Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Winter Words of Wisdom

Here is what IRONY is – When you have to contact your BFF to ask whether you both read a book, and the name of the book is “What Alice Forgot.” 

As I was watching “Golden Girls” this morning, it dawned on me that every other commercial was about stomach/bowel/digestive issues.  Boy, have they got the right demographic!

I just had a tooth extracted – my first since my baby teeth fell out – and now I know two things:  First, my tongue cannot stop itself from finding the gap where the now-missing tooth was located.  And second, I am a right-sided chewer.  I wonder if this is related to the fact that I am right-handed.  In any case, chewing exclusively on my left side until the bone graft takes and an implant/crown can be completed will be interesting.  Maybe being able to chew on just one side will help cut down on my food intake?  Somehow, I think my body will adjust, but that would be a good side benefit.

Speaking of which, I wonder why wisdom teeth are called wisdom teeth. (Yes, I looked it up on Google.  Your turn.)

Zebras are the coolest animals.  They get to prance around in stripes all of the time.  It probably helps encourage them to stay slim, since we all know you shouldn’t wear stripes if you are overweight.

Someone needs to devise a better way of searching for programs on Netflix and Amazon Prime.  That tiny keyboard that comes up on the huge TV screen in my family room is excruciating to work.  You use the arrow to go all around the screen, entering one letter at a time.  In contrast, my Comcast remote allows me to verbally enter the service or information I need and search for programs on broadcast TV, but going into the streaming services eliminates that option.  Can someone PLEASE improve on this ancient search process?

On a day when about 10 inches of snow was predicted, we also experienced thunder, otherwise known as a “Thundersnow.”

I recently passed a pre-school with the name “Crème de le Crème,” which translates into “Best of the Best.”  What are all the kids who don’t go to the school called?  The Losers?  Worst of the Worst?  And how about the pressure you place on a pre-school kid by sending him/her to a place deemed the very best?  What if they aren’t worthy?  And I thought the “Genius Bar” at the Apple Store was a poor name.

Under the category “There’s an app for that,” you can actually download an app on your phone called “Run and Pee.”  If you ever need to go to the bathroom at the movies and don’t want to miss the good part, this app will let you know before the movie starts  when the three best times to take care of business are and then will buzz you when it’s time to “go.”  And just so you don’t miss anything, the app offers a plot summary of what was happening during your time away so you can catch up.  The database is updated weekly, so you can check out the plot (with obvious spoilers if you read the synopsis of what you might miss, I assume) and decide if this movie is right for you.  Well, if you gotta go, you gotta go.  And as the app says, it was created “Because there’s no pause button at the movies.” 

There has been a lot of complaining of late in my community that mail is not being delivered in a timely way.  Some people get their neighbors’ mail and others report finding their mail out on the lawn.  Someone recommended that we sign up for what is called “Informed Delivery,” where the post office sends you an email each day with images of the mail to be delivered.  Now I know if it is worth a trip to the mailbox to pick up the mail.  This is a great service when I’m traveling.  It is free, so go to the USPS website and sign up.

I need to face the reality that I will NEVER be able to get all of the crumbs out of the toaster.  There will always be some that cling to their heated prison, where they will emit that burning smell just to get on my nerves, knowing I won’t be able to release them no matter how much I shake the toaster.  This should be my biggest problem.

My car navigation system and I have a mostly-amicable relationship, with her tolerating the fact that I don’t always follow her advice, and with me trying to understand her sometimes strange directions.  Example:  I get to an intersection and she tells me to turn right, then make a left, and then make another left.  If I do that, I will be exactly where I would have been if I had gone straight in the first place.  OK, I can handle that when I know the area and can ignore her suggestions, but when I am in unfamiliar territory, I can’t help but wonder if she is, quite literally, giving me the run-around.  And then she tells me to “prepare to turn right in a quarter mile.”  I figure that means “get out of the left lane if that’s where you are,” so I’ll do that.  But she knows NOTHING about the Easy Pass lanes and always tries to get me to stay to the right at the toll booths.  And finally, she will say to “stay right” sometimes when, in my view, she should say “make a right” instead.  So, we are still on speaking terms, and I am grateful for the assistance, but she could certainly improve!

