Saturday, January 31, 2015

I'm So Cute

Pet time - once again.......though coming up with post titles is challenging with Saturday entries. I know #firstworldproblems. I get it.

So let's get to it, shall we?

Walk time. 

Not too many of these this last week. It has either been frigid or Petey's tracheitis has been acting up - or both. But this was on the 1.2 mi route, so he was one happy camper smelling everything as if it were his first time out. 

Sofa pals 1.

Oh, it looks like there's a stand-off going on, but trust me, there isn't. They are just snotty children who refuse to pose when I ask them. 

Sofa Pals 2. 

As 710 said after I sent him this pic: Sophie is one fart away from running away. 
True that. That boy can toot like no one's business. But it's nice to see her reaching out to him - literally and figuratively. 

Buddy and my sister. 

As I hinted last week, Buddy's time with my mom is limited. She is just too much for my mother - though I have to say, some of that is my mom's fault for lack of attempting to discipline the kitten. 

Buddy knows how to get to the sink and turn on the water. Full blast. She reaches for stuff down in the disposal. But mainly she gets under foot - and that will cause my mother much more harm that it will to the cat. 

I was hoping my sister and brother in law would take the cat, but they said 'no'. I tried to say karma payback should be theirs for us taking in Petey when they couldn't keep him. I don't think that helped matters. 

Oddly enough, Rescue Village is willing to take Buddy as they have a waiting list for people who want cats. Can you imagine? More demand than supply? 

So we got Buddy started out on a good road. I saved her. My mother socialized her. She will be a charming addition to any family. If anyone wants her, she's all vet-checked out and I'm happy to deliver her - within a reasonable distance.  

Song by: Frank Zappa

Friday, January 30, 2015

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.

It has been ages since I've done a Classics post. But the Muses are still snowed in somewhere, with no way of getting back, so I have to go for a stand-by post. 

So why not go with Jackson Browne and his third disk, Late for the Sky?  Why not, indeed. There are only eight songs, and not a stinker among them, though it would be tough to say there is a bonafied hit either.....and still clocking in at more than 40 minutes. 

Solo chart hits wouldn't come to Browne until Running on Empty and going forward. 

The every youthful appearing Browne (well maybe not as of late), have been around forever - as he was writing songs, hit ones, at the age of 16 and 17. Some of them ("Take it Easy") being recorded by the Eagles. 

For such a young lad (this was released in 1974!), the songs are just amazing for someone his age, or 20 years older. Browne had a way with lyrics and a sometimes complex melody. 

I will say this - and have in the past - he is a hard man (for me) to sing along with. He seems to go into tenor and baritone, sometimes in the same line or measure, and I can never quite make that transition. And of all his material, this seems to have the most difficulty. 

Still, it comes down to the material and no one can sing it like he does. (seriously, listen to "Take it Easy", it's impossible not to hear his influence on that tune.)

I say the 'no one can sing' like he does, because a few have tried. I love "For a Dancer", and I love Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, but they butcher the song on their rendition. And these are two women who've made careers on covering other artists songs. Joan Baez, Alison Krauss and Union Station have also made attempts at some of these songs. 

But the title song, "Fountains of Sorrow", "Before the Deluge" are exceptional. If the album were these four songs only, it would be worth the price. 

And while the disk is now 41 years old {gulp}, it is not dated in any way. Excellent musicians and arrangements don't hurt his talents either. 

While I still like Browne and he consistently releases new material - most of it better than decent - I don't come back to a lot of that as I do Late for the Sky (or the Pretender). 

Late for the Sky is - for me - one of those must-have disks. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Nothing's New

Man, it is one of those days.

I. Got. Nothing.

I suppose this happens to the best of bloggers - not that I am putting myself in that category, though it is subjective at best.

I could do a weather update: yesterday was mid 20's and not a cloud in the sky. It was nice to see sun. The roads weren't full of slush and salt, so Petey could take two long walks. Slush and salt really hurt his paws.

He's having another bout of tracheitis, so we're taking it easy with him this week. Double steroids for three more days (five days total). It just comes out of nowhere, it seems. But he's a trooper.

....and that's it. That's all I got.

Perhaps the Muses will return tomorrow.

Song by: Dwight Yoakam

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

App of the Month

I think I've made it fairly clear over the years here, that as child - or an adult - I've never purchased and never remember reading a comic book.

They were not my thing.

I mean, I had all the Calvin & Hobbes books (and now the big-ass anthology). And I was a huge fan of the Far Side (no one has yet bought be that big-ass anthology).

Still, I think we're talking about the serials: Batman, Fantastic Four, Archie, Spider-Man, Richie Rich, Caspar (who was just a posthumous Richie Rich) know....those kind of comics.

