Thursday, February 28, 2013

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there! 

For those who are unaware, Rodney Crowell used to be part of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band, way back in the mid-'70s.  Crowell went onto his own success as a songwriter and artist (and Rosanne Cash's first husband).

Fast forward 30-odd years later and Harris and Crowell have finally put out an album together, Old Yellow Moon.  While it had been in the works for a while, it was finally released just two days ago.

Maybe it's not enough time to review it, but what the heck - it's not like anyone who reads my blog is going to buy it, other than possibly my friend Jon.

For all of Crowell's songwriting skills, only four of the dozen songs are his - the rest are covers from other artists, which is actually Harris' strength.

I really like both artists, so why am I not fully digging Old Yellow Moon?

There are some tunes are old country like, that both performed back in the day - and they can be good ("Chase the Feeling", "Invitation to the Blues", "Bluebird Wine", "Bull Rider" and "Open Season on My Heart"), but I would be hard pressed to say any were great.

Harris has some really good leads ("Spanish Dancer").  Crowell does ok on a few.  Then there are some that should really work well and don't quite deliver ("Back When We Were Beautiful").  And then there are one or two that just kind of drag down the disk ("Black Caffeine" for example).

Harris still has an incredible voice and I like Crowell as a solo artist and as a songwriter and producer.  I'm not sure why he didn't produce this, as it was handled by Harris' ex-husband and the man who helmed a number of her disks in the '70s and '80s (and one or two of her last disks).

Perhaps the disk will grow on me, but I didn't get a great first or second impression.  It's fine - but with artists like these, you expect more than fine.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Strawberry Wine

Sometimes my job does have perks - at least in ways.

One of my clients is a major player in wine and its distribution. As a vendor, I have access to their wine store.

I haven't really taken advantage of this perk, mostly due to time. While they do sell wine, they don't ship it, mainly because the store is open to employees, who just take it home with them.

I was taking it home with me as well - just 2,200 miles away.

And you get the wine at wholesale - or less.  A nice bottle of a certain red I like is $11.99 in the store and reduced to $10.99 at Costco. But here, I get it for $4.25.

So yesterday, I got a box and selected a number of different wines ranging from $4.25 to $13.00 per bottle. There were some there that were $48 per bottle, so I don't know what that runs in a store. More than I would ever pay.

I selected some Pinots - both Gris and Noirs. Some Blends. Some Cabs and according to the store guy, an incredible discontinued Chardonnay that retails for $75 per bottle that I snagged for $10.  Oh and a dark red infused with dark chocolate.  Only one bottle of that since I have no idea what that will end up tasting like.

However, I wasn't counting on one major thing: FedEx and UPS won't ship wine....or any liquid, I think.  They will if it goes from company to purchaser, but not from individual to individual.

Mind you, by this time, I had already purchased the wine and left the premises before being made aware of this little speed bump in life.

So, I'm taking a risk. I got bubble wrap and encased not only each bottle, but the bottom and sides of the box from the winery. I also got a FedEx box to put the original box into and then packed and sealed that.

Thanks to Mr. Platinum Status, come this morning, I can check this as a bag at no cost and hope the baggage folk don't ruin everything.or that we hit horrible turbulence.

As much as this is a perk of the job, I don't envision myself doing this again.  Way too much work even though I saved a fortune.

FedEx was so less than helpful.  They almost didn't even want to sell me a box and packing material. They certainly would not help me assemble the box or expertly pack it, even if they didn't ship it. Somehow to help a poor schlub like me would make them liable if something happened.  As if.

Well, hopefully, the wine will make it back in one piece. Or twelve single pieces.   Wish me luck.

Song by: Pat Benatar

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Let Him Fly

I'm back on the road.  California.

Swimming Pools.  Movie Stars. Jews.

Well, maybe not in Modesto.  But you get the idea.

Yes, I know the image is not California.  It's Denver.  Snow covered Denver. Actually, whatever weather they were having didn't delay my landing or take-off.

However, returning to Ohio on Wednesday could prove to be complicated.  A storm from Texas to Maine is hitting - and on Tuesday and/or Wednesday, Chicago could get 6-12" - and they are already starting to cancel flights!  Oh - I'm flying home via O'Hare.  Or perhaps not.

I'm thinking tomorrow I might try to fly through Denver or Houston, though all of those might be non-starters. Houston, in theory, seems the safest, but if Texas is getting 17" of snow in Amarillo, even if Houston gets a little, it could cripple the airport.

Eh - I'll worry about it later. Right now I can't be bothered.

Song by:  the Dixie Chicks

Monday, February 25, 2013

Against All Odds

I'm foregoing the My Music Monday post for one important reason:  I don't want Mike to think I'm holding off on broadcasting my thoughts on our his 2nd Annual Academy Award contest.

...also I'm on a plane at 06:00 today and won't have time to draft a meaningful post in my hotel room.

Mike put almost no a lot of effort into this contest and his selections. Clearly, he went out to see almost none of the movies, but yet he fancies (yes that's right, 'fancies') himself king of this award-thingy.

It's all in great fun (well, at least for me), that we do this and rib each other (well, at least for me), but when it comes down to it, really, who doesn't want to win?

