Monday, December 29, 2008

It has just turned 3 AM...

It has just turned 3 am, and I am still up in my toasty bedroom with Tallulah, my Boston Terrier snoring and whimpering under my chocolate sheets.  Beaux, my Chocolate Lab lays at the foot of the bed fixing me with one of his beautiful amber eyes willing me to go to sleep.  I know, I know, I am going to regret it tomorrow...  
The first day back to work after a long 9 day holiday.  Honestly, I can't remember taking that much time off in a row before.   I wish that I could say that I got lots done, but that would be a lie.  I can deal with just saying I had a fairly happy break, enjoyed the time spent with my family, and really enjoyed not seeing those pasty faces or hearing the dumb things that come out of their mouths for 9 days.  I will deal with the dirty dishes, aka take out bags of food, tomorrow. 
I guess, i will try to go to sleep again.  If that does not work, there is always Sudoku.
 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Six Random Things TAG!!

Yay! Six Random Things...I've been tagged by Enita.
The Rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on the blog.

3. Write six random things about yourself.

4. Tag six people at the end of your post.

5. Let each person know they have been tagged.

6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

1. I love these things and questionnaires, it's like crack for me.

2. I want some pop rocks or that powdered candy you eat with a sugar stick.

3. Trying to sleep at a new boyfriend's house for the first few times is torture. (I am watching 'Two and a Half Men'.)

4. Wanda Sykes came out of the closet at a Prop 8 Rally!!!

5. Sometimes reading is better than sex, and it is usually more satisfying.

6. I want a toilet seats that heats up. (Another 'Two and a Half Men' moment.)

Tagging:

Eric

Sally

And I don't know anymore bloggers...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Halloween Movie Review #3: Trick AND Treats!!!

I just love this time of year, the weather is starting to change, and the holidays start to ring us in to the end of another year. I start my holiday season with Halloween, which I love! All those great movies, the decorations and the candy I should be avoiding. I started reviewing movies for this Halloween and then abruptly stopped. So I am going to make an attempt to write a bit each day untill Halloween is here.

This next review is not so much a review, just like my previous reviews which were more like a list of my personal fears. No, this is one of more a tribute to one of the things I look forward to during the month of October: The TV show specials.

Now, you can have It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and The Simpson’s Tree House of Horror. For me it is all about the Roseanne Halloween specials! I love them! I use to have a VHS tape somewhere with them all on it, but alas I have no idea where! Now, you could call me a freak, but apparently I am not alone because they have put out a DVD for us freaks.

Roseanne: Halloween Edition came out in 2006. This fun and surprisingly inexpensive DVD contains the Halloween Episodes from Season 2-8, apparently there is no Season 1 Halloween and the Season 9 episode was left of the disk, hmmm….
But all in all for under $10, I think you get your money’s worth.

My favorite two episodes are:

Season 2: Boo
The Conner’s first Halloween with The Tunnel of Terror. Dang, all the kid’s were so cute. And for me this episode was what Rosanne was all about, a dysfunctional family who tried their best, and love each other regardless of their mistakes or shortcomings.

Season 5: Halloween IV
Every show does there take on It’s a Wonderful Life, but Rosanne does it with her own unusual twist. Down in the dumps and not feeling the spirit of the season, sends everyone out and is visited by the ghosts of Halloween. It is a very funny and irreverent episode, but what else would you expect from Roseanne.

Unfortunately, I can not find this anywhere, so I may just order it for next year. But I would not be surprised if I wind up playing up 3 or 4 times throughout the year.

What are your favorite TV memories or show you look forward to this Halloween season?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Halloween Movie review #2: Underwater Terrors

As predicted in my last blog, I spent most of last night wide awake, waiting to be attacked by a Zuni doll. The bright side of my extreme tiredness is that I have really come up with quite a few movies to review this Halloween season. Although, I these reviews could easily be called ‘My List of Fears & Phobias as told Through Film’. I realized a lot of things give me the heebie-jeebies. Which brings me to my next movie, well… actually two movies: Jaws and Piranha.

Basically, you had to have lived under a rock for 33 years if you have never seen Jaws or heard the ominous thudding score that lets you know someone is in trouble. I really don’t think I need to go too much into the story, we all know it. A large Great White Shark terrorizes the New England shores and the new Chief of Police puts a team together to hunt it down… in the water… on a WOODEN boat… in the water… after they know the shark can chew up boats… in the water! Yeah, not me, no how, no way! There are plenty of terrifying scenes that haunt me to this day. Although, it is really just two scenes that really stand out for me. The first is the opening scene where a young woman decides to go on a romantic swim at night with her boyfriend. Unfortunately her boyfriend passes out drunk and she swims out to meet her new date for the night, a Great White Shark. She very violently becomes the shark’s first onscreen snack. Even without seeing this movie, NOTHING would make me go into the sea, river, ocean, bay, lake or any large body of water at night to swim. The second poop in my pants scene occurs while a diver checks out the underbelly of a boat (again at night) and a head pops out of a hole in the boats bottom. Even today, I know that shock is coming, and I still jump (and maybe scream a little). There are plenty of more chills and thrills, but nothing beats the ending that plays in my head as the credits roll. The movie ends with a shot of the stranded survivors waiting afloat for rescue in the middle of the water, no land in site. But I can’t leave well enough alone; instead in my mind a new bigger shark comes and eats them. This movie terrified me; I had constant nightmares and sleepless nights for many years. Jaws was the catalyst for the start of my many water phobias. And whatever fears I had not developed from Jaws, were completely developed with the next film, Piranha.

