D. None of the above

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

The world is a mess.

For some, that world doesn’t even need to extend beyond the walls of their own home, as they deal with one personal or family crisis after another.

For others, that includes horrible headlines and the reality of a world in which people jump at the opportunity to attack them physically, verbally or both. The world is filled with so much dry kindling that any kind of spark seems sufficient to lead to a brush fire.

And, stupidly, many of us look at our phones or watch the news right before we go to bed, giving our unconscious minds the opportunity to marinate in the misery and to imagine ourselves caught in circumstances beyond our control that conjure our worst nightmares on steroids.

Once our minds start to ponder these horrific realities, some of which play out in the protests and counter protests that characterize an American landscape filled with divisions and tectonic differences, we find ourselves staring, wide eyed, into a dark abyss.

Despite the need to give our minds and souls a rest to rebuild our resilience and prepare us for the next day, we struggle to sleep for any length of time.

Like a bad habit we can’t kick, sleep deprivation defines our existence, making us more vulnerable, angrier, and reactive to the kinds of stimuli, conspiracy theories, and information that unnerves us.

Shutting that down and ignoring the reality of a world coming apart doesn’t seem like an option, even if we ourselves aren’t doing anything other than losing sleep, arguing with friends, family or coworkers, and promising to vote for the person whose anger, frustration, and alarm bells sound similar enough to our own.

These restless nights exacerbate our feelings of unease and anxiety. Even for people who didn’t have a hard day filled with deadlines, challenging assignments, impossible bosses, or frustrating losses, the end of the day can feel less like a chance to reflect on triumphs than a moment to surrender to a cruel circadian rhythm that leaves us with even less emotional and energy reserves each day.

We need the kind of sleep that doesn’t depend on over the counter remedies. We need to feel safe, secure, and relaxed enough to rest.

For many of us in the United States, that relaxation can arise out of a belief in a better tomorrow. We can control ourselves, the world we create for our children, and the way we interact with each other.

We might sleep better if we feel like we improved someone else’s day, if we volunteer to help others, or if we take a moment to appreciate what we can control.

Getting up and circling the house at 2 or 4 am won’t help us the next day, nor will logging onto our computers and sending or responding to emails. We’re not doing our best work at those hours and we aren’t our most insightful.

The benefit of stories in which the characters live “happily ever after” is that it gives our minds resolution and helps us believe that things will work out for us as well.

Our parents and grandparents rarely tell us to give up, give in, and surrender to problems outside of our control. We shouldn’t tell ourselves that either, no matter how late at night we might start to believe it.

A good night’s sleep won’t help us solve the world’s problems, but it may help us start to solve some of our own. People have told me many times not to make decisions when I’m angry or frustrated. The same holds true for being tired. Finding solutions to our nighttime problems may contribute to discovering some relief from the pressures and worries of the day.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

We need people around us for a host of reasons.

We have the kind of division of labor that makes it possible for someone like me with no mechanical skills whatsoever to fix, repair, install or replace something we need, like a dishwasher or roof, to pick up the phone and call a specialist who can do the job.

We also need people to provide the kind of food we don’t grow or cook ourselves and to ship that food across the country or the world.

How would we people watch without people strutting, holding hands, barking commands on cell phones, or pausing to take a giant mouthful of hot pizza?

We also need people for social and emotional reasons.

It’s helpful to have someone who can tell you whether your shoes match your outfit, who can point out if you have food in your teeth, or who can nix your idea to share a risqué joke with your boss.

We go through stages in life when our social needs rise and fall, depending on our age, vulnerabilities, and emotional equanimity.

I have several friends whose children are living through different phases in life, entering and leaving colleges, changing jobs or location, and starting or ending serious relationships.

When people in unfamiliar settings first settle into a new routine, they can feel vulnerable, disconnected, and incredibly lonely.

Making matters worse, they see other people around them laughing with friends, moving in a group, or chatting animatedly on the phone. Social media doesn’t help, as they can see pictures of other people having the times of their lives on other college campuses, surrounded by their new friends, while they look to the vacant space to the left and right of them.

These transitionary periods can make people feel as if they are the only ones without an invitation to an incredible party on the other side of the fence. They can hear music and laughter, they can smell the barbecued chicken, and they can see the flickering lights.