It's not really about that wagered drink. It's about bragging rights (not that everyone else won't roll their eyes at us). It's about smugness and self-satisfaction of knowing your a winner - and possibly rubbing it in their face.   Perhaps that is just me talking.

I could be here to pay my respects to the winner, or to gloat.   Before we declare a winner, let's recap, shall we?  My choices are listed here.   Mike's are listed there.

1. Best Picture: Tie (we both picked this).

2. Actor: Tie (we both picked this).

3. Actress: Tie (we both picked this).

4. Supporting Actor:  Tie (we both picked wrong).  
c'mon, Tommy Lee Jones' character was nailing Reba, the Mail Lady. He should have won just for that!

5. Supporting Actress:  Tie (we both picked this).

6. Directing: Tie (we both picked wrong). 
Did not see that coming. But good for him!

7. Foreign Language Film:  Tie (we both picked this).

8. Adapted Screenplay: Tie (we both picked wrong)

9. Original Screenplay: Tie (we both picked wrong)
I never thought they'd let Tarantino walk away with anything.  Ever. 

10. Animated Feature Film: Blobby

11. Production Design: Blobby

12. Cinematography: Tie (we both picked this).

13. Sound Mixing: Mike

14. Sound Editing: Tie (we both picked wrong). 

15. Original Score: Tie (we both picked this).

16. Original Song: Tie (we both picked this).

17. Costume:  Tie (we both picked this). 

18. Documentary Feature: Mike

19. Documentary (short subject): Mike

20. Film Editing: Tie (we both picked this). Tie (we both picked this).

21. Makeup and Hairstyling: Blobby

22. Animated Short Film:  Mike

23. Live Action Short Film: Blobby

24. Visual Effects: Tie (we both picked this).

So against almost all odds, Mike and I tie again....two years in a row.  Who'd a thunk?

It might be a hard realization for both of us that we are not so different after all.  That might be a more frightening prospect for those around us - which really only includes Peter and 710.

I'm happy to go dutch on drinks and dinner this July when we are back in Boston, if Mike is man enough to dust himself off and admit non-defeat and non-victory. In theory, we're both grown men.

....and lest you think I wasn't prepared for the alternative outcome, I'm nothing if not mensch.  I made an image in case I lost completely as well.  I didn't lose, but.........aren't we all winners.  I mean, really?

Mike is a worthy opponent and I am a winner just to have him as a friend.  How's that for taking the high road?

Song by:  Phil Collins

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chasing Cars

Nine months.

That's what I have left on my lease for my car.  It was probably stupid of me to do a lease, but that's what I did.

The car I have is nice, and fast, but it feels too grown-up for me, like I should be driving 3.2 kids around in it.

I'm not 100% ruling out buying the car after the lease ends, we'll have to see what the deal is.

Yesterday, we went to the Cleveland Auto Show.

I forget that it really this "show" isn't horribly conducive to looking at automobiles. The number of snot-nosed brats who sit in the cars and pretend to drive them so their parents don't have to watch over them is annoying.  Ditto with the lady who wouldn't leave the car, or let her husband leave, so she could email - for TEN MINUTES!   Really??

I am not sure exactly what I'm looking for.  The Kia Optima looked nice - and reasonably priced.  Ditto with a few VWs too.  Kia also has a new car coming out in 3-4 months which looked very cool - but it was on a turnstyle and you couldn't get near it.  It's priced a little high, but we'll see once it is in a showroom.

I don't understand the Kia marketing strategy of rodents in hoodies to sell cars.  Who is the fucking demographic for this idea?

Yeah - so not me.  I mean, it is me, but it's not.

So 710 and our friends just made the rounds at the auto show and left with no new car - not that we were planning to - though I did win a leather coin purse.  whoo-hoooooo.  Thank you Toyota!

Oh, and I got my picture taken with a picture of Superman.   ....or a cut-out replica of Superman.

Our friend, Sal, asked 710 if he wanted his picture with Superman too - he declined.  I immediately chimed in:  "he doesn't need a picture, he already sleeps with Superman every night!"

...that might have got an eyeroll.  Or three.  Or is it six?

Song by:  Snow Patrol

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Making Plans

It's probably too early to discuss, but what the hey.  Or is it 'hay'?   I guess it's one of those words they can play on the new KableTown show Homonym.

This year's birthday is a milestone one - like a few of my blogger friends here, who won't go named.

Three years ago when we were going when were vacationing in the Outer Banks I decided I wanted my peeps to join us in a beach house to share for a week.  I'm not big on parties, let alone surprise ones.

I figured, by doing the inviting, I controlled the situation. Yeah - I'm that guy.

But in the two years that followed that idea, 710 and I moved from OBX up to Maine for our summer vacations - and that sounded more appealing to us, as we fell in love with the beach side town.  But there was a slight potential problem - or three.

Maine isn't as convenient to some as North Carolina might be.  Maine doesn't normally have houses that can sleep a half-dozen or more people.  Maine doesn't normally have houses that have private pools to hang out in.

What the location did have was that none of my friends had been to Maine and were interested in going. So that works.

We have the week secured and right now we have 6/7ths of the crew committed.  I'm feeling confident that we'll get the entire folks to attend for at least part of the week.

