You know you’re getting old when you find yourself using the phrase, “back in the day.”
Please tell me you do this, too: I walk into a room but I don’t remember why I entered the room. Sometimes I open a drawer and forget what I was supposed to be looking for. The cure for this malady is simple: Just go back to where you were when you thought of the idea originally and sit down. As you sit, the idea pops up from your ass to your brain. I swear it works every time.
Much to my chagrin, I will have to start using a single space between sentences on this blog. If I double-space the sentences that wrap to the next line appear to be indented and the lack of alignment drives me crazy. So you will notice just the single-space, which we all concede is WRONG, but we also know I am thinking double-space, which we all know is RIGHT.
I could write an entire blog entry just on the SPAM e-mail I get. No, Dr. Oz, I am not interested in your belly fat blaster, so please stop contacting me about it (today alone I had 7 messages on this subject in my SPAM folder, half of the total for the day). You’re making me very self-conscious about my appearance. And whoever you are, Adriana from Facebook, I have no interest in meeting you. I am certain that I won’t be buying Viagra any time soon, and I have no plans to start smoking e-cigarettes. I don’t need a scholarship and a college degree since I already have the latter so I don’t need the former. If Yahoo really needed to reach me regarding my e-mail account, I would expect a note that was professionally written and did not contain typos and spacing problems, so I’m pretty sure the ones I have received that are allegedly from Yahoo are not actually from Yahoo. Finally, no one I know would fall for any scam requiring us to send money to Nigeria for any reason. Enough with the SPAM!
There are so many creams and lotions and tubes of ointment in this house that I am afraid one day I’ll be in a stupor and accidentally brush my teeth with hydrocortisone cream (which is also in a spray can, so I could accidentally use it as hairspray).
I always thought that coming up with names for shades of lipstick (mine is canyon ranch) or nail polish or even paint required quite an imagination. But at least these names are descriptions of something we can imagine. My question is who comes up with the polysyllabic names of drugs? What on earth is hydrochlorothiazide/quinapril hydrochloride? Taking alclometasone dipropionate? Have you tried estradiol/norethindrone acetate? No? I’ll pass, too. Coming up with “linen white” must be far easier for everyone.
The new “Hunger Games” movie is coming out, filled with high drama, fierce fighting and special effects (which only means I won’t be seeing it). Big deal. It is the Hunger Games every day at this house. Thank God for Weight Watchers, my personal heroes!
Really, what is better than coming into the house and smelling dinner cooking in the crock pot? Yet we restrict the use of the crock pot to winter only, as if the small amount of heat it produces in the kitchen will counteract the air conditioning in the summer. Or will it?
Each year around this time the weather starts to get colder (so we can start using the crock pot). Yet we seem surprised by this, remarking on it in conversations with friends and strangers and reacting as if we have never experienced cold before. And I plead guilty on all counts.
The best part of the cold weather is that I use a heated mattress pad on my bed. I turn it on to warm up the bed and by the time I get into it, it is delightfully warm. It really is the little things.
Speaking of cold weather, I am not to be deterred from making my appointed rounds — or, in my case, walks around Hillsborough. I bundle up like Heidi crossing the Alps. The other day I wore Cuddl Duds long johns under my heaviest sweatpants, a sweatshirt, a hoodie, a jacket and a wool cap. With my earphones in and my earmuffs over the wool cap, I was so warm and soundproofed that I could barely hear the sound of the neighborhood leaf blowers. A runaway bear would have to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention. Please don’t.
I have to admit that for someone who has never spent time hunting, fishing or camping, I seem to have an inordinate amount of thermal and insulated underwear. In my mind, going out for a winter walk is akin to being Jeremiah Johnson or living in a cabin in the remote woods, I guess, because I have at least three sets of Cuddl Duds or thermals. If I layer them all together I look like the Michelin Tire guy. I’m best described as “toasty warm.” Wait — that could be a nail polish color!
When I am out for a walk and I hear the BeeGees’ “Staying Alive,” I always want to strut down the street like Tony Manero (John Travolta) in “Saturday Night Fever.” I try hard to resist the urge.
Whenever I see a storefront with a “Psychic” sign, I wonder if they know who will be dropping in. And do they know it won’t be me?
My sister and I have each had trouble locating a supply of string lately. I don’t know which is more remarkable, that there appears to be a shortage of string or that we have had a discussion about this topic. In any case, I think we should contact Dr. Sheldon Cooper for his take on string theory.
There is a restaurant on Route 206 between Hillsborough and Montgomery that has changed hands more times than I can remember. There is even a suspicious fire or two in its dossier. The most recent iteration was called Tusk, and the sign remains lit even though the restaurant has been closed for well over a year. I can’t help wondering who pays the light bill for the sign and the interior lights that remain lit. This is the stuff that keeps me up at night.
Whenever I hear any song by KC & the Sunshine Band I end up with it running through my head for the rest of the day. There has to be a scientific explanation of this Sunshine phenomenon.
Speaking of songs, I have always wondered what the Chicago song “25 or 6 to 4” is about so I decided to look it up. The composer of the song, band member Robert Lamm, explains that it is more or less about the process of writing a song, which can be painstaking, and the reference in the title is just a reference to the time of day — as in "waiting for the break of day" at 25 or (2)6 minutes to 4 a.m. (3:35 or 3:36 a.m.). So now we know. You’re welcome.
Do you go to the supermarket for a few things and come out with 20 and none of them are what you went for in the first place? Me, too.
My ShopRite sells “Executive Turkey.” Just what is Executive Turkey? Can it not be purchased and enjoyed by the masses? Is this a class thing? I mean, I know plenty of execs who were real turkeys, but I don’t think any of them man the deli counter at ShopRite. Really, who comes up with this stuff?
Today’s technology has made shopping so easy — too easy. The other day I spent $100 from my bed, before my feet hit the floor for the first time. Amazon knows me, my credit card and my tastes, so they point out stuff I might want that I can buy with one click. (Why does my sister need ideas for every occasion? Amazon knows me better than she does.) When my order is delivered, I get an alert on my phone to let me know the package has arrived. Then the hard part begins, as apparently I am supposed to get my butt off the recliner and open the door to retrieve it and then open it all by myself.
