Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007: The Year in Review Part 4-The Podcasts

Podcasts were new to me in 2007 but I jumped right in. It's been a learning experience but also tons of fun! The following podcast features a 2:45 montage that I really had a blast (and spent 3 hours assembling)..I hope you enjoy it..Happy New Year!
LISTEN HERE
OR
Listen right here:

2007: The Year in Review Part 3-The Books

By years end I will have read 23 24 books in 2007. I don't typically rate or review books until this past August when I was invited to contribute to "Book Me In" at which point I have done my best to follow up each book I read with a review over there. So, for the books on the list that do not have a review over there, I will give you a quick one liner and a link to Amazon.com (if available). For the books that have reviews over at Book Me In, I will offer a link to the review I wrote over there.

1. I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris
Not so much a book as it is a forum. I love Amy Sedaris and this was just lots of fun.

2. Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith by Nora Gallagher
If you have an open mind and some sense of spirituality, give it a try. I loved it.

3. The Last Good Season by Michael Shapiro
A brilliant book about the hey day of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the culture of the time and place it all happened.

4. The Grim Grotto (Book 11) by Lemony Snicket
I took it upon myself to start the series so being all OCD and stuff, I have to see it through until the end.

5. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
I am a huge fan of all things Bryson. I did this on audio since I was able to get an unabridged version read by Bryson himself. A treasure.

6. The Cell by Stephen King
One of the more violent King books and a worthy read if you can stomach it.

7. A Pilgrim's Way by Walter C. Righter
Walter C. Righter is a retired Episcopal Bishop who was once charged with heresy for ordaining and openly gay man. This is an important book for anyone who has any real concern of human rights issues as Righter discusses the whole ordeal in great detail. Walter Righter just happens to be the bishop who received me into the Episcopalian faith and is a truly wonderful man.

8. Black Market by James Patterson
I'm one of those freaks whose gone on to read all of his back catalog after getting into him much later.

9. Are You Running With Me, Jesus? by Malcolm Boyd
A wonderful collection of prayers and poems from a man on a spiritual journey.

10. The Penultimate Peril (Book 12) by Lemony Snicket
See # 4. One bonus is that until I read this book, I didn't know the definition of penultimate.

11. The Midnight Club by James Patterson
See #8. Pretty intense.

12. The End (Book 13) by Lemony Snicket
I saw it through to the end and while the story along the way was entertaining for the most part, I was disappointed with how it all ended.

13. Extreme: My Autobiography by Sharon Osbourne
A good read that explained alot, to me.

14. The 5th Horseman by James Patterson
the fifth (as the title implies) installment of The Woman's Murder Club, a terrific series with terrific characters (and now a TV series).

15. Can You Drink the Cup by Henri J.M. Nouwen
Another of those spiritual journey books.

16. Four to Score by Janet Evanovich
The Stephanie Plum character - another series. I enjoyed this.

17. The 6th Target by James Patterson
See #14 only replace the word fifth with sixth.

18. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Steven Dubner

19. High Five by Janet Evanovich
See #16.

20. The Gospel According to Starbucks by Leonard Sweet

21. I Killed: True Stories of the Road by Ritch Shydner and Mark Schiff

22. Clapton: The Autobiography by Eric Clapton

23. Mary Mary by James Patterson
An Alex Cross novel, I still have about 80 pages to go but enjoyable thus far.

24. Tony and Me: A Story of Friendship by Jack Klugman with Burton Rocks

Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007: The Year in Review Part 2-The Movies

As of this writing, I saw 28 movies this year. This list covers the movies I saw, not necessarily movies that were released this year. My ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 5 and includes half points. The rating is based on this most recent viewing of the movie. While it doesn't happen often, I will rewatch a movie I had seen some time in the past and there are circumstances where a movie with have a different significance to me and end up with a different rating For some, I may offer remarks and others, just a listing and a rating. Blah, Blah, Blah. And now, the movies...

1. Happy Feet - 4.5
Every now and again I need to see a film that can't possibly have a bad message. This was lots of fun and I always like trying to figure out all of the celebrity voices.

2. Flight Plan - 4.0
I love Jodie Foster, she's smart, beautiful, and a good actor. This movie had a good mix of suspense the story was told well.

3. Beer League - 3.5
This is just one of those goofy, stupid films that come in handy every so often. You can check your brains at the gate, grab a beer, and opt for a laugh or two. I happen to be a fan of Artie Lange so I am on the biased side of generous with my rating but I did genuinely have fun watching this.

