If you don't believe me about the professionalism of ABT's Hello, Dolly, then check out this YouTube video.
Wednesday, January 30
If you don't believe me about the professionalism of ABT's Hello, Dolly, then check out this YouTube video.
Tuesday, January 29
And while I’m talking about time and mortality, how about a little theological humor:
When Moses went up Mr. Sinai to receive the two tablets, he stopped to speak to God. According to some of the less well-known gospel, Moses decided to engage God in some metaphysical questions. He said to God, “A million years is a long time to mankind, but what is it in Your perspective?’
God replied, “About a minute.”
“And a million dollars,” Moses continued, “is a fortune to most of us, but what is it in Your perspective?”
“A penny,” God answered.
Moses was thoughtful for a moment. Then, “Well, would it be possible for You to lend me a penny?”
“Just a second,” God said.
Monday, January 28
I got a prescription statement from my HMO on Saturday telling me what I’d gotten in the last month, what I paid and what my insurance paid. Yikes! I saw that my prescription for Clobetasol Propitionate shampoo, a 4-oz bottle, cost me $6.00 and the insurance paid $337.82. How in the world is that even possible? That figures out to about $85 an ounce. How in the world is that even possible? I’ve complained before about the exorbitant charges for certain prescription drugs—like the salves for my squamous-cell legs, the soriatane pills for my psoriasis, the drops for my post-op eyes. And now this shampoo that isn’t much better than the over-the-counter stuff I’ve always used. When oh when will we finally crack down on pharmaceutical companies and their outlandish prices?
Thanks to Netflix we’ve been watching the 2008 HBO series John Adams and I’ve been very impressed, not only with the acting and authenticity of the costuming and sets and historical details, but with the down-home quality of the story. After all these years, I now have a much better understanding of and appreciation for the history of our nation’s birth and the difficulties that followed. Paul Giamatti is John Adams, Laura Linney is Abigail Adams, and David Morse, with a bunch of facial transformation is George Washington, and Tom Wilkinson is the lecherous old Dr. Benjamin Franklin. If the portrayal is accurate, Abigail Adams was the driving force behind John Adams, counseling him, pushing him, making him more than the well-known barrister he was before the revolution. The acting, especially of Giamatti and Linney, is really excellent.
Thursday, January 24
We sat around this morning waiting for Rick from Sit Well Upholstery to come pick up our two rocker/glider chairs. A little pricey but the chairs are La-Z-Boys and cheaper to reupholster than to replace. Squeakie doesn’t know what to do now that her favorite place to sleep is gone. I guess she’ll just to have to find another favorite place until Rick brings the chairs back.
This afternoon, we watched the golf at Torrey Pines in San Diego, Tiger and the boys playing the two courses there. It was nice to see the 2013 tour get under way again. I don’t know how many more tours I have in me, so each one is now extra special. Tiger played the tougher, longer south course and looked very good except for a few putting errors. I really hope he can get back on track this year. The most striking thing about him is his chiseled look. I don’t think I’ve seen any athlete look more fit than Tiger. And speaking of fit, the shots of the coastline there were simply spectacular—the Pacific crashing onto the beaches below the golf course, the skies with cluster clouds looking unrealistically beautiful, the southern California trees and plants framing each camera shot. For those who missed the coverage, tune in tomorrow to see what I’m talking about. You don’t have to be a golf fan to appreciate the beauty of the camera coverage.
Wednesday, January 23
This morning, after I took off the eye guard, the world looked bright and white and clear. On the drive to my post-op with Dr. Chong, I was able to read all the road signs, even the ones way down the road. Wonderful. After another measurement Dr. Chong told me that both eyes were now 20-30, which for an old guy like me is pretty good. She said I’d be able to get along with a cheapie pair of glasses, 2.5 magnification for reading, 1.5 magnification for working at the computer, and nothing for the rest of my visual world. That means I’ll be able to throw away the glasses I’ve been stuck with for the past sixty years. I’ll again be able to see a golf ball in flight and in landing. And now that I don’t hit the ball as far as I once did, I’ll be able to see where it lands even easier than in the past. Wonderful. Now if science and technology and medicine would just hurry up and find a way to replace the entire body, I could be a new man and live to be a thousand. Whoa! I don’t think I’d WANT to live to be a thousand. But I’d sure settle for two or three hundred.
