Wednesday, February 29, 2012

R.I.P. Davy Jones of The Monkees dies at 66

He was a year older than I.  Still, he looked very good at his age.  A bit of trivia for you.  Their director (and main man) was none other than Richard  Lester (director of Hard Day's Night), the primary reason for their eventual success.
From the BBC:
He died in his sleep at his home in Florida. His publicist, Deborah Robicheau, said he had a massive heart attack.

The band, who included musicians Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork, were famous for hits including Daydream Believer and I'm a Believer. The Monkees were an American pop band, assembled in 1966.

Jones was married three times and had four daughters.

The Monkees found fame through a successful television series, popular in both the US and the UK, and had four number one albums in a 13-month period. They were famous for their clean-cut image and were marketed as the American answer to The Beatles, notching up nine top 40 hits.

Acting careerThree of the band's original members - Jones, Dolenz and Tork - reunited together last year to play a series of gigs.

He appeared aged 11 on ITV soap Coronation Street, as Ena Sharples's grandson. He also appeared in the television series Z Cars before leaving show-business to train as a jockey.

Davy Jones was the only British member of The Monkees. He came back to acting with a role in a stage production of Oliver! He appeared in the West End and followed the show to Broadway where he built up a career as an actor and singer before auditioning for The Monkees.
Music journalist Paul Gambaccini described Jones as having "phenomenal" charisma and said that in 2008, he was voted the top teen idol of all time by Yahoo! Music. "The pop world at that time loved The Beatles and that north-western English sound was something that America wanted, when they put together the so-called Pre-Fab Four," he said, referring to the nickname given to the Monkees.

Mr Gambaccini said The Monkees had been put together by the music industry, something which was unheard of at that time. "There had been individual teen idols who had been literally picked up off the street and groomed to be popstar, but there had never been a band that was put together, and they were assembled because the two producers had liked A Hard Day's Night, the Beatles' movie."

A spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner's Office for Martin County, Florida, said: "The District 19 Medical Examiner's Office has been informed of the death of Mr Davy Jones.
"The Medical Examiner's Office will take jurisdiction and a possible autopsy will be performed and evaluation of the circumstances of death and medical information."
 And so it goes.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Has the Market Rejected the Religious Right's Hateful Social Agenda?

It appears that the tide is turning and that's a good thing:
“Gen X” was popularized as an advertising term. Marketers used the label to describe the young people of the late ‘80s. The focus was on how to sell goods to the MTV generation.
Advertisements at that time, just as one example, started to feature unmarried couples to appeal to this group of consumers. This was a first and in the early ‘90s it was pushing the envelope. It apparently resonated. The advertisers gauged correctly: They successfully sold their products to Americans with the now documented lowest marriage rate in history.
The argument could be made (mainly by those who want to take us back to a mythical innocent time of the supposedly recent past) that it’s advertisers who’ve corrupted our culture and changed what’s socially acceptable through their manipulations. Or, if you have sold your proverbial soul to the gods of unfettered commerce – like the rightwing self-described Culture Warriors, or the (formerly) Moral (former) Majority – advertisements are the market speaking for the greater culture at large. And the greater culture, funny enough, largely disagrees with the right-wing.
Here’s how it works: Advertisers put out an image or an idea – the greater public concurs by buying those products. Successful ads equal agreed upon ideas. Marketing is, after all, the definitive pandering.
And here is what the culture is saying through advertisements: We like racial diversity. Why can I say that? Because commercials not only have racially diverse groups of friends and co-workers, they now regularly feature biracial couples in ads. In a Budweiser Super Bowl spot this year, there were black men flirting with white women sans scandal. If those spots are moving widgets it means consumers agree with the message. It’s a type of voting. Even if some viewers don’t notice or don’t have a visceral reaction one way or another, it’s an indicator of a new cultural norm.
Also, Americans are okay with homosexuals. The American Family Association, an association for only pre-approved families, threatened JC Penney with a boycott after it hired Ellen Degeneres as a spokesperson. Now, Degeneres, besides being a comedic genius, is also a successful talk show host and a popular pitchperson for brands like Covergirl and American Express. The market has spoken time after time, and Degeneres is adored and sought after. She also happens to be a lesbian, which has made her the target of the AFA, whose influence is clearly eroding.
What else does the market proclaim? Well, Americans widely approve of birth control. And yes, even legal abortion. In the dust-up last week between Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood, the market picked the winner. It was Planned Parenthood. The nonprofit healthcare provider saw a spike in private contributions after Komen announced it would no longer give Planned Parenthood a grant to screen for breast cancer. And Komen’s brand has been forever tarnished by putting politics before its cure-finding goal. It’s already resulted in one resignation, of the vice president of public policy, Karen Handel.
You can think of the market as a leading indicator of our social mores and the Republican primary as a lagging one.
Disgraced former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, has been trying to play the well-worn Goldwater Southern Strategy to rile up the base. He calls Obama the food-stamp president and said he wants to go talk to the NAACP about "why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps." He also said immigrants should learn English and not use the “language of the ghetto.” That phrase hurt him in the Spanish-named (former Spanish colony) state of Florida. Why? Because the market has spoken, we have our first biracial president and we no longer care for these antiquated wedges Gingrich peddles.
The GOP-worshipped market has chosen the winner of the culture wars, and it hasn't looked favorably on its most devout.
Of course, the market for Republicans is just like the Bible or the Constitution. They worship it piously as long as they believe it agrees with them.
If their deified market is all-knowing and all-powerful, it clearly favors a progressive social agenda…and not the GOP’s.
Yeah…tough sell.
[Tina Dupuy is an investigative journalist and managing editor of Crooks and Liars. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic Monthly, Fast Company, LA Weekly and Newsday, among others.]
One can only hope.

