Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

Oh Ella -

the answer to that question is "nothing".

Like always.

Back in the Paleolithic Era, when I was last single, even then I didn't want to kiss anyone at midnight. Oh sure, I'd go home with them at 02:30 after 'last call', but that was not specifically a New Year's Eve thing. Or a kissing thing, for that matter.

But I find little appealing about NYE. I can get drunk at home, if I so choose. Though I rarely do. Our neighbors and friends usually have New Year's Day open houses, and that seems more up our alley. There is no driving and a lesser chance of a hangover.

But as for 2013 - it's been a good year. Maybe not specifically for me, but in general.

For us gays - c'mon, could we have had a better year: assuming you leave out the GOP, Duck Dynasty, NOM, most States Attorney Generals (see GOP), Sochi Olympics and any number of failed boycotts.

But really - we added New Mexico, Hawaii, Utah, Maine, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey and finally California to the states allowing same sex marriage. And then of course there was DOMA.

The dominos are falling - slowly but surely. And in some cases, not so slowly.

While I would like 2014 to see the same type of activity, the reality is, it will have to slow down some. Courts and voter initiatives just don't work that quickly.....usually.

Yoga and the gym still chug along - with me in tow. I'm looking for that better body still (who isn't?) but at least I have hit the goal weight. Maybe if I add muscle, I'll be where I want. Or do people ever get where they want - or where they think they want?

The blog is chugging along as well. Right now we are looking at about 170,000 unique visits in 2013. Clearly the final number is pending, as we have not made it through today.

I got the birthday I wanted - kind of. No Jon or Dith in Maine, but I was happy that Georty and Rebecca could make it. I was not pleased that Mike kept dodging me, but he'll pay for that ....eventually. It was a lovely week in Ogunquit. And it was great that a month later everyone (including Dith and Jon) were together. That totally made my year.

Still, another year is done. Gone.  ...and I'm ok with that.

I hope your New Year's Eve is fun and safe, or that you get whatever you want out of it. I hope your 2013 was what you wanted as well.

Onward and upward.

Song by: Ella Fitzgerald

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Year in Music - 2013

If you've been reading me for any amount of time, you know I do a wrap-up of the year in music. Granted, it is a very limited view, since it's only my view - not only of what I hear or buy, but what I like - I don't buy into the hype of either the charts or the critics who deem what is or should be "best". If my choices expose my readers to something or anything new, that is a bonus.

Album of the Year
This was more difficult than I realized. All of the albums I purchased this year were half to two-thirds good (and one-third to one half fair). There were no clear-cut winners.....or losers, for that matter.

As you'll see below, I loved most of the Civil Wars album and kind of / sort of liked a few others. I out and out didn't like one or two at all, that in theory I should have loved.

So after some thought, I opted to go with Natalie Maines' debut solo album, Mother.

Maines' disk is one I like most everything on, at least on some level. The centerpiece, Jeff Buckley's "Lover You Should Come Over" doesn't do a thing for me. Nor does the title track. They're both well done in terms of production, but meh. 

I really like "Free Life", "Take it on Faith", "Come Crying to Me", "Trained" and "Without You". Maines has a strong and unique voice and she could have done worse in her first Dixie Chick-less album, but she holds her own, though the style is nothing like her former (?) band...by design. 

It is doubtful it landed on many critics top 10 lists. It received zero airplay and the sales were abysmal. It wasn't made for her previous fan base and the new potential market associated her with the 'country' label. In a way she was doomed from the start. The disk debuted in Billboard's Top 10 and then promptly dropped off the Top 200 chart. 

Still it is a disk I still play often when driving. It's not a solid nod, but she gets it for 2013. 

Songs of the Year
I have no one favourite song of 2013. I usually purchase when I hear something I like, so even the choices here aren't all of what I loved and they are in no particular order, as that changes like my mood(s). Don't read too much anything into the order. It means nothing.

the Civl Wars - Disarm
While I loved 75% of their self-titled disk, I played it to death. I would say a few months in, I'd grown a little tired of some of the songs I thought were my top picks. "Disarm" wouldn't have been that song at the time of the album release, but it's great - and a cover. of a Smashing Pumpkins song. srsly. It totally works - and whether you know the original or not.

Rosanne Cash - Modern Blue
A pre-release from Cash's forthcoming disk The River & the Thread. I'd already featured the wonderful "A Feather's Not a Bird", but I'm liking "Modern Blue" even more.....I think. If you pre-order her disk from iTunes, you get three songs downloaded immediately, which is why I feel I can include a 2014 disk release in my 2013 selections. It's a rockin' little tune.

