Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I saw this painting on the window of The Silver Ribbon as part of Westport's Halloween Window Painting Contest. As a beagle fan, I especially appreciate it.

We don't get trick-or-treaters, but Jeff got candy just in case. He carved a pumpkin, put a tea light in it, and placed it in the window.  The reflection is eerie; it reminds me of the original version of Halloween. We also lit our eyeball candle.

We mostly celebrate Halloween by watching scary movies. We started one night last week. We checked out Netflix instant films, and started with Dead Snow. I'm not a big fan of zombies, but figured Nazi zombies could be interesting. Unfortunately, the film was sub-titled and we weren't up to that. Our next selection was Legion of the Dead about Egyptian tombs and mummies and the like. But this Egyptian tomb was in California--pretty hokey.

Next we watched an oldie but goodie, Black Sunday. We laughed a bit about the two doctors visiting the family tombs, accidentally knocking over the cross, breaking the window over the witch's coffin, removing the witch's death mask and dripping blood onto her face. Whoops, my bad. The movie remains atmospheric and intriguing.

Tonight we watched a newer film, Insidious. It creeped me out at first, but I got into it. We just finished The Awakening--an atmospheric ghost story. Bonus: it stars Issac Hempstead Wright--Bran from Game of Thrones.

Extra bonus points: Vincent Price on TCM.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Update: Veronica Mars--The Movie

I wrote about the movie here a little over six months ago.

Monday night, I saw this clip on Jezebel.

I am not "losing my shit."

Don't get me wrong; I can't wait to see this. It's one of the few upcoming films to tempt me into the theater (Catching Fire is the other.)

But what about the murder mystery? Isn't that more important than who wins the coveted title of Veronica's boyfriend?

Obviously, I think so.

I realize that the trailer is named: Veronica Mars: Love Triangle. Maybe mystery trailers will be forthcoming.

I was excited about Logan and Veronica (LoVe) in Season One. I liked when they got back together at the end of Season Two.

Veronica and Logan were boring in Season Three, as were Veronica and Piz. If I had given much thought to Veronica's post Season Three love life, I would not have expected her to stay with Piz. I would have thought of him as rebound guy. Maybe she and Logan would have ultimately ended up together, maybe not.

Veronica is too much of a fascinating character on her own to focus on who she's dating.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A year ago today...

Superstorm Sandy struck: a winter storm-hurricane combination, unlike any storm seen before. As I wrote before, we were lucky. We didn't even lose power.

My biggest problem was when I had to go to a student's house a few days later. Fallen trees blocked some roads. The alternate route my student suggested took me twenty minutes out of the way. I also made a wrong turn. Part of my route home (in the dark) included a road without power to its streetlights. A driver stuck at an intersection suddenly pulled out in front of me. I screeched to a halt, barely missing him. It was scary.

But ultimately, a near-miss accident is nothing.

Sandy caused 285 fatalities and damages estimated at over $68 billion. In the US alone, it affected 24 states. While we were able to quickly put Sandy behind us, many others have not. Damn, there are many who haven't been able to put Katrina behind them.

I appreciate how lucky and blessed that we are.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Construction Zone

We live across the street from Norwalk Hospital on a bus line. I don't expect quiet streets and bucolic scenes. But lately it seems like which ever way I go, I'm in a construction zone.

The hospital is undergoing a 95,000 square foot expansion. It started about a year ago and will take another year-and-a-quarter if all goes well. I'm already sick of the dirt, noise and extra traffic.

There is also work involving digging up roads two blocks from us in one direction and one block in another. Another three blocks down the hospital hill is a major construction project. (I have to admit that it isn't disrupting traffic, and I'm looking forward to that new residential, retail and restaurant development.)To add to the upheaval all around us, our condo complex is doing a  project that requires a lift that takes up ten parking spots. Yesterday its scaffolding in the front of the building blocked our main entrance.