This seems like an appropriate place for a Senior Citizen joke:
At a local coffee shop, a group of seniors were sitting around talking about all their ailments.
"My arms have gotten so weak I can hardly lift this cup of coffee," said one.
"Yes, I know," said another. "My cataracts are so bad; I can't even see my coffee."
"I couldn't even mark an "X" at election time, my hands are so crippled," volunteered a third.
"What? Speak up! What? I can't hear you!’ said one elderly lady.
"I can't turn my head because of the arthritis in my neck," said one, to which several nodded weakly in agreement.
"My blood pressure pills make me so dizzy!" exclaimed another.
"I forget where I am, and where I'm going," said another.
"I guess that's the price we pay for getting old," winced an old man as he slowly shook his head.
The others nodded in agreement.
"Well, count your Blessings," said a woman cheerfully. "Thank God we can all still drive."
Saturday, January 19
Thursday, January 17
Wednesday, January 16
I had eye surgery early yesterday afternoon, the first eye, second eye a week later. An interesting experience. I wasn’t very anxious about having it done because wife Rosalie had the same procedure several years ago and she had no pain or any problems during or afterwards. In fact, I was eager to have it done because of my rapid loss of visual clarity. Amazing how fast my eyesight went from good to bad. Dr. Chong assured me that this procedure would let me see again even without prescription lens, or at least without the progressive bifocals I now have. Just a pair of cheapie magnifying glasses for reading. After nearly my entire lifetime of wearing glasses, I may be able to throw the suckers away. Oh, happy day. A week from today I’ll have my left eye done, after which I’ll be seeing like a youngster.
Dr. Chong—Eva-Marie Chong—looks like she’s about fifteen and is cute as a newborn’s toes. I wanted to ask her if her parents were such fans of the old Brando movie On the Waterfront that they named her after Eva-Marie Saint, the only other Eva-Marie I’ve ever heard of. But I didn’t. Maybe next week I’ll ask her.
I arrived at the eye clinic at 1:00, about thirty minutes before my appointment to allow for the necessary paperwork. Rosalie drove us there and waited for me in the chilly lobby when I was taken in for my pre-op. If I had one person ask me if I had any allergies, I had a dozen people ask me. Blood pressure taken (a little higher than I expected but still okay), temperature taken (lower than normal, maybe because it’s been so damn cold here in the Valley), IV into the back of my left hand, countless drops of something into my right eye. Then they wheeled me into the operating room where Dr. Chong greeted me again, asking me again if I had any allergies. Again I said no. Then she told me what I’d be experiencing during the operation—some pain but nothing very painful, bright lights, and noises that would sound like an oboe or some animal on a hunt for game. And it would take only about fifteen minutes. She cautioned me to let her know if I felt any undue pain or if I felt a cough or sneeze coming on (wouldn’t want a lady with a knife in her hand trying to cut into my eyeball just as I sneezed). I assured her that I’d let her know. The sedative they’d given me made me sleepy but not out of it. I saw the bright lights, with a tiny blue rectangle in the center of the lights dancing around with a faint pink border. I heard the sounds—more to me like an alien coming to call than an oboe or a wild animal. But then, nearly everything I hear sounds like an alien. And before I knew it, she was done. The attending nurse taped a pad and shield to my eye and they wheeled me back to the recovery room where I was able to sit up. Then I was given a fruit bar and a cup of hot chocolate. Without my having anything to eat since the night before, the bar and chocolate were oh so welcome. I was then led out to the front where Rosalie picked me up and then the drive home. Just another process in fixing what’s wrong with me. Now I have Dr. Chong for my new eyes, the Midwestern Dental School for my new mouth. And I guess any day now I’ll need new ears. No, on second thought, if I lose my hearing that might be a blessing, not having to listen to dumb conversations. But I would miss my music.
