Friday, December 31, 2010

This Time of Year

Another year has come and gone. Highs and lows were all included.

A brief recap is here and not inclusive of everything that happened. That's what the archive of this blog is for.

Sure, while the high point might have been that we got married, I don't think that it should overshadow the toffee covered pretzel Denton, Becky and I shared the night before the nuptials. Let's try to keep things in perspective people.

But at the first of the year, I quit my job and took a new one a day later - no break at all. Silly me. That's just how I roll.

Clearly the low point was losing Tovah. I'm still mourning. But Sophie has been so incredibly affectionate - even more so than usual, so that helps. No decision on whether to go back to a two kitty household.

Job is fine. Family is status quo. Friends are great, though one had a "slight" health scare over the summer - which I did not go into. Things are better. House is a work in progress, but it is a 100 year old house - it will always be a work in progress. Ditto with my 100 year old body.

We had few travels: Montreal, New York and DC. That's it. Unless you count my work travel. I'm not. We are vowing to incorporate more personal travel in the upcoming year. Where? We have ideas, but nothing solid.

The blog had its highs and lows too. The low being my stupid hosting provider and their "upgrades". You know the ones that kept me unviewable for a week or so. The one that lost all my previous post pictures which I still need to get back. But on the high side, I have some great followers and a good blogroll and my readership continues to grow. there's that. Thank you all for that.

2010, overall, was an ok year. Stellar? Probably not, but it wasn't the pits either. I can't say I'm glad it's over as it wasn't that kind of year. However, I can't stop time marching on, so 2011 starts tomorrow. So be it.

I hope you all had a good year and are looking forward to the next. I'll be here...and most likely on a daily basis.

Enjoy your new year's eve. Be safe. It's amateur night out there. I'm staying in.

Song by: Better than Ezra

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Music of the Year

I change-up how I present this each and every year. This one is no exception. I'll just vomit out what I like and what I think you should listen to. It's that easy.

There are also no hard and fast rules regarding release date(s). The albums will pretty much stick to this year, but the songs - not so much. I probably tripped upon them in 2010, but most likely most of them were released prior to. I will try to note these as we go along.

For album, I'm sorry, this year it is not even a close race for me. And it's my blog, so my thoughts are really the only ones that matter - capiche? Would a smiley face help soften that last line?
I've had months to contemplate other releases and none of them are stacking up against The National and their 2010 release, High Violet.

Yes, I blogged about it the disk in June and while I got down that it was a great disk, I didn't nail all the reasons it was. A few hundred listens and I might be closer on track.

First off - it's all about the drumming. Check out "Everyone's Ghost", "Lemonworld", "Conversation 16". Is drumming supposed to make you smile?

Yeah, Matt Berninger's lyrics can be considered a little bleak (which I like), but honestly, on so many of the songs Bryan Devendorf's drumming makes me smile. It is complicated, it is intricate, it is somewhat innovative - and it makes me smile. Yes - me!

Berninger's baritone, in most worlds, could be considered limiting as a lead vocalist, but with the song structure and the lyrics he makes the absolute most of it. The accompanying musicians - horns, backing vocals, etc - are a great addition to the core band and it works nicely live and on record.

The songs themselves have done themselves nicely over hundreds of listens. I have yet to get tired of one song and the ones that started as borderline music for me ("Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks", "Terrible Love") have become essential listens.

High Violet is an album I am still loving and I have played it obsessively. And for those who already have it, iTune has posted a few new songs on the expanded version: 3-4 new songs and then another few live takes and one with alternate lyrics.

When and if you listen to it though, pay spell attention to the drumming.

I would guess if there is a runner-up, Arcade Fire's, The Suburbs is the next best release. It's a little overdone, even for me, but has some great shining moments - and they are nothing if not innovative and original. Not everyone's taste, but what is? I'm never huge on concept records, but this works.

As for individual songs, some will be expected, some not as much. There is a major lacking of female artists this go-round. - here we go, and in no particular order:

We Use To Wait - Arcade Fire
not just a cool video

Anyone's Ghost - the National
see review above

Love is Dead
- the Lovemakers
perfect perfect pop (not a bad word) and good harmonies - from October 2009.

- Paramore
technically 2007, but it beats anything on their new album

- Brandon Flowers
it grew on me

Down by the Water
- the Decemberists
from their January 2011 release
Whatta Want from Me
- Adam Lambert
what can I say? It's a guilty pleasure. 2009 album release date.

Little Lion Man
- Mumford & Sons
it's like Great Big Sea...with the f bomb

Entrance Song
- the Black Angels
kind of mid-2000s Depeche Mode, more the music than vocals

Dead American Writers - Tired Pony
part '70s, part '80s Tom Petty (music), part 2000s

That's it for 2010. I'm hoping for good new music in the upcoming months. If you have suggestions, I'm open.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Year in Pictures

Random pictures I have taken of me or my surroundings in 2010 that I do not think have been published here before. I will attempt to give some background as we go along.

February. Car in the yard. Across an island, across a street, over a sidewalk and then up into the yard. Douchebags.

March. Just a headstone in Lake View Cemetery. It was when we were geocaching. Morty pointed it out and made some derogatory comment about me being nellie.