710 and I had a good trip up there with iffy weather and a great trip up there with great weather.  So even if it is questionable conditions, this is a group who will still enjoy the time together.   ....and there is nothing saying we all have to spend every waking minute together - we're all adults.

Of course, going to Maine (again) means we'll be spending time in Boston as well, on either side of the trip. That means, I can cash in the drink that Mike will owe me after Sunday's Oscar ceremony.

Now it's months away - which sucks.  I've mentioned before that 710 and I are horrid at planning our vacations.  Normally we'd do this about a month before our departure date.  Since we have actually made these arrangements weeks ago, now we just sit and wait.

I don't have the patience for that.  I'd say I wanna go 'now', but it's probably too cold for that.

Song by:  Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris

Friday, February 22, 2013


Jim, over at the aptly named Jim's Stuff started (?) a meme on thing he has never done.

I Have Never...started as a drinking game, and anyone who has done one of those things mentioned by a person in the room had to drink.  No doubt I'd be drunk in no time flat - especially playing off of Jim's list.

I've never had much use for drinking games - it seemed like someone had to wait to drink when the alcohol was right there in front of you the entire time ready to be consumed. It seemed like a waste of time for something that was to be inevitable anyways.

Beer Pong?  No.  Quarter?  Nada.

My long-running friends did play two games, and we drank while we played them, but I don't know you could classify as "drinking games".

They were "You Can't Come to My Party Because...." in which....oh fuck, I don't remember how it worked.  All I remember is Meredith could never come to the party because she could never figure out how the game worked.

The other game was "Non Sequitur".  This one I do remember.  Person #1 says a word; Person #2 has to say another word that in no way can be tied to the first word.

Naturally, your brain automatically starts associating words - it can't be helped.  And if you can defend how their not related, you don't lose. Notice I didn't say you won.

Without a doubt, the two best words in our game was when someone said "Labyrinth".  Morty immediately responded with "Pork".  That has made us laugh for the last 22 years.

So now I'm faced with this meme, of things I haven't done.  Like Non Sequitur, now all I can think of are things I have done.  But I'll make an attempt.

I have never.....

- Been to Europe
- Gotten a tattoo
- Injected heroin
- Eaten a beet
- Climbed a rope in gym
- Played chords and notes at same time on the piano
- Won any organized athletic event
- Read or Bought a comic book
- cared for The Godfather (I'm with Peter Griffin on this one)
- came up with a Meme on my own for others to use

....and I can't think of anymore - at least within the realm of my being.  I could say, I've never performed brain surgery or worked on the space shuttle, but that seems silly.  So there you have it.

How many drinks would you have had with my list?

Song by:  Marti Jones

Thursday, February 21, 2013

In Fortune's Hand

Last night we went out for Chinese food.

That sounds tame enough - no?  But I can't tell you last time we at out at our local Chinese restaurant. It's always carry-out.

It is kind of amazing how different the food tastes when it comes from kitchen to table - and it skips the plastic packaging and the seven minute ride home.

My sister was in town with her husband and kids, and where eating in could have been done, it was hard to figure out what to cook for six and I had that job thing during the day which kept me from planning.

It was just easier to go out and the kids like Chinese.  I was hoping for Tommys for their fries, but alas, it was not meant to be.

The meal was good, the company was nice.....and we didn't have to cook or clean.

...and apparently I am talented in many bed.

We did have to go home so my nephew could watch one of the Pirates of the Caribbean  movies - which possibly ranks up there as one of the worst movies in modern history - at least in terms of major releases.  How the fuck does Johnny Depp keep getting jobs?  Absolutely horrid.

Song by: Clannad

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Site of the Month

I wouldn't say this is a "fun" site.  It's an informative site, but it's not full of laughs - unless you're Quincy M.E.

Actually, 710 showed this to me back in October.............2011.  Yes, I've been hanging on to it since then.

Crime Map actually tracks the amount of, well, crime, in certain cities.  You can break it down by Robbery, Theft, Burglary (three things that sound similar) Assault, Arson, Shootings and "Other".

I guess "other" is Murder and Rape.  Maybe Indecent Exposure.  Or George Michael cruising spots.

Oddly enough, Cleveland isn't on here, so I don't have a lot of frame of reference.  DC isn't either or some of the other cities to which I travel.

Just a geeky thing to look at and see what's going on in your neck of the woods - and which of those woods you should stay away from.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yes, I Guess I Am

As you all know, Mike has proposed another Oscar contest. I'm happy to participate.....mostly because I want to win.

Today is the day of my picks.  His went up on Sunday.  Mine were completed but weren't to go up until Friday. His posting pushed mine up by a few days.

While "technically", I am not allowed to pick 'who should win', there are seemingly no by-laws that say I can't make comments on some / all of the categories as we roll-along.     ....and I think we all know I'm not one to keep silent about much of anything (I see Mr. Mike has done the same thing - so I'm good).

I've seen five of the nine best picture nominees.  If my two times in Math 104 taught me anything. it is that this is like more than 50% of the films.  Hopefully that increases my chances of guessing - and let's face it, that's all it is:  educated guessing, but guessing nonetheless.

Sure you can take into account the odds makers or do some deductions from other award shows and those winners, but who the heck really knows (besides those fine fine auditors at PriceWaterhouseCoopers)?