And so it goes.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Easily Entertained...

 [subtitle] My Life is so Boring.

The new Cuisinart processor/blender combo arrived on Friday as scheduled. It's more powerful and noisier than I am used to, though it reminds me of the monster DC-7 from the previous life. Still, it isn't running for long periods of time, so noise won't be a problem. I am happy with the purchase.

After writing about having "little use for a blender" in that earlier post, I received a couple of emails from NOLA friends containing some serious summer drink recipes, including an Absinthe Frappe, Cajun Julip, Watermelon Punch, and Gin Folly.  Seems I'll have use for the blender in the warmer weather, after all. What else are friends for, I ask you?

The walk to work has been eye-opening in the sense that I am witness to spring growth that is 2 months early. Hyacinth and Iris are popping up everywhere and a customer told me that the Cherry trees are budding in Washington, DC already.  Not a good sign, especially if we have a severe freeze and/or snow later on. There is still that possibility.

The town was rather busy for a February weekend; as usual, the forecasters got it wrong 4-days-in-a-row, which made everyone very happy, indeed.

I haven't dined anywhere but Dos Locos in 2-plus years because I always enjoy a great meal surrounded by friends and co-workers. The Purple Parrot has a Prime Rib special on Sunday nights that I used to enjoy way-back-when and following my AS cocktail today, I almost took myself out to dinner. 

Then I remembered that I have shrimp and a newly made Remoulade sauce (thanks to the new processor) and decided to dine out some other time. I don't enjoy dining out alone anyway, so it was a delicious - and easy - out.

That said, the menu this evening was shrimp remoulade with hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, and sweet grape tomatoes on a bed of romaine - with a glass of wine and French bread. Better than a prime rib dinner; I will sleep well tonight.

And so it goes.


 Don’t Tell, Show of the Day: After a photo of US Marine Brandon Morgan being welcomed home by his partner Dalan went viral in a big way on Facebook, Morgan issued the following response to the thousands of comments it generated:
To everyone who has responded in a positive way. My partner and I want to say thank you. Dalan, the giant in the photo, can’t believe how many shares and likes we have gotten on this. We didn’t do this to get famous,or something like that we did this cause after 3 deployments and four years knowing each other, we finally told each other how we felt. As for the haters, let em hate…to quote Kat Williams, everyone needs haters, so let them hate. We are the happiest we have ever been and as for the whole PDA and kissing slash hugging in uniform…it was a homecoming, if the Sergeants Major, Captains, Majors, and Colonels around us didn’t care…then why do you care what these random people have to say?
From HERE.

More later.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

John Carter of Mars

Have you read the books?  Looking forward to the film?  Have any idea what I am writing about?

Of course we're talking Disney films here, so it will probably not look like this.  I read the books many years ago and was a rabid fan even though they were already dated at the time.  There was a fresh and unique quality that made them stand out.  I mean, when you consider at the time Burroughs wrote the series there was little to the genre aside from Jules Verne.  Another favorite of mine.

Unlike "The Artist" which will never be seen on a screen here unless it wins an Oscar, I am sure this film will open in first run when released.

And so it goes.

It's Caturday, Don't Be Rude

Now, just think about this for a moment.

And so it goes.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A February Day in Rehoboth Beach...

At least I think it's February. Of course, images like this can be deceiving and it could be colder than anyone could imagine. Not so, trust me.  Would I lie to you?

 I walked to work today sporting a light jacket, and even that was too much.  Not. Joking.  The town was buzzing and people, pets, bicycles, and skateboards were everywhere.

I believe this photo sums up the weather today and it's going to be even warmer tomorrow.
Reading while catching a few rays on the benches in front of the restaurant this afternoon.
The library is a few doors up the block and folks take advantage of the good weather by reading on the benches while sipping bottled water, or enjoying a coffee from the bakery nearby.

The weekend forecast is another story.  Meanwhile, there's this.  I'll take it.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cuisinart, Coffee, & Personal Banking


Today has been one of possibilities and surprises.

I used the new "personal teller"option at the Credit Union this morning to make a deposit.  Very cool, quick, and interactive.  The fact that the live teller at the other end used to be at my branch was a plus.  We were happy to see one another and spent a few moments in a personal chat...I guess that's part of what the "personal" in personal teller means.

Having had the tiny Cuisinart food processor bite the dust a while back (and having an eye out for another one) I decided that the wait was over. A food processor is a necessity, not a luxury. At least for me.

The original unit had a 20 oz. (2.5 cup) capacity; I wanted something slightly larger that could still be stored in a small space. The price of this unit has been dropping steadily and today was the day to place the order.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is a "power duet" unit consisting of a single base with interchangeable 3 cup processor bowl and 3 cup blender bowl. (Pictured above.)  I seldom have use for a blender, but it will be nice to have the option.  No, I don't make my own margaritas - why would I? - and don't like frozen ones, anyway.

I paid $25. for the tiny processor in 2007, and today the new 'duet' cost is $30. with free shipping.  I'd say I am a happy camper. The package ought to arrive on Friday.

The tax refund check arrived and will not only pay for the new Cuisinart, but also cover nearly half the cost of the new tires. Yes, easy come - easy go.  So, tomorrow I pay another visit to my "personal teller'.  I am sure she will be as thrilled to see my smiling face as I will to see hers.

