Archive for October, 2009

A Story For Halloween

October 30, 2009

Because I won’t have a blog running tomorrow, I won’t be able to refer to one of the “anniversaries” I had mentioned that I ran across in my old journal while I was writing my Florida Tan story. Tomorrow is the 31st anniversary of my sister’s coining her fabulous word, “STUPIOTIC”. I think it speaks for itself. And I still use it, in quite a few instances.

Speaking of anniversaries, today marks the 71st of  Orson Welles’ broadcast of “The War Of The Worlds”.  I remember hearing that as a young kid in the basement of my Grandmother’s neighbor, whose son was an aspiring DJ (Pete Tauriello, to be exact) and I wouldn’t admit it, but I was almost too scared to go back to my Grandmother’s, even by simply hopping the fence between their yards.

Also, tomorrow, as you may have realized by now, is Halloween and I thought I’d share a spooky ghost story of sorts. It’s a true story that happened to me when I was around 10 years old and I still get chills when I tell it. Actually, my part of the story begins the morning after and that’s what makes it so eery. Some of you out there know this story, so bear with me.

It was some time after my grandfather (my father’s father) died when I had a most unforgettable nightmare that still, after all these years is as vivid as that night. I woke up, shaken, just having had a dream related to something new to me in my young 10 years – death. I remember distinctly being in my bedroom, the middle room of the three that faced the backyard. I was playing with my little bi-level garage set. It was made of tin and was slightly dented out of shape from when I had fallen on it when I tumbled to the floor one night during my sleep.

I heard people talking in the kitchen–my mother, both my grandmothers, my father, and there was laughing, and I could see them from the doorway to the bedroom. Grandma B was wearing a black skirt and a pink blouse, Grandma S was wearing a blue and white print full skirt dress and my mother was in her house clothes as she toiled over the holiday dinner. I turned to go the living room, where the Christmas tree was, which I could also see from the doorway of my bedroom.

The living room furniture was rearranged to accommodate the tree and the gray and red boxy 1960’s chair with the homemade green slipcover was against the wall on the side of the opening from the hallway into the living room. I walked past the chair and suddenly felt something tugging at my undershirt. I turned to see what it was and it was my dead grandfather, sitting on the broad flat arm of the chair. My first instinct was to go tell everyone in the kitchen, but the grip became more intense and his scurrilous expression told me with silent words that I had better not, if I knew what was good for me and my own voice was stilled.

The next morning, when I told my mother about my dream, her expression turned from concern, to alarming disbelief. The night before, an aunt of mine, my father’s younger sister, and some other people were visiting and my father was dazzling everyone with the powers of hypnosis. He had begun dabbling in hypnosis and would eventually work with it in a clinical capacity. It was my aunt’s turn and apparently she was a very susceptible subject.

Somehow, in her deep state, it was like she had channeled her dead father; writing in a style to his chunky letters as opposed to her own flowing hand and making unflattering comments (which I was told about, but will opt to not reveal them) about her (herself, as the case may be). From what my mother told me, it had turned into an angry and emotional session. And the session was conducted in the chair with the green slipcover.

Meanwhile, my uncle, my father’s brother, without any prior knowledge of  what had gone on in my house the night before, or of my experience,  called to tell of  having  a nightmare which was eerily similar to mine, where my grandfather came to him and warned him not to say he was there.

That’s my story. As I wrote it, I got that all too familiar chill down my spine, thinking back on the experience.

So, happy Halloween!

BOO!

Oh, and don’t forget to turn your clocks back an hour before you go to bed tomorrow night!

Our Worst Enemy?

October 29, 2009

Oh boy, where do I begin? I know, with Eric Williamson; still no word on his indecent coffee making charges.

Now that that’s been taken care of I want to know when it became shameful to be an American? Almost a year ago I blogged about a certain Massachusetts Firefighter, Richard Busa, who went around in circles with his higher ups because he painted his helmet to resemble the American Flag. And while I admired the artwork on the helmet, I sided with the department chief that it was not appropriate and regulation wear for the department. However I take issue with political correctness gone wild.

Take Mark Shea, 23 year old owner of Gravity Fitness in Marblehead, Massachusetts. He hung a 12 foot long American flag from the gym rafters and within days had over a dozen complaints ranging from that it was too large and it blocked the view of the televisions to it being offensive. One member was quoted as saying “It’s like putting a Jesus cross in my face.” To compromise, Shea moved the flag, but only out of the way of the televisions and he is prepared to lose any complaining offended members.