The problem with some of those others shows are that not all the same folks / movies are nominated....and even if they are, the are in different categories and not up against each other.

My educated guesses didn't serve me too well last year.  I don't expect them to help me too much this year either. My only hope is that Mike has the same luck, minus one.  I only need to win by one.  A win is a win.

Actually, our choices are dangerously close to being the same.  There are a few things we differ on, but not much - so it will either come down to those few, or that we are wrong our actual choices in different categories.

If we tie, I suppose the drink we wagered will just be a meet-up at a bar and go dutch.  There are worse things - he's still a good guy (yes, I have said kind words - I'm a gentleman).

So here are my choices - and my comments.

1. Best Picture: "Amour," "Argo," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Django Unchained," "Les Miserables," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Zero Dark Thirty."

Comment: No Best Director, which almost puts 'best picture' out of contention. It's almost impossible to win best picture without best director and only twice (?) has a film one with out the director being nominated. Ben Affleck was not given the nod.  I'm still going for it.  
2. Actor: Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"; Hugh Jackman, "Les Miserables"; Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master"; Denzel Washington, "Flight."

Comment: Hands down.  Foolish to bet against this performance. Phoenix was ok, but the movie was not good. 
3. Actress: Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"; Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour"; Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; Naomi Watts, "The Impossible."

Comment: As much as I enjoyed Jessica Chastain, I think the odds are not with me on this one.  I'd have voted for her ZDT performance. But I think voters will go for Lawrence. 
4. Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin, "Argo"; Robert De Niro, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "The Master"; Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln"; Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained."

Comment: The only category that has all former Oscar winners?  Arkin is fine, but eh. Hoffman was more of a lead and still a bad movie. De Niro is way over rated.  Jones was great. 
5. Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "The Master"; Sally Field, "Lincoln"; Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables"; Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"; Jacki Weaver, "Silver Linings Playbook."

Comment: I think Field deserves it. But Hollywood loves a starving, clothing-tattered, disease-ridden whore who does her own singing.  ...and since every other award show has given it to her, she'll get this one too - even if not deserved. 
6. Directing: Michael Haneke, "Amour"; Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"; Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln"; David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook."

Comment: Save for a few of his movies, I'm not a fan, but Spielberg did a good job w Lincoln and without winning best picture, the others fall farther down in the pack. 
7. Foreign Language Film: "Amour," Austria; "Kon-Tiki," Norway; "No," Chile; "A Royal Affair," Denmark; "War Witch," Canada.

Comment: Only because Amour won't win Best Picture and as I've heard people say - it's the Oscar movie you'll tell people you've seen and admired even though you've never gone. I'm not even pretending.  It looks D-pressing. 
8. Adapted Screenplay: Chris Terrio, "Argo"; Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; David Magee, "Life of Pi"; Tony Kushner, "Lincoln"; David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook."

Comment: The Hollywood elite love Kushner. He's good, but I felt he was a bit heavy-handed and brought too much of today's political scene into 1865. 
9. Original Screenplay: Michael Haneke, "Amour"; Quentin Tarantino, "Django Unchained"; John Gatins, "Flight"; Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, "Moonrise Kingdom"; Mark Boal, "Zero Dark Thirty."
Comment: It might be Zero Dark Thirty's only one of two win of the night.  Tarantino is still too weird for the voters. 

10. Animated Feature Film: "Brave"; "Frankenweenie"; "ParaNorman"; "The Pirates! Band of Misfits"; "Wreck-It Ralph."

Comment: Wreck It Ralph got good reviews, but is Pixar ever really losing?
11. Production Design: "Anna Karenina," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Les Miserables," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln."

Comment: I'll give it to Old Abe. I really have not a clue on this one. 
12. Cinematography: "Anna Karenina," "Django Unchained," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Skyfall."

Comment: See #24
13. Sound Mixing: "Argo," "Les Miserables," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Skyfall."
14. Sound Editing: "Argo," "Django Unchained," "Life of Pi," "Skyfall," "Zero Dark Thirty."
15. Original Score: "Anna Karenina," Dario Marianelli; "Argo," Alexandre Desplat; "Life of Pi," Mychael Danna; "Lincoln," John Williams; "Skyfall," Thomas Newman.

Comment: Lord, I hope it isn't John Williams for 173rd time. 
16. Original Song: "Before My Time" from "Chasing Ice," J. Ralph; "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from "Ted," Walter Murphy and Seth MacFarlane; "Pi's Lullaby" from "Life of Pi," Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri; "Skyfall" from "Skyfall," Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth; "Suddenly" from "Les Miserables," Claude-Michel Schonberg, Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil.

Comment: Because I haven't heard of any of the others, unless "Suddenly" is a remake of Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richards' song.   ....and everything is Adele in 2011-2013, you can't escape it. 
17. Costume: "Anna Karenina," "Les Miserables," "Lincoln," "Mirror Mirror," "Snow White and the Huntsman."

Comment: I didn't see Karenina (did anyone?), but I saw the previews and the clothes seemed over the top, so.....
18. Documentary Feature: "5 Broken Cameras," "The Gatekeepers," "How to Survive a Plague," "The Invisible War," "Searching for Sugar Man."

Comment: Just a hunch.  I have seen none of these. 
19. Documentary (short subject): "Inocente," "Kings Point," "Mondays at Racine," "Open Heart," "Redemption."