"As if!"
, I said, with a slight lilt to my voice and one hand placed firmly on my hip!

April. On my way to Akron. But seeing this on a parked car, I immediately thought of both Tornwordo and Morty.

May. Me and public transportation. Waiting to take the Cleveland Rapid on the way to the airport, so Denton could meet me and we could fly to Burlington, VT and then drive to Montreal. These shoes make my feet look so small. They're not.

May. Montreal. Glace au chocolat.

June. I have found Rerun from What's Happening shopping at our local grocery. I always wondered what happened to him.

July. DC to CLE. Cleveland from above. Yes, my portable electronic devices were not turned off nor stored. No one died.

August. Our second to last picture of Tovah. How I miss her so. She's so thin, but man, her colours are still so vibrant.

August. Petey (beagle) and Boomer (miniature Australian shepard) going from kennel to my sister's house. I love 'em both.....but especially Petey.

September. Downtown Pittsburgh. Three bridges. All yellow.

October. One previously unpublished pic of the Spo Shirt. See? I'm smiling!

November. NYC. Central Park. Bethesda Fountain. Like in Angels in America, I do believe it is my most favourite place in the city. Definitely in Central Park.

November. Sheep Meadow in Central Park. A perfect mid-November day.

November. Ed, the officiant, signing our marriage certificate.

November. You get ONE wedding photo. That's it. One.

I was pretty unhappy with all the 'professional' shots that came in. I know the photog is a graduate student and he only charged $60, but I guess you get what you pay for. I'm pretty happy with this shot though.

December. Trying to use up all my 2010 benefits. Did the dentist thing, had that thing on my head checked out and got my eyes examined. I am using my vision benefit for contacts, but don't think I didn't check out frames.

I am really digging these. This pic isn't too bad, but it took many to get this decent of a shot. They actually look better in real life. Whatta think - too geeky?

That is it. I won't say these were the best of the best, but I'd like to think I gave you decent snaps as the year went on.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fit for a King

We are still not going to make the movie goal, but we did capture another one yesterday.

The King's Speech is possibly the best movie we've seen this year. Or is the case with me. I know Toy Story 3 is getting the sentimental favourite 2010 flick from most everyone - but overall, I'm not that sentimental.

No,'s true.

I've always admired Colin Firth since seeing him back in the late '80's in Apartment Zero (though to be fair, that was more lust for Hart Bochner). And while he has worked steadily, for each great movie he's been in, he's waded through a lot of crap (Nanny McPhee anyone? Any of the Bridget Jones crud? ...just to name a few).

Based on a true story, with some artistic embellishment, The King's Speech tells the tale of the future and then present King George VI's speech impediment. That's all you need to know. Actually, there isn't much else to it, except some exceptional acting from the entire cast - especially Geoffrey Rush. Oh, and Colin Firth.

...and apparently, Buckingham Palace is like Hogwarts South. Dumbledore, Bellatrix LeStrange and Peter Pettigrew all make appearances. You'd think there are only 12 actors in the UK.

The screenplay is good, the acting is good, the locations, music and filming are very well done. I could easily see Rush and Firth snag awards for their work.

Check it out.

Black Swan update too: I totally would have enjoyed Black Swan way way more - and had a greater understanding of it - had I known the story of Swan Lake. While still on the psychotic side, it would have made a lot more sense had I known that. If planning on going and you don't know the Swan Lake story, I suggest wiki'ing it before you go.

Song by: Garth Brooks

Monday, December 27, 2010

Big Fun

My lord, I do have a song for everything. I have no idea what this song is, but I "own" it. For fuck's sake, I have the extended version. I do know that Tom G gave me the cd way back when - some compilation for 'Retro 80s'. Since he gave it to me in the '90s, were the '80s that retro?

...and yes, I was not wearing shorts and an Indian t-shirt yesterday. While 27 degrees, for some reason it hit me as bone-chilling cold. The pic was taken over the summer and I still had it waiting for use. It also makes me look thinner.

However, I was at Big Fun yesterday.

We had a great holiday treat of Becky and her husband being in town for their holiday, and we got to spend yesterday afternoon with them.

Lunch at Tommy's, which is always great. They have a lot of vegetarian options there. While I am not a vegetarian, Becky and Andrew are. Most other places here, they'd be given the choice of salad or salad. Folks, this is NE Ohio - we are cow and chicken eating people. I like my veggies, but I don't think I could give up eating meat (oh yes - snicker all you'd like at that comment, you pervs!!).

After a nice meal and lots of talk, we went next door to Big Fun. I love the store, but I don't ever really buy anything there. The same cannot be said of Rebecca - she got action figures of Aragorn and Galdalf - now I cannot remember if it was of the White or the Grey. Oh, they had a Frodo, Sam, Gimli and even a Saruman. Alas, there were no Ent, no Fairies and no Lady of the Wood (aka Galadriel). And who wouldn't want an Agent Smith Elrond??

I have no idea what she's going to do with them. Hopefully she'll keep them in the box so they retain their "value".

