Archive for February, 2011

And The Loser Is…

February 28, 2011

They really need to do something with these Academy Awards shows to make them more interesting to watch.

I was looking forward to watching last night because this is the first year in I don’t know how long I saw some of the movies that were up for awards and I wanted to see how my first-hand opinions stacked up against the commanding gospel votes of the Academy. Some of my choices matched, most didn’t, but like anything else, it’s all subjective; the one man’s meat theory and all that. So, who cares, really?

The presentation was obviously scaled down; no huge production numbers, no montages in tribute to one genre or another, even the stage seemed smaller. And speaking of the stage, it was a hideous set; I guess it was a digital mock up of the Hollywood Bowl. But rather than being grand, for such a grand occasion as the Academy Awards, it only seemed cavernous.

Anne Hathaway and James Franco were the hosts of the broadcast which even they mocked was aimed at a younger demographic. Of the two, she did a fine job while he, more often than not looked bored and had an expression on his face like he was doing us all a favor by just being there.

One point that seemed to be self-contradictory was that while still keeping the show ‘politically correct’–in that there are no losers–they went back to saying “And the Oscar goes to…”. I believe last year they dipped their toe into the waters of impropriety by announcing “And the winner is…” But if political correctness is their goal, with the award going to… then the statement I heard several times during the show about how recipients will henceforth forever remembered as Academy Award winner So and So. In that case, So and So should be forever referred to as Academy Award recipient….

Also, get rid of some of those smaller awards. Okay, sorry, I guess there are no small awards; everyone who makes a contribution to a movie wants recognition, but we don’t really need to sit through them all. They have a dinner a week or so prior where “lesser” awards are presented. Do them all there and if necessary, recap those winners on the major broadcast like they used to. Otherwise, why not give awards to best towel boy in the men’s room? Then maybe they can allow time for either something entertaining or cut the show by an hour. And one last note about timing–make everyone’s acceptance speech time the same length. Some winners went on forever before the “get off the stage” music came up while others barely made it to the stage when they were already being told to wrap it up.

And I have one last jab about the show last night. But first, how great was Kirk Douglas coming out to present the Best Supporting Actress award? He was sharp and witty and deservedly received with a standing ovation. And no one seemed to care that he was playfully prolonging making the announcement (interrupting his own announcement with a playful “you know”, as though a second thought had just come to him). It was charming and it was endearing; one of the few remaining nuggets of Hollywood’s Golden age was on stage.

But then… Justin Timberlake came out to present whatever it was with whomever it was, he had the pomposity to emulate the Hollywood icon, blurting out one of Douglas’ “you know”’s before he opened the envelope. I found it audacious and distasteful.  How dare he insinuate himself to such stature?

I don’t know if it was planned (it had to have been, I’m sure) but I like the way the show opened and closed to backdrops from Hollywood’s definitive year–1939. First with the orchestra swelling into Tara’s Theme from Gone With The Wind as Tom Hanks came out to present the first award to the finale with P.S. 22 from Staten Island singing Over The Rainbow with a backdrop of the yellow brick road leading to the Emerald City, so emblematic for the crowd of winners who also took the stage behind the singers.

All in all, I thought the show was a snoozefest, except for when my choices for whichever awards ended up winning.

There Will Be Heroes

February 24, 2011

There is something to be said for consistency. Susan Guy, Domino’s Pizza delivery person came to the rescue of her 82 year old steady customer Jean Wilson who has been ordering her thin crust pepperoni pie with two diet Cokes every day for the last three years. But for some reason, the octogenarian didn’t call on Saturday, Sunday or Monday and rather just assume she all of a sudden switched her taste to Moo Goo Gai Pan, Susan Guy’s instincts told her something was wrong and she insisted on finding out for herself. She went to the woman’s home, knocked on all the windows, trying to see what was going on and called 911. The customer had fallen, and couldn’t get up or get to a phone. She is in stable non-critical condition.

Imagine if I didn’t find something to complain about every day? You might think there was something wrong. Nah, you’d probably just figure I was sleeping. Even that–sleeping–lately I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and then feeling like I didn’t sleep when my alarm goes off. 

Or this? What a great idea, we thought, maybe we’ll finally inaugurate the fire pit on Friday after a long work week. Well…

   Mind you, the rain is after a bout that is supposed to start sometime this afternoon and the windy icons, though it doesn’t say on the picture, I heard on the weather this morning it could be gusts of up to 50 mph. So, now, the same scurge we carry when we go camping, with rain every weekend we go, we bring wind to just sitting and relaxing by our firepit.  …Oh, right…sorry, heroes….