Do you ever arrive somewhere and don’t know how you got there because you don’t even remember making that left turn?  We get so accustomed to driving to work or home or other places we frequent that we don’t recall driving there. It’s not just ME, right?

Is it bad that I had to add salt to my otherwise tasteless can of Manischewitz reduced sodium matzoh ball soup?  I guess it kind of defeats the purpose of reduced sodium.

Back in the olden days, when I lived in the small town of Somerville, we went to stores where people who worked there knew us, our names, our families and made us feel at home.  Now I have to scan my own groceries and bag everything and next I’m afraid they are going to make me slice my own meat at the deli counter.  We order online, go to big box stores and feel anonymous.  That’s why I still love going to a small store or a shop where they help me – gladly.  The guy in the UPS store and I are on a first-name basis.  My name is in his computer (I don’t favor EVERYTHING “old school”), and he can make a label for my package quickly and efficiently.  He even knows who gets some of my packages, because their names are in the computer, too.  I also frequent the “Bulbs & Batteries” store, where I can ask for any kind of bulb without standing in the Lighting Department at Lowe’s for an hour reading every package.  It’s nice to have some remnants of the good old days still around today.

Remember when LifeSavers came in cherry, lemon, lime, orange and pineapple?  Most people I know went immediately for the cherry, but give me the lime.  I’d take the lemon next, then the cherry.  I didn’t like the pineapple but could put up with the orange.  I wish they still offered those original flavors instead of today’s cherry, raspberry, watermelon (which looks deceivingly like my lime favorite) orange and pineapple.  I wish they would bring back the original lineup!

Here’s the good thing about living alone (and there are MANY) – the house stays neat.  Here’s the bad thing about living alone – if the house ISN’T neat, it’s MY FAULT.  Who left the cabinet doors open?  Who left the phone off the charger?  Whose shoes are those in the hallway?  Guilty on all counts.  I generally hold myself to a high standard, so when slippage occurs, it is time to sit down and have a harsh discussion with myself so I’ll do better next time!

High heels – I don’t get them and never will.  Why would I want to jam my foot into a shoe with a very thin heel that throws off my balance (not a good thing for a top-heavy girl) and pray that the heel doesn’t break or that I go face first onto the floor?  Give me age-appropriate flats any time.  I know I’ll get pushback on this one!

And speaking of shoes, if you ever find me in a shoe store sniffing the goods, it isn’t some kinky thing.  My father sold shoes for a living, mostly women’s shoes – or, as I loved to tell people, “My father’s in women’s shoes.”  On days when the store had a big sale, he would come home smelling like leather.  He bore that scent long before English Leather was invented.  It wasn’t until I was in my 30s, after his death, that I had to go to an actual shoe store to buy shoes.  Prior to that, he would simply bring home multiple pairs from the store, I’d try them on, and he’d return the ones I didn’t like or that didn’t fit and I’d keep the rest.  So if you ever see me sniffing the shoes, I’m actually having a moment with dear old Lester Gordon.

And finally on the subject of shoes, can someone explain why my triple-knotted sneakers can still manage to untie themselves?  I await your reply.

Why is it that we can give in, give up or give back, but we can’t give down?

Is there anything more boring than waiting in the nail salon for your nails to dry?  I can’t pick up a magazine or check my email, and I can’t just sit and relax because the dryer and seat don’t lend themselves to any degree of comfort.  So I sit, staring at my surroundings (which, in at least one salon I frequent, includes a TV permanently tuned to HGTV), thinking of all of the things I SHOULD be doing and hoping that I don’t jump ship too soon and ruin my manicure.

Why is itching so contagious?  I start out scratching my back with my handy-dandy extendable backscratcher (which looks like a miniature garden hoe), and the itch spreads up and down and side to side.  I’m working that backscratcher like a dog chasing its tail, trying to get some relief.  I have a long device that I used to apply cream on my back, but it is broken and I can’t reload the cream.  So, until I find and order a new one, I’ll just keep scratching!

