Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hooray for Honey West

In addition to infomercials, a local cable channel has been airing TV shows from the 50's, 60's and 70's. I was pleased to see Honey West in rotation in the early morning weekend hours.

Honey West lasted for only one season 1965 - 1966. By 1965, James Bond had appeared in four films and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was in its second season. Honey West was one of the first detective/spy shows starring a woman.

I loved Honey West. When my cousin Cindy and I placed spy (I think we called it U.N.C.L.E.) I was Honey West.

Honey was revolutionary. The other action shows had male leads who had to rescue the hapless female guest stars. Any time  a woman was chased, she inevitably fell and twisted. sprained or broke her ankle--leaving her helpless in the face of danger--until our hero saved the day.

Honey changed all that. She was as beautiful and sexy as the hapless guest stars, but more importantly, she was smart and had a black belt in judo. She could take care of herself. Take that sexist TV trope:

Honey was soon eclipsed by Emma Peel of The Avengers which premiered in the US in 1966. I have to admit that Emma was cooler and more bad-ass than Honey and The Avengers was a better show.

But Honey was my first and I'll never forget her.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Derailed Days

I know intellectually that I can't expect days to go as I plan. When I woke up on Sunday, I had a clear idea of what my day would be. Besides my normal morning routine, Jeff, Spike and I had breakfast together. Sunday is the only day we plan to have breakfast together and it hadn't worked out for a few weeks. It was a nice change. Then I headed out to three tutorial appointments.

My last student didn't show--she had misread the schedule. I was tutoring a block away from her home beforehand so that wasn't a big problem. But then I had to reschedule that student--she's taking the ACT in three weeks and has been away for two--we were running out of time. I was able to reschedule her for Monday by changing a dinner date with my mother. While it was not a major problem, it took me an hour or so to resolve.

The next day I had a more serious setback--the battery on my computer died. We looked for the universal remote adapter cord that we bought when my last laptop had a similar problem. But it wasn't universal enough to fit my new laptop. Onto researching other universal adaptors--Jeff picked up another on sale (thanks for small favors) but the laptop still didn't work. It's now in for repair. Another day derailed.

I have a tendency to let these things throw me off. And I was thrown off the last two days. I need to focus on what I did do instead.

At least I got my tax paperwork organized for the accountant--hooray for me.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Happy Tenth Anniversary Spike!

Ten years ago today, the best dog in the world came to live with us.

Our lives have not been the same--our lives are richer and fuller than they were before Spike.

The first time I saw his picture on the window of Hill’s Confectionery,

I was entranced

He needed a home and we needed a companion

When we met--Jeff knew first—“of course we want him.”

At first lonely and unsure, Spike learned that this was his place after all.

Spike rules.

We love you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Music

Today was a record-breaking warm March day. I got thinking about seasonal songs. I've written about winter songs before here here are several summer songs. I can think of Summertime, In the Summertime, Hot Fun in the Summertime, Summertime Blues just off the top of my head.

But what about spring? This is all I can think of:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Has Arrived

Today is the officially first day of spring. I'm not as excited about it as I was last year because we have had such a mild winter. Temperatures approached 70 degrees today; I've seen blooming daffodils for weeks and the first yellow forsythia today. This is a huge contrast to last winter with snow banks lasting for weeks.

Today is the vernal equinox. I thought that meant day and night times are equal--according to Wikipedia that's not correct. Instead the center of the Sun is in the same plane as the Earth's equator. Live and learn.

I also learned that it's North American bias to call today the vernal or spring equinox. The preferred term is March equinox.  Today is also World Storytelling Day, World Citizen Day and in the Annapolis, Maryland boating community--the Burning of the Socks Day.  

Sounds like a big day all-around.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Beaglemania--Here's Nala

Nala is one of the many canine casualties of the housing collapse. Her family was devastated when they lost their home but couldn't take her along to their new rental.

She is a gentle, calm, spayed four year old. All she needs is your love. Contact to find out more about her.

Take a look at this Easter Beagle:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

and Happy Half-Way Day to Jeff

Today we had lunch at the Brewhouse. It was the normal menu with Irish specials. We had Irish nachos (waffle potato chips as the base), corned beef and Swiss on rye for me and Irish stew for Jeff, plus Guinness of course. We watched some Irish dancers as we ate.

After lunch, we walked around the block; it was a beautiful day. Spring is just around the corner.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Just Stop Now

I don't even know what to say.

Please read this.

Tim Burton's Dark Shadows

IMDB has the first trailer:

I'm not sure what to think--is it a comedy?

Dark Shadows was my first soap opera. While I thought Barnabas adjusted beautifully and unrealistically to the 20th century, that was a minor point. I fan wanked that Willie covered some things off screen.  I watched Dark Shadows to be scared--at least as scared as I could be with bad special effects in the late afternoon.