I made stops at all supermarkets and none carry Senseo coffee pods anymore. Only the expensive and trendy Keurig coffees are available. Keurig brewers are big and impressive, if you're going that route. That's not for me.  One couldn't even fit on the counter because it's too tall for the space between counter and cabinet. I guess I'll be purchasing online and filling the 'eco-pods' with my own favorites in the future. At least if my Senseo brewer dies I can still buy another one - for now.

And so it goes.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dead Presidents, Fat Tuesday, & Lent

The busiest weekend since the Christmas/New Year holidays. Who'da thunk it? The combination of Presidents weekend holiday and Mardi Gras hot on its heels made for a wild ride these past 4 days.

We celebrate the birthdays of Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln (both born in February  - though 10 days and years apart, of course) midway between the two, and this year we were smacked with Mardi Gras (also celebrated all weekend) which ends tomorrow at sundown; leading us into the season of LENT.  Yes, at the restaurant we even have a special menu for Ash Wednesday dinner.  I kid you not.

Note:  If you don't know what LENT is, well it's the 40 days leading up to Easter when certain religions demand that a person fast and give up something they love.  I wonder why war is still around.  I mean, after all.  We *do* seem to love it more than anything...never mind.

As if the town wasn't already reeling from these festivities, another 2 big events occurred at the Convention Center; a hospital sponsored Health Fair on Saturday from 1 to 7 PM; a multi-estate auction on Sunday from 9 AM til ?, meaning the restaurant was slammed both day and night those 2 days.  Oh, and did I mention that the February weather was downright balmy, not winter-like at all?  Well, it was.

The bookend days were Friday - as people arrived for the extended weekend, and today - as they had one more chance to relax with us before returning home.

Long, exhausting days to be sure, and we are all paying the price physically.  I slept like a baby (or a rock) the past 2 nights and while dealing with back and hand pain, I still rested pretty well.

My weekend starts tonight and as I enjoyed a Golden Margarita for the AS cocktail,  made plans to squeeze the most out of the next 2 days off. Nothing set in stone or urgent, mind you, just rest and catching up on trivial matters and chores. 

Gah!  Isn't my life just riveting, though?  Now, don't be jealous. Just send me $5.00 and a self-addressed stamped envelope and I will send you all the secrets to the glamorous life I lead.  Heh!

And so it goes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chaplin's Birth Records Still a Mystery.

The ever paranoid J. Edgar Hoover was never satisfied with the answers from UK Intelligence, so he refused Charlie's re-entry to the US.  Chaplin lost almost everything. Ugly doesn't cover it. Now on to the apparently still unsolvable mystery:
LONDON (AP) — They foiled plots and cracked Nazi codes, but Britain's spies were unable to solve the mystery of Charlie Chaplin's birth.
Although the entertainer is celebrated as one of London's most famous sons, newly declassified files reveal that Britain's MI5 domestic intelligence service found no records to back up Chaplin's claim that he was born in the city on April 16, 1889.
Uncertainty about Chaplin's origins linger to this day — a mystery Chaplin himself may have helped to nurture.
The previously secret file, released Friday by Britain's National Archives, shows that MI5 investigated the silent film star in the 1950s at the request of U.S. authorities, who had long suspected him of communist sympathies. MI5 historian Christopher Andrew said the FBI's red-hating chief, J. Edgar Hoover, privately denounced Chaplin as "one of Hollywood's parlor Bolsheviks."
To the spies' surprise, there was no record of the performer's birth.
"It would seem that Chaplin was either not born in this country or that his name at birth was other than those mentioned," MI5 concluded.
Chaplin's life is a Dickensian rags-to-riches story. Raised in London in a family of music-hall entertainers, he moved to the United States in 1910 and became one of Hollywood's first megastars with his shabby, bowler-hatted everyman persona, the Little Tramp.
He was a box office sensation in movies such as "The Gold Rush," ''City Lights" and "The Kid," but his left-wing friends and activities alarmed the FBI, which began tracking the actor in the early 1920s.
In 1952, as fears of Soviet infiltration raged in the U.S., American authorities asked MI5 to investigate Chaplin's political allegiances and personal background, including a long-standing rumor that Charlie Chaplin was an alias and the performer's true name was Israel Thornstein.
But British spies could find no trace of him in the birth records at London's Somerset House under Chaplin, Thornstein or Harley, his mother's stage name.
The spies also checked French records amid rumors that he might have been born in the town of Fontainebleau — but that, too, drew a blank.
Elsewhere in the file, agents speculate that Chaplin might have Russian roots. There was an allegation that he had once spoken of "going back to Russia."
"This might refer to paying another visit, or it might denote his origin as Russia," noted senior MI5 officer W.M.T. Magan, speculating that Chaplin might have come from a Jewish family fleeing pogroms at the end of the 19th century.
Film historian Matthew Sweet said rumors about Chaplin's roots had been swirling well before the 1950s. The French claim stemmed from a fan magazine article from the 1910s that suggested Chaplin was born while his performer mother was on tour. The idea he was Jewish appears to have been an assumption by some fans that came to be widely believed. Chaplin did little to correct the record.
"The borderline between fact and fiction about celebrities was much less clearly policed than it is today," Sweet said.
MI5 seemed content to let the mystery of Chaplin's birth remain. British agents were skeptical of American claims that the star was a communist threat, with John Marriott, the head of MI5's counter-subversion branch, calling the U.S. allegations "unreliable."
"It is curious that we can find no record of Chaplin's birth, but I scarcely think that this is of any security significance," he wrote in 1952.
The U.S. thought differently and Chaplin was refused re-entry to the United States in 1952. He settled in Switzerland and lived there until his death in 1977.
The dossier shows MI5 continued to track Chaplin for several years. It contains newspaper clippings about the actor, snatches of conversation from suspected radicals who knew him and letters sent from Russia to "Comrade Charly Chaplin" via the communist magazine Challenge.
But by 1958, MI5 had concluded Chaplin was not a threat.
"We have no substantial information of our own against Chaplin, and we are not satisfied that there are reliable grounds for regarding him as a security risk," the agency noted. "It may be that Chaplin is a Communist sympathizer but on the information before us he would appear to be no more than a 'progressive' or radical."
Nonetheless, a taint of impropriety lingered. Files released in 2002 showed that the British government blocked a knighthood for Chaplin for nearly 20 years because of American concerns about his politics and private life — he was married four times, twice to 16-year-old girls. He eventually became Sir Charles Chaplin in March 1975, two years before his death at age 88.
Chaplin's origins remain cloudy, although the 1891 census records the then 2-year-old as living in south London with his mother and elder brother Sydney.
Evidence unearthed last year added another layer of mystery.
In a locked drawer of a bureau left behind after Chaplin's death, his family found a letter from a man in England named Jack Hill. It claimed Chaplin had been born "in a caravan (that) belonged to the Gypsy Queen, who was my auntie" in a Roma community near Birmingham in central England.
Chaplin had alluded to Roma roots in his autobiography, writing that "Grandma was half-Gypsy. This fact was the skeleton in our family cupboard."
Sweet said the letter was not proof of Chaplin's birthplace but evidence he cultivated the mystery of his origins.
"It is very widely accepted that he was born in London in 1889, but the piece of paper just isn't there," Sweet said.
"That letter is not proof that he was born in a Gypsy encampment. It is proof that he was terrifically attracted to the idea of that story, enough to keep the letter and lock it away and think of it as something important.
"The idea of the mystery of his own birth is something that he quite enjoyed, I think."
Having read his autobiography more than once, I think that last sentence is right on the mark.

