Friday, July 31, 2015

the Lion Sleeps Tonight

I got nothing.

Well - technically that is not true. But there is so little I can write about Cecil, the lion, that hasn't been done in the last 48 hours.  Sure I signed petitions and I noted my outrage on various sites.

I was mildly amused at people's outrage at the outrage. How dare we care more about a dead lion than we do about lives cut down in movie theaters or during routine arrests, they say.

A. It's not one or the other we have to be enraged about. As humans, we can operate at multiple levels. Honest.

B. It's Facebook. Give it 36 hours - people will move on from Cecil, just like they have already moved on about the theater shootings, police killings, SCOTUS decisions and Caitlyn Jenner. Whether you agree or not, that's how social media works. We might not be at Andy Warhol's 15 minute time parameter, but we're getting closer. We, like Mr. Mike, have short attention spans.

C. The lion had better PR. That's all there is to it. And we had a common enemy that people hate: no one likes the dentist (or the idea of the dentist) and it turns out, no one likes a dentist who hunts and hunts dirty.

Since I just had my check-up a month ago, I can't even crack-wise with my dentist about this. By the time December rolls around, no one is even going to remember this incident. Well except that Minnesota dentist - who might have to look for a Greeter job at Wal*Mart.

I have to believe, the DDS never saw this coming - certainly to this degree. I'd say "how horrid to be so vilified in such a short time frame", but it's not horrid. He is a horrible person - for this and the other illegal hunting he has done. It's not horrid, it's deserved.

Allegedly he voted for Romney - which is great. It proves that Mitt was a jobs creator. Just think of all the O.T. going into the police force of Bloomington, MN - protecting the dentist's business and neighborhood. Round the clock security - even though he isn't even there {allegedly}. That is economic stimulation!

Well, I guess that's it for today.

Song by: the Tokens

Thursday, July 30, 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! 

Admittedly, I was a little hard on Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell's last album, Old Yellow Moon two years ago.

Individually, I like both artists a lot and expected greater things from that disk. At best Old Yellow Moon was fine, but mostly it missed the mark. As a member of Harris' Hot Band years back and an accomplished producer in his own right, I figured Crowell would step-up and take the helm of the last album.....or even this one. He did neither on both.

The Traveling Kind is remarkably better than their last outing. Maybe it's the song choices. Maybe it is that Crowell wrote more of these. Maybe it's because Harris wrote some too. Perhaps it is Joe Henry's production.

Perhaps that there is a more 'country' bent to this than 'americana', the latter in which both have made great strides in the last few years - but early on, they were full-on country (not that they'd actually be allowed in today's sub-par version of country music).

With the opening of title track, Harris gives a nod to her mentor, Gram Parsons with "we don't all die young to save our spark" and then references both of her and Parsons (waycross boy & the red dirt girl). It's a nice song and nice harmonies between her and Crowell.

A really different kind of tune - which I wasn't sure I'd like, but really do - "Bring it On Home to Memphis". The song structure is different for both artists, but it works. I'm not sure I can say the same thing about "No Memories Hanging Round". Harris isn't in the best voice for this - and I think Crowell produced the ultimate version when his then-wife Rosanne Cash recorded it back in 1978.

Their cover of Lucinda Williams' "I Just Wanted to See You So Bad" is pretty frickin' good. Harris has always had a good track record at recording Williams.

The rest of the songs work on some levels - and some more than others. It could be argued that Crowell and Harris don't harmonize traditionally well - and that might be true, but their love of the music and each other's styles can transcend that.

Sure - it can be an acquired taste, but I don't think anyone would dispute the talent they have together or one their own.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wash Me Clean

There is a reason I should not be allowed to talk to certain vendors who do service for us. Like if they do an iffy job.....or g-d forbid a bad one - I'm one to hold my tongue.  ......that is, until I don't. And then venom just kind of spews forth.

We are in a little over a month since our basement flooded. And 3+ weeks since the company I hired to do the clean up did "the clean up".

Oh yes. Quotes.

When our neighbors used and recommended these guys, I though, " neighbors are pretty good with this stuff". I got a quote - $800 cheaper than the first quote. Insurance covered it.  Then two schmoes came out and did the work. With our neighbors they were there for over a day. For us, less than 90 minutes.

I raised an eyebrow when 710 told me they were done and gone. On the plus side, the guys said the pricing wasn't anywhere near what we had been quoted ($900 cheaper, actually), so I thought, 'cool, we can pocket the extra dough the insurance company paid for'.

Let's start with that the worker bees said, "we don't pick up x, y and z - you have to do that before we can start".  I was stymied, but 710 and I went to work while they sat in the driveway. So they actually started work 30 minutes later than scheduled. I started questioning - if they cleaned up basements, why are WE cleaning up ours first. It's the equivalent of cleaning the house before the maid gets there.

I was told by the company that they would bring and leave fans for the basement to dry and they'd pick them up the following week. None of that was done. We had to get our own fans to do that work.

I will admit to not going down while they worked. I know what was to be done and made the silly assumption they did too. And maybe they did, but they didn't do it.

What you see at the title image was before they came. What you see below, is how they left us.

Ok. It looked better. The grey is just unpainted floor.  ......and then it dried.

Granted it was better than the title image, but c'mon: this is not clean!

They did not answer 710's phone calls nor his emails. Until his second email, which came after the invoice. The invoice they said was based on the estimate. Dude!  How about based on the actual work? And the invoice was higher than the estimate.

This floor is not $1400+ clean. It's not fucking $40 clean.

