Archive for April, 2010

Newt Road Trip, Part 2

April 29, 2010

The New Shazzam Hey, we’re late folks and we’re both exhausted ,but we’re here… trying to catch up with tonight’s show. There’s a promise of a recording of it, but, at press time we don’t have it so we’ll pick it up from here

Herbert Lady AnteBellum-a sultry sweet rendition of their ‘Need you, need you now’. We should have some of their music. They’re actually pretty good. Why don’t we?

The New Shazzam Who knows? It’s really Brian’s music collection and it is very varied and yet you’re right, they’re missing. I’ll agree with you they’re great and a good looking duo they really are. Even their group name is interesting.

Herbert Hey Shazz, it looks like we’ve missed a lot so far– The bottom three are Michael, Shioban and Casey? No way! Wow… really? Well-there’s a chance America may get it right after all. I know you want Shioban to go and we both are done with Michael, but if Casey goes–it’ll really be a surprise.

The New Shazzam But before they continue with the results, Rascal Flats performs with Shakira doing her ‘Gypsy’ she looks great, an exotic goddess and sounds lyrical. Could have done without Rascal Flats, but overall it was a good performance.

Herbert And it’s back to the results and the threat to see who’s going tonight. Well, the usual very unnerving moment continues with the shocker that Mike is safe again-just not right.

The New Shazzam With that choice for safety, I’ve still got a chance and left on the stage are Shioban and Casey-one leaves us-we’ll find out who…. right after the break.

Herbert A disappointment in either case-won’t you agree? Well, no I know that if she goes you’ll be ecstatic. You’ve had your tail in a bunch since she first sang and then screeched and screamed her way into so many others’ hearts. They are both justifyable quite tense and it is Shioban Magnus who’s cast off. In a way, we were both right (based on last night’s performance) but my premonition was wrong, to Aaron’s benefit. An independent spirit as Ryan calls her and now Shioban’s off the show and still manages to smile. I know you had little use for her, but allow me my sad moment as I see her go. To your chagrin, I’m sure we have not heard the last of her. She finishes her last night on the show with Aretha’s ‘Think’. Don’t laugh at me… I’ll miss her.

The New Shazzam Yea … yea. Ok…. softie! Folks, I hope you can excuse our impromptu reporting this week, but we did not want to leave you flat just because we’re not in our regular digs. Man, these road trips are killers! What do you say H-man? Let’s enjoy our week and be back next Tuesday at our usual spot?

Herbert Ok. Please pass me the tissues. Not since ‘My Lily’ was voted off have I felt sadder…Sigh…

The New Shazzam And don’t forget to check out Brian’s website and rumor has it he might be back tomorrow to closes out the week.

Newts On The Road

April 28, 2010

The New Shazzam Hey everybody, the part of Brian is being played by Hawg and me as we come to you, semi-live to bring you American Idol. Say hi, Hawg.

Herbert Hawg? Really?

The New Shazzam Come on, play along, it’s getting toward the end of the season, we’re heading west in an Astrovan, currently somewhere in Pennsylvania… Say, check out the fancy digs over here in blog land.  So, this is what My Life & I’m Sticking To It looks like. Nice…white!  Yeah, for this week only, we’ll be here instead of our usual spot over on Mighter Than The Pen  but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop in and see what’s over there.  There is all our past posts from this season. There’s an exclusive interview by the late Commander with a former American Idol hopeful.  Of course there’s the impressive McGinty Chronicles and the first chapter sneak peek at Brian’s novel, Mightier Than The Pen.  Really, if you haven’t been there before, go check it out.  But for now, we have a job to do, so whaddya say we get down to it?

Herbert Okay, Shawg! So, what’s on tap for this episode of American Idol?

The New Shazzam Well, it’s the Top 6 and it’s the music of Shania Twain.

Herbert And no John Park with his bottom…what was it?

The New Shazzam His bottom end. Yeah, remember she was just about wetting herself the night she was a guest judge during the auditions?

Herbert Yeah, I remember that. And she makes a good point about the guys singing her songs that are written from a woman’s point of view.

The New Shazzam Lee is singing “Still The One”. Not a very womanly influenced song choice.

Herbert He sounded good, but I think he changed it too much.

