Archive for October, 2011

Happy Snow- o’ween

October 31, 2011

Hi, I’m here, but sort of not. Last week was a busy week with work, the final push for the end of the month and by the time I was done working each day, the only thing I felt creative about was how soon after I was off the computer I could park my do-nothing in my red chair.

Great show! The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series.

Well, to catch up quickly, and you probably heard about this, we had snow, in varying amounts throughout the state on Saturday with some places losing power which may be restored as early as this coming Wednesday. While we watched the snow fall, saying darn it, our plans got all messed up, we never realized our less than 2 inches was hardly an inconvenience to others’ 15-18 inches. I just hope this isn’t a harbinger of things to come once Winter sets in.

On Friday, before the pending storm struck, I plucked a bounty of nasturtium flowers and leaves and on Saturday while I worked, Ariel was busy in the kitchen beginning preparations for his mother’s birthday dinner we’re having next weekend and he put to use the garden bounty making nasturtium lemon butter, nasturtium flower cream cheese and a pesto out of the brilliant green leaves which we had on bowties for dinner. It looked unassuming enough, but the natural peppery finish kind of crept up on you and gave your tongue a little thrill. If the rest of the leaves survive the snow, I can see a bounty of naturstium pesto in our future!

Oh, yeah, I also entered a contest on the Sport Kilt website, “Out On The Town..In A Kilt”. Click here to see it.  I should open to the page; the picture is of Ariel and me at the Perry Awards and it’s in the 4th row down, first on the left. If it’s not there, then go to page 6 then look in that same position. And if you would, let’s see if you can help increase my chances of winning by clicking on the stars is a ratings vote. Please! Daddy wants a new kilt!

Happy Halloween. Click on the bats for a fun Halloween card

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Right Down The Middle

October 21, 2011

Let’s go Cardinals! Gotta route for the National League in the World Series during those times the NY Mets don’t make it. Oh, look! I made a funny. No, really, I’m a NY Mets fan.

So, here’s a few items to close out the week.

From the I Love Inconclusive Research Findings file: Researchers are thinking social networks such as Facebook affect our brain structure. A study has revealed that there is a link between the number of friends one has on Facebook and the size of certain areas of the brain. The only problem is, they’re not sure if it’s a case of cause and effect, or the timeless question of which came first, the chicken or the egg; are those areas of the brain larger in people who have the capability to amass hoards of Facebook friends or does the very collection grow the brain?

I think what’s more important is that Barbie is now all inked up. And why not? The bitch has everything else. Even a gay boyfriend. Remember him? And of course she doesn’t make her inked appearance without some controversy. She will be the ruination of young girls everywhere. I’m stealing this quote another blogger cited. “It [a tattoo] is a lifetime brand which will fade and droop over time as the skin ages.” Note to the owner of this quote, Barbie is plastic. The only way her skin can droop is to throw her in a fire.

Sorry, I have to touch on the Broadway theater one more time, but for a completely different reason. I got sort of lost and momentarily frustrated to the point where I almost went back to the ticket checker lady to ask her if she was joshing me.

I have a real problem with distinguishing between left and right and it seems to be getting worse. I’m not exactly sure when it started, but the most memorable evidence of it was the time my father, Ariel and I went driving while we were visiting in Illinois and my father told me to turn one way and I went the other. And after he corrected me, (and hilarity ensued) the I did it again, this time trying to enter the freeway. He told me, turn in the direction of the hand without the watch. (I don’t wear a watch….) I’ve had several other instances of being confused over left and right, too numerous to name, but most recently when the ticket taker lady told me to go through that door on the left. But when I got up the little stairway through the arch, the only thing on the “left” was that infernal concession stand. The other door next to it was to the gift shop. I was looking in the wrong left because on the correct left were the doorways leading into the theater. Ariel saw I looked confused and asked me about it; must have been the spinning around in a daze that tipped him off.

I looked it up, but there doesn’t seem to be a concise term for it, but it is thought to be connected to bad handwriting (mine’s turning into chicken scratch that even frustrates me–I’ve always prided myself on my penmanship) difficulties with math (I can subtract in the hundreds and wind up with negative in the thousands, which is why I no longer am allowed near the checkbook), dyslexia (that’s not a problem) and schizophrenia….(should I even…?..although there was that one morning at camp when I was telling someone something and ended up scolding myself, telling myself to stop it..hmmm).