So they could not get 710 on the phone and unfortunately they got me. Me who started firm and ended up just kind of losing it on them. "We never got a call or an original email" they says. (liars). Our workers can't give out pricing - let alone reduce it ("then why did they ask for 710's credit card?). Where were the fans? Why were they here less than 90 minutes but across the street for a day and a half? Why did we have to clean our own basement floor?  and of course the kicker: why is there still mud and dried sewage still on our floor?

Granted, I put them on the defensive, but they started a blame game - so you know how well that sat with me. And for the record - they answered none of my questions. Not one.

Since they were asking some questions back (the blame part on email and phone), I said, I would have 710 call them, but won't answer for him.

To my credit, I never once brought out the ultra-bitch card: their ad. Embiggen if you need.

I desperately wanted to ask how they could possibly rid a structure of a deadly virus if they can't even clean a fucking floor.

I am the model of restraint.

If you lead with fucking Ebola, you had better be able to eat off the fucking basement floor.

So I talked to 710 and let him know I kind of imploded on these folks and sorry for what he was about to walk into. But they came back out yesterday 100 minutes later than schedule (and the owner who was supposed to be there was a no-show!).

The floor is clean, but clearly needs to be painted.

....but it ain't gonna be by them. I'd rather make a Homo Depot run and do it myself. At least that's the plan now.

Song by: k.d. lang

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Baking with Blobby

I haven't made cookies for weeks. I've been trying to be good, but you know, we still like something sweet after dinner. I won't lie.

But I've been lazy. Which probably isn't a bad thing for the waistline when it come to cookie consumption.

With the weather lately, the last thing I wanted to do was turn on the oven too. But it was in the high 60s, and early in the day, so I went for it.

Another new cookie, but one where I had to do as little work as possible and clear out the cupboards at the same time.

Another cake mix to cookie recipe. I liked these much better than the last go-round. And believe it or not, even fewer ingredients!

The batter took almost as long to mix thoroughly as it did for the cookies to bake. Clean-up was in two stages (while the cookies baked and the cookie sheets after they were done). All done in record time. I was in and out of the kitchen in a half-hour. Tops.

Devil's Food Cake mix - 1 box
Vegetable Oil - 1/2 c
Eggs - 2
Confectioners Sugar - as much as needed

Add first three ingredients to a bowl. Mix completely. It is thick and becomes hard to incorporate, but this is almost all the work you'll be doing, so get over it.

Scoop into 1" balls. Probably better to let them sit for a few minutes before covering them in powdered sugar (or granulated, I suppose would work). I put 2-3 into a bowl of sugar coated them and put them on the ungreased baking sheet.

Place them 2" apart from each other and put into a pre-heated 350F oven for 8-10 minutes. I rotated the sheets half-way through cooking time.

You can see that it makes about 32 cookies. Not bad.

Let them sit on the baking sheet for 1-2 minutes after taking them from the oven. Then let them cool on a rack.

Some of the sugar stayed on, some baked kind of into an icing or glaze. But even the powdered sugar wasn't messy.

I'll be honest, I didn't taste test them until after dinner and 710 was the first to bite into one. He love it. So did I.

I suppose they are like a non-chemically filled Snackwell.  But they tasted so much better (from what I can remember of those cookies).

I've only had two of these, and I would definitely do them again.

Monday, July 27, 2015

My Music Monday

It's the last of the drinking song theme for me (Erik still has one more to go).

I had one other wine song and that might have been about it. It was cheeeeeeeesy, but that's kind of what would have made it fun. I might save that song for a "not intentionally funny" music theme.

But it's hard to get through this exercise without Amy Winehouse. I mean.....c'mon!

Nothing says drinkin' (well....and druggin') like Amy and her song "Rehab", which wasn't really recorded ironically. At least it wasn't initially.

What a difference a few years makes.

I'm on the fence at seeing her movie, Amy, which is already out here. It's kind of like seeing JFK and the Last Temptation of Christ. I know how they end.

"Rehab" is still great and it was practically the opening for the first episode of Glee. I don't know why, but it made me bust a gut when a competing high school show choir team opened their set with that song.

....and it fits into Erik's theme.  So there.

Anyone want to throw out ideas for a music theme for August?

Sunday, July 26, 2015


I've been thinking about the shooting down in Louisiana the last few days. Well that and the hundreds of shootings that take place annually here in 'Murica: Land of the 2nd Amendment.

I thought Trainwreck was ok, but certainly not bad enough to shoot up the theater.

Of course, the main character doesn't stay at home or keeps quiet in church. She's kind of a drunk, promiscuous sort, so no doubt that had Mr. Crazy Pants all up in arms. But all up in militia arms.

But as a friend of mine mentioned: 'why isn't this called terrorism?'.

It is terrorism.

The NRA can call it whatever they'd like. Law enforcement can call it whatever they'd like. Politicians can call it whatever they'd like. So can the media.

It is terrorism.

If an armed man in Afghanistan walks into a coffee shop with a bomb strapped on, or someone in Egypt shoots up a pizza place, even if they kill no one, the U.S. media, and U.S. politicians call it terrorism. Well the 'media' calls it terrorism because they're taking their sound bytes from the politicos.

If an armed man goes into a Littleton, CO. theater and kills 12 folks or an elementary school in Sandy Hook, CT killing 23 children, he is a madman who might have some mental health issues. But it's not terrorism. They are not terrorists.

And here is why it isn't terrorism - at least to both the politicians and their constituents:

If we were to call it "terrorism" it would mean one of several things.

First off - we, as a country, would have to actually dial down the rhetoric for those in the middle east who are suicide bombers in the name of religion or an oppressive government.