The New Shazzam Yeah, but he stayed true to his style and he pulled it off. Maybe not his best performance, but true to his increasing improvement.

Herbert I still think he changed it up too much. But that aside, let’s see what Michael does with “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing”.

The New Shazzam I actually liked it, much as I don’t like him, but there is always an exception to every rule.

Herbert I don’t know the song.

The New Shazzam I still want to see him go next. Casey with “Don’t”.

Herbert Again, I don’t know this song. Maybe I should have studied her music more.

The New Shazzam Well, we had this trip to prepare for.

Herbert No excuse, really. But he sounded good enough.

The New Shazzam Yeah, it was good. It was the most competent and convincing performance he’s given so far…I feel, and it’s like he finally joined the competition.

Herbert Crystal is next with “No One Needs To Know”.

The New Shazzam Her voice is flawless, but I’m not so sure country is her forte. I think she could have “folked” it up to make it be more in her own style, the style she’s made us fall in love with.

Herbert And to repeat myself, I could have used knowing the song and I could have done without the background singers.

The New Shazzam Aaron is next with “You’ve Got A Way”.

Herbert He’s a regular little crooner.

The New Shazzam I think he’s kind of weak and flat with this song. Nothing exciting about it.

Herbert I like him. I think he’ll be safe. He doesn’t really hit any bad notes.

The New Shazzam And finally, Siobhan. “Any Man Of Mine” is what she’s going to (probably) screech her way through. Is that a tattoo of Mary Poppins on her right arm? And there’s the scream. For the most part, though, I have to say, it was good, much as it pains me.

Herbert I love her, but I was disappointed by this one.

The New Shazzam Well, that ends another show. I’m torn between two, Michael and Aaron.

Herbert Can I send everybody home? Am I allowed? Who are you picking?

The New Shazzam I’m probably wrong again, but I’m taking Aaron.

Herbert I really don’t know how to call it this week. With the exception of Casey, it’s like everyone was going for worst. I’m really mad at my two girls, they let me down this week. But if I have to pick one, I have to say, I have a bad feeling for Aaron even though, based on performance, I think Siobhan was the worst and she went too heavy with her signature at the end of that song.

The New Shazzam So, Aaron then?

Herbert Aaron, only because I have a bad premonition.

The New Shazzam Then I think we’re in sync. Tomorrow then?

Herbert Tomorrow then.

Bring It On!

April 27, 2010

Let’s see, when was it? Ah, yes, after the first of this year, we thought it would be a good idea, somewhere between when the threat of snow would end and our busy summer schedule would begin (camping, P-town–which of course has been put on hold as you know and general summertime muckraking) we would plan another trip to the Midwest to visit the family.

We cleared our schedules with our respective bosses and as time got closer, finalized an itinerary for while we’re out there, to make the most of the few days we’ll be there. Today’s the day, or rather the last day before we leave, anxious to hit the road, armed with our new GPS doodad and the goodies we normally take with us to those unfortunate ones in Illinois who can’t get pork roll in any store, or hard rolls–that’s a hint any of you out there reading this–to put it on, or even Devil Dogs. I think they are at long last able to get Ronzoni pasta in their grocery stores, but don’t quote me. Funny, in certain areas, though, there are video rental places and tanning salons as far as the eye can see, but nary a pork roll and cheese sandwich.

But they do have their own concoction; the famous Horseshoe. It’s a simple concept, really, but a local culinary art form. It’s thick toasted white bread, covered in hamburger meat (patties, if you will), topped with golden crispy crinkle-cut french fries all drowning in a cheddar cheese sauce–like an open faced cheeseburger with french fries but not on the side. There are other versions made with chicken or ham or turkey, even corned beef. And for those with a smaller appetite, you can get yourself a ponyshoe.  And one of the better places to get one is at D’arcy’s Pint

So, we’re all lined up and ready to go enjoy our few days away that we’ve had planned for months and:

And by contrast, here is the forecast for us here at home for the same time period:

Mind you, we’re there from Wednesday night until Sunday morning when we make tracks for home and return on Monday evening. So, see, I really think we need to start a drought recovery business. No matter where we travel (we were just in Philadelphia two weekends ago for an over night stay…it rained and so help me if the sky didn’t make good on the threat it posed all during our drive and open up the second we left the hotel on the way to the Irish Pub a few blocks away for dinner. And of course, you steady readers know our track record when it comes to camping. And now this luscious forecast for this vacation trip. Good to know we still got it. Now bring on camping season! I laugh in the face of rain, because really, what else can I do with such a standard occurance, but Idon’t scrunch up my face because we will have “no cabbage faces” in the rain!

