Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

We haven't had trick-or-treaters in years, went to a Halloween party two weeks ago, attended a  haunting last weekend. In some ways it feels as if Halloween is already over.

But at least there are still scary TV shows and movies to watch, including a Dark Shadows marathon. I watched a few episodes yesterday around the Cubs-Indians game and recorded a few more.

A Halloween surprise for me: I saw Snoopy walking down Prospect Avenue. I assume the woman was visiting someone in the hospital. (When my mother was there two years ago, I visited her dressed as Carmen Miranda.) The woman was carrying a pocketbook and had her Snoopy head perched on the top of her head.

Quite the sight.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Another October Surprise

I share many thoughts of the author and commenters of this article.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Thanks TCM

I love classic horror movies: recent movies are too gory, too torture-y for me. I searched Netflix, Amazon, Crackle and pay-per-view lists; I only found  one film that interested me: the sub-titled version of The Vampire's Coffin, a sequel to The Vampire. I first saw these films on a late night chiller theater type show out of Philadelphia, probably on Channel 48. 

The Vampire is the better film of the two, though I haven't seen it in awhile. The Vampire's Coffin has a good scene with the Count stalking a young woman, shot mostly in shadows. I also liked the setting of the museum of torture devices--of course someone meets s a gruesome death there.

Last night TCM set things right with a this roster of classic horror.

We recorded several films, watched Boris Karloff in The Mummy last night and Bela Lugosi as Dracula today. Six more to go.

Congratulations Curtis Granderson

Last night MLB announced that Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson won the Roberto Clemente Award.  This award recognizes the player who best represents baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions on and off the field. Other Mets winners are Gary Carter, Al Leiter, and Carlos Delgado.

Thank you Curtis for everything you do.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The World Series Returns to Wrigley Field

I can only imagine the excitement at Wrigley tonight. I've never been able to afford to attend a World Series game at Shea Stadium or Citi Field. For a Cubs fan, it's basically a once-in-a-lifetime (so far for the youngsters) opportunity. Maybe it will be worth all the money. Maybe not, I heard today that the cheapest standing-room-only ticket was $1600.

I loved watching the older fans and multiple generations of family fans looking forward to this series.

 In 2003, I fantasized that the Cubs would meet the Red Sox in the World Series. (After all, I couldn't root for the 66-95 Mets in the playoffs.)  But that was the year of Steve Bartman. The Florida Marlins went on to beat the New York Yankees in the World Series.

The following year the Red Sox overcame their curse, came back from 0 and 3 to beat their enemy, the New York  Yankees, and then swept the St. Louis Cardinals to win it all.

Is this the Cubs' year?


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Word Play: Spelling Bee

When I was in law school, I heard that law students were into crossword puzzles. I wasn't one of them. I'll do an occasional crossword puzzle, but don't seek them out. A former co-worker used to do The New York Times crossword each day. He'd often leave them on my desk when he needed help with the film or television questions.

I'm more of a trivia fan (guess that's why I try to get on Jeopardy) and word search games like Boggle. I'm also a big fan of (the non-word game) Yahtzee.

My new favorite game is Frank Longo's Spelling Bee in The New York Times Magazine. It took me a few tries to warm up, but I now look forward to it every Saturday. It's something that I do over a number of days. My results have been classified as genius for the past few month or so.

I've been enjoying that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

World Series: 2016

Game One: Cubs at Indians. It's a magic night in Cleveland as the Cavaliers raise their championship banner to celebrate the city's first title in 54 years.

This is not the match-up I was hoping for.

As the 2016 baseball season began, I had high hopes. The 2015 Mets had exceeded (all but one of) my wildest dreams. If the Kansas City Royals could make a World Series appearance and then return the following year to win, surely the Mets could as well.

We started 2016 with four young guns (and Bartolo Colon) in the starting rotation with Zach Wheeler preparing to return sometime in June. We had our closer Jeurys Familia. Our Captain was back, and we had Yoenis Cespedes for the entire season.

But things fell apart. Too many injuries to list. The original four young guns were down to one, along with the ageless Bartolo. Our captain was done for the year.

Inexplicable series losses to the Braves, Diamondbacks and Rockies (some sweeps) crushed us; with another nine wins, we would have won the East. Sigh.