The only reason I downloaded the Comic Book app, was that it was discounted from $2.99 to free, thanks to a Starbucks pick of the week download from iTunes.

Like many iTunes apps that aren't Words With Friends or how to find the closest bathroom, I'm not sure what this is truly good for - especially for three bucks.

I get that with your Flickr, Facebook or camera pics, you can make your own comic strip / book.

I don't think I'm that much right-brained. I'm not creative enough (or care enough) to develop something on this level - even if all I have to do it search photos. I certainly couldn't draw a thing.

Ugh - and then you have to have a story to tie to the pictures.

I get in real comic books, you probably have the story first. And I suppose you could here too, but then you'd have to find or take corresponding images and then manipulate them for your comic.

It seems like a lot of work. And I'm a lot of lazy.

Oh, you get a page layout with so many frames per page. You get to eight or so options to modify the look, and then with each of those, color, tone and lighting adjustments.

Of course you can put in thought bubbles or dialogue boxes too.

And then there are the myriad of enhancements. Glasses, hair, clothing, body parts, etc. Naturally, you get only so many for free. There are other selections - but they'll cost you.

Notice my new eye protection and Petey's halo....since he is kind of a good boy.

I only played around with it a little. Like I said, I can't imagine doing anything with it per se. And soon enough I'll probably just delete it altogether (insert your Airplane line now!).

Again, I'm not creative nor into comic books, so I would have never spent $2.99 on this (and there are more expensive editions as well), but for those who are into this, you might like it. Since I'm a guy, I read none of the instructions so I found it fairly intuitive to use....but something baffled me.

That would bother me if I thought I'd use this app......but I can't see a need other than creating profile pictures for Facebook.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Imitation of Life

I was told this last weekend that my movie reviews mean nothing to a certain person because he said that I don't like anything.


I loved Whiplash and said so. Ditto with Birdman and Boyhood.

It's not my fault that Interstellar sucked balls (and not in the good way) and I called them on it.

I'm not to blame if Captain America was just ok, but predictable....same with Guardians of the Galaxy. They are franchise movies where no one of importance gets knocked off, as not to ruin the next box office release.

I even liked, but didn't super love. the Grand Budapest Hotel.  But I certainly didn't give it a negative review. Save Interstellar, I"m not sure there is a movie I disliked in 2014 (ok, of the ones I saw).

Our first movie of this year:  the Imitation Game.

Excellent movie!  (see? I do like something!)

While the story is 'based on fact', I don't know how much artistic license they took with the film's subject matter. I will say that it blends history, love and humour all very well, sometimes in a single scene. While the time frames ping-pong between the 1920s to 1950s, the director (who is up for an Academy Award, and rightfully so) does a good job with continuity.

Benedict Cumberbatch, at first, almost plays his Alan Turing as a 1930s and 40s Sheldon Cooper. Devoid of humour or social graces - he portrays a man somewhere in the middle of the Autism spectrum fairly well. I was very impressed by his performance.

Actually, I was impressed by all the actor's performances.  (see?  I do like something!). Keira Knightley too. This was her best role since a Friend at the End of the World. An iffy movie, but a good job by her.  Oddly, in her later scene - the ones from the 50s - her facial expressions reminded me so much of Helena Bonham Carter, it was eerily distracting.

...and Mark Strong isn't hard on the eyes.

I also have decided, I am very very uncomfortable with bullying, or potential bullying, when it comes to gay men or gay youths in film. I get that this was a conduit to tell a story of a later Turing, but it still made me uneasy......even at the times nothing happened.

If I have one criticism (and I do), it just had to do with breaking the Nazi code. Not having read a thing about Enigma or what Turing had done during the war, it was obvious (at least to me) with the first communiqué one of the easier ways to break the code(s). But it took them two years later to do so.

That said - they'd have never been able to decipher the vast amount of communiqués without Turing's work.

But the movie goes beyond just telling the story of England's quest to break the Enigma code. Obviously it deals with the history of homosexuality - not only as a crime, but as almost a nature vs nurture feeling. And all of it was well done.

The movie, to me, was a solid A-.    (see? I do like something!)

I know have to possibly rethink some of my Oscar picks for that guessing game thing that is coming up.

2015 Movie Count / Goal:  1 of 12

Song by: R.E.M. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

My Music Monday

With the release of Marti Jones' Bossa Nova influenced (if not somewhat iffy) record and the My Music Monday selection of Caro Emerald, and the gloomy January Winter days....the sounds of Brazil just sound good to me.

Mind you, I've never been, but it would be a nice place to visit.

So why not just infuse the last Monday of this month with Sérgio Mendes & Brasil '66?

Why not, indeed.

