Archive for January, 2010

A Snack In The Face

January 15, 2010

All that talk about Pez and SpaghettiO’s yesterday got me thinking about a website I know, Hometown Favorites. There you can buy (or even just browse for a nostalgic calorie-free walk down memory lane) hard to find products such as candy cigarettes, gums like Teaberry and Black Jack, Nik-L-Nip Wax bottles, sodas, Betty Crocker frosting…in a box! Remember that? There is also a link to vintage toys. The site opens to the “candy” page and across the top, on either side of the title are links for the Hard-To-Find-Grocer and The Grand Gift Emporium. On both those links, look for the box that says Back To Crossroads Market and then you can click on any of the storefronts to take you elsewhere. It took me a few to figure that out because they’ve redesigned the page since I was last there.

Note to self, speaking of snacks, don’t gorge on mini pretzels while watching Project Runway before going to bed. I woke up to a bloody nose (most likely all that salt) but I had the hungry horrors after a light dinner of delicious homemade pea soup. Since the beginning of the new year, I’ve been trying to control my eating again and only just finally got back to dedicated exercising (since I was down for the count with that cold, that, oddly, is hanging on for dear life even as I write this) but last night I caved and ate half a bag of caramel corn and then dug into the pretzels.

Tomorrow morning, both of us are going to have a an official weigh in to see just how grotesquely out of shape we’ve both become and with any luck, come Monday morning, barring a torrential downpour or a blizzard, we plan to be back into our 4-mile walking regime. Oh…tadah! Still at it!

I’m beginning to wonder just how reliable weather .com is. New Year’s weekend wasn’t a washout like it was predicted and I heard on the radio that it was going to be near 50 degrees on Sunday. Seems like the only time the forecast on that site is accurate is when we have a camping weekend and, of course, you know what that forecast is.

Well, have a great weekend, and finally, after a prolonged wait and a false start last week, McGinty Chronicles returns on Monday.

See you then!

Uh-Oh…It’s Still Christmas!

January 14, 2010

It’s the neat round spaghetti you can eat with a spoon…uh, oh, SpaghettiO’s. Donald Goerke was the marketing research director for Campbell Soup’s Franco-American line and in the early 60’s came up with the O shape of canned spaghetti that would appeal to kids. The 83 year old Waukesha, Wisconsin native worked for the Camden based company for 35 years until he retired in 1990 and died in his Delran, NJ home on Sunday of heart failure. It just so happened I had a can in the pantry and that decided what I had for dinner, in his honor, rather than some of the other stuff we had in the fridge. I had no adult supervision while Ariel was attending a first aid class after work and he didn’t get home until later in the evening.  He confirmed the Pez candy I was munching on was indeed floor cleaning product flavor. It was supposed to be grape. By the way, the developer of the iconic Pez dispenser, Curtis Allina,  also recently died, on December 15.  I wonder if they’ll make a commemorative Pez head in his honor. If not, at least I also had an honorarium dessert to him along with my SpaghettiO’s. Yup, no adult supervision.     

Today is the 14th of January and can you believe I still haven’t marked up my 2010 wall calendar? Nor have we taken Christmas down yet, but I think both are on the schedule for this coming weekend.

To be serious for a moment, if anyone is interested, there are a number of ways to make a donation to the relief fund for the victims of that devastating earthquate in Haiti. One simple way is to text the word Haiti to 90999 and your $10 dollar donation to the Red Cross will appear on your phone bill. You can also go to the Red Cross website and make your donation there to the  “International Response Fund”.  Or, you can go to the IRC, International Rescue Committee website to make a donation there.

Well, now that the holidays are over, all my TV shows are either back or are coming back on: American Idol, Leverage, CSI:NY, Fringe, Life After People, Damages…oh, and Spartacus is starting up (that looks really good) and Project Runway, which starts tonight. They’re finally back in New York, so hopefully this season won’t be a wishy washy ‘falling apart at the seams” one that the last one was while they were in Los Angeles. It needs to be a more cut-throat rather than whiny. To usher in the new season of Project Runway, I came across this rather timely video, even though it’s a few years old (does that make sense?). I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time or for the person involved, but watching it makes me guffaw and so I like it.