It’s as if a magnetic attraction drew everyone else together, while that same force repelled them, making them outsiders in their towns and universities.

While most young people can and do find comfort from companionship, the time when they feel as if they are on their own can seem extraordinarily long.

That’s where we come in.

You see, we are surrounded by students who are going to college, have returned for a few days or longer, or who have graduated and are trying to find their place in the world.

Some of them want or need nothing from us, as they glide effortlessly between their professional or academic responsibilities and their recharging social contacts.

Others, however, may be too unnerved or unsure to ask for help or to try to get what they may not even acknowledge they need.

The cost of offering an encouraging word, of asking about a student who is rounding up grocery carts in a parking lot, is restocking shelves at a department store or who is taking our order at a fast food restaurant is low.

Most of us are creatures of habit. We tend to go to the same places to eat, to buy our food, or to get our hardware store supplies.

When we go to those stores, we might see those same familiar faces, some of whom might be hiding behind extra long bangs or appear to be staring at their phones or shoes.

We don’t have to become best friends with any of them, and we don’t need to pull up a chair and ask their life stories.

We can, however, spend more than a few seconds getting whatever we need. We can ask how school is going, about the products they are selling or about the changing weather.

Those contacts, brief though they may be, could provide the kind of connection that offers them more of what they needed than whatever we purchased for ourselves in a store.

And who knows? Maybe our awkward attempts to offer some unsolicited connection can give them a good story to tell their current or future friends.

Surrounded by people, we can sometimes feel even more disconnected than we might if we were alone. Let’s try not to be too distracted to notice what someone else might need an encouraging or supportive word or two.

Students are not like the cracks in the sidewalk or the contour of a winding road: they may benefit from something we can and should consider sharing and that doesn’t cost anything more than our time and consideration.

A scene from 'Monsters, Inc.' Image courtesy of Disney/Pixar

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

“Monsters, Inc.” and the modern media share some terrifying traits.

You see, at the beginning of the animated Pixar movie, the Monsters from Monstropolis collect energy by scaring children at night.

It’s a relatable phenomenon, especially for those of us with an active imagination and who insisted their parents check under their bed, in the closet and in every conceivable place a monster might hide before going to sleep. I’m not referring to anyone in particular in that description here, in case anyone might be wondering.

So, anyway, in Monstropolis, the terror and screams from the children fill canisters of energy that monsters bring back home through the magic doors, which are often closets.

Similarly, the modern media is filled with terrible stories, finger pointing, angry headlines and the kind of click bait that demands people read the story or they’ll die or, perhaps, worse, become a Democrat or a Republican.

I understand the division in our country. Well, let me rephrase that. I understand that division in the country can be productive and can allow people to share ideas from different backgrounds or from opposite sides of a political fence.

I don’t completely understand why the country has become so fractured and stubborn in its thinking that people view those who are on the other side as unworthy or as the enemy.

The enemy of what, exactly?

News organizations have poured gasoline on our cultural dumpster fire by sharing and blaring headlines about how dumb the other side is, and how specific people, often from one political camp, are to blame for their problems.

On any given day, it’s easy to find a Trump-is-an-idiot-who-is-destroying-the-country story from CNN, the Washington Post or the New York Times. It’s just as easy  to find a Biden-is-too-old, Harris-is-a-disaster, or Futterman-can’t-dress-himself-well story from the other side.

I get it: those stories sell news, draw eyeballs, get advertisers and generate heat and energy.

It’s an energy that feeds on itself, as the next day’s stories often not only include the latest gaffe from the president or the latest outrage from the former president, but they also rekindle all the outrage from the ridiculous things each of them did in the days, weeks and months before.

Those stories are easy to write, because they only require about four paragraphs of new information. After that, it’s off to the races, adding all the usual background about how this objectionable act or speech comes after so many other similar incidents.

What these news organizations don’t often do, however, is what managers often encourage from their employees. If you’re going to bring a problem, try to suggest a solution.

That’s going to be tougher. It’s so much easier to point the finger, to call people names, and to blame others than it is to develop a cohesive and workable plan that might fail.

Maybe these news organizations should demand more from themselves. They shouldn’t fall into the trap of sharing the latest bad news or  problem, but should also force themselves to find people who have better ideas or who can offer solutions.