A Real Einstein

April 26, 2010

The power of suggestion is a curious thing. One yawn can invoke a chain reaction. One sneeze and all of a sudden there’s a chorus of  gesundheiting each other  filling the room. WET PAINT: don’t touch!

Wait, that’s not what I wanted to say. It was more along the lines about absentmindedness. Or maybe it’s just a case of not paying attention. Not listening to the voices in my head. Or just plain stupidity.

The Lou Crew was working like bees upstairs on Friday (with the promise of completion by Tuesday–except for the glass shower enclosure) and he wanted to turn off the water so he could attach the water lines to the sink, the shower and hook up the new toilet. I was busy myself, working on stuff that had to be cleared away so that I can work on something else today and tomorrow before I take a couple of days off.

It was later in the afternoon and not only had I realized I needed food, but I really needed a cup of coffee. I saw the reservoir was low in the Keurig, but it was enough for the one cup I needed and I would just fill the it later when the water was back on. Robotically, I put my desired amount of half and half in my cup, put my cup in place, lowered the lid, pressed the button and watched in dismay as clear hot liquid filled my cup. I didn’t put a coffee pod in the holder.

Cute, right? But not at cute as this other Einstein story. Einstein the miniature minature pinto stallion was born last Friday at a miniature horse farm in Barnstead, New Hampshire. He was just 6 pounds and measured 14 inches, about the size of human baby, but with a larger head…of course.

 

 Just busy looking cute!

On the weight loss front, I remained the same as last week, an even 210 pounds, holding my total loss at 20 lbs (that’s 4 bags of sugar) and Ariel put on 1, bringing him back up to 201, taking his loss total to 12.

Anybody else counting down the painful last weeks of “Lost” until it’s finished? I gave up on that show a few seasons ago and can’t really explain why I continued watching except for the fact it’s a preset program in my DVR and every season it just records all by itself. Are they on the island? Are they off it? Are they in the past? Who are all these other people, who change every year? Is there a submarine? Is there a plane? Where did the hatch go? The polar bear? How about Vincent the dog? As a little aside, why couldn’t the crew just patch the hole of the Minnow? They too could have spared us all that nonsense. I just hope at the end of Lost, there is a reasonable explanation of why we spent the past six years in front of our television sets.

The Phantom Party

April 22, 2010

I guess now’s a good a time as any to share with you a little bit of distressing news, though voluntary, it’s still distressing news.

We are not going to Provincetown this year; the first time in 22 years. With all the work that is and will be going on with the house, we decided it was best to be around, plus the money we’d save would go towards paying off that work.

I keep saying it over and over to people and so far it comes out as just words, emotionless words. I don’t know if that will hold true by the time the 4th of July rolls around and we’re not on the deck at Boatslip watching the fireworks and listening to Kate Smith’s “God Bless America”, huddled with our friends, trying not to spill drinks on each other and take pictures at the same time. And it still kind of early in the season for my internal clock to start ticking down the weeks and days till vacation time is near. I start subconsciously “seeing” myself walking down Commercial Street, or standing in line to get to tea dance.

It’s hard to imagine that anything really happens when we’re not there anyway, kind of like that age old question: if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Sure it does and I have Twilight Zone-ish proof. Well, each year, we go at the same time and we’ve made so many friends and have so many acquaintances and even see the same faces of people that we don’t really know, year after year, that it’s kind of like going “home” for one week out of the summer. Some we hang out with, some we merely acknowledge with a quick catch up of what’s been going on since the summer before, but it’s comforting to have those same people around every time.

One time, though, the way the holiday and our schedule fell, we ended up staying a day or so after “everybody” left. It was literally as though we were in a dream state, watching total strangers picking up where “we” left off, enjoying our vacation, dancing like a impenetrable wall on the dance floor to the same music we were jumping around to just a day before. It was like the place where everybody knew our name, ceased to exist for us, our allotted time was up.

