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Change is in the air  

By Dom Cioffi

Can you smell it? I can.

As August drifts into September and summer begins its annual descent into autumn, it’s hard not to notice the shifting phases of the seasons and everything that comes with it.

Football will soon be overwhelming the airwaves as an already under-active populace starts spending full days transfixed by a singular wall in their home. I’m a huge fan of football, but I try to limit myself to one game a day. However, I do have friends who camp out from 11 a.m. to 11p.m on any given Sunday, watching contests as well as pre- and post-game shows where talking heads analyze strategy.

I like some data and I do appreciate good analysis, but I’m not willing to forego an entire day just to mull things over. I don’t begrudge anyone who does it, it’s just not my thing.

And then we have the Fall Classic where Major League Baseball begins its seemingly endless march to the World Series. I love watching baseball, but I really love watching post-season baseball.

I’ve purposely rekindled my love for watching baseball as an antidote for excessive social media use. The endless scrolling on social platforms is a mind-numbing, highly addictive activity and something like a televised baseball game, which is slow and methodical, is the absolute antithesis in entertainment. Also, with baseball, you can have the game on and still read a book, play an instrument, or make dinner (that’s called old school multitasking). If you’re on social media, you’re only on social media. Period.

The initial switch is hard because your brain is used to constantly refreshing stimuli, but over time it will adjust, and your brain will thank you for slowing things down.

This is also the time of year when you see the first glimpses of color in the trees. Inevitably, I will see a red or orange leaf from a compromised tree in early August, but the true transition really begins now. The fall foliage is a wonder of nature and never ceases to amaze me, but the first inklings that it’s coming tend to give me pause. I love it, but I also know it signifies the reality that winter is right around the corner.

Autumn is also when I begin my four-month decorative process. I start with some fall touches around the house like pumpkins and wreaths, then move into the Halloween décor, then switch over to some harvest motifs with cornucopias, before finally topping off things of with the Christmas season and all that encompasses.

I’ve always loved the color schemes of fall with its earthy tones of golds, browns, and oranges. And I’m a big fan of pumpkins, not only for their outdoor decorative flare, but also for their creative transition into jack-o-lanterns. The problem is when you use a pumpkin for an autumn decoration, but it ends up completely rotted by the time Halloween arrives.

But I discovered a foolproof method to sustain the lifespan of a pumpkin and it’s never failed me.

The trick is to treat the outside skin as soon as you purchase your pumpkin (the rotting actually occurs from the outside due to bacteria on the skin). This involves a quick process where you fill your sink up with water and some bleach then leave your pumpkin soaking in it for a half hour (rotating it periodically because pumpkins float). This will kill all present bacteria on the skin.

Then dry off your pumpkin and apply a liberal coating of mineral oil over the entire surface area, including the stalk. This coats and protects the pumpkin’s skin from future bacteria taking hold.

Once the mineral oil is applied, you can set your pumpkins outside where they will look perfect for months — or at least until it’s time to carve them. It doesn’t matter if you have a stretch of 90-degree days or 20-degree days, your pumpkins will thrive.

Finally, what better way to signify the fall season than the return of academics. I curse this time of year due to the massive increase in traffic. It’s so easy to forget how light the commute can be in the summer months, but then September arrives and everything goes to hell.

In this week’s feature, “Me Time” starring Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg, we meet two old friends who are transitioning into their autumn years. The only problem is, the two friends couldn’t be more opposite in how they approach life.

Meant to be comedic buddy film, “Me Time” devolves into a raunchy, tired gag picture that attempts to inject morality into its conclusion. Unfortunately, it fails on multiple levels, leaving the viewer bored and irritable.

This film will rank at the top of the charts for several weeks due to the two main stars, but should settle into obscurity once viewers realize how poorly constructed it is.

A fatigued “D” for “Me Time,” now available for streaming on Netflix.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]

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