I heard the announcer on TV this morning say, “For the first time in history,” and my thoughts immediately went to “It’s raining men.”
A woman in my aqua aerobics class who was playing behind me in volleyball informed me the other day, “Honey, you have a lot of gray hair for someone your age. Really, you have a lot of gray.” OK, first of all, I’m 64 years old, so I am entitled to some gray. Second, I am letting my hair grow it so I can decide if I want to go gray. If not, I can always color it. Thirdly, who looks at the back of their own head? So how gray is it, I wondered. And finally, who says that to someone? Just an elderly woman with Sophia Petrillo tendencies and no filter!
I thought I was just having problems telling black from blue, but now I can’t tell brown from green, either. I thought women didn’t have color-blindness.
I hereby declare that no cards should be allowed to have even a modicum of glitter. Christmas, Birthday – whatever. Why did anyone think that glitter, which scatters all over as soon as you open the envelope, was a good idea?
In speaking with several of my girlfriends lately, I have noticed the glee with which we tell shopping stories. For us, shopping is a competitive sport – competitive not with each other (we relish every victory), but in the great satisfaction derived from getting a really good bargain. We stalk our prey, wait for the right moment to pounce (a sale, of course), come armed with all of the requisite coupons, rebates, rainchecks, gift cards and Kohl’s cash, and bag our prizes with relish (not the kind you put on a hotdog). And we can’t wait to brag about how much we saved. In fact, buying something NOT on sale would drum a woman right out of the shopping corps. Shopping as sport – that’s what it’s all about.
Please tell me there is a 12-step program for people who cannot stop tearing out those perfume strips from magazines and the Macy’s flyers and keeping them. Not that I know anyone who does that, but just in case it should come up in conversation.
Speaking of Macy’s, you know my issue with the Macy’s One Day Sale that takes place on two days. Now Macy’s has made Super Saturday into a three-day event, starting Friday and ending Sunday but still called Super Saturday. If I were Monday or Thursday, I’d have my nose out of joint about being left out.
Some days, when I haven’t washed my hair because I am going to wear a hat and go out for a walk or go to the pool for aqua aerobics, I pull on the sweats and walk out the door and think that if my mother were alive, she’d tell me that I looked like “shit on a shovel.” The Wisdom of Sylvia Gordon. Sounds like a great book, doesn’t it?
Monday, December 1, 2014
As we enter into the prolific holiday movie season, I have already surpassed my annual goal of watching 150 movies with the addition of November's baker's dozen. As always, numbering picks up from the previous month, and movies which I have not previously seen are marked with an asterisk.
142. The Caine Mutiny (1954) — We’ve all had bosses or co-workers we thought were off their rockers, but few of us have seen the likes of Philip Francis Queeg (Humphrey Bogart). Captain Queeg is put in charge of the old ship the Caine, where he brings a career in the Navy and a by-the-book attitude to go with his insecurities and paranoia. Queeg is so hung up on details, he fails to recognize that the ship is traveling in circles because he is too busy berating a sailor for not having his shirt tucked in. Queeg is the perfect example of “The Peter Principle” — someone rising to his level of incompetence — which is dangerous when you are commanding a ship in World War II. Officer Keefer (Fred McMurray), a glib author who thinks he is smarter than everyone else, plays amateur psychologist, diagnosing the Captain with paranoia and urging first officer Maryk (Van Johnson) to inform the chain of command, but then Keefer refuses to back him up. The real tipping point in this engrossing drama comes during a typhoon, when Queeg demonstrates his incompetence by insisting on the wrong approach that may sink the ship — until Maryk feels compelled to relieve him of his duty and take over command. Maryk saves the ship but goes on trial for mutiny. Will his Navy lawyer (Jose Ferrer), who has nothing but disdain for Maryk and his men, be able to defend the underling without completely destroying the career and reputation of Queeg? And who is the real villain here? It’s always hard to eat strawberries and not think of this movie. Bogart IS Queeg. 4 cans.
143. Dave (1993) — This is my kind of Kevin Kline movie. He plays Dave, who looks so similar to US President Bill Mitchell that he is drafted by Mitchell’s men to impersonate the president after the latter suffers a devastating stroke. That scheme enables the Presidential advisors (Frank Langella and Kevin Dunn) to retain power, rather than — as constitutionally required — to have the vice president (Ben Kingsley) take over. Dave is initially scared to death, but he gradually becomes more comfortable in his role as the pseudo-president, even as he has to deal with the First Lady (Sigourney Weaver) who can’t stand her husband. My favorite scene is when Dave summons his accountant Murray (Charles Grodin) to the White House to go over the budget and save enough money to fund homeless shelters. This film is a sharp critique of the men in power but the charm exuded by Kline as the neophyte politician surpasses everything else. 4 votes for Dave!
144. Something’s Gotta Give (2003) — Harry (Jack Nicholson) is an aging lothario who suffers a heart attack at the home of the mother of the very young woman he is dating (Amanda Peet). He is too weak to be moved, so he is stuck staying with the mother, the much chagrined Erica (Diane Keaton), a successful playwright who is not amused with the way this plot is evolving. They spar and can’t stand each other, which only means that they will eventually recognize their true feelings and admit that they are in love. But, of course, complications ensue, primarily that they are equals in age and accomplishment, and that Erica is pursued by Harry’s young doctor (Keanu Reeves). There is a lot to like in this movie, particularly in the byplay between the leads. Nicholson doesn’t care if his butt is hanging out of a hospital gown and his hair looks like Albert Einstein’s. Not the best way to meet a soul mate but certainly amusing for those of us who get to observe. 3½ cans.
145. Disclosure (1994) — When Tom Sanders (Michael Douglas) is passed over for a promotion that instead goes to his former girlfriend Meredith (Demi Moore), that’s just the start of a really bad day. Meredith invites him to her office for a late night rendezvous, where she proceeds to sexually assault him. Tom is married and reluctant at first, and denying himself the sexual pleasure takes all the strength he can muster but he eventually extricates himself from the proceedings. Meredith, a gorgeous and aggressive woman in every sense, reports the encounter to her bosses the next day, claiming that Tom attacked her, and Tom is about to lose his job and his marriage before he realizes he needs to fight back. Though a good example of “he said, she said,” the movie examines sexual assault from the unusual perspective of the male, but it is no less damaging to him than to her. This story is set against the tableau of ruthless business people, which makes the sexual aggressiveness fit in perfectly. 3½ cans.