I came across this test (click here)to help determine something about left/right confusion but wouldn’t you know it, the results page is not active. I tried it on two computers and still nothing. But, it’s fun to take. After you click on ‘go to the first test’ a series of hands will appear. Read them and then click the ‘finish’ button and note your time.  Then click on ‘continue experiment’ and repeat those steps. After that you’re supposed to be able to enter your two times  and get some sort of result, but I am not about to start fooling with my cookies. So, yet another case from the I Love Inconclusive Research Findings file.

Have a great weekend!

Curtain Up

October 20, 2011

While we’re on the topic of Broadway shows, I have to get something off my chest. I have another thing to get off my chest that sort of works in tandem with the first thing.

There is a feature on my blog, the tags, found at the bottom of most of my posts that at one time would link the reader, or me, for that matter, to others blogging about similar topics, whether it be those silly Eggies or how badly The Chew is doing in the ratings. Sorry, I vowed I wouldn’t mention that All My Children replacement without an unwarranted reason. Well, anyway, for some reason, the host of this blog has decided to disengage that feature and instead, when I, or you, click on a tag, it simply gathers all the blogs I’ve written on that topic. While I also like that idea since it gives my readers a chance to explore what else I may have done on a particular topic, it’s a bit disappointing since one of the benefits of blogging is to network.

So, what does that have to do with that other thing? Well, besides the fact that I hope I have a vast readership, I also would like to think that somehow these words are getting out to theater owners by way of hyper cyberlinks.

I think it’s time theaters do away with their concession stands. I mean, how important is having that bag of M&M’s during the last 45 minutes of play? Before every performance the announcement is made to turn off all cellphones and pagers, the taking of photographs and recording is strictly prohibited and to unwrap all candies. Enjoy the show. How, then, can the theater justify selling snacks in cellophane wrappers? For the $4 dollars a bag? And how about that popping plastic sound from someone squeezing an empty water bottle? Or sucking the dregs of a soda through a straw? Stop it! Oh yeah, and if the theater would stop selling stuff, the rest of us wouldn’t have to exit through trash laying on the floor. Is this how people are at home? Ignorant?

But people also carry stuff in off the street, blatantly, in shopping bags from the Hershey store or wherever; one time a group of women at a show behind us had sandwiches and french fries.

And a note to you inconsiderate self-important cellphoners, turn OFF your cellphone, don’t just turn the volume down. I’m not paying a premium for my seat to listen to an impromptu concerto of digitized rap songs, that “cool”  ring you’ve deluded yourself into thinking you’re the only one in the world who has it,  and otherwise chirping during an actors monologue.

Going to the theater should be a sophisticated experience, an important experience. For many, it’s a one time shot. Actors have one chance to convey the story in a unique 2 or so hour time frame there is no rewind. Life, unfortunately, is not Tivo.

I don’t know what can be done about the cellphone, that’s just peoples’ stupidity, but as far as other noise that can be controlled, close the snack bar, or have the big burly usher who’s job nowadays is to simply point in the general direction of where your seat is, confiscate all crinkly articles.

Now that I think about it, I think an actual letter to the theaters I’ve been to would be much more effective in getting my point across.

Meanwhile, for ha-ha’s, this past weekend we sorted out our Playbills, to see how many shows we’ve seen and we grouped them by theater.

**That’s a lot of hard-earned cash we’re spending, Mr. Theater owner!

That Lady Is Hitting On Me

October 19, 2011

From the mouths of babes some things can be more precious than ever imaginable. But I’ll get to that in a sec.