Then there’s the case of Trevor Keezer, ex-employee of a West Palm Beach, Florida Home Depot who was fired on October 23,over a button he wore on his apron. The button depicted the American flag and read: “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible.” He’s worn the button for over a year, in support of his country and of his brother, who is set to report for a second tour of duty in Iraq. About a month ago, Keezer began bringing a Bible to work to read on his lunch break and that’s when attention turned to his offending button. Only buttons having to do with the store or its vendors are allowed, as a form of advertising and a spokesman said the employee violated a dress code and Keezer was offered a “United We Stand” button to replace his, one that would not be overtly expressive about “religious” beliefs, but the cashier refused the compromise. Keezer’s lawyer, Kara Skorupa, was quick to point out that there are federal and state laws to protect against religious discrimination and Michael Masinter, a civil rights and employment law professor argues that because Home Depot is a private business, and not a governmental institution, it doesn’t have to operate under the free speech provisions of the First Amendment.

That leads me to ask, why have a First Amendment? Why have any at all, for that matter, if a button with the flag on it is going to be catalyst of splitting hairs.

Come on! This is America, allegedly the land of the free and home of the brave. Then again, how could that be so, when the flag is so offensive, the same flag that has been fought for over and over again so that we could have a flag, a flag that is intended to be held up in the highest regard, a flag that symbolizes freedom and the opportunity for others to come and be proud of a home, a sanctity for those who claim they want a better way of life.  Is this the way to respect the Flag?

So, which was it? Which was Keezer fired for? Political reasons or religious ones? Well according to Home Depot, it was religious. Then how can they let shoppers of various religious groups come into their store, dressed in either a burqa, or a turban, or a yarmulka, or even a cross on a chain? Aren’t those all expressions of religious beliefs? How hypocritical! How hypocritical, Home Depot! Or anyone else who seeks to shun the beliefs of Americans.

sparkling-usa-flagAs far as the Flag being offensive (and hopefully that sentiment is reserved only by militant blowhards with nothing else to do but make trouble for everyone else, like those who decided I can no longer go to a company “Christmas” party but rather a Winter Holiday Party) what’s next…will I have to bring mine in from the front of my house in case it offends my UPS man?

I think the answer to my questioning title is: Our own selves. When the American flag becomes offensive to ourselves, we might just as well pack it in.

Weekend Roundup

October 27, 2009

Can you think of any better way to work off a slight Sunday hangover than by trimming down a lawn devouring forsythia bush? Well, that’s how we spent the first few hours of being home after a night of carousing in the city with some friends. We had this outing planned for a while and so, ill-armed against the weather, we trudged from place to place, meaning subway station to bar to restaurant to another bar to have a few rounds for an impromptu celebration of another friend’s birthday. The birthday drinks took place in a newly opened bar by a bartender guy we know from another place we like to hang out when we’re in the city. The sky watched us while were safely ensconced on the insides of these establishments, then, as if it were a cleansing, the rain fell once we were back outside.  Kind of like camping, but warmer and no wet equipment to put away, except the clothes on our backs. And on it went until we had returned to point A to put our jammies on, and tried  to outdo each other in front of the Wii. Those poor downstairs  neighbors. Well, it was still early…early in the morning. Ha-chachachacha!

Trimming that blob-like bush down has been stuck in my craw for several weeks, A: because it was pretty much overtaking my front lawn and B: it needed to be pruned so it would have a better chance of flowering next spring. So, when we got home from our little sleep over, I knew it was then or never and we put on some comfy forsythia bush hacking clothes and, like Steve McQueen, armed with the hedge trimmer and a rake in lieu of a fire extinguisher, we got to work. You can imagine how much growth there is in a ten year time span and that Yellow Bell bush is now about 4 feet smaller all around. Everything caught up with us afterwards though and we took turns dozing with our Chinese take-out in front of the TV. At least I didn’t fall asleep mid-stream like I had done once before and woke up only when a mouthful of semi-chewed cole slaw fell out of my mouth.