Secondly - with all the demonizing we have done regarding the middle east, and certain African nations, vilifying their behaviour so we can use military action, or to sanction, or to manipulate funding, we would have to admit that we are no better than they are.

And we aren't better. We just have a better PR department.

Can you imagine the deuce the NRA would drop if we changed the verbiage on this - and the word "terrorism" and "terrorist" were being used on a daily basis - and in the papers and tv news?

By all accounts, the Louisiana gunman was a Christian who praised the Westboro Baptist Church and said he followed the bible to the letter of the law. I don't remember a mass theater shooting being in those pages, but I can't say I've read it cover to cover for content.

Thank g-d, he wasn't wearing a gallibaya - because then he would have been called terrorist. Because it really comes down to clothing, travel and sometimes your birthright. Well that - and if you fly three planes into three buildings.

Oh - and your religion.  Yes. that is the big one.

If you're a Christian and condone or participate in any violent act (at least in the U.S.), it seems you're not a terrorist. If you condone and participate in any violence as a Muslim, well let's face it, you're fucked.

Honestly - if we want to change the culture in this country with mass fatality shootings, we need to call it what it is: terrorism. And the people who participate are terrorists.

Not once have I heard a politician or media representative call into question a suicide bombers mental health. But that is always their 'get out of jail card' we play here. I'm not saying our terrorists don't get jail time for their crimes, but it's always with the caveat of their mental stability. On U.S. soil, it's always called into question.

But slap a Khet partug or Perahan wa tunban on them, and well, they are just plain evil from the get-go.

The sad thing is, our culture is set. I don't see these shootings stopping, nor do I even see a politician actually trying to place restrictions on weapons (so stand down one is trying to take them away).

Let's just not beat around the bush here. We know what is going on, so does the rest of the world. Just own up to it.

We breed terrorists here - and in the name of religion and what some see as an oppressive government. Just like everywhere else. Plain and simple.

Song by: XTC

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Near You

I have lots of pics to choose from this week. Some I'll hold back in case of a non-photogenic week from Sophie and Pete.  As if!

But you never now when I might be too busy to take pics.  As if!

Hanging in the dining room. Petey awakening, Sophie being the Sentry. 


Oliver, the Rhodesian Ridgeback and Merlin, the Great Dane/Lab mix (8 weeks old). 
Petey didn't know what to think of Merlin, who wanted to play and kept yapping at him. 

No one barks at Petey. He didn't understand. 

With the neighborhood Corgis. There were five. now four. 
I only know one of their names. And I don't know which dog it is. 

Three-quarters of a family portrait.  Actually, I wasn't trying to get in there at all. Just leaning in to get them both in the shot was tough. 

I'd say that's all I got, but from the opening of this post you know that is not true.

Song by: Dwight Yoakam

Friday, July 24, 2015

App of the Month

What one of us dog-owners hasn't been afraid of losing our puppy?

The two times Petey has made a break for it, I was beside myself. Microchipping helps, but only if the dog (or cat) is found and actually scanned.

We've considered those tiles to hook onto his collar so we can GPS track him should he go missing. But hell, have you tried Sirius / XM? Go under the shadow of a tree and you loose the signal from space. Honestly, I don't know how governments run their military if they have to deal with tunnels or tree cover. Drones should be crashing to the ground right and left!

And considering Petey would high-tail it to the woods / ravine, I'm not sure the technology would work for us. Since it is new(er), the service fees are kind of pricey too - not that there should be any amount we would be stingy on when it comes to his safety.  ....but he has only broken away twice. So it's a cost / benefit analysis going on here.

And this app, Finding Rover, might prove to be nothing, but at least it's free.

Their website says that 7 million dogs are lost a year. They don't specify what 'lost' means or where they come up with that number. As Petey broke free twice in a year, does he count for two of those 7 million?  And does he, since I never 'reported' him as lost.

Finding Rover uses facial recognition technology - or so it claims.

And while I love Petey and know I could pick him out of a room of 1000 beagles, honestly, there are only so many looks a beagle might have. I fear the 'facial recognition' would pick up Sparky in Des Moines and not Petey in Cleveland.

So anyway - after you register, you build your doggie's profile - as such

And you get a picture of him as well, for his profile. This proved difficult as Petey is not a poser. Sure I have lots of pics of him, but not where he's looking right at the cam-ah-rah (say like Jenna Maroney!).  This was the best I could do.

It's probably not helping my case that I have a Julia Louis-Dreyfus movie Frontline on in the background. But the app asks you to put geometrical shapes around your doggies facial parts.

Then the app "scans" the picture. You know to separate it from all the other beagles with two brown eyes and one black nose.

I suppose it takes into account how close the eyes are together and their diameter. I suppose it could do something like that with the honker too and could weed out those freaky cross-eyed pups who have a nose like Tom Riddle.

Then there is a portion where you can report a dog missing or found. And the matching begins. But of course, one needs critical mass of this app for it to be helpful. I guess I would use it along with any other means of finding a pet, but I can't say I'm hopeful.....though NPR featured it, so maybe it's getting some legs.......or paws, as the case may be.

The Apple reviews are not glowing - 2.5-3.0 stars. Some of the lower ones were complaints on registering and I feel their pain. It took me four attempts before it would take our information. Not an auspicious start.

Again - all means necessary to find a missing Pete, assuming he even has the energy to make another escape plan.

Oh - and Finding Rover is free. I think I said that, but it can't hurt to say it again.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Boris the Spider

I was preparing dinner on Monday when I felt a pain on the back of my hand.

I assumed I had been careless and shredded skin when I passed it over something sharp or something of the likes.