146. Cocoon (1985) — A group of elderly residents at a retirement community stumbles upon the fountain of youth in a nearby pool on property that is owned by aliens. I don’t normally go for fantasies, but this early Ron Howard movie is hard to resist, as the old folks get increasingly frisky while they frolic in the not so still waters. Would you want to live forever if it meant leaving your loved ones and your earthly life behind? I guess it would depend on who would be with you on the journey. The oldies but goodies are Oscar-winner Don Ameche, Hume Cronyn, Maureen Stapleton, Gwen Verdon, Jessica Tandy and Wilford Brimley, looking as hot as Wilford Brimley can get. Youth really is wasted on the young. 3½ cans.
147. Whiplash* (2014) – “Who would think that a movie about a music school could be this intense and have blood, sweat and tears?” queried my sage sister upon seeing this film. Young Andrew (Miles Teller) is a would-be Buddy Rich, a talented 19-year-old drummer with dreams of greatness. He attends a prestigious NY music college, where he is thrust into the hands of a maniacal music instructor named Fletcher (J. K. Simmons), a man so foul of language that his insults and epithets would make former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice blush. Fletcher looks like the devil himself – bald head, taut muscles and piercing, dangerous eyes – and dealing with him is like being in Hell. Andrew pushes himself to practice until his hands bleed. But Fletcher cannot be satisfied by anyone. Does he push his students because he believes they need the motivation to excel? Or is he merely power mad and abusive? Teller is astonishing in his role, and Simmons – who is one of those character actors you know you have seen before but you can’t name a single movie he’s been in – is all coiled, ruthless energy, ready to pounce at any time. Exhausting, but worth experiencing. 4 cans.
148. The Goodbye Girl (1977) — Neil Simon puts a twist on his “Odd Couple” story by teaming mismatched roommates Paula McFadden (Marsha Mason, his wife at the time) and Elliott Garfield (Richard Dreyfus, in his Oscar-winning performance). Paula is an aging (33) dancer who lives with her precocious 10-year old daughter Lucy (Quinn Cummings in a memorable debut) and her boyfriend, who dumps her and leaves a note and a tenant to sublet the apartment they shared without telling her. Paula is enraged when smug actor Elliott shows up on her doorstep with lease in hand, but they work out an agreement to share the place while he appears Off-Off Broadway in the worst production of “Richard III” that has ever been staged. Their insecurities and differences are evident, as is the fact that, eventually, they will strike up a relationship. But can Paula depend on yet another actor? She has trust issues with good reason. Witty Simon dialog is delivered by perfectly cast performers (including Cummings) in this entertaining oldie. 4 cans.
149. The Lucky One (2012) — Handsome Zac Efron is Logan, an Iraqi War veteran who feels he survived thanks to a good luck charm — the photograph of a pretty woman he found on the ground after a battle. Once he returns to the States, he is determined to find her, and he walks from Colorado to Louisiana and does just that. This is where the movie turns into science fiction to me. Walking to Louisiana and finding the woman, Beth (Taylor Schilling, now the star of NetFlix’s “Orange Is the New Black”) seems completely preposterous to me. Nevertheless, Logan shows up and starts working for Beth at her dog care place, helping repair her boat and ramshackle house, and becoming a fixture in the family with her grandmother (Blythe Danner) and her young son, Ben. Her menacing ex lurks around, unhappy about this development, and Logan, despite numerous opportunities to tell Beth what drew him there, fails to do so. The characters are too beautiful and perfect and you just know that the Big Dramatic Moment will have to take place. Still, this couple is easy on the eyes and who among us doesn’t like a romantic story once in a while? My once in a while is done for now. 3½ cans.
150. Doc Hollywood (1991) — Ben Stone (Michael J. Fox) is a hotshot young plastic surgeon on his way to an interview with a lucrative practice in Beverly Hills when he loses control of his prized sports car and destroys a fence, his car and his plans in a small South Carolina town. He is sentenced to community service, replacing the town’s crotchety doctor (Barnard Hughes) while the local mechanics try to piece together his roadster. The town is full of colorful characters. He has to read letters to one pregnant couple who can’t read, pull toys out of boys’ ears and deal with a stern nurse and a spirited ambulance driver, Lou (Julie Warner, who matches Fox in height, which is to say she is suitably short). One of the locals gives him a pig to pay him for his medical work, while the mayor (David Ogden Stiers) tries to persuade him to stay and his daughter (Bridget Fonda) puts on an all-out flirt. But Ben Stone only has eyes for Lou, his car and his future in Hollywoodland. Of course you know it won’t quite work out the way he planned. This movie gives us the youthful, earnest and somewhat smug Fox at his best, just before he started experiencing the symptoms of the Parkinson’s disease that has affected his career. He is utterly charming, whether walking his pig, turning down the advances of the mayor’s daughter, or verbally sparring with Lou’s suitor Hank (Woody Harrelson, when he still had hair). A light and appealing movie, and just what the doctor ordered. 4 cans.
151. A Civil Action (1998) — In the beginning of this courtroom drama, Jan Schlichtmann (John Travolta) is a stereotypical personal injury lawyer, literally handing out his card at the scene of an accident and anxious to win his clients’ cases so his firm can get its cut. Even when a case comes along that involves pollution so bad that it causes children in a Massachusetts town to get sick and die, Jan isn’t interested in taking the case because he can’t find anyone at fault whom he can sue for a big payday. That’s until he gets a speeding ticket in the town and notices factories nearby which may be to blame. He stakes his case, his reputation and the assets of his firm on being able to prove negligence by two very large corporations, one of whom his represented by Jerry Facher (Robert Duval, nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor). As the narrator tells us, going to court takes too long and costs too much, so the aim is to settle. But that is not about to happen here, and Jan puts his firm and his partners’ families at risk by going all in. Will he be able to win the case, save the firm and somehow compensate these poor families for their tragic losses? This movie is based on a true story and acquits itself quite well. Along for the ride are Travolta’s partners, played by the always reliable William H. Macy, Tony Shaloub and Zeljko Ivanek. 4 cans.