Monday, January 14
How about a little hand art? Aren’t these amazing? And I just have to include some pics, front and back, of a piece of hand art I got a long time ago for holding spare rings. That's no gesture to you, dear reader, just a place to hang my rings. I usually save that gesture for rude drivers.
Sunday, January 13
I hate to sound like the little boy who cried wolf. Some might think I’m too effusive about films I’ve seen. But, okay, here I go again. I just saw the most powerful movie I’ve ever seen. The only word I could think of when I left the theater was “powerful.” Or maybe it was the most powerful I remember. At my age my memory may be suspect. I’m talking about Zero Dark Thirty. I think it’s close to a shoo-in for best picture, even though all the critics are backing Lincoln, even though there is controversy about the film’s depiction of coercive interrogation techniques, more bluntly called torture. I also think Jessica Chastain is a shoo-in for best actress. Any critics who would include the young girl in Beasts of the Southern Wild as a nominee for best actress should have their critic badges ripped from them. Quvenzhane Wallis was a cutie pie, but what she did could hardly be called acting. Jessica Chastain was acting, and acting well enough to win an Oscar.
Zero Dark Thirty begins with a darkened screen, the only story movement the bits of phone conversations during the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. After a minute of this, the opening scene follows Maya (Jessica Chastain), a young CIA interrogator, as she is introduced to the offensively ugly coercive interrogation techniques we were using early in this century—water boarding, sleep deprivation, physical beating. Most Americans would rather not admit that these black holes, interrogation sites, even existed, nor that the U.S. would resort to such inhumane tactics. Through Maya, the story traces the eleven years from 9/11 to the night raid on Bin Laden’s hideaway fortress in Pakistan. And even though we all know the outcome, the tension builds to an amazing level. I felt like I had a seat next to President Obama and Hillary Clinton in the War Room. I shared with them the suspense of this very risky move and the awe at our having pulled it off successfully. Yeah, it should be a shoo-in for best movie and actress and who knows how many other categories.
Here are two jokes about oldies you may not have seen. Thanks, Larry.
An old fella was celebrating 92 years on this earth. He spoke to his toes. "Hello, toes," he said. "How are you? You know, you're 92 today. Oh the times we've had! Remember how we walked in the park in the summer every Sunday afternoon, the times we waltzed on the dance floor? Happy Birthday, toes!"
"Hello, knees.", he continued. "How are you? You know you're 92 today. Oh, the times we've had! Remember when we marched in the parade, all the hurdles we've jumped together? Happy Birthday, knees."
Then, he looked down at his crotch. "Hello,Willie, you little bugger. Just think.
If you were alive today, you'd be 92."
An elderly couple in their 70's were about to get married.
She said: I want to keep my house.
He said: That's fine with me.
She said: I want to keep my Cadillac.
He said: That's fine with me.
She said: I want to have sex six times a week.
He said: Put me down for Fridays.
Friday, January 11
I find myself pulled in two directions after seeing Matt Damon in Promised Land—east toward villainy and antagonism and west toward heroism and protagonism. Both his character, Steve Butler, and the hydraulic fracturing process for getting natural gas out of the ground are dual in nature. Damon works as a front man for the eight-billion dollar corporation called Global Crosspower Solutions. He and Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand), his mentor, show up in the small Pennsylvania farming community to buy drilling rights from all the landowners. And both of them (Who doesn’t love Matt Damon and Frances McDormand?) initially appear as nice people doing evil deeds for an evil company. They discuss their plans to bilk the residents as they buy clothes to help them masquerade as “down home” farm folk. The dichotomy continues. At an open meeting in the high school, Frank Yates (Hal Holbrook), an aging science teacher with major scientific pedigree, challenges Damon about the dangers of fracking. Later, Dustin Noble (John Krasinski), an environmentalist from a group called Athena, shows up to present the other side, to try to subvert the evil gas company’s plans. Even the townspeople are split about evenly as to whether they should or should not sell the drilling rights. Are Steve and Sue bad people posing as good people or are they good people trying to help this dying community? Is fracking an environmental disaster or is it a safe process to help us become energy self-sufficient? Neither question is answered. The scenery of farmland Pennsylvania is beautiful, the acting is good if not excellent, the film is worth seeing, despite the viewers’ ambivalence as they exit the theater.