As it really started to hurt, I finally looked at it - which I hadn't bothered to do before. There it was. A bump. A fairly small bump at that.

It hurt too much, and didn't yet itch, so I ruled mosquito bite out pretty early on. I had encountered no bees of which I know, so I assumed - and that's all it could be, an assumption - it to be a spider bite.

And people complain of spider bites all the time. I guess the question is - no one ever seems to actually see a spider, let alone see it bite them. I supposed these arachnids could be getting a bum rap, but I think they aren't.

The pain was annoying, but me being me, did nothing about it, save wash my hands a dozen times. I think before bed, I put on hydrocortisone cream, just to keep it from stinging so much. I'm not sure it did a thing.

By the time I woke up on Tuesday, It was almost impossible for me to make a fist. That was a bummer, because I was going for the Welter Weight title that very afternoon!

Seriously though.......bending or stretching my hand was extremely difficult and somewhat painful. And just annoying. You don't realize how often you use those muscles until you can't. And no, I wasn't deprived of self-love.......I'm a leftie...if it ever comes to that.

Still - what's a boy to do? most men in healthcare: hope it will go away.

Well, I did some quick research online because 710 goes (well, via text), 'what if it's cellulitis?'. Cellulitis is a thing in his family, so he didn't want me to be on that train.

WebMD said to elevate the hand, to which 710 asked if I was doing the Queen Elizabeth Heil Hitler maneuver. I was not. And you can really only elevate a hand for so long as you go about your day. It's not realistic. I didn't do ice on it either. But I did take a Benadryl Wal-Dryl.

Not only did the medication do nothing really to relieve my symptoms, I later found that my arm hurt from elbow to wrist. I figured that can't be good.  Still, I did nothing about it.

Power through - I say.

I don't know that is the right or wrong answer, it's just the approach I took.

A little after dinner on Tuesday evening, I took another Wal-Dryl and some ibuprofen.

I woke yesterday in better shape. The pain was less, the swelling was down, almost no itching and I can contract and expand my hand. I think all is right with the world.

It was only before drafting this did I have a light bulb go off. I bought grapes on Monday and reached in to clip off a bunch, so I could wash and eat them. You always hear about spiders and such being stuck in produce that is shipped from g-d knows where. I'm guessing whatever was in that bag - and you know it was a Brown Recluse! - is where I obtained my bite.

But I suppose I'm immune to a spider's bite and all their venom - or whatever poison they put in my system.

Great. Now I'm hungry for grapes.

Song by: the Who

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Beautiful Homes

My mother really likes Sherlock Holmes. And I'm not sure she's been to a movie in almost two years - with my dad being ill and then you know, dying.

Actually, possibly one of the last movies my parents saw was Guy Richie's version of Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. How horrible for my parents. I'm 99% sure it didn't resemble anything Holmes-y.

So on Sunday, 710 and myself took my mom to see Mr. Holmes.

We had seen previews a month or so ago and I wanted to go anyways, but with it being 90F out, I thought it might be a break from the heat and her normal cooking for the family - as 710 and I also took her out afterwards for dinner.

True to form - an opening weekend with a Sir Ian McKellen (or any art house film) - the blue-haired crowd was out in droves. For the longest time I was the youngest person in the theater - and one of the few without a 'wrap', in case one caught a chill - until a group of three teens walked in. We assumed a grandparent dragged them there.

In this version, Holmes deals with an aging self, now in his 90s. Still with three somewhat interwoven storylines, one going back 30 years, Bill Condon, the director, weaves them back and forth quite nicely. The interspersed stories will eventually tie into the others - all being "mysteries" of some sort.

McKellen does a nice enough job. He is well-paced and mindful in terms of his detective work, his home and his hobbies. His kinship with his housekeeper's son seems natural and not forced in the slightest.

Laura Linney, always does a fine job, though save for a scene or two, she is very very understated (both McKellen and Linney have been in Condon films before - Gods and Monsters and Kinsey, respectively). For most of this movie, she's almost too reserved, but she has her moments.

I enjoyed the performance of the boy who played Linney's son. I thought he did quite well.

The only other known actor (to me) was France de la Tour (Harry Potter, Hugo, Into the Woods and start in the tv show Vicious with McKellen). She was fine and I kind of laughed at her fourth billing when she's in the film for maybe a total of 120 seconds.

Still Condon did a nice visual shoot with the film - as he usually does. The film was low-key, which you'd sort of expect, but had some very nice moments.

Most of all, my mother seemingly enjoyed it, though I think she just liked getting out and doing something different - and then getting margaritas with us afterwards. That was unexpected. A Bloody Mary or Vodka tonic maybe. Tequila? That was something I'd never seen my mother do.

I'm not sure this will win any awards, but I'd give Mr. Holmes a solid B+

2015 Movie Count / Goal:  9 of 12

Song by: Chris Isaak

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

the Tea Party

Are there still Republicans? I mean, as presidential candidates go?

I have to believe there are actual Republicans around somewhere - non-candidates, that is. But I don't know of any. Unfortunately, I know far too many Tea-Baggers.

I suppose, of the dillweeds running for president, George Pataki might be the closest thing to an actual republican - the rest are RINOs, or Tea-Baggers. So naturally, Pataki doesn't stand a chance.

The GOP hasn't always run on 'fear', but for the last two decades they have. If it weren't for Karl Rove / Ken Mehlman / Shrub in 1984, who knows how much sooner same-sex marriage would have been legal. Now it's immigration, voter restriction, trade, healthcare and Iran.

They only have plans to block things, no solutions. And they're fearful someone will see that, so they point and cry 'fire' and everyone runs screaming.