Baseball’s Texas Ranger Michael Young is 3-year-old Gavin Justice-Farmer’s hero. Gavin learned that his hero was being traded and it broke the three year old’s heart. So much so that when his mother, who broke the news to him, posted the video of his reaction on YouTube, it inspired the third baseman to meet with his young fan. Perhaps it is Gavin Farmer who is Michael Young’s hero, if not the hero of thousands and thousands of baseball fans all over because of his innocence and unbiased love of the game.

The ghost of Commander came to me last night–I think he’s itching, even from beyond the grave to commentate on American Idol (I’d like to see how he does that!)–and he was perplexed by how some of the contestants for the Beatles’ round last night didn’t even know who the Beatles are. It struck him as odd how these Idol hopefuls, looking to break into the music business, have no clue of musical history.

But on a positive note, Naima Adedapo the first auditioner I really liked this season was the first one to make it to the top 24. And I don’t understand; I read that the top 24 was going to consist of the best singers, not necessarily evenly divided into 12 guys and 12 girls, but that’s what Ryan Seacrest said last night.

So, let’s see what happens. And maybe we’ll be hearing from the ghost of Commander in the near future. Stay tuned and find out. I’m kind of curious myself.

And before I close, keep your fingers crossed. Today the electrical inspector is coming back.

The Gateway Crime

February 22, 2011

You all heard about the fourth grader from P.S. 158 in Manhattan who got suspended for sticking a “kick me” sign on another student’s back because it’s a form of bullying that could lead to some form of harm or injury. Enter Barbara Coloroso who just happens to be an anti-bullying expert actually disagrees with this extreme punishment but offers an alternative approach. Says she, “I would go up to the kid and say ‘No more, not here, never. That was mean and cruel and this is a safe harbor for every kid. I want you to take that sticker off that kid right now’”. Yeah, that’ll work for a kid with a predisposition to be a complete A-hole, usually the result of having A-holes for parents. I have a better idea. Rather than continue to raise a generation of crybaby kids, who also shouldn’t know what losing in a game is all about, and ultimately end up with a sense of entitlement, let the “victim” just haul off and wallop the bully and send his ass flying and see how much longer he keeps that crap up. Let them duke it out in the school yard, just like the old days. Let the parents get involved again and teach the kids what’s right and what’s wrong. Sticky notes, bah! That’s kid stuff. How about writing something directly on the back of someone’s shirt? They say you should be wary of the quiet ones. That happened to me only once. They left me alone after that; it was the element of surprise that threw them for a loop.

Let’s just hope that the “kick me” sign doesn’t involve into the “shoot me” sign on Dallas, Texas campuses. There’s a bill about to be passed to allow college students and professors to carry concealed guns on campus to protect themselves in the event of a school shooting. Hmm, wait til that first “F” gets handed out, or a professor has an especially disruptive student–probably sticking a ‘kick me’ sign on someone’s back.

In the meantime, the necessary electric outlet was put in yesterday and later on today I’ll be calling to arrange for what will hopefully be THE last inspection. We have the application for the CO all filled out and a blank check (still another fee… what the Hell?) and when we get the go-ahead…wahoooo!

On this day in 2006, Apple’s iTunes store sold it’s 1 billionth song. It might have been the one I couldn’t download, along with the billionth and 1st, 2nd, and 13th songs. Every time I try to download music from iTunes, it either doesn’t accept my password, (which I end up changing every time because I end up having to reregister) or only one of a few songs download and I have to write and complain only to have them tell me to remove the program and reinstall it and that’s why I have such an extensive CD collection.

Of course, after this tax season and Uncle Sam gets all he wants from yours truly, (some combination of these numbers 0097611-there’s a decimal and a comma in there somewhere–I’m still reeling) I won’t be able to afford to sing to myself  let alone buy music.

Weekend Update:

February 21, 2011

It was a great relief this morning to see that the encroaching and quickly expanding strange green mass across our land was stopped dead in its tracks and a more familiar and serene blanket of white has once again quelled that assault.

Think back; dateline December 23, 2010, one fenced in brick patio on the Leaning Pines Estate was completed and a cozy celebratory fire was to be lit and enjoyed that night. That event was not to take place because of the whipping swirling winds. Turn the calendar ahead; after several days of warm temperatures this past week, the patio was able to be cleared of the remnants of two months of snow, (knocking my lower back out of whack in the process) the postponed celebratory fire was set to take place on the evening of Saturday, February 19, 2011. We even put together the patio furniture that has been sitting in boxes for two months in the garage. Earlier in the afternoon, the wind became monstrous at around 50 mph and the temperatures dropped to the mid 20’s. Again, no cozy fire.

