The Challenge of the Dust Collector

I suppose I got it from my father. I’m not talking about my wonderful good looks, nor my nose, but my love of knick-knacks. You know knick-knacks? If you type “knick-knack” into Google you get: “a small worthless object, especially a household ornament,” with wonderful synonyms like: “trinket, novelty, gewgaw, bibelot, ornament, trifle, bauble, gimcrack, curio, tchotchke, memento, souvenir, kickshaw.” My wife simply calls them dust collectors, so I guess, I’m a dust collector, although looking at the synonyms I’m thinking of shifting to calling them bibelot if only because then it sounds fancy.

My dad had tons of knick-knacks with most of them on shelves in our basement. Like most knick-knack collectors he gathered them in his travels. There was the variety of ashtrays, little statues, and he had this array of those little bottles of booze you would get on airplanes, which, I must admit, as a youngin’ wondering what booze tasted like, I had sampled (I wonder if Mom and Dad ever realized knew?). Me, my knick-knack collections kept growing through the years, though not to the level of my dad. Sometimes they were little gifts, something I made, maybe even a brick I kept in a sock, but most knick-knacks had a story.

The thing is, if you are a knick-knack, or rather bibelot collector, there generally isn’t any purging of them unless life changes happen, and usually that life change involves moving. Moving, many times, lets you re-assess the importance of things you have collected over the years, usually, in the end, revolving around the “What in the hell am I keeping this for?” line, especially if packing up of the knick-knacks happens at the end of the move, when, by then, you are sick of packing, sick of boxes, and somehow it’s just easier to just pull the trigger and either A) Throw them away. B) Give them away, usually to Goodwill now since it’s the easiest way to get rid of your bibelot and claim a tax right-off (Yes, that old hotel, ashtray collection must be worth at least $500, at least on the Goodwill form), C) Put them in a box that you won’t unpack at your new location. For me, though, my major purge came when I met my future wife. Somehow she didn’t run scared when she came to my bachelor pad the first time, and I had to explain why I had a purple, plastic armadillo that came from a drink at a cheesy restaurant, nor explain my sleeve of golf balls with Warner Bros. characters on them. They were there, on some shelves, and yes, there was probably some dust. Eventually, with her move in, there were some changes, and even I looked at some of the things with a “Why in the hell am I keeping this?”, and I think I claimed $5 for the sleeve of golf balls on the Goodwill form.

With the move to our new house there was some new purging, and now my bibelot collection is limited mostly to a shelf in my office (that is until we re-do our basement, just don’t tell my wife!). Included on the shelf are wonderful items like the first album I ever bought, Queen’s “A Night at the Opera,” obituaries of my mom and dad, a Noid from the Domino’s Pizza ad campaign, a bell and figurine that my dad had as part of his knick-knack collection, some old milk bottles from The Home Dairy, my grandfather, and then Uncle’s business back in Lorain, Ohio, with some of the best ice cream around (I always wished I could find the original recipes somewhere and restart the business, but alas, I believe its tastiness is lost as just a memory for Lorainites). There’s my old fraternity pin, a Buddy Christ (because he’s your buddy), a hat from Torrey Pines where we went golfing when a bunch of us were out there for our buddy Rob’s wedding, and one of my favorite pictures, of me, as a little dude, with a toy guitar in front of the TV with The Johnny Cash show playing (and I sometimes wonder why I’m a huge Johnny Cash fan).

The latest addition to the collection, because a knick-knack collection is always fluid and can grow at any time, is an Irv Kupcinet street sign, a real street sign secured, much to the help, and dismay, of my wife, from Sun-Times columnist and writer of the fun blog, Every Goddam Day, Neil Steinberg, who was having his own knick-knack purge when he was moving offices and offered it as a prize for guessing where a picture was taken. I won the sign, some pleasant conversation, and a cup of coffee, because my wife was relentless and wouldn’t let me give up figuring out the picture Neil posted was inside Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company.

Much like a good knick-knack collection, this post has just kept growing, so it’s time to finish this up simply with this wonder: Do you have knick-knack shelves?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf

 

MPAA Rated – Not Rated
It’s 1:36 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

The more I think about it, the more perfect “Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf” was, especially in the realm of the old-school, and I mean this with all due respect, cheesy, werewolf movie. First there is the title, or at least the “Night of the Lone Wolf” part. Sure there’s the solo werewolf at the start, but by the end there are multiple wolves. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the title and our hero is the lone wolf, but I just couldn’t get past the fact that our main werewolf all of a sudden decided to go on a biting spree and instantly we have a pack of werewolves.