Returning to the movie “Monsters, Inc.”, perhaps there are other ways to generate energy that don’t terrify people

Laughter, as the cliche goes, is the best medicine. Maybe we aren’t laughing enough or maybe we aren’t laughing enough together. It’s far too easy to become a part of the chorus in a Greek tragedy, shaking our heads and mocking the ridiculous actions of others.

Sure, news organizations should capture the culture of the country and report on real people and real events. But they should also take the time and effort to do more than write the same mad libs story every day about the idiocy of the other side. They should offer the kind of solutions that can help people get a good night’s sleep and that don’t trigger sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

You know that optical illusion with the vase and the two faces? If you’re looking at the outline of the white object, you see a vase, but if you look at the white as the background, you see two faces.

Is it possible that we might, at times, be missing something in our lives?

We drive from one event to another, often ignoring the people in the car next to us at a stoplight, at the birds resting on a telephone wire or at the last few rays of the sun as the light disappears over the horizon.

Instead, we’re focused on getting where we’re going, giving our mind a chance to wander to important things, like what we’re going to say to the coach of our son’s little league team, to our boss who wants to know why we’re late, or to that person at the deli counter who starts preparing our sandwich before we even order.

Along the way, we might be missing signs that could stimulate or enrich our mind in unexpected ways or that could provide the kind of unanticipated signs that serve as clues about our lives. Sure, some people read horoscopes for such help, they ponder the pithy poetry of fortune cookies, or they visit a psychic, who asks them if they’ve ever known a person named John or if they’ve ever gone with a date to a movie or like to take walks on the beach.

But, with our heads down, living on our phones, focusing on events and people far from us, is it possible that we might miss something akin to a puzzle piece in the mystery of our lives?

Sure, telemarketers are frustrating and annoying, offering us products we don’t need, asking us for personal information, and assuming a far-too-familiar tone.

What if those telemarketers, who are even more unpopular than used car salesman, journalists and politicians, offered us something between the lines of their scripts that might be of use to us? We don’t have to stay on the phone long with them and we don’t have to buy something we don’t want, but maybe we can give them half a minute, listening to them and politely declining their offer for more life insurance, a time share in the Everglades, or a chance to earn money as a personal shopper.

Maybe something they say will remind us of a task we wanted to accomplish, a phrase a friend or relative used to use, or a responsibility we haven’t yet met for ourselves. In a world in which there are no accidents, perhaps they can remind us of something we value.

Along the same lines, the scenery that flies by while we’re on a train, a bus or in a car could remind us of a picture we drew from our childhood, a tree we used to climb, or a friend who might need to hear from us but hasn’t felt strong enough to ask for help.

Hundreds and thousands of years ago, people looked to the skies for the kind of signs that might help them.

When we shut ourselves in our homes, disconnect from the people in the room or from the environment, we close down the opportunity to see or consider any signs from the world around us or to get out of our own limited physical, mental and emotional headspace. We also lock ourselves in to a particular way of thinking, removing the opportunity to consider whether today is a day to see the vase or the two faces.

By getting away from our computer screens, cell phones, and cubicles, we give ourselves a chance to see what the world offers, and how those cues affect the way we think about our lives.

Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Mother-in-law. Those three words could come with their own Darth Vader or Jaws soundtrack.

Mothers-in-law present the kind of material that creates both great drama and comedy.

This week, I lost my mother-in-law Judy. She was both a force of nature and fiercely loyal.

Sure, there were comedic elements to our interactions. She seemed unsure of what to ask me to call her. I’d pick up the phone and she’d stutter, “Hi, Dan, this is your … I mean, this is … Judy.”

It was a huge relief for both of us when my wife and I had kids, not only because she wanted more grandchildren and I wanted children, but it also gave both of a us an easy way to refer to her, even when the children weren’t around: “grandma” or, at times, “Grandma Judy.”

A small and slender woman, Judy was all about getting things done. Whenever she had something either on a physical or mental list, she wouldn’t stop until she could check it off.

“Did you bring the water upstairs yet?” she’d ask.

“Not yet, but I will,” I’d reply.

“Okay, good, so what else is new?” she’d continue.

