Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Year in Pictures - 2016

Time to wrap up 2016 - such as it was.

There is nothing about celebrity deaths or that g-d awful election in this. It's just a few moments in time that I experienced in the last 12 months. Usually I do two pics per month, but all bets were off this year. April isn't even represented!

I tried to keep it up.  (and yes, that's what she said.)

January 2016 - Service Station

....from my little used Instagram account (or: where I place my artsy pictures)

February 2016 - Pete's last trip to my mom's house. 
I miss this guy more than I can say. 

March 2016 - Morty & George's wedding reception

 March 2016 - same reception
with Rebecca and Dith

May 2016 -  specifically, May 15th!

Fucking, May 15th!!!

June 2016 - Yoga at Playhouse Square.

If it weren't for David, I might have skipped.

July 2016 - Storm on the Northcoast

This is not my photo. I took one, as I watched the front come down the Lake Erie shore. 

July 2016 - Downtown

July 2016 - Public Art

Instagram again.

August 2016 - National Portrait Gallery (Washington DC)

It wasn't art - that is, until I took a picture of it.  Instagram again. 

August 2016 - the sad indictment of America (North Carolina)

.....and no! I did not buy this. 

August 2016 - Nag's Head

August 2016 - Storm on the Sea

September 2016 - Cleveland's own Hiroshima.

Ok, they're tearing down a long abandoned church.

September 2016 - Shep's (fka Gaston) first meeting and picture

He was not ready for adoption at this point and as you might know, we lost him to another couple. He was returned a week later, as luck would have it.........for us and him. 

September 2016 - Adoption Day

Shep with his shelter toy. It's still his most favourite one. 

October 2016 - 710's niece's wedding in Charleston, WV.

Well, pre-wedding Rain had come and gone and it was a lovely outdoor ceremony. 

October 2016 - Family portrait. 

October 2016 - World Series, Game 1

October 2016 - World Series, Game 1
Ooooh. A-Rod and Pete Rose!

October 2016 - World Series, Game 1
44,000+ people at the stadium and I run into my cousin, Ted, in the men's room. Ted flew in from NYC for the game and I didn't know it.....well, until I had to pee. 

December 2016 - three days after my 'procedure'.  

They didn't tell me about swelling of the bridge of my nose....or my nose and eyes. Pretty!

December 2016 - Cousin Billy

Since other cousins have been featured, why not Billy?  I love Billy. 
He was in town for David's art show. And we had a Shiva Mulligan.....and brunch....

.....and a trip to the family mausoleum. 

If you ever consider being buried in one, go on cold cold day in December. You'll change your mind right quick.  Robin (avec hat), is another cousin, Billy's sister. Rachel is Robin's friend and a very nice and funny woman. 

December 2016 - possibly our last movie for 2016.  Review to come. 

So there you have it. It's not all that 2016 had, but again, can any one blog post do that?  Je think not.

The last 12 months had its good and bad. I cannot say I'm sorry to see it go. But I can't say I'm looking forward to the next year.......or four.

I am glad you stuck with me for the last annum.  Let's do it again, shall we?

Friday, December 30, 2016

A Year In Music - 2016

Normally, this is where I'd do my Year in Music segment.

2016 goes on record as one of the lamest years for music overall. For me, there were not a lot of releases I thought were good, let alone great. Ditto with individual songs.

I for once do not have a best album for the year. Nothing stands out.

If I had to go with one, it would be a pseudo-repeat from last year with New Order's remix album - Complete Music.

Songs were a little better, but I feel my lack of radio listening is snuffing out my ability to make good choices.

....and yes, I just used the verb, 'snuff'.

I do have a few songs of which I've enjoyed this year - some even surprises me a little.   ...and not unusual, I'm kind of all over the board here. I'm not saying it is great music, but again, I enjoyed it for one reason or another.

An song from the movie Sing Street.

The movie and its music borrows heavily from the '80s. "Drive it Like You Stole It" is heavily influenced by Hall & Oates' "Maneater" ....and it works.  They have some good vocal arrangements and I find myself hitting 'repeat' a lot when it comes through rotation. It's pure pop and I love it.