I got my teeth bleached yesterday. I sat in the chair with some kind of contraption in my mouth while solutions were applied, some of which burned, but not too seriously, the inside of my bottom lip. After several applications of bleaching gel, it was time for the laser light and during the second go around with it a jabbing pain hit one of my teeth and then a second, kind of like the feeling of hitting a filling with aluminum foil. It must be a common occurrence because when Dr. Bob came in to check and I told him, he ended the session. But the results of just two times under the light was astounding. Not that the teeth were that different in color to the new bridge–and I guess with that “zing” factor that’s a good thing so I wouldn’t have to endure it for longer or to make another appointment–but now both upper and lower match. The “zings” hit me off and on throughout the day and I valiantly tried to keep an ointment on the burned flesh on the inside of my lip. So far this morning, all that remains is a slight tenderness on my lip. And then I realized as I took my daily dose of vitamins this moring with a glass of purple grape juice, could I get any stupider? Isn’t grape juice one of the most staining things? Haven’t I learned anything at all from Josephine the Plumber and the countless times she demonstrated how difficult that, and coffee stains, were to remove? Now I think I am officially done with the dentist until my next cleaning in February of 2010. Sounds so far away, doesn’t it?

Oh, and PS! I got the point for Soupy Sales the other day!

LET’S GO PHILLIES!

Privacy With A Hot Iron Fish

October 26, 2009

I got an interesting and rather informative email from my sister the other day in reference to the fishy tasting wine blog I wrote last week. Apparently I’m not crazy or the only one, however the study is a bit skewed. The study shows pairing red wines that have a high iron content with fish results in an unpleasant fishy aftertaste. It’s very rare I drink wine with dinner, unless I’m out somewhere fancy and it’s very rare when I’m out to dinner that I would order fish, unless it’s a lobster, which usually doesn’t happen unless I’m in Provincetown at The Lobster Pot and my drink of choice then is usually a Jack and Coke or a frozen margarita or something Provincetowny or vacationy. The point is, I don’t need to be eating fish for some red wines to leave a fishy aftertaste in my mouth, so perhaps I’m more sensitive to the high iron content in some red wines. That must explain why some others are quite appealing to me–lower iron. And anyway, isn’t it supposed to be red wine with beef, white with fish? So, then it’s the renegades’ own fault for not obeying that simple rule.

I want to quickly return to Friday’s blog, specifically about the Scoville scale. I learned what it is and thought I’d share it with you. Wilbur Scoville, who in 1912 was working as a chemist for the Parke Davis pharmaceutical company, developed a way to measure the heat of a chile pepper. In his test, he blended pure ground chiles with a sugar-water solution and a panel of tasters sipped the concoctions in increasingly diluted concentrations and a number was assigned to reflect that dilution. This method had been under scrutiny for some time considering the time it took and each individual’s own tolerance levels, but what a nightmare it had to be when they tested peppers towards the higher end of the scale. Nowadays there are more scientific means to study pepper heat and the results are fairly compatible with the Scoville scale. My rule of thumb, if your tongue falls out of your mouth, that’s too hot.

Did you hear about this? A 29 year old Virginia man, Eric Williamson is facing a charge of indecent exposure after someone passed by his house and spotted him standing naked in his kitchen, making coffee. There are two versions of the story and they both lead me to side with the man. The first version says that at about 5:30 am, Williamson, who was alone in his house, went to the kitchen, fresh out of bed, naked and got a cup of coffee, when a woman claims she and her 7 year old son could see him as they walked past his house. Okay, first of all, the naked man was in his own home, minding his own business, having a cup of coffee. Secondly, at 5:30 in the morning, it’s dark out, he wouldn’t be aware that someone was peering into his home. And the report says the woman and her son cut across the man’s lawn as a shortcut. So, here we have voyeurism and trespassing.

The second account, the woman’s, states that it was 8:40am and she was walking her son to school (and cutting across his lawn) and she saw him standing naked in a doorway then he moved to a larger window as she passed with the intent to expose himself to her. The report doesn’t say whether this was an exterior or interior carport door leading into the house.

Another piece of information that was later revealed is that the house is across the street from a school bus stop. Do 7 year old kids line up at a bus stop at 5:30 in the morning? If not, and it’s later, when it’s brighter outside, I would think it would be harder to see inside a house across the street. Even if he had been seen in all his glory, maybe rather than throw him jail for a year and slap him with a $2,000 fine, maybe have the police ask him to be more careful and put on a robe, or at the very least, some Fruit of the Looms. So, unless this guy is running outside while kids are waiting for their bus, I don’t believe he should be charged.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this story, as I am all for the sanctity of the home. Jeez, the next thing you know, it’ll be against the law to blog in the altogether.