Arcade Fire - Reflektor
I'm liking Arcade Fire's disk, Reflektor, more than I did two months ago when it was released, but I can't say it's the end-all / be-all. I really like half of it and I kind of like most of the other half. Still, I am digging the title cut with it's pseudo dance /1982 David Bowie vibe.

the National - Graceless
Like Arcade Fire, the National's latest disk was not an immediate home run. Actually it's taken a while for me to like even half the disk, yet it's growing on me. Their last disk, I still play a lot. But I do like "Graceless".

Wild Cub - Thunder Clatter
Dith (I know she loves seeing her name in the blog), turned me onto the track. I've heard it a few times on Alt Nation on Sirius / XM, but I put a crowbar in the wallet and spent the $1.29. And yes, I featured it as a My Music Monday selection a few months back. It makes the cut.

Natalie Maines (w Ben Harper) - Trained
As I stated above, Maines' debut album is nothing like her Dixie Chicks days (though one song was written by the Chicks). Harper produced and his band played. And "Trained" is the only Harper song on the disk. Initially, I would have said the song was at the bottom of the track list for Mother, but I've come to really like it. That's the funny thing about time. It is without a doubt the most rocking thing on the disk.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Year in Pictures - 2013

It's that time! A look back on the last 12 months in pictures. You might have seen similar images in the associated posts (if there are associated posts), but I'm trying to bring new snaps to this entry.

If there is an associated post, I've linked it. If not....well, no hyperlink.

This post is, by no means, trying to encompass the entire year - that's what blog archives are for. Click to enlarge images, if you'd like.

February 2013 - Not our best picture. 

David and I at yoga where members of the Cleveland Orchestra played during our practice. Bad (and cheap) champagne afterwards. David is wearing his grandfather's black tie.

February 2013 - The 2013 Cleveland Car Show.............bathroom stall. Racy!!!! (get it? ...bc it's a car show)

February 2013 - Submitted without comment. 

March 2013 - Brother and sister "love". I think I used this image before. 

March 2013 - Just a site to see on my way to a Sunday yoga class. Boobie! Singular.

April 2013 - Cleveland Clinic artwork. I love it!

April 2013 - Denver International Airport kiosk.
I would stay this result and activity are usually accurate. 

April 2013 - Just a helpful hand-out from when I volunteered at CLAW.
My HgbA1C is just fine, thank you - and I own no shackles or cuffs. Yet!

 May 2013 - A dog and his boy. A walk in the park on a very hot day.

 May 2013 - No idea where I even took this, but I loved it.

 May 2013 - Me and the Beibs. Or Jane Lynch. It's hard to tell.

 June 2013 - Summer Solstice at Cleveland Museum of Art.

June 2013 - A bird's nest (public art) at the Cleveland Public Liberry

July 2013 - Boston Marathon prayer flags on Boytlston St.

July 2013 - Eye candy - Marginal Way, Ogunquit, ME.  Nice rod.

July 2013 - Morty in Ogunquit, trying to be all butch and stuff. At least I went in the 57 degree ocean sans wet suit. Who's the stupid butch one now?

August 2013 - My peeps (well, the guy ones) at the Ohio Union. It was my pseudo-birthday weekend.

 August 2013 - Nasim, Rosalee and Debbie before our Believe in Cleveland yoga event.

September 2013 - My assertion is: my cousin Billy shouldn't have asked to try my sausage unless it was going to be on my terms!

September 2013 - Cousins together. They're a great group of folks.

October 2013 - One of my favourite pictures of David. Secret Garden Yoga.

 November 2013 - Possibly the only repeat pic of the year. Probably my favourite of Petey of all time.

December 2013 - Jungle yoga with David

December 2013 - Busted. Yes, it's true, he does most of my blogging. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

the Hounds of Winter

Holiday Petey Porn.  What could be better???

We got plenty of snow on the 24th. Tough driving and tough dog walking, but good picture opportunities. 

What else to do on a cold Winter's day? Curl up on 710's chair and fleece blanket - that's what. 

Petey was never allowed in the room his first family had gifts, so he was into it - even though this one was not for him. 

This was for him. Bone #1. He got it and immediately made his way to the door wanting out. 

Our holiday card for next year?  They were watching us fool with the tree and stuff. 

Song by: Sting

Friday, December 27, 2013


I should have something to write about - but it's not coming to mind.

Oddly enough, the holidays did not wear me out. Yoga might. That 7 day package David and I picked up has been a killer - in a good way.