Honestly, why do models have to parade up and down the runway like they’re walking through muck of  The Everglades? It’s so…unladylike and unattractive. And always that lemon sucking expression on their faces. And most of the time the clothes are laughable, but I like Project Runway for the competition angle.

And check out the American Idol recap from last night’s show.

Happy Belated Anniversary

January 13, 2010

While I was making a terrible lame joke about not winning the lottery yesterday, it complete sidetracked me from something really important. Yesterday was our 11 th anniversary in the house. I was counting down the days so I could mention it and here it is, the day after.

I have an update on something I wrote about a few weeks ago, back on December 18 about little 4-year old Taylor Pugh who was on in-school suspension because his hair was too long according school board policy. Well, this past Monday, the school board and his parents met and it was decided little “Tater Tot” could return to regular classes with his long hair provided it was braided and pinned up on top of his head so that it does not fall below his ears. But mom, Elizabeth Taylor refuses to braid his hair that way because, she says, after a while, the boy’s head would bleed. Loosen the braiding…I’m thinking. Liz says that little Tater Tot likes his long hair. So, good, this family is being run by a four year old. I saw on the morning news yesterday how she gooped up his hair with gel to keep it in place, tied it in a pony tail on top of his head (think Pebbles Flintstone) and held it all in place with bobby pins. Actually, now I’m thinking, just cut the kid’s hair. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s now a matter of principle, that the family is on the bent that the school board doesn’t have the right to decide how the boy should wear his hair, but, come on, there’s a time for making a point and a time for teaching your kid that sometimes you just have to abide by the rules.

Also in that same blog I talked about the missing mile marker in Wantage, NJ.  From what I can tell, it still hasn’t been recovered.

Can I show you a video for yet another silly product? And then you can go check out Herbert and The New Shazzam.

 

 

 

We Have A Winner

January 12, 2010

I don’t know how to say this, but I’d like to say that I won $20,000 last night on a scratch off ticket that I had gotten as part of a $32 dollar trade in from other tickets. But, I can’t. I was one number off. The same number off on the same ticket that would have paid me $100. So, instead, I won $11. Trade them, or cash them? That is the question.

So, it looks like Simon Cowell has finally decided to leave American Idol after this season to start the X Factor. This came on the eve of the season premiere. The general consensus is that the show would suffer without him and that it might be the open door for a return for Paula Abdul and the big chair being occupied by Randy Jackson. Well, I immediately started thinking who could take over for Simon Cowell and I remembered about David Foster. He’s an accomplished songwriter/producer and served as judge once on another singing competition show, “Celebrity Duets” in 2005 (Marie Osmond was also a judge). Some of the performers he’s produced include Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Donna Summer and Janet Jackson.  He’d be fresh blood, a welcome change from the overly sarcastic and increasingly outwardly bored Simon Cowell who has taken to mostly rolling his eyes in disgust at everyone who appears before him.

The medical marijuana bill was approved yesterday and if it gets signed by outgoing Governor Jon Corzine before he leaves office next Tuesday, New Jersey could become the 14th state to allow the purchase and use by chronically and terminally ill patients.  However, it cannot be home-grown, nor can you operate a vehicle while under the influence. But what if you get the munchies and just got to have some hot fudge for your can of sardines? Or is that more a pregnancy craving?  Also, all-passenger seat belt law was signed but only as a secondy offense. So, buckle up people if your driver gets pulled over or you’ll be getting fined also. The in-state tuition fee for illegal aliens proposal was never even looked at. It was cited that it would send the wrong message that if you do something wrong or illegal long enough, eventually it would pay off. At last, something that makes sense.