I hope Burton kept some some scares and thrills.

Season Finales

This week I watched two season finales of reality TV shows. My responses are vastly different.

Let's start with the good.

Face Off
Face Off opens a door to the make-up and special effects industry. It's fun and fascinating to watch how the artists create their persons/creatures. This year contestants created/recreated characters from the Wizard of Oz, Tim Burton films, animal/plant hybrids among others.

The second season ended on Wednesday. It was my first experience watching reality TV when I loved the three finalists. Rayce, Ian and RJ  were talented, nice and appreciative of the others' talents.

In the finale, each contestant (with assistance from previously eliminated contestants) created three figures in these genres: sci fi for Rayce, horror for Ian and fantasy for RJ.
Rayce won.

I'm psyched that the show has been renewed for season three and that season three will begin in June.

Now the bad: Jersey Shore.

I started watching Jersey Shore because it takes place in Seaside Heights, within walking distance of my cousin's home in Ortley Beach where I spent many a summer vacation. I got sucked in; it's hard to describe why. There was just something about the roommates that was fun to watch. Based on the show's ratings, many agreed with me.

Now in its fifth season, the show is just played out: people getting drunk, behaving badly, trashing houses. Enough is enough. The roommates have reached their expiration dates.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day!

A special day for all the math/geometry lovers.
Enjoy some pi pie.

Beaglemania--Congratulations Chuy!

Just got the news today that Chuy's been adopted. I hope he has a happy life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Requim for One Life to Live

The last show of One Life to Live was broadcast two months ago today. I don't miss it as much as I thought I would. But I miss what it was at its best.

Now that OLTL is gone, no daytime soaps are filmed in New York. For years, a group of actors balanced work in soaps, Broadway shows and other TV shows filmed in NYC (such as Law &  Order.) No more. That is a shame.

I've written about soaps before as a guilty pleasure.

To borrow a cliche, truth is stranger than fiction. I can think of many bizarre things that really happened to people I know that rival some soap stories. I think the problem with soaps is that these bizarre things happen to the same people. (Rob Woods joked about this in a Soapnet promo--he said something like things happen to the same 15 people while everyone in the background stands around eating pound cake.) Almost all of the main characters have had secret children. For example, Viki--the main character on OLTL--has given birth to not one, but two daughters she knew nothing about. One forgotten daughter was attributed to Viki's dissociative identity disorder (DID.) I didn't watch in the Viki's DID heyday, but apparently Erika Slezak was incredible. Unfortunately, when I watched later iterations of her alter Niki, they were over-the-top caricatures.

And that is another problem with daytime soaps. Most soaps run for one hour daily, five days a week with very few reruns. It's hard to fill up so much time, so writers repeat stories. That problem is exacerbated because of the soap industry habit of exchanging failed writers.

Imagine a writer who could avoid the temptation of another who's the daddy story. In the olden days before DNA testing, there would be some obscure genetic anomaly to prove fatherhood. If I remember correctly--the Bombay phenotype determined that Alan and not Rick was the father of Monica's baby on General Hospital. Today's DNA testing would seem to determine paternity, but somehow those damn DNA labs have no security; everyone and his brother can alter paternity results.

Other problems:

Hiring actors, especially young actors on their looks--ignoring acting ability. I have seen incredible acting on soaps and some actors can grow on the job, but at a bare minimum, don't drop limited actors in the middle of an intense story.

SORASing--Soap Opera Rapidly Aging Syndrome: Too many soap fans accept this as a necessity. Most soap children exist to be babies of uncertain parentage or victims of obscure diseases or kidnapping. I know there are employment issues with young actors. But SORASing makes the writers look lazy. It creates a problem when the children are too old to match with their parents. The most egregious example is Duke on OLTL.

Death--In recent years, death has lost all meaning on soaps because anybody could return from the dead. (In the final days of the other canceled ABC soap, All My Children, almost everyone did.)

Despite my litany of soap opera problems why did I watch?

Incredible acting--My OLTL favorite was Kassie DePaiva with Robin Strasser a close second; they were brilliant. Eddie Alderson started off slow but grew into the best teen actor on the show.

Familiarity--Spending five hours a week with these characters have made them a part of my life. Sometimes I spent more time with OLTL characters than my own family.

Time to tell a story--Five hours a week provided time to delve into stories. In most one hour TV shows, all kinds of traumas are resolved in approximately 42 minutes.

By listing that last strength of soaps, I think I found one of the major reasons for their downfall. Soaps had the time to tell long-term stories but chose to try the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am style of storytelling.  Another OLTL example: Matthew's story of being crippled in a car accident and suing for emancipation when his parents would not consent to a risky surgery, could have led to a long term story of estrangement from his parents. Instead the drama potential was lost by having Matthew quickly forgive them when the surgery was successful.