Yesterday’s party was a success. Even with the dropout rate climbing as the day wore on we still managed to have a houseful. Of course there was a bounty of foods including my lasagna which looked strangely similar to baked ziti. Quick funny story: The Italian dish was originally to be stuffed shells, but ended up being baked ziti. I couldn’t imagine why such a grilling about how I labeled the pans and was even a little belligerent and couldn’t believe why Ariel was asking such a ridiculous question–why did I mark them lasagna…indeed! Finally he cornered me by simply asking, ‘what did you just make?’ Potayto/potahto…it was still deelish!

But we had a ton of food that we prepped on Saturday, pre-no fire; there was the pulled pot roast, and accompanying veggies from that dish, turkey fricassee, baked stuffed mushroom caps and baked stuffed tomatoes, stuffed flounder, and of course the ziti. We didn’t even bother putting out the sandwich fixin’s. Ariel’s 4-fruit cobbler (which he’s getting very good at…KUDOS!) and a (store bought) red velvet cake was dessert

The electrician is coming today to put in the outlet we need for the CO and maybe at some point, the phone company will dispatch the “splicers” to hopefully fix our telephone problem. The guy that came last week, who tried to tell me in some other language with words that I couldn’t even attempt to decipher that he had allegedly corrected the problem, but calls were still being dropped. So, pole climber dude came yesterday and then informed us there is too much going on at the pole and a splicer would be dispatched to re-route some of the wiring up there. I don’t think splicer guy showed up. Maybe today.

Three Blind Mice

February 16, 2011

Actually, three dead mice, hence the blind factor. That’s what my exterminator guy found yesterday. And that was it, really, nothing else out of the ordinary.

My house phone was acting up and when I called my phone company they first told me it simply had to be my own equipment, that the batteries in my cordless phones needed replacing, but the second guy I wouldn’t let off the phone who, at first, suggested the same thing until I tried a phone plugged directly into a phone jack actually did find something in the line with his diagnostic ‘bullet’. The earliest we can get someone out there is Saturday, February 19. I told him the earliest I could pay my bill would be May 13th. No, I didn’t, but he said he’d try to get someone here sooner.

Today the front railing is being installed. It’ll match the one in the back, which was supposed to match the one in the front and it did, sort of, but because of new code regulations it’s different.

What else? Oh yeah, the weekend. We had friends down for the weekend and we ate, drank and were merry. On Saturday, we ventured into the city on whirlwind tour into the “darker” side, (depending on who you talk to) of New York. Remember, family friendly…all I’ll say is there was a singer in a rubber dress at our first stop and she wore some awesome red shoes.  I really need to start chronicling the shoes I find fascinating. Trouble is, getting the pictures.

Our second stop was for dinner at Lips, the drag dinner theater cabaret. Actually, quite a fun time and our friends John and Gary got picked on minimally by the drag divas working the audience; they had other targets they paid more attention to during the night. Ginger, a member of the performing troupe, was the waiter/ress for our section and let’s just say s/he had a unique serving style, just ask the ladies at the next table. We saw two shows for the price of one because we arrived earlier than our 11:30 reservations and we sat in the lounge, a little area behind the bar, but still within eyeshot of the “floor” and while we munched on appetizers saw a complete show. Ours was similar but much raunchier. Oh, and the food was surprisingly very good.

Then it was off to our last stop, a dimly lit and crowded bar where at one point, I tripped on a brick that was allegedly holding a door either open or closed and fell into that door, or maybe it was a wall–something with a ledge wide enough to hold beer bottles and glasses that all went crashing to the floor in a shattering mess beneath my feet. We hightailed it out of there until the crowd shifted from the area so we could innocently return to the scene of the crime. But, with my Shazam app on my Droid, I was able to pick up a few good club songs to add to my collection. Fun night!

And then it was 5 and we were home and then it was 8 and I was up and about ready to start my day. And now it’s time to get this day started!

No Outlet…No CO!

February 15, 2011

Yesterday was the big day, time for the final inspection on the addition and first the plumbing passed, then the fire inspection passed. The building inspection was momentarily in jeopardy because of the fan tray; because a revised drawing wasn’t included in our pack of drawings (though all other revisions are) but the inspector happened to remember when it was framed out when he was here for the rough inspection back in the summer. As far as the electric, we failed and the cause is one…COUNT IT…ONE outlet on that brick wall, but that fix is in the works and may be taken care of as early as this week.

Ariel took the day off to deal with the inspections and after they were finished trickling in over the course of about 2 hours beginning an hour after they were first scheduled, (and I had over half my day under my belt) we decided to celebrate our near victory and went to see a double feature. Well, not in the traditional sense–then again, is anything in the traditional sense these days?–it was more like two movies for the price of two movies. We saw Black Swan and The Fighter.

