Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Jeff

Jeff's 50th birthday was last Tuesday but we celebrated it last night with a party at the Wine Room of Fat Cat Pie Company here in Norwalk.

We don't do much entertaining--I think this was only our fourth party, but it was worth the wait. We were lucky to get the Wine Room--usually it requires a minimum of 40 guests and we numbered 24. The space was beautiful with flowers and candles.

The food was delicious: appetizers of mini quiche cubes, prosciutto wrapped asparagus and flank steak skewers with chimi-churri sauce. We had two salads: mixed greens and  kale and quinoa, a selection of pizzas followed by chocolate beet cake. We had three wines, a white, a rose and a red and two beers.

Everyone seemed to have a good time.

Happy birthday Jeff.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hooray for RA! Dickey Wins His 20th

It was a beautiful day and RA Dickey won his 20th game striking out 13 batters in the process. RA is the sixth 20-game winner in Mets history and the first since Frank Viola 22 years ago. David Wright got an assist with a three-run homer.

I hope that today's performance will clinch the Cy Young Award for RA. If so, he will join Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden as Mets Cy Young winners. (I was surprised to see that Seaver won three in '69, '73 and '75; that was before I became a baseball fan. Also, I lived in Phillies territory at the time--if I saw any baseball games it was with my father, a big Phillies fan.)

I secretly hoped for a no-hitter, but was happy just to see the Mets get a win. RA fell behind early, giving up two runs in the top of the second.  He left in the 8th inning just short of the third out. Jon Rauch made things a bit scary as he did in RA's last outing, but the Mets secured a win.

In a bad year, I can still be happy about a few things: a surprisingly good first half, Johan's no hitter in June, RA's 20 game winning season. Let's hope to add a Cy Young award to the list.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Streaks--Part Two

Yesterday the Mets swept the Miami Marlins. Today they won again, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2.  This is the third four-game winning streak of the season. The first was the first four days of the season; the second was in June.

The Mets are 13 games under .500. With only nine games remaining, a winning season is impossible. There's not much to celebrate.

Thank you RA Dickey for giving us something to believe in. On Saturday, he won his 19th game. The Mets have not had a 19 game winner since 1990. Thursday he'll go for number 20 in the Mets last home game of the season.

Jeff and I plan to go. We haven't been to Citi Field this year. We are hopeful that we'll see some history.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Welcome Autumn

I heard a TV meteorologist say that autumn began at 11 AM today. I wonder how he can be so exact.

Many fall harbingers have already appeared: shorter days, cool mornings and evenings, a scattering of gold and orange leaves.

Autumn is my favorite season. I love crisp mornings, fall foliage, abundant apples and pumpkins, Halloween and the perfect time for warming soups and chillies. It's the season of Jeff's birthday and our wedding anniversary.

Thinking about autumn songs, I could only think of "Autumn Leaves." Googling autumn songs give me many tunes to sample.

Veronica Mars Re-Watch: Season One Episode Five

It took me a long time to write my last post on my Veronica Mars re-watch. I watched the first four episodes in five or six days. When I started to write, I realized that I wasn't always clear on what happened in what episode (besides Pilot) and had to go back to TWoP recaps.  So now I'll discuss one episode at a time.

You Think You Know Someone: The mystery of the week revolves around a missing car and missing steroids. The car belongs to Troy's father. Troy is an '09er (a resident of Neptune's richest zip code) but a newcomer to Neptune High who doesn't ostracize Veronica. He's previously appeared in Episodes 2 through 4 and has emerged as Veronica's love interest. The set up: Troy, Logan and another friend Luke had gone down to Tijuana for the weekend. They return, grab some food at a border diner but find the car gone when they leave the restaurant. A pinata in the back seat is also gone--a pinata that Luke has stuffed withs steroids.

Veronica is not the only one with a new love interest in the episode. Keith has been seeing Veronica's guidance counselor off-screen. (They did meet in a previous episode and Keith went to her favorite coffee shop to "accidentally" run into her.) There's an interesting dynamic in the two relationships.Veronica investigates her guidance counselor and gives Keith a report that she says he needs to read. Keith later does the same; he gives a report on Troy to Veronica but tells her it's her choice to read the report or not.

There's an interesting, almost throw-away scene with Veronica in journalism class practicing interviewing skills. A snotty girl asks how Veronica responds to rumors that her boyfriend hooked up with strippers in Tijuana. Veronica asks who she'll live with after her parents' divorce and what she thinks of her father's mistress. This is the Veronica who later described her philosophy as get even.