Now let’s get to the werewolf himself, or I suppose all of the werewolves. This is no CGI, full-blown, let’s make him as scary as we can, werewolf. Nope. This is the classic “let’s hand-craft this werewolf, complete with animatronics, but in the end it’s still going to look cheesy and like a dude in a werewolf outfit.” And the story – basically it’s about a blind dude who is the only one who seems to figure out this peaceful community has a werewolf in its midst, and it’s up to him to shoot it (that’s right, I said it’s up to the blind dude to shoot the werewolf). Toss in some Stepford Wife type bitties, some religion, and, oh yea, I forgot to mention the blind dude is also ex-military so let’s pull out the old military duds when it’s time for the payback, and yes, this is “Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf.”

Wow, that was a long opening summary. Let’s get to the basics of the story.

Ambrose (Nick Damici) is a blind, ex-military dude who is on the outs with his family. He needs a place to live and finds himself in the lovely community of Crescent Bay. He does have a best friend, his seeing-eye dog. On the first night in the community he hears a neighbor being attacked, and then his dog ends up dead at the claws of the werewolf. No one else in the community finds it odd that once a month, when there is a full moon, things go bad in the community, but instantly Ambrose knows what is going on, realizes he has a month to set up a trap, get some silver bullets, and prepare himself for the werewolf’s return.

The moral of this werewolf story: Don’t fuck with a blind dude’s best friend!

And so Ambrose learns about the town, learns about the townsfolk, maps his target zone, and prepares. The night comes, Ambrose is ready, only this time there isn’t just one werewolf because it seems our distressed human has gone on a biting spree, but Ambrose is up to the challenge, in all his military glory.

Werewolf movies come and go. Some try to up the scary factor, especially the newer ones with the CGI enhancements. Some try to be comedies. But some, like “Late Phases…” work to put a new twist on the genre (like a blind dude who saves the day), while paying homage to the skills of the classics. I have to admit that I was expecting some pretty crappy acting for this one, but Nick Damici is fantastic in his role as the grumpy, ex-veteran, who is somehow a fantastic shot as a blind dude and the smartest person in the town. If you ever wondered what happened to Ginger (Tina Louise) from Gilligan’s Island, there she is as Carissa, wonderful in her little role, and I kept looking at Lance Guest, who brings a great, creepy factor as Griffin, a man with a secret, and then I realize he was Alex Rogan in one of my weirdly favorite movies of all time, The Last Starfighter. Yup, instead of a bunch of crappy actors that would have detracted from the movie, this one actually is filled with a ton of character actors who bring solid performances to their roles.

If you like a classic werewolf tale, one that isn’t trapped in technology and CGI, this is really a movie for you. Solid acting with a decent amount of cheesiness and, with that, I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but it’s a solid 4 stars out of 5 for “Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf.”

As far as the Blu-ray, it’s got some special features as well, including the commentary stuff, but also a really good look at the Making Of, and the most detailed explanation I’ve ever seen of how they made those werewolves suits.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Nick Damici, Tina Louise, Lance Guest
MPAA Rated: Not rated.
Released By: Dark Sky Films
On Digital Download, Blu-Ray & DVD: March 10, 2015
Kiddie Movie: Please put them to bed.
Date Movie: If she likes a classic werewolf movie.
Gratuitous Sex: Nah.
Gratuitous Violence: Yea, the werewolf inflicts some major damage. Poor doggie.
Action: The ending when Ambrose gets his revenge.
Laughs: In that classic, cheesiness kind of way.
Memorable Scene: When Ambrose breaks his trusty shovel..
Memorable Quote: Nothing stood out.
Directed By: Adrian Garcia Bogliano
Cool things about the Blu-ray: This had probably the most extensive look I’ve ever seen at how they make the costumes.

Believe Me

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:33 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

I know. I read the press release for “Believe Me.” And yes, I know the synopsis mentioned a group of college kids who figured out a great way to make a quick buck, namely by scamming Christians to donating money to their phony-baloney charity, and then said kids would realize the true meaning of being good people. And finally, I know that’s what the movie ends up being about, but I so wanted it to flip directions and be a full parody of Christian fundraising. Instead, yes, our foursome realized the error of their ways and became good people again, until, “I, um.”