Still I have to salute the new young guns of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman and the leadership of  Asdrubal Cabrera.

It wasn't enough. We made it the post season, for only one game.

Tonight I watch Cubs v. Indians, and. I remember a magic night  thirty years ago.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A WPA Mural Tour

Sunday I led one of three tours of WPA murals. This wasn't a typical tour because it also highlighted the launch of a new audio component, Otocast. I incorporated some of the audio into the tour. I didn't really like doing that. I prefer our usual inquiry based, interactive approach.

It was nice to get back in tour mode; it's been too long.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

What's Cooking?


This is the dinner that Jeff made tonight: butternut squash with onion, garlic, carrot and potato topped with chicken breast. It was delicious (and beautiful which is why I snapped this photo--it looked even better in person.)

Last Sunday I made a this recipe from our friends' blog. I had a few issues. First I didn't translate instructions from a grill to a broiler well. Secondly and more importantly, I managed to lose my grocery list between the car and the grocery store: I forgot to get kitchen string. The recipe calls for tying up  the flank steak, proscuitto and fontina cheese. Instead I used shish-kebab sticks which smoked up under the broiler. I was also making chicken broth mostly for Lola, and didn't have much counter space so I got a little stressed. The important thing is that dinner was good--although the steak was a bit rare. I added a sweet potato and salad. We had enough steak left over for a meal on Wednesday; I added more proscuitto and fontina cheese, roasted some potatoes and made a salad.

On Tuesday I made Chicken Milanese and risotto. The first time I made Chicken Milanese was from a Blue Apron recipe. I loved it, saved the recipe and made it a few more times. We recently got another Chicken Milanese recipe and ingredients from Plated. The main difference is that in the Blue Apron recipe you coat the chicken in a mustard and water mix between the flour and panko bread crumbs. With the Plated recipe, you coat the chicken in flour, then egg and then panko bread crumbs, ans serve it with a honey mustard dipping sauce. We preferred the Blue Apron version: it was less mustard-y and the bread crumb mixture held on better. Either way, it takes at least three plates/bowls for prep.

For Lola's birthday, I cooked a duck breast with a cherry, orange juice and Grand Marnier sauce, risotto (twice in one week) sauteed spinach and a carrot and dried fruit salad.

It's been a good week for cooking.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Six Months with Lola


Happy sixth month anniversary Lola!

The first time we met her she hid under a chair (as we were warned.) She was like a different dog when we went outside. She still wasn't friendly to us, but she was happy.

Another beagle was available that day, Daphne--a beagle mix. She was charming and friendly. Filing our application, we had to make a choice; we chose Lola. We decided that Lola needed us more. We don't know much about her history, but it appears she's been abused.

We've had many frustrations and a big scare.Lola is still fearful and timid, but she's making progress. Lola loves us and is comfortable with our friends.

We tell her that the rest of her life will be full of fun, good food and love. Lots of love.

A Haunting at Mill Hill

Last night Jeff and I went to the 9 PM tour by the Norwalk Historical Society. It's something we've thought about for the past few years. Either the dates didn't work for us or we forget to register (d'oh.)

We started in the main building at Mill Hill, which was decorated in spider webs and skulls, and heard the story of "The Miser of Bald Hill" a Wilton visitor. Then we headed outside, toured the grounds, walked among the headstones and heard true stories of six Norwalkers' deaths.

The stories were interesting and the actors were superb; there was no weak performance.

My only disappointment was that there were no stories related to the people buried at Mill Hill. Perhaps they didn't have interesting or eerie deaths. Maybe they were been included in earlier hauntings.

Thanks Jeff for getting the tickets.

Another DPF

Hope it's not our last. We may have one more before daylight saving time ends.

We're currently in a drought and need rain. Intermittent rain was forecast for Friday. Selfishly I hoped it would hold off and it did.

Jeff and I decided that we needed to take Lola to the park regardless of what anyone else did. I texted our friends around 4:40 and found that others would be going as well. Seven of us made it yesterday. With the shorter days we only had about an hour together but it was a nice time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Cranbury Park Day

We've been taking advantage of our "alleged" Indian Summer. We visited Putnam Park on Monday, our usual dog park Taylor Farm on Tuesday.