Piranha, first of all was filmed in San Marcos, Texas. That was a little to close to reality for me as a child. When you see a place that looks like where you have actually been before, the veil of fantasy is forever gone. This film also starts of with some naughty teens swimming at night, but this time they sneak into an abandoned military site and go skinny dipping. In short order they are eaten up. While Jaws had the foreboding warning music before an attack, these sounds happen during the attack. As the piranha feed, you have the pleasure of listening to wet, rapid chopping sounds and splashes of water. So even if you prepare yourself and cover your eyes, you can hear the attacks. (Shudder) The film progresses with a busybody insurance investigator and her woodsman guide finding the base and accidentally releasing the tank full saltwater fishes into Lost River Lake (aka the Guadalupe River). Well this should not be a problem; salt-water fish will die in fresh water, right? Nope! These are genetically altered fish tired of fish flakes and are now heading to Summer Camp overflowing with tasty children and naughty counselors that need to be punished. (On a short tangent, the horror movie industry is very big on saucy, sexy/rebellious teens who misbehave must be punished. There are many interesting articles dealing with this subject and that are very easy to find on the internet. Look the up, and enjoy!) So now the 2 fools that released the piranha race to stop the advancing piranha from feeding on the children. Oh, I forgot to mention they do this on a RAFT! As I am sure you can guess, plenty of mishaps and near misses happen along the way before they get to the pre-pubescent potluck for the fishies. I won’t give away the ending, except to say it is pretty cheesy. Unfortunately for me the real scary ending happens before the credits roll, and like my made-up ending for Jaws, a few fish escape into the sea. The movie ends with the screen bleeding red, and you hear the chopping sounds getting loader.

So that was it, I was done. These movies straight up, fucked me up. It did not help that around this time period, I almost drowned in Lake Conroe. So I already had an aversion to bodies of water. Now combined that experience with these movies and it left me done with the water. I was done with lakes, rivers, bays, oceans, sea and even pools. No more swimming at night in a pool, no being in water when no one around. I would not even take baths because I was so scared a piranha would come up through the drain and eat me. So regardless of how much I love the water, I fear more what it holds. I tell people all the time, if I can’t see the bottom, I am not going in it. Mark my words, people laugh at me about piranha being in lakes and oceans, but when the first attack happens, I will say I told you so.

I also developed a real fear of sleeping in my bed at night, I just knew when I closed my eyes, my mattress would become a raft and all the space around my bed turned to water. I was constantly fearful of something bumping my bed/raft and turning it over. Or by leaving my fingers dangling over the edge, it was calling the piranha to come have a little snack. I still feel this way to this day, but I am much better now. I have learned to sleep with my hands on the bed and not over. If you do that, nothing will bite you. Trust me on this…

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Halloween Movie Review #1

In honor of Halloween, I have decided to share with you some of my favorite horror/supernatural thriller with you. I use that phrasing because it was very difficult to start this blog series. Primarily because how do I categorize this series of movies? Horror movies? Halloween flicks? Do they need to be broken down into specific categories? Many people have very specific ideas of what defines a genre of film and take it very seriously, including myself. So I am going to do my best not to sweat it so much and just have fun with this series. So please don’t get caught up in the way I categorize the film and try to go with the flow. The main reason is to share some films that really enjoyed, from a genre that I really love.

As a child, I grew up waiting for Saturday morning. Saturday mornings for me meant Saturday morning cartoons. As I grew a bit older, I could not wait for the cartoons to be finished, so I could watch my Creature Features. The Mummy, The Wolf Man, the Hammer films, or anything staring Vincent Price, vampires or werwolves! I tried to catch them all, I loved them! The older I got to more my love for the horror genre grew. Now as an adult, it still remains one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Although, truth be told, I prefer reading a good horror/supernatural novel rather than to watch most new horror movies. For me, they rely too much on red corn syrup and gore rather than a good plot or plausibility. Again I don’t plan to argue these points, but just share some of movies that I enjoyed or scared the hell out of me.
So what makes a movie scary? I think it is different for each person. My best friend had a very hard time with the movie Signs during the scene when the alien was in broad daylight. Danger is supposed to stay hidden in the shadows right? I think many people felt the same way he did. Well, for me, there is nothing scarier than your personal sanctuary being violated or becoming a place you feel unsafe to occupy. A very close second is inanimate objects come to life. This brings us to my first horror movie review, and easily one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. Even as a 39-year-old male, I pretty much flat out refuse to watch the movie, Trilogy of Terror.