More later.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Not Good Ideas

Well, aside from the image at right, others come to mind that were witnessed today.

It's not a good idea to drive over the 25 mph speed limit in a small town like Rehoboth and not have a visible license plate or insurance card.

If you are vegetarian, it's not a good idea to dine in a Mexican restaurant in the first place, then whine about the limited number of options on the menu.

It is not a good idea to stagger into a restaurant/bar, plop onto a bar stool and announce that you're buying the house a round of drinks...when there is no one else in the bar.

It is *never* a good idea to park in a designated "disabled" space without the appropriate sticker or license plate.

And finally...

It is not a good idea (even unlawful) to allow your under age children or grand children to sip your margarita, no matter how "grown-up" it makes them feel.   You will be ejected from the premises faster than you can say, "more salt, please!"

Attempting to make this stuff up would be a waste of time.  Reality is far more funny - and - stoopid!

And so it goes.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Letter from Freed Slave to Former Master: Priceless

I've stumbled upon this (twice!) and don't remember why I didn't post it before. It tells the tale so well, without animosity.  Just a good ol' ripping of a new one.
In August of 1865, a Colonel P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, wrote to his former slave, Jourdon Anderson, and requested that he come back to work on his farm. Jourdon — who, since being emancipated, had moved to Ohio, found paid work, and was now supporting his family — responded spectacularly by way of the letter seen below (a letter which, according to newspapers at the time, he dictated).
(Source: The Freedmen's Book; Image: A group of escaped slaves in Virginia in 1862, courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

Dayton, Ohio,

August 7, 1865

To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee

Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, "Them colored people were slaves" down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams's Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.

Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant,

Jourdon Anderson.
Click here for the background and more on the story.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

All Quiet on this Cajun's Blog

I've noticed that the flow of nasty comments (moderated & deleted, of course) has dried up.  I like that.  Less work for me and I can focus on re-focusing on what I want to share. Whether my own stories or those that interest me, it matters not.

The BP trolls have given up the brainwashing idea and resigned themselves to the fact that I ain't buying their PR. That the facts are overwhelming if only one wanted to know them. Revisionist history isn't going to cut it anymore.

Also, I find it interesting that whenever I post anything about gay/equal rights and/or same-sex marriage I continue to get visits from all the Muslim countries where this is taboo and subject to death.  WTF.  Yes, I know, I have written about this before, but the recent tidal wave of change taking place around the country has increased the hits 3-fold over the past few weeks.  Something ain't right!

No visitor's comments from these countries, but site meter tells me where they originate, that they read in English, how many pages are read, and their out-click data once finished here.  Most click through to primary and other links in each and every story.  Does my heart good, but also scares me. I fear for the visitor's personal safety.

The recent post regarding my 90 minutes with CNN news brought a number of loonies to the site.  Their spittle flecked, poorly written outrages would have been downright hilarious, if they weren't so sincerely and profoundly 'of the stoopid' which is a bit unnerving, to say the least.

As Saint Lesley Gore (or was that Bernadette?) once sang, "It's my blog and I'll write what I want, when I want, and how I want."

The harassers, no-it-all 2-bit prophets, and the rest, are gone.  Can I get an Amen?

Quiet is good, it's all good.

And so it goes.

Houston: Celebrity Death & Distraction

The celebrity distraction du jour. Hundreds of thousands of others died the same day; many before having a chance to live a full life or share their talents with the world. Why is this celebrity worth more attention than all the others?

Houston had enormous talent, worked hard to get everything she ever wanted, and then threw it all away.  Slowly and very painful to watch, unlike others who burned bright only to flame almost overnight.

By the time of her death she was pretty much washed up in the Diva department; more punchline to jokes than passionate entertainer. And that was primarily her own doing.