“I had an interesting week of work. I interviewed the CEO of one of the biggest banks in the country, I met a former Knick player, and I spoke with several government officials about an ongoing sovereign debt renegotiation.”

“Wow, how wonderful,” she’d offer, grinning broadly. “Just don’t forget about the water.”

When you were in the circle with Judy, she was a strong and determined advocate and supporter. At a buffet, even at one of her own events, she’d take a plate full of food she knew I could eat and stash it somewhere, in case I wasn’t ready to eat. 

When my wife and I got married, I messed up. Judy, who ascribed to certain rituals, waited as long as she could for me to ask her to dance. When I didn’t oblige, she brought the photographer over.

“Come,” she said, “let’s pretend to dance so that we can get a picture.”

She was the ringmaster of a law practice for her husband and son. Everything flowed through her. She handled almost every administrative duty, including typing. She made sure everyone was where they were supposed to be, and that they were on time.

Allergic to lemon, Judy traveled with my wife, our children and me to Paris. She was terrified that she wouldn’t be able to share her food concerns, bringing with her a sheet with words written phonetically. My French isn’t particularly strong, but I was able to let everyone know of our food issues, to her tremendous relief.

While Judy didn’t and wouldn’t stab me in the back figuratively, she did use her long, bony, shockingly strong fingers to move me along while we were in line at the airport or heading towards the elevator at the Eiffel Tower.

Perhaps all the bones she gnawed on when she ate steak went directly to those incredibly strong and pointed fingers? Eventually, I was able to outmaneuver her need to jab me in the back.

Judy was incredibly devoted to her children, grandchildren, and extended family. She also had a passion for cats and fish. Even when she wasn’t particularly mobile, becoming something of a human question mark as she bent over to make sure she didn’t trip, she brought fish food to all her finned friends and cat food to her favorite felines.

I will miss the way she locked eyes and smiled at me each time we got together, and the way she described everything around her as “crazy.”

She’d often start sentences with, “You want me to tell you somethin’?”

And, Judy, I’m sorry I didn’t ask you to dance at my wedding. I tried to make up for it on numerous other occasions. You’d pretend to be surprised and I’d try to be gallant. Thanks for everything, including and especially making it possible to enjoy a lifetime with your spectacular daughter. We will both miss you and will cherish the memories.

Courtesy of DC Comics

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

How come we never see superheroes in regular moments? To that end, I wanted to share a host of images that I hope might brighten your day (if you need it).

Superman picking his nose. Okay, let’s just get this one out of the way first. Sure, he leaps tall buildings in a single bound, fights crime everywhere, and stands for truth, justice and the American way, but what about the urge to clean out the dried super boogers in his nose? And, if he did, what would happen to them? Would they decay the way ours presumably do, or would they be like rocks trickling through our plumbing or remaining forever on the floor, impenetrable even to a speeding bullet?

Okay, backing off from the incredibly crude, let’s go to Superman’s fingernails. I’m guessing he can’t clip them with an average clipper. When he does trim then, are they so strong that it’d hurt to step on them?

How about Batman? Is there room in that suit for hiccups? What happens when he’s driving his super fast car or flying bat mobile and he gets the hiccups? I know my hiccups, which are loud enough to cause Superman’s super fingernails to bend, are so distracting that it’d be tough to fight crime, or even navigate at incredible speeds, when my diaphragm is spasming.

And then there’s Wonder Woman. Lynda Carter, if you’re old enough, and Gal Gadot, for the more modern fan, are both incredible fighters who save the day, rescuing mere mortals like Steve Trevor. But do they have the kind of arguments with their mothers that I’ve seen other women (no one in my family, of course) have with their mothers? Are they tempted to take out their truth lasso and demand that their mother say what she really thinks or share what she really did? Can you imagine Wonder Woman in a shouting match with her mother, reaching a point where she wraps the rope around her mom’s wrist and demands to know, “What do you really think of my new boyfriend” or even “you mean to tell me you never acted out against your own parents?”

How about Aquaman? Not to be too obsessed about the nose here, but does he ever get water up his nose, the way the rest of us do when we’re diving or doing awkward flips into the pool? Given the speed at which he swims, I would imagine such water in his nose might cause even more agony for him than it does for the rest of us, who find the dense medium of water difficult to traverse rapidly.