Here’s the basics…

Sam (Alex Russell) is in college. He wants to go to law school but owes college a bunch of bucks before he can officially graduate and move on to law. At a Christian service one day, after hearing a girl ask for money for her cause and finding out how much she made in two weeks, he hatches a plan and somehow convinces his buddies to go along. Yes, they were going to come up with some fake charity, something about water for Africa, call it “Project Get Well Soon,” and when the bucks rolled in they would pocket the cash. Somehow Sam forgot about the law.

They have an event and it goes so well they become recruited by Shooter McGavin (Okay, in the movie his name is Ken, and in real life he is Christopher McDonald, but he’ll always be Shooter to me), to go on tour with another Christian charity group, Cross Country. It is while on the road they sharpen their craft as scamsters, and Sam also wants to hook up with Christian cutie, Callie (Johanna Braddy).

The thing is that they learn their craft so well they begin to achieve rock star status, much to the dismay of the actual rock star on the tour, Gabriel (Zachary Knighton), who also wants to hook up with Callie.

Low and behold Tyler (Sinqua Walls) of the group of dudes begins to see the error of their ways, and slowly, one by one, they all fall back in line as good people, but not before their scam is uncovered. Ken is disappointed in them but won’t press charges as long as they keep touring and helping him raise cash much to the dismay of Gabriel, and Callie sees the goodness in Sam.

Yup, the movie ended just as the press release said, except, “I, um.”

Here’s the thing. For me, “Believe Me,” was at it’s best when it was mocking Christian fundraising. There was a scene in the middle of the movie where our boys realized that in order to be the best at scamming they had to figure out exactly what Christians were like. They needed to learn everything about the God-loving folks who went to the events, things like how to worship, stand, make hand gestures, even what to eat and wear. They find things like worship stances, prayer postures, kitschy slogans, and that “You don’t want to be Shawshanking in a room full of Geckos.” They even complete things by setting up their own clothing line, “Cross Dressing.” Get it, “Cross” dressing, Christians, crosses. It’s almost the ultimate in mocking. And it was funny.

The almost scary part was how spot on the stereotypes were, especially if you have ever watched some of the preachers on TV asking for money, and the way the people in the audience act at them. The movie was great at this, but then there was the “Okay, let’s let this movie have a message that they learn their lesson” part that turned things into more of a generic film.

There we are, having a good time, and all of a sudden our mocking boys are all goody-two-shoes, there is this lovely montage, and with Sam on the stage about to give his big “come to Jesus” speech the movie ends with him saying, “I, um…”. Maybe it was supposed to be kind of artsy, maybe it was supposed to make you reflect, but all it had both me and my wife say was “What kind of crap ending was that?”

When “Believe Me” was doing what it was doing best, being funny and mocking the “give me money for thirsty people in Africa” thing, it was almost a 4 star comedy, and even as the generic “they learn the error of their ways” movie, it was still okay at about 3 1/2 stars, but when both me and my wife end up with the same reaction after sticking with the film to the end, I’ve got to drop it one star. Sadly a movie that had great potential and was even just okay, totally blew it with one “I, um…” ending. It’s 2 1/2 stars out of 5 for “Believe Me.” That might even be a little generous, but the mocking keeps it up there for me.

The Blu-ray had some extra stuff, namely some deleted scenes that again showed the movie couldn’t figure out if it wanted to skewer the fundraising or embrace the goodness, and the outtakes were okay.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Believe Me
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Alex Russell, Zachary Knighton, Johanna Braddy, Miles Fisher, Sinqua Walls, Christopher McDonald
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Virgil Films & Entertainment
On Blu-Ray & DVD: March 3, 2015
Kiddie Movie: It’s safe enough for them, but I don’t think they’ll get the jokes.
Date Movie: Up until the last line.
Gratuitous Sex: Nah.
Gratuitous Violence: Nah. Just some drunkeness.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: When they are making fun and mocking.
Memorable Scene: The “Learning to be Christian” scenes.
Memorable Quote: “He went to prison. He said he hated it.
Directed By: Will Bakke
Cool things about the Blu-ray: I did like the hazing scene. It kind of reminded me of “Old School.”

A New Watch Every Few Years?