I hear it's socially unacceptable to speak ill of the dead; if you don't say something good about them to balance it out.  Well, I did just that in the second paragraph. 

From what I see, hear, and read, (ad nauseum) mine is the minority opinion. It is what it is.

More later.

No Valentines Here

It was the only humane thing to do...

And so it goes.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Taste of Winter

Winter has arrived. We were hit with sleet, rain, and snow yesterday that continued  far  into the night. It was only a matter of time, really, the weather has been anything but winter-like since Thanksgiving. There is a high wind alert for today until 7 PM.  Not a fun day at the beach. There is ice and a dusting of snow on streets and rooftops. It's the cold that's hard to take, after the warm temperatures in the past.  It was 22' this morning and only 31' this afternoon.  The winds make it feel more bitterly cold than that, though.

The Locosguys left for Mexico this morning for a few tours of the Tequila areas.  Invited guests of a few of the lesser known makers for private tours of the facilities in the off chance they will find a treasure (not yet available in the US) and bring it back with them. They will be away for about 8 days.

Now that I am "servsafe certified" and a semi-manager I was given a tour of the kitchen - where the magic happens - and learned how the various stations are set up for maximum efficiency and food safety.  Everything in a specific place in either the coolers or steam tables and maintained at specific temperatures. Fascinating, but I don't think I'll remember much - it happened all too fast for my tiny brain to process it.

As I was leaving the kitchen I must have had a puzzled expression on my face because 2 primary chefs collared me and said, "come back anytime, we'll go over it again whenever you want until you feel comfortable."  That was encouraging and a relief, to say the least.

Had a golden margarita as the AS cocktail while receiving final bits of information regarding deliveries and other flotsam and jetsam, taking copious notes as reminders. My head hurt as I headed out the door.

I am snug in the tiny abode, with plenty of candles and comfort food to hold me over, just in case. And of course, there are olives, wine, and in a pinch the makings of a Sazerac if things get nasty - or even if they don't.

I will put in another call to my friend, though I don't know how drugged she will be.  I don't care, really.  Even if she is only in the present moment, at least she will know that I am with her here and now.

And so it goes.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Old Friends - Like Bookends

NYC 1977
My oldest and closest friend is dying. Deserted by all family, so called friends, and local stray dogs and cats. Do I sound bitter?  Yes, well... This attitude was common during the AIDS 80s, but this has nothing to do with AIDS. This fear of facing mortality is juvenile and hurtful.

We've been friends since 1964 when I was a tag-a-long guest at a party she threw for herself when she snagged a reporter's gig at the local paper in Willimantic, Connecticut. It was instant connection and remained so all these years, though we've moved around quite a bit, and didn't visit personally on a regular basis. We kept in touch through letters & phone calls, then with cassette tapes, and finally via e-mail. We were physically present during personal and family tribulations.  A great support system of two.

That connection has been strong and unlike any other in either of our lives. We have been the constant for one another. A solid foundation; a non-judgmental and supportive voice telling the truth even if it was painful to hear at times.  Not always immediately appreciated, but over time, ultimately the best rule to follow.

Independent almost to a fault, but giving, always giving. The best friend anyone could ever hope to have in a lifetime, now reduced to such a state.  The mind is fully functional, while the body is shutting down.  And she knows it, of course.  Horrible, just horrible.

This is a brilliant woman who speaks 5 languages, crossed the Atlantic on a research sailing ship from Boston to Spain, worked on assignment at Scrips in La Jolla with me as apprentice, wrote about Lobster culture in the north Atlantic for Oceans Magazine, and spent almost 2 years traveling the middle east alone.  She's a Jew, by the way.  Fearless!

She is in a sort of hospice situation (it's California, they create names for these centers) and receiving Palliative care.  She is scared out of her wits because no one will tell her what day it is, or even offer a newspaper.  She is a voracious reader.  When she called yesterday in near hysterics all she wanted to know was the day - month - year.  How sad is that? Thank God for her cell phone.

The worst part is that there. is. nothing. I. can. do.!

I feel helpless. I would gladly give up my so-called life for her.  No, I won't go there now, but it's the absolute truth.

I need to go to bed now. I hope sleep will come quickly.

And so it goes.

A Caturday Valentine

More later.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Good Argument Against TV Service

Not a busy day at the restaurant today and pretty boring, one of the big screens was set to the CNN channel. (Gag!)  I haven't seen their format in a few years and it was interesting to see how slick and tech-savvy (forget content) they have become.

There was no sound (thank you Jeebus!) and the closed captioning is awful.  Not only difficult to follow, but spelling errors are distracting and quite humorous at times. Still, I tried to follow along as best I could, mostly.

So, in the 90 minute time frame I allowed myself to be tortured subjected to, there were interviews with Rick Santorum (Obama is going to be-head all Christians), a rep from the Catholic League (on the EWTN suit against the contraception mandate in employee medical insurance) which was followed by a segment with Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council (on contraception and the recent news out of California and Washington State regarding gay marriage). The FRC has been designated a Hate Group by the SPLC, so why is he considered a neutral pundit?

This led to an interview with ol' Crazy Eyes (Michelle Bachman) herself (why, I don't know) where the subtitles were so confusing, I just had a good chuckle.  It was unclear whether the scribe was unable to follow her closely, or if Michelle was just spouting her usual nonsense.  Why do her opinions matter anymore?

Then I shivered through a story about the creepy Kardashians and learned more than I ever wanted to know about this bizarre clan of grifters. If ignorance of this crap is bliss, I must have been close to Nirvana.  Damn!