Today we went to Cranbury Park.  Basically we let Lola choose our path. Unfortunately, Lola isn't big on trails. At one point, we realized we hadn't seen any trail blazes for a long time. We made our way back without too much trouble. Lola was loving it. We hiked for just under 1.5 hours.

All in all a lovely day.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Indian Summer?


Taking advantage of the current warm spell, we hiked at Putnam Park yesterday. We had hiked there once with Spike based on an entry in this book. Lola enjoyed exploring a new place. Today we returned to our home base of  Taylor Farm. It was fun to see how excited Lola got when we were getting ready to go. Where should we go tomorrow?

As much as we are enjoying the warmth, apparently, there is some controversy if this is an Indian summer.

 I was reminded of the opening of the novel, Peyton Place.

“Indian summer is like a woman. Ripe, hotly passionate, but fickle, she comes and goes as she pleases so that one is never sure whether she will come at all, nor for how long she will stay.”

I think I first read Peyton Place in high school for pleasure. I re-read in college as part of a course, Film and American Society. I still remember that first line.

Isn't that a success for the writer? I never cared for the idea that all women are fickle, but still that line stayed with me.

Today I found that that line is listed among the great and the worst opening lines.

Whatever.

Another Early Halloween Celebration

Jenn and John's Halloween party was this past Saturday. The theme was alien landing, and they decorated their yard with a UFO and aliens.

We had a tough time deciding on costumes. I considered the stomach bursting alien, Star Trek and Star War characters. Jeff thought of the Coneheads. 

Jeff suggested we get hazmat suits and go as people inspecting the alien spacecraft. I loved that idea. We got yellow hazmat suits, bought a pair of zombie arms, leeches and blood tattoos. Our idea was that radiation from the spaceship caused the skin of our arms to melt away and created lesions on our faces. 

Apparently the leech package was old; the adhesive and fake blood had hardened. Luckily I already had the idea to use some of my cucumber peel off mask to make decaying skin. I had to cut some of the leeches because the mask wasn't strong enough to hold them. We used red and yellow food coloring to add to the cucumber mask. I also added some clear mask to my face to simulate sheaths of skin falling off my face. Someone said it looked like snot, and another was grossed out, so I guess it was successful. Jeff used green food coloring on his arm.

We saw a friend with the stomach bursting alien, a couple of Coneheads and a Star Trek character. We also saw other aliens (mostly glamorous), Men in Black and non-alien themed costumes. As always a fun time. 


Thursday, October 13, 2016

DVR Catch-Up: Non Noir Edition

I recorded several movies last summer as part of my online course, Summer of Noir. In the past six weeks or so, I watched several of those films. But I've watched other films as well--this will be the shorter post.

Young Bess (1953): a romanticized story of Elizabeth I (Jean Simmons) and  Thomas Seymour (Stewart Granger.) Things I've read depicted him as a lech, but here he is an honorable man dedicated to his wife Catherine Parr (Deborah Kerr) for the most part. A good film, if historical accuracies don't bother you.

Girl Missing (1933): I watched this mainly for Glenda Farrell--I love her as Torchy Blane. The cast included Lyle Talbot (an under-rated actor) and Guy Kibbee in a memorable scene. It was fun, if not memorable--a typical Warner Brothers B movie.

Nazi Agent (1942): I was curious to see Conrad Veidt in a dual role and was pleasantly surprised by this effective B film. Veidt expertly plays the kindly bookseller who has emigrated to America and the ruthless Nazi operative. As it sometimes happens in films (A Stolen Life and Dead Ringer come to mind) one twin impersonates and takes over the other's  life. I especially love that it's a pet bird that alerts the bad guys to the impersonation.

Wine, Women and Horses (1937): If there's a C movie category, this could epitomize it. Kind of predictable, only worth it for Ann Sheridan and Warner Brothers fans (like me.)

Find the Blackmailer (1943): Fun to see Jerome Cowan as a private eye again  (he was Miles Archer in The Maltese Falcon, and a detective in Crime by Night with "perky sidekick" Jane Wyman.) The plot was silly and complicated, but Cowan was good.

Now onto the 21st century.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015): good popcorn movie--not much else to say.

Mockingjay Part Two (2015): I wasn't happy with the decision to split the last book in the series into two installments, and the third book was my least favorite. Still I watched this film with an open mind. Ultimately, it was a disappointing end to what could be an epic series.