The studio is good, some of the instructors have been great. Yesterday was our first male instructor and man, he really put us through our paces. The scary thing is, he said at the beginning it was a 'moderate class'. YIKES. I was dripping in such a way that once I found myself catching the dripping sweat with my tongue so it didn't fall to my mat. Of course, I immediately flashed on that I probably look like Barty Crouch, Jr., but I was too in the moment of the pose to even laugh or smile.

But today is our last day with that package - so now it's either individual or do another, more expensive package. I imagine I'll be back - they were that good. Yet tomorrow, it's back to a weekend of free classes and then I'll decide.

When all said and done, I'll have done seven classes in nine days. That's a lot - as I usually break up yoga with lifting and stuff. Mind you, I have done lifting on the other days, well, not xmas. I'm a little surprised my body hasn't given out yet.

As for the title image, it turned out to be a weird confluence of events - David getting the same yoga calendar that I got. Though it is Yoga for Dogs, I do have a Downward Facing Cat in my picture.

Enjoy your end of the week. And even end of the year. Oh sure, I'll have blog posts, but most of them are year-end wrap-ups.

Song by: Sade

Thursday, December 26, 2013

the Returns

It's the "day after".

Time to return those unwanted gifts, should there be any that didn't fit or you won't ever use.

710 and I are fairly good at giving that there are little to no returns, but there might be one. Possibly. And my parents gave me a dress shirt that might be too big in the neck, but the thought of returning it seems like a form of Hell, so I might just wear it when I don't have to button the top collar. We'll see.

Our holiday was uneventful - which is just how we like it. Dinner at my parents on the 24th to celebrate both my parent's birthday as well as one of my brothers in law. And any gift giving to the kids happens too - leaving everyone free for our / their own day on the 25th, should they choose to celebrate.

710 got this killer ornament this year (see title image) - from yours truly. I fear now I'm on some Etsy mailing list, of which I'll never get myself off, but it might be worth it.

Dinner anymore on the 24th are appetizers, as a sit-down meal seems like a futile effort and this way my mother doesn't have to feel like she has to prepare everything and slave away. Everybody brings one thing (though some brought two) and there is always more food than can possibly be eaten - since the little kids barely touch a thing that isn't sugar.

Yesterday was sleeping in late (08:00!!!!), and like a Hobbit, I had second breakfast. My usual Cap'n Crunch when I got up and then we made bacon and eggs mid-morning. Bagels were purchased, but we'll be eating those before I head to yoga this morning. (Hey, I gotta work off the food and booze!)

While we had a nice day, we loved watching Petey. Sure at his old house he always got a bone, but he wasn't allowed in the room that had the tree. He was with us, digging his nose into the gift bags and stealing his bones before they were given to him. He went into full canine mode, taking them into the dining room where no one was to do whatever a dog does with them, then desperately wanted to go outside with them.  Silly dog. No one is taking them, they are his.

The plan to see that Meryl Streep movie was thwarted. Yes, it opened today, but not in every city and Cleveburgh was not one of them. It opens in mid-January here. I guess I'll wait, but it might thwart the 12 movie thing this year. We might get in 11.

Well, I hope everyone had a good holiday.

Song by: Rickie Lee Jones

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Morning

I hope everyone has a great holiday today, assuming you celebrate this day.

However, even if you do not, chances are it's a day of relaxation when one can kick back and watch 24 hours of Ralphie trying to get a BB gun.  ...oh and eat and / or drink.

For us, it is getting up late (well, as late as the animals will allow - which really means an extra 20 minutes). Lazily reading the paper and making a proper breakfast.

It's not that Cap'n Crunch isn't proper (ibid Stevie B), but some sort of eggs, bacon and English muffin will probably prevail. And coffee for 710.

710 is required to drink out of this cup on Christmas morning.

I gave him a similar mug umpteen thousand years ago for Christmas, right after we got Tovah. We've had discussions on if the cat is looking in a window, or out. For some reason I used to think he was looking in, but it is most likely out.

Oh yes, I say a similar mug because this is mug #2. After we moved to Cleveland, I broke mug #1. I felt horrible. Ruckiry (not Jon's boss), there is a cat store in town that had the same mug. Score!

Where in our olden days, 710 probably used this more often, but now he gravitates towards mugs that hold a greater quantity of coffee.

Tough for today - it's tradition now. We have such few, he's sticking to this whether he likes it or not. He can make multiple trips to the kitchen for more joe if he is in dire need of caffeine. I'll even fetch it for him, since I'm such a good guy.

Oh - and we might do a movie later in the day. I always say that and we rarely do, but I do want to see that new Meryl Streep movie, even if Julia Roberts will probably attempt to suck the life out of her own role.

Enjoy your day.