Trilogy of Terror, was a movie I saw for the first time when I around ten years old. It is a 1975 movie featuring Karen Black in all three tales: Julie, Millicent & Therese and Amelia. While the first two tales are creepy, not to mention corny, the last tale is scary as hell! Amelia is a tale about a young woman trying to establish her independence from an overbearing, domineering mother. She buys an African Zuni Hunting Fetish doll as a birthday present for her boyfriend, an anthropology teacher. The Zuni doll is suppose to contain the spirit of a Zuni warrior, held in check by the gold chair around his waist. During a phone argument with her Mother, she dislodges the chain. The rest of the tale revolves around the doll coming to life and hunting Amelia in her first apartment, and has a very surprising ending.

So you say what is so scary about that. Well, it could be the sound of pitter-patter of the doll’s little feet on the hardwood floor, or the horrible high pitched chopping sounds his dagger teeth make while chasing her. Mainly, it is the feeling of helplessness of her being so much larger that the doll, but being unable to control or overpower it nor all the sharp objects that it uses to stab and slice her flesh. As a child, it also did not help that my Father had small carved Mexican figurines around my house. I could not tell you how many nights of sleep I have lost because I thought I head the pitter-patter. Or fearing if I did not keep my eyes open at night, I would miss the doll climbing into my top bunk with a knife clenched between his teeth. Seriously, it is sad to say I will probably not sleep well tonight. To this day if someone asks for a scary movie to watch, this always makes the top of my list. So if your looking for a scary movie to watch this Halloween season and you have never seen this movie, try it. Just make sure you watch it during the day, and watch a comedy afterwards.

Restored Power= Happiness



Whew, finally, 15 days after Hurricane Ike, my power was restored. A week after that, my Internet, cable and land phone line has been restored. It has been a very tiresome experience, but all in all, just a major inconvenience. My fellow Houston friends and I were very lucky, none of us suffered any major damages to our property, and our loved ones (humans/pets) were unharmed. I am very thankful to be able to say that, but that being said, I DON”T EVER WANT TO GO THROUGH THIS AGAIN! Please take my word: attempting to sleep in 90-degree heat and humidity with no breeze is not a walk in the park. I know people do it everyday, but I was simply not use to it. And I can tell you most Houstonians that I know were not either!

As the fourth largest city in the US, we were sorely unprepared for this storm. The storm was a Category 2, not a 3, not a 4, but a Cat 2! Yet it took 2 weeks to get power back up! I shudder to think what a stronger storm would have done to us. I have a feeling working for an engineering firm; we will start seeing many proposals for changes for Houston infrastructures. Although, I am quite confident, it will be quite a while for the process to reach completion. Somehow, I don’t see myself living in this portion of the country when it happens.

I am just very happy that my power and other services are back in working order! I don’t want to seem all ‘and the lesson I learned was…’, but I did realize that I can live without those perks. Will I cancel those services? Hell to the no! I have basic cable that is cutting back for me!

So now that my life is starting to resemble a normal routine again, I can say Halloween is almost here. For some reason, I am very excited about this holiday. I really have a feeling I will feel this way until after the New Year. I can’t really put it into words or explain it. I don’t think it is because I am single again. I am not going out or planning to go out for Halloween. Really, I feel as big as a house and completely unattractive, plus I am saving money to pay off bills. I also have no plans for the rest of the holidays either. I am just looking forward to this holiday season. I also have plans for much blogging also! I plan to blog about top ten monsters, review of some of my favorite horror movies, and favorite Halloween movies, just to name a few topics. So stay tuned, and I hope you enjoy the upcoming blogs!

Friday, September 26, 2008

A CenterPoint Energy Ditty



On the fourteenth day after Hurricane Ike, CenterPoint Energy failed to restore to me:
E-LEC-TRI-CI-TY!!!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Scriptwriters/Houston 18th Annual 10 by 10 aka Eric's 3rd Play Win



It is just after 11pm and I just got back from attending my cultural event of the month, the Scriptwriters/Houston 18th Annual 10 by 10 Showcase of Original Plays. Those of you who are not familiar with a 10 by 10 production, let me explain it to you. Ten plays are selected from submitted plays that are 10 minutes each, usually with an intermission at the halfway point. This is a really great event to see new work and new artists. Or sometimes to see ‘new interpretations’ of tired reworked themes. The good thing about this is, if you get a stinker, and there were quite a bit tonight, wait ten minutes and maybe the next play will be up your alley. The main reason I went was to support my best friend, Eric. This was his 3rd year in a row his play has been awarded a spot in the showcase. He is an amazing friend and even a better writer.

The 10 by 10’s were held at Lambert Hall, just 3 short blocks from my house, but Eric was gracious enough to pick me up on his way. I would have preferred sitting with Eric, B & E and Eric’s family (who I loved dearly AND came in from Wisconsin to see the their new granddaughter and Eric’s new baby, I mean play), but I could just not deal with the heat and the people. After I found a place to sit away from the crowds, got my anxiety in check and cooled off from the hot and humid Houston twilight, I alternated between counting down till the next play and really enjoying myself.