It is mid-March and there may be more snow in our future.  I’m about done with this weather.  Enough snow!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tina's February 2018 Movies

I caught up on the last of the Oscar-nominated movies this month and watched a few others that had been recognized in years past.  Movies are rated on a scale of 1-5 cans of tuna fish, with 5 being the top score.  Movies marked with an asterisk* are ones I had not seen previously, and numbering picks up from the previous month.

13.  The Shape of Water* (2018) – This movie is “Beauty and the Beast” in an aquarium.  You know, the usual girl meets monster and falls in love fare.  It is part sci-fi, part fantasy, part love story and, to me, all strange.  Sally Hawkins plays a mute woman who falls in love with a sea creature captured for study by the government.  There are bad guys (Michael Shannon) and helpful foreign agents and best friends (Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer, playing the prototypical Octavia Spencer role).  I jumped more than a few times, laughed while wondering if parts were intended to evoke humor, and felt some real empathy for an impossible and implausible situation.  I don’t do well suspending my sense of reality, and I still don’t know the shape of water.  This film received 13 Oscar nominations, but it is just not my cup of tea.  3½ cans.
14.  Mother’s Day* (2016) – Jennifer Anniston is sure that her ex-husband (Timothy Oliphant) wants to rekindle their relationship – that is, until he tells her that he has married a much younger woman.  Julia Roberts plays a successful businesswoman always selling her wares on HSN, and Kristin (Britt Robertson) is looking for her real mother.  Go ahead, draw your own conclusion.  Jason Sudekis plays a man whose wife died a year ago and he is trying to raise their daughters and get over his loss.  Kate Hudson, Margo Martindale and others fill out the cast..  This movie is one of those productions that sets up separate but overlapping stories filled with stars and tries to make a plot work.  This one more or less succeeds, but certainly not on the order of the best of the bunch, “Love, Actually.”  Nicely done but hardly memorable.  3 cans.
15.  Cinema Paradiso (1990) – Nothing like a good movie – about movies – on a nasty, rainy day.  Young Toto lives in a sleepy Sicilian village during WWII, where the biggest (and apparently only) activity is going to the movies.  Toto becomes the protégé of grumpy Alfredo (Phillippe Noiret), the aging projectionist at the Cinema Paradiso.  Over the years, the boy grows into a young man and takes over the projectionist job and becomes even more enamored of movies.  The beautiful relationship between the lonely boy and the fatherly, gruff man is the core of this film, with both sharing their love of cinema and of the Cinema Paradiso.  I cannot get through this movie without having a big lump in my throat and a few tears running down my cheeks.  It is in Italian with subtitles, but well worth reading.  See it.  You’ll thank me.  4½ cans.
16.  Summer of ’42 – 15-year old buddies Hermie, Oscky and Benji are spending the summer on an island, hanging out and trying to understand the mysteries of sex when Hermie (Gary Grimes) falls hard for a stunning young woman (Jennifer O’Neill) whose husband has shipped off to war.  This poignant coming-of-age movie builds to a climax that Hermie will never forget.  A beautiful, sad movie with a haunting score and a realistic view of teenaged boys in all of their goofy, hormone-fueled ways.  4 cans.
17.   Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – Here’s the thing about Breakfast at Tiffany’s: You can throw out the plot and just listen to the engaging score by Henry Mancini (“Moon River” won the Oscar for Best Song) or you can simply feast your eyes on the stunning Audrey Hepburn, the icon of style in her Givenchy clothes.  Who cares that her Holly Golightly supports herself thanks to the kindness of men who are not exactly strangers?  Or that, like her nameless cat, the woman herself has no real identity beyond being an attractive New Yorker with a penchant for rich men and the baubles of her favorite store, Tiffany’s?  Or that she refuses to admit she cares for her attractive neighbor, Paul (George Peppard) because she cannot commit to anything?  She insists on calling Paul, a minor author with major aspirations, by the name of her beloved brother, Fred.  She gallivants around swanky parties, befriending those who can help her sustain her lifestyle, which, just based on the gorgeous clothing, requires substantial investment.  This movie is a comedy/drama, with Hepburn as the bon vivant Holly, and yet there is an overarching sadness to this woman who has moved beyond her past and won’t invest in her own future.  This is Hepburn’s shining moment, and she dominates every second she is on the screen.  It is worth watching the movie just to see her sport a pair of sunglasses and an oversized hat.  So don’t look for plotlines here.  I’m just dazzled by the stylishness of the character and the actress who plays her.  4 cans.
18.  A Family Man* (2016) – I have seen too many movies that depict the office environment as a cutthroat workplace populated by immoral and unfeeling people who compete with each other to assure their respective futures.  Think “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Up in the Air,” “Miss Sloan” and “Wall Street.”  This one falls right into that genre.  Dane Jensen (Gerard Butler) is a headhunter who commandeers a bunch of guys (the only woman in sight is his rival for the next promotion) looking for companies to help fill positions.  They don’t care about ruining careers or helping people.  They care about scoring, even ringing a bell when they make a fat-fee placement.  Dane’s kids know he is always on the phone and working, so they are used to his missing bedtime, storytime and Halloween.  His absence angers his wife (Gretchen Moll), but he defends himself with the argument that he is doing it all for his family.  So when his son gets seriously ill and he finds himself suddenly having to rearrange his priorities, it isn’t easy for anyone.  It takes his son – who describes his father’s job as “he helps other fathers get jobs so they can help their families” – and one older engineer who he just can’t seem to place to give him much needed respective.  3½ cans.