There was no eye bleach around, so I went to the men's room and washed my face with cold water to snap myself back to reality. If that's what this is.

Rethinking the extra expense for basic TV service and not sure it's worth it.  I need a cold compress and an aspirin.

And so it goes.

Congratulations to California & Washington State

E'nuf said!

More later.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Louis Armstrong: Muggles

A perfect ending to an otherwise frustrating day.  Oh, and "Muggles" has nothing to do with Harry Potter, having been thought up and recorded in 1928.  Listen and enjoy his magic.
Google the title and you will find that Mr. Armstrong was a wizard above all wizards.

And so it goes.

Best Laid Plans & Medical Arrogance

Today was to be a full and busy one:
  • Appt. for Dental teeth cleaning.
  • Appt. with CU manager re: all accounts and new changes in policy.
  • Sign for and pick-up newly refilled prescriptions.
  • Doctor's appt. for a complete physical.
The dental appointment never happened. Though they called twice (Monday & Tuesday) to verify that I would be prompt and asked that I call to confirm - which I did, both times - they didn't hold up their end.  The appt was for 9:40 am and I was still waiting at 10 am, as others arriving after me were ushered in by the same technicians who could should have taken me. I approached the desk and asked if there was some delay due to an emergency, and was told rather curtly that "the technician will be with you in a moment."  When I returned to my chair, some nasty old woman had already claimed it.  I hope she enjoyed the warmth my butt provided for her.

Another 10 minutes passed and I put my coat on, approached the desk and told the clerk to cancel the appointment, and that I would call to reschedule.  She looked stricken, glanced at her screen and was about to give me her signature line once more. I held up my hand and said, "I cannot stay. I arrived before the appointed time and have waited over a half hour beyond.  My time today is very tight."
She: you will probably be charged for this visit, in any case.
Me: There was no 'visit' and I don't think so.
She: I think you will.
Me: I will charge back for my time and their unexplained tardiness.
She: What does that mean?
Me:  Check my file on your screen, you will find out quickly.

And I left.

(The arrogance in believing their time is more valuable than mine boggles the mind.)

It was too early for the Credit Union appt., so I picked up the prescriptions and a few other things to kill time, then headed for the meeting.

The CU updated their technological  bells and whistles to include image scanning for depositing checks via iPhones, smarter safeguards against identity theft, and more tech gibberish than my poor brain could handle. With all of my personal questions answered in simple English, hugs were shared and I was on my way again.

Had a bit of lunch at home before heading to the doctor's appt. and the promised physical exam. 

Which...didn't happen.  Seems there were a few unforeseen glitches in the doctor's schedule and it would be impossible for him to see me today.

Couldn't  a nurse practitioner perform the exam?  Why didn't anyone call to cancel the appt.? No response to either question. I've waited a long time for this appt - made 4 months ago - and I was getting angry.
Me: How soon can the appt. be re-scheduled?
She: (without missing a beat) The earliest I have available is April 11th, the Wednesday after Easter.  Same time.
Me: that's unacceptable.  Nothing sooner than that, nothing in the morning hours?
She: No. Doctor only sees patients on 2 afternoons - Wednesdays and Thursdays - weekly.
Me: Well, tell him 'good-bye' for me.  I can't live with his new schedule and I'm not going to risk dying because of it. I'll be looking for a new PCP now.

(Again, arrogance and the way things used to be  handled - at patient's expense.)

And I left.   It is what it is and not worth any more stress.

I wanted to stop for a bottle of wine on the way home, but thought better of it.  It began to rain and there's talk of a flurry or two tonight, so I was really bummed by these 2 medical fuck-ups and a half-wasted day off in the process.

I did stop for a half pound of rare roast beef so that I may indulge in a hot, messy Po-Boy for supper tonight.  Comfort food for us Cajuns. (Better than meatloaf with mashed potatoes, even.) Prior to that, this Cajun will find comfort in marinated olives - 2 or maybe more.

I am ready to get back to work.

And so it goes.

Someday I Will Learn

Today is not that day.

More later.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lake Vostok, Antarctica's Largest Subglacial Body Of Water

This is as exciting as it is frustrating.  Yes, it's one of those stories that I love to read and (with any luck) get to followup on as more information becomes available.  (Click the image to embiggen.) The frustrating part is the arrogance by the team to use hazardous gases in the process, which may contaminate and ruin the entire project. But, what do I know?

After over 20 years of drilling through two miles of glacial ice, Russian scientists have reportedly penetrated the surface of Antarctica's largest subglacial lake.
Lake Vostok, which hasn't been touched by light in millions of years, has been a target of scientific exploration because of the unique lifeforms it may contain.
According to Wired, the lake likely contains 50 times the amount of oxygen found in a typical freshwater lake. The conditions in the lake "are thought to be similar" to Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's Enceladus.
The Washington Post reports that a state-run Russian news agency made the announcement Monday, saying the scientists "stopped drilling at the depth of 3,768 meters [12,362 feet] and reached the surface of the subglacial lake."
Even though the scientists have drilled into the lake, it will be another year before the lake's water can be sampled. The scientists are only able to retrieve ice samples from their borehole and they must wait for the upcoming Antarctic winter to pass, according to OurAmazingPlanet.
Despite the excitement surrounding the Russians' accomplishment, the project is not without environmental fears. The Washington Post explained that concerns exist that Lake Vostok "could be contaminated by the kerosene, Freon and other materials being used in the drilling."
Discover reported that with "quite a bit of gas" in the lake, there were also fears that a "catastrophic" geyser could erupt when Lake Vostok was penetrated.
John Priscu, an Antarctic specialist at Montana State University, told The Washington Post, "If they were successful, their efforts will transform the way we do science in Antarctica and provide us with an entirely new view of what exists under the vast Antarctic ice sheet."
I am no scientist, or explorer, but I could play one on TV! In fact, I could play with Dr. Robert Ballard for a very long time.  (Ahem!)