Comment: Even less of a hunch than #18
20. Film Editing: "Argo," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Zero Dark Thirty.

Comment: Argo moved at a good pace. I can see this winning.  Ditto with Zero, but I think it will go to Argo. 
21. Makeup and Hairstyling: "Hitchcock," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Les Miserables."

Comment: I didn't see any of these. They'll give it to "Les Mis" because of the CapN Crunch outfits, and dirty old whore clothing will always win. No one saw "Hitchcock" and "The Hobbit" still has two more movies to come out and will win on the 3rd attempt, just like all the LotR movies.
22. Animated Short Film: "Adam and Dog," "Fresh Guacamole," "Head over Heels," "Maggie Simpson in `The Longest Daycare,'" "Paperman."

Comment: I'm going with Adam and Dog because I liked it.  I wasn't thrilled with Head over Heels and the others I could only see trailers of.  'the Simpsons' probably isn't arty enough, and the "Paperman" was drenched in Disney.  ...and I am kind of big on dogs. 

23. Live Action Short Film: "Asad," "Buzkashi Boys," "Curfew," "Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)," "Henry."

Comment: I could only see clips on-line. I got nothing to back this up. 
24. Visual Effects: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Life of Pi," "Marvel's The Avengers," "Prometheus," "Snow White and the Huntsman."
Comment: The movie was visually stunning - at least in 3D. Avengers wasn't bad but comic / action movie won't get it. 

So there you have it. My selections. My rationale. 

May the best man (me!), win!

Song by: Walter Egan

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Music Monday

I just don't know today.  I just don't know.

Fiona Apple came across my iPod the other day.  Not "Fast as You Can", but it reminded me how much I like some of her work.

I would have picked "Get Him Back", but there is not a video, not that I need one.

Apple isn't horribly prolific at music making. She only has a few albums out in her - four in a decade and a half.  Most ambitious efforts.  More critical successes than sales or financial ones.

Artistically, she is a little temperamental and impulsive in her live performances - which some like but is kind of alienating in certain aspects.

Yet, when she has a good song, she has a good one.  Clearly, my opinion.  Clearly, my blog.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Little Too Late

It's quite possible I'm one of the last people to get an iPad.  And iPad Mini, to be specific.

To be honest, I'm still not 100% sure what I'll use it for.  I resisted the urge when the iPad3 came out - even though I went to the store to purchase one.

But three weeks ago, an Apple gift card was burning a hole in my wallet and I just couldn't see using all the dough on chargers, cases and new earbuds.  So I went for it.

I know it doesn't have the retinal display everyone is griping about, but I have compromised eyesight as it is - would I really notice that much of a difference?  Je doubt it.

710 was visiting his parents and I called, not looking for permission as much as searching for justification.  He was encouraging - saying I never buy anything for myself, which is somewhat true.

Yet here it is, exactly three weeks later, and I finally opened the box.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought I might return it.  But mostly, I always delay opening these things. I think somewhere I feel I don't deserve them.  Don't ask, I have no rationale for this thought process.

But it's unwrapped. Email accounts have been set-up.  Purchased music has been iClouded in.

It will be good for travel - work and non.   Maybe I'll finally have an e-reader, though I can't see giving up 'real' books. I like the way those feel.

I took a few images with the Mini, but I'm not sure the camera is as good as my iPhone.  710 doesn't think is iPad2 camera is as good as my Mini.  They both seem grainy.

I took a few pictures so far, all of the dog.   I did have 710 take my new gadget and snap this:

Petey the Cuddle Monster.

He wasn't raised to cuddle, so this is a work in progress. He asked to come up, pawing at me and the chair.  Peter just curled up and went to sleep.  What a love muffin.

Eh, so we'll see how the Apple product goes.  It seems fine, but it is only Day 1.   Well, technically, day 21....but those first three weeks didn't really count.

Song by: Pat Benatar

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Buffalo RIver Home

Remember when I mentioned in my Valentine's post that I might make 710 a dinner?   Well, I did it.

It was a win-win.  Cooking relaxes me and I like to see the outcome. ...and g-d willing, I like to eat the outcome.

The meal was total comfort food:  Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese.

I had it at a neighbor's birthday party (minus the chicken) about a year ago.  Never before had I tried it and it was good.  It sure beats regular mac & cheese.

It is a little more labor-intensive than I would have wanted it to be, but whatta gonna do?   Again, the effort wasn't horrid or anything, but the clean-up was the worse part, but isn't it always?  And there aren't really that many ingredients (in no particular order).

1lb Chicken
8oz Cream cheese
3/4 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
1 cup Blue cheese dressing
16 oz Macaroni elbows
1.5 cups Sharp Cheddar
1.5 cups Mozzarella
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 Red pepper
1 Yellow pepper
1 "bunch" of green onions
3/4 cup Panko

The sauce is easy: cream cheese, garlic, Frank's Red Hot Sauce and blue cheese dressing.  One recipe said use the food processer to mix, but that seemed like it would be a fucking mess to try to clean, so I just mixed by hand.  Make sure the cream cheese is room temperature. 

If you like it more or less spicy, add or cut back on the hot sauce (it's really not that hot - I added extra).