On Saturday we almost didn’t see Spiderman on Broadway. Well, it wasn’t as severe a near miss as our incident on Friday. As a matter of fact, it was nowhere close to that. Okay, let me back up a skosh. Several months ago, perhaps three, perhaps more, Ariel’s nephew, my pally-babes J-vich, decided he wanted to take his two young cousins (who I only realized this past weekend were not his nephews…silly me), a lifelong friend, the friend’s brother, Ariel and me to see Spiderman, a sort of boys day out in the city. A recent conversation with J-vich locked into our minds the show was at 3 and we arranged a time we’d pick everyone up, with time to spare to grab a pre-show nosh, see the show, and then go somewhere afterwards for food the two kids would get a kick out of. But, while lounging around on Saturday morning, Ariel had the foresight to double check the show time and lo and behold, the three o’clock start time was for Sunday. Saturday was 2pm. So, we had to hustle, round up the troops and get a slightly earlier start. We still had time for a leisurely lunch at Applebee’s.

Okay, so the show. First the good points. I truly enjoyed the set, mimicking as closely as real life could, the pages from a pulpy comic book. And I really liked the final scene, with that awesome perspective of the Chrysler Building. I also gained an education as to how Peter Parker happened to become the superhero. I also liked the fact that Spiderman didn’t plummet to sure injury as several predecessors had under Julie Taymor’s direction.

Now for the bad points. As J-vich pointed out, the set-up, the backstory of Peter Parker’s transformation seemed to take forever. I had the feeling, all throughout, the actors were in a funk, or mad at the world. Not sure what it was, but there was an apparent issue. Their performances all felt stiff and wooden and lines sounded as if they were an obligation to speak. Most musical numbers sounded off-key.

During the first aerobatic number, with Peter Parker gussied up in a huge waist harness attached to cables that helped him “dance on the ceiling” as his uncle in the other room prophesied he was doing, had me clicking my tongue, as the huge lifesaver-like device was distracting and I thought, hmm, all the improvements and we get something so clunky as this? But later, when Spiderman went swinging through the skies overhead tethered to his web on his crime fighting missions, the girdling was more inconspicuous and lent to the elegance of his flight.

There was a little something for everyone in this production; a underlying love story for the grownups, comic book characters galore for any comic book fan and a set that was truly note-worthy. All in all, not the best or worst I’ve ever seen. I gave it a 6.

From the mouths of babes

We went to Jekyll & Hyde afterward, to give the kids a fun, eerie treat for dinner. It’s the one place in all of New York I’ve never gone to the bathroom because I hear the door is nearly impossible to find; it’s a secret panel in the bookshelves. Actually, I sneaked a peak this time around and saw where people were going. Only thing is, they never came back. <gulp!>

Ghosts and goblins, a skeleton band, a Frankenstein monster, portraits with shifting eyes, mounted animal heads entertain throughout dinner, as do a butler, and sometimes a French maid. On this particular night, a vampiress lurked about, stopping by unsuspecting guests’ tables. From behind she tapped little Michael on the shoulder and he instantly froze, his eyes wide with disbelief. He came into his own when the butler came and sat with us and they traded stories about Spiderman, but the vampire lady kept lurking, keeping her eye on Michael. Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore and he whispered across the table that he was ready to leave, that “that lady is hitting on me,” and  we all roard. That was easily the line of the day and I gave that one a 10!

Other Desert Cities

October 18, 2011

Wow. A lot has happened since I last dropped in on you. Most recently, all that is left in the garden is a wild plot of nasturtium that is probably choking the life out of whatever mint is left (which is getting transplanted next season) and one hyper-active pepper plant. The tomatoes are all done, the basil is all done and what wasn’t used for another batch of pesto, is drying.

This past weekend we saw two plays on Broadway. One Friday night and a matinee on Saturday. I’ll get to Saturday’s tomorrow.

On Friday we almost didn’t see Other Desert Cities. And it wasn’t because the skies threatened rain..or maybe it was, who knows? In spite of the suggestion I carry my little Totes umbrella for when I got off the train in the city, I didn’t. Well, I couldn’t find it, point 1,  and point number 2, navigating the city without an umbrella is taxing enough and I’ve traversed along 8th Avenue in drizzly conditions, dodging others’ bumbershoots and it’s not that easy a task. I applaud those who do it. I left the house, alarmingly earlier than I expected because my cab came sooner than they have been lately. I only waited less than 10 minutes as opposed to sometimes close to 30 and I actually waited for a second train so I could enjoy my Dunkin Donuts coffee and the rising blister on my tongue. Yes, sometimes those cautions are accurate!