I can't wait until it's all done.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

RIP Marcia Wallace

As I was driving home today, I heard that Marcia Wallace had died. I watched her on the original Newhart show, but mostly remember her as Edna Krabappel from The Simpsons.

I loved Edna. She was a disillusioned teacher, a romantic, a realist and knew the difference between DC and Marvel comics (her explanation for breaking up with Comic Book Guy--he understood completely.) In other words, Edna was a well-rounded, gray character. Marcia Wallace gave her life with her voice.

The New SAT Manual is Here!

I was surprised to get a delivery from UPS yesterday; I hadn't ordered anything.

It was the latest revision of the SAT Manual. I had read they would be issued on October 15th, but the office didn't have them when I stopped by that day. I later heard that the office would distribute them at a meeting two weeks from now.

I was psyched to get the new manual although not this excited.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Red World Series 2013

Well, it has to have a better ending than the Red Wedding.

We're watching because we're baseball fans. But we're not watching with the same intensity and urgency than we would be if the Mets were playing (or even the Pirates, this year.)

I prefer the National League to the American; I hate the designated hitter. But I have trouble rooting for the Cardinals. In the American League, I usually root for the Red Sox (which may be related to my anti-Yankees stance.) But in this ALCS, I found myself cheering on the Tigers.

For now, go Sox. Interesting factoid I heard tonight: the Red Sox have not lost a World Series game since Game 7 against the Mets in 1986.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Visits to Cranbury Park

Tonight we had dinner with my mother. We always take Spike along, and when we have time we stop off at Cranbury Park. Cranbury has a large field and hiking trails that welcome dogs off leash.

We had about a half hour today to explore the trails.

Last month on a visit, we met another lemon beagle. We had never heard of lemon  beagles before we met Spike and have only encountered three or four since then.

Spike's coloring was similar when he was younger.

It was fun to watch them play, but unfortunately Spike was more interested in humping than normal playing. As for the other lemon beagle, he wouldn't stand for it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Views from Taylor Farm

I didn't get the idea of a cell phone camera at first. Now I love it. I often see
things that I just decide to photograph. (I admit the subject is usually Spike, but not always.)

Here are a few photos from Taylor Farm from the past month. The first picture of Spike is from Jeff's birthday.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Birthday Musings

Today is my father's birthday; he would have been 89.

My father died three-and-a-half years ago. I don't miss him on a daily basis anymore, but I do miss talking to him about baseball (who would he be rooting for this year?) music, and family trips and events. He always had a good memory and I'd love to compare notes with him about memoir pieces/essays that I want to write.

My father was dealing with health problems for about the last ten years of his life. I remember after a tough year, Jeff and I and two of my cousins went to Key West with him to celebrate his 80th birthday. He was always chatting up or making friends with people we'd meet in restaurants and bars. On our first two nights in Key West, new friends gave him cakes to celebrate his birthday. I thought his official birthday dinner at Martha's Steak and Seafood was a letdown. The food was good, but he had only his family to celebrate. He didn't have the opportunity to make any new friends that night.  

I got my love of singing and my skill at trivia from my father .

Jeff and I just toasted him tonight.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Hike at Oak Hills Park

I've lived in Norwalk for 25 years before learning that Oak Hills Park has a nature trail. I just knew it as a golf course with a restaurant and a few tennis courts. About two months ago, I joined a group The Friends of Oak Hills Park to save the park woodlands from being destroyed for a golf driving range.

Jeff, Spike and I hiked the trails for the first time this week. It's no Devil's Den or Lake Mohegan, but it's a nice local place for a short hike. Spike especially loved it--it was apparently full of intriguing scents. I'm happy we learned about it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Autumn Hike at Lake Mohegan

After a tutoring session yesterday morning in Trumbull, I suggested that Jeff and Spike meet me at Lake Mohegan for a hike. It was a nice day, dry in the mid-sixties--too cool for Spike to swim, but perfect for a hike.

