Archive for December, 2011

Christmas Spirits

December 23, 2011

It’s been a long wait, but it’s finally here. Tonight’s the night we go on our annual trek to the mall to troll around without a care in the world, aside from possibly getting trampled and watch with a gleeful glint in our eyes the last minute Christmas shoppers in all their fury. It’s always Christmas Eve Eve because we spend Christmas Eve with Ariel’s family. Oh yeah, and after the troll-fest, we’re going to see Sherlock Holmes.

And then maybe off to White Castle for some gut rot sliders and a beer. Oh, no, that’s just in Indiana. They went and got themselves a liquor license and will be selling beer for $3 and $4 and wine for $4.50. I wonder if this will be a drive-thru item as well. Hmm, probably not.

So, it’s Christmas and in the spirit of good will, amid all the heartwarming stories of anonymous Secret Santas (including a young boy between 8 and 10 using his allowance) paying off peoples’ layaways, oftentimes at the eleventh hour to ensure some very lucky families can enjoy the holiday, there was the anonymous serviceman from the war in Afghanistan who pawned one of his two purple hearts because he’s fallen on hard times. The shop owner, Bryan VanDenBosch said he will not sell the award but will keep it in the case for when the military man is able to reclaim it.

Also, in the “spirit” of Christmas, it’s time for a special Christmas song.

 

It must have just been a matter of mishearing the lyrics (‘Scuse Me, While I Kiss This Guy) when this person created this accompanying video of still pictures that the number 2 spot should have been… 

 

Speaking of songs, you can now call up some music on your phone when you want a blast from the past. Just dial: 719-26-OATES (62837) and you’ll be Callin Oates to hear one of four Hall and Oates songs. But don’t come to me with your phone bill. I got my own troubles.

The only thing left to decide is which movie to watch for Christmas Day. Last year, we took our cue from Ellen DeGeneres and watched “Misery”. This year, I’m thinking something more Christmas-y like “Since You Went Away” starring Claudette Colbert and Shirley Temple. We’ll see. I also have a copy of “Saw” in my collection. We’ll play it by ear. Of course, “It’s A Wonderful Life” will be for Christmas Eve.

And, at the risk of being totally offensive, and really, isn’t that what Christmas is all about, especially when one wishes someone who is not of the Christian faith a Merry Christmas?–sheesh, can’t we all just get along?–I leave you with this final song that’s a favorite of ours and my sincerest wishes to you for a very Merry Christmas.

PS. David Ivins, the homeless man, is out of the hospital  after his seizure at the police station and back in his room at a Belmar hotel, which is being provided free of charge by the owner.

The World, In Jeopardy

December 22, 2011

I’ll take Famous First Ladies for $200, the answer is: “She lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself.” What is what Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner said about Michelle Obama?  That is correct.

I’ll take Changing Meteorological Phenomena  for $200. The answer is, “50 degrees”.  “What is what the temperature was at 6 o’clock this morning, the first day of winter 2011?. Yes, go again.

I’ll take What In the World? for $600. The answer is: “Bobby Montoya”.  “Who is the seven year old boy who identifies as a girl, whose mother calls him her daughter who isn’t allowed to join the Girl Scouts because, well, he’s a boy?” That’s right.

I’ll take Lame Excuses Or Ways To Attain Fifteen Minutes of Fame for $800. “The answer is: “Kleinfelter’s Syndrome.” “What is the excuse Doreen Byrne, 20-year old Taylor Giresi’s grandmother used to defend the young man when he was arrested after beating David Ivins, a Belmar NJ homeless man and had an unidentified minor friend videotape it and upload it to Youtube?” Yes, and sadly, the man, who’s “home” was a makeshift leanto in the woods, and who has garnered widespread sympathy from this “Merry Christmas” beating (what Giresi said to him after the beating had stopped) just suffered a seizure, a result of the attack when he was picking up a new bicycle that was donated to him at the police station to replace the one the attackers stole from him. Well, the grandmother said she isn’t making excuses for her grandson and knows he’ll probably go away for a long time, she only offered his having this extra X-chromosome as a way to explain his abhorrent behavior… Uh, yes, that is, sadly…correct.

A Hoarse Humpday

December 21, 2011

I don’t have much in the way of a blog today, but I wanted to share a fun Christmas video I got in my email from a friend…thanks, Ken. Plus, the more I blog this month, the more you get to see it snow across the page. I initiated that a few years ago and I guess the setting is permanent and atuomatic until I remove it.  I always thought it would be cool for flowers to rain down in the spring and gold and red leaves float across the page in autumn, but that’s just me and my grotesque expectations.  And here’s how observant I am–I don’t remember when it starts, perhaps December 1 and I also can’t recall when it stops falling, if Christmas is the cut off or the end of December. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t fall all winter.