I looked at their Pee Wee stuff, but I either had most of it already, or the new stuff they had was just that: new. Not vintage. Newly made (and crappily at that) King of Cartoons or Reba the Mail Lady.

After that, it was a bookstore and then up the street for a beer. A cold beer on a colder day.

I could have easily spent all day with them. We rarely get to see Andrew - and we do love him so. Of course we love Becky, but I see and talk to her.

With no offense to my family - getting to see the two of them was the highlight of our holiday. Oh - and seeing this in Big Fun:

Maybe you have to be from Cleveland to know Dorothy. She was a henna-headed journalist who was (seemingly) ancient when I was young and died well after I became an adult. She was, however, the first, or one of the first, women in journalism to have her own news program.

For as many years (decades?) that I've been coming to Big Fun, I had never seen the sticker. I have to be on the cusp, age-wise, of people who remember her. They young whippersnappers can't possibly know who she is.

....not that I'm putting a bumper sticker of her on my car.

And yes, seeing Andrew and Becky was............wait for it..............big fun.

Song by: Inner City

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Night Before

It's always fun to do a post-mortem on the holidays, no? Ok, maybe 'fun' isn't the operative word. It's probably not 'interesting' either. But it is a blog post and you know I am about those.

Everyone showed. Plus one.

I got a call from my mother saying she invited her brother to attend. That was fine with me, I like Uncle Tom - not so much his cabin. With Tom being there, that made two nonagenarians in our house. (yes, I had to look that up. I assumed a 90 year old would be a neuftagenarian, but I was wrong.)

Tom and his wife used to attend our holidays, but after his she died 15 years ago, he no longer spent this time with us. This year was different and my mother called to tell me she asked him - thinking I'd mind. We loved having him. Like my father (also 90), they both still drive, so that worried me - and don't even get me started on that subject.

Everyone was well behaved. No talk of politics, or even religion really. The kids were well behaved, but that is why we put the GameCube and a DVD player on the third floor. They really might have been ill behaved, but we didn't have to hear them.

As you can see by the title image, we still have four stockings. If you enlarge the image, you'll see the two on each end have cats on them. Even though we only have one cat, I couldn't not hang Tovah's stocking. And of course, we had a fire going.

Here is the spread. Or most of it. Gluttony was mentioned. That might have been extreme. Mostly appetizers as I mentioned yesterday. I did like my centerpiece of the bowl of clementines. When you put them on display like that, it almost seems weird that I eat that many per week.

My mother did the unthinkable. For as long as I can remember (and I am old!) we had tenderloin on this day, whether made at her house or ours. This year? Beef Stroganoff.

It's not that I don't like it, but you serve it with rice or noodles and years ago we made this a non-sit down meal. Stroganoff is a sit down meal. The same argument could be made regarding tenderloin, but if you slice it right and have bread for're golden. Plus we don't have a table to seat 17 folks.

I'm sure there is a better way, but we had leftovers. Not tons, but I sent stuff home with many of my sisters. But what flew off the table last year (my beautiful fruit salad), almost went untouched this year. What gives?

People arrived at 17:00 and we had cleaned up and were in bed by about 22:45. Exhausted. Sophie was dead to the world. Too much excitement for her.

This is the living room the next morning. Maybe afternoon. Since we are two grown "adult" men, we don't have to open gifts as soon as we get up. We do breakfast, read the paper, etc. Eventually we get around to presents.

It was a nice exchange, but nothing over the top. Kind of. One big present each and a few smaller ones. As much as Denton loved the Kindle, I think the better one to be the Lego Falling Water I got him. He's an architect geek, so I'm hoping he'll like it....and actually build it.

In the foreground you'll see a little tent that is for Sophie - she can go in it and scratch it too - not that she has front claws. As expected, she isn't bothering with it much - but it came with catnip, so maybe we'll sprinkle that on there and see what happens.

Speaking of Princess Sophie, here she is being more interested in the Kindle box than her own gift. Typical cat behaviour.

It was a great lazy day. We never left the house. I couldn't bring myself to make my spicy tomato soup yet. There's enough food here for the next few days, but I'll get around to it. I also didn't get to make my puff pastry appetizer either. There was way too much food to add another item.

Maybe we'll invite some friends over early in the week and I can make both of those. It will be a light meal and we certainly have enough wine to wash it down with - and beer. Not one person had a beer, just wine and hard liquor. (Morty - come quick, I need your help getting rid of it!)

I hope you all enjoyed your day. I'd say it's back to the grind, but I'm working very lightly this upcoming week. I hope you're doing the same.

Song by: the Beatles

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hallelujah Chorus

I can't say I'm a huge fan of Handel. I'm not a fan of Jebus either.....or even the holiday today, at least the religious aspect of it.

I do like the Roches though. A folk trio made of sisters Maggie, Terre and Suzzy, they made their name doing a capella work, starting in the late '70s. Maybe earlier. One of their trademarks is doing the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah.

I remember seeing them do it on SNL back in the '70s. I also saw them do it in the '80s, at a live concert.

This clip is not the best. Taken from 1982, the quality is exactly what you expect from almost 30 years ago. But you can see their potential. (I do love that the clip misspells how to spell their last name/group name.)
Take the artistry from the clip, if not the religious overtones.