What about the Flash?

I haven’t seen the recent multiverse movie with him, but I would imagine his shoes, which withstand the incredible force of him tearing around town, are a vital piece of equipment that could be enormously problematic if they tear or have holes.And, unlike me, as I sit here with the tongue of my right sneaker hanging off, I would imagine he couldn’t wait any length of time to replace the shoes that glide over the ground at speeds that, if my interpretation of the recent movie trailers suggest, exceed the speed of light and can, to borrow from the singing superhero Cher, “turn back time.”

Sorry if you’ve now got that song ricocheting around your head. Come up with a better song and you’ll be fine or maybe just count backwards from 20 in French or any foreign language, if you know how to do that.

And what about Spider-Man? Does he ever eat something that totally disagrees with his system, making it impossible to leave the house until he’s taken a super dose of an antacid? Sure, super heroes inspire us with their incredible deeds, but I’d like to know how they manage through the kinds of everyday issues, challenges, and regular stuff in our lives.

Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

A pet peeve isn’t something you race out to the breeder, the pound or anywhere else to get because it’ll be a buddy for the rest of your life.

No, a pet peeve is some annoyance that routinely bothers you, like watching someone shake their leg in class or listening to someone blow away the four leaves that dare to fall on their driveway each day.

To that end, I’d like to share some of my own pet peeves, for no other reason than that it’s easier and, perhaps, more fun to focus on the smaller stuff than to worry about, say, global warming, the 2024 election, or the eventual burning out of the sun. Some of these are truly tiny, while others are considerably larger by comparison. If you find that annoying, add that to your own list.

—A perfect dive into a hotel or community pool: yes, it’s lovely and amazing, but people aren’t fish. We shouldn’t be able to enter the water without making a splash or a ripple. When we were teenagers, my brothers and I watched in amazement as a boy about our age perfectly pierced the water during a vacation at a pool in Quebec. Only later did we learn that he was the son of a national diving champion. He should have had his own pool and not unnerved the foolish Americans at a Holiday Inn.

— Endless, personal and vicious criticism at the end of articles: I can’t help laughing when someone writes about how stupid the idea of the article was. Often, someone else suggests that the person A. didn’t have to read the story and B. didn’t need to take the time to comment.

— The knees digging into my back on an airplane: do other passengers care that my back is on the other side of that thin fabric? Perhaps they want some attention or they are eager to share their physical discomfort with others.

— The overwhelming urge to tell me what my dog needs: one man, in particular, who seems to have moved into the neighborhood recently, tells me how my dog looks each day. Yes, it’s hot, and no, I’m not walking him so far that he’s in danger. By stopping me to share his unsolicited dog instructions, he’s extending the time my dog spends in the heat and he’s annoying me.

— The desire other parents have to tell me how to raise my children: news flash — everyone’s children aren’t the same and, oh, by the way, these aren’t your kids.

— The disconnect between the time our children spend on their phones with their friends and the difficulty in connecting by phone with them when they’re away: why are our children on their phones constantly when they’re with us, but they are unreachable by phone when we text them? They remind us that we tell them to “be where they are” when they’re not with us, but they’re not with us when they are with us.

— The people who listen so poorly that they say “oh, that’s nice” when I tell them my pet peeve died: enough said.

— People who tap me on the shoulder to get my attention while they are talking to me at a baseball game: yes, believe it or not, I can multi task. I’m capable of listening to someone else’s story and responding appropriately while watching every pitch and hoping for either a home run or a foul ball that comes my way.

— People who commit my mistakes to memory: I don’t expect perfection and readily admit that I err. If and when I share a thought about someone else’s mistakes, I sometimes receive something to the effect of, “well, you did that, too” or “what you did bothered me 17.28 years ago, too.” Okay, if it annoyed you, why didn’t you say something at the time, instead of waiting until now? Were you hoping I’d say something at some point so you could unburden yourself?

Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

All the world is a stage and, yes, all the men and women are merely players, as Shakespeare wrote in “As You Like it.”

Recently, my life has been filled with scenes and moments in which I have observed pieces of people’s lives.

I’ll start with something small.

Standing outside JFK Airport, waiting for a ride, I watched two people share their displeasure with each other.