But all the candidates are so fucking scared of the Tea Party that they don't dare stand up to them, as an actual Republican. To stand up - with a backbone and a lick of logic - and you're branded unpatriotic. Or - unelectable.

So they part the cheeks and pucker up to kiss the anus that is the Tea Party - a party who thrives on fear, has gotten a few people elected (and let's be honest, it's not that many) - yet has gotten almost zero accomplished.

Tea Partiers were up in arms about the SCOTUS / Same Sex ruling saying it has no basis in the Constitution. But they ignore the 1st Amendment which says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. 

Yes almost all will say that we were formed as a Christian nation. Not that I expect any of them to know what the Constitution actually says. They even got John McCain to say that this document established us as a Christian nation.

But that's John McCain: war "hero" and Sarah Palin-maker.  I liken him to Sarumon creating the Orc out in the Fangorn Forest with that bitch.

I do put quotes around "hero". The word is used far too often and far too easily. I think Donald Trump was way out of line in his demonization of McCain (well, actually almost all other POWs) in regards to being captured. But it goes back to the thriving on fear - which usually involves who screams the loudest.

...and no one is beating the Donald at that. LOOKATME!!!! LOOKATME!!!! LOOKATME!!!! LOOKATME!!!! LOOKATME!!!! LOOKATME!!!! LOOKATME!!!! LOOKATME!!!!

...and we all looked. So he wins. He got you to do exactly what he wanted.

Much like the Tea Party screaming - and probably normal Republicans run to that corner for fear of being defeated, but completely missing the bigger picture.

This is why the "GOP" could win in 2016.  But this is exactly how the DNC could win as well. Play to the fears of voters if the Tea Party sits at 1600.

In a New York Magazine article in 2008, their senior political correspondent said, the McCain of the 2000 presidential election wouldn't even recognize the McCain from 2008.

Truer words might never have been spoken.

All Republicans - Tea Party and otherwise - seem to idolize Ronald Reagan, but for the life of me, I don't know why. They all tout his successes, though I honestly don't know what they are.  Failed trickle-down economics? Adding a kerjillion dollars to the deficit? Star wars - the military shit, not the movies? Selling arms to Iran illegally?

But I have to believe even Ronnie wouldn't recognize his own party today, much like Barry Goldwater didn't recognize it when Reagan was president.

Goldwater's Republican would be a moderate Democrat these days.

I'm hopeful the dems can keep the White House. I don't think they'll get control of the Senate or House anytime soon. I don't think they'll ever get control of the House, actually.

If they don't, I do fear for this country. And if they do, I fear for whomever inhabits it. I think the only thing worse for the "other party" than having a black president would be having a female one.

If we had a black female one, they all just might spontaneously combust. So.......that would be something with which to look forward.

Song by: Big Audio Dynamite

Monday, July 20, 2015

My Music Monday

Well, it would seem a lot of songs in my music liberry that pertain to drinking might fall into a country-ish category. That's not so odd, I guess.

What is, is that most any song I have about drinking or alcohol are done by female artists. Those big lushes. Though even those still might be a stretch to call them 'drinking' songs.

Pat Benatar has one of those songs - "Strawberry Wine" - from her grossly underrated album Innamorata, way back in 1997!

I can't say Pat really talks about drinking the wine, other than to comment on how sweet it is - like life.

I like the song a lot, but it's not the best song the album. Yet it's good to crank up in the car - or anywhere.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Train Wreck

It's totally worth blogging about the movie Trainwreck, so I could put up a .gif of John Cena's O-face - right?

The movie itself might be worth it to see John Cena's nekkid ass and his (probably prosthetic) extended 'towel holder'.

Now, I really like Amy Schumer. Her stand-up is great. Her TV show, Inside Amy Schumer, can be great. When she's good, she's excellent. When she's not, the sketches tank. There is little in between. The same can be said for Trainwreck.

FYI - there are probably minor-spoilers here. 

I'd say the movie had a lot of funny moments, but I won't go on record saying it was a funny or great movie, and I was really looking forward to it, though I feared the previews were all the funny moments. And they kind of were and weren't. First off - I'd say one-third of the trailer jokes aren't even in the actual film. Sometimes variations of them are, sometimes they were cut altogether ("sometimes they were cut!").

The premise was good enough - the execution not as much. Yes, it's a rom-com, which almost means it has to have a happy ending. I disliked the movie the Break-Up (with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston), but I will give it this: it didn't really end up with a happy ending. Props for that.

Bill Hader is great on SNL or as a bit part in other Apatow movies, but as a lead? I wasn't buying it and seeing that mug so close up on a big screen was at times a bit too much. Schumer brings in a lot of her tv show folks: Colin Quinn, Dave Atell, the always brilliant Jeremy Jamm Jon Glaser, Bridget Everett all make appearances. The only one missing was Paul Giamatti.  And I really liked the woman who played Amy's sister. I thought she did a great job.

SNL's Vanessa Bayer was nice but completely wasted in her role. Tilda Swinton was unexpected casting and arguably has the best performance (and best line) in the movie. LeBron James, whom I'm still on the fence about his coming back to Cleveland, did a more than admirable job. And I loved how Schumer / Apatow made the multi-millionaire (several times over) a cheapskate - needing his parking validated and to split a $32.00 lunch check.

Then there were the cameos - lots of them. Some were just way too forced - like in an intervention for Hader's character. The one main character who didn't need the intervention, but I suppose that was Schumer's (the writer's) point. I get the sports cameos, as the lead male was a sports doc, but I mean - Matthew Broderick? Really?  Who the fuck did he have to blow to get in this movie - or A movie? Any movie.