Have a great holiday. I'm sure I'll be posting over the next few days of ours. But please enjoy yours.

Song by: the Roches

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christians and Pagans

Today is the day. Our "holiday".

It is not so much a celebration of any one particular saviour, since, well, I do not believe that. I'm ok with any of the pagan-like traditions.

It's more a gathering of family - and trust me, there are days I do not believe in that as well.

Yesterday my father turned 90. Today my mother turns 82. A few weeks ago we celebrated an uncle's birthday (90 as well) and his brother (also an uncle) is 92. I have almost zero chance of getting out of this life early - unless I opt to stand in front of a bus. Depending on how long I am with my family, it's a distinct possibility.

Anyhoo - our one big day is today. My parents, my sisters (or three quarters of them) and their husbands and spawn will descend upon our house. We provide liquor, mixers, some appetizers and a big space for them to be comfortable in. They'll bring additional food and there will be tons left over.

We no longer attempt a sit-down dinner. First, none of our places has a table for that many folks, the coordination of eating is too complicated and mostly, the kids are too frickin' excited to sit and eat anyways. We find heavy appetizers are just fine for the occasion.

We'll have shrimp and I'm going to attempt a ham and cheese puff pasty thing, so we'll see how that turns out. Also there will be crudite, cheeses (cheeses, not jesus!) and fruit salad. ....and any assortment of desserts. As always, I've made a run to Peterson's Nuts to fill little bowls around the house.

This way, everyone can sit instead of running around trying to make things work. Invariably, someone (my mother) always misses things as she is trying to get food ready and she can't relax on her own birthday. It's the way to go.

As far as the entire holiday has gone, it's been so-so. We never got cards out, or even bought them. Denton's and my gift exchange will be light, I'm sure. I'm happy to spend the actual "holiday" as just the two of us. I have plans to make a spicy tomato soup that I'll share with you as I make it.

Maybe there will be a movie.

But this morning will be some final prep, after the gym, that is. Then it is family family family.

Song by: Dar Williams

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Crowning

Meredity almost blew my now, not opening line to my blog entry today. She's effectively made herself the first part of the entry.

So, back in the day (yes, THE day), there was a movie called, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. A so-so movie at best. However, it contained two lines that have stuck with me and my friends for what I'm guessing is almost two decades.

I'll set up the scene for you:

Elvira is walking down the street and a letter on a cinema marquee falls and hits her squarely on the noggin.

Later this little gem of dialogue takes place:

“How’s your head?”
”Well I haven’t had any complaints yet.”

Anymore, I have to bite my lip whenever anyone asks me that question.

That is if I remember to bite said lip. More often than not, the response Elvira gives just passes my lips and onto the unsuspecting person who asked a question in complete sincerity.

Normally, I say "No complaints yet!". So I guess I paraphrase.

So, knowingly and tauntingly, Dith asks me this question yesterday on Facebook - and I just couldn't do it. Mostly because, it would have ruined this blog entry, and I cannot have that.

Yes, I did have my doc appointment yesterday regarding the boo-boo on my head (speaking of Boo Boo - really? Yogi Bear as a movie??? REALLY?). I wasn't sure what to expect. Not exactly.

As promised, I took pictures. You knew I would.

I swear the iPhone is the bloggers best friend. I've gotten more use out of the embedded camera than all my other SLRs, digital cameras or Kodak Instamatics combined.

A pic out my 6th floor exam room. I'm in the A building looking over at the new Glickman Urological Institute. I'm sure some day I'll end up there too. To the left is an Intercontinental Hotel. There are two of them on the medical campus.

I waited in this room forever! The nurse was in right away and was great. The resident came in immediately afterward and was great. The attending was a complete fucking prick.

Not only did he arrive 30 minutes after the resident, he didn't seem to care and/or could be bothered. He wasn't listening to me and about how long the "crop circles" had been there (both the nurse and resident laughed at that one), and trust me, I was explaining it clearly. He was going with his own agenda.

When he did talk, it was to the staff, not necessarily to me. He also clearly didn't know what was going on up there. He kept saying it was an inflamed hair follicle possibly - though I had to tell him three times that no hair had EVER grown in those spaces.

So he had the resident do two things: wound debridement and then unbeknownst, to me, biopsy part of the area.

Oh oh oh....before that, they got the digital camera out and took pictures of my head (should I have called this post 'My Humps'?). I could have just said I'd send them via my iPhone, but didn't. Once again, the nurse and resident laughed when I said 'now, no posting those on Facebook, ok?'.

So, I took a few shots to the head to numb me up. Then they cleaned me up, cut me up and then cleaned me up again. I'll get "results" back in a week or so. Here is my guess: the results are they needed to do a procedure to bill for and that there is nothing wrong with me.

I ask him about wound care and, honest to g-d, as the door is shutting, he almost gets out, "the nurse will tell you".

PRICK. (don't think I won't be saying something.)

The nurse was great. "Do you want to see it?, she axed. I said, "ooh, do you mind if I take a picture?". She held it for me so I could. Gotta love that. The little piece in there seems way little, but I guess I shouldn't complain they didn't scalp me.