152. Mr. Dynamite – James Brown* (2014) — James Brown was called “The Godfather of Soul” for a good reason. His rise in the music business coincided with the evolution of music from Gospel to jazz to R&B and soul, with plenty of funk thrown in along the way. With horns blaring, drums beating and the sax wailing, Brown commanded center stage with an uncanny ability to dance, scream, shout and conduct the orchestra, which was comprised of polished musicians who kept a careful eye on their demanding leader. Mick Jagger produced this documentary, which includes plenty of interviews from music mavens and Brown’s musicians, all set within the symphony of rock & roll and the rise of the Civil Rights movement. James Brown was known as “the hardest working man in show business” and this film bares testament to that description as Brown not only dazzles as a performer but excels as he manages his own band and destiny. A fascinating story of a life force in a cape. 4 cans.
153. Slap Shot (1977) — Full disclose: I love all things Paul Newman. Whether he is a con artist (“The Sting”), a hustler (think about it), a bank robber (“Butch Cassidy”) or a prisoner (“Cool Hand Luke”), Newman brings a certain attitude to his roles. Here he is washed up hockey player-coach Reg Dunlap, presiding over a rag-tag group of journeymen athletes in a small town in a rinky-dink league, and his franchise is about to fold when the local steel mill shuts down. Ah, but Reg floats a rumor about the team being bought by a senior citizens’ community and moving to Florida. Along the way, we see what life is like for professional athletes on the road, full of humor, hard times, too much booze, too many women. In the case of hockey, throw in a brutal amount of violence, much perpetrated by the three Hansen Brothers, goons put into the game to stir things up and draw fans to the seats. Ned (Michael Onktean) is a Princeton man who decries the violence and simply loves the game, while his miserable young wife (Lindsay Crouse) wants out of the hockey wife life. Newman is great, full of cunning, as Reg tries to stay afloat, but, alas, he is treading on thin ice (come on, you knew that one was coming…) as the team is ready to fold. I love the story (George Roy Hill, Newman’s collaborator on “Butch Cassidy,” wrote and directed the film), the actors and the great ‘70s music (thank you, Maxine Nightingale, for “Get Right Back to Where I Started From”). This might not go down as one of the best sports movies ever, but as a comedy sports movie, it is worth of the Stanley Cup. 4 cans.
154. Lost in America (1985) —Advertising exec David Howard (Albert Brooks, who also co-wrote and directed) gets passed over for a promotion and protests so vehemently that he gets fired. He and wife Linda (Julie Hagerty) decide to cash in their nest egg and travel the country in a Winnebago, first stopping in Las Vegas to renew their marriage vows. In this case, we’re happy that what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas — except for the next egg, that is — because Linda spends the night gambling away the family fortune, leaving them destitute and driving a gas guzzler. How are two Yuppies who think they have “dropped out,” as in “Easy Rider,” going to survive? Brooks’ clever comedy pokes fun at all the things we think of as important (“Mercedes leather,” anyone?), and his gift for dialog (check out the scene with Gary Marshall — yes, the director of so many other movies, but not this one — when David tries to talk the casino boss into simply returning their money as an advertising campaign to promote the casino) add enormously to the plot. There are too many great lines to quote here, but I, for one, cannot hear the term "nest egg” without thinking of this brilliant comedy. 4 big stacks of chips.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
My GPS got lost sending me to Walgreen’s the other day. It turns out it isn’t really on the corner of Happy and Healthy.
Why is it that every time I have an appointment with the eye doctor that requires that my pupils be dilated, that day is the brightest, sunniest day of the week? I exit the office nearly blinded by the light and proceed to attempt to drive home. I guess this question is the converse of why it always seems to rain when I put out massive amounts of newspaper and junk mail for recycling. Speaking of which, here is the rule: If you put out the recycling the night before the pick-up, it will be picked up late in the day. But if you forget to put it out the night before and drag your recycling can out on the morning of the pick-up, you will have missed it because the truck came early. Am I right?
Isn’t it ironic that when you go to the doctor you become the patient, but when they leave you in the examination room in that flimsy paper gown for 30 minutes with magazines from 1997 to read you become impatient?
They used to refer to James Brown as the hardest-working person in show business. I think the title now belongs to Flo for all those Progressive Insurance commercials. That woman is everywhere!
I am so tired of making my bed. I mean, I do it every day (the only exception being when I am sick enough to stay in it all day), but it is the same routine every day. I wouldn’t think of NOT making it, but I am tired of the routine. Just saying.
I saw a sign on the corner the other day advertising a garage sale. It occurred to me that GARAGE and GARBAGE are the same except for the addition of the letter B. Ironic, considering how much GARBAGE you see at GARAGE sales.
I am available to star in a sequel to the movie “This Is 40” and call it “This Is 64.” I wonder if Hollywood would be interested.
So I see that big butts are all the rage in music and videos. This couldn’t have been the case before I lost 80 pounds?
Do you put something on your To Do List after you have done it just so you can cross it off? I thought so.
We all have the best of intentions. When we designate a special, cozy spot for a chair and a lamp so we can read and quietly enjoy a cup of tea, we actually think we will find time to do that, but how rarely does that happen — if ever?
As women, we will come up with whatever excuse we find necessary to justify buying a new handbag or pair of shoes, but, if you are like me, you probably continue to use those old, stained potholders you have had for 20 years. Come on, they are potholders. You can replace them without feeling guilty about spending the money after, say, maybe 10 years.
I am sure you clean up before the cleaning lady arrives — like I do — but I also stomp around the living room so she has to vacuum it and doesn’t think I never go in there because you can still see the marks from the last time she vacuumed.
What happens when a woman with a hyphenated last name marries a man with a hyphenated last name and she wants to use her name with his? Sarah White-Jones Baxter-Burnside? Good luck to THEIR kids.
I’ve reached the point in life where, when I find a sock with a hole in it, I toss it out and save the other sock, which then gets paired with another solo sock, whether or not they match. Caution, this practice works best with white, athletic socks.
Speaking of sox, I’m always perplexed when I spot one gnarly-looking sock lying in the street. I picture the sock’s journey to this escape from the washer or dryer into the sewer system and wonder, is this what happens to a missing sock? Do they really go all Andy Dufraine and find a way out to “freedom?”