Now we have plans all over the nation for arming teachers and--get this--custodians. Wow, is that a stupid idea. I was a teacher, and when I think about having a gun in my room, I wonder where I'd have to keep it to stop some bloody nutcase who crashed my party. Would I keep it locked up in a cabinet so that no student could get to it? I don't see how that would be very effective. At the initial announcement that some baddie was in the building, shooting it up, I'd have to lurch to the cabinet and unlock it, shakily extract the gun, nervously take off the safety, maybe accidentally squeeze off a few rounds into the ceiling or into one of my really bad students. Nah, that just doesn't seem like a very good plan. Where else would I carry it? I guess either tucked in at the back of my pants or in a shoulder holster. John Wayne reincarnated. Wow! Have we really come to that?
Tuesday, January 8
Last night I had a linguistic dream in which I was explaining to an old friend how difficult English is for foreign-born people to learn. Just so many anomalies, so many idioms. We like to force words into new meanings that don’t always make much sense. I told him about the first line of the song in The Wizard of Oz, “We’re off to see the wizard.” “To be off” suggests an actual movement toward something. I can just see Dorothy, the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow skipping through the Oz countryside, the Emerald City in the distance (Oh, and don’t forget Toto). So they’re off to off the wizard. That is, they’re going there to kill the wizard. They aren’t really. But there’s that second “off” to explain. Reverse it and you might get, “We’re on to you” (We know all your secrets). Or “We’re onto you” (We’re now sitting on you). And look at “going” in “We’re going to be going to the Emerald City.” The first “going” has nothing to do with a moving forward as in the second “going.” It means future time, as in “Sometime in the future we’re moving toward the Emerald City.” We love to take preposition/adverbs and force them into joining forces with some verb to take on new meanings: give up (surrender), suck up (either to renew fortitude or to falsely flatter), take up (begin a new hobby), sign up (join), seize up (piston freezing by friction), shut up (close one’s mouth), chin up (raise one’s chin [a verb], but chin-up [a noun in which one raises one’s body by pulling oneself up to a bar]), shine up (falsely flatter), fix up (repair), show up (appear), slow up (And why does “slow up” mean exactly the same as “slow down?”), stick up (a verb suggesting the act of putting a gun in someone’s face) and stickup (a noun indicating the act of putting a gun in someone’s face), stuck up (nose in the air), and throw up (Do we regurgitate up or down?). You know, all this linguistic consideration is giving me a headache. I think I’ll just throw up my hands. Eeeooo, now there’s a disgusting image.
Saturday, January 5
A bit of news last year that most people didn’t notice or didn’t acknowledge. As of May 19, 2012, in this country there were more babies (under 1 year) of color than white. The media called it “The Browning of America,” a label that says a lot about the future of our country. Demographers also predict that by 2042 we will have no ethnic majority, just a majority of brown-skinned folks of mixed ethnic backgrounds. I remember reading something by Phillip Wylie half a century ago in which he said he looked forward to the day when we’re all a little tan. Well, fifty years later he’d be happy to see his wish coming true. Since our very beginning, the U. S. has been known as the melting pot, meaning we were a nation of immigrants amalgamated into one new nationality. Well, now we’re seeing us as a melting pot of ethnic diversity, a mixture of races too diverse to be labeled. Amazing that as recently as 1967 there were still anti-miscegenation laws in most of our Southern states. What idiocy. One of my nieces, as pale as virgin snow, married a man as black as Columbian coffee. And they have a lovely daughter who is latte tan. She will grow up in a society that no longer looks askance at children of mixed ethnicity, may even marry someone also mixed and have children even more mixed. And who will care? I hope no one. Tiger Woods has described himself as Cablinasian, a mixture of Caucasian, Black, Indian, and Asian. But we don’t need to invent new labels to describe ourselves. I look forward to the time when we no longer need labels for anything—not our religious preference, not our political persuasion, not our ethnic makeup. Especially not our ethnic makeup.