For the next week, I have to keep the wound moist with neosporin and then cover it with the world's smallest yarmulke.

It should make for interesting conversation at the gym, if nothing else.

Of course, by saying the above, I immediately thought of how I should cover it and thought of really just wearing a yarmulke for a week. Not the bar mitzvah bling one, seen here. We all know I won't, but I do rock it - and I got that shaped head that doesn't need bobby-pins (or blobby-pins) to stay on. Not that they'd have anything to grab on to, mind you.

However, since some of the comments the other day about scalp wounds being painful were somewhat correct (not horrible, but I have a high tolerance for surgical and medical procedure pain anymore), I am dying for ask me how my head is.

Song by: A Camp

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Site of the Month

I know any number of folks have been down on Obama, since, well, hell, as soon as he took the oath of office.

I am slightly amused at that many of us think he should work only our issues and on our timeline. Yeah - because that's the way politics or business works.

Maybe it is because I'm horribly cynical - or just downright logical (or maybe have seen way way too many West Wing episodes), but like most things, Washington is a zero sum game. If someone has power, that means someone has lost it.

Driving through an agenda has consequences and it is more treacherous than a minefield in Viet Nam.

So yeah, I cut Obama some slack. Though I have to say, I'm less happy with this compromise on tax cuts for folks making $250,000 or more. That doesn't not please me at all. I partially get the fact that extending benefits to the unemployed would have been done with had he not, I'm still not happy about it.

That being said, so many folks say he has accomplished nothing in his less than two years in office. But for a flavour of what he has done, you can see in this tongue-in-cheek SotM:

What the Fuck has Obama Done So Far?

Quite a bit actually. Here's one sample.

So as the cute dad/grandad said on Raising Hope: Shut the Front Door!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Lady

I've been going on about how much Winter already sucks, and yet it is not even here.

Well, tonight at 23:38 Coordinated Universal Time, that changes. It will have arrived. Joy.

By nature, I suppose, I'm not the most optimistic person in any given group. However, on a day like today, I will channel my father to say, "at least the days start getting longer".

Do not be fooled by this slight change in my behaviour. I can guarantee you that some time in mid-June, the Eeyore in me will say "well, the days start getting shorter now!" Just like my father would.

The actual Solstice is a day on the calendar, but Winter is longer than that, as many of us have experienced these last few weeks. You can call it what you want, but once snow starts flying and sticking, it is Winter.

On this first day of actual Winter, I will be taking my last work trip of 2010. Morgantown, WV. I know, try to not to be too jealous.

Down and back the same day, so it won't be horrible - weather permitting. Then I'm off for 5-6 days. Kind of more actually, since my boss won't be around. My clients won't be around. I will do some work on my non-off days, but I don't foresee me putting in full days.

Tomorrow I go get my head examined. No, not like from a Dr. Spo - though I probably should. (I'm sure many say I as much also.) Nah, this is for the Blobby Stigmata, which of course, has not bled since I blogged about it last week. And it is no longer raised.

Isn't that always the way? I'll go in there and the doc will go, "what?" - and I'll still have to pay for that insightful consult. Well, at least there is still a scab there, so he won't think I'm totally crazy. ....and I'm sure I can find some other malady for him to treat.

If you're (un)lucky, there will be pictures.

Song by: Kate & Anna McGarrigle

Monday, December 20, 2010

Swan Swan H

We are inching closer to our ever-resistant movie goal: 12 per year.

Don't get me wrong, we're not going to make it this year either, but we always come close. I've learned to take some little victories in even coming close. I guess it's like nuclear war.

So over the weekend, we went to go see Black Swan.

Critically acclaimed; Award Winning; Award Nominated. Better than good, yet still just ok.

I've read one snippet that called the movie a "psycho-sexual thriller". Did I need to see another girl going down on Queen Amidala? I'm going with that being the "psycho" part.

The Orlando Sentinal called "a movie for all seasons, a film that is all things to all people."

It's not. Trust me. (and really, you can't say that about any one movie. Get real Orlando!)
Once again, even though we are past middle-aged, we were two of the youngest folks in the audience. The thought of 'ballet' might have lured the white-haireds into the theater, but I'm not 100% sure they were thrilled being there after the lights went down. The old guy a few rows in front of us, upon the movie ending, was wanting his money back. Whatever, grandpa.

I liked Sean's review of the movie and I think I agree with him on most, if not every, point.

Natalie Portman will be nominated for an Oscar, and she delivers an ok performance (certainly much better than her cardboard cutout self in the Star Wars movies), but the Academy has awarded far lesser performances, so it won't surprise me.

She is meek. Too meek. I wanted to bitch-slap her a few times. Though this what the story calls for and the premise for her character's would-be metamorphosis. The problem I had was, that the change isn't readily projected or at least strongly enough.

Either Darren Aronofsky had a great great editor, or Portman really put time into the dance. There are a few scenes you can assume it is not her, but more often than not, she looks like she's doing quite a bit of the work. If nothing else, her back muscles are incredible and certainly look like that of a ballerina.