In the ideal OLTL, Dorian would be back in town; Todd would be cleared of killing his brother Victor and would be back with Blair, raising Sam and straightening out Jack. Kyle and Oliver would return, married and raising Sierra with Roxy as main babysitter. Jessie would discover that her son Ryder was Brody's son and they would reunite. All the characters played by bad actors would have left town. We would never have a who's the daddy story or rape-is-love storyline again.

If only. Then soaps would be better.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Beaglemania--Introducing Chuy

Isn't he adorable?

Chuy is a one year beagle available for adoption.

Contact if you would like to share your home with him.

If the first picture doesn't convince you, here are more:

Jeff and I were lucky to find Spike when he was just over a year old. Now I can't imagine our lives without him. He has given us so much love and so much fun. We have met a great group of dog park people through him.

If our condo allowed for more than one pet, we would probably adopt Chuy  (if Spike approved, of course.) Actually we probably would have adopted a second beagle before now.

I hope Chuy finds people who love him as much as we love Spike.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lovely Smarch Weather

Complete change from the beginning of the week when it was 28 degrees one morning. It hit 70 today.

It's not going to last. Although I can easily deal with temps in the 40's and 50's over the next several days.

In the back of my mind, I wonder if we'll get hit with a March snowstorm. I hope I'm wrong but it will be a small price to pay for such a mild winter.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lousy Smarch Weather

I've been muttering this under my breath for almost a week. This is just the set up for the Groundskeeper Willie as Freddy Krueger story on the Simpsons Season 7 Treehouse of Horror special.

Lousy is an understatement for the horrible tornadoes in the south and Midwest. Here is southwestern Connecticut, we've only had to deal with cold rain and winds. But I didn't want to miss my chance to use a favorite Homer quotation.

Another thing that cracks me up is this snippet from a meeting of Principal Skinner and the parents:

When Willie bursts into the room literally on fire, Principal Skinner says that Mr. Van Houton has the floor:

Mr. Van Houten: I, for one, would like to see the cafeteria menus in advance so parents can adjust their dinner menus accordingly. I don't like the idea of Milhouse having two spaghetti meals in one day.

What about the misprinted calendars?

What about poor Willie?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

An Anniversary

A little over 24 years ago, Jeff and I moved into our condo. I don't remember the exact date because we moved in over a week around President's Day. After the closing, Jeff and his father painted the place. Jeff and I gradually moved in small items and boxes over the week.

Most of our furniture consisted of hand-me-downs from our parents' homes. We did buy a new couch and a loveseat. Jeff's parents bought us a new TV set. At one point we inverted an empty cardboard box to use as a coffee table.

We didn't look at many places before we decided on this condo. We definitely wanted  two-bedrooms and at least one-and-a-half baths. Financial limitations and a desire for a reasonable commute kept us looking only in Stamford and Norwalk. I had previously sold real estate and I knew I didn't want to live in most of the places we could afford in Stamford.

Of course, when we bought this place, we never expected to be here for 24 years. I figured we'd be here two or three years. It was a booming real estate market when we purchased. I didn't realize that we bought at the top. I didn't know our place would plummet tens of thousands of dollars of value in a matter of months. If only we had waited until closer to our wedding in September.

But we didn't.

All in all, this has been a good move for us. Our mortgage and common charges over the years were close to or lower than our rental payments would have been. We have large rooms; we're in a great location. When we considered other places in 2006 - 2007, we realized how nice our current home was.  I'm so glad we didn't move then; we would have repeated our mistake of buying at the peak of the market. (After seeing a place I really liked, I called our bank and was scared at how much it was willing to lend us.)

So here we remain. And of course we re-committed when we renovated our condominium.

This is not our perfect place nor our dream house. But this has been our home and we have been happy here. We are luckier than most people in saying that.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What's Cooking?

I thought I might have cooked myself out last week. Ironically, it all started with me not wanting to cook at all on Monday. I was so lethargic--all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and read even though I needed to go shopping. Jeff picked up salmon on the way home from the dog park. I told Jeff if he cooked dinner, I'd cook for the rest of the week. He agreed.

I went food shopping Tuesday afternoon and got rotisserie chicken and took the easy way out. Dinner on Tuesday was chicken, stuffing mix and salad.

But I started real cooking the next day. By the end of the week, I made chicken sausage-black bean-potato-chicken broth pan fry;  chicken soup; ground buffalo-white bean chili; ropa vieja.

One of the nice things about this kind of batch cooking is that I make enough food for at least two meals. But it's all gone now.