It's amazing how many songs you know this combo did - including covers of the Beatles's "Fool on the Hill" and "Day Tripper".  But it's probably a better chance you've heard their rendering of "the Look of Love"or Mendes doing "the Girl from Ipanema"........but she doesn't go to Greenland.

Oh the late '60s. With this as background music, you just wanted to throw your keys into a bowl and take your chances on with whom you ended up.

So this week, you're getting "Mas Que Nada". You might not know the title or the actual words, but chances are, you know the song.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Muffin Top

I'm stealing borrowing a food idea from Robert, over at Welcome to the Middle Ages.

Omelet Muffins.

What a great idea. I never heard of them. But in a way, they're the perfect ova delivery system since the chicken itself.

Let's pretend I'd ever have it together enough to throw a breakfast or brunch for someone other than 710 and the dog. Sure, Sophie would be invited, but she'd never RSVP and just sit around unimpressed anyways - if she showed at all.

My mother will always say, "nothing is worse than cold eggs" - which totally isn't true. Ask 31 of the 33 boys in John Wayne Gacy's crawlspace.

But omelet muffins could feed 6 folks easily (I mean, if you doubled the recipe) and keep your eggs hot for your guests, that is.

And you can substitute the word 'cupcake' for 'muffin' and then everything is immediately better.

As they are omelet-like, you can put whatever you would like into them. I opted for green pepper, jalapeño, shallot (only because I had no scallions), ham and cheese. Oh - and eggs.....of course.

5 eggs
1/2 cup - chopped green pepper
1 jalapeño (chopped)
1/4 cup - chopped shallot
1/4 cup - shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup - chopped ham (pre-cooked)

Whisk eggs in a bowl. Add all other ingredients. Boom. Done.

Well, except for you need to pour them into a greased (or paper-lined, I suppose) tin. 

Cook them for 20-22 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Oh - and as you can see, it makes six egg cupca.....ummm....muffins. 

I easily scarfed down two. I thought I'd be good and have one and a half but did go back for that other half. I could have done the third....but I am the model of restraint.

I'd totally do these again. And 710 was surprised when he woke up and found that I had made breakfast.

Cap'n Crunch, however, as not amused at his morning exclusion.

Song by: Jenna Maroney

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fur Elise

Petey Porn, Sophie Smut and a little bit of Buddy thrown in this week.

It was a cold week. He was gonna stay comfortable at all costs. 

He has to have the blanket for many reasons - mostly comfort. But lately he has been a snot factory, so have to protect the cushions too. 

Can I haz rest of your milk? - says both of them. 

I love his perky ears. 

Petey and his new buddy, Boo-Boo. (yeah, I know). 

Boo-Boo belongs to our new gay neighbors. So new, they moved in only four days ago. This is Boo-Boo's introduction to snow. He was a Florida dog. 

Buddy, the adventurous. 

My mom will complain about her: 3.5 mos old vs an 86 year old. But then she purposefully puts up the radio antenna so Buddy can play / destroy stuff. 

While my mother is going to get Buddy fixed and declawed (ruining my mom's stuff....and hand and feet), I fear her time with my mother is limited. We might end up with a new cat sooner than later. I'm worried and excited for that. We have a great balance now - I'm not sure how Sophie would do with a kitten. Petey won't care one little bit. 

Song by: Beethoven

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fifty Miles of Elbow Room

Just an update on my ever, and somewhat rapid, decaying body.

The beginning of the end was when I fell in 2010. The lower back incident that plagued me for months and many dollars of physical therapy.

Of course, there was my shoulder for 2012. More PT.

Somewhere in after that was my hand and my on-going battle with tendinitis of my right foot added with it morphing into plantar fascitits. I'm almost forgetting  a bout with my sprained kneed and of course my temporary hearing loss and on-going tinnitus.

And buried in posts here and there were hints of a sore elbow that was making it hard to do weight lifting.

Sheesh. I'm a frickin' mess.

Said elbow is taking center stage these days. I've had to stop doing any kind of curls, which are making my biceps look even more girly than they had been. Actually, I halted them a long time ago and it took months for the pain to dissipate.

But about a month ago, seemingly out of nowhere, the pain was back and for no good reason. There was no trauma. There was certainly no weight lifting.

I was trying to ride out the pain, but it became too pervasive for me to squash down. A typical day is a 3 on the pain scale, though in the evenings, it seems to increase to a 5 or 6. That I can't figure out. I tried to make a doc appointment only to be told they could get me in on March 26th!!!!!!

Fuck that.

A day or two ago my pain level started at an 8 and stayed there. While I have a fairly high tolerance for pain, this was wearing on me.

Yesterday, I called and got a same day appointment. Sure, I had to travel to a farther facility, but it was worth it.