I will say this: poor Barbara Hershey. Either time, or a make-up artist, has not been kind to her. She looks like Marsha Mason's stunt double. However, she plays the overbearing stage-mother (to a late 20-something!) just right. Or wrong.

...and Winona Ryder has been getting a hell of a lot of press for her role - all for, what, four minutes of screen time? She must have a hell of a press agent. At least you recognize her here, more easily than you did in Star Trek.

Was Black Swan worth all the heaps of praise it has been receiving? No, not really. It's good, but it is not great. But they have a good press agent too - and it'll reap the rewards, whether deserved or not.

Best part of the movie? One of the credits. Yes, we stay through all the credits for each movie. Both Denton and I spotted it at the same time - and if I ever did drag, I would make it my name:

Pandora Vanderpump-Todd.

I think it's the "Todd" part that really makes it, don't you?

Song by: R.E.M.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Don't Ask Me

This being a gay-ish blog, I believe I'm legally obligated to blog about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. (I'm doubt I'll make many friends here.)

If I don't, I think my blog goes away. Maybe now Daniel Choi will too.

Yes, I'm not a Dan Choi fan. Sue me. He's seems way more self-serving than he is/was for DADT. He went to West Point after DADT was enacted. He knew what military he was getting into. His condemnation is unconvincing.

He never chained himself to Bush's White House fence demanding its repeal. Or performed a half-hearted hunger strike when W was in office. David Blaine did better at that ditty for one of his "illusions". Spare me.

...and for the record, he didn't do any of those things alone or on his own, he just became a face for it, for whatever reason.

And for all these queers hissing for years about DADT, they better all enlist too. But no, they won't - they just wanted the "ability" to serve - you know, "for the future of the gay community". But 99.99 (repeating)% have zero intention of going to their recruiting office or to pick up a gun and serve their country. It's the "ability" to serve they'll claim as their win - just as long as someone else does the actual fighting.

I'd almost bet $10 that Choi doesn't re-enlist either.

I've made no secret that I don't care that much about DADT. There are bigger gay rights to be had. And in the bigger scheme of things, there are bigger political victories needed that are non-gay related. The economy still sucks, as does education and healthcare.

Sorry, but if the gays are truly 10% of the U.S. population, aren't we being a little short-sighted by only looking at our needs and wants. Yes, no one else is going to do it, but DADT and same-sex marriage have seemingly been our sole focus.

Personally, I would rather have the economy to recover so I can retire at some point. I'd like to see more than 40% of 12th graders be able to pass a 6th grade reading test. People bitch (myself included) about who is currently running the country, and how - but just wait.

I get that there are hate groups out against us and anything "we" want, and DADT is one of them. So yeah, great - DADT has been repealed. Now what?

Ok, enough of my high horse. I'm even tired of it. But coincidentally, one of our local rags had this little sub-sub headline. The one right under Mr. Brisket. Really, click to enlarge.

Now, thanks to Joseph Lieberman & Co, Mr. Brisket is getting his wish.

Song by: Ok Go

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Well and the Lighthouse

The Washington Post calls it 'amazing'.

I call it 'bullshit'.

The Post was talking about the picture itself. I'm talking about the weather.

Waves from Lake Erie crashing onto the Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Lighthouse have made it one big frozen structure - like my big fat body.

Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but I'm continually cold: at home. at the office. at the gym. in everywhere between all of these places. ...and it's not even winter. Technically.

The snow never came, but the cold has come and stayed. We hit 31 degrees yesterday - the highest it's been in over two weeks. And oddly enough, it felt colder than when it was 13. Go figure.

Yet once again, I can't warm up. I firmly believe it's an age thing. The older I get, the less I tolerate the cold. As much as I love Montreal, I look at Tornwordo's blog and think - man, he has it way worse. He's even crying "uncle" to the weather, and we both still have at least four more months to go.

It's bullshit.

Song by: Arcade Fire

Friday, December 17, 2010

Start a War

I love William-Sonoma.

Sure they have cool cooking stuff and some great knives and such. And yes, it's a good place to kill an hour to decide if you really need that Le Creuset cookware or not. It's almost always a 'no'.

But lo and behold, what have we here? Actual essential cookware items. Must haves, if you will.

I have been so excited, I couldn't even wait for next month's Shopping with Blobby segment. That is how awesome they are.

I don't even like pancakes (you know, because of the IPF), and yet, I am not sure how I have lived, or will ever live, without the Star Wars pancake molds. Pure genius.

Here they are out of the box - it was the display, I swear I didn't open them! - and sitting in a nice skillet that is great for cooking these Millennium Falcon and X-Wing fighter flapjacks.

And let's be honest - you cannot turn your pancakes over without these bad boys! I mean, literally, they were bad boys. Well, until the end of Episode VI, where Lord Vader goes from Sith to Pussy in a matter of minutes. That later Darth would probably flip the pancake before it burned on one side. Wuss.

Of course, if you don't like pancakes, you can always make sugar cookies. William-Sonomoa also sold silver sugar, which would have been wicked cool on the cookies.

I didn't write a letter to Santa this year, but I think one of his elves was in the store and may have seen me ooohing and aaaahing over this. One never knows.