Cell phone use may help protect you from Alzheimer’s. A study was done using 96 mice, some of which were genetically altered to develop memory problems that mimic the disease and some were not, as controls. The mice were placed in cages encircling a single antenna that emitted electromagnetic waves comparable to those of a standard cell phone, for 2 1-hour periods each day. After several months of the study, there was no change in the “normal” mice, but the impairment in the altered mice had disappeared. Therefore, scientists are hopeful that greater amounts of electromagnetic waves administered to humans suffering from the disease would provide a viable, drug-free treatment.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle ~ Plato (427 BC -347 BC)

We Interrupt This Blog

January 11, 2010

First of all, the Newark Airport security breacher, Haisong Jiang from Piscataway, NJ, a doctoral student at Rutgers University, was arrested Friday night and charged with defiant trespassing, for ducking under the security cordon to accompany his girlfriend to her flight. The defiant trespassing charge stems from when Jiang, after being asked by the security guard (as seen in the video) to move away from the secure area, (according to the article I read) returned there after the guard left his post. So, there, mystery solved. Right now it looks like Jiang will receive a “slap on the wrist” and a $500 fine. I think every one of the inconvenienced passengers that had to be rescreened during the 6 hour delay should have a whack at his wrist!

I think my cold is finally better. It’s still hanging on, I’m still all stuffed up, but I don’t feel a groggy and dragged out as I was feeling for the better part of last week.

This past weekend I got another review for “Mightier Than The Pen”.  It comes from a woman my father loaned his copy to who is in his Goldwing group. You can see it on the “reviews” page  under “The Novel” tab on my website. Also, for those of you new to my blog, the first chapter is also available in  “A Peek Inside” under the same tab.

Originally today was to be the start of the next chapter in the McGinty Chronicles, but time got away from me and I didn’t realize that tomorrow is the start of American Idol and I’m happy to report, taking the seat of the late Commander, who helmed the position of persnickety purveyor for two seasons, is  a brand new, 2-man team brought in to report on the shenanigans. They feel they’re qualified to take over such a momentous task.  You can meet them by clicking on their link button at the end of today’s blog.

Todays’a big day in NJ. Not only is the State House going to vote on in-state tuition fees for illegal aliens, but that seat belts must be worm by everyone in your car. And they’re hoping to pass a bill that would enforce the driver of a car to stop before hitting a pedestrian in a cross walk, as that is their “safety domain”, but also when encountering an errant jaywalker, the driver must also stop. But to be fair, the law will also state that a pedestrian can’t run into traffic. I would almost think that’s just common sense, but I guess not because we actually need a law against it. Hmm.

So, without fail, McGinty will start up again next week. I just didn’t want to give you so much to deal with on a Monday. In the meantime, let me introduce you to the new American Idol team. And spread the word, especially if anyone you tell is a literary agent or publisher or someone who knows one.

Wake Me When It’s Over

January 8, 2010

It’s day 5 of this cold I picked up, that started with a scratchy throat in the late afternoon last Sunday when we got home from our whirlwind New Year’s party weekend. My head has been like a block of cement and I’ve taken countless doses of over the counter remedies to no avail. You would think the frustration of just trying to pry those tablets out of those blister packs would aggravate the cold right out of a person.  Give me a good old fashioned bottle any day, something a 6-year old could open. My God, those blister pack are more secure than the checkpoints at Newark Airport.

Did you see that video? Take a look. It’s a little long, with the man in the tan coat just standing there, looking like he’s waiting for someone and little by little moves further up. If you jumpt to 4:53, you see the guard leave his post.  At about the 5 minute mark, the man is now behind the rope. 33 seconds later, the woman appears in the bottom left corner. And at 5:41, the man has ducked under the rope and is walking away with the woman.  He still hasn’t been identified and if he is ever found, he could face criminal charges.  The security guard is on administrative leave, with pay, until the matter is cleared up.

 

 

Today is Elvis Presley’s 75 th birthday. Let’s all have a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich to celebrate.

“The bill is defeated.” Those were the words late yesterday afternoon of Senate President Dick Codey, who was in favor of the bill,  after the 20-14 vote against marriage equality in New Jersey, as was expected.