And of course, I started to formulate scenarios: arthritis. carpal tunnel. One morning I even lay awake, figuring it was another bout of bone cancer and that I would lose my arm. It sucks being me.

Ruckiry (not Jon's boss), carpal tunnel can't happen in the elbow. So that was ruled out. The x-ray shows no signs of arthritis - so that is good. Oh, and no tumor or anything.

After some manipulation of my arms and looking at range of motion - or lack thereof - and gauging the pain at each exercise, I was diagnosed with Lateral Epicondylitis.......or as you might know it:

Tennis Elbow.

Forget the fact that I don't play tennis. Or rarely. And by rarely, nothing in the last decade.

And wouldn't you know it's my left hand! My eating, writing and 'batin' hand - which in theory could be why it is so sore. But nah.........those aren't the reasons. If that were the reason, I'd have had 'tennis elbow' since I was like 15.  You know, because I was um always writing and using kitchen utensils to eat.

I'm getting put on a prescription anti-inflammatory (yay, more pills to take!). I will have to wear an elbow brace for a bit. And I have a script for another round of physical therapy.  Yay me.

There are alternate treatments not covered by insurance, and ironically are cheaper than PT, considering our deductible has yet paid down, since this is the first medical expense for 2015.

But the weird-ass treatments include taking my blood, spinning off the plasma and injecting that plasma into my elbow muscles and tendons. Or the other one is injecting some kind of glucose serum into the same area. Then there is something with electronic pulses into the tendon. All running about a grand for three treatments.

While they sound promising, there doesn't seem to be enough data to support successful treatment. I'll probably just start going to PT next week.  {sigh}

If my father and grandmother were any indication - only another 43 more years to go.

Shoot me.

Song by: Iris DeMent

Thursday, January 22, 2015

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! 

I might be partial to Chrissie Hynde because she hails from 40 minutes away from where I grew up. 

I've said before, I thought the '80s would be awesome musically, as "Brass in Pocket" was the first song I heard of 1980. Ironically, from their debut album, that is now the one I am most apt to skip, as the 3.872.108 times I've heard it have been enough. There are much better songs on that disk. 

And even with death and line-up changes, the Pretenders were always a force to be reckoned with - though their MOR "I'll Stand By You" kind of / really sucks. 

To the untrained ear, one might think that Chrissie Hynde was the Pretenders. And in later years, that became a little more true, but never entirely. I did not really see a need for her to do a solo album, but she did - almost a year ago - with Stockholm

Hynde wrote and recorded the disk with the middle guy from Peter, Bjorn & John - who have now seemingly made their fortune from letting Two Broke Girls use one of their songs as the theme. 

And while maybe it is not fair to compare Stockholm to a Pretenders disk, it's almost impossible not to do so. 

From the opening of the first track, "You or No One" is unlike any of the band's songs. It almost has a '60s girls group jive.  "Dark Sunglasses" is about as pop as this album gets. It's good....accessible too, but without any sell-out kind of feature. 

Oddly, the next song, is my favourite. "Like in the Movies". The odd part is that it seems to have the same chord progression as "Dark Sunglasses", but it still is in lighter mode than it's preceding song partner. "Sweet Nothing" is good too.....but again....a very very very similar song structure as the other two. 

Guitar work on stuff like "a Plan too Far" has a surf vibe to it - something like from Blondie's debut album back in '76. But after 30 seconds, the song is just 'meh'. There's nothing special about it at all. 

And I like the almost military drumming in "In a Miracle", but the song kind of goes nowhere. And Hynde opening with a sandcastle analogy is just....well....not what I expect or want from her. Ever.  

Songs like "You're the One", "Adding the Blue" and "Tourniquet" don't do a thing for me. The latter's lyrics would have been something as a true rock and roll song, but the music makes it a sleeper.

There really is no comparing Stockholm to a Pretenders disk. At least not the first three or four. Hynde's voice is still has strong and sharp as it was back in 1979. 

The drumming isn't - or is ever going to be - as crisp as something Martin Chambers could pull off. He is seriously the best live drummer I have ever seen. And the instrumentation is just different than a four person band. This is a lot more of a studio creation, which is fine. And that is why it is more solo than band work - which is why it is not a Pretenders disk. 

Stockholm is a perfectly fine album. I'm not sure it measures up to what I expect of Hynde. And I don't mean as in the Pretenders. I mean as a strong woman of rock and roll. Most of this music comes over as too light for rock, to hard for more often than not it just languishes. 

It certainly had potential, but it is not quite fulfilled. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Till Death Do Us Part

For better or worse, that's what they say.

In 30 years we have seen both. Ditto with sickness and health. Richer and poorer too.

Yes, we have had some bumps along the way, some stops and starts, but today we consider it our 30th anniversary.