Well, not long after I got to the station did the skies open and I thought, oh crap, maybe I should have invested a few more minutes in my umbrella search, but I toughed it out and by the time I got to New York the rain had either ceased or had not yet arrived and I high-tailed it to the restaurant, our favorite haunt, Playwrights. Knowing Ariel was on his way, with the tickets, from approximately 25 minutes before I got off the train at 5:08, I ordered a beer at the bar and put my name down for a table. I’ll spare you the details, but Ariel finally got to Playwrights at 7:10. When he called to say he was finally in the city and parking, I ordered dinner and drinks so they’d be at the table when he arrived and get this, we even had time for dessert!

Okay, on to the show:

Rachel Griffiths, of television’s Brothers & Sisters, plays rehabilitated novelist daughter Brooke Wyeth to Stockard Channing and Stacey Keach’s Polly, an ex-screenwriter and Lymen Wyeth, an ex-Hollywood actor, and friends of the Reagans. Brooke returns home for Christmas with a soon to be published manuscript which tells the story of her family, at least how she knows it, with the main focus being her dead brother and offering closure to their relationship, a book her parents fight tooth and nail to make her reconsider publishing, claiming she knows nothing of the truth surrounding the brother, a secret that would destroy them. Meanwhile her younger living brother Trip, played by Thomas Sadoski encouraged her to go forward, as long as she understood the emotional consequences it would arouse and her recovered alcoholic aunt Silda, a relatively small part but played brilliantly and flawlessly by Judith Light, applauded her niece’s determination to publish her book with a damn the torpedoes attitude.

Even though witty dialogue flew effortlessly between the characters, eliciting laughter from the audience, the mood was evident something dark and moody lurked behind the family’s outward attempt at aloofness within itself. Stockard Channing was brilliant as Polly, the right wing opinionated mother and as the newly sobered aunt Silda, a vast contrast politically and emotionally to sister Polly, Judith Light was a positive force to be reckoned with. Rachel Griffiths was a step above the character I know her as, Sarah Walker (Brothers & Sisters). As Trip, Thomas Sadoski played the tired of being caught in the middle sibling/child convincingly. I only wish Stacey Keach had been a little less restrained.

The final line in the play left me with something of a haunting chill, as its meaning was both cryptic and obvious that closure was unattainable. I gave Other Desert Cities an 8.

The Fewcher Is Now

October 7, 2011

Here’s something I just don’t get. Let me preface this by saying I was dismayed recently, oh, maybe around the beginning of the summer while watching the Kids’ Tournament on Jeopardy when one of the contestants said he has no use for pencils because with computers he won’t need them to write. That was a little alarming, but he was also a mite on the precocious side. But then when you think that kindergartners are being given iPads (there’s that word again!) it leaves the future of a good sharpened #2 Ticonderoga in question.

But I’ve veered off the track. Sorry. The Bangor Township, Michigan school board has decided its three elementary schools, with teachers who are just about worn to the nub trying to teach all subjects they have to deal with all day, will cease teaching spelling as an independent subject. Superintendent Shawn Bishop says that “…research shows the impact of teaching spelling by itself is not as significant as other subjects.”

Well, really, why does one need to spell when computer programs and cell phones have auto-correct? And I suppose it won’t matter if their going to get there diplomas over they’re, if and when they graduate. So then it should come as no surprise that words like LOL have made it into the Oxford Dictionary.

You know what else I don’t understand? You know how talking on your cellphone while you’re driving is illegal? (Yore…there, there’s another one, Bangor, Michigan!) And texting is even worse? Well, now, at least in Indianapolis, where this news story is from, comes yet another distraction. You know those QR codes that are everywhere, like in magazines, for instance that enhance an advertisement using a QR reader on your smart device? Well, ClearChannel media, who was unavailable for comment when this article I’m reading was written, is putting up billboards with QR (quick response) codes. So, with all the country-wide flap about distracted driving, what is the thought process behind these new billboards? Unless they’re meant for passenger use only, but I think I’m wise enough to know that if someone already is texting while driving, however inconspicuously or blatantly (and they’re out there…Bangor…..!) what’s to keep them from grabbing their cell phone, activating the QR app, getting it lined up in the viewfinder to download whatever it is while soaring down the highway? Look, I can barely do it sitting at home in my red chair, but I’m not the most coordinated guy, either.