Before I go into the reviews, let me tell you briefly about my general experience with S/H and the pre-play announcements. Let’s start with the fact that most of the members of Scriptwiters/Houston are receiving social security checks so they have plenty o’ time to write. During announcements the fact was made clear when the board members were asked to stand up, I was quite surprised to see that hardly any assistance standing or breaking a hip. Also they recognized one of the member who just turned Ninety fucking Five!, and explained to us that he has more published plays than William Shakespeare! Don’t worry, I don’t even want to go there, this blog is going to long enough anyway. Are you getting a clearer picture of this group?
Secondly, there will be a play or two on each of the following subjects: rape/molestation/incest/sexual abuse, a political statement, a comedy, one piece so convoluted, pretentious, and so out there, that you try to slip your wrists with a paper cut from the program. Oh, and twists, don’t forget the twists, that ah ha! moment where you discover, they were raped/molested, insane, ect. or this was all happening in their head, SHOCKER!!
Now don’t get me wrong, I agree with the saying that nothing is new, so I fully expect these ‘themes’ to be used or come up. Last year my BFF wrote a play based on the fact that gay men are still not allowed to donate blood. I don’t think anyone has a problem with using these themes as a base, but do it well. And if you can’t do it well, can it at least be fresh, and coherent. Please no more pieces about rape just so we can see how controversial you can be, ooohhhhh! How about a plot, good character development, and a plausible ending? You should leave us wanting more or leave us thinking about the subject or outcome days later instead of counting down to the end of the act. Ok, putting the soapbox back, and onto tonight’s plays.

The first play was entitled, ‘Better Than This’. The play, the actors, the direction, ALL OF IT, should have been better than what it was. A woman is in prison talking to a priest. I have seen a junior high play with more believability and better actors than this horrible, trite piece. Within the first minute, I wanted to scream out loud, ‘Did Daddy use to poke you, and you killed him?’ But no, I sat through the whole ten minutes, even after she called her daddy a ‘drunkard’. Like people from this era really use that word in common conversation. The really, truly awful thing about the play is the writer HEADS the HHC Northwest Drama department! Poor, poor student (yes, I meant for that to be singular), I hope they can get a refund.

The next play was a hoot! It was called, ‘Lights Out’. It is about a wonderfully crotchety old man on his ‘last day’ talking with his caretaker. I always wonder what my last days will be like, and I saw a lot of my possible future self in his character. Although, he argues, flirts, and reminisces about his life and many wives, the overall impression is he is pretty content with were his life has taken him regardless of his choices. That I could feel as he does at the end of my days is a pleasant thought. It did floundered for a bit. I was worried about it taking a different path, but it left me smiling and hopeful for the future. They were great actors with very good chemistry.

I really liked the next play, ‘1+1’. I heard some say it was silly, but hell, it was funny. A man is tutoring a resistant calculus student. Her favorite form of procrastination is the same as mine, sex. She keeps initiating sex in order to receive breaks, but soon develops a desire to complete the tasks at hand, and maybe even learn calculus. While leaving the tutor wanting more and more sex. I don’t care what people say, I think was delightful.

‘Multiples’ was another play I counted down the minutes. Looney bin, 2 patients with multiple personalities, and a pill supplying nurse. I had spoken to a friend about this piece, and I agree with him, ‘isn’t it amazing that when one character’s personality alters the second patient’s personality not only alters, but the new personalities is SO compatible with the fellow patients?’ At one point, I started rewriting it in my head, because I really like the part were ‘The Protector’ (yes, actual name of the personality) ABANDONS surprise, twist, surprise the sexually abused female for surprise, twist, surprise the sexually abused male character. The play ends with the two patients embracing each other because the male crazy is now going to take care of the female crazy. OH, but get this, after the obligatory clapping, a women behind me is trying to compose herself from sniffling and crying. Dumb me, I look back to see if it was snickering instead, nope real crying. As I turned around I said, ‘Really?’ in disbelief. Although, I must have muttered it too load because the sniffling noises were replaced by affronted noises, oh well. I keep thinking, ‘Get out of the house people, experience real life.’ or am I just to jaded by my own drama filled life?

The last play of the first half, ‘The Tragedy of the Tragedy of King Lear’ I was not looking forward to. I don’t know the story, I felt like I was going to be lost throughout the piece. Boy, was I completely wrong, this was all told from my viewpoint, and had about as much cussing as I do in ten minutes. It is a play within a play, you find this out when in the middle of what must be a climactic moment in King Lear a cell phone goes of in the audience, and for a while. I was livid! Then before I am about to shout out turn off you phone, the male lead tells off on the audience, then all the real drama breaks out on stage when another cell phone rings and the female lead takes a phone call. Hilarity and sarcasm take center stage when she informs the male lead she is quitting the theater for a soap opera. We also find out she has stolen his boyfriend from the male lead. It was so funny, and refreshing after the last stinker. I have a feeling it will be receive the audience favorite award even though they use the word cocksucker.
Intermission comes none too soon, and I go downstairs to chat a bit. Again, I am the only one who liked ‘1=1’. Too soon the next half starts off with the requisite political piece, ‘A Mirror for Futility’. Someone watched ‘Rendition’ one too many times if you ask me. They simply lost me when in the first 2 minutes, the cable to the ‘electric chair’ separates from said chair, but he still get plenty o’ shock treatments. If you so reliant on 20 props, like most of them are, make sure it is really needed and properly used, otherwise it is a distraction. Believe it or not, the prisoner could simply sit in the chair and the operator could move his arm, and it would be enough. We are pretty smart; we did not need the chair, the cables (disconnected cables mind you), the controller box AND actually have him handcuffed to the chair. The actor who played the prisoner was amazing, we would have gotten the point: he is being shocked. He was the best thing about the piece. The worst was the last line, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, He takes away the sins of the world.’ Oh, Brother!