The burly man with the large shoulders and the technicolor tattoos down his arms turned to the woman with a colorful Jersey Shore outfit to give her a piece of his mind.

“You’re selfish and narcissistic and you only think about yourself all the time and I’m sick of it and of you!” he barked.

“Everyone can see you and hear you,” the woman said, looking in my direction.

“I don’t care,” he spit out through clenched teeth, as his ride arrived and he shoved their large suitcases into a small trunk. “I’m not embarrassed. You should be.” The suitcases weren’t fitting the way he was jamming them in, but that didn’t stop him from trying, causing the car to rock back and forth. His angry actions had become a manifestation of his mood.

Once the luggage was packed in the back, he walked directly into the street, almost getting clipped by a passing car, pulled open the door and threw himself into the seat.

With her head cast down slightly, his companion opened her door, took off her backpack and entered the car.

On the other end of the spectrum, I sat next to a woman on a plane who exuded optimism. Recognizing her joy of hiking, her fiancee asked her to marry him at Acadia National Park. After their engagement, they stopped in Boston to attend a concert, which is her fiancee’s personal passion. Whenever they travel, they find time to hike and to hear live music.

A sales representative for a consumer company, she shared that she was a “people person” and that she was traveling on her own to see her family and to attend a bridal shower, while her fiancee stayed home to watch their dogs.

When she’s having a terrible day, she buys a stranger a coffee or breakfast, which invariably makes her feel better.

As I mentioned in an earlier column, I not only had jury duty recently, but I served on another criminal case.

This one wasn’t quite as straightforward and it involved domestic violence. While I won’t go into the details of the case now (more coming on this at a later date), I will share how much I appreciated getting to know the other 13 members (with the two alternates) of the jury.

Even though we all were eager to return to our lives, we took the deliberations seriously and didn’t race to a verdict. We assumed the mantle of responsibility that comes with serving on a jury. We didn’t agree during the discussions, with one woman repeating that she was “sorry” she couldn’t join the majority. We assured her that, as the judge suggested, each of us should listen to the others while remaining true to our beliefs.

And, to end on a lighter note, while our flight was delayed for over an hour, I listened as a woman with a small dog spread out her blanket near a young couple.

Responding to a compliment about her dog, she spent the next half hour telling the couple how absolutely adorable her furry companion was. She interrupted herself to post something on social media, laughing that she posted a picture of her meal from Wendy’s just the day before.

“Isn’t that hysterical?” she asked. It’s something, I thought.

The man, who indicated he traveled every week for business, suggested how “sick and tired” he was of delayed planes. He planned to give customer service a piece of his mind when he arrived.

While I didn’t observe that interaction, I did watch as another man passed a one way exit where guards told him he couldn’t get back to the terminal because TSA had shut down for the night.

A scene from 'Oppenheimer'

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

My wife and I are wildly out of practice at an activity we used to do on dates.

Hey, I’m talking about going to movies. What did you think I meant? Never mind.

Anyway, after three and a half years, we finally ventured out to see a movie. No streaming at home, not taking a long walk through the neighborhood to see all the usual other walkers, and no hanging out in the backyard to look up at stars whose light was sent to us years ago.

I don’t think the light we can see was sent to us when dinosaurs were roaming the Earth.

We had purchased tickets online, with the customary and annoying convenience fee surcharge for something that couldn’t possibly be easier for the movie theater, and were excited to see a movie on the big screen.

Previews have always appealed to us, as has the satisfaction of seeing the entire movie from the start. When both of us were young, we found ourselves in movie theaters after the film began.

We’d sit in our seats and wait for the next showing, when we’d catch up to the point when we entered and, often with our respective families, head to the exits to piece together the narrative.

On a recent Sunday night, we drove through a packed parking lot. Clearly, the Barbenheimer phenomenon – the combination of hits “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” – has brought the crowds back to the theaters that somehow survived the pandemic.

With almost no line, we breezed through the entrance and got on the short line for popcorn. Ah, movie popcorn. Yes, it’s much more expensive than it needs to be, and yet, we splurged for it many times as we prepared to suspend disbelief and enter the altered and captivating reality of a movie.

The concession didn’t sell bottled water, which we could fill with any beverage of our choice. We reluctantly agreed to buy the expensive cup and added ice cold water to our movie-time meal.