Song by: Lyle Lovett

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

the Hustle

We have seven more days to see two more movies.

I won't get too cocky - it can be done, but the question of course is, will it?

Sunday afternoon / evening we saw American Hustle.

You know me, I knew little about the flick, as I thought I might want to see it, so I keep away from press. I liked Silver Lining Playbook enough (I never thought it was out of this world, like some did), and it had the same writer / director (David O. Russell) and some of the same cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro (he's waiting...and talking Italian).

Actually, five of the six "main" characters have been in one of the last two Russell films: Cooper, De Niro, Amy Adams, Lawrence and Christian Bale. Both Bale and Lawrence won Academy Awards for their roles in the Fighter and Silver Linings respectively. The other three were also nominated for their roles in his films. Not a shabby track record.

Bale, in my opinion was brilliant. Since he's in the first scene, maybe even first shot, I turned to 710 and whispered, "Batman has really let himself go!".

For his role, he was supposed to look that way, of course, being set in the late '70s - the black hole of fashion and hair. Bale nails it, but his character and the way he plays it is superb. For the role, he still brings a likable quality to the role of a schemer.

While Cooper did well, I never found his character that likable and maybe he wasn't supposed to be. I think we're so used to rooting for him, the actor, to win that's what one expects. Even with his curled hair, he is not hard on the eyes and that chest hair he sports when going to Studio 54 is not bad - but is it acting?

Lawrence is fine and I hear accolades about for her New Jersey housewife role. I'm not sure if this is how these women truly are / were, but they've almost become a parody of themselves, if that is possible. But I was more taken with Amy Adams in her role.

I'm not an Amy Adams fan. I thought she was the weakest link in Julie & Julia, the Master and Doubt. She sucked in Trouble with the Curve, but to be fair to her, everyone sucked in that movie - as did the movie itself. She comes off as so milquetoast in most everything she does, it's hard to think she has any range whatsoever. So I had zero expectations of her here and maybe that wasn't a bad thing. She played her role very well.

The biggest surprise was a role by Louis C.K. That, I was not expecting - good or bad. De Niro, well......let's just say, you've seen this role done before. Usually by him. It's no stretch.

There are no plot points given in this review here, other than it is a con man / women  / FBI storyline. Part of it is allegedly true - though I have no idea how much.

The soundtrack (not the actual physical soundtrack) is great, though I didn't try to make sure all the songs matched up to the era specifically - which I'm apt to do - but it brings the vibe that is needed to the movie. I really dug Duke Ellington's "Jeep's Blues".

I did a quick glance at all the movies we've seen so far in 2013 and American Hustle might be the best - my opinion, of course. Mind you, two of what we saw were hold overs from the 2012 season, so they count towards my goal, just not to what is best in this year.

Yes, American Hustle might be the best we've seen so far (though I'm betting 710 will say Gravity was his favourite), but we still have two more movies to see. Possibly.

2013 Movie Count / Goal:   10 of 12. 

Song by: Van McCoy

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Music Monday

I know last year I used the same song around this time - "the Little Drummer Boy".  Of course, that was done slightly tongue-in-cheek because not only was it Grace Jones doing it on Pee Wee's Playhouse, but I remember from years ago Dr. Spo mentioning his dislike for such a holiday tune.  He does not like the song, that Spo.

I'm not a fan either - and I promise this to be the last of the series.

However, this year is not comedy turn, but drama.  Taken from possibly one of the best West Wing episodes done, 'In Excelsis Dio'.

Technically there is music during the video, but it's not a music video. The song's was selected to play part of the military theme of the episode and whether you like the song or not (and I do not), it works quite well, especially beginning at the 2:40 mark.

There is a shorter clip that gets right to the songs, but I think you need to watch some leading-up footage to get the gist.

The arrangement of the music, especially the drums in military fashion, play off the holiday theme and the funeral one as well. You can take or leave the choir singing the song, but with the addition of the drums, it brings some heft and actual emotion to a song that I always took as being lightweight.

I think there are clips of on YouTube on why Mrs. Landingham requests to attend the funeral, so you can search those out if you so desire. The implied rationale is quite moving.

There are two quick shots of Toby and Mrs. Landingham during the 21 gun salute that ring so true, assuming you've been to or observed a military funeral. It is a reaction that I think most civilians encounter.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Jungle Love

Honestly, it looks dirty, doesn't it?

The way my legs are positioned are not helping a case for discussing exercise, but this is the way they were supposed to be, even though you see David's legs straight-up. But I can explain. Honest.

Yesterday, we plunked down $15 for a full week's worth of yoga classes at Evolution Yoga. They get hyperlinked because in the two classes I've taken there, I've gotten more out of those classes than possibly the four years I've been practicing. They deserve the shout-out.