I cooked and diced the chicken, diced the peppers and green onions.  Save half the green onions for the topping. 

Boil the macaroni, put into a 9x13 dish, add chicken, peppers, half the green onions and half the cheese, mix together.  Then add all the sauce, mix some more.  

Then put the rest of the cheese and Panko on top.  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes (uncovered).

Voila.  ...or Viola, if you're into classical music.  Sprinkle rest of green onions on top.  

Then serve and eat. 

Yeah, it's not not low calorie (well, I'm guessing!), though I suppose I could have used low fat cheese and cream cheese, but I didn't.  It was comfort food meant to comfort, and for g-d's sake, I used peppers - it's practically a salad!

But it's not like we're eating this every day.  I mean, we will be for the next 2-3, since it supposed to serve 8.  

Song by:  John Hiatt

Friday, February 15, 2013

Slave to the Beauty

Elaine Benes would have referred to him as "mimbo".

While it was easy to think that of our yoga instructor last Saturday, and in a way I would have preferred it, his day job was one of a chemical engineer.

Brains and brawn.  Some guys have it all.

Usually we don't get too many male instructors.  ...and then here he was, a little low key and very friendly. But we're a good group and easy to get along with.  He also wasn't hard on the eyes.

I will say this - the man liked his chair pose....a lot.  Though lately, it seems all instructors like it a lot.  My quads have been burning quite a bit the last few weeks.  Reid (yes, his name was 'Reid'...or "Reed") also liked the high to low plank and back again - or basically what became push-ups. Blobby didn't like those.

You can see that Reid/Reed has long hair, as a mimbo might, which would one to think he was a little granola-y, which he might be. There was too much Dave Mathews Band and Maroon 5 (well any M5 is too much if you ask me) played during our practice.

I make more out of getting adjusted in my practice than it actually bugs me. I don't have a fear of people touching me. I know the instructors are trying to get me into a better place, but I just feel like I'm failing - though that's not their intent.

While going into half-pigeon, I turned to David and somewhat joked, "of all the times I don't get adjusted, it has to be today?"   

David's reply, as always, had me laughing  - too much so in a class of 15 - when he said, "raise your hand for help and maybe he'll lick your balls.".   Thank g-d, no one asked at what I was chuckling, as no doubt it would have been repeated.

Reid / Reed started out before class doing a side Crow, which is so not happening for me.  He wasn't thinking we would be doing it in this class, but of course, two "show-offs" were able to.

As you might remember, my 2013 goal / resolution is just to do regular Crow, but I'm not there. Side Crow would be a bonus.

My hand, is still incredibly painful, so balancing 178 pounds on it is not really doable at this point, though my cousin will tell you it's less about strength, which may be, but it's still a lot of hand / wrist action, as you can see. The pain would be torture.

...and speaking of torture, David, invited Reid / Reed to tea with us after yoga, and he accepted. But before that, David wanted to take a picture of me taking a picture of Reid / Reed doing a side Crow. He was almost too willing to oblige. Other than texting the title image to me, I have no idea what David plans on doing with his pic. It's sometimes best not to ask or know.

Reid / Reed wants to do an entire classes using only the music of Michael Jackson, Maroon 5 and the Dave Mathews Band for each individual class.

He might be pretty, but he ain't that pretty.

Yeah, he's a cute mimbo, but he doesn't quite meet my height requirement.  ...but I can overlook that.  (HA!  get it?!)

Song by:  Mary Chapin Carpenter

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sweet Sweet Baby

It's that holiest of Hallmark holidays.

Wow, that's a lot of Hs.  I'm sure there is another way, a proper way, to spell "Hs".   I can't be bothered.

I actually made plans to meet a friend out for drinks tonight until he realized it was Valentines.  He's nice enough, but I ain't heading into any establishment on this night.

If anything, I will be spending it with you know who ('s 710).

I have no plans.  I should have plans. I should do something that doesn't involve teddy bears, chocolates, flowers or cards. I guess if I had an idea for dinner, I'd make something special.  Or something at all.

The reality is, even on our worst days, 710 and I tell each other that we love each other. We don't wait until 2/14.....and I don't need to do it with American Greetings.  But we do it daily.

28 years accounts for a lot.  Long ago, I kept thinking that being together shouldn't be so much work.  That is not a slam on him, me or us - but you know at 21, what does one know about life and love.  Just as you're getting one figured out, the other changes or falls apart.

We've got our groove on and know each other - buttons and all, and which ones not to push unless we truly want to start the launch sequence to WWIII.

I don't know where I'm going with this exactly.

Perhaps needing someone to tell you a day to say "I love you" or show your special someone that they're special is a wake-up call for your failure to thrive relationship.  I mean, it's a fine to justify going to get something to eat, but it is not who I am.

On a somewhat other note, but not really - the post I did last year for Valentine's Day is getting all fucking kinds of hits.  I cannot figure it out at all.  Yesterday alone it got 177 views.  I don't understand why it is trending. I mean, I get that it's VD, but what is the draw to little ole me?

Maybe someone people just wanted a laugh for VD.  This post ain't doing it, so last year's will have to suffice.

Still - if you have someone you love, tell them that you do.  Today and everyday.