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes ~ Oscar Wilde

 

Later That Same Day

January 7, 2010

Full body scanners are back in the news and I have the answers to those burning questions you have about them. Because I looked them up online. First of all they currently at 19 airports and the U.S. government is working on equipping airports across the country. For now, they are a voluntary option for all passengers, but if the full body scan is declined, the passenger must submit to full body pat down. If you’re wondering if images are saved, worry ye not. There is no storage capability and no image capturing device (camera, cell phone, renaissance artist) is allowed in the resolution room. To do so is a terminable offense. There are two types of scans; millimeter wave and backscatter. The millimeter bounces harmless electromagnetic waves, which are 10,000 times less than what is permitted for a cell phone, and produces a black and white image. Backscatter projects an ionizing X-ray beam over the body. The reflection (backscatter) is digitized and displayed on a monitor. Each scan produces less than 10 microrem of emission, equivalent to what you receive in about two minutes on a flight at altitude. Whatever that means. Is it private? Define private. The attending security officer cannot see the image and the remotely-located officer cannot see the passenger. A privacy algorithm blurs facial features. But what about those traveling who’d rather not admit to the Irish curse? Guys? If I’ve got my facts straight, the process takes about a half a minute, from the scan time to the remote officer who reads the results. A full body pat down takes about 2-4 minutes. As threats to aviation evolve, so does technology to help detect them.

However, British officials have an issue with full body scans and passengers under the age of 18. A scan of someone in that age range would go against the British child pornography laws and the scans showing a child’s genitals are considered indecent and illegal. Yeah, that makes sense in this anti-terrorist, you never know what’s next world we live in. Chill out Britain. If the images aren’t stored and the individual’s identity is hidden, then what’s the problem?

From the bunch of hooey files, Vito Franco, professor of pathological anatomy a the University of Palermo, is worried that one of the world’s most famous women suffered from high levels of cholesterol. He made that diagnosis after spotting signs of xanthelasma, which is a build up yellowish fatty acids under the skin as well as subcutaneous lipomas, benign tumors composed of fatty tissue, on her hands. The woman? The Mona Lisa!  

Lastly for today, I saw an article on my internet server’s homepage that One Life to Live is in danger of getting the ax. Now they’re blaming storylines like wrecking someone’s love affair or characters coming back from the dead. Isn’t that what every other soap is all about? Whatever the reason One Life to Live is being threatened, I think it’s time Brian Frons, head of ABC Daytime should investigate the matter and not be part of this epidemic. Let’s keep the institution of soap operas alive.

 

 

And with that, I give you Thursday.

Tune In Tomorrow…?

January 6, 2010

Now they’re saying the cameras weren’t functioning properly the day of the security breach at Newark airport. Hmm, well, then they should dock the cameras’ pay.  How’s this for an idea?  An in-terminal sequestered hotel, beyond the first set of checkpoints, where passengers are held, say, three days before a flight, to make sure everyone is free of any contaminant; water, baby formula, book, blanket, shoe, underpants…

Well, this might not be a rant, as such, but more of an observation and a disgruntled one at that. I was watching television the other night, in my state of semi-consciousness with my head cold and after all the stuff we had on the DVR was over, I turned on a show called Conveyor Belt of Love. Did any of you see it? The basic premise of this show was that a panel of 5 obnoxious women (overly made up and in most instances under dressed) and either 30 or 35 guys (including one musclebound specimen in a Speedo carrying his Pomeranian dog…I kid you not) who were presented before them, with a chance of impressing each of the women. Some came out with a simple introduction, while others sang, or danced or performed some specialty like a magic act. Each of the women held up a two sided sign (interested/not interested) accordingly. If a guy impressed two or more of the women, it would then be up to him which woman would get him. As each guy was chosen, he’d stand over on a podium at the marker with that woman’s name and would remain there until such a time that woman might be smitten with someone else and he would then bump the previous guy. This took up 3/4 of the one hour show and the remaining 15 minutes (including commercials) was a brief recap of each of the women’s dates with their date choices and whether she would see him again or not. Huh?