Song by: the National

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bald Headed Men

Oh, don't judge! The picture was taken almost three years ago. At least notice that you can see I have no full beard, not that I guess I couldn't have shaved in the last few days. ....but I didn't.

See, the post title? I needed an image to go along with it. ...and yes, I truly do own a cd from a group called the Four Bitchin' Babes. They are folksy but became more kitsch than anything else and except for Sally Fingerett (yes, her real name), there has been no other constant member. One Bitchin' Babe and a continual rotation of Three Bitchin' Temps.

But once again, I'm off topic.

The bald you see in the above image isn't even the 'bald' I'm talking about here....or about to talk about. This is the 'bald' I'm talkin' about.

Grossed out by it? Don't be. Or try not to be.

I've had those two bumps since birth. There has never been any hair on them and they always lacked any feeling when touched. And since kids can be cruel, growing up, like when I was in 3rd, 6th, 10th grades, etc, I was tormented for "going/being bald", I just threw it in their face that it was due to being hit by a car.

It wasn't.

I mean, I was hit by a car when I was about four (a total other story), but the scar tissue (which is what it is), is not from that. But it did shut those kids up. I guess by 8th grade I was taller than most kids, so most only saw it when I was sitting down and they were not.

Of course the joke was kind of on me, because I would be going bald, however I don't think those kids I went to school with were all that clairvoyant.

So no, don't be grossed out by that. Be grossed out by this!

In the past few weeks one of my "bumps" has been raised. Noticeably so by myself and the husband. Though I can't see it unattended, I'm sure that in proportion, it is just like Everest!!!

Oh, and I can feel it. Not pain, per say, but the area seems to have nerve-endings now. Oh - and it bleeds. ...and bleeds.....and bleeds.

No, I did not rake the clippers across it. Though I had no feeling in the bumps, they do make for an irregularly shaped head (shut up!), so I have always very cautious about just dragging stuff across them and usually protect the area with my fingers.

Now, the almost the slightest touch will get them to bleed. It's like I have a stigmata on my noggin. Maybe I can be canonized. Everyone else is having it done!

It's not like when people see me they don't bust out into "oh g-d! oh g-d!!!!"

....and not just in the bedroom, thank you!

So it has become enough for me that I have made an appointment with dermatologist about this. I wasn't sure quite who to consult on the matter, and I figured, if he couldn't help me, than the time wouldn't be completely wasted: I'd have him look at that persistent thumb-wart and get a second opinion....or third.

I'm getting tired of drying myself off after a shower and finding a towel with streaks of blood on it. Blech. Ruckiry (not Jon's boss), usually they are gym towels, so I don't have to worry about getting the stains out.

So in a week or so, I'll know what the deal is. Maybe they'll slice it down the middle, pull it together, fixing the issue and giving me a brow-lift in the process, that I so desperately need. Score!

Eh - we'll see. Which means - you'll see too.

Song by: Four Bitchin' Babes

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Record of the Month - Classic

Another installment of a disk I have enjoyed over the years. I'm trying to keep the Record of the Month posts to be fairly new releases. Classics are going to be ones that are at least 10 years old.
What do you call a dog with wings? Well - Linda McCartney, of course!

Oh, the joke never gets old.

Anyhoo, I owned Wings Over America when it came out in December 1976. I actually got it the same day my parents got their first microwave oven. How's that for dating oneself?

While I was a big Beatles fan, this was the first Paul McCartney disk I ever owned, which was quite odd when you come to think of it - I had none of his other records, but would go out and purchase a 3-disk live set?

I'm still kind of glad I did. It is not a bad album. Shut up, I know - right?

McCartney became a fairly cheesy songwriter as time went on. His schmaltz just outweighed any good he had done in his lifetime. But what's odd is that even some of the sap sounds not so bad in a live setting - at least back in '76.

I will also say, that had it been cut down to a 2-disk set, it probably would have been that much much better. I'd have cut "Silly Love Songs" (always!), "Listen to What the Man Said" and "Let Him In" - and you know, even take out some of the Beatles tunes too.

That would have left you with mostly Wings stuff that played better live than it did on record, and a few songs by Jimmy McCullough and Denney Laine.

Laine had what I consider the best outing here, with "Time to Hide". Yes, I see the irony in a live McCartney disk and the best song not being his. It's just my opinion......even if it happens to be the truth.

The first side of the disk one (on the Lp) is only four songs long, but it is done fairly well and segues very nicely, especially "Venus and Mars/Rock Show/Jet". Yes, they play them as almost one song and it really works. I do like "Spirits of Ancient Egypt" too.

As for the non-Wings/Beatles songs, I really do like "Richard Cory", which always confounded me that it got a songwriting credit when it was basically plagiarised from an Edward Arlington Robinson poem from almost a century earlier. Still, I like the song along with "Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)".

For a live disk, I have to say, I like it. I'm not a fan of the genre. I'm not a fan of McCartney - the solo man and/or his group, but the production values kind of come in line with this disk. Of course, the band pretty much drowns out most of Linda's vocals, so that's not a bad thing.