LET’S GO PHILLIES!

Food Is Not Supposed To Hurt

October 23, 2009

Let’s end the week with something else from the stupid news file. A fight broke out at a kebab stand in a Bremen, Germany train station because a customer was allegedly refused napkins by the salesman at the stand. The dispute erupted when the 23 year old customer, for lack of any other means of cleaning his hands, wiped them on the stand. I’m not really sure, but I don’t really think that got all the mess off his hands; the vendor retaliated by flinging a ladle of kebab sauce at the customer, splashing him in the face and, of course, the eyes. Naturally, the police were called to investigate and that’s just what they did. First things first, though, they took a sample of the sauce to decide whether it constituted normal or grievous bodily harm because the man’s eyes became bloodshot. Let’s see, salt (no doubt), tomato in some form or other (perhaps), maybe a hot pepper all thrown into the mix, yeah, that’s an owie! Police are also investigating why the napkin debacle happened in the first place and it’s a good possibility both men will be facing charges.

But you don’t have to have salsa thrown into your face to make your eyes get bloodshot. Especially if you’re eating Dave’s Insanity Salsa. I’m telling you, I learned my lesson while hurting myself at the same time. Once upon a time, when visiting some of Ariel’s cousins, we got into a discussion of tolerating spicy hot foods. Rounds of “Well, I can eat blah blah blah” and “I can eat a BLAH blah blah” volleyed back and forth across the table to the point where a challenge was issued and since I had the means, I bought a jar of the hottest salsa I could find and that was Dave’s Insanity Salsa.

This concoction is made up of Red Savina Habanero peppers, which certifiably rate at just over 577,000 Scoville heat units which is doubly as hot as regular Habanero peppers and 65 times hotter than a Jalapeno. The Scoville scale is named after Wilbur Scoville who developed the test in 1912. My sister is gonna love this reference–original TABASCO brand hot sauce has a heat rating of a mere 2,500-5,000. (We had challenged each other once to a spoonful of it when we were younger and wondered if we’d ever see the light of day again) By comparison, a plain old every day Sweet Bell pepper falls in at 0 and coming in at between 100-500 is a Pimento. Also listed in the ingredients is regular Habaneros, which clock in between 100,000 and 350,000; Thai chiles that fall between 50 and 100 thousand, plus some juice from a pineapple and some spices. So, you kind of get an idea of where this is going, right?

dave's insanity salsaMy order of various salsas arrived and we made arrangements to visit Maribel, John, Maggy and Nelson for a night of wine drinking and persiflage, as we often do. Somehow the red wines they serve suit my pallet, and no fishy finish. But, anyway, the time came to open the bag of chips and Dave’s Insanity Salsa, which, by the way, on the Scoville scale, is a tame 180,000. Facing off against each other, John and I, armed with a single chip prepared to dip. I chose to scoop, he chose to dip, and only the very corner of his chip. CRUNCH. While I was writhing and convulsing on the floor, desperately in search of a remedy, however ineffective, my face was drenched with sweat, my tongue felt as though it had swollen to proportions beyond what my mouth could accommodate, and John recoiled and with a disapproving and surprised scowl on his face made the statement which is the title of today’s blog, “Food is not supposed to hurt!”. I was told some time later that my eyes were turning blood red and the funny thing is, I could feel it happening. And then, go figure, John’s son was dipping into it with nary a reaction.

I’m assuming the German kabob customer did not have this strong a salsa thrown into his face as the report did not mention anything about blindness or the liquefaction of his eyeballs.

That’s all I got. It’s time for the weekend. Enjoy.

PS. I found a website that sells these Red Savina Habaneros in a variety of mixtures and extracts that will not sell to minors. And here are two more figures: pure capsaicin tops the Scoville list at 16,000,000 heat units and police grade pepper spray ranks at 5,300,000.