I would say there were 3-4 times during the film when there was a reference to which 710, myself and our friend David & James were the only ones laughing in the theater - and one was at a War Games reference / dig at Broderick.  And one being a Manhattan / Soon-Yi jab.

And then there was the too ever present Billy Joel music {shudder}. Suffice to say - Amy awkwardly "dancing" to "Uptown Girl" was still less tin man-esque than Christie Brinkley's attempt. (Yes, reading that should garner an "ouch" from you people!)

There were some good lines. Great even. But not enough of them. I blame Apatow, who at least on Fresh Air says he screens the hell out of his movies - which means (to me) that they kowtowed to the 'average' audience.

Schumer doesn't cater to the average audience, but the studio and their CFO's do. So while Trainwreck is a rom-com, and it had all the ammunition to annihilate the genre in its own way, it does to a degree.....and then........well, it doesn't. And you're left with a half-in / half-out take on the movie style.

Actually Schumer's character was supposed to use ammunition to annihilate her interview subject - which is almost never touched on again, until she writes a nice, but very unexciting piece for the magazine for which she works. That part of the storyline is a metaphor for the movie itself.

I was disappointed that Schumer actually lifts - almost word for word - parts out of her stand-up, that is years old now, and played to death on HBO / Comedy Central - and drops them into the movie. It seems lazy and it wasn't done nearly as well as in her act.

While admittedly, much of the movie is based on Schumer's life, I'd wonder if she has another story to tell. The bigger problem is they had some great lines that she built a story around instead of the other way.

The movie was fine - but not much more, though it had so much more potential.  But at least it had naked John Cena.

As for a few other things - not of the film itself, but the experience. David suggested a theater none of us has been too, but one in which had recliners and reserved seating only.

On paper, it sounded upscale. And the actual theater was ok. The lobby and bathrooms needed to be imploded - they. were. disgusting.

But the reserved seating meant you did not have to show up early, and I would say 70% of the sold-out theater showed up at the end of the previews (and there were 2-3 really good previews! new ones, of which I had not seen or heard of). So I got to kick back with a beer and watch a movie in a recliner - which I'm sure they clean between each showing - right?

I find it hard to believe we are ahead of our goal and still so many movies we want to see that are still out, and a number still left to be released. If this keeps up, I might have to up the goal for 2016.

And in what world do we see a movie opening weekend, let alone three this year so far? We're not join-the-big-crowd kind of guys. Yet here we were on Friday night, waiting* to see Amy Schumer in her film.

*'waiting' = reserved seating. we wait for nothing.

2015 Movie Count / Goal:  8 of 12

Song by: Sarah McLachlan

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Just another Saturday - trying to find cute pics of the animules.

Bored with it all.  I hear ya!

I didn't dare make a noise. Last thing I wanted him to do was look up too fast and bang his head. 

The Queen. 

710 calls Sophie a princess, but make no mistake about it - her position is loftier than that title. 

Taking a walk in the driving range behind my mother's house. 

Best pic of the week - Sophie woke up and went over to groom Petey. I'm not sure why - and going by the look on his face, neither is he. 

Song by:  Foo Fighters

Friday, July 17, 2015

Visit Me

Yesterday I went and did the "right thing".

Tom, my 94 year old uncle, is in the hospital, so I went to visit.

He's a widower and has no kids. It was the right thing to do.

Clearly, while he might have thought I'd visit, he must have talked about my cousin. When I walked in the room, the occupational therapist asked if I was Tim.

Not missing a beat, I said I was Tim's much younger, more attractive cousin. And without missing a beat or even looking up, Tom said 'and he's blind'. "He" meaning me.

Until very recently, Tom has been very independent - including driving. Now he's just in a constant fight with my cousins about driving and living on his own. He admitted he's fine with not driving or his living arrangement, but now he kind of just wants to stay put to spite them.

He has the means for live-in help or drop-in help if he chose to stay in his house. And after dealing with my father's end-of-life wishes, I'm ok with him staying at his residence.

There is also talk of Tom coming to live with his sister - my mother.  Oy.

In theory, it's great. They are both alone. They are family. My mother has more than enough space.

If that happens, I give it 18 hours. But at least that 18 hours would give 6-7 weeks of stories from each of them - neither of them being remotely alike.

But I was regaled of stories of his brother (another uncle of mine who just turned 97!). And I asked about my never-ever talked about grandfather - who left when my mother was around five. Tom called him a "carouser" which is a nice way of saying "alcoholic".

My grandfather left after getting into a physical altercation with a then 15 year old Tom. He called Tom a "14 year old punk" and Tom took offense to being called 14. At least that's how this version goes.

It was a nice 90 minute visit. He might get out this weekend or probably the beginning of next week when they determine his treatment plan.

I do have to say, even though it wasn't the same hospital my father was in, the sights and smells of 2014 cam roaring back. And while I've spent the majority of my adult life working in hospitals, those smells never seemed so prevalent. I suppose now I just have associated connotations.

Anyways, the next few weeks with him (and my mom?) should prove to be interesting.

Song by: Electronic

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mistaken For Strangers

I know I have blogged about this before - but it's time for an update.

In the past, I've let you know of some sap who doesn't know his own name and continues to use an older email address of mine. Back in 2010 I replied to one of this guy's ex-girlfriends. And just a little over a year ago, I replied on an e-vite for all to see why I wouldn't be coming to a party.

I've tried to be "nice" - honest. It hasn't worked.  I've tried to be rude - still nothing. I even pretty much ditched Yahoo - though I haven't deleted the accounts. I just moved everything over to gmail. Yet on at least a weekly basis, I get email for this guy.