4. The Benchwarmers - 2.0
Some, very few, laughs. Overall, very disappointing.

5. The Break Up - 4.0
My beloved Jennifer Anniston. It was a funny movie, Vince Vaughn, while not an actor of great depth, does what he does very well and he does it here.

6. The Celestine Prophecy - 3.5
It was odd, but worth watching. As I recall, the cinematography was quite good but the cast was basically unknowns and not very good actors.

7. Jarhead - 3.0
Very intense. Jake Gylenhall was very good as was Jaimie Foxx (and it gives me no great pleasure to compliment Foxx).

8. Wordplay - 4.0
A documentary about crossword puzzle aficionados and followers of NY Time crossword editor Will Shortz. I know that it doesn't sound like it has a shot at being interesting but the characters were fascinating, especially since they are all real people.

9. Saw II - 3.0
I'm an old school horror film watcher so every now and then I check one out. As I recall, I like this one a bit better than the first of the Saw films as there was a bit of a twist that worked well.

10. Batman Begins - 4.5
I loved this film. I watched it while home sick one day and t really captured my attention. A really good piece of filmaking as the story of how Bruce Wayne became Batman is told.

11. Hostel - 1.5
Way overdone.

12. This Thing of Ours - 2.0
My only reason for digging up a copy of this film is that a friend of mine has an original song on the soundtrack and in the film. A stereotypical mob film at best with the same cast of characters that can't get work in films that aren't about mobsters.

13. The Five People You Meet in Heaven 4.5
A great book, a great movie. Mitch Albom - 'Nuff said.

14. Charlotte's Web - 4.0
This 2006 version of the classic story in brilliant color offers another chance to fall in love with this tale. And, another opportunity to pick of celebrity voices.

15. An Unfinished Life - 3.0
I feel compelled for some reason to see J.Lo films. Worth watching if you have low expectations of greatness and it happens to be nearby. Morgan Freeman is brilliant as always.

16. Stranger than Fiction - 5.0
A very unique concept brilliantly executed and a nice change of pace for Will Ferrell.

17. The Lady in the Water - 3.0
Everytime I give an M. Night Shyamalan film a chance I am utterly disappointed. It seems he shot his load in The Sixth Sense. Unbreakable and Signs really sucked, I haven't seen The Village as of yet, at least it was watchable thanks to one of the best actors in the game, Paul Giamatti.

18. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby - 3.0
The level of funny you've come to expect from a Will Ferrell comedy is high and as such, this film doesn't quite hit the mark. However, there are ample laughs to make it rainy day rental worthy.

19. Casino Royale (2006) - 4.0
It's been a long time since I even cared about seeing a James Bond film and this one does not disappoint.

20. Music and Lyrics - 4.0
I have always liked Hugh Grant in the romantic comedy genre though his movies are either good or awful, not too many tweeners. I really enjoyed this film alot. I am no fan of Drew Barrymore but she was even good here.

21. For Your Consideration - 1.5
I love Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy but this really sucked big time.

22. Red Eye - 2.5
Rachel McAdams is hot.

23. Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector - 2.0
While there were some laughs, there really wasn't a screenplay other than trying to write a story around some of Larry the Cable Guy's jokes from his stand-up. Don't waste your time.

24. Good Night and Good Luck - 5.0
A brilliant film. David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow was a good an acting performance as I have ever seen.

25. Little Miss Sunshine - 4.5
Another winner. Lots of great performances and there just something about a 70 year old guy snorting a line of blow that reeks of sick humor.

26. Factotum - 2.5
I am hoping that I was just in some kind of funk when I saw this and it was better than my rating indicates. I am a Charles Bukowski fan, there just wasn't enough acting for me and the storytelling fell short as a result.

27. Click - 4.0
A fun movie. Also, it opened my eyes to the hotness of Kate Beckinsale.

28. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo - 1.5
Don't bother, a real shit fest.