On that note, while I countdown to Friday, a day promising much fun and excitement, I will continue to nurse my cold, try to figure out how to shut off Facebook on my iPod (I hate these apps that assume you know how to work them), and debate whether I can stand another day without shaving. It’s been two weeks, well, since the 11th, when I was making myself as presentable as possible for the company Christmas party  and I have what might be considered a 5 o’clock shadow and half at this point and my skin is crawling. It’s both a blessing and a curse, but at least it saves on the cost of razor blades. They are so expensive.

In the meantime, enjoy my snowfall and the video.

I Love A Parade

December 20, 2011

Here in my town–along the street in front of my house, to be precise–a Christmas Parade goes by on one certain night and it’s sponsored by the fire house, which is curiously tucked in a residential area sandwiched between two houses. That’s got to be a thrill when the sirens go off. Or maybe the neighbors have grown an immunity to it like we sort of did when we lived in Newark, for all intents and purposes directly behind the runway at the airport. It wasn’t so bad when planes were landing from the north when the engines were quieter but when they took off in that direction, with thrusters at full throttle, and especially on overcast days when their ceiling was lower, the house would rattle. But after a while, you almost get used to it. No, that never happened. You never got used to it.

Well, anyway, since the first time we saw the parade, which consists of a lead fire engine, an ambulance, perhaps a car (or maybe the impatient jerk just thought it would be fun to be in a parade–kind of like insinuating one’s self into a funeral procession–and a rear fire engine, all decked out in Christmas lights and delightfully pastel Christmas colors, (one year it was even flurrying which made it look so magical) we look forward to seeing it every year. Trouble is, we never really know when it’s coming and this past Friday…let’s see, that was the 16th if memory serves me,  was no exception. There we were, catching up on some TV, chowing down on some Chinese when suddenly Ariel shouted, “It’s the parade!”. By the time I looked up, it has gone by. (It’s a very small parade…see above). Well, since the firehouse is just two short blocks away from us, and drawing from past experience, we knew it was going to make a return trip. So, armed with my cell phone camera set for video I went outside on that brisk night poised to record the parade’s retreat and post it to Facebook (and probably even to my blog if it would let me what with all it’s surmounting restrictions of late) and  I was sure I’d be the envy of all my cyber- friends.

When after approximately a half hour had ticked by and no parade was in sight, I gave up and went inside, back to the television. Sure as I’m pecking out this tale, not five minutes later, that infernal parade when chugging by the house.

But I didn’t come away empty handed from that experience. I now have a miserable cold, the kind that can’t seem to make up it’s mind if it’s going to hang around for a few days with a damn burst of… “stuff”, clear out and move on. And of course there’s the back and forthing of not having a voice, which is always fun.

Let’s see, today is the 20th, which means yesterday was the 19th and we got a mailing from the township announcing the parade..

Peace!, Mary, David, Jesus

December 16, 2011

For those of us who never saw the image of Jesus in an oil spill, in a water spot on a wall or on a piece of toast, well, now you’re chance. Yes, you can now have your “daily bread” with Jesus’ face burned onto it whenever you like with The Jesus Toaster for around $30 plus shipping. The designer of the toaster, Vermont businessman Galen Dively said he got the idea two Christmases ago when he bought a toaster with a cartoon character on it (probably that anti-Christ Mickey Mouse…One Life to Live and All My Children fans will understand that reference!!). Dively’s toaster is available with other designs such as a peace sign, the Star of David and the Virgin Mary. Click here to explore his website.

Perhaps my favorite instance of pareidolia (seeing images, usually human, in places where they don’t exist) is this one. It’s near the end of the I Love Lucy episode “The Ballet” where Lucy mistakenly appears, ready for her much rehearsed burlesque routine, for the ballet number when one of the dancers dropped out. In keeping with the burlesque routine, anytime the “stranger with the kind face” hears the name Martha, he attacks the person saying it and this time Ricky got a pie thrown in his face. The result is a face on the wall. 

 

Don’t you hate when things just don’t click? When I was writing about the “PlayStewardess” and “PlayFlightAttendant” yesterday, I could not remember flight attendant for some reason. Later, watching the news, where I saw the Jesus toaster featured, the anchor was talking about a policy in Atlantic City about waitresses, the ones that troll the casino floors, will have a four year shelf life and must reapply for the job after that because of a “pretty” policy. He then asked what about cheerleaders and then he also couldn’t remember the politically correct term for stewardess. That was just a silly aside. Sorry.

And then, another coincidence, and perhaps the biggest news from yesterday, our company rang the closing bell at NASDAQ yesterday. Ariel was there, along with about 70 other company execs and afterward there was the executive dinner. This was the second time we rang the closing bell, this time celebrating 30 years of business and 25 years listed with NASDAQ. Go us! The coincidence is that Ariel’s cousin’s company she recently started working for, Michael Kors, was just listed on the NYSE and he was there to ring the opening bell.