Learn more by clicking through the links in the story.

And so it goes.

Of Dairy Products & Dreams

I am in a group of people I recognize from my previous life. Recognize, but cannot see faces. Everyone is bustling about and we pile into a big gas-guzzler and go gallivanting around some unknown territory - full of big, well-designed homes with neatly appointed grounds.

I have no idea what I am doing there, and no clue as to what "we" are searching out. I find myself following the others through long hallways, in and out of one home and another.  Somewhere along the way I find myself juggling 2 reusable grocery sacks which contain cream cheese, butter, eggs, bags of shredded cheeses, along with glass jars of various condiments.  I am afraid the glass will break and/or the other items will go bad without refrigeration, but I can't do anything about it.

I am tired as we bounce from place to place, home to home, door through door. My arms hurt from the weight of the sacks, but I dare not slow the pace.  If I lose the others I won't know where I am, what I am searching for, or how to get home.  There are shouts of "hurry, we've got it now" and as I plunge head-first through a set of ornate glass paneled doors I fall into a deep pond.  I can't feel the bottom. I let go of the sacks.

I wake up. Confusion only, no other emotions. Whew!

Maybe I ought to think twice before eating cocktail onions straight from the jar late in the evening.

More later.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bears: Polar and Otherwise.

I have been just too tired to write a personal post the past few days - this being Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics weekend here.We've had big parties dining at the restaurant since Friday - lunch and dinner.  Last night the reservations list was cut off before 3 pm. 

We hosted a pre-plunge brunch this morning at 10 am, and out of the gate there were 2 huge parties of 34 and 22 taking over half the main dining room and half of the private room, as well, with smaller parties dotting the landscape throughout the morning. They all left for the main event by 12:30pm - the plunge was scheduled for 1 pm. The weather was cold with a light wind, and the sun finally made an appearance just before the plunge.  That cheered up everyone.

Yes, these people are quite crazy, but they are dedicated to the cause and usually dine with us every year.  Of course, the restaurant is a sponsor of the weekend as it is for so many other charity events. 

Just as the staff was getting a second wind the plunge was over and the place began to fill up again, and this time the bar became an oasis for some very cold plungers, wet hair and towels, sand and pajamas or bath robes. A group of Gay Bears, members of a Polar Bear Club in New Jersey, joined us for drinks and dinner in the bar.  They were festively dressed in polar bear sweatshirts, wearing beach-towels as sarongs.   Like I said, crazy! 

The wait staff and kitchen did an exceptional job all day.  Everything ran smoothly, considering the crowds.

Having been on the job since 8 am, I was very happy when Sasha arrived to relieve me at 3 pm.  (Poor guy has a nasty head cold which I hope he doesn't share with me.) There was information to share about reservations for the evening and the Super Bowl, but after that, I hustled my butt to the back end of the bar and enjoyed a few olives before heading for home.

It was a very long, stressful, and exhausting weekend, but all went well and that's what's important. Besides, tomorrow promises to be a 'return-to-normal' day and I am off the following 2 days, so it's all good from here.

Supper is in the oven, a glass of wine is in my hand and it will be an early-to-bed night (after a hot shower) for me.

And so it goes.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Shirt of Butterflies

After an interesting day at work I arrived home to find a small package wedged between the storm door and interior wooden door.  When I saw the return address I became a clumsy oaf, dropping my keys twice while trying to get the door open and spewing the mail all over the tiny porch in the process.  Never mind.

Once inside, the package was ripped apart (which wasn't easy, Dr. Spo knows how to wrap a package *ahem!* for mailing) to reveal the most spectacular Butterfly Shirt, made for me by the good doctor. (Click the image to embiggen.)

Threw everything on the kitchen table, stripped off jacket and shirt and dumped them on the bed.  Then tried on the shirt.  It is totally amazing. The fit is unbelievable and his artistry, detail, and creative work is incredible. I am so honored by this gift.

I can't wait until the weather is warm enough to wear it to work. Yes, it is bright and I may have to give out sunglasses if it's a bright, sunny day.  But, I don't care.  It's more beautiful than Joseph's Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, if you ask me - and even if you don't!

When I happened upon this fabric I knew it was the one I wanted for my shirt. Interestingly, when the good doctor chose to create my shirt, he liked the fabric so much that he asked me to send enough for 2 shirts.  One is to be a surprise gift to another blogger friend who is very much into butterflies, conservation, and ecology. I did so, because I am a regular reader of this man's blog and mesmerized by his photography and observations.

There will be only TWO of these shirts made by Dr. Spo and I am sure they will be worn proudly by both recipients. Perhaps I will get to meet the other person & shirt in the future.

Close-up of original fabric swatch.
Spo, thank you.

And so it goes.

Bracing for the Polar Bear Plunge

Yes, here we are again, preparing for the annual Polar Bear Plunge  to support the Special Olympics. And, yes, the doslocosguys are not only supporters but are also on the executive committee.  This means if the weather cooperates, this tiny town will be almost as busy as a day in July.

Last year, over 3,000 folks took the plunge on Sunday - the finale of the fundraising weekend - with many more participating in the other activities, such as the 5K run, and a lot of activities for the kids. As you can see by the photo of the bears at left, everyone is invited to take part.