Can you believe it?  I cannot.

As I've said in previous posts, before same-sex weddings, us gays had seemingly arbitrary dates in which to attach our relationships. 710 and I are no different. We have our official wedding date, which was 25+ years after our "considered start date".

We had met at work. Looking back, it's inexplicable how or why we were drawn to each other. Neither of us were at our prime, even at 21 and 24. We were awkward at best. Still, I knew (or hoped) as we sat there day after day that we would go out.  ...and with the help of after work outings with co-workers, we eventually did....but then eventually without the others.

For years - decades maybe - the relationship was more work than pleasure. Much earlier on, I used to think it should be easier than it was and that we should just be able to enjoy it. But let's face it, I'm immature, so it took a lot more work on both our parts before we got to a point where buttons weren't pushed.

Oh hell, it took a while before we found out we had those buttons....and then we had to test and retest them.

It's safe to say that 710 has put up with a lot more with / of me than the other way around. Illness and surgeries just plagued me. Then there was our moving back to Cleveland where my family resides. It would have been easy - and maybe wise - to cut and run, but he did not. And now he can't, because of the kids.

Sometimes it seems like it has indeed been 30 years, and in other ways, it seems like only 30 months. He continues to make me smile and laugh (often unexpectedly) and sometimes he makes me grind my teeth. Hopefully I do the same for him..minus the teeth grinding thing, though I know I can frustrate him.

If How I Met Your Mother has taught us anything (and it has!!!!!), it is that in any relationship, one person is 'the reacher' and one is 'the settler'.

710 will deny it, but he is the settler. Poor 710.

So tonight we will go out to a really nice dinner. I'm such an old fart, I told him we could wait till the weekend, but 710 is insistent - and rightfully so - that we celebrate the day. This is why a January "anniversary" must bundle up against the cold to go out to do anything special...when they'd (i.e. me!) would rather just nest at home.

As for anything else special for such a milestone, that will wait for better weather. A better time of year.

The idea is / was going to Paris, but who wants to go in January? And now since I posted a Charlie Hebdo cover on my FB page, ISIS is just waiting for me to step into France's border. I won't give them that least for a few months. When I eventually get there, they can do their worst.

My genetic make-up (again, for better or worse) can have me hanging around for another 30 more. Hopefully 710's genes will have him do the same. Maybe by the time we hit our 60th, same sex marriage will finally be legal in Ohio.

As for the title image - you get a little seen glimpse of 710, albeit from 1988.

There he is in his Ravenclaw dress robes graduation gown. There I am in....lord knows where I got those pants, but it was the '80s. And no belt???  (and yes Morty & Co. this was taken outside of the old Larkins Hall.)

I got to meet my future in-laws for the first time that day...including his grandparents, sister and brother and their spouses. And this was three years after we started going out.

We might have pictures of us together that were slightly earlier than that. There are of me. There are of him. But I can't find any of us together. So this will have to do.

Well tomorrow starts the trek to 31 years.  Wish us luck.

Song by: Madonna

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Shopping with Blobby

Yet another installment in the drudgery that is everyday shopping. The camera-phone makes it a bit more fun - though I get looks whenever I take pics of products. Like I care what people think!

In keeping with yesterday's holiday, I just had to show this, because from the time of opening it, I laughed immediately and then pulled back in my own horror right after the fact.

I can't even take credit for it. My friend Sal - the Sal in Philly, not the Cleveland one - sent it to me yesterday morning.

I laughed and cringed a little bit with the pseudo-malaprop, and at the same time. True, it is a loofah, but........well ya know......the language comes off a little racist.

Maybe one of Martin's dreams was to exfoliate daily and have great skin! I mean, how do we know?

And you know the marketers had dozens of slogans prepped that the King family would never let them use - not that this ever made it in front of his family to begin with.

To be honest, I never Goooooogled to see if was a real item or not - nor am I doing so now. I'm sure one of you might.

If it is real, I don't truly gets into someone to think this stuff up, let alone put forth the capital to produce, distribute and market such an item. Then you have to wonder about who the hell buys this stuff.

I'll assume they are for white elephant presents - not so much to scrape dead skin cells off your body.

But I've never really been able to understand your Average Joe - why should I start now?

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Music Monday

Many of you would be surprised to see me include Crystal Gayle as one of my My Music Monday selections. ...or anything in my music liberry.

Yes, it's not "Don't it Make My Brown Eyes Blue" stuff. Other than that, I'm not sure I know any other Gayle "hits".

However, back in 1982, Francis Ford Coppola went bankrupt financing his movie, One From the Heart. Visually stunning - it played to a very limited being one of the few who saw it. But when you have Teri Garr and Natasha Kinski as your two takes a different kind of viewer.