On that note, have a great weekend and remember there are, including today, 10 days before Lucille goes on her walk.

The Pages Of Time

October 5, 2011

Not sure if this is an oxymoron or not (and I know what an oxymoron is)–maybe a better way to describe it might be a contradiction in terms, a paradox perhaps, but the L.E. Philips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has become the first in the country to check out Apple iPads…each loaded with 1,000 e-book titles, and 10 audio books and a bunch of other iPady stuff that an iPad apparently is capable of holding. Only members who are over 18 and carry an active library card are allowed to take out an iPad, and a contract must be signed by the borrower (only one per household at a time) The iPad can also used to download their own books, listen to music or watch videos, which will be deleted once the tablet is checked back in. Currently, the library has 32 such gizmos to check out and six to be used in the library.

Another reason the library has for loaning out the iPads is so that people can acquaint themselves with the technology without the expense of buying one.

This kind of comes on the heels of a conversation I had recently with someone who is in LOVE with her Kindle. I stated that I haven’t quite gotten to wrapping my mind around that yet, even though I do carry my music around on a device that’s scant larger than a credit card, but you really only hear music. But remember the days of the Walkman, the Discman, the boombox (affectionately known as the ghetto blaster)? Convenience just got bigger and bigger.  True though, with my Droid, I can see artist, title, and if I’m lucky, lyrics to a song and I can even find out the title and artist and possible availability to download a certain tune I might hear out in club with my Shazzam app. So, I’m not completely out of the technological loop. But, come on! Go up to the DJ booth? Really?

I came across this and thought it posed an interesting question. Kind of along the lines of knowing what a 45 is.

I realize it (a tablet of some sort) is the thing to have nowadays because really, holding a book is so much more effort and forget actually turning a page. But it’s also kind of silly when you see confused tourists in New York whip out a iPad to look up directions, as opposed to a more compact smart phone (or possibly asking someone–really, New Yorkers aren’t as monstrous as that to as to not help someone out). Where a smart phone could fit discreetly into your pocket, you need a larger holder, especially if you’re one of those men that doesn’t carry a purse. Anyway, I told the Kindle advocate, who told me she would read my book if I published it on Kindle, that I truly don’t think I could own one. I like the sound the spine of a new book makes when you open it for the first time. It’s like an invitation to come inside to a secret world. I like the feel of the warm pages under my touch and to breathe in the inky aroma of the author’s words. It’s a tangible, almost living breathing connection with a close friend.

“I cannot live without books” ~ Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1815.

  And don’t forget, you, or a friend can help Lucille walk breast cancer right on out of here!

Stop F’ing Whining!

October 4, 2011

There seems to be a new trend on television that’s even more disturbing than the last one, which was low incessant mumbling. I guess it was a device used to point out drama where there was none, kind of like pyrotechnics, car crashes and overdone CGI in a movie where there is no story.  Nearly every show we watch, at one point or another, requires my (because I’m in charge of the remote control, that’s why)  putting on the closed captioning so we can understand the dialogue. The new trend I’m talking about is this sort of woe-is-me, nasally and weak whine.  That probably stems from the onslaught of ‘reality’ shows. I’m just guessing because I don’t watch reality shows, well, check that, maybe I do; Ice Road Truckers and now IRT Most Dangerous Roads now that the ice has melted. But they don’t really whine in that show. There’s never enough airable dialogue to be able to hear it because they F’ing bleep out every other F’ing word and you can understand what the F is being said. Do you F’ing get it? And Project Runway, but that’s an altogether different sort of whine; it comes with a twist of lisp.

I put on my big boy pants this morning and actually killed a spider …all on my own! And without shrieking. And with only a paper towel without first smashing it through the wall with my shoe. And Ariel had just killed one in the bathroom upstairs. The march is on, I guess, now that it’s getting colder out and they’re seeking out someplace warm. Hmm, and we had our first instance of a stink bug the other night. I hope it’s not gonna be a double whammy winter.

