Friday, September 22, 2006

Musical Mental Escapes

The time I first heard of "Desert Island Discs" they meant those Frisbee-shaped black discs, not the small, sleek silver ones of today. And it was WNEW-NY, back when it was the home of rock and roll in NYC.

Driving to work this morning, my mind wandered out of the "Oh God, how am I going to pay for the car repairs/vet bills/IRS, etc. personal hell of the past few months" and into a happier place. For a little while. And then I got to work where hell is less personal and more communal.

Top 20 songs that I can listen to repeatedly without getting irritated, and more importantly, usually make me happy to hear them (in no particular order):

  1. "Losing My Religion" REM
  2. "Hotel California" The Eagles
  3. "Thunder Road" Bruce Springsteen (of course, he's on here, I'm from Jersey for God's sake!)
  4. "Boys of Summer" Don Henley
  5. "Kashmir" Led Zepplin
  6. "Sweet Emotion" Aerosmith
  7. "Let It Be" The Beatles
  8. "Skylark" Ella Fitzgerald
  9. "Sloop John B" The Beach Boys
  10. "Incident on 57th Street" Bruce Springsteen
  11. "The Only Living Boy in New York" Simon & Garfunket (thank you "Garden State")
  12. "Goodbye to You" Michelle Branch
  13. "Holiday" Green Day
  14. "At This Point In My Life" Tracy Chapman
  15. "You Send Me" Sam Cooke
  16. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" U2
  17. "40" U2
  18. "With or Without You" U2
  19. "Kitty's Back" Bruce Springsteen
  20. "Tangled Up in Blue" Bob Dylan

This started out as a list of 10, but I view music as I do a cup of tea and a bit of chocolate at this time in the afternoon: it's both essential and quantity does not devalue the quality. Besides, with 500+ CDs and 4,000 mp3s, coming up with 10 was near impossible.

Even a cursory review of the list, it's possible to discern that most of it was probably played on WNEW-NY, back when it was WNEW-NY and not what corporate America did to one of America's premier radio stations.

I am officially old.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Signs of Intelligent Life at the Movies

I saw a great movie last night and would highly recommend it to anyone interested. The movie, Little Miss Sunshine, has received excellent reviews, so it's not surprising that I liked it. The writing was outstanding, the characters were deftly sketched and highly individual without being caricatures, and the acting was very, very good.

It lingered with me on the drive home and I realized that what made it stand out from other movies I've seen lately was that it assumed its audience was intelligent enough that it didn't have to underline or explain anything.

Of course, seconds after I realized that, I was immediately depressed to think that giving the audience credit for intelligence is worthy of note.

[Spoilers ahead for anyone who wants to see the movie and has not done so already]


Three things in particular stand out in a movie full of subtleties:

1) the scene in the field after Dwayne has discovered that he is color-blind and that means he cannot fly jets. In the background is a washed-out billboard with a message "United We Stand" at a moment when the family seems completely fractured.

2) near the end, when Olive is faced with the decision whether or not to perform her dance routine, she chooses to do so. That in itself is not worthy of mention. What stands out for me is that the standard Hollywood approach would have included a flashback of her recently deceased grandfather telling her just days before that losers are people who were too afraid to lose to even try to win. It wasn't necessary for the scene, it would have made it maudlin and the audience had already seen him tell her those words, but standard Hollywood would have put it in.

3) The entire "Little Miss Sunshine" pagent is filled with sexed-up preteens, flirting outrageously and suggestively, whirling their bodies, make-up, hair - the whole JonBonet picture. Yet Olive's dance routine, which the viewer realizes with dawning horror is a strip routine, appalls the 'audience' of people attending the pagent.

The movie just presents the hypocrisy, the contrast between sweet, childish Olive's relatively innocent dance and the tarted up preteens 'acceptable' flirting without comment, allowing the viewer to draw his or her own conclusions.

Now only if Hollywood would sit up and take notice.

Friday, September 01, 2006

If I were a dog, I'd be 6.10058708414873 years old.

Here's yet another way to find out interesting but essentially useless information about yourself. Check out the Birthday Calculator

Here's what I learned about myself:

I was born on a Sunday, which is rather nice to know since Mom and Dad aren't around to provide details like that anymore.

Your date of conception was on or about 7 April 1963 which was a Sunday.

Um, definitely didn't need to know that. That brings up the whole notion of Mom and Dad having sex and that's not an image I need in my head, now or ever.

Your Native American Zodiac sign is Goose; your plant is Bramble.

I can definitely see where that could come in handy. The old 'what sign are you' is such a tired pick-up line. This is a whole new area of possibilities.

Your date of birth on the Hebrew calendar is 14 Tevet 5724.

As of 9/1/2006 8:05:58 PM EDT, You are 1,346,789,158 seconds old.

That sounds so much nicer than admitting it in years.

Celebrities who share your birthday:

Jude Law (1972)Bryan 'Dexter' Holland (1966)
Ted Danson (1947)Marianne Faithfull (1946)
Mary Tyler Moore (1936)Andrew Johnson (1808)

Wait! Jude Law and I have the same birthday? Really? Skipping over the fact that he's just a bit younger than I am. Would that we shared the same cheekbones.

Your age is the equivalent of a dog that is 6.10058708414873 years old. (You're still chasing cats!)

Apparently I can boil 4.91 US ounces of water with the BTUs produced by the amount of candles on my next birthday cake.