The restaurant is already swamped with reservations beginning tonight.  Saturday is filling fast, and Sunday is totally booked, beginning at 10:30 AM. (we open at 10 AM for a special plunge brunch) with a party of 27 folks taking the plunge and other reservations for large parties/families joining us after the plunge and staying for the Super Bowl. It is going to be a crazy day, for sure.

The weekend reservations begin today when a party of 22 join us for lunch before doing their check in thing and registering for the weekend's events. Reservations for smaller parties dot the entire afternoon and evening.  Saturday is almost totally booked as well, with large and small parties taking over the dining room.

If you read this space you already know that this has been a very mild winter and if that pattern holds for this weekend, this will likely be one of the best plunges ever.

I am so anxious for the excitement and energy produced by this weekend's event and can't wait to greet the returning families and friends participating in the festivities.

More later.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Beignets, Baby: New Orleans HIstory

I can smell and taste them now.  From the Times-Picayune:
Beignets are a Crescent City staple. A visit to the French Quarter calls for a stop at Cafe du Monde for cafe au lait (coffee and chicory mixed half and half with hot milk) and a serving of three beignets, the melt-in-your-mouth square French doughnuts served fresh out of the fryer with enough powdered sugar to keep a sugar plantation in business.
With the sounds of a saxophone floating in from the sidewalk and a view of Jackson Square across Decatur Street, it’s a perfect place to sit outside under the green- and white-striped canopy and watch people. Inside, under the great high ceiling, is fine for people-watching, too.
Customers have been breathing in the sweet smell of beignets at Cafe du Monde since 1862, when it opened in the upper end of the French Market. Eight years later, Morning Call opened at the lower end, and for more than a century the two coffee stands stood like French Market bookends. In 1974, Morning Call moved to Metairie, where it is still serving traditional beignets and cafe au lait.
Cafe du Monde is open 24 hours a day every day except Christmas and on days when “the occasional hurricane passes too close to New Orleans.”
It closed in the spring of 2001 because of a kitchen fire in an exhaust duct. Employees doused the flames with fire extinguishers and prevented the fire from spreading, and then grabbed posters and old photographs from the walls and hurried out of the building as firefighters hurried in. Repairs were done quickly, and waiters welcomed customers back one week later.
Cafe du Monde also closed on Aug. 27, 2005, as Hurricane Katrina was taking aim at New Orleans. It had only minor damage, but was dark for nearly two months when the city was at a near standstill. When it reopened Oct. 19, there was a line of hungry people waiting to get in.
It now has a number of other locations in the New Orleans area, and in addition to Cafe du Monde and Morning Call, a few other places feature beignets on the menu. One is at Louis Armstrong International Airport. Twice during the mail-borne anthrax scare of 2001, the airport’s hazmat team was called out to inspect a powdery residue reported by travelers. Both times that white residue proved to be leftover powdered sugar from someone’s beignet.
I have tried to make them, but somehow they are never as light and tasty as those at Cafe du Monde. Now I will be dreaming about these all day at work.  Bother!

More later.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Today's Gay Agenda

Remember this!
Lazy day.
Took advantage of the peace and quiet.
Rain fizzled and ended early.
Worked on tax stuff - awaiting 1 more form. (Bother!)
Did some cooking.
Sun appeared, sky cleared.
Temperature hit 66'F . Yes, it's February here, too!
Took a walk around town and to the ocean this afternoon.
Ocean was calm and the town very tranquil. Smiles everywhere.
Decided to give the new Cuisinart pan a workout.
Spicy chicken smothered with onions, new potatoes, mushrooms, olive oil, tonight.
Cared for the house plants - one needs re-potting soon.
No phone calls to either phone.
Ironed the festive work drag for the weekend.
Ready to get back to work in the morning.
Must decide between Olives and Wine for the evening cocktail.
Decisions, decisions!
That is all.

And so it goes.

Road Trip and Discovered Treasure

Tuesday was a picture-perfect day, so I hopped into the car and took the new tires for a spin.  (The ride is definitely a smoother one.) Temperatures were in the 60s and it felt more like April than January. The car hadn't been driven a long distance in months, so I cruised down through Bethany Beach and into Fenwick Island before returning via a different route. Listening to Holly Near and James Taylor all the way. 

I got lost for a bit, but ultimately found my bearings and enjoyed a few interesting sights along the way.  Stopped to refuel in Millsboro and saved 50 Cents per gallon thanks to the fave grocery store's program.

Before returning home and never having visited the place, I decided to check out a relatively new store called "Home Goods" in Lewes - I think they are associated with the likes of T.J. Maxx, and Marshalls.  It's a big store (the space used to be occupied by a Lowe's Home Center and then a furniture store) so I took my time and drifted from aisle to aisle, department to department and found interesting items; some at very good prices.

Though I promised myself that I would not buy anything, I did.  So shoot me!  I have been wanting a large covered skillet/saucepan for a very long time, and I chanced upon a Cuisinart 3.5 qt., 4" high-sided, stainless steel baby with a glass cover - on clearance, mind you - for $10.00!!!  OK, now tell me you wouldn't have jumped at that one.

It was explained to me that the pan was on the clearance table because it was a discontinued style and the last of its kind.  Whatever.  I have a huge all purpose pan for smothering, braising, frying, and even roasting. I looked it over and could find no flaws in the piece and since the regular price was $50. I think it was a great deal. It was washed and made ready for a little Southern cooking this evening.

Worked on the taxes a bit yesterday afternoon, hope to finish up today and since the weather turned cloudy and rainy over night, I will be happy to play indoors today.

More later.
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