Don’t you hate it when you cannot find something and you keep looking where you just KNOW it will be and it still isn’t there, but you keep telling yourself, “It will turn up,” because that’s what your mother always said, and it is still missing? This is my way of saying that the hydrocortisone cream I had in the pocket of my sweatpants escaped and remains a fugitive in this house. Someday, when I move, I KNOW it will be located, but by then it will be too late. You have been replaced, relieved of your duties, Mr. Hydrocortisone. But I still think if I look under the chair for the 38th time you will be lying there in wait.
I watch a lot of HGTV programs where people are renovating houses. On “House Hunters Renovation,” the people who have just bought a house end up completely redoing it. There are “Bath Crashers” and “Kitchen Crashers,” where the hosts lurk in the aisles of Lowe’s until they find someone willing (and smart enough) to agree to have their bathroom or kitchen renovated for free by professionals — in what they claim to be three days. Who would be stupid enough to turn down such an offer? And now I note a plethora of celebrity renovation shows. Vanilla Ice renovates homes for Amish people. As unlikely as that seems, “Beverly Hills 90210” alum Jennie Garth is renovating her own home on her own TV show. William Shatner has a renovation show — renovating the Starship Enterprise? And Daryl Hall of the duo Hall & Oates seems to have a lot of experience in rebuilding old homes. Even Olympic ice skater Brian Boitano is a designer. Or is his a cooking show? I’m getting confused with the Food Network now. The point is that it seems anyone can have a chop saw, a nail gun and a TV show these days, and you don’t have to be the Property Brothers.
At Weight Watchers recently we discussed posture, and how maintaining the correct posture helps keep your core muscles strong. Good luck to the next generation, I say. The only strong muscles they will have are their hand muscles, as they walk slumped over, clutching their smartphones and rarely looking up to see if cars are coming. I’m no better, by the way. I slouch, though I try to remind myself to walk erect, but my excuse is I have to keep my head down so the brim of my hat keeps the sun out of my eyes. This excuse does not work for me on a cloudy day, I must admit.
I recently had a long-delayed reunion with a dear friend with whom I worked back in the 1970s. We have always stayed in touch but have only seen each other sporadically. It is amazing to me how it does not matter how much time has passed between visits, because we pick up the conversation as if we just spoke 10 minutes ago. If you have people in your life like this, you are lucky. You know who you are.
I have acquired the (well-deserved) reputation of being a grammar freak, as evidenced by the number of posts on Facebook that point out errors and mention my name (not for making the errors, but because these folks know I will be in full-on twitch mode when I see them). That reputation is not to say I don’t make the occasional error myself (though it is more likely to be a typo than a grammar mistake). My sister thought it was odd that after I retired I bought several new grammar books. After all, she reasoned, I wasn’t working anymore, so I wouldn’t need them. But I’m still writing, I explained, and I still want to do it right.
Lately, I’ve been going through old pictures — actual photographs and even slides — weeding out the thousands of pictures I have taken of trees and flowers and ducks on a pond, and especially going through the wedding pictures of people whom I no longer see and who aren’t even married to each other anymore. In the process, I have come across plenty of pictures of myself that made me say out loud, “What could you have been thinking when you picked THAT outfit?” I hope I don’t do that in the next picture purge, looking at today’s clothes with the same degree of disdain in 20 years. Assuming I’m still around in 20 years and know how to purge, that is.
A friend told me a story about buying something recently at Kohl’s for $55 that was on sale for half price, AND she had Kohl’s cash, AND she had a coupon, AND she had some other promo, so, when the cashier rang her up, the item was down to $6.30, AND she still asked the cashier for a scratch off coupon, all while her daughter looked on in total embarrassment. My hero!
It is deer season here in Hillsborough, so you never know when you might — God forbid — literally run into a deer on the road. I have noticed that they seldom look before bolting across the street. They also seem illiterate, since they rarely read the signs that say “Deer Crossing” and just cross anywhere they choose.
My superstitions have become “stupid”stitions. Last year I designated certain pairs of socks, certain underwear and certain shirts to wear to Rutgers Women’s Basketball games. If they won, I kept these items in the rotation, but if they lost the game, the garments were banned. When I hit the road for the WNIT Championship, I had to keep washing the shirt I wore to the games since the team kept winning, even though there was barely time to get home and throw in a load. So I showed up at the Championship game in the winning shirt only to see the team wearing black uniforms for the first time all season. I guess their uniform color didn’t matter, and I’m hoping this year my choice of the aforementioned items won’t either. Then, maybe, I can tackle my issue of parking in the same location so as not to jinx the team.
One of my sister Douglass alumnae contributed this random thought for this month’s blog, and I have to say I am with her 100%: She says she dislikes being in a store and being rung up at the register while the cashier carries on a full conversation with one of the other nearby cashiers. What is the proper response to this situation? I don’t like when that happens to me, any more than I like the fact that the cashiers can barely make change on those rare occasions when they confronted with actual cash. Any suggestions for a proper (or improper) response to the former situation will be graciously accepted for future use.
I turned on the Hallmark Channel the other day to watch an episode of “The Golden Girls,” only to find that the network has already begun airing those truly insipid holiday movies, most of which were made for TV and few of which are worth watching. It wasn’t even the 1st of November. This morning I heard two Christmas songs on the Love station on Sirius radio, which I hope doesn’t mean that the station is converting to all-holiday, all of the time, already. I’ll be sticking with ESPN radio or my iPod instead.
Happy Holidays to you…
Saturday, November 1, 2014
I tried to see as many movies as I could in October, before basketball season begins to occupy my time. Here are the 15 that made the cut. Numbering picks up from previous months and movies marked with an * are those I have not seen previously. Movies are rated on a scale of 1-5 cans of tuna fish, with 5 being the top grade.
127. The Rule* (2014) — I don’t know anything about Benedictine monks or private schools in Newark, New Jersey, so this documentary about St. Benedict’s was eye-opening. I knew the reputations of St. Benedict’s accomplished athletic teams, but the school provides so much more — a safe, nurturing environment where kids can learn academics and self-worth, even while they navigate the sometimes scary streets of Newark. The monks follow the principles of St. Benedict himself, which focus on community, trust, connectedness and other qualities that are foreign to many of the students. The monks are a dedicated but realistic lot, ceding responsibility to the students to police themselves and giving them leadership responsibilities that they can use later in life. Any educational institution that can claim a high graduation rate and where most of the students go on to college is a successful one in these turbulent urban areas, and St. Benedicts has achieved that record. I was impressed. 3½ cans.