Next was my dear Eric’s play, ‘In the Morning.’ Months ago when I first read the play, I was going through my own, ‘Is there enough to stay and make this work?’ drama and arguing in my household for me to be objective. I am sincerely pleased to say I liked it much better in person. Basically, it is a decade long May/December relationship that is at the end of it’s course. To tell you a bit about my opinion of Eric’s writing, I feel his best and true talent is his voice, when the writing is very realistic and true to how people interact. His writing or rather the interaction between characters is much more subdued, and the emotions tend to be more controlled or restrained waiting for it’s release. This felt different to me when first reading the play. I have been the end of the relationship too many times to count, you are either releasing everything you have held back over the time together or you are just emotionally drained. You have not one more drop of emotional energy to talk about the same subject again. I was so very pleased to see more that type of energy, and vitality to piece in person. The reminiscing scene was very touching for me during the middle of the act. Overall, it felt much better to me. And I am very, very proud of him.

‘Ballad of the Lonely Gatekeeper’ followed Eric’s play, it is written by a retired co-worker of Eric’s father. So I can’t go there or touch on it, at all.

Moving on to ‘Concerto’, I was very taken with the beauty and poise of the lead actress. It is a shame it was our 3rd play dealing with sexual abuse. A brilliant pianist has her eyes opened upon her return to the stage when her past mentor/abuser returns to woo her. We also find that her agent/pimp and mother/fellow pimp knew she was being farmed out to bring in the cash. When she finally lets go of her fear and shuts these people out of her life, I think I fell in love with her a bit. This was her night, her triumphant return, confronting her abusers and ‘protector’. This was the abuse play I wanted to like, but I could past the trite cowardly ending, that they did not let her just have her night. Also the playwright made it clear he was a habitual abuser and was already looking to replace her, so the idea that he would still want to use her (I won’t use the word win her back) felt very false. Unfortunately, in real life he would be done with her and on to the next victim. But I am still pissed they would not have just left her strong on her own.

We come to the last play of the showcase, ‘Paperback Love’. This one had a major strike before it hit the stage. The playwright and her entourage were sitting next to me, and during intermission, her lead actor was in my personal space far too long. Now although I can appreciate a nice ass in white linen pants, I don’t want it in my face unless it is foreplay. There was a bit funny dialog, but not even the hilarious actor player her sister nor the best usage of the word narcolepsy could make it work,

All in all it was a pretty good night of entertainment. Although, a few suggestions to the Scriptwriters/Houston. Please limit the amount plays dealing with incest, sexual abuse, and multiple personalities or mental disorders in general. Also just because they are a member, don’t feel you have to give someone a spot if their play really goes nowhere, or if have to ask yourself, WTF?!?!? One final note, I know your ticket area and concession stand is operated by volunteers, but can’t you please get your act together. It is like the Special Olympics’ of money management. If you already know that the programs are going to have 2 inserts, THEN insert them ahead of time, not as the line is building behind Alma, who’s hearing aid is on the fritz, but is in charge of getting names from patrons to check off the reservation list. It is not rocket science; it is called organization.

Well, that is all for now kiddies, hope you make it out to see the 10 by 10’s this year, and if not keep your eye out for them.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

TV Survey



For those of you that know me or should I say, those in my address book, know I am obsessed with surveys. I cannot get enough, I love them all: long ones, short ones, dumb ones, even the repeated ones, I love them! So rather than torture everyone by continually sending them out, I will post them on here. Hopefully, people will comment their answers on here or email them to me. I came across this and thought this was a good one to start with.

Here we go:
1) Back in the Day: 5 TV Shows You Loved As A Kid
a. Good Times/ The Jeffersons
b. Laverne & Shirley/ Facts of Life
c. The following soaps: Young & The Restless, One Life to Live, All My Children and General Hospital
d. Bewitched & Alfred Hitchock Presents (equally)
e. Quincy

2) Who Would You Do?: 5 TV Characters You Would… (Well, It’s Self-Explanatory)
a) James Evans, Sr. (John Amos) from Good Times
b) Frank Hardy (Parker Stevenson) from The Hardy Boys
c) Dr. George Alonzo 'Gonzo’ (Gregory Harrison) from Trapper John, M.D.
d) Officer Francis Llewellyn 'Ponch' Poncherello (Eric Estrada) & Officer Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox) from C.H.I.P.’s
e) Thomas Sullivan Magnum, IV (Tom Selleck) from Magnum, P.I.

3) Wow: 5 TV Moments You Still Remember (And Probably Won’t
Forget)
a) Seeing Consenting Adults & An Early Frost on TV
b) Gay story line on Dynasty & gay kiss on Thirtysomething.
c) Finding out ‘Who Shot J.R. Ewing’ on Dallas
d) All the slayers receiving their powers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
e) Being terrified of the Dark Shadows theme music and the music from when Margaret Hamilton is riding on the bike in the tornado scene of The Wizard of Oz.