Before Spike came to live with us, we hiked Devil's Den in Weston--it has over 1,700 acres. One summer, we completed our goal of hiking all the trails and loved it.

But now, why would we hike without Spike? One of our go-to places is Lake Mohegan--it offers hiking and swimming for dogs. At 170 acres, it's only a fraction of the size of Devil's Den, but we appreciate the opportunity to explore it with Spike.

Here are a few photos from our hike:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sunday Afternoon: Merwinsville and White Silo

I unexpectedly had Sunday off, so Jeff and I visited his parents. Jeff hadn't seen them in a month--it was even longer for me. We did our usual routine--took Spike to Southbury dog park before seeing Jeff's parents. We had lunch and hung out for a few hours.

We left a little earlier than usual to go to the Columbus Day Weekend Arts and Crafts Show at the Merwinsville Hotel . We didn't buy anything but it was fun to look at paintings, photographs, pottery, jewelry, etc. and support the hotel. Details on the hotel's restoration here.

This photo shows one of the sculptures displayed on the front lawn. I was also intrigued by the Front of the Mt. sign just down the street from the hotel.


We made one more stop on the way home at White Silo Farm and Winery. White Silo had a glass art show. We tasted some wines including a new sparkling raspberry and had a cheese plate at an outdoor table.
Here are some photos I took from our table:

It was a nice way to end our afternoon.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Last Sunday, I was working through the channels on the car radio and heard this song and was intrigued.

I went to college with a Valerie June (not the same one) but it helped me remember her name.

"I'm lazy and disorganized."

The title of this post is one of the few quotes I remember from the 1986 movie, The Fly. The other quote, "Be afraid. Be very afraid," became the film's tagline.

Geena Davis as Veronica Quaife said both lines. Veronica said the first when she found her ex showering in her home. He had let himself in with an old key she had given him. He claimed she must not mind because she hadn't changed her locks. She hadn't change the locks because she was lazy and disorganized.

Damn, if that doesn't describe how I deal with housework.

I'm a smart person; I'm a flexible person. I can juggle multiple projects and switch gears when necessary. So why does it take me so long to clean the kitchen?

I am an inefficient cleaner. I know I'm not alone. I remember a conversation with a friend. Her ex could clean their whole house in two hours. He said it was because he stayed in the room until he was done. My friend and I would start in one room and then find ourselves doing something else, etc.

If nothing else, this post gives me a chance to play this.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Baseball Blues: Cardinals Beat Pirates in Game Five

I've never considered myself a Pirates fan. But I do enjoy an underdog story. That's why I was rooting for the Pirates this year. They had a winning season and made their first playoff appearance in 21 years.

Ironically, in the Pirates' last playoff appearance in 1992, I was pulling for the Braves. The Braves had been the underdogs--bad for a long time--on their way up the standings. 

Now it's the St. Louis Cardinals v. the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.

I root against the Cardinals. That team was the Mets' nemesis in the National League East when I first started to get into baseball in the mid-eighties. And I can't forget the Mets defeat to the Cardinals in 2006 NLCS Game Seven.

By default, go Dodgers.

Now, Jeff doesn't root for any LA team. It's going to be a weird series for us.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

TCM Catch-Up: Kid Galahad

This is Bette Davis' only on-screen pairing with Edward G. Robinson, and one of a handful of Bette's with Humphrey Bogart and Jane Bryan (separately.)

Bette is second-billed as Louise aka Fluff, Nick Donati's (Robinson's) mistress. Nick is a boxing promoter. Wayne Morris plays Kid Galahad, Fluff's nickname for bellhop Ward Guisenberry. When a boxer shoves Fluff aside at a party, the Kid knocks him out; the boxer just happens to be the heavyweight champ.

Nick decides to manage Kid Galahad to help him get revenge against rival promoter Turkey Morgan (Bogart). Turkey had paid off Nick's fighter to take a dive and also manages the champ.