I did tell you this was essentially useless information, didn't I?

Your birth tree is Apple Tree, the Love

There are birth trees? How can Hallmark have missed that all important holiday opportunity?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dancing Legos

I suppose if you'd spent a considerable amount of money and time keeping up with the latest Lego sets for a pair of nephews who have their own Lego Lab in the basement-- have I mentioned frantically bidding on eBay to obtain the sold-out Harry Potter Castle so that the little darlings might have what they so desperately wanted one particular Christmas? -- you'd also be amused to see what some talented young (or perhaps it's just youthful) artists have done with their legos.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=99174057823861673&q=monty+python&hl=en


Combining performing Legos and Monty Python makes my little geek heart sing. It's also much more fun to watch the Legos dance around than it is to step on them in bare feet.

But hands down, my favorite is still Darth Vader conducting a Lego orchestra playing his theme at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqTi0ZFDawY

His baton? A light saber, of course.

And what have you done to entertain the world lately?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What He Said .....

I think I'm in love. Or at least very, very, very serious case of like with a heaping topping of hero worship.

And anyone who knows me, knows that intelligence and the ability to communicate are pretty much table stakes to the game of love for me. If you have nice eyes, a sexy voice and a quirky sense of humor, I'm done for.

I've no idea what this guy looks like but he makes more sense than almost anyone else I've read in his post about living in this world, with the knowledge of terror plots and Al-Queda and Osama Bin Laden and GWB and everything else that drives the 24 hour news channels.

http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2006/08/wait-arent-you-scared.html

Bravo to John Rogers for citing the excellent police and intelligence work that went into disarming the London Bombing plot and Major Points to him for his support of military families.

I wish I had written what he did, especially the comments about FDR and Churchill. Oh, to have leader of that calibre in today's world!

P.S. If you've the time, read the comments. Many of them are brilliant and equally insightful.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Bank Shot

You never know what you had until you've lost it....

Never were truer words said. But in this case, I'm not mourning the death or loss of a romantic relationship, or family, or even a beloved pet. I am in mourning over the death of my long-term relationship with Citibank.

Oh, sure, I called it Shitty-Bank more than once (I wasn't the only one), but to continue with this appalling use of trite phrases, you always hurt (or malign) the one you love.

I've been a Citibank customer for about 50% of my life. I had my acct number in Manhattan engraved upon my memory. Even 5 years after having to regretfully close that account to open one in Citibank's Upstate NY region, I still know that 8-digit number by heart. Maybe I'll use it as a PIN someday.

I admit, I took Citibank for granted. Didn't every bank allow you to make transactions at the bank with your ATM card? Paper deposit slips? What were those? Just use the ATM card, dip it into the slip at the counter and your account and personal information popped for the teller.

No more those happy days. Citibank has abandoned Western NY and handed over its branches lock, stock and barrel to M&T Bank.

It's like stepping back 20 years in terms of technology and service. M&T is clunky where Citibank was race-car sleek. M&T requires paper deposit slips for those occasions when you want to deposit with a teller rather than the ATM.

Paper?

No ATM card-driven transaction?

It's like going from broadband back to dial-up. It's like going from my iPod playlists back to mixing cassette tapes. It's godawful!

Did I mention Citibank's very nice feature of automatically crediting $1000 of any deposit to my account immediately, as cash. I'm sure it was based on some complicated formula involving my account record and client profile, but the funds were available immediately. And it had been $2000 when I was still in Manhattan.

M&T? $0. Takes 3 days to clear. Minimally.

Depressing as the transition has been, I might have grumbled and stayed with M&T were it not for two things:

1) a $.50 charge for using the M&T ATM.

Let me get this straight? I use the ATM, avoid waiting in line to use a human teller, and you charge me more? You cut headcount and I pay extra for your automation?

2) a $1.75 EFT charge for a Paypal transaction.

This was the piece de resistance, aka what actually drove me to esl.org and bankofamerica.com to investigate opening a checking and savings account elsewhere. I use Paypal to purchase things on eBay and other website that take Paypal. Sometimes the payment is large, sometimes, it's less than $5. The $1.75 electronic funds transaction fee was on a payment of $6.75 for a book. The fee was almost as much as the shipping!

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. I won't take any more of M&T, and I'm mulling over a lawsuit against Citibank for unlawful abandonment. I think I might be entitled to some compensation for mental anguish.

Anyone know a good bank?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tagged!

TAG....I'M IT!!!

I've been tagged by Amanda, over at http://www.funkadelica.blogspot.com/

5 things in my freezer: ice cream, Lean Cuisine dinners, frozen veggies, frozen blackberries, vinegar ice cubes (for the garbage disposal)

5 things in my closet: clean clothes, luggage, lots and lots of shoes, collection of handbags that I rarely use, paint-spattered clothing used for painting (duh)

5 things in my car: empty Diet Coke bottles (for recycling, eventually), water bottle, battered map of Rochester, DVD to be returned to Blockbuster, book that my nephew was reading and left in my car two weeks ago

5 things in my purse: wallet, concealer, Palm, cell phone, iPod, hairbrush

5 things in my wallet: money (woo hoo - for a change), debit card, drivers license, shopping discount cards, pictures of my nephews and my friends' kids.

If you read my blog, and I do really DOUBT that 5 people do, then TAG YOU'RE IT! Copy and paste into your blog!