Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Getup

My mom is in town for a few days, and we went downtown this afternoon to have lunch.  We crawled back home on the freeway due to bumper-to-bumper traffic so decided to exit the freeway in Burbank to kill some time while the traffic subsided.  Burbank has a couple of fairly nice shopping areas including a Macy's.  Armed with coupons we went in looking at handbags.  I've been eyeing one in particular for a few months now, but being rather pricey I hadn't taken the plunge.  Mom's coupons would help, so I planned to visit the bag again and decide once and for all to spend the money or not.
After all the sitting in traffic, we had to make a pitstop to the restroom before shopping.  The Macy's restrooms, or lounges as they call them, are usually quite nice, but this one was kind of cruddy.  Overall, aesthetically it was old and worn, not what you would expect from a Macy's.  I'm not usually a restroom snob because when you've got to use one, it's hard to be all that picky.  However, there was something about this getup that had me wondering.
It would seem to me if a store is asking me to pay high prices on a handbag, they can afford to hang their toilet paper on something other than plastic bags.  I thought it might be a one-off in the stall I was in, but my mom and another lady both commented on their getup too.  This seems very un-Macy's like, however it gave me a good laugh.
And yes, I did get the bag.
 It smells so good!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Well, It's About That Time

Today was the first day back in the classroom after a long, relaxing summer (that still went entirely too fast).  The kids start back on Thursday, so the hope is to finish getting the room ready tomorrow and Wednesday.  Maybe it's the 17 year itch, but I'm having a really hard time motivating and getting excited about it.  I know once Thursday comes around and the kids arrive I'll be back in the groove pretty quickly.  And as much as I hate to admit it, back into a routine as well.  Other than the getting up early routine.  I don't like that one very much.
Just some funnies to get you in the back-to-school mood right along with me. :)
This video makes me laugh out loud every time.  It's so true! Other than the starting in September part.
There have been A LOT of those lately...taking all the fun out of learning.

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Comedy Book

Back in April, I attended the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.  This event might be my most favorite event of the year.  It is always such a fun day -  speakers, curious topics, and great literature.  For a reader, it's like a book carnival.  Plus, it makes me feel smart to be there.
Each year, we attend 5-6 sessions on various topics but always make sure at least one of them includes comedy writers.  This year was no exception as we went to a session called "Make 'Em Laugh: A Look at Comedy from All Sides".  The speakers were Jon Macks (author and television writer most known for "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" as well as numerous entertainment award shows), Kliph Nesteroff (author/stand up comedian), and Kenneth Turan (author/USC Writing Professor/LA Times' film critic).  It was a well-rounded, funny, and so very interesting panel.  Their stories about all aspects of comedy had us engaged and rolling with laughter.  I was especially taken with Nesteroff's stories.  He is known as the "King of Comedy Lore" so his accounts of famous comedians that we all know and love were fascinating, and I made note to check out his book once summer arrived.
I downloaded The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy back in June and JUST finished it last week.  In my defense, I was reading a book book simultaneously which split my reading time in two.  Anyhow, while this book is not my usual genre of choice, I did really enjoy it.  Even though it was only 432 pages, it was a slow read as non-fiction often is.  It wasn't slow because it was uninteresting, but rather due to all the names and facts.  This book basically told the history of comedy in the 20th century - from Vaudeville in the 1920s to the effects of the 9/11 attacks on the direction of comedy in America.  It was told in chronological anecdotes which were amusing.  While most of the comedians included are well-known "greats" (The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Jack Benny, George Burns, Johnny Carson, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin,  Dave Letterman, etc), lesser known comics were given equal time.  I was fascinated by the connection between comedy/comedy clubs and the Mob which was the case for several decades.  Closing the book with the change in comedy after the NYC and Washington DC terrorist attacks, which is coming up on 15 years ago, many of the comedians mentioned as up-and-coming comedy writers (Louis C.K., Jon Stewart, Judd Apatow, Stephen Colbert to name a few) are now in the spotlight as great comedians.  Of course the author would have known that as the book is rather recent, but I did like that connection.
 There is only one criticism I have.  While I understand that women in comedy were rare for quite a few decades, I do wish more detail was included about women comedians.  Women were written about in the book, but after reading, I wanted there to be more than just a mention here and there.  This issue didn't detract from the book by any means, and I would still recommend it.