Friday, December 28, 2007

2007: The Year in Review Part 1-The Blog

January
  • I actually said this “Hey, you wanna go drink some raw eggs and whistle at ugly chicks?" (I know, classy right? It wasn't nearly as awful within the context of its utterance)
  • It was 72 degrees on January 6th in Brooklyn, New York – During our “Winter” reunion.
  • I got hooked on this toy.
  • Lily Munster” passed away and while googling her, I actually saw a topless picture of her when she was young, and yes…hot!
  • I discovered Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Cheesecake (only to find out later it’s only seasonally available – probably for the best)
  • I professed my crush on Kristen Wiig
  • A baby panda sneezed, and we all laughed
  • I reconnected with my dear friend Annmarie (whom I hope to see the second weekend of this January)
  • I had a brief battle with laryngitis
February
  • Two and a half years of hard work on the search committee at church came to fruition as we called the Rev. Julie Carson, and she accepted
  • R.I.P. Anna Nicole
  • The Police reunited at the Grammy’s and for me, were a HUGE disappointment
March
  • I had to say goodbye to two great ladies, Susan and Terry, who kept things together during interim time at St. Andrew’s
  • I took every Friday off this month – NICE
  • Brad Delp, former lead singer of Boston, committed suicide
  • Comedian Richard Jeni also committed suicide
  • I learned that kosher Coca-Cola (commonly sold during Passover) is hugely popular because it’s made with real sugar as opposed to corn syrup.
April
  • Keith Richard claimed to have “snorted” his father then later retrenched the comment claiming that he was kidding (I think he did it that sick fuck).
  • The USPS issued “The Forever Stamp”
  • I took my first (and I hope to God my last) ambulance ride
  • Will Ferrell made us laugh, yet again, with his now legendary “Landlord” video
  • I learned this troubling fact, "the average mattress will double in weight in 10 years as a result of being filled with dust mites."
  • I began the journey into hell also known as a bathroom remodel
  • I discovered the deliciousness of Papa Gino’s Rustic Pizza
  • I celebrated my 600th post on From a Whisper to a Scream
  • The “U2charist” moved me to no end
May
  • I got hooked on the violin stylings of Joshua Bell
  • I completed the 20 mile Walk for Hunger, again
  • Jessica’s blog vanished as quickly as it appeared
  • I got turned on to Fountains of Wayne
  • Sdrawkcab tsop eritne na etorw I
  • I bought every Fountains of Wayne CD
  • Demolition on the bathroom closed the month
June
  • I met Nancy
  • I had a disagreement with the stairs in my garage, they won
  • I learned that 143 isn’t just a random number
  • I had a heart scare
  • I finished reading the Lemony Snicket series
  • Chris Benoit flipped out
  • I cast aside my ridiculous prejudice for White Zin and found a new friend (I just reread this one and it sounds so alcoholic - that's not the case)
  • I acquired an original release of the board game Pay Day (from the mid '70's)
July
  • I visited Martha’s Vineyard for the first time
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, who knew
  • I attended an online baby shower
  • I bought a Dutch oven
  • Egan and Brookem completed triathlons
  • I revisited my elementary school graduation autograph book
  • I began podcasting
  • I published my “100 Things…” list
  • My podcast became available on iTunes
  • I got to meet Brookem skrinkering over Thai and discovering the only two people on earth who have no clue how to use a camera
August
  • Baby Singe was born
  • The summer reunion was a blast from the past as it happened during a block party which also reunited me with some old friends I hadn’t seen in years
  • I officially became part of another blog
  • My dear friend Rebecca was diagnosed with breast cancer
  • “The Scooter”, Phil Rizzutto passed away
  • My pal Jill purchased a home in Portlane, ME
  • I finally tasted the Americone Dream
  • I made a goofy 20 second film that I think stands up
  • A flock of turkeys trotted across my front lawn
  • Miss Teen USA demonstrated the horrible state of the American education system
  • Owen Wilson fortunately failed at his suicide attempt
  • I professed my adoration for Giada de Laurentiis, Andrea Immer, and Sara Underwood
  • “Radio Nowhere” was released, some new Bruce!
September
  • Jenn and Steve headed to the west coast (I can't wait to go visit them)
  • “Leave Britney Alone” became more than just three words
  • I celebrated my 700th post on From a Whisper to a Scream
  • I made work ID pictures fun
  • China banned “sexual sounds’ from the airwaves
  • Goth Baby got the haircut that Airam was considering
  • I scored me some tix to see The Boss
October
  • My historic interview with the beautiful Airam was released to the public and broke box-office records
  • Magic was released in all of its brilliance
  • Danny Bonaduce beat the crap out of Johnny Fairplay
  • I made some funny Jib-Jab videos
  • I saw Kelly Clarkson in concert
  • I attended my 25 year high school reunion
  • I made a long overdue return visit to Walden Pond
November
  • I ate way, way too much Halloween candy
  • “The Eyes are the Groin of The Head” Dwight Schrute
  • I (re)named a meme Brookememe and I enjoyed the comments very much
  • A JC Penney catalog from 1977 resurfaced and brought lots of laughs
  • Project Runway 4 began much to my delight
  • I spent my first Thanksgiving in a long time with actual family
  • Kevin Dubrow, of Quiet Riot died
  • I saw Springsteen, again
  • I finally became a part of the Facebook world
  • Michael Kors uttered this fantastic line which I have listened to thousands of times since, “Forget the jacket, the crotch on the pants is insane!”
  • I wrote “It’s Time to Go Back Home”
December
  • I saw the play Mamma-Mia
  • I got the hots for Mary Jane Raleigh (she played Donna in Mamma-Mia)
  • I turned 43 (turned? what an odd expression - nonetheless, 'twas my 43rd birthday)
  • “wOOt” was announced as the word of the year
  • My office got TP’d
  • Dan Fogelberg died
  • I got the hots for Kate Beckinsale
That's just a brief peek. One of the best things to happen this year was meeting some new friends here in bloggerville that have touched my life in such wonderful ways. I look forward to sharing 2008 and beyond with all of you.
The year in books and the year in movies are still to come.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