Anyhoo, for 15 bucks, we can take as many classes as we want during this upcoming week - and they even have a class on xmas, for those non-Jesus loving folks. (psssst -you know, the same ones who patronize Chinese restaurants on 12/25). Even if we took this one class, that's pretty cheap - since the Jungle yoga is $25 per class.

Oh yes, what you see above is called "Jungle yoga".   Oh-eee-oh-eee-oh.

But you have to say / sing that last line like Morris Day.

Let's start off by there were more men than women in this class. A first for both David and myself. Our "oms" had more tenor, bass and baritone sounds than ever before. It was a beautiful thing. I'm not hatin' on women, but sometimes yoga classes are estrogen filled.

While technically not a hot yoga class, the flow had me dripping. In a good way. I hesitated going into Child's pose so not to put my sopping forehead on the mat. It makes it all slippery for the rest of the class. The thermostat said 77, and hot yoga is 85 or 90 (Bikram is 105), but I could have used a towel yesterday.

Eventually we moved to the wall to use the ropes. Allegedly, the classes are usually smaller and the majority of time is spent on the ropes, but this "huge" class of eight (?) we only spent maybe a one-third of the time using them. It was quite enlightening.

Even barely using the rope for Warrior III was a great help for when we did it without. Now I've done Warrior III dozens of times, always struggling with balance, but our intro with the ropes made it so much easier when we went without. Ditto with like a Revolving Warrior III (though the image linked should have the back leg risen and extended).

However, what you see in the title image is just upside down yogis.

They're not quite head or hand stands. You just - and I swear I'm not making this up - make a sling out of ropes and a blanket and hang from it.

The reason David looks different than myself is, he put his wooden plank (not a euphemism) at his abs. When you do that, you straighten your legs and bring them inside the ropes. I had not put my positioned the plank as of yet, so one's legs are to be outside the ropes and more in a frog position. Yes, like I said, it looks dirtier than it is.

Naturally, I had to have the instructor check my ropes and knots before hoisting my weight into that contraption, as I was never a Boy Scout. I may have mentioned, it was only one of the reasons I was never a Boy Scout, which gave her pause before her chuckle.

Personally, I don't know how guys who are into bondage do it. It is so much work. Where is the pay-off?

Still, David and I agreed it was a great class, and we are planning on hitting that studio most days next week together. I don't see me getting to my gym for lifting, but we'll see. I mean, 710 and I still have three movies to see before year's end.  Tick Tick Tick.

Song by: the Time

Saturday, December 21, 2013

When the Day is Short

Days start getting longer after today.

Well, let's rephrase, shall we?  Starting tomorrow, there will be more daylight for the next six months. That means more potential outdoor time for Petey. Which is good, because he's trying my ever last nerve.

You read last week that Petey found the cat fud, which made him itchy, to the point he's back on meds. And we moved the cat food, but.........being the hound that he is, Peter has overcome some adversity to get to said fud.

With his claws, Petey is not good on wood or laminate. Add to that complexity when stairs are involved. Yet lo and behold, he's gone pasty his alleged inability and fear to get to what he wants. The bastard.

First - he made it to the basement landing and unlike last week of prying the lid off the tin, he accidentally knocked it down a flight of stairs. How the lid didn't come off is beyond me. This happened while I was out of the house. 

Second - he made it up the back stairs (servant stairs, don't you know!), ate Sophie's fud and knocked her bowl down the entire flight. This also happened when I was out of the house.

Third and Fourth (but no pics), I caught him at the top of the back stairs trying to eat Sophie's food...again. He almost looked guilty, until I realized he was scared to death of falling as he couldn't keep a grip on the stairs.

And then I saw he'd eaten her food which was back on the basement stairs (we tried a futile attempt at those rubber door stops. They are child's play to him). I refilled her bowl and turned around and heard crunching.  That damned dog was in the basement!!! He came up and was eating her food (again).

What I loved about it  - was Sophie was with him in the basement. Checking out to see what he was checking out. Hopefully he didn't find the litter boxes, but not much I can do about that now.

I finally made it to Homo Depot for a latch.

Sophie isn't thrilled with fitting in the door opening and Petey is frustrated that he can see and smell the food, but can't get to it anymore.

T. S.

So, now that I'm (almost) over my frustration at doggie shenanigans, I have two pics to post of the culprits. Somehow, I have to feel Sophie was involved.

I haven't weighed Sophie lately, but this pic looks like she's HUGE. She not - she is just in winter-time mode. Besides reducing her food amount anyways, Petey has eaten most of it in the last week. In theory, she should be Karen Carpenter thin by this point. 