I intended to stop work at a certain time but time got away from me and by the time we got ready to go and get there, we missed the opening credits of Black Swan, but not too much that we couldn’t piece it together. I’m not sure I liked it as much as I hoped I would, though I loved the head-trippiness of it, the parallels of her thought processes that lead to her triumphant finale. If I did come away with one thing from it, I think I may now have to dip my toe (so to speak) into the world of ballet and find a production of Swan Lake. It is, after all, a Tchaikovsky work and I’m always up for a Tchaikovsky event, though I’ve never been to the ballet. I gave the movie a 7.

After that we had about 20 minutes to kill, which, in movie house language is really 45 by the time all the coming attractions and commercials and turn off your cell phone reminders play and we sat crunching on our popcorn while the minutes ticked away. What I got out of The Fighter was something totally unexpected. Sure, I’ve seen Marky Mark in a few pictures and have always enjoyed his acting, but I never expected to be so emotionally taken by a boxing movie. The last time that happened was when I saw The Champ with Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper (I still haven’t seen the Jon Voight/Ricky Schroeder version). “You were my hero, Dicky” “I was. I was,” was just one of the poignant moments that got me. But the greatest quote concerning The Fighter came from a woman who was sitting behind us after the movie was over: “I didn’t like it, there was too much fighting.” I gave it a 9.

And that’s all I got for you. Tomorrow I think I’ll tell you about this past weekend; I just have to figure a way to make some of my descriptions “family friendly” otherwise it could become my shortest blog of all time.

Another Cave-In

February 10, 2011

How about that Superbowl? And now, because of Christina Aguilera’s unfortunate flub while singing the Star Bangled Banner, the National Anthem is in danger of losing it’s traditional spot of opening any more sporting exhibitions.

The argument is that the song has nothing to do with sports and everything to do with war–And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air…” and that at a sensitive time as the one in which we are living today, with more the 6,000 US lives lost in our current wars, it’s more like a mockery to their efforts and their memories. Also because a certain percentage of sports-going fans don’t know the lyrics and haphazardly shout out whatever words they do know, while sometimes wearing bandanas with a flag design on their heads. Another argument is that the caliber of vocalists who are invited to sing the National Anthem can, at times, be less than exemplary. Also that if our national lawmakers don’t sing it to start their days sports spectators should not be forced to sit through it at the start of games. And that just because President Woodrow Wilson ordered it played at all military events, beginning during the period of WWI doesn’t mean it had to become a sporting event tradition.

My counter-argument to those reasons would be get singers who aren’t all about themselves and who can sing and let them sing The Star Spangled Banner. As far as fans who don’t know the lyrics or don’t pay attention while the song is being played–well, some people are just ignorant and it’s not just the National Anthem they’re ignorant of. They are just all around cretinous.

My largest argument about this whole story is that, being the National Anthem, to disagree with what I read in an article by Kevin Blackistone, it is extremely relevant, especially in these times we are living. If it weren’t for our troops fighting our wars, past, present and unfortunately most likely future, we might  not have the freedom to even attend a football or baseball game. And because sporting events such as the Superbowl bring together the masses, what better gathering is there to afford the opportunity to show appreciation to those who put their lives on the line, in spite of those ignoramuses in the audience; the song is here for all of us. It is, after all, our National Anthem! The only way the National Anthem can lose its significance is if it gets taken away because of an ignorant few! This is America, damn it! Leave yourself alone! Stop caving in on yourself.

*****

Meanwhile, Christina Aguilera has been invited to redeem herself with an offer to sing at the home game of the Syracuse Crunch, a minor league hockey team on February 19 and the Brooklyn Cyclones, a minor-league baseball team has invited her to sing at one of their games this coming summer and they have even offered to throw in a copy of the lyrics. Ouch! As it turns out, there is footage of Superbowl rehearsal with Aguilera singing the song without a hitch.

Yes, We Have No CO

February 9, 2011

We have no CO yesterday. Or today. No, no, no, no, no, it’s not all that dire. It’s scheduled for next Monday and all the inspectors will be here at once.

Here’s another situation that reared up and got solved before I had a chance to blog about it. A Texas school district was going to be forced by the education bureau in Washington to institute a mandatory Arabic culture curriculum and it was done without parents’ knowledge. Mandatory? The idea behind it is because Arabic is described as the “language of the future” and the plan would have involved embedding the culture in all facets of school topics like discussing the Arabic roots of the word “algebra” to serving Middle Eastern food at a class party.

