Sunday, February 22, 2015

And the Award Goes To....

It's Oscar-time, Sweeties, and I can't think of anything more glamorous or self-congratulatory, can you?

Come on.  How many other professions take an entire season, culminated in a 15-hour televised broadcast, in order to pat themselves on the back? Think about it.  There are no trophies for Best Supporting Nurse.  No one gets a Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Bathtub Scrubbing.  And Best Score by Your Cranky Band Director?  Not going to happen.  But just suppose....

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the 45th Annual Proctologists Awards!  Tonight, we honor Dr. Harvey Finkelstein for his gripping work in How Did That Get in There?

It's all just so silly, but be that as it may, I'd like to offer my (not so) much researched insights as to who should win.  Have I seen every movie nominated?  No; in fact, I've only seen one of them, but that certainly won't keep me from chiming in.  Do I want to see every movie nominated?  No.  Do I care anymore what anyone is wearing now that I no longer have Joan Rivers and her fabulous running commentary? Absolutely not. Nonetheless, here it goes:

American Sniper - Clint Eastwood is a brilliant filmmaker, but I probably won't see this.  It has absolutely nothing to do with politics and everything to do with 'too much realness'.  When I plop down in front of a screen with a tray full of snacks, the last thing I want is reality, which is highly overrated.

Birdman -  I watched it last night (better late than never, right?).  Good. Interesting.  Creative.   Was it the best movie I've ever seen?  No, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, and I've adored Michael Keaton ever since Night Shift  and he will remain the only Batman I shall ever want or need, so I'm hopeful he'll get a nod in the Best Actor category - his performance, just like everything else he's ever done, was stellar.  Same goes for his co-star, Edward Norton.  Two fine actors who deserve all the success and recognition they can get.

Boyhood - Twelve years in the life of a boy. Something tells me it might take twelve years for me just to get through it.

Grand Budapest Hotel - The title alone suggests I should check into a hotel and nap through this one.  Next.

Imitation Game - 'A group of English mathematicians'....and I'm done.

Selma - I have nothing but the utmost respect for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I will most likely see this at some point.  The one thing holding me back from doing so now:  Oprah.  I'm sorry.  Let's move on.

The Theory of Everything - I'm a bit resistant when it comes to biographical movies. I'd prefer to read a well-researched book about someone's life or hit up Wikipedia in a pinch.  If Stephen Hawking ever gets a cover story in Star Magazine, I'll gladly check it out.

Whiplash - A young musical prodigy and his tough-as-nails teacher.  I saw this in '80's.  It was called Fame.

In a nutshell, based on my own viewing experience and powerful process of elimination, Birdman should win them all. 

Now, let's talk about the ceremony itself.  It's too long, and there's always one yahoo who takes the stage, receives his trophy and then proclaims, 'This is a movie that had to be made."  Give me a break. We have diseases to eradicate and hungry children to feed, and your little 3 1/2 hour piece of warped propaganda gets the green light?  Pu-lease.

Today's Oscars ceremony also lacks the elegance of days gone by, when you could count on Bob Hope to keep it light, bright, and moving along.  You could count on the winners to keep their speeches brief and sincere.  Everyone dressed appropriately and behaved appropriately, too.

Perhaps our never-ceasing thirst for entertainment has contributed to the outlandishness of awards these days. Whatever. Good work is good work, whether you're an actor, a teacher, or a carpet salesmen.  It's nice to receive recognition, but it's not as nice as knowing deep down that at the end of the day, you did the best you could.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

That's Entertainment

Mesmerized by 'Old Hollywood', I simply can't get enough information about the stars of yesteryear. One recurring theme that runs throughout many of the books I've read centers on private parties, hosted by everyone from Bogie to Bing, Judy to Joan.  How glamorous it all seemed....

Think about it:  everyone shows up gussied up, and once the drinks and dinner have been served and somewhat digested, it's time for a little entertainment, usually provided by the guests.

I love that idea - exploiting people in the name of a good time.  

On the rare occasion that Mr. Newman and I host a 'do, I mention how fabulous it would be to insist that our guests perform something.  It could be a song, a dramatic reading, fire-juggling - heck, I don't care.  I'm easily entertained.  He entertains for a living, as do many of our friends, so they always put the kibosh on my big idea.  Pretty rotten, don't you think?  

I mean, come on - with the amount of talented people we know, we have all the makings of A SHOW.  Sadly, though, it will never come to pass. We'll continue to just stand around my living room like a bunch of a-holes eating cheese balls and sipping cheap wine.

I've even threatened family with 'performance pieces'.  Rather than gift-giving, why not give us a 'number'?  I think it's brilliant, and just imagine the money we'd all save.

Well, Sweeties, I made good on the threat yesterday, in honor of my sister's birthday.  
In two parts, because you simply can't contain this amount of talent into one video...
As I watch this, I now understand why my family and friends are hesitant about entertaining just for grins.  A Duran Duran tribute performed by a middle-aged woman, her cat, and her ukulele might look good on paper, but when the rubber hits the road, it falls short.  Way short....

But at least I tried, and knowing me, I'll try it again.  You have been warned.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dough for My Bread

It occurs every Saturday morning.

As I stand before my open fridge, tossing out non-eaten and soon-to-be expired perishables accumulated during the week, I can't help but calculate the money I'm literally throwing away. We've two humans and three cats living in this house, so it's not like I have to buy an exorbitant amount of groceries each week.  Nonetheless, my tendency to graze and Mr. Newman's tendency to do whatever the hell he wants food-wise results in a sad sack full of wilted vegetables and dodgy meats and cheeses.  It vexes me greatly, and the Mr. laughs at me, which vexes me even more.  Yet I never complain, until it's time to come up with a topic for my little scribblings.