Coppola was oddly wise in his selection for a soundtrack and one you'd never would think would work - which is maybe why it does, as on paper it defies logic or expectations:  Tom Waits & Crystal Gayle.....together. Gayle is a perfect voice to Waits' music - and his vocal. Who knew?

On some songs, it is just Waits' music. One some it is one or the other artist (sing Waits' songs) and one others, they duet.

I almost went with a Gayle-only cut, as I love her "Old Boyfriends", but it doesn't show the brilliance of pairing of the two. So I went with "Picking Up After You" - which is a really a great post-break-up song.

Waits is wise enough to use Gayle as his singing counterpart, but rarely do they actually sing together. They trade lines, but don't really harmonize - as it would be extremely difficult to harmonize with the man.

Gayle somewhat over-emotes her vocals, but when you sing with Waits, one almost must do that - and it works when you bring Garr and Fredric Forrest as the acting counterparts.

I suggest trying out the entire soundtrack. Granted it's not for everyone, but just looking at the pairing at face value you would think it's for no one and you wouldn't be more incorrect.

Tom Waits & Crystal Gayle - Picking Up After You

Sunday, January 18, 2015

We Shall Be Free

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King day. I don't have anything so heady to write that it should interrupt My Music Monday.

While in DC last month, we did make our way down to the MLK Memorial. The last time we were there, it wasn't.

A few things struck me about the memorial and actual site. It was simple and powerful. It was very well done (IMO). It was facing the wrong way.

Again, my opinion.

Yes, I get that the space was on the Tidal Basin and to have MLK facing out over its expanse was nice. It was open. It was free.

However, right behind - ok by a few hundred yards - was the Lincoln Memorial.

To me, the link between Lincoln and King were strong. To have him facing the man who helped free the slaves and where King gave his "I Have a Dream Speech" (oh, I hope the King family doesn't come and sue me for using that phrase!), seems the most natural thing in the world.

Yes, I get that it doesn't provide a good entrance set-up for the site, or as good a flow.

I loved entering through the "Mountain of Despair". This itself was much more powerful than the likeness of MLK. 

And I do like how it opens to the Stone of Hope. 

And yes, it is a great view of how it opens up to the Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial. And yes, even if you entered the other way and MLK faced the Lincoln Memorial, there are trees blocking a clear view, but still......

One amazing piece is a quote that was taken off the monument after it had opened. The once inscribed, "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness". was paraphrased and not actual. I'm not quite sure how they removed it so flawlessly, considering the letters had to be 1.5" deep.

My mother-in-law doesn't like the way MLK's hands are crossed - that he looks too closed off. But when you're on-site, it doesn't seem that way. He's in a thoughtful, reflective stance. Thinking. Contemplating.

If you're in DC, I highly suggest you make the trek down to see it.


Freedom comes in many ways too - though maybe not the way MLK envisioned.

I'm hoping that SCOTUS taking up the 6th Circuit Court upholding marriage inequality and recognition of same sex marriages in certain states (Ohio!) will possibly mean legal same sex marriage for every single state......not that there that many left who do not have it.

It seems we'll know in June, if the case is argued in April (which it looks like April 29th).

I know a lot of folks equate the Civil Rights Act with Same Sex Marriage. There are valid arguments for both and against that analogy, though more for than against (once again. my opinion).

My one regret for the SCOTUS suit is that we are not part of it. Our "case" never got filed and others took up the cause. Allegedly, it was all political depending on what justice would be hearing which case as it was filed, and our judge was not one who looked favourably on the merits of same-sex marriage.


And as for Selma, it is not one of the movies I am clamouring to see. Besides hearing that LBJ's portrayal is buffoonish or the changes to the speeches (thanks to the King family) render them only 'in the spirit of' MLK....I just refuse to pay to see anything with Oprah in it.

Song by: Garth Brooks

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sunny Afternoon

You think these posts would be easy, but it can be difficult to get cute pics of these guys. It's a lot of thrown away images that don't make the cut. And Winter is harder, as they are just a little lazier. As am I.

 Mr. Pete working on his holiday water buffalo horn. 

 Everyone wants to be close to their dad, it seems. 
I'm quite ok with that. 

 Sophie goes and plops down right in front of her brother. 
She could have gone anywhere, but nope....

Though once in a while she comes to me for love. 
Or heat. Though some experts say she's manipulating me. That's ok, I'm very bendy. 

Song by: the Kinks

Friday, January 16, 2015

Our Guessing Game

It's that time of year. Awards season. Morty's favourite time of year. Post-bowl games and nothing but awards shows and the follow-up specials on their fashion faux pas. You cannot pry him away from that television!!!!!