So I'm taking another approach. Instead of being rude, now I'm just being a dick.

He signed up for flying lessons at a certain date and time. I got the confirmation. And I waited. Weeks, even. Until two days before his lesson - then I replied back to cancel it. I wanted to wait until there was too little time to contact him another method, hoping he'd just show up and they'd given his time away and hopefully still retain his deposit for late cancellation.

Today, at 12:30 he has an appointment with a decorator. He had the choice between 12:30 or 16:30. I assumed he might be able to cut his day short if he had the 16:30 and meet with her. But 12:30 would be inconvenient and right in the middle of the day. Mind you - he doesn't even know about the appointment times let alone the one I confirmed. So she'll be waiting there for him. And waiting.....and waiting.

I got actual legal paperwork on expanding his property lines and asking if everything was in order. I ok'd it and said to just charge him whatever the going rate was - hoping the specifications on the deed were inaccurate, but he'd be stuck with it.

I've gotten a $200 Amazon gift e-card sent my way.  ...and was nice enough not to use it.  (so I'm not pure evil - am I?)

I got a work presentation from him boss - his fucking boss, who doesn't know his email address - asking for him to make changes to the presentation. I replied I would if I could find the time. I can only imagine how that follow-up conversation went.

Apparently he's looking for a new car. Should the dealer contact me, I will tell him the make and model for him to order and I'll be in to sign the paperwork when it arrives. Obviously with no intention of doing so - and not just because he lives in Texas.

And still - not a peep from one person. Off all the times I've fucked with these people, or asked them to contact this guy,  another method to say he was providing the wrong email - I got zero responses. ZERO.   (Ok, maybe one from a Mercedes dealer - who apologized then immediately put me back on their mailing list.)

So now I got actual bank documents on all his fucking financials and two account numbers. Emailed. From the bank. Unencrypted.

This is where I was rude and a dick.  ....because the two aren't mutually exclusive.

I actually replied - and cc'd all, since a number of bank personnel were included - and let forth a revelation, a request and a diatribe, all sprinkled with a load of expletives.

I told them THEY might want to reach out to their stupid fucking customer to let them know he's giving out the wrong email address. I let the bank themselves know that I was pretty sure they released information I'm sure their client wouldn't want someone else to have - and that I had opened and viewed all material.

I have to believe a few bank employees on that email took at least a small dump in their pants.

No, mind you, they're not about to admit fault to me, least of all in print, but all I got back was a comment about my 'colorful choice of words' and an apology that they must have mistyped the email address.

I did one more follow-up with them - restating (because I already had mentioned) that this was more a case of their customer not giving them proper information and to let him know since I didn't have his contact info.

But to do that, they'd have to admit to their customer the breach in personal information. I never got another response back from the bank, nor have I heard from the dickweed himself.

Honestly, I have no idea how to get to a guy like this.

So - let's break it down:  Bank. Property. Investment Property. Utilities. Church. High School. College. Friends. Weddings. Bachelor Parties. Parties. Hobbies. Hired Vendors.

All I need now are his medical records (though I do have their OB/GYN info) to make my - uh, I mean his - identify theft complete.

But they don't care. No one cares.

Forget about government oversight / spying. Forget about Target, JP Morgan, etc. These people are just handing me the info - no effort required.

Fear me.

Song by: the National

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Site of the Month

I contemplated using this as my Site of the Month but changed my mind. I'm sure I'll live to regret it, when I can't come up with a better Site category.

This Julia Roberts narrated video dates back to 2014 and it is part of a series concerning the environment.

Harrison Ford does "the Ocean". Edward Norton does "Dirt". Lupita Nyong'o is "Flower". Penelope Cruz is "Water" and Creepy Kevin Spacey is "the Rainforest".

The video series is presented by

Oddly, it is Roberts' video that really struck a cord with me - and I'm not even a fan of hers, per se. Sure, the other videos are in a similar vein, but this one is somewhat all encompassing - and it rings true.

Ford's takes on a somewhat nastier tone - one that anyone disagreeing with "his" view will readily write off. I find it harder to do that with the "Mother Nature" clip. Though the photography for the Ocean is spectacular.

You can infer that the clip leans heavily toward Climate Change, but it really doesn't - not if you really watch and listen. It's broader than that.

The reality is - it is true. Even if you assume no inference from the Conservation group. For as long as we have been here and taken resources, or even just shared them, nature prevails - one way or the other. It adapts.

And Mother Nature is right - how we choose to regard or disregard her will determine our fate. So whether you think climate change is real - that is one thing. That we pollute the water, strip the land, put toxins into the air - is really non-negotiable. It's a fact.

Though the religious folks must be fucking up in arms saying that Mother Nature has been around 22,500 times longer than man - and that "she" is older than 4.5 BILLION years.

That is a lot longer than 6,000+ years.

And the deniers are all over these videos. With this video less than two minutes in nature - and YouTube has video responses that go up to 39 minutes!

It seems that has struck a nerve with someone. So they must be doing their job.

Screw it - I'm just making it my Site of the Month.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down

In the never-ending quest to change-up the yoga routine, David and I took out practice to the streets.

Well.......street.  Singular.

Euclid Avenue to be specific.

Cleveland has been under quite a bit of a revitalization these last few years. So far so good.

Actually, in the almost 20 years since I've been back, I think this is Cleveland's second (maybe third?) try at revitalization. Though this time seems to be the charm - or so it seems.