Capital Cities new song played incessantly on one of our trips this year, thanks to SiriusXM. I think it was to Maryland and back for my mother-in-law's service. If I have a problem with the song, it is that while it's called "Vowels", they only use three of them. But oddly, it's a catchy tune.

Fitz & the Tantrums rank with "HandClap".

Overall, I'm not a Fitz fan, but I like this one.  ....and I don't know why.

I have no rhyme or reason for liking "Heathens" by Twenty One Pilots. I think the music and lyrical phrasing are someone hypnotic. I'd never purchase it, but it is on the radio enough. What really baffles me:  537,570,134 views.   Really???

This is the third year in a row that Sara Watkins has made this list in one form or another (Nickel Creek or Watkins Family Hour).  I just enjoy a lot of her music. Her newest solo release has some good stuff, but really enjoy "One Last Time".

It's a little underwhelming - or at least I think so - but it is what it is.

Here's hoping 2017 brings a more robust selection.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


As a gay geek with a blog, it seems I am contractually obligated to comment on Carrie Fisher.

I guess for me, the surprise isn't in the news that she had died, it is that folks claimed her to be alive and stable post heart attack.

Working in a hospital, you see a lot. Do-gooders might have used that AED to revive Fisher on that plane, but I can't imagine she was alive. Just my $0.02.

Of course, 'stable' means very little. She might not have gotten any worse (well, I mean, at the time), but she wasn't continuing to crash.

That said - she was kind of a marvel.

Let's face it, if we're truly being honest, Carrie could barely act her way out of a paper bag, yet we loved her in spite of it....or maybe for it.

My mother still will attest that she is the only good thing in the Blues Brothers. She just loves Fisher's performance in that. For her so-so performance in When Harry Met Sally, I still found her to be a highlight. And she was passable in Hannah & Her Sisters (though how Dianne Wiest's character \ dealt with Fisher's character in her screenplay within a movie is hilarious).

What she excelled at was writing....and talking......and bringing crazy out to where it isn't taboo.

For writing - it was books, or screenplays, plays or script doctoring. I loved the movie Postcards from the Edge. Sure, Streep was great. Yes, Mike Nichols did a great job directing, but it was Fisher's book-to-screenplay that made it all work.  That and her life, which it wasn't so loosely based upon.

Fisher was great in interviews. She was quick, she was funny, she was usually spot on. Her HBO special, Wishful Drinking, was just fun to watch, though it had it's shards of heartbreak. You can make fun of past relationships, but the demise of those is never fun - so you have to make it funny. Or try to.

Carrie was the queen of guest shots. If she got union scale for them, she still could have been wealthy. Family Guy, 30 Rock, Big Bang Theory, Sex and the City  - I'm sure there are a thousand more I never caught.

Yet it's been Fisher's up frontness (it's a word!), with being bi-polar that has been great. I'm sure at one point she tried to hide it, as that is the natural reaction. But at some point, she gave up the ghost and became the unofficial spokesperson for mental health.

She discussed the struggles on and off medication. That she happened to be in two top 10 movies of all times, gave her a cashe that you can't get from a no-name on a TedTalk. When Princess Leia talks, people listen.

Hopefully they did.

Honestly, my first thought when I heard she had a heart attack on a flight from London was, "oh - I hope she finished her scenes from Episode VIII".  Regardless of how that story arc turns out for her - assuming she survives that storyline - whatever they planned for Episode IX will most likely have to change.

And yes, most the interwebs first thought was "Fuck You 2016 - not ANOTHER one".

I haven't done a comparison - as if one really could - to see if there are more or less 'celebrity' deaths than other times. But here's what I think it is:

We are now older and this is no longer our parent's generation of entertainers dying off where we go, "oh, I've heard of him" or peripherally know their work. No, these are the artists with which we grew up - the ones that made impacts on our lives or have some kind of cultural connection.

The deaths seem more prominent now, because we've been with Prince since 1978, or Leia in '77, or Bowie since '73.

And if we want to get right down to why it sucks so much is: these 2016 deaths we've experience, the folks are not that much (if any) older than we are right now. That probably scares the fuck out of more than a few of us. Not me, as I've always been a fatalist, but I get the reaction.

Here's what really sucks - it's only going to see worse as we go along into 2017 and beyond.