For the last three years, I've partaken in the Annual Oscar Guessing Game®, a contest with one Mr. Mike on who will guess (and it is just a guess!) the winners. The one with the most this point, nothing. 

The first two years we tied. Last year, I kind of liken it to Bush-Gore 2000. I claimed victory. Mike took it to court and won. Our relationship has never been the same. 

However, like every other year, everyone is invited to participate. Encouraged, even. Only once, has someone else done so. Thank you Erik

I fear that neither Mike or I gave ample opportunity to include others, so I'm throwing this out the day after nominations were announced. Of course, I had to get Mike on board with continued participation. 

Now Mike "claims" to wins every office pool. He "claims" to never have missed an Oscar telecast (until last year, that is).  I believe he is trying to lull me into a false sense of security  with this not "knowing half the movies" shit. We'll see. 

I have seen four of the best picture mentions. I believe we'll get to see one more before voting takes place. You can't pay me enough to see a Clint Eastwood anything. Bradley Cooper could be doing full frontal, and I still wouldn't see it on the big screen....tempted as I may. 

So this is a guessing game. As much about PR as it is about actual movies - and then there are the odds. Like Meryl Streep, as much as I love her, will NOT be winning this year. 

You have a little over a month to make your selections. I will be reposting the list below about a week before the broadcast and you can use said list to make your selections.

And yes, you have to make selections in all categories. It's not like any of us have seen all any of the shorts - animated or not. Or the foreign films. Don't fret too much. I'm not. 

May the best man - or Mike - win.  

Best Picture
“American Sniper”
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” 
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” 
“The Imitation Game” 
“The Theory of Everything” 

Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything”
Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall in “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke in “Boyhood”
Edward Norton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”
Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones in “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”
Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood”
Laura Dern in “Wild”
Keira Knightley in “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods”
Animated Feature
“Big Hero 6” Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
“The Boxtrolls” Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
“Song of the Sea” Tomm Moore and Paul Young
“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura
Original Screenplay
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
“Boyhood” Written by Richard Linklater
“Foxcatcher” Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
“Nightcrawler” Written by Dan Gilroy
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Emmanuel Lubezki
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Robert Yeoman
“Ida” Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
“Mr. Turner” Dick Pope
“Unbroken” Roger Deakins
Costume Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Milena Canonero
“Inherent Vice” Mark Bridges
“Into the Woods” Colleen Atwood
“Maleficent” Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive
“Mr. Turner” Jacqueline Durran
Documentary Feature
“CitizenFour” Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky
“Finding Vivian Maier” John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
“Last Days in Vietnam” Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
“The Salt of the Earth” Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier
“Virunga” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara
Documentary Short Subject
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
“Joanna” Aneta Kopacz
“Our Curse” Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki
“The Reaper (La Parka)” Gabriel Serra Arguello
“White Earth” J. Christian Jensen
Film Editing
“American Sniper” Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
“Boyhood” Sandra Adair
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Barney Pilling
“The Imitation Game” William Goldenberg
“Whiplash” Tom Cross
Foreign Language Film
“Ida” Poland
“Leviathan” Russia
“Tangerines” Estonia
“Timbuktu” Mauritania
“Wild Tales” Argentina
Makeup and Hairstyling
“Foxcatcher” Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
“Guardians of the Galaxy” Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White
Original Score
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Alexandre Desplat
“The Imitation Game” Alexandre Desplat
“Interstellar” Hans Zimmer
“Mr. Turner” Gary Yershon
“The Theory of Everything” Jóhann Jóhannsson
Original Song
“Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie”
Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
“Glory” from “Selma”
Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”
Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”
Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois
Production Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“The Imitation Game” Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald
“Interstellar” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
“Into the Woods” Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“Mr. Turner” Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts
Animated Short Film
“The Bigger Picture” Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
“The Dam Keeper” Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
“Feast” Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
“Me and My Moulton” Torill Kove
“A Single Life” Joris Oprins
Live Action Short Film
“Aya” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
“Boogaloo and Graham” Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney
“Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)” Hu Wei and Julien Féret
“Parvaneh” Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger
“The Phone Call” Mat Kirkby and James Lucas
Sound Editing
“American Sniper” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
“Interstellar” Richard King
“Unbroken” Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro
Sound Mixing
“American Sniper” John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga
“Interstellar” Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
“Unbroken” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
“Whiplash” Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley
Visual Effects
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
“Guardians of the Galaxy” Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
“Interstellar” Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

Song by: the Moody Blues

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Living in Stereo

My holiday gift from 710, other than some Hanukkah Harry gifts - was a bluetooth Bose SoundLink Mini.

I have played with it, although not enough.

First off, the sound is really great. And while it looks large in the image, it really isn't. It is very portable, which actually is the problem.

