Tuesday, September 30, 2014

AL Wild Card

The Kansas City Royals have not made it to the post-season since 1985, when they beat the St. Louis Cardinals. Tonight is a one-game playoff against the Oakland A's who made it to the post-season last year.

I'm rooting for the Royals--let's get some new blood in the American League.

Tomorrow night is the National League wild card game--I'm rooting for Pittsburgh.  I'm still hoping for the fantasy match-up I wanted last year.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Another Autumn Visit to Lake Mohegan

It was a cooler than normal summer, and a warmer than usual fall so far. Because of Spike's torn ligament, swimming is especially good exercise for him. Jeff and I took advantage of a warm, sunny day to take Spike to Lake Mohegan.

This may be the first time at Lake Mohegan on a weekday. Spike walked slowly to the beach where he swam after the ball a few times. Unfortunately, he started shivering. I stroked him to remove the excess water; then he rolled in the grass to dry himself. We curtailed our normal hike, and he seemed very tired when we got home.

As always, it's a pleasure to spend time with him.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

This Week: Ups and Downs

This title is a good reason to post this song. I started this week feeling very lethargic. That lead to me feeling guilty for being lethargic. Then I had one student mess up a tutoring appointment--she forgot the date--and another who had to cancel because he was sick. It makes it hard to keep my schedule straight.

The second half of the week was much better. Jeff's birthday was Thursday, and we had a great day.

It also helps that I went to the gym three times a week for the last four weeks. I feel better and I'm proud of that because my gym visits have been pitiful this year. I may be on a roll now. Hope I didn't just jinx myself.

I just need to keep things going in a positive direction.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Happy Birthday Jeff!

We usually celebrate birthdays by going out to dinner. Last night Jeff said he wanted angel hair pasta with my marinara sauce. This request was flattering; I was happy to make the sauce. I haven't made it in months because I think it's too heavy for summer. I served the pasta and sauce with a salad of romaine, kale, cucumber, carrot, pepper and radish.

Instead of going out for dinner, we went out to lunch at Lumberyard Pub. It's a friendly place with great burgers and chicken wings, and carrot fries--this was my first time trying them and they are yummy.

As we were out for lunch, the sauce was cooking in the crockpot. We picked up one of our favorite wines Shotfire for dinner. We watched the Mets win the first game of the double-header against the Washington Nationals.

Unfortunately, the Mets lost the second game. I'm bummed because they are now doomed to another sub .500 season.

I was hoping for more, just a little more.

Sorry the Mets couldn't make it a better birthday for you Jeff.


Monday, September 22, 2014

First Day of Fall

In about one hour, fall begins. Last week at the gym, I found this quotation in the October issue of Glamour magazine:

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Fall is my favorite season; it gives me hope that I can still accomplish many things.

Diatribe of a Mad Housewife

a.k.a. Marge Simpson writes a novel.

I enjoy when TV shows depict writing. My favorite is Lucy's Real Gone with the Wind. Roseanne is another character who has literary leanings. At one point, she revisits her old dreams of writing. I like that they returned to Roseanne's writing in the last episode, even though I don't like what they did with it.

Like Lucy, Marge writes a bad novel. She arbitrarily sets it in Nantucket,  in "whaling times" based on a painting in her living room. Her anger with Homer leads her to write the lead character's husband as a drunken lout. Ned's appearance at an opportune time leads to his role as a romantic hero.

The Simpsons return to a writing theme in "The Book Job"--one of my favorite Simpsons episodes.

Seen

Driving home from Interlaken Inn in Lakeville, CT: many No Trespassing signs including one affixed to a house and another along a chain stretched across a driveway. I wondered if hikers along the Appalachian Trail just wandered up to homes in the area and bothered the residents. Otherwise I got nothing.

Somewhere along Route 41 or Route 4, I saw a sign for Thistle Dew instead of a normal address. From what I could see, Thistle Dew was just an average ranch house. I hate when people name their houses, unless they live in historic registered homes. It seems so pretentious. I'm reminded of Upson Downs in the film Auntie Mame. But Mame's (Rosalind Russell) rejoinder was fabulous--her New York apartment became the Burnside Fireside.

Closer to home, I saw a bumper sticker, "Life is short, play with your dog." I can live with that philosophy.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Morgan's Tasting Menu

As I wrote yesterday, we went up to Interlaken Inn for our anniversary. We decided to splurge and upgrade our three course dinner to the seven course farm to table tasting menu.

The Chef came out to meet us and ask about food allergies, favorites and things we didn't eat. Then he surprised us. We started with salmon and radishes and faro. The second course was heirloom tomatoes and cheese (I had specifically requested tomatoes.) Next we had octopus and prosciutto with a spicy pepper sauce. Jeff predicted octopus, which was funny. I've had octopus once and didn't like it, but this dish was delicious. They cook it for five hours so it's tender. The fourth course was lobster (both tail and claw.)