By contrast, the soap opera, an grueling imaginative art form is facing imminent demise. Guiding Light, as you know was cancelled after 72 years–an American icon–and now, As The World Turns will be off the air next fall. And One Life To Live, the one I’ve been watching since 1968, is mired in threats of cancellation. Scoff if you will, that the soap opera is the lowest form of acting (as I’ve often read and heard), but as a writer, I can appreciate the intricacies of plot lines that get cranked out on a daily basis. I read an article recently that explains this sudden downturn. They say it’s because audiences today are too busy to take time to sit for an hour to tune into the goings on of their favorite fictional city. Well, that’s a bunch of bull. I make time to watch my story each day. I even bring a VHS tape and extra wires when I go on vacation in the summer. With today’s busy lifestyle and the advent of DVR’s, I wonder how many shows are watched when they are actually aired. So, the making time angle doesn’t cut it with me. What it is actually, is that soap opera audiences are getting older and are less desirable to advertisers and it is not cost-effective to produce them. So, what are we “oldsters” supposed to watch? The Jersey Shore? I think not. Networks just need to have a little more respect for their audiences and put a little bit back into their shows to keep them worth watching. I know it’s a numbers game, but, come on, don’t years of loyalty count for anything?  So now, daytime television will be rife with programs that are easier and more economic to produce, like inferior like more talk shows, more courtroom shows and probably game shows. But, if no one is watching daytime television as it is because of time constraints, what makes anyone think any of this nonsense will change the tide?

Okay, that rant is over for now. You know I’ll be staying on top of this. Meanwhile, here are some Mummers pictures. I hope they’re worth the wait. Hover over each for a description and click on each to open bigger.

    

   

   

   

   

   

                

 

 

 

Raincheck

January 5, 2010

I was going to put up pictures from the parade today, and I was going to work on them last night, but I was too much a zombie from this cold I got suddenly to do anything about it. And I slept in this morning and that left me with no time to sort through all of them. So, I need a raincheck until tomorrow.

I did, however, want to weigh in on that Newark Airport security breach before it gets to be too old of a story. It just galled me when I heard about it, as I’m sure it did the rest of you, especially on the heels of that Christmas day bombing attempt.

The guy walked the wrong way through security and disappeared into the crowd? Really? Of course, I don’t work there and maybe it’s not as simple as it would seem, but why didn’t they just grab him and rectify the situation right there and then? You would think there’d be eyes all over the place, and I don’t mean cameras with monitors in remote locations, to handle such goings on. Do you mean to tell me they don’t have the manpower to do anything other than look in one direction? I mean, come on, they got people stationed all over the place making sure you discard your bottle of water. So, for that snafu, an entire terminal filled with people had to be delayed for up to 6 hours and rescreened before things could get back to normal. And then it was announced the guy had left the airport, or, rather the terminal, 20 minutes later, according to an eyewitness who saw him. WHAT?! WHAT?!  And here’s the punchline. The lockdown occurred two hours after the “incident”.  So, was the lockdown an ultimate band-aid?

In the meantime, on the way into the arena for the Fancy Brigade show at the Convention Center in Philly, everyone was subjected to a search and pat down. Purses and assorted bags were being sorted through with flashlights and long sticks to flick things around inside and the pat down, at least the one I got (and it was only men getting patted down) was done with the security guard’s wrists, with his palms facing outward and at the waist and under the arm. I guess they’re trained to feel for things, but what can you detect using your wrist? Not a very thorough search in my book. Was it just to satisfy the mandate that people will be searched entering public buildings? What if the camera in the inside pocket of my coat, which fell between those two check points, was an explosive device? Or the tube that houses my teeny tiny reading glasses I carry in my shirt pocket was holding some sort of something?

Tomorrow there will be pictures of the Mummers and I’m working on another sort of tirade for you. See you then.