128. Love Is Strange* (2014) — There actually is nothing strange about this love story between George (Alfred Molina) and Ben (John Lithgow). The couple has been together for 39 years when they decide to get married. Immediately, George loses his job as a music teacher at a New York Catholic high school because his marriage defies the teachings of the church. He and Ben are forced to sell their beloved New York City apartment and, because their friends and relatives live in small places of their own, they have to split up, George living with hard-partying friends and Ben bunking —literally — in the bottom bunk in the room of his teenaged great nephew. Both feel displaced and in the way, interfering in the lives of their new landlords and missing their private time together. This is a poignant story that illustrates the complications of life together and apart — and of living in the city. Molina and Lithgow underplay to perfection. While I did not agree with the title, I was captivated by the Chopin music used liberally throughout the score. I haven’t liked non-musical movie music this much since the soundtrack from “Cinema Paradiso.” It made me want to find Chopin on my iPod once again. 3½ cans.
129. My Old Lady* (2014) — I think THIS movie should have been called “Love Is Strange,” because in this movie, it sure is. Kevin Kline plays Mathieus Gold, who has inherited an apartment in France from his late father. When he goes to claim it so he can sell it, he finds the formidable 92-year old Madame G. (Maggie Smith) living there. Apparently there is an odd practice in France where one buys an apartment but cannot take ownership of the property until the present owner dies. While Smith may not be buying green bananas, she nonetheless is destined to outlive us all. This sounds like a comedy, but it isn’t. Mathieus learns things about the father he hardly knew and meets Smith’s daughter Chloe (Kristin Scott Thomas), while we wonder about whether they may be related since her mother had a long affair with his father. Kline’s Mathieus is a sad sack, bereft of money, friends and self-esteem. Normally I find Kevin Kline so charming and engaging that I kept picturing a more appropriately sardonic Bill Murray in this role. Love may be strange here after all, but I didn’t find this movie either uplifting or compelling despite the presence of Maggie Smith in the title role. 2½ cans.
130. Driving Miss Daisy (1989) — An old Jewish woman falls in love with an old black man. OK, that’s not how this story is billed, but the bond that develops between the persnickety Miss Daisy (Jessica Tandy) and her obliging chauffeur Hoke (Morgan Freeman, in my second favorite Morgan Freeman movie, after “The Shawshank Redemption”) is a special friendship. Miss Daisy is a southern lady living in a large house by herself, getting by with the help of her son (Dan Ackroyd) and staff. She doesn’t want to give up driving herself to the Piggly Wiggly, but after she crashes the car one too many times, her son hires Hoke to drive her around. At first she won’t give him anything to do and won’t even get in the car, but, over time, the ice melts and she comes to trust and appreciate him. This story is about love and respect that is hard-won. I love this movie. 4 cans.
131. Young Victoria (2010) — It’s not easy being queen. Just ask 18-year old Victoria, who ascends to the throne in England as the only descendent of her uncle the king and his brothers. But Victoria (Emily Blunt) is pushed and pulled by her mother the duchess and her advisor, both of whom want her to turn over her powers until she is older. The poor young woman is like a prisoner in a very lavish jail where she is not permitted to attend school or even to descend a staircase without a helping hand. But Victoria is stronger than she looks, and she’s not about to give it all up for her self-centered mother and her power-hungry advisor. Besides, she is in love with Albert (Rupert Friend), a distant cousin from Germany who may have his own aspirations. Lavish sets and costumes make this a dazzling vision of royalty at its best and worst. 3½ cans.
132. Good Morning, Miss Dove (1955) — Jennifer Jones plays the title character, a taciturn school teacher who we can disparagingly call an “old maid.” She is devoted to her students and her craft, as we see through a series of flashbacks that show her first as an active young woman who is forced into a life of work that was unplanned. Along the way, her students become police officers, doctors and mothers. I remember first seeing this movie when I was a teenager and admiring Miss Dove’s devotion, but I have to admit that now it seems so stiff and outdated. Still, there is always room for movies about characters who behave with honor as they try to elevate the standards of those around them. 2½ cans.
133. Gone Girl* (2014) — This review will be very short so I don’t spoil the story for you. Ben Affleck and Rosamind Pike are Nick and Amy Dunne, an attractive young couple seemingly in love with each other and living a comfortable and happy life in the Midwest. Suffice to say that things are not always as they seem. If you have read the book, you’ll find this movie to be a faithful rendering the Gilliam Flynn’s story (since she wrote the screenplay), complete with twists and turns. Don’t try to figure it out, just go along for the ride. Well worth seeing. 4 cans.
134. Up in the Air (2009) — Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a man with almost no baggage. Even the suitcase he carries on his nearly daily business flights is exceedingly well thought out. He leaves no room for ambiguity in his life, which revolves around his job, working for a firm that specializes in firing people for companies who cannot or will not pull the trigger. He has virtually no personal life, which suits him just fine. His big aspiration is to get to 10 million flight miles and get a special gold card from the airline. All that is fine until he meets Alex, the female version of himself (Vera Farmiga) and suddenly he has to juggle his schedule to spend time with her. Meanwhile, he is training a young woman (Anna Kendrick, looking too young to work at anything other than a lemonade stand) to be as detached as he is as they deliver life-changing news to emotionally overwrought soon-to-be former employees. The social commentary in this is stunning, as the diminished value of people and their work is at the forefront. Oh, the humanity — or lack thereof. Clooney is perfect as Bingham, charming with Alex, unyielding as the executioner. And many of the people depicted being fired are real victims of unemployment, so their presence lends an air of authenticity. 4 cans.