But, it’s only going to be a temporary thing. We’ll be back next year, I’m sure. And in the meantime, we’ll still have our camping weekends to look forward to. And already, it started yesterday while I was embroiled in a heavy, heavy workload, I “saw” us driving and cresting that last hill before that hairpin turn that leads us to the campground. That’s a good feeling.

Now how’s this for a switch? Maybe you’ve heard about the lawsuit filed by three softball players in Seattle? The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance deemed those three, Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles and Jon Russ were not gay enough. According to the suit, the three bisexual men say the team, D2, that had advanced to the championship game, was in violation of a league rule permitting no more than “two heterosexual” players on a team. After that game, which the team ended up losing, the three men were interviewed separately in front of a panel of 25 people in a “hearing”. They say they were forced to answer “highly personal and intrusive questions” to determine whether their predominant proclivity was toward men or toward women and at one point it is alleged one of them was told “This is the Gay World Series, not the Bisexual World Series”. So, you know what? Start your own league and move on.

Gay or straight, great moments in baseball don’t get any better than this. Whether the runner was tagged out or not is up for debate, but from the looks of it, the catcher didn’t complete his reach as the runner tumbled over him.


 

And can you believe it was 10 years ago today that Elian Gonzalez was seized by a SWAT team from his relatives in Florida and returned to his father in Cuba?

Bad news for the newts last night. If only this were a few weeks ago, one of them would have been right!

…But Fear Itself

April 21, 2010

“What is nothing to fear?”, for $200.  They say the best way to get over a fear is to simply just face it head on. That’s a problem for me because there’s nothing simple about a fear.  Get right back on that horse…oh, wait, that’s a bit of advice for a different occasion….

You all know by now I’m afraid of spiders, deathly afraid, and when confronted with one, my reactions range from a startled and tense recoil to an outright girlish shriek. I can’t help it, and now it’s out there for you all to read. I don’t know why it is, and at this stage of the game, I really don’t find any importance in trying to trace the source of that fear. Oh, yeah, and uncaged birds in an enclosed setting (and sometimes in the great outdoors, especially when there is a whole flock of them coming right at me).

One time on the Ellen DeGeneres show, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was on and he admitted that he, too, had an uncontrollable fear of spiders and Ellen decided she would cure him by having a tarantula walk up his arm, which he did. Okay, first of all, that man is NOT afraid of spiders to the degree he said he was, I don’t care how much of a show he felt he had to put on in front of the viewing audience. I even had to look away the second the critter was on the screen and I only know how far the “stunt” went because I happened to glance up and saw it on his arm.

So, I have this fear of boats and most every year when we go up to the cape, I kind of long for the fun of going whale watching and always say, I will do it, I will do it. But then rationale steps in, in the guise of Ariel, who says, why do that to yourself and not enjoy it? Good point. I have been on boats and have cringed, white-knuckled, until the trip was over.

You would think something enjoyable like whale watching on a sunny summer day would help temporarily take my mind off where I was, though with my luck there would be no sightings that day, and it would be much better enticement than knowing I was on the exact same course the MS Balmoral will be taking on April 8, 2012; the 100th anniversary commemorative voyage of the RMS Titanic. The Balmoral will follow the Titanic’s original itinerary, passing by Cherbourg on the French coast then calling into the Irish port of Cobh. Then it’s across the Atlantic to the Titanic site on April 14 and 15 where a memorial service will be held to the passengers and crew who died. Then on to Halifax, Nova Scotia and finally into New York, the Titanic’s ultimate planned destination.

Nope, I don’t think that would be the optimal place to start getting over my fear of boats.

Let’s check in with the nutty newts and see if they were afraid of what went on last night on American Idol.

Weigh……Overdue

April 20, 2010

From the annals of political correctness comes another plan to ban something that might upset somebody. Officials at Liverpool City Council want to ban the word “obese” so it won’t stigmatize the near 50% of 11 year old boys and 40% of 11 year old girls who are fat. They want to use the term “unhealthy weight” instead, in future health promotion literature aimed at fat kids. I don’t know, I think obese sounds more crude and insulting and wouldn’t that make these kids want to do something about it. Kind of like not really winning at a game because (Heaven forbid) there should be a loser.