Hair’s A King’s Ransom

October 22, 2009

There was an auction this past weekend in Chicago, at the Leslie Hindman Auction House where many Elvis Presley items were up for bidding. There were more than 200 items on the auction block from the collection of the late Gary Pepper, president of the Tankers Fan Club, which was created for Elvis Presley fans. The items included the requisite bounty of signed photos, record albums, and assorted other memorabilia. It also included a shirt, worn by Elvis, valued at $52,000. (That can’t be right, can it? Good grief, my car didn’t cost that much). And besides the shirt, there was a lock of hair, that was anticipated to rake in between 8 and 12 thousand dollars. The clump of hair, is said to be from the historic 1958 shearing of the King’s mane when he was recruited into the army. The auction house did not conduct a DNA test on the hair but stated thatelvis hair John Reznikoff, an expert in celebrity hair authentication, says it matches an Elvis hair he has in his own collection. Thank goodness, because I’m not so sure I’d appreciate plopping down that kind of money, $18,300, on a clump hair that didn’t once grace the head of The King.

More than $300,000 was made during the auction, but that money is being held in escrow until a claim by John Tate and Norma Deeble, cousins to the Gary Pepper is ironed out that the memorabilia was stolen by their late relative’s caretaker, Nancy Pease Whitehead when Pepper, who suffered from cerebral palsy, was moved to a home for the disabled people. What if…oh, man, the controversy…imagine…what if she replaced the original clump of hair with imposter black hair. That would mean all those bids would have been senseless. Oh no, never mind, it was authenticated. I forgot. And look, there’s a picture of Elvis, that must mean it’s really his hair.

There’s a prototype of a new device called The Rationalizer being tested in Amsterdam by Philips Electronics. It’s main aim is to sense online day traders’ stress levels so they can…take a time out and calm down and regroup. The user wears an EmoBracelet (emo being short for emotion or emotional) and when it senses stress it lights up a an EmoBowl that flickers in colors from yellow to red as intensity grows. It’s the mood ring of the new millennium. I don’t need a mood ring or a Rationalizer to tell me when I’m stressed. I usually get that dull echoing thud of blood pounding in my ears and that kind of psychedelic black swirling clouding my vision. That more or less tells me I need to back away. And if I don’t pay attention to those indicators, what makes anyone think I’m gonna listen to an EmoBowl. At least I can ignore myself for free. The product is not currently in production but the prototype is part of an effort to technologically help people cope with stress. Like a nice cattle prod.

                                                   treehouse

 

And then there’s the story of the Tree House Man, Michael Chapman from Worcester, Massachusetts. After three months of physical labor and nearly $12,000, he’s got until November 2 to tear it all down. The reason? It violates a city ordinance because it is higher than 15′ (it towers at 50′) and it is within 5 feet of a property line.  The elaborate structure, which is made of more than a ton of pressure treated lumber, 500 lag screws and nuts, 1,000 feet of jute rope and 48 feet of rebar, that can securely support several adults at one time, caused one neighbor to threaten to burn it down with or without Chapman in it. During all the construction, as neighbors complained, Chapman kept working on his boyhood dream, even adorning it with a plaque that reads  “Heart Of Oak”. The commissioner of the city’s Department of Inspectional Services fears the treehouse would be an “attractive nuisance” like a swimming pool without a fence and that kids could hurt themselves not to mention the possibility of Chapman climbing the structure with binoculars to spy on his neighbors. So now with his time running out to dismantle his creation, he faces a daily fine of $300 for each day beyond  November 2.   Boo! Hiss!

Special Delivery

October 21, 2009

What a beautiful day it was yesterday, wasn’t it? I was only somewhat aware of how nice it was as I saw the sun shining through my office window against a sky the color of blue chrome until I went out to get my mail and breathed in the unexpectedly warm autumn air. I crossed my front lawn, my feet slightly rolling over the blanket of fallen acorns, too many even for the deer to keep up with. To my surprise, the mailbox was full, almost to the point of overflowing, mostly with glossy mail order catalogs and a few assorted first class envelopes; bills and such. The stack was easily a hefty three inches thick. I grabbed the stack and instantly panic, fear and virtual heart failure ensued at the sight of the spider with the one inch leg span that went flurrying across the top of the stack. How the mail ended up back in the box as opposed to the lawn is a mystery to me, and I hesitated for moment, thinking what to do. Leave it? Bring it into the house? If so, how? Carry it? I chose to bring it in, eschewing a momentary thought of getting a pair of work gloves and carried it between the thumb and forefinger of one hand, stretched out at my side as far as I could get it. I didn’t want to walk too fast for fear of all that slick mail sliding out of my grasp, but I didn’t want to take too much time in case that infernal creature was still with me and give it time to attack. I got to the front door and dropped the mail onto the floor and I proceeded to shake out every envelope and catalog…TWICE until I was moderately confident I was critter free.  I then went out with a flashlight to investigate to see if it was still in the box, but against the glaring sun, the flashlight was futile.  With the mail still splayed across the foyer floor, I returned outside a third time , this time with a can of Ortho spider spray and doused the interior of my mailbox. Hopefully I got that S.O.B. and I can only hope my mailman isn’t puffing on a cigarette when he comes today. To be on the safe side, in case it was still hiding between the pages of my Popcorn Factory cataloge, I placed the stack of mail on the floor as opposed to ritualistically on my red chair.  And it goes without saying, I’m apprehensive about picking up my mail later on today.