135. Stakeout (1987) — It is probably not a good idea for a police officer to fall in love with the person he/she is supposed to be staking out, but that’s what happens with Chris (Richard Dreyfus) and Maria (Madeliene Stowe). Maria’s ex (Aidan Quinn) has just escaped prison and the cops are assigned to keep an eye on her lest the bad guy show up. So Chris and his partner Bill (Emilio Estevez) hole up in the house across the street to check her out. This film is part buddy movie (and Dreyfus and Estevez have great chemistry), part action movie (check out the sequence near the beginning at a fish processing plant) and part inadvertent love story. Stowe and Dreyfus are charming together, and Dreyfus’ Chris is a clever guy. This movie came out around the same time as two similar ones that I also liked very much: “Running Scared” with Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines and “Midnight Run” with Robert DeNiro as a bounty hunter and Charles Grodin as his prey, who almost drives the hunter crazy. Three fun films, fans. 3½ cans.
136. Hoosiers (1986) — With basketball season about to start, what better movie to enjoy than this quintessential sports classic about the disgraced coach who leads the small-town underdog team to the state championship game? Gene Hackman is a memorable Norman Dale, a tough coach whom the townsfolk don’t appreciate at first. In the beginning Coach Dale barely has enough players to take the court, and the best player in school won’t even come out for the team. Yes, the story is riddled with the usual sports clichés, but this tale, based on the true story of an Indiana team in the early 1950s, will win your heart as much as they win their games. And from a basketball standpoint, these guys look like they can actually play. 4 hoops and a holler.
137. When the Garden Was Eden* (2014) — Speaking of basketball, this documentary from ESPN’s “30 for 30” series examines the rise of not only the new Madison Square Garden in the 1960s-1970s, but also its inhabitants, primarily the New York Knicks. Until the NBA really began rolling nationally, it seemed that only the Boston Celtics won the Championship each year, often at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. But in the late 60s and early 70s, the Knicks moved into the new Garden at Penn Station and, with the move, came the such unique players as Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Dave Debusschere, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Jerry Lucas, Cassie Russell, Phil Jackson, future Senator Bill Bradley — who deferred his basketball career for two years so he could be a Rhodes Scholar — and Willis Reed, whose walk onto the floor for the 7th game of the 1970 Championship, despite what seemed like a devastating injury, became the stuff of legend. Before the rise of the Knicks, the Garden was the raucous home of college basketball and the cigar-smoking, betting men who followed the game. But the Knicks brought glamour and winning and attracted the stars to courtside. The team that emphasized teamwork won championships in 1970 and 1973 and hasn’t won since. But it was great while it lasted. This film was a labor of love for actor/director Michael Rapaport, a native New Yorker who wasn’t even alive back in the Knicks heyday but grew up steeped in their lore. If you know anything about pro basketball, you probably know this story, but to relive it was a real treat. 4 hoops.
138. The Fault In Our Stars* (2014) — Any movie that starts off with the protagonists meeting in a cancer support group for teenagers cannot end well, but we are willing to come along for the all-too-brief ride because the characters of Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) are just so appealing. Hazel is going to die someday from lung cancer that has almost killed her once, but Gus, who has already lost his lower leg to cancer, looks healthy and recovered. The two share witty texts, become fast friends and head out to Amsterdam to catch up with her favorite author (Willem Dafoe) to find out what happened to the characters in the book she loves. They enjoy a romantic dinner and imbibe in champagne as they fall in love. Gus is cute as can be, and Hazel, sporting a cannula for oxygen, reluctantly falls for him since she knows one of them will end up alone. This movie is a good example of the book being better than the screen adaptation. Something about the dialog just made it pop off the page, where, when delivered by the characters on screen, it seems contrived. It is little corny, a little sad, and probably intended as “Love Story” for a generation 40 years younger than me. Read the book instead. 3 cans.
139. The Judge* (2014) — Smug Chicago lawyer Hank Palmer (Robert Downey, Jr.) has a challenging client, an irascible, elderly judge who is being tried for murder in a small Indiana town. The client, Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) doesn’t want to take his attorney’s advice, and, in fact, treats him such disdain that it hamper’s Hank’s trial strategy. Add the fact that Hank is his son, and the matter becomes that much more complicated. Long-festering emotions spill out even as Hank is forced to care for his father in ways he never imagined. As you can imagine, father and son begin to look at each other with new respect and less venom. I’ve never been a big RDJ fan, but he holds his own against crusty Duvall. Vera Farmiga plays Hank’s former high school sweetheart and adds a twist to the story. I suspect that when Oscar time rolls around, at least Duvall will hear people say, “Here comes the Judge.” 4 cans.
140. The Best of Me* (2014) — The Nicholas Sparks formula is getting a tad too familiar: Young, attractive, star-crossed lovers get together, break apart, reunite years later, something BIG happens, etc. I don’t want to give away the plot, but I did find this outing better than the other Sparks movies I’ve seen, at least since the classic tearjerker, “The Notebook,” which I love. I really enjoyed this one, too, with a very handsome James Marsden as Dawson Cole, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks (played as a young man by a very handsome Luke Bracey, with echoes of Ryan Gosling in “The Notebook”) and Michelle Monaghan as Amanda (younger version by Liana Liberato), the rich girl who doesn’t care about Dawson’s trashy and dangerous family. The knight in shining armor is Gerald McRaney as Tuck, the local man who takes in young Dawson and becomes a surrogate father to the troubled teen. When Tuck dies, Dawson and Amanda are summoned by his lawyer to dispose of his ashes and his things, reuniting after 21 years and many unhappy memories. But do you ever really get over your first love? And is love alone enough to make the relationship endure despite obstacles? This is probably not a movie to which to drag the man in your life, but it is one I can imagine myself binge watching when it hits TV and someone airs it incessantly. It wasn’t the best of Sparks, but it was close enough. 4 cans.
141. The Departed (2006) — Moles, rats, mobs and tons of blood populate this suspenseful drama by Martin Scorsese. Billy (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a young state trooper recruited by police (Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen) to go undercover with the mob in Boston, which is led by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson, looking a bit demented, like the character in “The Shining”). His counterpart is Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), raised and planted in the police department to be the rat by Costello. Each man knows someone on the other side has infiltrated their respective organizations, and each scene draws them closer to figuring out who is whom. Just when you think one of them will be unmasked, there is a twist. The tension stays at a high level throughout the story, and, by the end, you don’t know who is legit and who has sold his loyalties to the highest bidder. This film is also my third with Vera Farmila this month, as she plays a police psychologist involved with both Billy and Sullivan. 4 handguns.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Here’s my theory and I know it is true: Whatever you have to do takes up the time in which you have to do it. So I can accomplish either 10 things on a very busy day or two things on a relatively free day. There are 24 hours in each day, and we manage to fill them up (and then some) every day, don’t we? By the way, I have this same theory about kitchen cabinets: No matter how many cabinets you have in your kitchen, you will find something to fill them up.