I don't know I'd ever bother to convert it to compact disk or a digital download, but now and again, if I come across one of the songs being played, I go back to being 13 and enjoying playing the disk.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I've given myself - or am giving myself - an early holiday present. Or a very very very late one. Probably the latter.

Last Sunday was my first session with a personal trainer.

A present to myself. To my health. To my vanity.

I guess it is a little too little, it's a little too late. It would have probably been better for me to do this at 37 than 47, but hey, I'm doing it.

I've got two places in my head - one that knows I won't and can't have the body I desire, yet on the other, the smallest sliver that maybe, just maybe, I can. 47 seems too late to start that pipe dream, but I'm going for it anyways.

Yes, I've been working out diligently over the last two years, and I like to think I know what I'm doing, but in reality I don't. I lift, I pull, I tug, I sit up, I pull up, etc, and it all seems logical what I'm doing, but I don't know the physiology behind it all and that what I'm doing will help me obtain my goals.

Sunday was basically my evaluation. We ran through my current routines. Then we went over any physical stuff I have - the good and the bad. You know, bad backs, metal plates and pin in legs, stuff like that.

Chris (that's my trainer's name) and I then took 30 minutes to go over some other exercises I should be doing to not only to provide me greater strength, but to assist with exercise-induced growth hormones.

The EIGR will eventually help me lift differently and possibly more, but it will help develop the muscle for more definition, which is really what I'm looking for. Like I said: vanity.

And I should clarify on 'lift'. Pressing is more harmful then pulling or squeezing. It's not that I can't or shouldn't bench press, but it's probably not the best for me. I have been given alternative ways to work the same muscles. And Chris did give me a number of core exercises to do - new ones and tough ones. Lots and lots of squats.

My legs and abs are sore Sore SORE. Or as Denton childes, "soreness you paid for".

They were sore immediately after the workout and increasingly so since. But sore in a good way. Still, today's workout should prove to be interesting as I will be burning off calories by all the wincing I will be doing. I can barely walk.

I did not hire one of these yell-at-me-to-motivate-me kind of trainers. I don't respond to that. Well, I do, but my response is to shut-down, not to be inspired by. Chris is a nice guy who knows his stuff - and is a triathlete. While that's not what I'm going for, he seems to know how to connect.

And I have a few weeks before I really start with him. Chris is off for a few weeks due to having hernia surgery. He's already had one, so we commiserated on that, since I've had two as well. But I could go back to work earlier, since my job didn't require, well.....lifting weights.

So I'll get through the holidays before 10 weeks of personal training begins - or my first ten weeks, if I think I need/want more. But I've signed up - which is the biggest step and I've beat those pesky New Year's resolutioneers (I'm sure that's a word!) to the punch.

Song by: the Eurythmics

Monday, December 13, 2010

12 of 12

So I'm doing my tenth 12 of 12. 12 pictures taken on the 12th of the month. Since I only post once per day, you get my images the following day. All pictures taken with my iPhone. Click images to enlarge, if you choose.

Created by Chad Darnell (thanks Chad!) and picked up from, what I can tell, a number of random bloggers who then link back to him and vice versa. He intends 2010 to be his final year of doing this, but hopefully someone will pick it up from there.

I mean - this is possibly the last originally sponsored 12 of 12. Bummer.

07:10. Went outside in the pouring rain to get the paper. The rain was there; no paper. Frick. But I do like the colours of the sky.

07:40. I heard the news today, oh boy! The papers arrived. Normally they show before 05:30.

08:15. Prepping for the gym. Glasses off. Contacts in. Teeth brushed. Other things happened here, but no way, no how you're getting pictures of that!

08:25. Still raining. On way to gym. I'm dry in the car. The sky is not blue. It's just the tinting on the upper part of my windshield. Still, I thought the pic looked cool.

08:45. Looking down over the free weight area of the gym. I'm upstairs at this point, doing lots of sit-ups. Soon, I'll be down there - lifting stuff.

08:50. Still upstairs at the gym. Looking out at the rain and the new wind-turbine at Case Western Reserve University.

10:30. Problem with 12 on 12 on a Sunday. I have to take pictures of my EDL stuff. Chores.

12:00. Sophie in her chair. But let's be honest, all chairs belong to Sophie. Except the two white ones. She's not allowed up on them. ....when we're here, anyway.

12:35. More EDL crap. Laundry.

17:30. Our tree. Possibly the prettiest one we've ever bought.
We actually got it on Saturday, but just brought it in on Sunday. We'll get around to decorating it and I'll post those pics whenever we get in gear. You can see Sophie at the bottom left of the tree (with her laser eyes). She doesn't get in the tree, but she sure likes to check it out.

21:11. My week's supply of clementines. Hell, who am I kidding - they won't even last the work week.

21:50. Just a glimpse of stuff in the basement that needs to be put away - a step stool and screens from our dining room French doors. I just snapped it when going to get laundry out of the dryer. ooooh.....exciting.

Well, hopefully that isn't all folks. I suppose I can do 12 of 12 on my own if no one picks up the organized version. I'd say I'd do the arranging, but I'm pretty sure I do not have the time to get it all together. I'm sure we'll all find out in a month.