The days of waiting in line for the free-for-all of finding the best middle seats are long gone. We walked up to our wide, comfortable seats. When we didn’t immediately find the recliner button, the woman to my wife’s right showed us where it was.

Back in the early days of our children’s lives, when we were incredibly sleep deprived, those seats would have been a welcome opportunity for a solid nap.

Not this time. We were locked in and ready for the film. As is our wont, we quickly finished the first bucket of popcorn before the previews. I raced back for a refill and returned just in time for the start of several coming attractions.

Most of those previews looked somewhere between awful and horrific. If those were the best scenes from coming films, it may be a while before we feel the urge to return to the world of overpriced popcorn and comfortable chairs.

So, after all this time, are you wondering what we saw?

Well, we got sucked into the Barbenheimer vortex, opting for the World War II film instead of the late 50’s iconic toy.

With gripping subject matter and extraordinary acting from a cast ready to personify critically important figures from a turbulent time in 20th century history, the movie was compelling.

I can see why it received rave reviews. As a film watcher – okay, well, as a former passionate devotee of the silver screen – I wasn’t completely moved by the broad story telling.

As a science writer, which is the other hat I wear with privilege regularly for these papers, I was hoping there had been a greater description about the discoveries Oppenheimer and his collaborators had to make to complete the Manhattan Project.

At one point during the movie, I realized that we were watching the film on the 78th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The eery overlap brought home the complicated legacy of a talented scientist and effective leader.

Giancarlo Stanton. Photo from Facebook

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Bronx Bombers that day

The score stood five to zero, with one inning more to play

Then when Higgy died at first, Bader raised up hopes with a double,

Judge was up next, which could have caused some trouble.

With four hits against a Rays team with spring in their gate

Yankee fans were ready for yet another cruel twist of fate.

They thought, “If only Stanton could but get a whack at that-

We’d put up even money now, with Stanton at the bat.”

But Judge flew out to left and the game was almost done

some fans took to the exits, with few having much fun

So upon that stricken multitude a grim melancholy sat,

for there seemed but little chance of Stanton getting to the bat.

But Torres drove a double, to the wonderment of all

and Rizzo singled, creating a lift upon the pall.

And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what occurred,

there was Rizzo at first, with Torres standing on third.

DJ came up next and tapped a ball towards third base

he raced to first with a determined look upon his face.

The throw from Paredes was low, allowing Torres to score.

With Rizzo at third and DJ at second, the team wanted more.

Then from the few thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell:

it rumbled through the city, it rattled in the dell.

It pounded on the bleachers and recoiled upon the flat,

for Stanton, mighty Stanton, was advancing to the bat.

There was grit in Stanton’s manner as he stepped into his place;

there was pride in his huge bearing without a smile on his fierce face.

And when, responding to cheers, he ignored all the sound.

no stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Stanton who would pound.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he twitched in the batter’s box;

five thousand tongues applauded when he rattled in his socks.

Then when the new pitcher, whose name we won’t repeat

reared back for a pitch, he planted his foot, he dug in his cleat.

And now the leather covered sphere came hurtling through the air,

and that opener was a ball, which created a chance for prayer.

The next one was low, and Stanton took a hack

The only thing moving was that behemoth’s huge back.

The next one came in high and Stanton offered at the pitch

and yet again, he missed, causing angsty fans to twitch.

With but one more to go, the mighty Stanton stood ready

would he change the script, bringing dreams of confetti?

The pitch came down the middle, in Stanton’s favorite spot

he had his chance to tie this ugly game into a knot.

The pitch was 98 and as it bore down on the plate

Mighty Stanton took a swing, that would seal his team’s fate.

For on this night in the Bronx, as a wind blew threw the stands

Fans would not be cheering or clapping their defeated hands.

No, in a season filled with losses and offensive woes galore

the beloved home team would leave them wanting more.

And so, as the days blur one into another

die hards are left with a chance to mutter.

“Our team isn’t good, they don’t score to meet their needs

they turned a glorious Cole season into a footnote in the weeds.”

One day the Bombers will be back and get those needed hits

they will crush balls to corners; they will give pitchers fits.

But for now, my friends, as the team goes gently into good nights

we can picture better games from future boys in future fights.