19.  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) – The year 1939 was a great one for movies.  “Gone With the Wind,” “Goodbye Mr. Chips,” “Dark Victory,” “Of Mice and Men” and “Love Affair” were all released that year.  Although this one is now approaching 80 years old, it seemed the perfect movie to watch with our current political climate.  Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) is an honest and naïve guy who ends up appointed to a vacant Senate seat because the political machine in his home state assumes they can push him around and continue the graft and corruption that has made them rich at taxpayers’ expense.  When he proposes a bill to use land for a National Boys camp, they frame him for fraud, and the wet-behind-the ears senator (who they keep referring to as a boy despite the requirement that a senator must be at least 35!) gets a tough lesson in government and politics.  To me, the flaw in the film is that he doesn’t speak up fast enough or fervently enough to prevent expulsion until it is very late in the game, when only a filibuster on the floor of the Senate will help him win support.  This being a Frank Capra film, it has a happy ending, and I guess if it weren’t constructed that way it might have been much shorter and less celebratory.  Nonetheless, a classic for Stewart and for American moviemaking.  4 cans.
20.  Icarus* (2017) – I admire documentary makers.  They have an idea, often have to do dogged research to get the footage they need and sometimes their efforts are in vain because the story doesn’t always end the way they planned. In this case, that’s not such a bad thing.  Bryan Fogel, a very serious amateur cyclist, inspired by the Lance Armstrong doping denials that he eventually admitted were true, set out to start his own doping program to demonstrate how the use of performance enhancing drugs could improve his own performance in a demanding bike race.  Somewhere along the way he encountered Russian doping expert Grigory Rodchenkov and enlisted his aid.  And that’s when the movie became a mystery/thriller.  Grigory is a shadowy Russian figure who is an expert not only on setting up a program of drug use to improve performance, but also an expert on how to avoid getting caught on tests to determine whether athletes are “clean.”  Armstrong was right when he insisted he never failed a drug test, because there are ways – such as swapping test samples with clean urine – to get rid of the evidence.  Grigory reveals a massive Russian conspiracy to have every athlete use drugs, and despite close supervision by world doping officials, to avoid detection.  Many Russian officials were involved, including the KGB.  Although we never learn how Fogel fared in his big race, we sure know much more about the science of doping.  3½ cans.
21.  The DUFF* (2015) – One thing is certain in high schools of every generation:  There will always be a hierarchy.  There are the popular kids, the jocks, the brainy kids and the kids who are overlooked.  If your best girlfriends are the pretty, popular ones and the boys come and talk to YOU because they want information on THEM, you might just be the DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend.  Bianca (Mae Whitman) finds she is in the DUFF role from her next door neighbor, high school heartthrob Wes (Robbie Amell), the class jock who dates Queen Madison (Bella Throne in the bitch role).  Wes promises to help Bianca step up her game if she’ll help him in chemistry, and he is a man of his word.  So she drops the mean girls and flannel shirts.  This is a standard issue teen comedy with a heart (and with requisite teenaged angst and a heavy dose of modern technology) and well played by the actors cast in the stereotyped roles (although Amell looks at least 25).  The always wonderful Allison Janney has a small part as Bianca’s self-help author Mom.  3 cans.  
22.  The Radicalization of Patty Hearst* (2017) – This multi-part CNN documentary explores the enthralling case of publishing heiress Patricia Hearst, kidnapped in San Francisco in1974 by the SLA, a radical group of protestors.  During the course of her captivity, she began identifying with her “comrades” and when she was finally spotted after police were unsuccessful in finding her, she was brandishing a rifle and robbing a bank.  Calling herself “Tanya,” Hearst participated in more bank robberies, attempted bombings and other crimes until the authorities finally located the remainder of the SLA members and arrested all of them.  Was she a captive who was brainwashed or a willing participant in a crime spree and murder?  This is a story you can’t make up, and I recall following the events closely as they unfolded.  My friends and I even discussed who would play Patty Hearst in the inevitable movie (turns out, it was Natasha Richardson; I don’t recall our choice).  This is a story of civil unrest, of privilege, of the criminal justice system, and especially of a tough but impressionable young woman who eagerly rejected her parents’ lifestyle only to embrace it later.  4 cans.
23.  Klute (1971) – I saw this movie so long ago that the main thing I remembered was Jane Fonda’s “shag” haircut, the biggest hair style news until Jennifer Anniston’s “Rachel” from “Friends.”  But this suspenseful drama is much more than superficial.  Fonda is Bree Daniels, a New York call girl who is being investigated by John Klute (Donald Sutherland) in the disappearance of his businessman friend who seems tied to Daniels as a client.  Klute shows up on her doorstep to hunt down his friend’s last activity and discovers the not-so-secret world of sex workers – high class and otherwise.  When Klute offers Bree $50 for some information, she scoff, saying she can make that much on a lunch break.  She is cool outwardly, but when someone else seems to be on her trail, she is justifiably anxious.  Klute becomes her protector even as he is wary of her.  This is a dark story (and could have used more light on the screen to be more visible). They should have called it “Bree” rather than “Klute,” because she is the dominant character by far. 4 cans.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