(**Sniffing Sounds**) Is that Gas I Smell?

I went up to bed last night and there was a strong smell of gas in the bedroom. Desiring to awaken in the morning, I set out for a deeper understanding of the problem. I paraded about the house from the basement up to the attic and the only place where that smell existed was the bedroom.

Baffled, and still desiring to awaken come morning, I placed a call to the local fire department and discussed my concerns at which point the dispatcher ensured me that they would send someone right over. At this point I was relieved knowing someone would be over soon since I live just a few block from the firehouse and this someone would have the skill set necessary to determine if my goal of awakening would be possible if I chose to sleep in said gaseous room.

In the meantime, I scoured about the room looking for a possible feline "incident" or considering the possibility of a trapped dead animal in the duct work; then came the surprise. I really expected the "official" looking firehouse employee in the snazzy firehouse SUV, low profile and all. I look out the window and there is a full blown fire truck, lights and all along with the SUV guy and two firepeople in full uniform with masks and gear in tow ready for anything. Oh, did I mention that it's now midnight? This is the good part about not really knowing the neighbors all that well because inevitably, they are wondering what the hell is going on and now, they just need to fabricate their own version of the scenario.

Anyway, they firefolk ensured me that all was safe yet offered no explanation for the scent, which had diminished greatly by the time they had been there. As I write this some 22 hours later, there is no longer any trace of the scent...HMMMMMM!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How the Hell Did I Miss That One?

How is it that I didn't realize until last evening just how freakin' hot Kate Beckinsale is? I (finally) saw the movie Click and holy Lord or Lords, that is one fantastical woman.

There's an odd phenomena going on with my most recent podcast. I broke the podcast up into three short segments and clearly labeled them as part 1 of 3, 2 of 3, and 3 of 3. As of this writing, parts 1 and 2 have been downloaded 7 times but part 3 has been downloaded 13 14 15 16 times - I find this wildly interesting for some reason.

I offered up a fundraising project for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization and the great work they do related to breast cancer, I am awaiting a reply on their part.

I am at the tail end of the Eric Clapton autobiography, a gem thus far. See review shortly on the book blog.

Three of the more than 60 Christmas/Holiday cards I mailed out were returned as a result of no forwarding addresses - where the fuck are you Paul Albinder, Lisa Diamond, and Lisa Cacace? It's me, your friend Chris. I know we haven't seen each other in years, but the annual Christmas/Holiday card was a nice way of staying in touch. I hope we touch base again sometime.

I just put Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo in the DVD player 'cause that's just how I am rolling for the moment so until later...XXX OOO.

UPDATE - Deuce Bigelow European Gigolo absolutely sucked!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas, Baby



May the true spirit of the season bring hope and promise to you and yours.

UPDATE:
I thought that I would tack on this silly, yet whimsical little email that's perhaps funnier to those who grew up Roman Catholic, but hey, the space is free so here goes, enjoy if you can.