In other news, in Dayton, Tennessee, it looks like teachers have a new high tech sort of teacher’s pet. Grade Cam. Whatever you might be thinking this is, you might be right. Its one more technological marvel that has wormed its way into the classroom among the likes of movie projectors and wireless keyboards and teachers are really excited about it. It’s a camera that takes a picture of students’ tests and grades them. One teacher assures that it won’t be used 100% of the time for 100% of the assignments, but that it will give the children practice for standardized tests. Another teacher exclaimed that the thing she likes most about it is the time it would free up for her aid to work with the kids in the class. Aha!

Two things about this baffle me. One, if  teaching is one of the more underappreciated and underpaid professions, how can school systems justify such silliness?  And to that end, the second thing that perplexes me is, that if teachers are so underpaid, how can they abide by this, knowing their salaries are being spent so foolishly? And to those teachers so gung-ho over this new innovation I ask, why can’t they grade papers at night, at home?  Is Dancing With The Stars that important? Are teachers that disconnected with their students that they can’t even grade papers without the help of some piece of technology? Is isolationism now being taught in schools, starting with the teachers not having a bond with the kids? And why does she need an aid? What is she so busy not doing that she can’t teach a class by herself? And why is the aid grading papers in the first place? Let her get a class of her own to teach.

Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. Well, you know about the Snuggie, the blanket with sleeves, available in bright enticing colors; Royal blue, burgundy and sage green. Then we got a choice of wild and vivacious leopard or zebra prints. What else could there be? Well, this:

 

 

How humiliating, yet lucky at the same time. They get custom made sizes, while we have to deal with one size fits all. Coming soon, kitty snuggies and ones to fit your parakeet and your goldfish. That would be the wash and wear version. But would your parakeet be able to work the TV remote?  

  doggie snuggie  Pathetic!

Red Wine & The Rack

October 20, 2009

What else happened this past weekend? We went to a 50th, wine-tasting birthday party for a friend of ours. It almost turned into a joke that we were actually going to something they had invited us to. I cannot count how many times prior to this party, over the past few years, we’ve been invited to their place for a get together, either dinner or a wine tasting (they’re very big on wines) and every time we’d have prior plans, mostly to see a show on Broadway. You remember how a year ago we were in the city to see a show almost every other weekend and after a while, they were beginning to get a complex. But for this party, as it turns out, we were free.

Earlier in the day, I downloaded VZNavigator to my phone, mainly for yucks, but afterwards, I typed in the address of the place we were going to and after playing around with the directions and a goodly dose of aggravation I got them to match the route Ariel mapped out on Google maps so that we could try out the VZNavigator against the actual map. Everything was going fine as we drove but at the last minute, David, the voice I chose to dictate the directions told us to turn right and almost immediately after told us to make the first legal U-turn we came to. Apparently we had passed the address, but oddly, the address we passed was not the address we were looking for but it was the address David was looking for.

I figured it out, though, as we retreated in the opposite direction. I was further experimenting with the settings on the map on my cell phone after I got the exact map programmed. At any place during the route on the map, including the destination point, you can get info about that particular spot. So, for ha-has, I was seeing if  there would be information about Les Saisons Inn, in Maplewood, where the party was being held but it was coming up with other addresses that must have been hidden underneath the marker named END [of the route] and it must have been the last one I looked at that got stored and it happened to be in the opposite direction of where we needed to be, prompting David to send us to the right instead of to the left.  The point is, we found the place, parked and went inside.