Song by: Primary1

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Praying for Time

As a gay man with a blog, it seems I am contractually obligated to comment on George Michael.

I remember seeing him when at Trilogy - a three story bar in Columbus, and oddly enough, not a gay one.

Well, I saw WhamUK's (which is what they were called before they were just Wham!). I was with a bunch of straight white boys, and when either "Young Guns" or "Bad Boys" (I now can't remember) came on, no one knew what to say.

The thing was so borderline homoerotic, it was uncomfortable for all - and at the time, they didn't know I liked guys. Oddly enough, it wasn't Michael that I found the attractive one - it was Andrew (pre-nose job).  I bought the record the next day (if nothing else than for their cover of the Miracles' "Love Machine")

Yes. I am that gay.

But I have to say, their second album, which I never purchased (nor their third), might have been good, but I couldn't get past "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go". I just couldn't. The music was bad enough - but George's make-over:  highlights, whitened teeth, tan skin, neon clothing. It went from homoerotic to just plain homo.

I chuckled over the girls who loved him. I was thinking even Louis Braille knew this guy was queer. And trust me, it wasn't wishful thinking.

Whatever you think (sorry - thought) about George Michael when he worked a song, he could make it great. The problem used to be for me - and it carried over long after - was that he cared more about the pop hit than the song. I mean, does anyone think that "I Want Your Sex" was a great song?  Or "Club Tropicana"?

The answer is rhetorical.

In his song "Freedom" he at least recognized his strike while it's hot mentality in his lyric:  "when I knew which side my bread was buttered / I took the knife as well"

His commercial problem started with the end of that song: it was basically his sign off that he'd no longer cater to that MTV faction. It was here I actually went back to purchasing my first George Michael album.

Maybe it was the music, maybe it was his public circumstances, maybe it is a pop star's life span or maybe it was all coincidence, but it was a this point his music became interesting to me. But his releases were fewer, and had less radio-friendly songs, regardless of how good they were. He hadn't had an album of original material for 12 years.

Four + years ago, I had Mr Michael as a My Music Monday selection. A live version of an Elton John song that to me is just a stand out.

Ironically enough, I heard a song of his the other day and thought, "I wonder what he's doing these days".  That question was answered two days later while sitting in a Chinese restaurant with 710, David and his wife.

So, we say goodbye to another one this year.

2016 has been hard on musicians.  ....and Keith Richards is still alive and kicking. mull that one over.

Song by: George Michael

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

We Learned the Sea

710 said after seeing Manchester by the Sea: "well, Casey Affleck is certainly can run rings around his brother's acting".

He laughed immediately after wards, because even in a dark car, he could feel my eyes go into a 'no shit, but who can't?' roll.

Yes, Ben has two Oscars, but one is for writing, one for best picture (which is production...not directing). He has zero Oscars for acting.

And yes, Ben has it over Casey in the looks department, but not in the acting one.

Anyway, by the sound of it, Manchester by the Sea is / was supposed to be the Feel Bad Movie of the Year®, and it well might be.  That said, I think my preconceived notions on how sad it might be were so elevated, that after wards I internally went, "well that wasn't so bad".

Make no mistake, there is little 'up' about this movie. It is a tale of a man trying to find his way through multiple layers of grief. Some you know about, some you learn about.

Around one-third of the movie is told in past sequences, though I'm reluctant to call then 'flashbacks'.

Grief is the central part of Manchester. It deals with family interaction, which entails their grief as well and all the way each individual processes it - though some have encountered more sorrow than others.

Writer and Director, Kenneth Lonergan, tells stories in 4/4 time. Well, this is only this third film and I've only seen one other with You Can Count on Me - which is now 16 years old (how is that possible?). Mark Ruffalo was in that film and just outstanding.....and I kept thinking he should be Affleck's character. In certain ways he was - as there was a vein that ran through "Uncle Lee" that reminded me of Ruffalo.

It would be easy to classify Affleck's acting as 'hanging his head and the ability to almost only use single word dialogue' method, but that's selling him and the story short. And it took to well past the end of the movie for me to really grasp that. With no spoilers - he is haunted, and rightful to be so. As he tells his nephew, "I can't beat it"........and there is not scenario in which he can.

You'll have to see what 'it' is.