Song by: Lone Justice

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

12 of 12

So I'm doing my 36th 12 of 12

Normally it is 12 pictures taken on the 12
th 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 and picked up from, what I can tell, a number of random bloggers who then link back to him and vice versa. Janet Hughes is now hosting the link that puts many 12 of 12'ers together.  The number of people linking don't seem to be as robust as they once were, but that stands to reason.  

I still continue to do this, because of all my consistent post topics, I actually like this one the most. 

 05:30.  Just a shot out (of?) the window as I was still in bed.  I stayed there for another 45 minutes.

06:20.  Went up to my office to sign-on my work PC and to turn on the heater. It can get cold up there. Yesterday's high only supposed to be in low 30s. 

11:20.  Walking the dog, and the melting snow let me see there was an accident at a fire hydrant. Amazed there wasn't more damage to the water supply. 

11:30.  The most boring shot of the month (arguably).  But it's an uneventful 12 of 12, no? Just the driveway and the snow stakes. 

11:40.  Mardi Gras beads.  They were given to David, 710 and myself last Friday when we went out to dinner.  David was happy the woman who threw them our way didn't flash us her tits.  He wasn't the only one. 

11:50.  My fitbit. 2450 steps to walk the dog. 

14:30.  My afternoon dark chocolate allotment. Valentines Day makes for a shittier value. The heart-shaped chocolates are smaller than the normal Dove, yet it's the same price. 

18:45.  Work.  Looking at vaccine records for a client. 

19:30.  Setting up 710's coffee for tomorrow.  ...bc that is the kind of husband I am. 

19:50.  My bedside table.  Clock radio, reading material, my electric blanket control (hey, I'm a freeze baby) and my 3lb weight to do my PT exercises. 

20:00. Sophie in the bathroom.  She likes to "wrestle" with the rug, but really she likes the radiant heated floor. I do too.

22:00.  Petey!  He's been spending more time with me on the chair. He's quite comfortable. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to be Strong

Last Friday I had yet another physical therapy appointment for my shoulder.

I should be farther along with my treatment, but even though I said I would be compliant with my work, I haven't been.  Not religiously.

It's vicious cycle - it makes me sore to do it, but I'm sore in a different way if I don't.

There are great signs of improvement though - the therapist says my strength is almost back to normal.  I'm not sure how he knows this since he never saw me when I was normal, but I'm sure there are benchmarks to go against.

My range of motion is better too. Not all there, but I don't expect it to be.  I'm old.

I'm feeling the PT too.  I'm working with only 1-8 pound weights, but I'm feeling it as if I were lifting 45.  I. Am. Sore.

Part is just lack of me being able to go to a weight room, though I suppose I can go - but would I look foolish lifting 1-8 pound weights.  I always seemed to be on the weaker side of that room when I was lifting 45-60.  Now I'd just look like a 98 lb weakling.

As it is, I'm not sure I'll be doing any more benching, no squats or nothing that raises weight over my head - or that works my shoulder in that upward way.

I can now go back to curls, so that's something. I feel like my arms have gotten so flabby and no longer defined. I hate that.

Yes, I'm vain - I totally get that.  But when you cringe in pain as you try to reach your back to wash it in the shower, your priorities change a little - until you see yourself in the mirror.  Then vanity is staring you right back.

Or it is stating back at me.  I'm shallow.  I get it.

It sounds like one or two more appointments and I'll be discharged and the next one isn't even for another month - so I'll try to be more diligent about the therapy I'm supposed to do at home.

Honestly, I'd be ok with the shoulder no longer hurting just so I can do better at yoga.

Song by:  Rosanne Cash

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Music Monday

I was bored with my standard My Music Monday image, so it was time to change it.  I'm not so sure I'm down with this one, but for the time being.....

I recognize the importance that Nirvana played in the history of rock music, but it is impossible to tell if they could have sustained that level of talent of relevancy had Kurt Cobain lived.

Save for a few songs, I wasn't so enamored of their music.  There.  I said it.

However, I thought Dave Grohl was an incredible drummer for the band and was happy to see that he went on to form Foo Fighters.  The "bands" first disk was pretty much, if not all, Grohl himself.  Only after did he bring other members on for full-time duties.

A one man band is pretty impressive and I'll be honest to not know until that time that he was a multi-instrumentalist. A good one.

Eventually, he settled on guitar, though now and again he played underwhelming drum parts on albums for Garbage and Queens of the Stone Age.  Maybe he didn't want to overshadow their bands - I don't know.

I've always found the Foos music to be more accessible than Nirvana. Each album has a handful of very good songs and Grohl always seemed way more down to earth and just funny.

I'm actually looking forward to seeing his movie, Sound City.

There were a number of Foo Fighter songs I could have selected from.  Arguably their more recognizable was "Fly" - and it is a fine song.  But I was more partial to two others:  "the Best of You" or "the Pretender".

I went for the latter.

I'm not a fan of the treadmill, but it is a great song to run to, but it's a great song to bike to as well. And it's great to crank up in the least while I'm alone.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chimes of Freedom

Well, we might have just seen our last Oscar nominated anything - for the 2012 season, that is.

Last night we finally saw Lincoln.  I've been wanting to for months, but we just got around to it.  Shoot me.

Oh wait........too soon?