I'll catch up on noir films in another post.

Waning Days of DPF

A few weeks ago, Jeff speculated that it could be our last DPF (Dog Park Friday.) I argued that we had another month's worth. I remembered a warm Friday in November a few years ago. Unfortunately, Jeff may have been right.

Three weeks ago, we had a nice night with several people; two weeks ago, it rained. Last week only three of us showed. It was still a nice night, but not the same as having eight to 10 people.

I don't think many people can make it tomorrow--but we'll be there--die hards to the end. Three more weeks and the end of daylight saving time effectively ends DPF. Those last weeks are especially iffy.

I always say we'll stay in touch with DPF friends over the winter, but it can be hard. We may run into a few people at the park. Last year we went to a dinner party in February.

I'll have to be proactive if I want to get people together this winter.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Heartbroke

Baltimore, I know how you feel.

Yes, I'm proud of what the Mets did accomplish with all the injuries.

But right now, I'm too close to the loss; the pain is too raw.

Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

LGM

Silly me--I saw LGM on comments to this post and it took me a while to figure out what it meant.

LET'S GO METS.

Tonight is the National League wild card game.

The Mets won the National League wild card before in 2000. This was before there were two wild cards and a winner-take-all game.

I've thought a lot about this season compared to last season. At the beginning of the 2015 season, I would have been happy with a winning season. The Mets provided much more than that. Some (such as John Smoltz) say the Mets paid the price for that successful season with the injuries suffered by the 2016 pitching staff.

Obviously Smoltz knows more about that than I do.

What I think about is how sweeter it would be for the Mets to reach the Wild Card last year and the World Series this year. Of course, I haven't given up on the Mets reaching the World Series this year.

It's just the idea of expectations.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

TV Time--Star Trek TOS

As I previously mentioned, BBC America ran a marathon of Star Trek episodes from the original series. I caught several episodes (or parts of episodes) in passing: The Man Trap, Charlie X, The Menagerie, Amok Time, Patterns of Force. Some were mediocre; Amok Time and The Menagerie were classics.

I recorded my favorite episodes and worked through them over the next few weeks. (One exception was Mirror, Mirror from Season Two--I didn't record that because I had watched that a few months earlier.)

Season One episodes:

Balance of Terror--I recorded this thinking it was The Enterprise Incident. Still a good choice, it provides the first look at the Romulans and an indictment against racism.

The Galileo Seven--This was a favorite that had lost luster over the years. I wouldn't record it again.

Space Seed--This episode didn't resonate with me, but it spawned a movie so it was worth a re-watch. An interesting concept, but not a favorite.

The Devil in the Dark--Similar to The Galileo Seven, this had lost luster to me. Watching it recently, it held up okay. But the "horta" was hokey looking. I hated how Kirk and Spock changed positions about the need to kill the creature.

The City on the Edge of Forever--This is the best episode of the original series. It combines some of my favorite ideas of time travel and alternate realities. Plus a love story. This episode was written by Harlan Ellison, apparently with many rewrites and some turmoil. Similar concepts were explored in the Deep Space Nine episodes Past Tense. In both cases, alterations to the timeline prevented the creation of the United Federation of Planets.

Season Two episodes:

Journey to Babel--I liked this for the introduction of Spock's parents and what I think is the first formal reception on the Enterprise.

The Trouble with Tribbles--The most fun episode, it gives Shatner a chance to play comedy. There were some great lines, especially when Scotty explains why he threw the first punch in the fight with the Klingons, "They called the Enterprise a garbage scow."  And of course, "Before they went into warp, I transported the whole kit 'n' caboodle into their engine room, where they'll be no tribble at all." This was another episode revisited in Deep Space Nine.

Season Three episode:

The Enterprise Incident--This was the first mention of the cloaking device. I enjoyed the subterfuge of Kirk and Spock infiltrating the Vulcan ship.

Funny how the first season episodes were my favorites. Looking at the third season episodes, it's no surprise that the series was canceled. Plus the series was inappropriately scheduled at Fridays at 10 PM.

The last broadcast episode, "keep women in their place"  is a travesty to the original ideal of Star Trek and should have been completely rewritten if not shelved.