It’s cold! And dark. And it’s depressing. And what’s even more depressing is my garden is seeing its final days fast approaching. All I have left is a few tomatoes that won’t ripen. I think sun is required for that, isn’t it? And there hasn’t been sun in what, about a month, with the exception of about one hour? So, I’m picking what looks good and praying they ripen indoors. We’ll be harvesting what’s left of the basil this coming weekend, most likely. The squash finally squished, but there are tons of it frozen. About the only thing that’s still thriving is the nasturtium.

Looks like October 4 is a busy birthday day, at least in the world of celebrity. Rutherford B. Hayes (1822), Damon Runyon (1880), Buster Keaton (1895), Hattie McDaniel, (1895) Charlton Heston (1923), Dick Tracy (1931), Dotty West (1932), Jackie Collins (1937), Lori Saunders (1941), Anne Rice (1941), Patty LaBelle (1944), Susan Sarandon (1946-who by the way graduated from the high school I went to).  Janis Joplin died on this date in 1970. And the Meadowlands Arena here in New Jersey opened up 1981.

Got this from a friend on Facebook. See if you can find the cat. Here’s a hint. There is one in the picture.

Drink For Thought

October 3, 2011

In a magazine last night, I came upon the following quote “This dude in India hasn’t eaten or drank anything in 70 years…” and I’m certain it is incorrectly worded and I’d like to get your opinion on it.

The weekend ended with a grilled ham steak. The weekend began, as I mentioned last week, with the arrival of Tim and Shane from Canada. After Shane and I were both finished with work on Friday, the weekend was finally able to get underway with steaks on the grill,  margaritas by the fire on the patio (in the rain…see?…but we were determined) and falling asleep watching Evita. But we were up bright and early getting ready to for Broadway day, first to get Shane in on time for matinee of “Follies”, while Tim, Ariel and I went out barhopping until it was time for the four of us to meet up for dinner before we all went to see “Book Of Mormon”. And after that, it was back out barhopping until we realized it was time to call it a night, and say goodbye to the Canadians as we parted ways to our respective hotels. Ours, of course, was Room 212, The Entertaining Angels Room, at the Desmond Tutu Center. Oh Silvia was so glad to see us. We gasped in pre-emptive horror when we saw the placard in the lobby announcing a wedding being held on the premises.

Okay, so, Book Of Mormon. One word: funny. Okay, maybe hysterical. Obscene? Blasphemous? Pick one. The one good thing about the show, I honestly didn’t know much about, so I wasn’t going into it with any expectations. All I knew was that it was written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame, and that apparently tickets are just about impossible to get as confirmed by everyone we mentioned the show to, including Olga, our waitress at Scarlatto.

The show, basically a live action version of an episode of South Park, was rife with jokes, one on top of the other, in rapid succession, whether in dialogue or in song, some of which were blatantly and outright obviously funny and some kind of made you have to think for second, but as you were thinking about it, another funny line would be said and missed. And nothing, as you might expect from the creators of South Park, was safe, from the satirical wit of team Parker and Stone. Comically mismatched Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, missionaries from The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints were sent to AIDS-stricken Uganda, a harsh contrast to Elder Price’s lifelong dream of carrying out his mission in Orlando. Without getting into some of the more questionable topics of satire, let’s suffice to say nothing, from organized religion to homosexuality, was exempt from musical comedy ridicule, nor was the idolization of pop culture. You know… South Park! While the show was a non-stop comically irreverent assault, I found the second half even moreso and the story came around full circle and was tied up in a neat little certifiable bow.

Shane, a Broadway-phile of the highest order and I agreed that while Book Of Mormon was a highly entertaining show, it was really not the end all be all of Broadway shows, for several reasons; one being the too-rapid fire of punchlines which almost seemed like it would be necessary to try to get tickets again to see what we missed, and that some of the dialogue was incoherently rushed, plus a few other nit-picky things. We both gave it an 8. Ariel gave it an extra point, a 9, for the underlying “texting” joke. And Tim didn’t say one way or the other, but his laughter resounded like everyone else’s.

Bonus points for celebrity spotting: Giada DiLaurentiis from The Food Network was in the audience, two rows behind us.