SIPPING VODKA
A new priest at his first mass was so nervous he could hardly speak. After mass he asked the monsignor how he had done. The monsignor replied, "When I am worried about getting nervous on the pulpit, I put a glass of vodka next to the water glass. If I start to get nervous, I take a sip." So next Sunday he took the monsignor's advice. At the beginning of the sermon, he got nervous and took a drink. He proceeded to talk up a storm. Upon his return to his office after the mass, he found the following note on the door:

  1. Sip the vodka, don't gulp.
  2. There are 10 commandments, not 12.
  3. There are 12 disciples, not 10.
  4. Jesus was consecrated, not constipated.
  5. Jacob wagered his donkey, he did not bet his ass.
  6. We do not refer to Jesus Christ as the late J.C.
  7. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not referred to as Daddy, Junior and the spook.
  8. David slew Goliath; he did not kick the shit out of him.
  9. When David was hit by a rock and was knocked off his donkey, don't say he was stoned off his ass.
  10. We do not refer to the cross as the "Big T."
  11. When Jesus broke the bread at the last supper he said, "Take this and eat it for it is my body." He did not say "Eat me".
  12. The Virgin Mary is not called "Mary with the Cherry".
  13. The recommended grace before a meal is not: Rub-A-Dub-Dub thanks for the grub, Yeah God.
  14. Next Sunday there will be a taffy pulling contest at St. Peter's not a peter pulling contest at St. Taffy's.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Talk to Me Baby

In case you weren't looking carefully enough, I've added a new little app to my sidebar on the right, just beneath the old photo of me and my profile link. If you click the play button, you'll hear a very brief message from me then you can go ahead and click the "RECORD BY PHONE" button and leave me a message via a phone call which we all can enjoy at the press of the play button. Fun - Yes?

The ever funny Ben Stein has a terrific commentary on his website (actually written in 2005 but still topical and relevant). My friend Joe sent it to me in an email and I'd like to share it here:
Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart:

I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important? I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is, either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. Is this what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.

Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?

I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Podcast: Riding Home on Final Night

I've vented quite a bit about the class I taught on Thursday evenings this fall semester and while driving home last night after it was all over, I clipped on a microphone, turned on the digital recorder, and just spoke off the cuff. The result is approximately 12 minutes long which I broke up into three separate parts.

I did this purely for me. I really needed to take a deep breath and get some sense of closure and this worked for me. Some of you may night find this at all interesting, perhaps some of you will. Either way, it's there for you if you choose to listen, and there for me having been there.

One quick note, the sound quality isn't top of the line but certainly passable.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm Not Me

Before I even get started, let me just say how friggin' disappointed I was to learn of 16 year old Jamie Lynn Spears pregnancy. Even more odd, the mother Spears is having a book published - know what the subject is? Parenting...ouch!

For the past few days I have been in a super funk. Can't seem to get enough sleep, thoughts are scattered and unfocused...can't seem to get my shit together.

Looking forward to the last day of my current class. I laid the law down - if someones cell phone rings or someone shows up 15 minutes and 1 second late, they can expect a big fat goose egg for the final exam. It's time this group learns about respect. I had to lay the law down when it came time for final exam exemptions - I know far more people felt they deserved one but it isn't something that should go around so lightly. I really put my foot down with the qualifiers: a "B" or better in each of the 6 major units covered, no more than 1 absence, lateness, or leave early, and at least one logon to the class web site on 75 of the 101 days from 9/6 through 12/16. It's about respect and academic achievement, no free rides here.

My friggin' brain really hurts, bad. Later for now. I am however looking forward to the winter edition of our friends reunion featuring karaoke and libations at Chez DeCoursey. Hugs and kisses to the DeCoursey's.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Miss Elaine E Too

Rest in Peace to singer Dan Fogelberg who lost a battle with prostate cancer at the age of 56. My favorite of his lyrics is a song called "Believe in Me". Here they are:

If I could ever say it right and reach your hostage heart
Despite the doubts you harbor then you might come to believe in me
The life I lead is not the kind that gives a woman peace of mind
I only hope someday you'll find that you can believe in me
Those other loves that came before mean nothing to me anymore
But you can never be quite sure and will not believe in me

(Chorus) Too many hearts have been broken failing to trust what they feel
But trust isn't something that's spoken
And love's never wrong when it's real

If I could only do one thing
Then I would try to write and sing a song
That ends your questioning and makes you believe in me

(Chorus)


And makes you believe in me Oh, you can believe in me
**********
My friggin' Yankees made what I consider to be a huge mistake by signing Mariano Rivera to a 3 year $45 million contract. I hate that fucker!
**********
I am so looking forward to Thursday night as that is the night where the agony that is my current class, easily the most dreadful of my career, ends.
**********
I walked into some major prankage this morning as someone toilet papered my office space. While my initial reaction was to laugh because I like a good prank, the current climate in our workplace is such that it could not be more inappropriate. Here are some photos:





**********
I recently discovered the end-all cure for Insomnia - in a word, ballet.
***********
It's been said that discretion is the better part of valor. What are the other parts?
'Nuff said for now...I am thinking about you.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

To Serve Man

It's the title of one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes. It is also what a group of us did at work last Tuesday. At the end of each semester, the office of student development puts together a breakfast and they as well as volunteer staff serve breakfast to students. Here are a few pix from this semester's breakfast just this past week:




Friday, December 14, 2007

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

While it isn't animated, it is entertaining. What do you get when you cross Egan in Egan with a Dancing Airam Elf?

Why, this:

Much love!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

BookMeme as snatched from Joy

I saw this book meme at Joys and while I wasn't officially "tagged", I am gonna go for it anyway cause its fun.

Instructions:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fourth sentence.
  4. Post the next three sentences along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.
  6. State the book title and author.

So, here's mine:
"This side of her life, the aristocratic social part, was something I never wanted to get involved in. I didn’t get it and I didn’t enjoy it. I’d go up to stay at the house, and the whole place would be full of people who just seemed to sit around all day smoking dope."

From Clapton: The Autobiography by Eric Clapton

This past week, people have been tossing books they’ve read my way and this was one of them. I haven’t started it yet but her brief review was something to the effect that it is far more interesting early on but once he got sober, it started to get a little harder to read. I’ll let ya know on the book blog once I’ve read it.

And now, I wish to official tag the following fine readers of books: Airam, Sprizee, Brookem, Armalicious (you can leave yours in the comments since you don't current have a blog), and anyone else who wishes to join in.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Elfin' it Up with My Buddy E-Fo

My pal felt left out on the w00t post so I thought I would honour him by joining him on the dance floor in some kickin' duds.

Thanks to Airam, Amanda, & Brookem for this one

I saw this on the 10:00 news last night and today it's an Associated Press newswire feature story:

Merriam-Webster's word of '07: 'w00t'
By STEPHANIE REITZ, Associated Press WriterTue Dec 11, 5:55 PM ET


Expect cheers among hardcore online game enthusiasts when they learn Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year. Or, more accurately, expect them to "w00t."
"W00t," a hybrid of letters and numbers used by gamers as an exclamation of happiness or triumph, topped all other terms in the Springfield-based dictionary publisher's online poll for the word that best sums up 2007.
Merriam-Webster's president, John Morse, said "w00t" was an ideal choice because it blends whimsy and new technology.
"It shows a really interesting thing that's going on in language. It's a term that's arrived only because we're now communicating electronically with each other," Morse said.
Gamers commonly substitute numbers and symbols for the letters they resemble, Morse says, creating what they call "l33t speak" — that's "leet" when spoken, short for "elite" to the rest of the world.
For technophobes, the word also is familiar from the 1990 movie "Pretty Woman," in which Julia Roberts startles her date's upper-crust friends with a hearty "Woot, woot, woot!" at a polo match.
Purists of "l33t speak" often substitute a "7" for the final "t," expressing a "w007" of victory — an "in your face" of sorts — when they defeat an online gaming opponent.
"W00t" was among 20 nominees in a list of the most-searched words in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary and most frequently submitted terms from users of its "open dictionary."
The choice did not make Allan Metcalf, executive secretary of the American Dialect Society, say "w00t."
"It's amusing, but it's limited to a small community and unlikely to spread and unlikely to last," said Metcalf, an English professor at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill.
The 2006 pick, "truthiness," also has its roots in pop culture. It was popularized by Comedy Central satirical political commentator Stephen Colbert.
Some also-rans in the 2007 list: the use of "facebook" as a verb to signify using the Web site by that name; nuanced terms such as "quixotic," "hypocrite" and "conundrum"; and "blamestorm," a meeting in which mistakes are aired, fingers are pointed and much discomfort is had by all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Accidental Shmaccidental

From Associated Press, "The death last month of Kevin Dubrow, lead singer for the 1980s heavy metal band Quiet Riot, has been ruled an accidental cocaine overdose." I wish not to disrespect the dead or his family, but that term make no sense to me whatsoever.

First off, Cocaine isn't a prescription drug, there is no correct "dosage". Any amount of cocaine is an overdose.

Second, technically, isn't any overdose accidental? An intentional overdose would be suicide, wouldn't it?