New Year Musings

I am on the Planning Committee for my 50th high school reunion (Somerville High School - "SHS, We are the best!"), an event that was, logically, 50 years in the making.  It's hard to believe 50 years have passed since the last time someone made me wear a "gym suit," one of those awful greenish rompers that we were required to iron and wear while thrusting our unathletic bodies over the pommel horse.  Back in those days, there weren't a lot of gymnastic classes around, and gym was the period of the day that most of us DREADED!  No one joined gyms and worked out voluntarily.  We were destined for lives of sloth.  Now people pay good money to do stuff they schemed to get out of doing as teenagers.  Maybe we can bring back the scooters and gym mats for a demo at the reunion.  Nah, let's not!  Just getting out there and dancing to our music will be enough to tucker out my classmates at this advanced age! Anyway, if you happen to be a member of the SHS Class of 1968 or know someone who is, please send me your/their contact information so we can make sure you are ready to rock and roll on October 20th!

I recently bought hairspray that bills itself as “Weather Control Hairspray.”  So I went outside and sprayed it around but it is still cold out and I have no control over precipitation.

I had to chuckle to myself while wandering around ShopRite recently, as the music playing on the audio system was U2 singing, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

Note to self:  Dry skin cream works most effectively when you remember to apply it.

I studied French for four years in high school and I never learned any words that would make me say, “Pardon my French.”

In light of the below freezing temperatures we endured for much of January, I have decided to forego shaving my legs so as to have that extra layer of protection against the cold.