Both Keith's and Veronica's relationships come to an end in this episode. Keith decides that Veronica isn't ready for him to date and breaks up with the guidance counselor. Veronica confronts Troy after reading that he was expelled from two schools for drug dealing along with "Shauna." Troy does a great acting job and it seems that Veronica has jumped to the wrong conclusion again. But no! Troy succeeded in stealing the car and almost succeeded in stealing the steroids but Veronica foils him.

In the season long mystery, Veronica finds a key to her mother's safe deposit box. She prints out a faked death certificate to gain access and finds several photographs of her from the previous year with cross-hairs drawn around her head. She mails untraceable cell phones to all her mother's friends. Unfortunately when she gets a return call from mom, she's listening to music on her headphones and misses it.


Monday, September 17, 2012

24 Years

Today Jeff and I have been married for 24 years. We went out to dinner at Tengda Asian Bistro in Darien. We hadn't been there in years and it was delicious.

Jeff's birthday is in eight days. We usually combine our celebrations, sometimes going on vacation. This year we're throwing a party for Jeff's 50th birthday so we kept our anniversary low key.

I feel lucky to have found Jeff. We're well-matched. We enjoy many of the same things. But we understand that we don't have to enjoy all the same things. We respect each other's choices that we don't share.

Jeff has been a great husband, companion and friend. 

I'll share a piece about our wedding day that I included in my memoir writing class.

The Limo from Hell


            The morning of Jeff’s and my wedding, I was waiting in my parents’ den with my sister, Joanna. The limo was late.

             I checked the clock—11:10—time to leave if we wanted to make it to the church by 11:30.  Just then, I heard the crunching of driveway gravel under the weight of the limo. Finally. We hurried outside.

            “Sorry, I’m late,” the driver said. “They gave me the wrong directions to your house.”

            Joanna and I settled in the back of the limo and were on our way. I thought it was odd when the driver passed the entrance to the Merritt Parkway, but remained silent. After all, he was the professional.

            But when we turned left on Vine Road, I knew something was wrong. “You’re going the wrong way,” I said.

            “No, I’m not,” said the driver. “I looked up Lafayette Street on the map.”

            “But, we’re going to Lafayette Street in Greenwich, not Stamford.”

            The driver pulled the car over to the side of the road and got out. He began talking to another driver in the limo ahead of us.

            “What’s this—tag team limos?” said Joanna.

            I laughed but my stomach was churning. “I don’t believe this. I’m going to be late for my own wedding.”

             “Calm down,” Joanna said.

            “You’re right; they can’t start without me.” My giggles loosened the knot in my stomach.
 
            The driver returned and apologized. “They told me the wrong Lafayette Street. I was wondering why I couldn’t find the church.”

            Joanna and l looked at each other. “Jeff picked the limo,” I whispered.

            “The limo from hell,” Joanna said.

            We hit traffic in downtown Stamford trying to get on the turnpike. The limo clock read 11:20, but it felt much later. Joanna rolled down her window and asked a passenger in the next car for the time: 11:30.

            Our driver turned around. “I could have given you the time.”

            Yeah right. “They” probably would have given him the wrong time, along with the wrong directions and the wrong Lafayette Street. “They” were pretty incompetent.

            We reached the church at 11:50. Many of the guests had wandered outside. They quickly reassembled as Joanna and I entered. Even with my lateness, Jeff and I managed to get married on the upswing of the clock, a good omen according to my new mother-in-law.

            After the ceremony as we posed for pictures, I described my morning to Jeff. He told me that the limo had originally driven to the church.
 
          “You are the stupidest drivers,” Jeff’s father had said. “Did you expect to find the bride here? You’re supposed to bring her to the church.”

           After pictures, Jeff, Joanna and I returned to the limo with best man Jared and usher Adam for the ride to our reception. Inside the limo’s mini-fridge was a bottle of champagne.

            “Let’s crack that open,” I said. “We could use it.”

            None of us recognized the brand of champagne. By its taste, we figured it must have set the limo company back by $1.98 (excluding any volume discounts.)

            The car phone buzzed and Jeff talked to the driver for a few minutes.  The driver told him the champagne wasn’t included and we would have to pay for it. After all we had been through, the least the company could have done was spring for a cheap bottle of champagne.

          After our second toast, I looked out the window and realized I had no idea where we were. Luckily, Jared recognized our location and gave directions to the driver.

            “Sorry.” The driver repeated his litany, “They gave me the wrong directions.”

             When we arrived at our reception, I practically ran from the limo and waited for a few minutes for Jeff to join me.

             “What took you so long?”  
 
            “I had to give the driver my credit card number,” Jeff said. “He didn’t believe I paid.”

           We headed inside to celebrate. I was relieved that the ceremony was over and that our limo arrangements did not include a return trip.

           

 

                  

Wordplay

Last Sunday's New York Times Magazine had an article in the series, "Who Made That?" about spray tan. At the end of the article appeared the line"...the bottle tan...tends to brassier and Snookier than the real thing."