Let's just start out saying that Daniel Day-Lewis just fucking nails it. The man is unparalleled in his performances and this one is no different. As he is the title character, he is in almost every scene (but not all) and carries most, if not all, of them.

There are no spoiler alerts here folks - it's history. The story focuses on basically four weeks of his presidency, but extends it to almost four months so, you know, they can kill off the main character - though like many Spielberg movies, he doesn't know when to end it and had a good transition out 10 minutes before the actual ending.

The movie focuses on attempt to pass, and finally successful passage, of the 13th Amendment.

I'm not the biggest Spielberg fan, but he did it without too much of his trademarked shlock.  And he does like his battle scenes - and the only thing I'll say about that is that in the 1860s, you forget that war was more hand-to-hand combat than what we think war to be. The face-to-face brutality of what the War Between Brothers was is shown in harsh reality, even if only for 90 seconds.

The flick is about two and one-half hours, but it moves along well.  Tony Kushner, whom did such an awesome job with Angels in America, adapted the screenplay here. However, he makes parts of film a little wordy and now and again it becomes a little heavy-handed and gets in the way of itself.

The supporting cast is pretty frickin' good.  Tommy Lee Jones shines, and I'm not much of a fan of his at all.  Hal Holbrook is well.....every character he's ever played.  And then there were the number of other unexpected actors - like D-Day from Animal House (really!),  the bad kid from the Bad News Bears and James fucking Spader - who plays every character the same way since after Pretty in Pink. He makes me uncomfortable....and I just don't think he's that good (and him saying the word 'fucked' was completely out of context for the rest of the movie).

Oh, and in the credits as some angry lady was played by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith.  Yes, John and Robert Kennedy's sister.

Oh - and Sally Field. Can't forget her.  I've always been a fan of hers - even as Sister Betrille. She was off the charts good. She really was. It's pretty hard to play solidly against Day-Lewis, and Field not only holds her own but matches him scene for scene.

I enjoyed the movie - and even though I waited, it was worth the wait.  It will help me solidify my contest picks against Mike. there's that.

2013 Movie Count / Goal:   2 of 12. 

Song by: the Byrds

Saturday, February 09, 2013

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. Beginning 2011, I thought I'd focus on debut disks - just to make it more challenging for me. I don't think you'll care one way or the other.  This selection is not a debut album.

I think I'm only reviewing Rumours due to the seemingly incredible hype of Warner Bros releasing a "deluxe" version of Fleetwood Mac's best selling album to date.  The label is billing it as the 35th Anniversary edition, but in reality, the release date was about 10 days short of the 36th.

There have been stories on NPR, Today Show, CNN, etc.

The album re-release also coincides, not coincidentally, to the sexagenarians touring in 2013. Fistfuls of cash for their IRAs.

Don't get me wrong, as an 8th grader, I loved Rumours. I bought my first vinyl copy back in '77 - and eventually went through two or three more, I played it that often.  I still like it, but I don't listen to it as an album anymore, though it works well if listened in its entirety.

The first CD transfer was horrid.  The remastered version in 2004 was much better and the extra disk of material was....well....underwhelming.  It contained a lot of alternate takes or demos from the Rumours sessions.  If nothing else, it showed you the band made the right decisions on which versions of the songs to select as the best takes.

While I have not, nor plan to, purchase this super-duper deluxe version (and there are at least three different packages available), I have gone to iTunes to sample the music.  Hey, I'm still a fan.

It does not sound like the original disk is different than the 2004 version, except for moving one track to the end of the sequence. The second disk is a live concert recording from 1977 - and I think know I can live without that.  I can also live without yet two other disks of outtakes, demos and discarded songs (and mostly rightfully so).  And yes, these are different than what was included in the 2004 version.  It's like picking through someone's trash.

I will say there are maybe three songs worth listening too, mostly for being inquisitive.  Stevie Nicks' "Planets of the Universe", in demo form, showed promise and proved to be an interesting song - at least until she recorded it by herself two decades later. She clearly needed the Fleetwood Mac brand to make it work.  Christine McVie's unrecorded "Keep Me There" really showed the older Fleetwood Mac blues roots, and something that would never have fit in with their southern California sound they were now sporting.

While on Rumours, "the Chain" is credited being written by all band members, but the "original" chorus was lifted from a never heard Nicks song of the same name. I don't know I need five minutes of that, but the origins are interesting to hear years later.

But it really comes back to the original disk.

Yes, it is very radio friendly pop-rock. Yes, it's easy listening - and whatever personal issues went into making the music I'm sure reflected on the outcome - but the band and the press make the personal issues the focus.  Not the music.

Really, the music is tight, it is well written, well performed and the vocals well arranged and harmonized. And that is really what it comes down to. There are a lot of records that are pushing 40 years old that sound dated and 40 years old.  I really don't think Rumours does.

"Dreams" is still a very well crafted song, as is "You Make Loving Fun" and "Go Your Own Way". And still, "the Chain" was an incredible song that was never released as a single.  And all of these songs were not about break-ups, but that's all people think or remember.

The funny thing about Fleetwood Mac on record vs in concert is that they do put on a decent show - and much more of a rock band than pop concoction.  Well - that is mostly Lindsey Buckingham's guitar work, but they're not as "lite" as you think.  But you won't find that (mostly) on recordings.