2010. Wow, Already!

January 4, 2010

New Year’s Hangovers. We worked hard for it, too, and it was worth it. Surprisingly, the weather forecast I showed you at the end of last week had changed in a much appreciated favorable way, all except for Thursday, the day we arrived in Philadelphia. It was chilly and rainy, but you know how we’ve come to be troopers and just deal with that situation. After we checked into our hotel, our first stop was The Irish Pub. It was us at one pedestal table, one young kid at the bar talking way too loud on his cell phone and the mailman chatting up the waitress and bartender. We decided on a light nosh because we had dinner reservations for 8 o’clock at Alma de Cuba. Then it was off to one of our old haunts, The Bike Stop for a few more beers and discussing with the bartender whether the weather would abate so the Mummers could march the next day. After that, it was time for a stop at Woody’s and then back to get ready for dinner.

Ariel had the lechon asado, or roast pork, for those of us who don’t speak Spanish, and I had lamb. His was tender and juicy on the inside and crispy crunchy (think cracklins) on the outside. Mine were two little medalions of lamb and a side of greens – cripsy green beans, mediumly cripsy peas and lima beans in a little bit of cilantro sauce. For dessert, we had a…I forget what it was called… but it was a chocolate ganache covered, orange flavored, marshmallowy/puddingy textured ball and a hazelnut flavored chocolate cigar (the size and shape of an actual Cuban cigar) dusted with powdered chocolate. Both desserts came with a lit sparkler and a burning matchbook. Nothing says yummy for your tummy more than the smell of ignited sulphur and burning cardboard.

We made it back to Woody’s with an hour to go before midnight and just before the turn of the new year, our bartender friend, David, disappeared with his finger in his mouth and we found out the next night he had sliced it on a broken vodka bottle.

Needless to say, after all the partying we did the night before, it took us a while to get ourselves up and running, but we made our way finally to Broad street (one block from the hotel) to see some of the parade. It’s a long parade with lots of waiting for each group or brigade to pass, because after marching up Broad street, each group performs before judges in front of city hall. We went back to The Irish Pub for lunch with a guy we ran into the night before who we know from going camping. We actually convinced him to stay in our room because it was a night of heavy partying for him as well and he had intended to drive back home. The Irish Pub was bursting at the seams on New Year’s Day with a lot of Mummers who had already marched and regular patrons. Then we took in some more of the parade for a little until it was time to make our way to the Convention Center where the Fancy Brigades were performing and being judged. They used to march in the actual parade, but because their “sets” and routines are so complex, they’ve been performing indoors for a number of years. And it’s a rain or shine event, so even if the parade had a rain date, we still would have seen the show.

This was a spectacular show and the three hours passed quickly. I was torn between 2 of the 10 brigades that performed and one of my favorites ended up winning. I took pictures and video clips, but only the first minute or so of each routine. I was afraid of running of battery in my camera, but luckily, the local Philadelphia station, posted the entire video on YouTube. And tomorrow, I should have my pictures of the parade ready to post.

 

Dinner at Maggiano’s (yes, there’s one in Philly, also) followed and was a welcomed stop on our way back because by then the wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped. Lucky for the Broad Street Mummers the wind had come later in the night because gusts that high would also have been reason to cancel the parade because of their heavy feathery costumes and the scenery they cart up the parade route. We stopped in Woody’s where we toasted the new year with David the bandaged up bartender. But that night was short-lived; the night before caught up with us and so after about 2 hours we trudged our way back to the Holiday Inn, eager to call it a night.

Asbury Park was our next port of call for Saturday night. Dinner was at Stella Marina on the boardwalk where Criterion Chocolates once stood back in Asbury’s heyday. Then it was off to the club across the street, but because it was still early, we sat in the front bar and then got free passes for the dance floor and as the night wore on, more and more people we know were showing up and we made our own little party.

We could hear the wind howling in the corridor of the Hotel Berkeley and the window in our room had a serious draft. I don’t know if that alone was enough or maybe there was another draft somewhere in hallway that worked in tandem, but periodically through the night, the door to our room would rattle. I even slightly wrenched my back trying to keep the door of the truck from slamming into the car parked next to us when the wind caught it.

And then it was Sunday and we got home and collapsed in our red chairs in front of the TV. Life is good.

To celebrate the new year, I also changed the look of my website home page slightly, so you might want to take a look at that. Click here.