Friday, May 1, 2009

So... I Have a (half) Sister

Last weekend, my brother Nate and I were summoned to Richmond where my Mom lives.  She did not tell us why she needed to talk to us in person and at first we feared the worst.  Mom assured us that this had nothing to do with her health and was not an urgent matter.  So I took the trip down I-95 without the usual car cargo of Lori and the boys.

What my Mom wanted to share with Nate and I was a very surprising piece of news.  She told us that she had fallen in love with one of her co-workers at IBM back in 1968 before she met my Dad.  She got pregnant at the time and ended up having the baby and giving it up for adoption right away.  In the 60's her parents weren't as open as most families are now and adoption was really the only plan of action for my Mom.  Her co-worker was shocked about the pregnancy and they stopped dating.  My Mom had only told a select few people about this news.  She eventually told my Dad when they started dating.  

Over the past 41 years, my Mom had kept this a secret and Nate and I knew nothing about it.  Just a few weeks ago, my Mom was contacted by a social worker who was trying to track down the birth parents of a woman living in Spain who had moved there over 5 years ago.  My Mom ended up re-connecting with her daughter, Mary O'Connor who has lived a very successful life with loving adopted parents and is now married and works as a Wine Director for a Madrid wine company (Planeta Vino).  As soon as all of this was revealed to Nate and I, I immediately had a few rapid-fire thoughts:
  • I instantly realized that I am not my Mother's first-born.  This does not really affect me at all as I was her oldest child growing up my whole life, but "technically" I am actually a middle child.
  • I thought immediately about my current family where we are about to have a little girl. I had originally thought that having two boys would be a nice fit for me since Nate and I were only siblings to each other.  With the notion that I have a half-sister, my new family slightly resembles my new sibling situation.
  • I sort of felt a bit like Luke Skywalker.  In Return of the Jedi, Luke finds out late in life that he actually has a sister he never knew about.  The difference being that he had spent a lot of time with her over the years and actually kissed her (nasty).
  • I wish my Mom would have told me sooner.  My brother and I are very open people and have been through the divorce of our parents when I was a teenager.  I feel that we have been well equipped to handle such news for a while.  I feel that Mom could have told us about this earlier and perhaps if Mary did not seek out my Mom we may never have known about this.
  • I wanted to see a picture of Mary.  Mary had sent pictures in her communications with my Mom over email and she shared some with me.  I can totally see the resemblance to my Mother in the pics.  You can take a look for yourself on her website.  Here's one of my Mom for reference too.
My Mom has told us that she plans on communicating with Mary going forward.  From what she tells me, Mary inherited the Lynn Rose-Hall chatty gene and likes to converse as much as my Mom does.  Right now I don't feel like I have much in common with my half-sister as I just found out she existed a week ago.  I do like wine (my Dad is a big wine connoisseur and may find Mary's profession of-interest) and have always wanted to travel to Spain so that side of Mary's life is intriguing to me.  If my Mom continues to develop a relationship with Mary I will be glad to meet her if she comes to visit in Richmond.  In reality though, my brother and I are still the only children of Bob and Lynn and our life-long bond really defines us as siblings.  I'm glad that Mom and Mary were able to connect though especially since Mary has been wondering most of her life who her birth Mother is. 

I spent some time deciding on whether or not to post this bit of news on my blog.  I do feel like I have been pretty open so far in posting major events in my life (get ready for a new baby post in a week or two).  It is without a doubt the most news-worthy post thus far and I felt I had to post it as it is such a significant (and surprising) event in my life.  I got my Mom's approval before writing this and I don't feel that any of the involved parties are at all in the wrong here.  I'm glad my Mom decided to tell us and I believe it must be a big relief for her to be able to share the news.  I love you Mom and I'm glad you were able to make this connection with Mary.

PS:  The Kentucky Derby is tomorrow and as I called Big Brown's win last year, I have my horse for 2009.  Put all your money on Pioneerof the Nile.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Observer In Da Club

Go Observer, it's your birthday....  From last night's episode of Fringe, here is the Observer (just behind Valerie Boone's first victim) enjoying a night out.  I missed it live and am getting very bad at spotting ol' baldy.