I heard about this yesterday morning and by the time I went to write about it last night, I see that due to the outrage and protests of parents and school officials saying that because of the concern that the Arabic culture could not be taught without discussion about Islam the plan has been put on hold. As one angry parent was quoted as saying, ” The school does not teach Christianity, so I don’t want them teaching Islam.”

Next problem. Did I tell you that my computer, I guess, crashed the other morning? Well, I finally got most of my programs reinstalled but I’m still working on getting my mSpot up and running again. That’s the app from my Droid that ties in my iTunes library with my phone and I can carry my music with me without my iPod. Well, because of the crash and that we wiped the entire computer clean, my mSpot downloader no longer exists. Sure, the music is still on my phone, in the cloud, as it were, but I can no longer add to it. If I want to add to it, I have to reinstall the downloader and because it’s not set up as a “network” and can only be used on one machine at a time, I’ll have to wipe out my current mSpot library and start from scratch. Many of the songs I was able to recover from various sources, but I had things on there that were from rather exclusive sources and unfortunately I didn’t have them backed up externally. So, dear readers, take a lesson from Michael Baxter and me: Save, save, save your documents! It might be just music or it could be the entire manuscript of your novel (which thankfully was backed up, otherwise I’d be in a straightjacket and not writing this blog) that could be lost forever.

Is Today The Day?

February 8, 2011

It’s a big possibility, but then again it could be tomorrow. Jim, Lou’s brother stopped by yesterday to pick up the drawings, the permits, the “passed” stickers from all the previous inspections so he could arrange for the final inspection for our CO, which could be today. And if not, then by Wednesday. So, everyone out there, keep your fingers crossed.

And then the final phase can begin. Brian? How much more are you planning on doing to your house? Well, for starters, the air conditioning has to be brought into the addition. And that window in the blue bedroom upstairs needs to be turned into a door and the radiator below it needs to be moved and the “attic” is being turned into either a closet (what could be left after all that we sent to the Salvation Army) or a closet/dressing room. How highfalutin, huh?

I didn’t blog yesterday because I kept falling asleep and was dead tired by the time the Superbowl was over and I had an early dentist appointment yesterday morning. I don’t know about you, but–not just because the Steelers lost; the team I chose in my 50-50 pick since I don’t really care a lick about football–was that game uninspiring? There was nothing to really get excited about. And the commercials all were crappy, I thought. The only one that got any other reaction out of me other than a click of the tongue and an eyeroll was the Ford? Chevy? (Insert correct make of pickup truck here–see how I pay attention?) that kept beeping out warnings to their owners (Timmy fell in a well?). And then there was the Ozzy Osborne / Justin Bieber one that ended with Ozzy asking, “What’s a Bieber?”. And let’s not even talk about Christina Aguilera’s tragic National Anthem or the majority of the halftime show. The Black Eyed Peas just sounded unbelievably horrendous and not even the neon people could make up for that mess. But one brief moment when Fergie sang by herself with Slash, she sounded much better.

Is there anything else today? No, not really.

Dis And Dat-jointed

February 4, 2011

It’s been a long three days since I last blogged. At least it feels long to me. Every now and then the juices dry up. I guess it’s like writer’s block…blogger’s block? That reminds me of that Golden Girls’ episode when Blanche, who decides she’s going to become a great southern novelist like the others so famous they need not be mentioned, complains about having writer’s block, that it’s the worst feeling in the world to which Sophia replies, “Try ten days without a bowel movement sometime!”

Well, since I last blogged, when my car passed inspection, I still haven’t installed the programs back onto my computer. The groundhog did NOT see his shadow so that means an early spring. I tried to replace my mailbox before the ice storm we had on Wednesday but either the plastic post is frozen into the ground or buried into the cement block. As a result, I had to go to extremes to secure my box down. The red cross came and picked up about 10 large lawn and leaf bags stuffed with clothes we cleaned out of our closets; that would be two closets. The hell? Sorry, 3 closets. 10 bags of clothes, though. I found things I forgot I had and because of that it was easy to get rid of stuff. Of course the fact that hardly any of it fit anymore also eased my decision. And one or two pieces I had to hold on to for sentimental reasons.

And…AND…yesterday the railing was installed on the back steps and that means we are one inspection away from hopefully obtaining our CO.

Was not impressed with anybody on the Wednesday night American Idol auditions (where were they, Dallas? – that’s how unimpressed I was, I don’t remember) but last night, in LA, the Gutierrez Brothers sang in gorgeous harmony and were the highlight of the show .

And Sunday is the Superbowl. I’m routing for Pittsburgh.

And there you have it, a short and disjointed blog.