Snookier? Well as a lover of words and a SAT tutor, I love thinking and talking about words--what they mean--how they evolved.  As a Jersey Shore viewer, I know about Snooki. One of my favorite Snooki lines is,"I like being tan, bitch." That was Snooki's response to Angelina who said she was too tan in Season Two, Episode One.

Snookier. Snooki now joins an elite group whose name has evolved into a word. Time will tell if it lasts.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Veronica Mars Re-Watch: Season One Episodes One through Four

I love Veronica Mars--even though the show has been off the air for five years now. I read a great review of the pilot before it aired. Otherwise, I might have never seen the show.

The pilot was compelling. I might have missed an episode in the first half of the first season but VM soon became can't miss TV. We started taping episodes so we could re-watch them. Googling the show's creator, Rob Thomas, led me to Television Without Pity recaps and forums. VM was the first show that I watched along with TWoP.

Earlier this year, Soapnet added VM to its line-up. Soapnet shows 16 hours of VM each week; with only 64 episodes, Soapnet cycles though the seasons quickly. Catching pieces of episodes reminds me of how much I enjoyed the show--especially the first season.

We have all three seasons on DVD and I decided to re-watch the complete series.

I've completed the first disk of Season One: Pilot, Credit Where Credit's Due, Meet John Smith and The Wrath of Con.

Pilot was great. Through a liberal use of voice overs and flashbacks, we see how Veronica's life changed after her best friend's Lily's death (among other things, she's a social pariah at Neptune High.) Pilot sets up the season long mysteries: what really happened to Lily, who raped Veronica and where is Veronica's mother Lianne Mars? The mystery of the week shows the beginning of Veronica's friendship with Wallace and perhaps an alliance between Veronica and Weevil. There's also a hint of Veronica's mimicking ability which comes into play in future episodes.

Credit Where Credit's Due: The biggest problem with this episode is its stunt guest star, Paris Hilton. Although she's a year younger than Kristen Bell, she looks too old to be a high school student. I must admit that she effectively plays a rich, spoiled bitch so her acting doesn't ruin the show. This episode develops the Veronica/Weevil connection--she solves the case that gets him out of trouble. Plus Veronica discovers proof that the reported time of Lily's death was wrong and that the Kanes' alibis no longer hold up.

Meet John Smith: I was psyched to see guest star Melissa Leo; I've loved her since she played Linda Warner on All My Children (her first IMDB credit.) This week's mystery is a classmate's search for his missing father. The resolution caught me by surprise and is a nice balance to Veronica's unsuccessful search for her mother. There are more hints of odd things going on in the Kane household including Duncan's hallucination of Lily telling him the story of her murder isn't right. I also liked that Veronica jumped to the wrong conclusion about one of the "John Smiths." She may be smart and tough but she's not always right. It's nice to know that even in the noir world of Neptune, not all is dark.

Wrath of Con: This is a fun episode as Veronica out-cons the geeky cons who tricked Wallace's friend out of $3000. Via flashback, we also get an idea of how close the foursome of Veronica, Lily, Duncan and Logan were, dressed up to go to a school dance but instead having an all-night limo party. Back in the present, Veronica gives Logan a tape of their party night which he edits into a video tribute at the dedication of the Lily Kane fountain. They share a smile watching the video. Weevil is also at the dedication, crying. What's up with that? The episode ends with Veronica stopping the limo on the way to this year's dance so she can skinny dip as a kind of tribute to Lily. It was a sweet moment, but damn--is she really going to go to the dance with her hair all wet and straggly? What about the salt water? Seaweed? I also hate the trope that women can just slip off shoes and gown to get naked. What about her date Troy and Wallace and his date,  just waiting in the limo? Too impractical. Why couldn't she have skinny-dipped on the way home? (End of rant--I'll just have to let it go now.)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Streaks

In my last entry about the Mets, I focused on the bad season. I didn't realize at the time that the Mets were in the third game of a four game winning streak. After all, I had expected them to beat the Rockies and instead they were swept.

After the four game winning streak, the Mets lost the finale to the Phillies, but then swept the Marlins. Heading into the series with the Cardinals, Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen mentioned that the Mets record was very close to that of the Cardinals at this time last year. The Cardinals overcame great odds to win the World Series. I don't really believe that the Mets will pull off that kind of miracle, but as I like to remind myself--the Mets are still in it--they have not been mathematically eliminated. Then the Mets dropped two out of three games.

This weekend, the Mets headed to Atlanta where they were swept. It looked good for a while today...but then the Braves prevailed...again.

Do the Mets have another streak in them? I hope so--we're 10 games below .500.