4) “Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs”: 5 TV Theme Songs You Know (and Love) By Heart
a) Good Times
b) The Jeffersons
c) The Love Boat
d) Gilligan’s Island
e) The Brady Bunch

5) Eh: 5 Shows You Just Can’t Get Into
a) Gunsmoke
b) Lost
c) St. Elsewhere
d) MASH
e) Seinfeld

6) This Is An Environment of Welcoming, and You Should Just Get the Hell Out Of Here: 5 TV Characters You Could Do Without
a) Jerry Seinfeld, actually the whole cast of Seinfeld
b) The whole cast of Frasier
c) Dawn Summers (Michelle Trachtenberg) from the Best TV show ever, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
d) Jack Berger (Ron Livingston) from Sex and The City
e) Cousin Oliver (Robbie Rist) from The Brady Bunch

7) That’s What She Said: 5 Quotes That Still Resonate
a) "You don't get to call me a whore! When I met you I thought I had found the person that I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I was done. So all the boys, and all the bars, and all the obvious daddy issues. Who cared, because I was done. You left me, you chose Addison. I'm all glued back together now, I make no apologies for how I chose to repair what you broke. You don't get to call me a whore!" Dr. Meredith Grey to Dr. Derek Sheperd from Grey’s Anatomy
b) “I'm so evil and skanky. And I think I'm kinda gay.” Willow Rosenburg from Buffy The Vampire Slayer
c) “I couldn’t help but wonder…” Anything by Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and The City
d) “ I want total sensory deprivation and back-up drugs.” Edina (Eddie) Monsoon from Absolutely Fabulous.
e) “Bunnies. Floppy, hoppy, bunnies." Anya on the last episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer

8) Gimme More: 5 Shows You Can Never Get Enough Of
a) Buffy, The Vampire Slayer (duh!)
b) Grey’s Anatomy
c) Sex and The City
d) Absolutely Fabulous
e) The Kindred

So there you go, hope that made you laugh if nothing else. Although, I hope it brings back fond memories and you let me know about them.
Steven

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First on 'The List'...


Well, what do you know? Already a week in and I am already working on ‘The List’. I started out by doing some research on High School Required Reading lists. So far I have found out, there is no such thing as a ‘standard’ reading list for all high school students, but rather each school creates their own list. Since I hated John Foster Dulles High School, I won’t be using those bastards’s list or any schools located in the Bible belt. I want to go with a more progressive and open minded curriculum. It seems that the protocol is for a selected panel to review last year’s list and revise the selection for the coming year. That seems pretty fair to me, as long as you think like the panel. Using this thought process, I have decided to list a fair number of books that I have always heard about, but never read and let my readers pick the top 10. I also welcome any feedback about books not listed and WHY you think they should be on the list. I ask that you either post a comment with your top five choices (preferred) or e-mail them to me.

Here are the choices I have gathered from various HS Required Reading Lists so far:
1) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2) Lord of the Flies by William Golding
3) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
4) 1984 by George Orwell
5) Animal Farm by George Orwell
6) The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
7) A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
8) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
9) The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
10) Invisible Man: A Novel by Ralph Ellison
11) The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
12) Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
13) All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
14) Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
15) Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
16) The Crucible by Arthur Miller
17) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
18) Walden by Henry David Thoreau
19) Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes
20) Watership Down by Richard Adams

Now, before you start screaming, I can’t believe you left out ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. (Yes, I mean you Sally!) I left off books I’ve already read, ‘Pride & Prejudice’, ‘The Iliad’, ‘The Odyssey’, and so forth. I also tried to leave out plays, old English translations and under no circumstance was Shakespeare making the list. I know my limitations. Though to be honest, I am quite surprise at how many of these books pertained to or are set during the war. Not my favorite subject or time period, believe me.

Most of you that know me have probably read most of these books, and know which ones I will benefit most from reading. Remember, the whole point is to broaden my horizons, and to read the classics I missed out on in high school. When someone talks about Hemingway, Dickenson, or Faulkner; I want to know more than just they were writer who are now dead.

This is by far the easiest item on ‘The List’, I love reading. It is my passion. It also helps me out quite a bit financially that I moved right next door to the library in The Heights. So I will have no excuse not to simply walk on over, grab a book and return it when I am done. I have also decided that while I am waiting to complete Steven’s Post High School Reading List, to read something I have wanted for a long time, Sherlock Holmes. So take some time and think about it, and send me your responses, I can’t wait to start edjumicating me-self!
-Steven

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

White Trash Birthday Buffet


To take a line from Carol Burnett, ‘I’m so glad we had this time together…’ My dear sweet friends threw me the best birthday party I can ever remember. I had requested a game night party. I am highly competitive, and so are most of my friends. Good friends, good food, plenty of liquor, and games, what more could I ask for? My best friend and host, Eric had requested for me not to arrive too early to my birthday party. So I arrived comfortably late, about the same time as my hero Sister Epiphenita, her wonderful partner Barbara, and Ms. E’s sister #1 and her friend (who were visiting from out of town). The first thing I notice is 2 women I do not recognize, with very, uh… vibrant outfits, complete with rollers in the hair, and blue eye shadow. I was so taken back (and resisting the urge to write out a fashion citation or two) that I did not really notice Ms. E & St. Barbara’s homemade frocks. I was still wondering how I was going to get through the whole night without staring and drinking when I noticed my best friend wearing a blue Budweiser work shirt, and another dear friend Rhoda wearing a white tank top with a pack of Kools under the bra strap. I then realized if Rhoda dressed down this much and Eric was wearing polyblends, I was my White Trash birthday party! I quickly saw another good friend Sally (straight from working all day) who gave me a big hug.