Maybe they should all take a cue from The Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers where they are offering an interesting deal that began yesterday. Guests will be invited to pedal one of the two newly installed exercise bicycles that have been hooked up to generator and whoever can produce 10 watt hours of electricity, will be given a complimentary meal valued at 240 Danish crowns, equivalent to $44 US. Maybe hook up their bikes to generate their video games. If they stop pedaling, they can’t play!

Oh, hey, I forgot, to tell you about the curious smoking sign I saw in Philadelphia this past weekend.

 

Monica Lewinski, Watergate, Teapot Dome; presidential scandals of great magnitude, to be sure. Well, can you expect when it’s been revealed the Father of our country himself is posthumously involved in a scandal of sorts? Not the cherry tree thing, no. On October 5, 1789, when New York was still the nation’s capital, George Washington checked out two books from the New York Society Library; an essay on international affairs called Law of Nations and volume 12 of 14 of a collection of debates from the English House of Commons. It’s come to light, those books were never returned. As of today, that’s 80,549 days. The fine then was just pennies per day, but adjusted for inflation, that fine is now worth approximately $300,000. The library has no interest in collecting the fine, but if possible, they would like to have the books back. And the question remains, if Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and Aaron Burr borrow and return books on time, why couldn’t George Washington?

If You Keep Doing That….

April 19, 2010

…you’ll go blind. That’s an age-old warning most adolescent boys have heard ad nauseam and the response is usually that age-old favorite, “I’ll do it just till I need glasses”. Well, for those of you who have gone beyond the stage of needing magnifying readers, there is hope for you, thanks for photographer Lisa Murphy, who believes that blind people have been left out of the experience of living in a sexually charged society. So, she photographed friends who dressed in costumes and masks to keep them unidentifiable in various poses. She also photographed herself because, she reasoned, she couldn’t ask them to do something she wouldn’t do herself. She then transferred the images into fine sculptures into thermoform plastic pages, the same material that is used for Braille, along with explicit descriptions, and combined the pages into a spiral bound book that sells for about $220.00 Her blind proofreader helped her refine the intricacies of certain body parts… like an ankle or a wrist (get your mind out of the gutter!) The book, “Tactile Mind”, has actually been out for two years, but has recently attracted world-wide media attention.  Murphy, a former volunteer with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind has also done educational books for children with transformed images of animals. I’m kind of hoping this is a trial run.  You know what I’m saying, right?

While we’re on the topic of animals, a new measure has been put into place by the City Council to make life easier for the power behind the famed horse-drawn carriages. Each horse will be given five weeks off per year. FIVE WEEKS! Wages were also increased for the 220 carriage drivers who can now charge $50 dollars for the first 20 minutes of a ride. The old fare was $34 for the first half hour. The horses also will no longer be allowed south of 34th Street and nowhere in the city 3 and 7am. This bill ensures that people who come from all over the world planning on taking a romantic horse and buggy ride through Central Park can do so in an environment that treats the horse and driver fairly.

Bathroom update: the tiling is nearly completed. Kitchen faucet update: I took the entire thing apart this and found a build up of muck (I have no idea where it came from) that made the water start dribbling out again since I replaced that coupler a few weeks ago. Water in the basement update: Still seeping in, but under control. Weekend update: Went to Philly, sort of an impromptu decision on a sort of already set plan. Created havoc like we normally do, went to an after-hours club with alleged free passes but it cost us $10 to get in and then the place closed after only an hour. Had our weigh-ins; I’m down to 210 (lost 4–total 20) and Ariel is down to 200 (lost 5–total 13). And the finishing touches were put on this week’s McGinty Monday installment. Please enjoy!

 

By the way, I use a 1.25 magnifying reader.

Shenanigans

April 16, 2010

Two young female Chinese singers have each been fined 50,000 yuan (that’s $7,329 in US Dollars) for lip-synching in a concert in Chengdu, a city in southwestern China. There are new rules in place against fake singing, as it’s known there since a lip-synching incident at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies and it is punishable by having repeat offenders’ performance licenses revoked. Organizers admitted a nine year old girl lip-synched in place of the real singer who was rejected because of her appearance. If only this ban had been in effect way back when, when Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan (Milli Vanilli) were at the height of their sham of a career. They just blamed it on the rain.  But Martha Wash also dubbed for Zelma Davis during the C & C Music Factory Days…and it was good! Whatever became of Martha Wash?