I'm so used to having stationery sound systems, I haven't moved it around where I might be and where I could possibly be using it. So it sits in our main living area.

Actually, truth be told, I'm not sure to having any sound system - stationery or otherwise.

With the advent of the iPod / iPhone, I don't listen to music the way I used to. At all.

I haven't heard music the way it was supposed to be played in a decade. Earbuds do no song justice - save maybe something like Rebecca Black's "Friday". And even though the iPod is an inanimate object, a song like that has to hurt its feelings. Certainly the ones of the folks who created and manufactured the device.

But anymore it is the car or the iPhone. Sometimes the laptop. Either way,  it is limiting in terms of sonic pleasure.

Ok. We do have the Bose radio in the kitchen which 710 rigged to play an iPod. But it's his old iPhone, since mine got stolen 3+ years ago. So more his music than mine, but that's ok, as it is our kitchen - not mine.

And the new Bose can be linked to five bluetooth items: so right now it's my laptop, 710's iPad and my iPhone. I just need to move the device around so I can play with it more.

And lately, I've been going to folk's house who are using their stereos more. I mean, receiver, tuner, and turntable. All of which we still have - though I don't think we have actual speakers anymore. Nor do we have most of our albums, as we ditched them on one of our moves - as who thought those would be making a comeback?

But either at Becky's or David's the LP is making it's way back into the mainstream. Even B&N are selling classic albums like Dark Side of the Mood and Rumours. They're not issued via the normal record company, so I'm not sure how that part is working, but I really miss vinyl.

I mean, not enough to go out and repurchase all my old records. And let's face it, these 51.8 year old ears can't really hear the nuances they once could. Yes, compressed music isn't all it could be via .mp3s but I'm not ready to set up a new stereo system somewhere in the house, that we wont' use that often.

Until then - I'll play with the new Bose.

Now, I can guess that 710 did not purchase this at the Apple store - which sells many of these types of devices. Since Apple bought Beats, their store has done away with Bose, especially since the latter is the official affiliate of the NFL.

Poor Colin Kaepernick got fined $10k for wearing his Beats at an NFL event. Seriously.

Of all the domestic violence, brain damage and substance abuse things going on in the NFL, wearing the wrong headphones is the fineable offense???

While he can afford the fine, it's widely known that Beats probably ended up ponying up the dough for him.

Of course, I just mention all of this so I can post a picture of Mr. Kaepernick. He's nice to look at, though he's allegedly hyper-religious (along with biblical phrases tatted on his body). But I'm not looking to hear him talk.

Moan maybe, but not talk.

Song by: the Cars

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Moon Rocks

If you've read this blog for any amount of time, I have a recurring question.

Usually it pops up when the possibility of having to do something adventurous in unfamiliar places? Or unpopulated places. Or worse - over populated places.

"Where do you poop?"

The lack of answer is what would keep me away from music festivals that have a half-million people in attendance. Granted, I'm sure they have port-a-potties, but before you even get to those massive lines, you have to get through 431,744 of the masses to even make it to those lines. And then it is still a port-a-potty where one is likely to drop their keys or phone into that blue and turd liquid.

Or on my drive from Oklahoma City to Lawton. Not a rest area or exit to be had in those 76 miles, if one indeed needed "a break".

And then there are those who hike Europe.

I get there are fields and woods and such. But the funniest part of the movie Up, for me, was the Wilderness Scout kid who wasn't sure if he was supposed to dig the hole before or after. And then you hear him say, after the fact, "it was supposed to be before!"

This is also why I don't camp. But roughing it for me is a Red Roof Inn.

Don't even start me on Everest. I get Base Camp I and maybe even II, but once you get up to IV - WTF? And From IV to the summit is 10-12 hours up and the same down. Your butthole would freeze off, so I'm guessing you just poop your pants?

Oh the humiliation. It's all I can do to survive when I have to use one-ply.

I'm still unsure - and unwilling to look it up - as to how one poops in space. Not so much the International Space Station, but you know, Neil Armstrong in a capsule for three days up and three days back.

So, since this is an ever eternal question for me, 710 thought it would be funny informative to send me an article on pooping in space.

Well, to be more specific - poop on the moon.

96 bags of it. Well, #1, #2 and some barf.

This of course, brings up a few more questions - one being: if the moon's gravity is 83% less than Earth, why are there 96 bags of waste there at all? Why doesn't that shit (pun totally intended!) just float away?

I'm not sure why that place wasn't treated like runners in the Antarctic marathon. They have to bag their pee and poop and take back with them. Sure, it might re-entry a little messy, should a bag break as they hit the ocean.

So space travel: another thing I can cross of my list of what not to do. Well, that and running a marathon in Antarctica.  Honestly, a trip to the moon had better odds for me.

Song by: Talking Heads