Now first you have got to understand about Eric is: HE KNOWS HOW TO THROW A PARTY! There are no cutting corners, everything is fresh, it all goes well together, and the bar is full stocked. Unless, it is a football game, but even then everything goes into bowls, and never ever are there paper plates. He can cook very well, and so can Rhoda. That is how this party came about, it all happened because of my birthday cake. Rhoda had informed Eric that she was thinking about making a pretty impressive dessert for my birthday. Eric was quick to point out; Steven does not do frou-frou cakes for his birthday. Oh, no, it has to be Strawberry cake from a box with strawberry frosting (Duncan Hines or Pillsbury will do, I am not picky), no extra garnishes, and no fresh strawberries. Basically, it’s a box or nothing. Well, needless to say, Rhoda was not thrilled, AND not going to soil her hands by making a box cake. Eric thought it was so funny the way that Rhoda reacted, he told Ms. E the story. Together they decided to go with the cake and throw in a white trash theme for good measure. Ms. E took the reins and whipped up the following menu:
Tuna Cassarole
Hamburger Helper
Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Frosting
A Giant sized Ding Dong (it was yummy)
Frito’s and Bean dip (I think it killed Eric’s soul a bit to leave it in the can, instead of transferring it to a bowl)
Potato Chips and dips
Various Sodas, and Big Red of course (trust me, if you have never had it LOOK FOR IT!)
Watermelon (they bought it as a joke, but damn, it was good good and very sweet.)
All served on paper plates with plastic forks and plastic cups. For added ambiance they places yellow daisies (shudder) and baby’s breath in empty beer bottles and bear cartons. They also had the E! True Hollywood story of Britney Spears going on in the background.

Right from the start it was a blast, people mingling and catching up. Eric was heating things up in the kitchen, and at one point had me taste the ‘hamburger helper’. I use that term loosely since a it was the true Mac & Cheese Hamburger Helper, but with tofu crumbles instead of hamburger meat. Eric has been a vegetarian for over 12 year and will not cook meat, let alone eat it, no matter how much he professes to love me. While cooking it, he had me taste it.
I said, “it is very bland, did you use all the powdered cheese packet?’
He just looked at me and laughed, ‘Yes, I used all of the powdered cheese packet. I never thought those words would be used in my kitchen.’
That is when I realized; yes, he REALLY does love me. Poor Eric, he is probably still burning sage to get all the bad food Chi out of his kitchen.

All in all, everyone loved the food and many went back for seconds. I knew they would, the only thing that was missing was ‘pigs in a blanket’ (Rhoda was going to make them, but somehow it got shot down, hmm...) and those cocktail weenies in that sauce you always see at parties. Not to mention that tasty picture I found for the blog, oh and corn dogs and… o.k. I’ll stop. Although, I truly did miss Eric’s Hummus, hands down the best hummus in the world.

After we all loaded up, I let everyone rest for exactly one minute and then forced everyone to play games. They were foolish, if they thought I had forgotten! Nolan (Rhoda’s very tolerant and funny husband) played timekeeper, and we divided the room up into two teams and played Pictionary. We played two rounds, and we really had some hard ones! You just try to get you team members to get Rebecca (the book/movie) in under two minutes! We all laughed our asses off and had a great time. I remember one time, being close to tears, I was happier than I had been in such a long time. These are my friends and they went out of their way, took time off from work, stayed late after working a long day to be here for me, and I am so blessed to have them in my life.

The only thing that could have made it complete would have been if my out of town friends could have been here also. But I understand, but next year is the big one guys, no excuses I want to have you all here! Next year, it is going to be a pajama party. For all those who did come, my heart filled thanks; it meant the world to me. I will remember it forever.
THANK YOU!
-Steven

Friday, July 25, 2008

39, not 40!



Don’t even think about it! I still have one more year left before I turn forty; today I am only 39 (and I still have until 11:42 PM before that happens!). Forty, it is not as scary as I thought it would be. Granted, this is not what I pictured my life would be at this point. I imagined myself being in different place, hell, a different state at least! Houston, Texas is definitely not the imagined background for my midlife. I also did not picture myself being single again, living in an apartment or back in debt. Sometimes it can be really hard not to compare myself to others my age (or those even a decade younger) who have more, who are more settled, more financially secure with a ring on their finger. To steal a line from my fictitious alter ego: I can help, but wonder, ‘Why them, but not me?’

I guess the simplest explanation it would be: the difference in the choices we have made. I also know opportunity and luck can play part also, but it really comes down to choices. The choices I made have put me where I am, but so have the concessions that I have refused to make. I may not have a large house, a loving partner, a fancy car, an executive career, or even a real college degree, but I know the life I have lived and all that I have experienced would not have taken place if I had simply chosen to follow leader. I also know I have experienced more than most I know, and for that I am glad.