I think part of the problem is that we need to nice every damn thing up. We are too afraid to confront the ugliness of certain situations and as a result, society begins to believe that the worst isn't as ugly as it is.

Monday, December 10, 2007

1955

My parents were married on this date in 1955. While both have long since passed, not a day has gone by that they haven't been in my thoughts. I believe that they are together still.

I was reading the "magazine" section of this past Sunday's newspaper and came across an article that was entertaining to read because it was so well written, but partly the reason why this particular holiday season is something of a downer (thanks to years of retail work). Oh, the article...here it is:

It's the Receipt That Counts
It's almost blasphemous to buy a present nowadays and not include a gift receipt. When did all of us gift givers become glorified ATMs?
By Beth Teitell November 25, 2007

I was handing a friend a present recently, a nice one, with a card and everything, when I heard an apology coming out of my mouth. "There's no gift receipt. I'm sorry." My friend was gracious, but I knew I'd been rude. After all, who saddles someone with a present these days that can't be easily liquefied? Not most of us. Last year, 57 percent of consumers enclosed receipts, up from 49 percent in 2005, according to the National Retail Federation. It's still the thought that counts, but sadly, in 2007, the way to express that thought is not by adding a hint of your own personality or hunting down a unique item, but by ensuring the recipient gets full value at the returns desk.

Can an intervention be performed on a national level? I sure hope so, because every year around this time, Americans spend weeks schlepping around searching for merchandise to give to other people to schlep around and return. (Is there a shadowy schlepping lobby we should investigate?) Someone stop us, please. The Washington, D.C.-based retail federation says that one-third of consumers return one or more gifts, which means that if you glimpsed the action on mall security tapes, it would be like watching a movie forward and then backward. Sweaters, CDs, and small appliances would fly off the shelves, then magically reappear.

Even if you're lucky enough to give a gift that sticks, it probably won't be fully appreciated. That sounds pessimistic, but a number of studies have confirmed a depressing phenomenon called the "dead-weight loss of Christmas." That's the term economists use to describe the difference between what I spend on a gift for you ($100, say) and the value you put on it (about $82 - ingrate). In his work on the subject, University of Pennsylvania economist Joel Waldfogel has written, "People get about 18 percent more satisfaction, per dollar spent, on things they buy for themselves than on things they receive as gifts." That doesn't count sentimental value, but in an age in which many gifts that aren't returned are routinely re-gifted or sold on eBay, meaning doesn't count for much.

As if another red flag were needed, a new federation study found that gift cards - a less crass, less convenient version of cash - are the most desired gift this year. Why don't we just start cutting one another checks and skip the middlemen? Since Waldfogel had so clearly described the problem, I asked him for a solution. He suggested making a charitable donation in the intended recipient's name. That's nice in concept, but given how tyrannical recipients have become, I can already see how things will go. You write a generous check to a worthy cause on your friend's behalf, and next thing you know, he's insisting that he get the tax deduction, too.

With two shopping days behind us, and The Holidays gathering strength like a tropical storm whipping into a killer hurricane, is there a better way? Maybe the solution isn't anything fancy. How about simply giving people what they really want - a link from your blog to theirs? Or, how about spending time with "loved" ones instead of giving them gifts? I like this idea, but if you mention it to people, you get push-back: They want to buy their way out of togetherness.

All this negativity was making me nostalgic for the good old days, whenever those were, so I called Stephen Nissenbaum, author of The Battle for Christmas. He read me a few lines from a short story called "Christmas; or, The Good Fairy," in which the main character laments the state of the holidays. "There are worlds of money wasted, at this time of year, in getting things that nobody wants, and nobody cares for after they are got." Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote that, back in 1850.

So it's hardly a new problem. Until we get it figured out (there's always the next century), maybe the best thing we can do as gift givers is merely set the expectations low: Just be glad we're not - yet - complete doormats, required not only to spend, wrap, and mail, but also to write thank you notes to ourselves, too.

Beth Teitell, a Boston-based writer, contributes regularly to the Globe Magazine. E-mail her at bteitell@gmail.com

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Podcast: Little Bit of News and Some Music


Got 8 minutes? Enjoy a brief Martina jam, a news story from the Reuters news wire, and the third segement of "The Music of My Years" covering 1977 through 1983.