If it weren't for his snorting and kicking in his sleep, Sophie might actually curl up with him closer than this. But it's fun to see them together. I'm not sure she could have asked for a better canine (or feline) companion. 

Song by: Martha Wainwright

Friday, December 20, 2013


I am SO over this Duck Dynasty asswipe (hey! it's free speech, I can say it!!) and his remarks on gays, g-d and the completely ignored, pre-civil rights Louisiana.                                            

The guy might be a hick, but he's a hick who made - get this - $400MM in 2013 alone. He's not as big of a rube as people would like to believe, so his words carry weight.

Again, I'm tired as fuck over people telling me what g-d thinks, let alone about homosexuality.

This Robertson putz goes on about vaginas vs anuses. But he touches on who will and won't get into heaven: the male prostitutes (I guess females get a free pass), drunks, slanderers, swindlers, homosexuals and the greedy.

The greedy.  So, Mr. Robertson, please show me how much of that $400MM you have donated to charity? And your supporters - the Palins, Fox "news", all the religious bigots - or as we know them: the slanderers, won't be getting past the pearly gates?

I'm resigned to going to hell, but not for the reasons stated above. But if I'm going with these assholes, it might be safe to reason I am already there.

I'm frustrated.

Not because of what Roberston said. Who gives a flying fuck what he said?  He is building on his brand and the aftermath, the fall-out, did not nothing but help him and his family.

I love everyone oohing, aaahing and having heart attacks over A&E "suspending' him. The word "fire" was thrown around by the Palins, the Foxes, the religious bigots, but he was not fired. And let's face it, A&E was smart to suspend him for two reasons.

      1. It shows the gays (but no mention of the African-Americans) they mean "business".
      2. It is 100% PR and they knew it would generate buzz beyond anything they could pay a                firm to handle for them. Ratings will go through the fucking roof and the percentage of                people who never heard of the show, now have.  Congrats to them.

No, I'm frustrated by the Palins, the Foxes and the religious bigots and the voice they have.

Mind you not one have touched on anything but the gay comments. I don't think they'd dare touch the civil rights ones. Let alone ones about singing and picking cotton.  They're stupid, but they're not stupid, you know?

Once again, there is NO liberal media, and if there is, their voices are silenced by these asshats. The all scream liberal media, but they need to point out to me where it is.

Save some gay blogs, I don't see any denunciation from any of the media. But the media was happy to pick up on the Palins, the Foxes and religious bigots claiming 'free speech' and 'unfair' by the liberals - whomever they may be.

I'm frustrated that most of these don't have the balls to go on anything but a Fox show to be asked hard questions. Like I said: They're stupid, but they're not stupid.

I don't use Twitter, but I saw this from JMG and it made me smile. The first smile in a day.

Palin wouldn't touch that with a 3 kilometer pole.

They are hypocrites, all of them, and that is what frustrates me the most - that they are, and no one calls them out on it even in the slightest. And when they try and ignore the question, it should be asked again and again and again and again, until they answer it or walk off the stage, showing what a fucking liar they are.

New Mexico's news should have made me happier, but these fucktards have my panties in a bunch. But on another level, I'm very happy for adding the 17th (?) state for same-sex marriage recognition.

(p.s. I like in spellcheck only a few words come up: fucktards. asshats. asswipes. Palin. Coincidence?  I think not!)

Song by:  Laurie Anderson

Thursday, December 19, 2013

By the Book

CB, over at the Mangina Monologues lifted a meme from another guy about 10 books that have stuck with you over time. I take this not to necessarily mean your 10 favourite books, but they could be or at least have crossover potential.

Since I had nothing else planned for today, I'm diving into this....and in no particular order.

the Catcher in the Rye
JD Salinger's classic is one of mine. It's no shock that this was required reading right around the same age as Holden was, when he was expelled from prep school. At times I saw myself as Holden, and at times I wished I was nothing like the kid.

A Separate Peace
Like CB, I think this is a good one. Taken from a book of short story called Phineas, it is another coming of age story, and while CB used the strikeout function for the term 'gay', leaving it in is appropriate. It has those elements, but so much more. John Knowles was never able, IMO, to write better than he did here.

the Warren Commission
I've told you on many occasions that I read the complete report while in sixth grade. It is as dry as the Sahara, but it was essential reading when one is interested in the JFK assassination.

Helter Skelter
I was caught reading this by a teacher when I was in seventh grade. Pretty racy stuff for a kid, but it had everything: sex, drugs, rock and roll, real crime and punishment. Vincent Bugliosi did a great job getting this to paper. I think I've read it 6-7 times.