If you can’t stand the heat, turn on the air conditioner. But at the beach? An air conditioner was just one of the odd pieces of trash sweepers found when they cleaned the beach recently. This article I’m reading says that some of the items are real head-scratchers, but I think there’s a plausible explanation for them. Take the acrylic fingernail–that’s an easy one. Even a jellyfish knows they don’t last forever. A baby crib, a Christmas tree with lights on it, a coconut, a fire hose–clearly a safety conscious group was re-enacting the Nativity as though it were on a tropic isle and, of course, they needed a manger and just in case the lights on the tree were defective, they were ready to douse any subsequent blaze.

Okay, let’s try this one: golf clubs, a jockstrap and a pregnancy test–oh boy, this one sounds clear cut.

A toilet seat? I’m not even going there, unless it was being used also as a flotation device. An 8-track tape; now for sure it’ll never play, being all full of sand. And then there’s the half a Barbie, a 7″ knife, fake breasts and denture adhesive. Not sure which half of the Barbie was found, but assuming it was the top half, it was someone obviously wanting to see how much more disproportionate Barbie would look even larger!

This just in: There’s a rumor going around that Paula Abdul may be returning next year to American Idol to pick up the slack Simon Cowell’s abdication will undoubtedly create. Even though there’s no official word, and her publicist says she has not even been approached, insiders are saying her return could help “Idol’s” ratings, which are beging show signs of weakening against “Dancing With The Stars”. The total number of viewers for Monday night’s dance performance alone outrank both nights of American Idol, but American Idol’s performance shows top “Dancing’s” results show. So, we’ll see what happens there.

Okay, good, it’s Friday which means in just a few hours it’ll officially be the weekend. Hooray! See you next week!

Catching A Few Zzz’s

April 15, 2010

This just in: It’s Income Tax Day. Or, if you happen to live in one of 12 New Jersey counties that were affected by the recent storms and flooding, you have until May 11. Click here for details. You’d think some of the money they spend sending notice after notice about receiving our Census forms could have been spent in telling us about this extension.  Just sayin’.

Are you tired, run down, listless? That was a question Lucy Ricardo asked when she was hawking Vitameatavegamin. Well, back then, you could spoon your way to health and you’d be able to join the “thousands of happy peppy people”, but there was no mention of being able catch up on your zzzz’s. Well, now, with a revolutionary new product, you can, and no one would be the wiser.

How many times have you felt like nodding off and know you just shouldn’t? At work? At school? Being stuck in a traffic jam on the way home from work, especially after an especially difficult day? Trying to get through this season of American Idol?

 

Well, fret ye not. Try Sleep Safe Tape.

 Hey, wait a second! Isn’t that Darrin Stevens? Was that one of his ad campaigns? (Click on both pics)

  

  

Anyway, it’s a roll of tape with eyes printed on it that peel off and you can stick to your eyelids so you can appear as though you are wide awake when you really need to be catching a few winks. For example, go from this:

To this:

Freaky, huh? (Don’t forget, you can click on all the pictures to enlarge them)

I would only hope that they came in different colors. I mean, everyone knows I have blue eyes. How would it look if I was asleep with brown ones? Maybe not as silly as it would like I had just plucked every last of my lashes out of my eyelids. On second thought, maybe using them in a traffic jam isn’t such a good idea, the cop who comes a-knockin’ at your driver’s side window might not appreciate that it’s you causing the tie-up especially with that blank stare.

So, the Lou crew began the tiling work yesterday in the bathroom. Oh man, it’s looking so good. I was stunned seeing it up on the wall and in the new shower stall. I’m taking pictures along the way so when it’s all done I can post them in one successive slideshow. I still have to find the home video, a tour of sorts, of the house from when we first moved in; I’m hoping there is some footage of the what the bathroom looked like that I can get a still shot from.

Well, it looks like it’s been a rough couple of nights for one of the nutty newts with American Idol, but even so, take a look to see if either one of them guessed correctly who got sent packing. And The New Shazzam perked up when they featured Elliott Yamin in a segment.