Five wines were being served throughout the night, each with a different complimentary pairing of food. The wine expert mingled among the guests, topping off glasses, adding tidbits of information about each wine as it was presented. The wait staff coursed through the crowd with various hors d’oeuvres, the best of which was the lamb chops (for me, anyway). Accolades of all the wines rang out like music from all of the guests; smell the bouquet, look at the legs, it’s earthy, it’s fruity. And then there was my review of the last three wines, all reds: “Tastes like fish”. I’m no wine expert, but I do know what tastes good to me and a lot of red wines have a fishy finish to me. Well, except the second one being sampled that tasted like sulphur. But the wine expert took it in stride, saying how everyone’s taste buds perceive tastes differently. I wasn’t being mean, but there was no sense in drinking something I wasn’t enjoying. Plus it made for entertaining conversation.

The Radio Chick began a new venture yesterday. It’s a brand new way of bringing her show to her fans, through Shovio, an interactive online  broadcasting program. It’s a step up from an audio only podcast in that you can actually see her as she does her “radio show/podcast” . It’s done in real time as opposed to a pretaped podcast and the audience can interact directly, either by becoming part of the broadcast by way of his or her own webcam, or by typing in a message in the contantly streaming instant messenger feature. Because of her time slot, it’s a bit restrictive as opposed to an on the go canned podcast, but the shows will be archived for later viewing, although the show won’t be interactive then. And for those fans who cannot attend the live feed or haven’t the capability or time to catch the archived shows, the Chick will be making available a podcast version of this newest pioneering venture.  And if you happen to join in, you’ll see me every now and then interacting with my onscreen name “Long Distance Brian.”

So, what is your take on the Illegal Alien Halloween costume?

                                illegal alien

I personally think it’s an amusing depiction of the term. However, what would otherwise seem to be a harmless holiday get-up is actually considered to be quite the opposite. Of course!  Believe it or not, immigrant rights activists such as The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles is all up in arms over the costume they call ‘distasteful, mean-spirited and ignorant of social stigmas’. The offensive item has been removed from Target stores, but is still being sold through other online retailers. Honestly, unless you’re an illegal alien, then why let this get under your skin? It’s just a silly Halloween costume. Aren’t all Halloween costumes offensive in some way? If you dress like a bum, isn’t that a jab at the unfortunate homeless? If you dress like a cop, isn’t that making light of a coveted profession? If you ungracefully trip up someone’s front steps while you’re wearing a ballerina tutu, isn’t that sort of ironically mocking? Relax, people, sometimes a Halloween costume is just a Halloween costume. So go grab a glass of leggy fishy tasting wine and just answer the door, hand out your goodies and have a good time.

The Balloon That Cried Reality TV!

October 19, 2009

I haven’t written in a few days. My well had run dry, I didn’t even have enough ammo to be even mildly sarcastic about anything. But, it’s a new week and I have a few things to get me through.

Okay, so, by now, we all know the saga of Balloon Boy was a hoax–the six year old Falcon hid in the attic as the flying saucer shaped balloon soared across the Colorado sky while all the world watched in horror, praying for a safe outcome to this so called tragedy. It was done as a means to hopefully create a sort or reality television show centered around the Heene family. The family is expected to turn themselves into authorities by later today or tomorrow at the latest. Call me a cynic, but this whole thing smacks of a book deal. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. 

Maybe I should try something like that. Obviously being mild-mannered and going through proper channels of querying prospective agents and publishers isn’t working. Maybe I will  go soaring through the air, hanging on for dear life and…nah, it’s been done. I need to be original. Maybe I should outfit retired carrier pigeons with pages of my novel with a note attached saying “publish me” and by radio control instruct the birds to release them so the pages rain down for all the public to see. People would clamor and claw their way into finding the source of those timeless words and demand my book gets published.

I had quite a busy weekend. Among the things I took care of this weekend I spoke to a few family members over the phone, gathering more information for McGinty Chronicles which is still in the working stages before it relaunches. I still don’t have a date in mind, but I will announce it here when the time comes. So, for now, JL and Elsie’s honeymoon is still on.

I also tried to connect a digital converter box to my mother’s television set because a lot of her cable channels were disappearing before her very eyes. It was a successful installation and while we had to wait the 45 minutes until the cable company remotely programmed and activated the box, we went for a late lunch ate One South, not too far from her. Not a bad menu and not badly decorated, but it was Sunday and each of the television screens had a different football game going and so there wasn’t a moment where someone wasn’t a-hootin’ and a-hollerin’ about some play or other. Man, it was loud, but surprisingly, we were able to hold a conversation without much strain. The food was pretty good and when mushrooms came with a dish, they were plenty.