The Kid and Nick's sister Marie (Bryan) fall in love, which infuriates Nick. Fluff has also fallen for the Kid and leaves Nick. Will Nick take revenge on Turkey as planned or on Kid Galahad?

I was happy to get the chance to see this movie again; it's been years. It's not a great film, but I enjoyed it.

A few things stand out. After the champ shoves Fluff, the Kid says he never saw anyone treat a lady that way. Bette's wistful expression at being called a lady is touching.

I like the scenes between Fluff and Marie. They know they are both in love with the same man, but there is no rivalry and no catfights.

It was fun to see Ben Welden as one of Turkey's henchmen. He appeared in another Bette Davis--Humphrey Bogart film of 1937, making Bette the "Marked Woman" of the title.

I like a few silhouette shots near the end of the film and the final shot itself as Bette walks down the dark alley from the arena after the big fight.

Friday, October 4, 2013

In Jeopardy

When I auditioned for Jeopardy last May, the show reps told us we could be called to appear as early as August and would be eligible as contestants for about a year-and-a-half after our auditions.

Apparently Jeopardy has started its 30th year (another anniversary.) It is bringing back champions from the last three decades. I like the idea, but realize that it makes it less likely that I'll be called in as a contestant.

I'm still hoping.

Another Holiday

I got an email from a local liquor store chain advising that today is National Vodka Day.

Who are we to fly in the face of tradition? We just poured a taste of our favorite.

Happy Vodka Day.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Freudian Slip?

On Tuesday I wrote in my journal about the government shutdown. But I wrote "government shitdown" instead.

Maybe I'm on to something.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Netflix Movie Night: Olympus Has Fallen

We watched this movie last Saturday. I kept forgetting to write about it--that may say it all.

I can suspend disbelief when watching television shows and movies. For example, I liked Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I probably could have just watched this and shrugged it off.


First the general/Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (I don't care enough to look it up) gives up the nuclear codes to terrorists almost immediately. The President orders the Secretary of Defense to give up her codes. The President swears they'll never get his, but apparently gives them up to save the hostages. He's shocked (shocked) that the head terrorist didn't keep his word. Stupid.

Too stupid for us to care what happens to him.

21 Years; 1,250 Games

The Mets may be done, but baseball goes on. On Monday we watched the American League playoff game to determine the second Wild Card team, but weren't rooting for either team.

Yesterday was different: we rooted for the Pirates over the Reds in the National League Wild Card game. The atmosphere was electric at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, the stands a sea of black.

It had been 21 years since the Pirates last appeared in a playoff game. In Game Seven of the National League Championship Series, the Atlanta Braves scored two in the ninth to advance to the World Series. It was the slow-running, ex-Pirate Sid Bream who scored the winning run. It was an exciting game with a wild finish. It was also the end of an era in Pittsburgh.

In August, the Pirates improved their chances to make the post-season with a trade for Marlon Byrd. Marlon had played 1,250 games in his career before making his first post-season appearance. Marlon made the most of his opportunity by leading off the second inning with a home run.

Keep up your magic season, Marlon.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fall at Fodor Farm

We followed up a great Saturday afternoon at the beer garden by spending the next afternoon at a fundraiser at  Fodor Farm. We've lived in Norwalk for 25 years and often drove by the dilapidated farmhouse without knowing anything about it. Recently, Fodor Farm has served as a community garden. The buildings are also in the process of being restored.

It was a beautiful day for Wine on the Farm, Food in the Barn. We walked along the wine trail, and saw a tree farm on our way to taste sparkling wine and rose. White wines were poured near the main farmhouse, which we explored. Red wines and food were served in the barn, which now has a full kitchen.

We enjoyed Fat Cat pizza with fresh tomatoes from the garden, meatballs, jerk chicken wraps. jerk portobello sandwiches and salad and listened to The Chester Ludlowe Jazz Trio.

A nice dog park Friday made it a great weekend all around.