Yes, I am frugal.  Yes, I realize others who are less fortunate would gladly come over and partake each week of the leftovers, but I don't want a bunch of strangers in my house, so I don't issue any invitations.  Frugal with money, frugal with generosity - that pretty much sums up my current existence.

I find, too, that the older I get, the more this frugality rears it's cheap ugly head.  I pride myself on never paying full price for clothing, books, and household items.  I readily admit to removing a beautiful plant stand a neighbor placed beside my dumpster because I needed one for the patio.  And sure, I'll even confess to hoarding pennies in an old Folgers coffee can in the event that our whole system shuts down due to the zombie apocalypse or total government mismanagement (which could very likely be one and the same).

I will not, however, dumpster dive. Taking something beside the dumpster is one thing; actually going into the dumpster is quite another.  I watched a documentary about people who get their groceries straight from the bin.  These people looked unhealthy.  And dirty.  And weird.  I'm weird enough - I don't need to egg it on even more.
I also refuse to buy in bulk.  I don't have the space to store five years worth of diapers.  I also don't have a baby.  This brings me to the extreme couponers:  if you're not going to use it, why purchase it?  I know a bald extreme couponer who has a hundred bottles of shampoo sitting atop a shelf in his garage.  His sole companion is a hairless cat.  'I had a coupon,' remains his only explanation for it.

I will, however, own the fact that I don't know everything (just most things):  the super-jumbo package of croissants Mr. Newman brought home the other day did not go to waste as I'd predicted. If I had a dime for every croissant I've thrown away recently, I'd have several dimes.  He assured me they would not wind up in the garbage, and just to make sure they wouldn't I ate the last one this morning.  Don't tell him.

I will also acknowledge that sometimes trash really is trash.  Unlike some people I know, I won't attempt to fashion bracelets out of toilet tissue cardboard nor will I wear a lampshade as a hat. 

I actually did wear a lampshade once in my early twenties, but it had nothing to do with frugality and everything to do with an outrageous party thrown by a friend of a friend.

Come to think of it, it really was a cute lampshade. It totally brought out my eyes.

But I digress....

In my opinion, waste is wrong.  Wasted food, wasted time, wasted talent, wasted youth - if we utilize the ingredients we already have, perhaps we'd all be a bit richer, and not necessarily in monetary terms.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Not-So-Brilliant Conversationalists

A colleague and I recently discussed how folks these days have little to actually talk about in person due to social media.  She didn't have to tell me about her Christmas, nor did I need to share about mine.  Thanks to Facebook, we knew the holiday score and in one regard it was fine - we could get down to business fairly quickly.  On the other hand, we missed the social element that once-upon-a-time prefaced 'getting down to work'.

I took that encounter to heart, and have tried to be super-mindful of what I throw out into the cosmos via the Internet.  I never felt the need to post the minutia of each moment, and I certainly never posted anything heavy or personal.  I've always tried to keep it light in the hopes that my reported deeds and misdeeds might make someone smile.

Social media is a wonderful tool for staying in touch with far-away family and friends.  It's also a great method to 'meet' and 'interact' with like-minded souls.  Too many of us misuse it, however;   when we're more concerned with impressing the masses rather than those living within our homes, then we've got a problem.  

We live in the age of Too Much Information, and I wonder if the overload has gone so far overboard that we can no longer discern fact from fiction.  

I also wonder how much of that TMI energy we're absorbing simply by default.  Got five minutes to spare?  Check Facebook.  Then log on to Twitter.  Then visit Instagram.  That five minutes turns into a good solid hour, and then where are you?  Behind in your work; behind in your being.  I know, for I've been guilty of it far too many times.

Off course,  we should take note of the fact that social MEdia sites are rife with narcissists, sociopaths, and your basic run-of-the-mill attention whores.  These folks have no interest in real connections.  They're more concerned with reaching a certain number of 'likes'.  One connection I had went so far as to create fake profiles for a cast of characters with whom he 'interacted' - everything from fake personal assistants to fake family members, which then led to fake enlightenment and fake excitement.  His desperate attempts at presenting himself as a raconteur fell flat rather quickly. The fewer responses he got, the more outlandish his posts became.

I ended up deleting him from my online world.  I 'd never met him in person, and couldn't quite recall how we connected in the first place. 

There is no shame in living a life that's real. And undocumented.

This leads us back to the original point:  have we lost the art of conversation?  Real conversation - the equal exchange of give-and-take.  Listening more while speaking less. I once clocked someone in at 43 minutes before he even asked, 'And how are you?'   It's probably my own fault; I've never been much of a talker and I'm terribly private.  Still, it's always nice to be asked.

If, like me, you're desirous of changing your social media habits, why not give the following a try:

1.  Logging on only once or twice a day; posting even less.

2. Deleting or blocking the narcissists and Debbie Downers (I conducted a 'blocking ceremony' a couple of days ago, and it certainly felt good).

3.  Post only the positive.  If it will make someone smile, laugh, or think, you're good to go.

4.  Share links to art, music, and the written word, not the latest horror from the news.

5.  Live honestly and simply, and relay your life as such. 

6.  If it's not someone you'd want to chat with over a glass of wine, don't connect with him online.

Just like everything else in life, finesse and balance in our social media habits are important. Our real and online interactions have the power to make or break someone's day.   Utilize your networks wisely, but more importantly, utilize your time with the person standing two feet away from you wisely, too.  Ask, listen, and reciprocate - quite easy, once we put it back into practice.