As I get older and I hope wiser, I am starting to see how perception is just as important as choices. When I start comparing myself to others, I have to stop and really ask myself 2 questions.

1) These people and their accomplishments or possessions, is it real or an illusion? Is their life really that great? Does that really equal them have more value or be happier than myself?

2) Even if they really do have everything, so what? That is their life, not mine. And really would I want to live their life rather than my own? No, not really.

As I stated earlier, the choices I made have put me where I am. It is true; I don’t have a large house, a loving partner, fancy car, an executive career, or blah, blah, blah. So what, I still have so much. I have loving friends that are family to me, that are always true to me. We can count on each other no matter what bad choices we make. My life would be a hollow shell without them. I am also lucky that my own blood family truly loves me, flaws and all. We may not be the Brady family, but it works. And I have my home which is my irrepressible Tallulah, and ever faithful Beaux, they will never be just dogs for me, they are my children. These are the things that matter, and the things that are true. I guess if I wanted those other things, I would have made the choices it would take to get them. For now at 39 I don’t have them, and that is ok. Who knows things may look a whole lot different at 40. Until then, I will try to live each day with integrity, and forgive myself when I fall short.

So life is good and this is a Happy Birthday for me. Thanks to all of you that make my life so special and worth waking up in the mornings.
Take care,
-Steven

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Countdown...



I was surfing the web and came across this quote, ‘Forty is the new twenty.’ God forbid! My twenties were one long test that I failed miserably. I quickly came across a different quote, ‘Forty is the new thirty.’ That I can work with. I loved my thirties! Now don't get me wrong, my thirties were also one long test, but this time I was better equipped to understand the questions. Although, the jury is still out on whether or not I have passed.


Why the quotes with references of forty? It is because I am turning 39 this Friday, July 25th. I thought it would be fun and productive to look up lists on 40 things to do before turning forty. Most of them were pretty silly (color my hair, get a makeover). Well, at least they seemed silly to me , also I view those as just maintenance not goals. Some of the goals were just impossible (write a book, learn a foreign language). Maybe impossible is the wrong word, I really mean impracitical . I guess it is possible to achieve those goals, but not if I still want to complete other goals I have for myself.


Then I realized a list of forty things to do or accomplish within a year is just not practical. The whole point, for me, to do these things is to get out of the house, try new things and enjoy life. I know myself, and I seriously doubt I am going to enjoy these great ideas and goals if I put myself on an unrealistic deadline with too many tasks. I can just see myself trying to do 10-20 things next July justto complete my list 'on time'. I want these goals/experiences to enrich my life, and hopefully improve my horrible people skills along the way. So instead, I have trimmed it down to just a few instead.


OK, so here we go:


1) Join a group or organization that I am have an interest in. Not to meet a husband, or to impress anyone either. Just to find something of interest that I can believe in and support. Hopefully this can be a way to get active and support our community.


2) Attend a meeting in a subject that I have always been interested in, but not familiar or comfortable with. It does not have to be fulltime or that I have to join. It is more about testing my limits and getting me out of my comfort zone, and gaining more knowledge. After all knowledge is power.


3) Enter a competition. Not sure where I want to take this to, but I could see it being more than one thing. I would really like to send my writing out, but also to compete in some primal way also. It is hard to explain, it is just a feeling I feel I need to fill. I want to be at the top of my game in some area of my life again.


4) Transcribe ALL of my writing into electronic format. I have been meaning to do this for years. Hopefully this will inspire me to write more. Although, it is very hard to write and not smoke. That was my thing, my writing process. Even doing just this is very difficult without smoking.


5) Attend on cultural event each and every month. I did pretty well this last year, although it is hard with money being so tight. I want to see it all: plays, art exhibits, dance recitals. I think I may even want to try the opera or symphony. I have a feeling it just may not be my thing,. I did that last year with ballet. I like the music, but I was a bit bored. At least I tried it.


6) Take a class in something I have never tried before. I am feeling very Rosie. I think I would like to take a welding class or something crafty. I would also like or take a yoga or Tai Chi class to see if I am doing it correctly. Maybe even a cooking class.


7) I want to get a hold of a required high school reading list and read all the books on it. My high school years were so miserable, so I skipped school as much as possible. As a result I have never read some of the classic or even the basics. Sometimes I feel real unintelligent due to this. The saddest thing is not sharing the experience with someone in a group/class setting.


8) Lose enough weight so I can go skydiving before I turn 40! I also want to go cave spelunking again. I really enjoyed it, and have wanted to do it again for years. I know none of my friends will go with me, but maybe I can make some friends who do like it.


9) Have a dinner night with friends. Even if it is every other month, I think it would be a blast and something to look forward to doing. This takes more than just me. Not sure if it is a whole potluck kind of thing or each friend does a different theme night. I shall ask and we shall see what happens.


10) Try and go back to church. I really miss nurturing the spiritual side of myself. I really love God, it is just his dumb followers that piss me off. I don’t know what I will find out there, but I feel I am ready to try again.


Well, that is a start. Also I promise myself not to beat myself up if I fall short of the mark. If I learn anything from this it will be to enjoy the journey instead of focusing in on reaching the finish line.

-Steven