Of course, you can also listen right here on this page:

Friday, December 07, 2007

Beware, The Bookworm

Earlier I commented on Erin's blog and realized how much I love the story I told there and couldn't remember if I had ever shared it here. I did a search on the blog and couldn't find it so I am gonna tell it and if by chance I have told it and the search engine was wrong, I hope if you are hearing it again that you enjoy it again.
* * * * * * * * * *
My friend Mike and I used to go on these marathon shopping trips mall hopping through New York City. One time, my car had two large boxes filled with books that I had intended to donate to the library. However, during this one marathon shopping trip upon returning to the car, our bounty had required far more space than currently available (because of said books) and so we decided to place one book on each car in the lot until we were out of books. Afterward, we just sat in the car for a short while and watched as people would return to their car, see the book and start looking all around. What was really fun, funny, and cool is that an informal book swap began to occur - people would go to other cars and "trade" for a book they preferred. It was wild. As we drove out of the pay lot, I gave my money to the attendant and looked at him straight in the eye and said, "Beware - The Bookworm!" then drove off into the chilly night.

I don't think I'll ever forget that.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Birthday Song

Today is my birthday. 43. Thanks.

I'm way past the point of giving a crap about my birthday though I am utterly grateful to keep having them. Have you ever had a car that was getting up there and every so often it needs a bit more than an oil change and a tune up. While I didn't utterly abuse my body with chemicals, I was something of a wreckless daredevil and have broken and dislocated a few things which as the years pass, squeak a lilttle more.

The one thing that has definitely improved with age is my heart and my soul. I pay far more attention to them now. I'm affected by things and I care, at least most of the time. In the last few years, you my readers and blog buddies have become a part of my heart and soul. Thank you for sharing this journey with me and I look forward to what is yet to come.

And now for the creepiest yet most interesting birthday sond I could find - enjoy The Necrophiliac Creatures of Evil and "Birthday Song".

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Brains Not Necessary


Getting it off my chest section:

  • It would shock and alarm you to know how many college age students either do not understand what it means to write something "in your own words" and/or are incapable of doing so.
  • From where I sit most of my day, the line between naivety and stupidity is far blurrier that it should be.
And now for some hopefully whimsical commentary regarding DUMB LAWS that still exist in the state of Massachusetts (where I currently reside):

  • "At a wake, mourners may eat no more than three sandwiches." Why not, the dead dude isn't gonna eat them and it would be ashamed for the good food to go to waste.
  • "Snoring is prohibited unless all bedroom windows are closed and securely locked." Arrest me now. I can only assume this is "public nuisance" issue but if your snoring is so loud that you are disturbing the public, or anyone other than those in the room in which you are snoring, you have a far greater problem than the fact that youa re disturbing the public with your snoring.
  • "Taxi drivers are prohibited from making love in the front seat of their taxi during their shifts." Crap, I was really looking forward to banging Rajheev this afternoon smack dab in the middle of his shift.
  • "All men must carry a rifle to church on Sunday." Fortunately, I comply with this one so I can't get into trouble but heck, show a little mercy, not everyone can be cool and tote a rifle.
  • "Hunting on Sundays is prohibited." I bet you're now wondering what the heck that rifle is for now, aren't you?
  • I'll close with one that's on the books in the state of Washington for the benefit of my peeps up there: "It is illegal to entice girls away from the Maple Lane School for girls." I am assuming that means that all others are open game.

Funny, after I read some of these laws that are still on the books, it's not so unreasonable to think that there are people who were mentally disturbed enough to vote George Bush to a second term and even how someone as brainless as him could even be president. Very sad indeed.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I Wanna Be Sedated

I really do. Just for a while.



I am off the the theatre tonight. In particular, the Colonial Theatre in Boston to see Mamma-Mia!

I was very happy to touch base with an old colleague, friend, and a very talented writer and teacher. Her blog is now on the "Blogs I Frequent" list, check it out when you have a chance.

Dig the music player above? I found it online recently and am testing it out here with a nifty little diddy, a timeless classic if you will, from my youth.

Yesterday was my dear friend Jenn's birthday and she celebrated by playing a gig in her new home of Los Angeles. Today is Jill's birthday who moved to Portland, Maine recently. Jill turned me on to this world of blogging for which I am forever grateful. I'm thinking about ya Jill and hope you have a terrific birthday and a great year.

UPDATE:
I just noticed that this post reads Saturday, December 1st when in fact it was posted on Sunday, December 2nd. Peculiar. Nevertheless, Mamma Mia was terrific. For the record, I am typing this as 12:29am on Monday, December 3rd.