We returned to the house and yes, the converter box was working and she  had all the channels her particular package would allow. Apparently they moved some of the channels she likes to a more premium level and if she wants those back she’ll have to pay for them. Such a monopoly this cable thing is, really, but that’s not news. I know I pay way too much to watch the few channels I do watch, but it would be that one day when something is on I want to see is on a channel I would have just given up. It’s how my luck runs. But the greater issue was, even though I wired up this new system to include her VCR ( I know, but we’re taking steps to upgrade) we couldn’t get anything to record on the tape. I tried every conceivable wiring combination until it looked like a cat’s cradle of wires back there. Finally, we ended up hooking her back up to just the VCR, for now, and she’ll be calling to have a DVR installed rather than use the VCR. Hopefully they’ll take back the converter box in a trade-off. And while it’s still a digital box, she’ll still have to see about ordering those missing channels that aren’t included in her price plan.

And sadly, we brought her cat home with us to bury in the backyard. Crazy Cat, better known as CC, died over the weekend and she asked if we could bury him here and so after the television fiasco, in the dark, but thankfully in a pre-dug hole which we had done earlier in the day, we put him in his final resting place.

Potayto/Potahto…He Said/She Said…Whatever!

October 14, 2009

From the “You’re So Vain” department, word has it that Carly Simon is suing Starbucks for improperly promoting her April, 2008 album “This Kind Of Love” on their Hear Music label. She is citing that the album was not available at a significant number of the coffee chain stores and the low price it was being sold at ‘stigmatized’ it. Starbucks stated that it had fulfilled all its obligations but the CD had only a ‘tepid response’. Three months later, in July, the record label and six hundred store locations met their demise. Simon, who admits the album had gotten some negative reviews, is asking for between 5 and 10 million dollars in her suit and if she wins, whoops there goes another Starbucks store (give or take a few more).

From the “Mile High Club” department, Corrrine Gehrls, former (as in fired) flight attendant on Oprah Winfrey’s private jet, is suing the billionaire talk show host for a mere $300,000 (or $75,000, depending on which source you read) in a defamation of character lawsuit. Gehrls says she is wrongfully accused of sleeping with pilot Terry Pansing, while the plane was in flight as the passengers, including Winfrey, slept. Gehrls assures it’s a plot hatched by fellow flight attendant Mryon Gooch and by Kirby Bumpus, daughter of Winfrey’s ‘gal-pal’ Gayle King to have Gehrls and the pilot fired. Gehrls also claims Winfrey knew the “mile high” accusations were false because the $42 million plane was being refueled when this incident is said to have occurred. Both she and Pansing passed lie detector tests, yet were still let go.

From the “They Obviously Needed ‘So In Style’ Barbies As Role Models” department, Hampton University in Virginia, crowned its first non-black Miss Hampton University. Nikole Churchill, a senior nursing student, competed against nine black students in the 15th annual scholarship pageant. But her triumph was met with negative comments because of her skin color which prompted her to fire off a missive to Barack Obama to come to the school to speak on tolerance, so that her “fellow Hamptonians can stop focusing on her skin color” and “be proud of the changes our nation is making in accepting diversity.” The contest had all the pageantry of larger, more established competitions; evening gowns, swimsuits and talent. Churchill won the crown, a $1,500 scholarship, she will serve as the homecoming queen later this month and she will also move on to represent in the 2010 Miss Virginia Pageant. The reason for all this flap is that she doesn’t belong to the main campus, which has about 5,700 students, but to the Virginia Beach campus whose student count is at about 90. How can she represent if people don’t know who she is, people don’t even see her” and “She’s not black” are the cries of protest from some of the other contestants and school staffers.

From the “Now This Is Amazing” department, Martin “Marty” Alvey can see again. 90-year old Marty suffers from macular degeneration and had become legally blind a couple of years ago and could not see objects further than a foot away. After it was determined he was legally blind, he went to some doctors who performed experimental testing that kept his eyes from getting worse. One night, in the wee hours, he began to feel dizzy and unstable and he made his way to the phone and dialed 911 and was whisked away to the hospital. Somewhere between home and the hospital, a miracle occurred and by the time his doctor arrived to evaluate his current condition, Marty was able to see. Now, that’s amazing!

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