These are some of the quotes I noted that were either poignant or just made me chuckle...

"Lenny Bruce joked that Chicago was the only city where death certificates listed a cause of death as 'He wouldn't listen'." (referring to the Mob)

"(Vaughn) Meader was hired to play JFK, but most record labels turned the idea down.  They felt it was out of bounds to ridicule the president." (Times have changed!)

"(Lenny) Bruce was busted at Doug Weston's Troubadour on his return to Los Angeles.  The crime was titillating Yiddish.  The offending words noted in the police report were 'fressing, schmuck, putz, schtup, and tuchas.'  Bruce was busted so often that comedian Herkie Styles started traveling to his gigs as an emergency understudy." (Even in 1966 comedians were arrested for inappropriateness.)

"Back in the old days it was run by the Mafia and run quite efficiently.  You could see the greatest entertainment in the world at low cost.  Now that the town is run by businessmen, the prices are outrageous.  Every department must show a profit.  In the old days, the Mafia let the casino carry the whole operation." (About Las Vegas)

Some of the most famous comedy clubs in Los Angeles did not pay their comedians, feeling that the exposure was enough.  In the 70s, the comedians decided to form a union...
"Comedians knew they needed a united front in order to get paid.  The Comedy Store was targeted rather than the Improv, as it was the most profitable.  Meetings were hosted in the homes of Elayne Booster and Jimmie Walker, but it was tough to get the comedians to engage in serious discussion.  'Jay (Leno), bless his heart, couldn't sit still,' said David Letterman. 'He was behaving like a hyperactive child.  Jumping up and down, being funny and distracting to the point where everybody sort of thought, well maybe we shouldn't tell Jay about the next meeting'."
"'Jay Leno was a loose cannon', says (Tom) Dreesen.  'I'd say Jay, Jay, Jay!'  Gallagher was yelling, 'We'll burn the fucking place down!'  They were all in disarray.  I began to take charge of the meetings so they could get something done...It was hysterical - comedians at a union meeting.  People were in the bathroom doing cocaine."  (That visual made me laugh out loud).

Friday, July 22, 2016

This is What Living on the Sun Looks Like

It was 113 today.  I haven't been outside all day, but when I opened the door to let the dog out, this was my view.
This is our second big fire in two weeks.  The first was on the other side of town.  About 700 people were evacuated, but luckily no structures were damaged.  So far, about 100 people have been evacuated in this current fire.  It was moving away from structures out towards the Angeles National Forest, but the dry winds are making it unpredictable.
It looks like a bomb has gone off nearby.  It's not a concern for where I live, but it's still quite ominous.  Fire season is upon us and it's only July!
UPDATE: Now that the sun is down, the flames are visible and it's now even more ominous.  It's still too far away to be a problem and to get any kind of shot with the camera.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday 9