A decade and a half ago, the Flats, which were not only praised with the last surge of Cleveland growth has literally been razed. Drunken boating accidents that killed people,  drunk people going in the river to drown, overly aggressive bar bouncers literally gouging someone's eye out, overly aggressive bartenders and bar owners putting GHB in the water it was serving its customers sounded an early (but not early enough) death knell for the East Bank.

In theory, the Flats could be fun but you had to be drinking. If you were there for a meal before an Saturday or Sunday Indians day game (i.e. sober), the streets just smelled like vomit, piss and regret. It was way out of control - everyone lost their licenses, shuttered their doors and then the wrecking ball came in.

Now it is being redeveloped with high-end apartments, office buildings and nice places to eat. It is still a few years away from being completed.

Downtown itself has a 97% occupancy rate for all apartments and condos. Considering 8 years ago, no one lived downtown at all, that's quite impressive. There is a list of old office buildings waiting to be converted into residential space - and with an actual grocery store and ever expanding businesses, downtown is quite the viable living option. And it is something 710 and I have talked about doing.

Anyway - back to yoga.

The idea of it was nice. Set on the main street that runs through downtown. Shut down for us, but running right through Playhouse Square.

Other than NYC, Cleveland has the largest theater district in the nation. Once run down, all the major theaters (5 in all) have been restored to their heyday. The smaller ones are there too, but the main five go back to the 1920s.

Playhouse Square just received a regional Tony Award.

The issue I have with the district are the tacky arches, which seem to be some kind of style lately, and the hideous chandelier that hangs over the intersection of E. 18th and Euclid.

I am kind of waiting (hoping) for an 18 wheeler to "accidentally" take it out.

And the amount of stupid of theater goers is amazing. Running out into the middle of the (non-closed down street) to get their picture taken under it.

The practice idea was nice and I'm all for promoting Cleveland, but the practice itself was just ok. It wasn't strenuous, it wasn't a good workout. And Bri is all about movement - dance, almost - and while it is fun for most, it is not for me.

I don't really dance. Let alone sober. Or while there is sunlight.

But I don't think I've practiced on a 'street' before. There was no balancing poses. I'm not even sure if there were any Sun A flows. She didn't try to sell her studio too too much, nor did the tie in with a clothing store who sponsored this event - but it got us practicing outside and I'm all for that.

At least it was free.

Song by: Paul Young

Monday, July 13, 2015

My Music Monday

I am continuing with Erik's "drinking" theme for my My Music Monday and his Hi-Fi Friday.

I realized I only had four Mondays to his five Fridays. And one of my Mondays (today) also has 12 of 12. Normally, 12 of 12 would be the only post of the day (btw....keep scrolling down after this post or click here for the 12 of 12), but so I don't flounder with only three audio entries, you get a double post today.

Yay you.  ?

Sinéad O'Connor's first two albums are pure classics. While her second, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, is her best-selling disk (thanks mostly to "Nothing Compares 2 U"), Lion & the Cobra, her debut, is still my favourite.

She's had good stuff since too, but not as consistent. And that whole Pope picture / SNL thing kind of tossed her off the tracks - though I think that was on purpose. I suppose she didn't like being that famous and derailed herself.

And while Lion & the Cobra had some popular tracks (well, at least in the circle with which I ran), I think my favourite song on that album is one of the lesser known: "Drink Before the War".

Like a number of songs on the album ("Troy", "Jackie", "Just Like You Said it Would B"), the song starts out extremely soft - enough so, that you might not know it is actually playing. But like the other songs, it builds until O'Connor is full voice. It's an effective tool.

It's a song about drinking, so it fits the bill. But I think it's a good song, regardless of the 'theme'.

Sinéad O'Connor

12 of 12

So I'm doing my 64th 12 of 12

Normally it is 12 pictures taken on the 12th of the month. Since I only post once per day, you get my images the following day. All pictures taken with my iPhone. Click images to enlarge, if you choose.

Created by Chad Darnell and picked up from, what I can tell, any number of random bloggers who then link back to him and vice versa. Chad is no longer doing this, nor is successor coordinating the linking of other 12 of 12'ers anymore. Now it's just Erik (and sometimes Jim) and myself - that I know of. 

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

05:40.  Sophie Alarm Clock. 

She wasn't 10 minutes late. I tried to ignore her for the first 10 minutes. 

 07:15.  Old Person Chore. 

I'm a day late filling our weekly pill distribution centers. 

09:35.  Downtown Cleveland. 

I like the freighter being loaded with salt (?) or (ore?) or coal (?). 

09:38.  Watching sail boats leaving Edgewater Park Marina to join a regatta. 

09:45. Rescue inhaler. 

Allergies and asthma were acting up before the start of yoga class. 

10:25. My Downward Facing Dog view.

Beach yoga at Edgewater Beach

11:20.  Post yoga tea (Darjeeling) at Cleveland Tea Revival.

13:15.  Lunch.  

Turkey & cheese and homemade cole slaw.  I do lead an exciting life, no? 

15:05. Getting the shower ready for me.

Oh, the things it has seen!!!

16:30. Had to stop in Shaker to let Petey pee.

Sometimes he gets too excited during the first few minutes of a car ride. After that, he always calms down.  (710 took this from the car.)

18:00. Petey & Boomer. 

Pete felt good enough to take a trip to my mom's house. My sister brought Boomer. They're good eggs when they're together. 

20:05.  Dessert.

Häagen-Dazs Chocolate and Peanut Butter ice cream with some shards of Brownie Brittle.

You'd think being a weekend day, that I'd have a Baker's Dozen - but I don't. Sorry. Maybe for August's 12 of 12.  Maybe.