also had open-heart surgery. I know what you’re thinking. I probably should’ve asked for a group discount, because you can see the freight train coming down the tracks. We do have a family history of heart disease, but they were both smokers (key word in that phrase is “were”, they quickly became reformed smokers after surgery) and I’ve never smoked a day in my life (of course, that’s not counting the two packs a day I used to inhale as second-hand smoke from my mom), so I'm hoping that makes a difference (wishful thinking on my part, I'm sure). After that little scare, things settled back to normal, and thank God, Eric is fully recuperated and back to his old self.

The month of May brought the date of mom’s first anniversary in heaven, and July was her first birthday without us. I choose to think that she still celebrated it in heaven, but instead of us she was surrounded by all the loved ones that hadn’t been lucky enough to spend the last few decades with her…like her mom, her abuelita (grandmother) – whom I never realized how much she loved, until she was sick and would lovingly call me by her name, my older aunt Marina – whom she loved deeply, and of course, my dad. I hope she got some cool presents, after all the sky’s the limit in heaven, because mom LOVED presents. Any holiday, even St. Patrick’s Day, was a good occasion for a gift, and believe me, with a last name like Rodriguez, we’re nowhere near Irish.

The summer saw me on a soccer and/or football field every weekend, as I played cheerleader to my two nephews (aka “the knuckleheads”). I shared some other fun moments with my boys, including attending a live MMA (mixed martial arts) event (exhilarating and bloody), a Mets game (a win, surprisingly), a visit to an amusement park, and many a movie. I tell you that when I visit those two, I come home exhausted, but in all honesty, I miss them dreadfully when I don’t see them. I love them both so much. I dread the day, which I’m sure is soon coming, when they’re fully immersed and initiated into “teendom” and they tell this old lady to get lost. For now, I’ll just bask in the splendor of their love and attention.

It goes without saying that summer wouldn’t be summer, without a healthy dose of reality TV, including good ‘ole reliable Big Brother, and a new fave – Bachelor Pad, as well as some fun, light summer reading. Lastly, I ended the summer and started the Fall with a wonderful Labor Day weekend in Oneonta with all my cousins and friends.

Now you’re all caught up with my goings on. I'll try to not let another 8 months go by 'til my next post.