What are we supposed to do with all those miscellaneous vases that accumulate from flower deliveries? Some are nice, most are cheap, and, not that I get flowers that often, they pile up. My local florist was happy to take them off my hands and even gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers for bringing them in. I said I would take the flowers — as long as they weren’t in a vase.
I think nothing of spending money on big things, but I will nurse an emery board along until there is nothing left with which to file my nails.
If Beyoncé went into the home furnishings business, she could sell her collection at Bed, Bath and Beyoncé.
I saw this on Facebook so it isn’t an original thought, but it is certainly true: I will carry 18 bags of groceries into the house at one time or die trying rather than make 2 trips. Throw in a handbag and a camera just to make the load that much more impossible to bear and you have me in a nutshell.
Thank you, Dr. Oz, for your obvious concern about my health. Every single day you send me a message about “a new fat buster that burns belly fat without dieting.” I’m starting to think this whole Dr. Oz thing might not be legit. Thoughts?
With all of the HGTV home sales and improvement shows I watch, I now think I have seen every home in the US and Canada. And I should have a certification in carpentry and design just by osmosis.
I will be moving next year, which should give me ample time to get rid of my collections of things like those perfume strips that come in magazines, countless candles that I don’t burn (along with candleholders) and a collection of canvas bags that never seems to diminish despite my having donated a bunch to a good cause a few years back. How some of this stuff made it through my last move (in 2007), I cannot fathom. But this time I am ditching the receipts for the monthly mortgage payments from my first house — in 1983! I don’t think I need them anymore. Right?
Parking is getting more difficult these days. At Weis’ markets, there are spaces blocked for people picking up their on-line orders. At Kohl’s, there are spaces reserved for “Employee of the Month.” At Buy, Buy Baby, spaces are allotted for people with infants and pregnant women. It takes me longer the read the signs indicating the parking restrictions than it does to shop in the store. The good thing is that having to park further away assures that I get some walking in.
My hair is becoming gray, and it is especially noticeable since I haven’t had it highlighted in a while. It is growing on me, so to speak. I wonder what it will look like when I am completely gray, because, at least right now, I’m not planning to color it. So does that mean I have to get a new driver’s license and change my hair color listing from brown to gray?
How can you tell whether a pumpernickel bagel is toasted? Don’t wait for the punchline; I really don’t know the answer.
I think there is something drastically wrong with my car. It cannot be parked straight. Maybe it is a parallelogram instead of a rectangle, because it couldn’t be the driver (me), could it?
Where do we get the expression “a month of Sundays?” I mean, every month has 4 Sundays, right? So does the expression mean every day in the month is a Sunday? I know it means a long time, but where did we get this expression?
Let the Ray Rice incident serve as a cautionary tale to show that you can go from hero to zero with one incredibly offensive and harmful act, changing your life and those around you forever. Smarten up, people. Domestic violence — or any violence — is just not acceptable. Deplorable.
I cannot bring myself to toss out paper clips. When I recycle paper, I always remove the clips and save them to reuse.
For someone who doesn’t sew, I have a collection of buttons that could go into the Guinness Book of World Records. I must have the extra buttons from every article of clothing I have ever bought. I’m afraid to throw them out, because what if I need one? Of course, there’s always the cleaners, where they sew buttons on for me because I either can’t see the needle to thread it or I will stab myself in the finger. Don’t laugh. It has happened more than once.
Is it just me or does the name Ariana Grande sound less like a singer and more like a beverage from Starbucks?
I can’t be the only one who sees the irony of having the all-you-can-eat buffet Flaming Grill located next to Retro Fitness.
I wish these social media sites would stop asking me if I know So and So. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t, but do I need one MORE way of connecting with people? There aren’t enough hours in the day!
There are few things I hate to do more or at which I am worse than scheduling, the bane of my existence. Ask me for a particular date and I can check my calendar for a quick yes or no. But ask me to gather 6 women for dinner or lunch and I'm overwhelmed with everyone's vacation schedules, commitments (legit ones, I know) and other plans. I need a spreadsheet -- or an administrative assistant.
I truly believe that there is no one who knows the real words to "Louie, Louie," or who can figure out why that damn cake is melting in the rain in "MacArthur Park." It amazes me that the latter song was recorded not just by actor Richard Harris but also released by the Disco Diva herself, Donna Summer. You think maybe they got it and I didn't?
Speaking of music, like U2, I still haven't found what I'm looking for. But I also can't remember what it was.
I see that Rutgers just created an endowed chair in communications that is named for Gloria Steinem. That got me to thinking that if they ever named an endowed chair for me, it would have to be a recliner.
When did Halloween get to be such a big deal? When I was a kid, we slapped on some concocted outfit and a mask, grabbed a bag (and were forced to wear a coat OVER our costumes if Mom thought it was too cold out) and headed out to collect out loot. Now it seems that Halloween is big business. Temporary stores pop up for the month leading up to the big day, lawns are festooned with inflatable characters sporting “Boo” signs, and at least one house I pass on my walk has a skeleton riding a bike on the front lawn. I hate Halloween. I don’t want to buy candy and keep in it my house, I don’t want the doorbell interrupting whatever I happen to be doing, and I basically just don’t want to be home. So I am going out to dinner with like-minded, snarky friends, all of whom lack the true spirit of the holiday. Get it?
I rarely get calls on my cellphone, so when I get a random call from an unknown source, it is probably going to be someone dying to give me a free cruise, a vacation home or a hard time. I just registered my cell phone on the national Do Not Call hotline, which is a quick and easy thing to do. When sales people call my phone, I ask them if they are aware of the Do Not Call registry and I tell them that it is illegal for them to call me since I am registered and I will report them. The conversation usually comes to a quick halt. These calls are SO annoying!
Is it just me or are those Matthew McConaghey Lincoln commercials just a tad creepy?
Is it just me or are those Matthew McConaghey Lincoln commercials just a tad creepy?
Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “If it were up to me…” Then I realize that, in most situations, it IS up to me.