Next up was pork belly with faro, mushrooms and arugula, followed by duck breast. Our dessert was a sponge cake with zabaione and berries, which we took back to our room.

It was delicious and fun--we'd never done something like that before.





Wednesday, September 17, 2014

26

Happy Anniversary Jeff!

Today we continuing our tradition of heading to Interlaken Inn for our anniversary, courtesy of Christmas and anniversary gifts.

We're leaving around noon as soon as I have finished a WPA docent meeting. We'll stop for lunch somewhere on Route 7--we'll play it by ear depending on what's open and how hungry we are at the time.

As usual, we booked the pet-away-package. One of the benefits of staying at Interlaken is going to Morgan's Restaurant. We're especially intrigued by the six course farm to table tasting menu.

Here's to a great getaway.

Mets Update

Last night was a good one--the Mets beat the Marlins 9-1; Wilmer Flores had two homers and six RBI's. It was a good comeback after Monday's bullpen collapse. That loss wasted Jacob deGrom's 13 strikeout performance. deGrom also tied a MLB record opening the game with eight strikeouts. Can he be Rookie of the Year?

Ten more games: tonight's series finale with the Marlins, three games in Atlanta, three in Washington, then back home for the final three against the Astros. The Mets have to keep the momentum. Ten more games. Only two losses to give.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Canine Health Update

Spike's been kind of gimpy lately. I've tried not to worry too much; after all he'll be 14 years old in November. Last Friday at the dog park, we threw the ball for him a few times and he was limping severely.

We watched him for a few days, before we decided to take him to the vet's. We learned he had torn his cruciate ligament. It was probably only partially torn before last Friday. I had encouraged Jeff to throw the ball, so I am feeling very guilty.

The initial vet reaction is surgery. But our vet agreed that Spike is too old for this type of surgery, especially because it has a long recovery period. Spike doesn't appear to be in pain, so we don't need medication.

Going forward, walks and swims are good; running is bad.

All we can do is watch him carefully, take it easy and love him.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Saturday Movie Night: 12 Years a Slave

The HBO premiere two Saturdays ago was 12 Years a Slave. I've been thinking about the movie since then.

It's a good film--maybe a great one. I'd have to watch it again to decide. The performances were excellent.

It's an important film--especially for Americans.

It's a harrowing film--it's hard to watch.

I've read some criticism that the film is too optimistic--"only" 12 years as a slave--audiences aren't ready for a lifetime as a slave.

I can't argue with that. But I understand this choice of narrative. It's important to have a true story. Otherwise, some would complain that the film's owners and overseers were too cruel, too extreme. "They weren't all that bad."

Then there's the practicality of getting slave narratives. In many cases, reading and writing were capital offenses, how many narratives could there be?

I have one slave memoir--the story of Harriet Jacobs. To escape, she hid for seven years in a coffin-like garret. Imagine how horrible it must have been for her to choose that option.

We need to read the stories of Solomon Northrup and Harriet Jacobs.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Countdown to .500

Last Friday, I looked at the Mets schedule and their win/loss record and figured that the Mets would have to go 15-7 to get to a .500 record. They went 5-1 since then, including a four-game winning streak and a series sweep over the Colorado Rockies.

As of today, they have to go 10-6.

This has been the kind of season that it will be success for the Mets to reach the .500 mark. It will demonstrate that they didn't give up at the end of the season; they will have momentum going into 2015.

Oddly enough in the last two days, I heard two different sportscasters discuss the Mets' chances to reach the post-season. Apparently, the Mets have the same record at the same time in 1973, the "Ya Gotta Believe" year. (FYI, it pains me to write such bad grammar.)

I would love another miracle, but it's very unlikely. Give me .500 and I'll be happy. Give me .500 and I can realistically, optimistically say, "Wait until next year."

It's good enough for me. For now.

Update: Seven of the Mets' 16 remaining games are against the Washington Nationals. This is what made the original projection of 15-7 a tough one As of now--in the fourth inning--the Mets are down 0-6 to the Nationals. Pitcher Bartolo Colon was ejected from the game after hitting his second batter. Oh, there goes Manager Terry Collins.

It's starting to look ugly now. The Mets have only six losses to give, but seven games against the Nationals.

I want to believe. I do believe up to .500.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Goodbye to True Blood

Two weeks ago Jeff and I watched the series finale of True Blood. I still feel ambivalent about it.

We watched True Blood from the beginning. I've always been partial to vampires; they are more sophisticated, charming and more in control than other supernaturals. I was intrigued by the idea of True Blood as a synthetic blood substitute and vampires coming out of the coffin.

In the week before the seventh season premiere, some of the HBO channels showed marathons of the previous six seasons. I caught a few episodes here and there. Watching reinforced my opinion that Season One was the best with the introduction of the characters and the murder mystery.