It’s almost here. It’s almost time. The world, and our lives, is about to change. Why? Because the Apple Watch is almost on sale. Fine, there hasn’t been an official launch date, there is finally an official Apple “Special Event” titled “Spring Forward” that will most likely showcase the watch, and other than some articles about possible pricing, some sightings of it out in the wild, and the general rumors that seem to come around any Apple release, we still don’t know anything official about it except, that, in the world of watches, unlike the watch that you might receive as a graduation gift, an anniversary gift, a birthday, you know, the watch you will cherish for the rest of your life, the Apple Watch will actually have a shelf life. Watches in the past were mechanical, or even if digital maybe you would just need to change a battery, and there are people who still have a wind-up watch handed down for generations. The Apple Watch, on the other hand, is technology, and like all technology has a shelf life.

Think about your smartphone. Whether you have an iPhone, an Android type, or even an old flip phone, there will come a day when that phone will be obsolete. The operating system won’t work with the new software, the screen isn’t big or small enough, or even the phone network won’t work with it any longer. The same thing is going to happen with the Apple Watch. It will not last a lifetime, it will be lucky to last five years before you need the next one, and if you get sucked into the Apple Watch universe, you will need the next one because it is technology, and it will always change.

The thing is I don’t care. I need a new watch, I like being an early adopter, but my only worry is price. I know I’m looking forward to it, but I do wonder: Are you considering buying the Apple Watch?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

He Couldn’t Ring Dem Bells

I found myself in a bell tower. I won’t go into when I found myself in a bell tower because then the story would probably be worse, but there I was. I was led to the door to the bell tower, but we thought the door was locked. The 15-year old in this 47-year old body really wanted to go into the bell tower, but alas, it appeared a little lock was there between normal-ness and adventure. Oh well. Then an opportunity came for me to be by that door again, and low and behold the lock wasn’t really locked, I opened the door and found myself, alone, climbing the stairs. But I was torn. In my head I knew I shouldn’t really be there, the initial stairs were kind of rickety, but I continued to climb. I made it to the first level, looked up the next set of stairs, and somehow continued going up.

Then thoughts entered my head.

It wasn’t really the time nor, well, time to be an adventure-man. What if the stairs collapsed, and I would be like Nicolas Cage in an action movie careening down the tower, only I don’t think I would safely be able to grab something to break my fall, nor land nicely on the lower level? If the stairs did collapse, boy would my wife be pissed. And so on. One flight of stairs to the next level, and I chickened out.

I made it back down, met up with some of the people I was with, showed my pictures, explained my adventure and how I was concerned the upper levels wouldn’t hold my tonnage, and one person nicely said I would probably regret not going the all of the way up the stairs in a few days. She was wrong. It didn’t take a couple of days. Even though in my rational and respectful head I knew it was the right thing to come back down, it took only a couple of minutes for me to regret not climbing at least those next dozen steps to see what was up there.

Maybe it wasn’t the time nor place to be on an adventure, but in the end, after my chickening out of climbing that last set of rickety stairs, I wonder: Would you climb a rickety staircase in a bell tower?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

VANish

MPAA Rated – Not rated.
It’s 1:19 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

VANish
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Maiara Walsh, Danny Trejo, Tony Todd, Austin Abke, Bryan Bockbrader, Adam Guthrie
MPAA Rated: Not Rated.
Released By: Dark Sky Films
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Kiddie Movie: Send them to bed. Lots of blod!
Date Movie: If she likes blood-splattering thrillers.
Gratuitous Sex: There is an attempted rape in the van, though it doesn’t turn out too well for the dude.
Gratuitous Violence: Headshots, shotgun blasts, machetes, and a handy little cutting saw help with the blood splatter.
Action: Not really much action.
Laughs: Some chuckles.
Memorable Scene: Emma kicking the crap out of Shane.
Memorable Quote: “What kind of amateur bullshit is this?”
Directed By: Bryan Bockbrader
Extras on the Blu-Ray: The bloopers were decent enough, and I actually liked seeing the alternate endings.

The press release said: “three thugs viciously kidnap a drug cartel boss’ only daughter from her home in broad daylight.” With that I was a little confused at the opening scene of VANish as a dude and his lover were being abducted at night, in the California hills. Now let’s cut to the next scene of two dudes in a van, talking calmly amongst each other as dudes will talk, and I’m wondering where is the third dude? Is this the van? And what happened to those people in the first scene?

Little did I know the importance of the first abduction to the plot of the movie, to be explained during a later scene, and now I was being fully introduced to possibly the dumbest trio of kidnappers that there have ever been in a movie. That’s okay, though, because the trio of dopes really made VANish an entertaining film in the realm of blood-splattering thrillers.