The End of Originality in Hollywood

I admit that I've never seen Wall Street which many movie experts claim to be a classic.  I probably need to hunker down and rent it one of these days.  Now there are reports out that Wall Street 2 is in the works and will be directed by Oliver Stone (who helmed the first film).  Michael Douglas is set to reprise his role of Gordon Gekko at the ripe age of 65.  And in the same formula that produced the dredge that is Indana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Shia Labeouf is in talks to sign-on as an up-and-coming investor.  Is Shia going to be forever typecast as the young version of all our cinematic legends?

I'm sorry but I can only take so many revivals of movie franchises.  Some work (Batman, Star Trek, etc...), but others fall flat (Indiana Jones, Friday the 13th).  I'm excited for Ghostbusters 3 but this Wall Street redux (tentatively titled as Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps *BARF*) just seems a little forced.  Have we really come to the end of originality in Hollywood?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Final Five

Over the past year, the term "Final Five" has only one meaning to me. Idol's version of the final five is not quite as intriguing, but after last week's double cut-down we're left with five contestants who can actually sing well. I would be happier if Anoop was in and Matt G was out, but I think "America" has done a good job so far in whittling down the competition.  

This week's theme is songs from the Rat Pack.  It's an appropriate theme now that we have a 4 to 1 male to female ratio amongst the remaining singers.  In looking at the songs from the group, there's a really strong pull to Sinatra here.  Unless someone busts out "That's Amore" or "Ain't That a Kick in the Head,"  I'm thinking the vast majority of tunes will be Sinatra songs tonight.  I can see almost everyone excelling with this format and I expect Kris and Adam to further distance themselves from the competition.  Last week I struck out in my predictions so it's time to make a comeback of my own (the odds are better this week as each contestant is singing twice).

Matt Giraud - "New York, New York"

This will be the hardest song for anyone to sing as Sinatra has already done it as good as it's gonna be done.  So if one person makes a mistake in song choice, I'm betting it's good 'ol Matt.  

Allison Iraheta - "I've Got You Under My Skin"

She can slow this one down and put a female spin on it.  She needs to have a really strong performance to stay in the competition.

Kris Allen - "Strangers In The Night"

Kris has proven that he can take a played-out hit (She Works Hard For The Money last week) and completely re-engineer it to sound current today.  I'm guessing he may try to change up the beat and tempo on what is one of the most famous Sinatra hits.

Danny Gokey - "That's Life"

One of Sinatra's bolder songs, I'm guessing Danny tries to use his standard method of building slow and finishing strong.  For some reason, I have a hunch that Gokey might not do well with this format.  

Adam Lambert - "My Way"

He'll want to go big with the vocals this week and My Way gives him the room to interpret in his own way.  I'm predicting he'll get the final singing position this week and may save the best for last with this song.  

With all members of The Rat Pack long gone from this world, I'm thinking we go mentor-less again tonight which worked well with spurning a speedy production last week.  Does anyone think a Sammy Davis Jr. or Dean Martin tune will get some play?  Will anyone be daring enough to try "New York, New York?"

Monday, April 27, 2009

Talladega Action

Yesterday's NASCAR race at Talladega ended in a spectacular crash on the last lap. Josh and I were watching the early parts of the race as his driver (Kyle Busch) and my driver (Denny Hamlin) took turns leading the race. We then took a trip to the mall for a Build-a-Bear excursion with the family and missed the end. I ended up taping it via the ol' Slingbox and watched the finish later last night.

On the last lap, unknown driver Brad Keselowski accidentally flipped the #99 car of Carl Edwards only a few yards from the finish line. Edwards went airborne and slammed hard into the catch fence that NASCAR installs precisely for these types of situations. If you view the video below you can see the fence buckle and notice that a few pieces of "shrapnel" careen into the stands. Edwards got out of the car and was not hurt and even pulled a Ricky Bobby from Talledega Nights as he ran across the finish line (you have to be in your car to officially finish a race in NASCAR). Yesterday's crash really shows the dangerous and thrilling appeal of the sport. Memo to self: Don't buy tickets in the front few rows.