Is that a good way to close today? It feels like I should have had something else to say. I hate to close in the middle of

The News Across The Nation

December 15, 2011

I guess the biggest news is the National Transportation Safety Board recommended nation-wide cell phone ban thanks to the deadly Missouri highway pileup back in August 2010. Investigations into the cause of the fatal accident showed the driver of the pickup truck was texting on his cell phone (in a span of 11 minutes received 6 texts and sent 5) when he crashed into the back of a bobtailing tractor trailer and was then slammed into by 2 school busses.

Yes, I think driver distraction is a serious issue so I don’t understand why the ban would not include manufacturer installed devices. While they’re at it, they need to ban smoking while driving so when you drop your cigarette you don’t have to go looking for it. Or shaving. Eating. Talking to your passenger(s). Listening to the radio. Blinking. Breathing. 

As a quick aside, the FAA are now allowing airplane pilots to use iPads in the cockpit during takeoff and landing (while passengers must shut off their devices…right, Alec Baldwin?). They can use the iPads instead of paper flight manuals (or perhaps to feast their eyes on the latest issue of PlayStewardess…or maybe PlayFlightAttendant–to include everyone…you know <wink wink>).

In Rock Hill, South Carolina, high school administrators will hand out belts rather than written referrals to students who insist on wearing those silly saggy pants. I just don’t understand how those pants stay up in the first place. I mean, I have a pair of sweat pants which I’m wearing right now as a matter of fact that lost the draw string and if I walk around too much they start to slide and it infuriates me. I can’t see the comfort in wearing a stiffer material like denim like that. I know, rather than belts, why don’t the school officials just pants the jokers. Apparently they want to show off their undies so, let’s see them! Check you pants at the door!

To help save you money this Christmas, you can now rent toys for your ungrateful kids who badger you into getting the latest “in” thing only to leave it under the bed or on the bottom of the closet, alone and forgotten. Sites like Toygaroo and Toyconomy (both .com’s) allow you rent toys at a monthly cost, like, say, for $30 a month you can rent 4 toys or whatever the individual policy is for various levels of membership. I wonder if they have a rent-a-meal for finicky kids? Or, how’s this?  Why not organize a neighborhood kid-swap? Send your kids off to the neighbor’s house and let them play with all the toys their friends have, which they always like better than their own anyway and whose parents are way cooler than your own and serve better food and maybe don’t have the pesky curfew to abide by. And there doesn’t have to be a time limit other than when the kid starts to act up, it’s time to switch.

Oh No

December 14, 2011

I came in, in the middle of a Barbara Stanwyck movie, B.F.’s Daughter, yesterday afternoon, (and really, who can turn away from a Barbara Stanwyck movie?). I’m not exactly sure what it was about but in one scene, she folded up a sofa bed. At first I was surprised because I hadn’t expected to see a sofa bed in a 1948 movie and I wondered just when the sofa bed first became popular, so I did some looking around.

Leonard C. Bailey is credited with patenting the first folding bed in 1899. The metal frame was collapsible and it later became known as the hide-a-bed. Then of course came the Murphy Bed, also known as a library bed, patented by William Lawrence Murphy, which folded into a wall closet. In 1931, Bernard Castro opened a shop in New York where he sold the famous Castro Convertible, which more resembles the sofa beds of today and which was in the movie.

You know how word association is and how catchphrases work. Anytime the name Barbara Stanwyck comes up here it is usually followed with an “Oh no” by either one or both of us in a tone that somewhat mimics the star’s sultry smoky voice and it’s a phrase she seems to say in most of her pictures with very little fluctuation.  And her trademark intonation of that line opens it up for use in any occasion, from surprise to consternation.

So, that got me wondering if there was a montage “Oh no” video, but I found a short blooper set. And that got me looking for the funny self-mocking scene Joan Crawford did in 1949’s “It’s A Great Feeling” and I found it.

And, oh my, I wasn’t going to even bother ever blogging about this, but how is this for shooting yourself in the only other foot you have left? I can just hear Miss Stanwyck’s “Oh no,” now. Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer, Joseph Amendola, who, when confronting the press, said that for anyone who believes his client is a child molester should call “1-800-REALITY”. I’m thinking he may have meant it as in the phrase reality check, but, as it turns out, that number belongs to a gay sex phone line and for 99 cents a minute you can, well, you know…

(more…)

This Is Only A Test

December 13, 2011

Had those words been included the phone lines at 911 call centers and various news outlets may not have lit up with such fervor. Of course I’m talking about the civil emergency test text message that dinged on many cell phone users’ cell phones urging them to take shelter and had the state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness on the alert!