Me Talk Pretty One Day
David Sedaris has me laughing out loud the entire flight from Atlanta to Cleveland. I'm sure people were staring at me.

Not that shitty Broadway show where Kristen Chenowith scrodels her way through a horrible score. The book and play are two different things. People I know who read the book and saw the play (full disclosure, I did not see the play) say they hated the play. People who did not read the book but saw the play loved the stage version.

I always saw the movie version (which will no doubt be a musical once it does happen) to be more in likes of Lord of the Rings. Very dark....like the book. The first 50 pages were torture to read, and to find the book's rhythm, but yet I held off reading the last 50 because I didn't want it to end.

the Year of Magical Thinking
I can't say I was ever a fan of Joan Didion's work, but I was engrossed by her writing regarding the sudden loss of her husband and the year-long morning period that followed. It is a book of fairly raw emotions, but it is so well done.

Tales of the City
Armistead Maupin's original book of the series was great - before it started to get too much into bad murder-mystery / Young and the Restless material. When Mary Ann Singleton arrives in San Francisco as the fresh-faced Midwestern novice of life, I think both men and women related to her naïveté for the city and for the times. I read the other five, but each one starts to lose something that taints the original characters.

House of Leaves
To say it defies explanation is a bit of a stretch, but it is without a doubt one of the most difficult / challenging books I've ever read and one of the more originally done. Mark Danielewski mixes horror story telling along with (heavily) footnoted material to make it seems more realistic. It is something one really has to see for one's self.

Fun with Dick and Jane
I mean, where would we all be if we didn't start out with these?

Song by: Michael Penn

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wanted (Or Waiter, There's Some Soup in My Flies)

Here is why I love Winter - and yes, it's a stretch: Soup.

As you've read: I've made chili with iffy results. It tasted good, but not what I was expecting. The spicy tomato soup I've cooked for dinner worked well a few times. There was that broccoli-cheddar soup that didn't really work at all. My first attempt at chicken tortilla soup was like the chili - tasted fine, but not exactly what I was envisioning. Such is the life of a "chef".

Trial and error.

Both 710 and I are big fans of Max & Erma's Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Now, I know most of you have never been, or even heard of, Max & Erma's. They are / were a Columbus based restaurant "chain" where 710 and I had several dates and meals starting back in the mid '80s. It is also where Jon and I heard some guy compare his fish dinner to 'snatch' he had recently sampled somewhere else.....to the girl at his table who queried him with "whose?". Loverly!

Max & Erma's tried to expand to at least north eastern Ohio and somewhat failed. They moved too fast and half the places they opened have been closed. I think Pittsburgh has one - or did 5-6 years ago. I think the original in German Village is still open.

Anyhoo....they make a chicken tortilla soup that I love - and especially in the colder months.

During our current cold snap, I decided I would make an attempt at replicating it - ala Sandra Lee (that semi-homemade slut), though there seems something wrong with making soup out of other soups, but that's what I did.

There are a ton of recipes out there for M&E soup, and of course, not one of them are the same. So to complicate matters, I took bits and pieces from each one and came up with a decent concoction, though not quite hitting the exact mark.

It still worked and both 710 and myself liked it.  I just forgot to take my traditional pics along the way. Sorry.

It's easy "prep", just longer cooking time:

1 can - cream of mushroom (reduced fat)
1 can - cream of chicken (reduced fat)
1 can - cream of celery
1 can - cheese soup
1 can - rotel tomatoes
1 cup - picante salsa
16 oz low sodium chicken broth
4 cloves minced garlic
1 medium chopped onion
4 oz minced green chilis
1 tsp chili powder
1 lb shredded chicken
salt and pepper (to taste)
tortilla strips (topping)
monterey jack cheese (topping)

Dump everything but the chicken into a dutch oven or heavy pot and bring to a boil, stirring more than occassionally so things don't burn on the bottom. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour.

Add chicken (you can use a rotissarie chicken, if you'd like) and simmer for another 30-40 minutes.

Dish up. Top with cheese and tortilla strips.

Obviously, if you're so inclined, you could do a little more work yourself with cooking chicken, shredding cheese, making your own chicken stock, and using real mushrooms, celery etc - but that's not happening for me during a weeknight. I'm also not cutting corn tortillas and frying them either.

Things I'd do differently?  Really just one. While the Rotel and green chilies are fine, you'd probably get away with diced tomatoes and some seasoning, but I would definitely add jalapeño.

The soup didn't have enough "heat" for me, though it is very hearty and can really be used for a meal.