So, yea, the basic plot of the movie is that this girl, Emma (Maiara Walsh) is kidnapped by these three dopes, Jack (Austin Abke), Max (Bryan Bockbrader), and Shane (Adam Guthrie), who send out a ransom demand to her father the drug cartel boss, Carlos (Danny Trejo). As the movie progresses somehow our kidnappers figure it is okay to untie Emma, who now seems to be along for the ride so that she can see her Daddy who pretty much abandoned her years earlier, we learn why Jack really kidnapped Emma and wants to find Carlos, and in their travels through the deserted roads, of course our heroes get pulled over by a cop, Officer Darrow (Tony Todd at his genre finest), and while Jack is fairly calm about the whole thing, it’s his friends who are basket cases, complete with the cliched line of “I’m going to smoke him!”

The thing is, it’s a scene like this that keeps you knowing this is just supposed to be an entertaining movie, and if the blood-splattering thriller is your kind of movie, VANish keeps up the good time, especially as we get to the climactic “takeover” scene in the van, and the final shoot-out with Carlos and the drug cartel where we also find out that Carlos might be the worst shot ever with an automatic weapon.

I did have a lot of questions after the movie was over like how is Emma alive after seeming to lose so much blood, how was the one dude able to function after having his face sawed off, and what do you do with a van filled with so much blood splatter after you get back home? Also, even though I enjoyed all of the gratuitous violence, the fingers getting chopped of by the machete and then spraying blood everywhere really seemed like the ultimate in cliches.

In the realm of the blood-splattering thrillers VANish isn’t a masterpiece, but it was interestingly shot, mostly from the perspective inside the van, and done pretty well I must say. Also, even though mostly unknown actors, they all hold their own in their roles, and Danny Trejo is always a treat. I was entertained, got mostly what I was hoping for, and in the end really like VANish, so much so that it gets 4 stars out of 5 from me. It clocked in at a nearly perfect 79 minutes, which was nice because that means there wasn’t a lot of dragging things out, and even the extras on the Blu-ray were kind of fun, especially the van breaking down on the side of the road warranting a call to AAA, and I actually saw a purpose to the alternate endings they provided, showing how they could be stupid in my opinion (the 3rd one), and almost as good as the original (the 1st alternate).

Watch VANish for what it is and you should have a good time.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Out in Less Than One Day

As a Catholic and a Polish dude I was preparing for Lent. Paczki were ordered, and I began pondering the Lenten season. For years we are always told we should give something up until Easter, although the rules were always a little shady as sometimes we were told we were able to have on Sundays what we gave up, other times there was the spirit of “fasting” for the entire season. One year I did great, giving up adding sweetener, both artificial and natural, into things, specifically my iced tea and coffee. Somehow I made it through the season although I did pick up the diet soda after Easter. This season, though, I had a plan. I was going to add some things which I know kind of goes against the theory of Lent, but I felt trying to consistently do my yoga, meditation, and exercising for the season would make me a better person, but on the giving up something I went back to the old standard, giving up soda.

Fat Tuesday was truly fat with delicious packi, and my Ash Wednesday started nicely. I figured I would easily be able to skip the Diet Coke during the day, I penciled in my 15 minutes of Yoga and meditation for when I came home, and planned on hitting the gym on Thursday. All was set for my Lent!

And then the day turned to crap. For no better way to put it things got busy, I got lost in the progress of the day, and before I knew it, not even thinking about it as if on auto-pilot, the Diet Coke was opened, poured, and down into my belly. It took a while for me to realize it, and then an under-my-breath “Shit” was uttered, but the day continued kind of crappy, I got home and the last thing on my mind was anything but Yoga and meditation, and suddenly it was Thursday and on my Lenten sacrifices I had already, utterly, failed.

Sure, I could have picked myself back up on Thursday, but it came and went. At least on Friday, thanks to my wife, lunch was a tasty peanut butter and jelly sandwich while dinner was pierogi so I cleared the “no meat” thing, but for Lent I have yet to actually accomplish any of my sacrifices or additions.

Now I know I could probably just go to Confession and ask a priest how bad it is, what my penance should be, and although my goal is to actually get back on track today, but for now I know I have been bad, been a failure at Lent, but wonder: How many Hail Mary’s should I say?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

One Staple of College I Seem to Suck At

I have an Aerospace Engineering degree from Illinois Institute of Technology, I have made some iPhone apps, I can, or at least used to be able to play the violin, and I can cook an awesome steak, but why is it when it comes to the staple of college students everywhere, something I never actually made when I was in college, I find that I somehow suck at making Maruchan’s Ramen Noodle Soup. The discovery came a little while back when, at the request of my wife when she wasn’t feeling well, she requested I make her a bowl of soup. My immediate thought was some Lipton Cup-o-Soup, but for her she wanted Ramen Noodles.