My mother, who was here hanging out on her way to visit a friend of hers heard the story on the news in the other room while I was helping Edward G. Robinson celebrate his birthday on TCM, and asked me if I’d  gotten such a message. I hadn’t, and at first I felt a little left out, like I was going to have to fend for myself and all I had to feed the two of us were a few cans of Spaghettios. I had long since run out of the fancier items in my pantry like Chef Boyardee Cheese Ravioli. I was also out of milk and oatmeal and had no bread. Note to self: always be prepared.

The news reported, at first, there was no idea whence the text alert originated (I don’t know if the structure of the first part of this sentence is correct; I just wanted to use the word “whence”) or if it was indeed real. The only thing they were certain of was that it had affected only Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties here in New Jersey. Phew, I’m in another county and I proceeded to make lunch.

A little over an hour later it was revealed the errant warning was initiated by Verizon. It was sent out in error without any indication that it was only a test and they issued a statement of apology for any inconvenience or concern their blunder may have caused.

We must not say every mistake is a foolish one ~ Cicero (106 BC-43 BC)

You’ve probably seen this video already but I’m posting it anyway. Enjoy!

Out With The Trash

December 8, 2011

I got a couple of cool Christmasy things to keep you busy, but first I have to expand on that Facebook status update I made last night. Two of my friends clicked the “like” button and I’m not exactly sure how they meant it.

I was taking the garbage out last night. It was miserable and rainy. I got all the way up to the top of my driveway, about to turn the can around–because I like it facing a certain way for when the truck picks it up, otherwise the lid flaps backwards and stays open–when, through my rain-spotted glasses, I could make out a car swerving into my driveway and it came to a halt about 10 feet away from me. I was stunned, to say the least and it was almost like a standoff for the passing fleeting seconds as the driver seemed intent on getting passed me to turn around (as so many cars use my driveway to do–oh how I’d love to rig my driveway with some sort of James Bondian device to annihilate trespassers)–and I stood there in my best What the F! stance. Not sure if it was actually a standoff, but when you see your life prospectively flash before your eyes and the last thing you’re doing is taking out the garbage, all sorts of things cross your mind like, wow, this guy’s a jackass, or hmm, I wonder if I should get out of his way… Well, he completed his U-Turn finally and sped off down the highway. I just stood there shaking my head for several more seconds getting soaked and then went about my business.

Okay, here are two Christmas favorites I like to post every year. And joy of joys, I see one of them has a mobile app, so guess who’ll be searching that out later on today.  And while I’m at it, I’ll be looking for the other was well. Why not?

Enjoy!

PS: Don’t forget to “follow” me using the gray box in the bottom right hand corner. Takes the guess work out of when I’ve updated my blog. And, please…pass the word to your friends, families, or even people you don’t like…that’ll teach ‘em!

   

The Long and Short, Short of It

December 5, 2011

One day, two weeks ago, I had gotten an email from a writer’s magazine I once subscribed to about their latest short,short story contest.  This email came in one day before the deadline of the current contest. Unfortunately, my name is not Rumpelstiltskin. One time though, I did submit my story, “Grace”, which can be found on my main website  under The Novel> The Author and the link is in the second paragraph. Of course it didn’t win. In fact, I believe it never made it past the first round.

I had been toying with an idea for another short story–or I could make it a short, short story if I had to–concerning a family in these economically oppressive times and even have it outlined. In it, the family, like many others,  had been craftily lead into a life they had not expected could ever happen.

One day last week in the regular mail I received a letter and it was worded pretty much like I had imagined the one in my short story the family received was also worded. It kind of took my breath away because I never knew such a thing existed. Well, now that I know it does, even though there I was thinking I created the whole preposterous idea, I can use the actual letter as a true basis for the fictitious letter and have my short, short story ready for the next deadline.

******

Harkening back to my blog from last Friday, the “it takes a village” theme, there was another issue I’d heard about that made me shake my head in confusion. A San Francisco city law took effect on December 1, banning those free toys with kids’  “happy meals” offered at McDonald’s and Burger King as a way to discourage eating the foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar. However, for an additional ten cents, they’ll throw in the toy. Hmmmm.

McDonald’s has stated they’ll use those extra dimes to fund the building of a Ronald McDonald House in Mission Bay at the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center. Sounds vaguely familiar…oh, yes, the NY/NJ Port Authority toll hike to help rebuild the World Trade Center, though now the kibosh has been thrown down that the extra toll monies must NOT be used for anything other than transportation concerns. We’ll see about that. Anyway, going back to the happy meal situation, Burger King hasn’t yet decided what to do with their amassed fortune.

And again, it’s for the kids, I know, but I disagree with everyone else having to take the fall when parents don’t want to put their feet down and say no, you can’t have that iPad, or Xbox game or that happy meal because it’s not healthy.