Thursday, January 3
Thanks to Netflix (or no thanks to Netflix) we watched Beasts of the Southern Wild last night, and I came up scratching my head. “Whuuu?” I thought. “What did I just see?” Maybe the one or two times I fell asleep kept me from seeing some really insightful scenes. Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), the six-year-old protagonist, narrates through most of the film, and I had a terrible time trying to decipher what she was saying. Generally, I guess she was talking about being one tiny piece in the overall scheme of the universe. I guess. Praise for the young star may be overstated in that she didn’t really have much acting to do, just sort of be herself bobbing and weaving through her junkyard community of Louisiana Bayou misfits. After reading a few reviews of this movie, I expected more. And I got less.
The wind is blowing today. Sun is out, but it’s windier’n hell. Today was our day for pickup of recyclables. When I went out to retrieve our plastic tubs, I found them at various distances down the street, doing a little plastic dance as they slid to the west. As I said, windier’n hell.
Our new year, 2013, is three days underway, and all our resolutions are now in play. Number one is for both of us to give up smoking . . . again. It’s very expensive and so very bad for one’s health, but it’s such fun. “Fun” may not be the right word but it comes close. How about time-fillingly satisfying? We’ve been smoking recreationally for half a year now. Recreationally means about ten a day, almost all of which we’ve been smoking on our back patio. Charlie, who always accompanies us wherever we go, was most confused this morning when we didn’t go out on the patio. “Come on, guys. Let’s go out, let’s go out. Come on, come on!” And when we finally let him out by himself, he just looked at us, waiting for us to join him. We didn’t, and soon after, the wind and chill got to him and he decided to come in.
A writer’s words to live by: “Writer’s Block: when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.” And finally, “Even if it’s crap, get it on the page.”
Wednesday, January 2
Robert Duval, what could you have been thinking when you signed on to this project? Couldn’t you see all the holes in the plot? About as many holes as several assault weapons could put into the several cars Reacher drove. But you signed up for it anyway. All right. So, what can any true fan of the Lee Child series say about this first (probably not the last) cinematic episode in the life and times of Jack Reacher? Well, anyone who had never read any of the Reachers might think this was a good action film. And it was. Lots of shooting. One lengthy example of the requisite car chase (Reacher after the bad guys, cops after Reacher), lots of screeching tires and smashed bumpers. And several hand-to-hands with Reacher just demolishing up to five bad guys at a time. All in all, then, it was worth going to see, especially if you hadn’t already read the seventeen novels in the series. But I have read them, and I just couldn’t force myself to see in Tom Cruise the Jack Reacher I know and love. Just not tall enough or big enough. Maybe I’ll get over that after I’ve seen more of the inevitable sequels. But next time, whoever writes the screenplays, please don’t leave unexplained the motives of the bad guys; please don’t insert any needless comic bits like the Three Stooges bathroom scene wherein two bad guys try to beat on Reacher with a baseball bat and a crowbar, succeeding only in whacking each other; please don’t feel that your audience needs to see a female lawyer’s boobs hanging out; please don’t include any conveniently located large chunks of concrete behind which Reacher can take refuge from the bad guys’ bullets; and don’t, please don’t, invite Robert Duval to play the comic sidekick to Tom Cruise, or, I guess I mean, Jack Reacher.
And after this film about a seemingly random mass shooting with a sniper rifle, I just have to include this political cartoon by Mike Luckovitch in the Atlanta Journal.
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