This made enough soup for two dinners (for two people) and I had 2-3 servings for lunch during the week. It was heavy on the chicken (more than M&E puts in), but I was going to use up all the cooked chicken, damn it.

I'll make this again for sure.

Song by: the Style Council

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


We are getting closer to our 2013 movie goal - but three weeks and three movies to go. Yikes, we're cutting it close.

At least in Ohio, there are not a ton of new releases we want to see - those are still a week or two away, which could make for a very busy xmas to New Years.

Still, I think we both wanted to see Nebraska, which we did last Sunday. Mind you, I had heard very little about it, other than knowing the director and that Bruce Dern was in it and supposedly great in his role.

With the film title and the black and white photography, it is hard not conjure images of Springsteen's album of the same name: sparse, bleak and open roads - the movie and album have much in common - though if I had to pick just one, it would be the album, as it is a great disk.

I'm actually hesitant to say whether I liked the movie or not, as I still have not decided. It's well done, but it didn't wow me. While I've seen Dern on HBO here and there, it is quite possible, I have not seen him on the big screen since Alfred Hitchcock's last film, Family Plot.

Dern is good, as is Will Forte. And the woman playing their wife and mother, respectively, does an awesome job.

Back to whether I liked it, I would say it made me uncomfortable to a degree. Maybe it's too much introspection and too close to home, regarding minimal communications skills between an aging father and his son. Or maybe it's just an Alexander Payne movie.

I never liked Sideways. And it took multiple cable viewings of both Election and the Descendants before I actually liked them. But I don't see me watching Nebraska on cable over and over. But I said that about the Descendants too.

Like the album, Nebraska, the movie is more about the journey than the destination, but that is probably true of many of Payne's films.

2013 Movie Count / Goal:   9 of 12. 

Oh - on a side note: we got to the theatre and there were only two people there (at that time), so naturally, I walked up to their row and ask, "do you mind moving down?"

I'll give it to the guy, he just quizzically looks around at the 250 other open seats while his "wife" gets up to move. I couldn't even keep a straight face. 710 wasn't nearly as mortified as I expected him to be.

Song by: Bruce Springsteen

Monday, December 16, 2013

My Music Monday

I have a little musical / math problem for you:

Meat Loaf + Bonnie Tyler = ?????

The answer is Fire Inc.

Fire Inc. is sort of fictional band that brought the music to "life" for Diane Lane in the movie Streets of Fire.

Never heard of it? Yeah, I'm not horribly shocked or surprised. But that movie also brought about Dan Hartman's hit, "I Can Dream About You", which wasn't sung by four black guys - that also appear in that same movie.

The movie is horrid. Lane is always great to look about, but c'mon - the movie has Amy Madigan, Rick Moranis, Willem DeFoe and Michael Paré.

I know - I know - you're thinking, how did this movie not clean up at the Oscars in 1984, but it just didn't. Like Amadeus was soooooo much better!

For anyone familiar with Jim Steinman, who wrote or co-wrote all of Meat Loaf's Bat out of Hell, and Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Holding Out for a Hero", he certainly has a niche sound / style. You like it or you hate it, but there is probably very little in between.

Rarely are Steinman's songs under the five minute mark - or four minutes with radio edit, and "Tonight is What it Means to be Young", this week's selection, is no different.

A few months ago, the email group (ok, Jon, Morty and myself) were going back and forth over whether or not Bat Out of Hell was a good album. I loved it back in 1977 but it fell out of favour with me years later, only to kind of pop up on my radar again, but only if I can skip "Two Out of Three".

Steinman certainly has a formula for his bigger anthem rock songs - and "Tonight" is no different. And there is a point when the generic lead singer (who is not actually Diane Lane) at times sounds like both Tyler and Mr. Loaf.

No, I don't like to run anymore, but now and again, I will get on the treadmill at the gym - and there is something about this song that makes it a good lead off for the first six minutes of my run.  Ok - the first 4:30.  The last minute and a half are just not needed - it goes on too long.

But if you opt to play this, you'll see the first 1:39 (or so - longer here than the song because the video starts off before the music), you can see where a non-runner would build up to the bigger launch at that 1:39 mark. I can be at full stride by 1:42.

It's odd that the song is almost 20 years old, but it's not like it was a hit or that anyone other than me ever listened to it - let alone still listens to it. Lord knows radio never played it.

Clearly, "Tonight" is not a song that is going down in the top 100,000 songs of all time, but it has its place in my liberry.

As you watch the video you might get a sense of why it was not Oscar caliber. Ms. Lane, even in heavily shadowed filming, is horrible at lip synching - and you have to believe that this was the best take!