All of the other seasons seemed to go on too long, or as a friend put it--the shows went off track. In Season Two, I loved the Fellowship of the Sun and  the Godric storylines. But as much as I admire Michelle Forbes, the maenad storyline just went on much too long.

Russell Edginton was the highlight of Season Three, especially his memorable turn on a TV news broadcast. I even liked his werewolf followers I also liked learning more about Eric's background. But I hated Tara's tortured storyline and Sam's family storyline.

Season Four continued the horrible storyline of Jason and the werepanthers. The main plot involved Marnie and the witches' attempt to destroy the vampires. This storyline had the potential to be great. Again it went on too long or went off track. Marnie's possession of Lafayette to kill Jesus was painfully gratuitous.

Season Five was the season of the Vampire Authority--an interesting concept, plus Russell returned, and Steve Newlin is now a vampire. Tara was also turned in Episode One--her journey was intriguing--I've always been a Tara fan. I liked Russell and Steve's romance, and Sam's and Luna's shapeshifting rescue of Emma. The idea of vampires rebelling against mainstreaming was strong, but the Lillith thing was just too much. Terry's story was painful, and I am a Terry fan.

Season Six brought Louisianna's reaction to the extremes of the Authority, with vampire camps. Sarah Newlin returned as one of the camps' main backers. I loved this storyline--it was an organic response to the vampires' actions in Season Five. But...the Bill as God story was confusing. The Warlow story-ugh--the only good thing about it was Rutger Hauer as  a guest star. But that could have been done without the crappy Warlow storyline.

Onto Season Seven. Despite my criticisms of prior seasons, I wanted to see what happens. People in charge of the vampire camps created Hep V, which mutated to create scary, ravenous disease-stricken vamps. Seemingly thousands of them are descending on Bon Temps in the Season Six finale.

Season Seven was the worst. Tara died and her ghostly re-appearances only served to prop her mother Lettie Mae. Now, we're not supposed to care what an abusive mother Lettie Mae was because her husband was bad. Understanding is one thing; whitewashing is another  I hated Violet and her whole Jason is mine storyline. At least she was destroyed.

I hated that Sookie barely grieved her best friend (Tara) and the man she "loved" (Alcide.) While I liked that Jessica and Hoyt got back together, their getting--back--together was too rushed and abrupt.

Now there's Bill's storyline. His seemingly endless flashbacks were snoozeworthy. I hated his manipulation of Sookie to kill him. I was surprised that the show killed him; I didn't expect that.

The final scenes clash in tone. Eric and Pam's infomercial was campy. But as awful as Sarah is, I wasn't crazy about seeing her in chains to be sold off for sips of her blood. The dinner scene at Sookie's was too smaltzy for True Blood. Everyone is paired off--and most of the couples have kids. Sookie herself is pregnant, but the showrunners kept her baby daddy's face hidden, as if they couldn't be bothered to finish her story. Hey, Bill wanted her to have children (that's presumably the reason behind the boring flashbacks) so all is right with the world.

No, it was annoying and a bit insulting to the main character of the show.

I'll miss True Blood but mostly for its good ideas; their execution never seemed to match their quality.

Monday, September 1, 2014

More on Veronica Mars: The Movie

Still thinking about the movie--a bit more critically than I did last night.

I still stand by my statement that I loved the movie. But I think I only loved the movie because I loved the show. Someone could watch the film without seeing the show beforehand, but I don't think that viewer would necessarily like the movie. As a standalone mystery, it's just okay.

I think it was unrealistic that all the characters were still hanging out with high school friends. But apparently that was a choice made because of the Kickstarter funding campaign. Rob Thomas wanted to bring as many TV show cast members as possible.

My biggest problem is the way Veronica blew off her job offer as an attorney. She accepts a job that starts in one week, then gets a few more days before her start date. Then she just stops answering her phone when she sees the firm name on her caller id. It just seemed stupid and irresponsible.

I've read several film reviews today. They are all over the place, but most agree with me that show lovers will be happy.

Veronica Mars: The Movie

I was psyched to hear about this movie. I didn't catch it when it was first released. Tonight we watched it twice.

I loved it. Mostly I loved the ending (spoiler alert) when Veronica decided to stay in Neptune; she had a great speech about rolling around in the mud. I loved hearing the full version of "We Used to be Friends" over the end credits.

On the downside, there wasn't enough Wallace or Mac. I didn't like that their first lines were to prop Piz. I didn't care at all about Veronica's romance with Piz.

Weevil had a little more than a cameo, but I was okay with that. Maybe Dick's role was too big, but it was still a supporting role and he's just comic relief. I could write another post about how he's been whitewashed to be a viable comic relief character. Logan in the Navy also seemed odd.

I had wanted to finish all Veronica Mars episodes before I watched the movie. I blew it, but most of the references were from Season 1 anyway, except for Piz and the sex tape.

Overall, it was great to see Veronica back home.