I have seen them before, I’ve witnessed people making them, but for whatever reason I was flummoxed at my first attempt at making Ramen Noodles. I’ve seen people just drop the entire noodle blob into the water, but my wife wanted them busted up a bit. So, I started busting them up. I was told I didn’t have to pulverize them, just break them a bit, but it was too late. Somehow I wasn’t sure when to add the flavor packet, and almost threw it away, so luckily for my wife she took over and created her nearly perfect bowl of soup except for the too-broken-up noodles.

I’ve tried a couple of more times, but for whatever reason the simplicity of making Ramen Noodles just seems to escape me. Maybe I just want to make them more complicated, maybe I just don’t want break the noodles too much, but in the end I just wonder: Do you eat Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Lassie, Did Timmy Fall in the Well?

It happened the other day. There was some candy on the counter, a bag of candy as it would be, and I was pretty sure my wife wasn’t keeping count of the number of pieces in the bag. She wasn’t home yet, but Milo was there. He did his normal greeting of lying in his bed, looking towards the door as I opened it, had a gaze of “Do I know you?”, and as I came a little closer he lifted his head a little higher, let his nose do some sniffing, and, when finally realizing it was me, he spun around a little bit then headed down to his litter box to do his business.

Careening back up the stairs he made it to the kitchen just in time for him to see me putting my lunch dishes in the dishwasher and spying on the candy. I looked at him, said “Don’t tell your Mommy.”, and proceeded take a couple pieces of candy.

I wasn’t overly worried about Milo telling my wife about actually eating the candy because, well, he hasn’t really had his “Lassie” moment yet, but as I was talking to him I wondered: Do you tell your pet not to tell on you?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Table Cleaning and You

This past weekend I came to fully realize that I married into a family of table cleaners. Now I’m not just talking a family of table straighten-uppers, but if you gave them a cleaning rag as part of the meal you could probably just set the table right after they left and it would be cleaner than the job you would do as a waiter/waitress/buss boy/buss girl.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Mr. Slob when it comes to going out to eat or being at a relatives for a holiday dinner. When I’m done with my meal I will take my plate, and offer to take a plate or two when I’m at a family gathering, and if I’m at a restaurant I will try to neaten up my area, leaving things in a manner kind of nice for the wait staff to be able to clean, but, especially at a restaurant, I’m not trying to make the table ready for the next customer. My in-law family, however, is a server’s dream because as the meal is done there they are stacking plates, collecting silverware, tidying up the area, and never was it more prevalent than at the funeral luncheon I was at over the weekend.

The funeral was for my uncle-in-law. Now I know this sounds silly, but I’m still not totally sure how to incorporate explaining who people are from my wife’s side of the family, so for me he’s my uncle-in-law although I have started calling some of my aunt-in-laws my aunts. In any case, after the funeral service, there was a buffet luncheon, held in the church hall, and the food was prepared and disbursed by a wonderful staff of ladies who made sure the serving dishes stayed full of funeral hot dogs (that’s a story for another blog post), potato salad, and a fantastic table of desserts. As the luncheon was finishing up I saw them starting to come around and clean off the tables, but before they came to the table I was at, with my direct in-laws, the table-cleaning had already started. My Aunt-in-law started by gathering a few plates around her, nicely separating the silverware off of the plates, continually putting napkins/scraps/etc. on the top plate and then stacking the dessert plates on top of that, and before you know it my wife is taking my plate and making it neat for my Aunt to easily stack onto her pile, others are doing the same, and off my Aunt went, taking the separated silverware and the stack of dirty plates to wherever they were being thrown away. When all was said and done there wasn’t much more left to do at the table I was sitting at other than quickly wipe it down, fold it up, and ready the hall for the next basketball game.

I would say that this is just a habit of my Aunt’s, but I’ve seen other members of my in-laws do the same. Maybe it’s because they came from larger families with lots of plates to clear off of a table, maybe it’s because their parents were much more hard-asses making sure the youngins cleaned up the table after a meal, but for me I’m still a tad shocked at the amount of cleaning that happens at a table that others are technically being paid to clean. It’s not that I think it’s wrong, nor excessive, it just makes me wonder: Do you clean up your table at a restaurant?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!