I went to put a stamp on the envelope for a birthday card and noticed a little box in the upper right corner that read “postage.”  Really?  Do people NOT know where to place the stamp on the envelope?

Raise your hand if you have ever used a coupon on the back of the receipt you get from the supermarket.  How about a coupon on the placemat at the diner?  Me, neither.  Those placemats advertise everything from exterminators to mausoleums.  There may be a connection there…

Based on the number of paper towels my cleaning woman uses in my house, I’m pretty sure she has a side gig with Bounty.

It turns out that I am not the only person who leaves the top of her washer open to air out after a load.  And I am one of those people who wash their washing machines outside and use washer cleaner for the inside.  Good to know I am not alone in my zest for cleanliness.

Even before I started having vision issues, it seemed to me that it is darker outside than it used to be.  I have trouble seeing where the turns are and…holy shit – I AM GETTING OLD.  IT ISN’T DARKER, IT’S ME!

You know what is really annoying?  When my socks start slipping down into my shoes.  Once this process begins, it cannot be stopped.  Once I had a mile to walk to get to a nail salon and I must have stopped every 60 seconds to pull one or the other sock back up to its rightful position.  I hate when this happens!

Ha!  I just thwarted an errant sock from making its escape.  It was hiding in the dryer, plotting its move.  Gotcha!

I wonder who decided that we couldn’t eat egg shells and banana peels but apple peels were OK.  And have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy eating an orange but how much I hate to peel one?

Of course my house has a dishwasher and a garbage disposal, but I rarely use either of them.  I do love listening to the disposal grind up the orange peels, however, leaving a wonderful citrus smell to emanate from the sink.

After a recent software update on my phone, I started getting ads that pop up when I try to access an app.  And they are proliferating.  I couldn’t hang up the phone one day because three of them appeared on my screen, blocking me from the phone app.  How utterly annoying is this?

I would like to salute and thank the inventor of the lint brush.  Not the inventor of the lint ROLLER, which, let’s face it, any of us could have invented (come on, it’s just sticky stuff with a handle that rolls), but the lint BRUSH uses some kind of fabric that when you run it one way only gathers up all the lint, allowing you to easily remove it from the clothes AND the brush.  I don’t know why this matters to me, but it does!

Doesn’t it get you when someone has you over to their house and says, “Don’t mind my house, it’s a mess,” and you know that their “messy” house looks better than yours?

I baked a cake.  Let’s alert the media.  But here’s why I don’t bake:
1.  I can’t afford the calories.
2.  If you bake a cake, you can only hope it will come out right since it’s not like you can cut off a piece and try it if you are bringing it to someone’s house or serving it to company.
3.  If I bake cookies, I’m going to eat them.  Too many of them.
 So, I don’t bake.  Except for today, when I baked a coffee cake for someone.  Did I mention I don’t drink coffee, either?

Saran Wrap is very unfriendly.  It just clings to itself and never wants to get involved with others.  It’s way too clingy.

Why do hotdogs come in packages of 7 and hotdog rolls come in packages of 8?  Please discuss.

Remember the old days when Madge the manicurist in the Palmolive commercials would soak the client’s hands in the soapy dish detergent to soften them up?  Now you go into a nail salon (and they are everywhere; there must be a law requiring that every strip mall have one) and you hear the whirring of machines that you recall hearing when you passed your high school’s wood shop.  They are sanding and honing fake nails, decorating them with every color under the sun and creating nail art.  They are patching and repairing, coating and cutting, doing much more than Madge herself could ever have imagined. It sounds like a machine shop in some salons!

I find myself dictating my messages and e-mails into my phone since I have trouble typing on that miniscule keyboard.  I also find myself using vocal inflections, as if my audible inflections will appear as a written emphasis.  Not happening!  And I don’t understand why the dictation into the phone contains such Random capital letters in Words that don’t Need capitalization!

Remind me not to make something in the crock pot when I am going to be home all day.  The food smells are so delicious that I have been hungry all day!

Life never seems to get easier, but it’s all good anyway.