Michelle Williams does a nice job in the few scenes with which she appears. Matthew Broderick makes his third appearance in a Lonergan film (3 out of 3), in a part that while not a complete throw-away adds extremely little to the story. Had Lonergan developed more of religion into storyline - which could have been natural given some of the circumstances - it might have fit into the movie, but I think it was there just to give something for Broderick to do.

Kyle Chandler does well - but when doesn't he? The kid who plays his son does a nice job. While you think he'd have more emotional needs and neediness than is portrayed, I have to remember it's a 16-yo boy. If he emoted more than most of his age, the movie; the story, would be dishonest.

There are no tidy endings here either, though I wasn't expecting them. However, I was expecting a sadder movie, though I suppose that is all relative.

Everyone is saying it is 'the best movie of the year'. I supposed that depends on what scale you use to judge. It is clearly well done - some of the cinematography is just magnificent - it is certainly well written, acted and directed. It's just the tone that makes it tough to say it's a 'good' or 'great' movie.

If you have seen the film (or have no plans to) and want to read an alternate review, I suggest reading one at ChristianAnswers.  There is the main review and then an opposing / even more negative one below it. This was delightful fun for me to read aloud to 710.

2016 Movie Count / Goal:  24 of 18

Song by: Dar Williams

Monday, December 26, 2016

My Music Monday

Last My Music Monday of 2016. And last one of the live music theme.

I'm going with the Dixie Chicks.

Well, the Dixie Chicks covering Beyoncé .

I mentioned when we saw their concert earlier in the summer, that the Chicks covered a long off Beyoncé's 2016 album Lemonade, called "Daddy Lessons".

I'm not fan of Beyonce, and I'll admit I've never heard the original, but I was down with DCX doing a version of the song. The performed it during their acoustic set and it seemed to work.

Allegedly, Beyoncé and DCX performed it live - and together - at the Country Music Association awards, which pissed off all factions of that part of the industry.

13 years in, and country music still holds a grudge against the biggest selling female act in their genre.  So they weren't happy the Chicks were there. And they certainly were not happy that a black woman - who isn't a country artist - was at their night of nights (though country music seems to have 18 of these award shows annually).

But it's Dump's 'Murica now, so racism, bigotry and misogyny reigns.......and it is country music where the only two people of colour are / were Charlie Pride and the lead singer from Hootie, so, you know blacks are not welcome.

Wow - I get a lot into a post about a live song, don't I ?

As it was only the second time the Dixie Chicks performed the song - though they'd end up doing it nightly thereafter - you have to endure the first minute of the video as spoken intro.....or you just skip ahead to the actual song.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ringing of the Bells

Hope everyone is having a good holiday.

VERY low-key around here, which is fine this year. We somewhat miss not decorating, but honestly, it just wasn't our year.

We will exchange gifts of course.  Possibly a movie. We saw one two days ago - and it looks I won't be able to blog about that one until early in the week. And the next two (?) might not get posted until after first of the year!!

And then there is most likely Chinese fud tonight, though our go-to place is under renovation, according to my cousin.

But please enjoy your day.

And enjoy the only good version of "Ringing of the Bells".  Beeker and the Swedish Chef (he's got my hat!) make everything better.  And while not normally an Animal fan, he made me laugh.

Song by: the Muppets

Saturday, December 24, 2016

We End Up Together

It's that one Saturday of the year when it is other time for other people's pets to shine. I've assembled some of my blogroll and some of my friends to have their cats and / or dogs be featured on a day usually dedicated to Sophie and Shep.

Most of the pics I requested via email or text.  A few I just swiped ((other) Brett, Torn, Jon, David and Anita).  Ok....maybe more than a few.

It's fun to include others.  So enjoy.......

(the other) Brett & Nico's dancing dogs - Harley & Holden.
I do love the Rhodesians. And Brett captures them well in motion. 

Otis.  Magic Mike's better half - - no offense to Peter, of course. 
And apparently Otis is a member of the Crips.  Or is it the Bloods?  I'm so off on my gang colours. 

Phoebe.  CB's brown tabby. 

Rebecca's Barkley. He's kind of a full-grown version of Shep. 

Morty & George's boys - Logan & Skeeter. 

Jon & Tommy's poodles - LiLou and Bruno. 

Meredith & Norman's Rollo (who is now much bigger), London and elder statesman, Ripley. 

Georgie !!!!!!    Torn & Serge's boy!

Our neighbor's stray to posh surroundings:  KitKat vanDijk

Fearsome's brood.  There are six of them.  You just have to look closely for all of them.
I am just loving this picture.  I can't even get Shep by himself to sit for a proper picture. 

Dr. Spo & Someone's Harper. 
I just love Harper, and I've never met her. 

Erik's lot:  milli, Luna, micro

Bob & Carlos' kids: 
Upper left -then clockwise: Tuxedo, MaxGoldberg, Consuelo Roca-Jones and Ozzo. 

John is writing again (well, kind of), which means there is more possibility of seeing more Scooter !!!

O.M.G.  it's Ted - my cousin David's dog. 
Not only is Ted so fucking cute - this picture just kills me!

Anita & Ritchie's Lola.  
It's just the best image of the bunch. I'm not playing favourites with the pets, but the picture itself is just outstanding. 

....and of course.....

Shep - early in his residency here, as taken by David. 
Shep didn't even have a name when this was taken. 

Soph & Petey.  
I still miss the guy. I think Sophie does too. She's around Shep all the time, but not as relaxed as Mr. Pete. But they're getting there. 

That's it for 2016. Well, in terms of pet pics.

I really want to thank everyone who participated. It was a great set of images, and a great gathering of four legged family members.

Song by: the New Pornographers

Friday, December 23, 2016

Ad of the Month

Maybe I should call this Ad of Every Other Month.  I haven't been that consistent. I'm trying.  I suppose one of the issues is I don't see a lot of ads. DVRs and remotes - why do I need to see an advertisement when I have a fast forward button?

Yet, a day off of work, after a big dog walk, lord daytime television is not just horrid, but beyond the pale. And the shit that they sell. I wasn't DVR'ing anything, more like the boob tube was on in the background........yet something caught my eye.

Dump Chia.

Oh yes.  Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

You should at least read some of the amazon reviews.  Some are funny. Some should be funnier. Some are actually reviewing the product, because someone, it seems, actually purchased this p.o.s. item.

Perfectly reasonable at $19.99.

Don't worry - Chia is bipartisan. They have an, Obama, a Hillary and a Bernie too.

But since Dump is coming into office, it ironic (or is it?) that Chias were made in Mexico, but now they are made in China.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

I Got Plenty of Nothing

I got nothing.

Hopefully, I'm done with my work week. I'm off until next Tuesday.

I know there are work things to do, but nothing so pressing that it requires a trip into the office.

There are few plans. Movies (though not that James Franco piece-of-shit looking one). Dog Walks. Dinner with Mom. Maybe finish the Crown. Chinese with the cousin.

So today I have nothing to write about, and I got very little to do for five days.

See ya tomorrow.

Song by: Frank Sinatra

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I'll Follow the Sun

05:44 - the Winter Solstice arrives.

That's 05:44 eastern time.

I should be walking Shep when it occurs.

It is one of these days that always makes of my father. He'd be the first to say, "days get longer from here". 

Which of course was true. But he's ruin summer by saying around June 21st "days get shorter from here.". 

Right now, it's nice to know there will be a little more sunlight. So far, the early and late darkness haven't bothered me that much. Maybe it is because I'm not at home - either working or not. I'm at the office before sun-up and until lately, I've been at home before sundown.  Until a little bit ago, that was doable, but not it's dark no matter how early I try to leave.

All Shep walks during the week are in the dark. He doesn't seem to mind.

As days get longer, maybe the sun will come up to warm shit up. Yesterday we made it up to 30.  Yes, up to. The evening dog walk was not bad, but there is ice everywhere. It's a deathtrap.

Ok.....maybe not death, but it's a broken hip waiting to happen. Even poor Shep has tumbled on the ice. Usually the low center of gravity dogs don't do that.

But as the darkness goes - in the evening this week, Venus is out.....and brighter than fuck. It is quite amazing to see given the chance. I mean, it shines through even the thick clouds.

I don't know if it is viewable everywhere, but in the eastern part of the U.S. it's quite the sight to see.

Song by: the Beatles