Summer Break has made me lazy in a lot of things, including blogging.  A Saturday 9 will have to do, for now.  This week's song is Hall & Oates' Sara Smiles.  It's such a 70's song, isn't it?  I grew up with Hall & Oates in the 80s, so prefer this and this.  :)
1) This was Hall & Oates' first #1 hit. Can you name another of their popular songs?  Um, ya, Private Eyes, I Can't Go For That, She's Gone, You Make My Dreams Come True, Method of Modern Love, Out of Touch, I Can't Go For That.  They had a lot of songs, didn't they?
2) Darryl Hall and Sara Allen were a couple for 30 years, and he wrote this at the beginning of their long relationship. That makes this a very public love letter. Are you good at writing love letters? Would you rather tell the person how you feel, face to face? Or do you let your actions speak louder than your words?  It's been a long time since I've written any kind of letter, but I could do a love email or text.  
3) In the song, Darryl and Sara are waiting for the sunrise. Did you see the sunrise this morning? Or did you sleep in?  I did not.  Being on summer break, I barely see morning at all with all the sleeping in I'm doing.  
4) Both Hall & Oates hail from the Philadelphia area. Hall is a native of suburban Pottstown, which was a stop on the Reading/Philadelphia rail line made famous in Monopoly. Do you like playing board games?  Yes, I like board games and card games.  I like games that you can socialize whilst playing.  
5) John Oates grew up a few miles away from Pottstown in North Wales. Decades ago, North Wales' biggest employer was a cigar factory. Do you like the smell of a cigar?  Cigars aren't as bad as cigarettes, but I'm still not a fan.  Back in my bartending days, I had some regular customers who came to drink after their weekly men's league soccer game.  It was back in the olden days and on the East Coast where smoking inside was still allowed.  They once asked if I minded if they smoked cigars when they came to drink.  Thinking my tips would increase the longer they stayed and smoked, I told them it wasn't a problem.  Boy, what a big mistake.  It wasn't so much their smell, but cigars are a mess.  Yuck!  I'm not so sure the clean up was worth the extra tips.  
6) Daryl Hall now hosts a music show, "Live from Daryl's House", that you catch free online.  Do you typically watch shows from your computer, iPad, phone, or TV set?  I don't usually watch stuff on devices unless I'm traveling.  I prefer to watch on the TV where the picture is larger and better quality.  Plus, that frees up the device(s) to play on since I'm not very good at just sitting and watching TV.
7)  Hall & Oates are currently on tour.  Are you seeing/have you seen a concert this summer?  YES!  Sting and Peter Gabriel are coming to the Hollywood Bowl this next week.  I'm going to see them on Monday.  Funnily enough, I think I saw the Hall & Oates tickets on Goldstar recently.
8) Daryl and John have been friends for 50 years, even living together at the beginning of their careers when money was tight. Another successful duo of the rock era, Simon & Garfunkel, also met as teens but they forever seem to be feuding. What do you think makes for a lasting friendship/partnership?  A friendship that is fairly effortless and equal seems to last longer.  When thinking about my own relationships through the years, the ones that are still strong have those qualities.  The ones that have been one-sided or hard are the ones I tend to let go.  They make me tired.
9) Random question:  Are you quick to try new things?  It depends on the new thing.  Chances are I'll overthink it, but sometimes I can easily jump right in.
Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A (Fruit) Salad

Summer fruit is getting into full swing here.  I'm still waiting for the stone fruit to be GOOD, but everything else is looking fresher and local, finally.  I had a small brunch this past weekend and wanted to serve some fruit with the light (cool) meal I was serving.  While I love fruit, it's always difficult for me to serve it.  Fruit doesn't last very long once cut into serving portions.  I'm the kind of hostess that likes to have as much as possible prepared before guests arrive, because once they do I lose focus and the cooking gets out of hand.  Whenever contemplating fruit as part of the meal, it ends up getting nixed due to the last minute prep.  It had been so hot here, and I did not want to turn on that oven, so I researched make ahead fruit ideas.  So many of the recipes had melons of some kind as part of most of the dish as they are easy to cut and store for a time.  Other than watermelon (which is too watery to cut ahead of time), I don't personally like melons like cantaloupe or honey dew, so those were off the table.
I stumbled upon this recipe and it looked delicious, plus most of it could be made or prepared the night before.  The strawberries and blueberries were rinsed in vinegar which supposedly kills bacteria that makes them go bad so quickly and stored in the fridge for the day.  The rest of the fruit was washed or peeled the night before the brunch.  I added it all to the bowl and wrapped it in saran before going to bed.  I didn't cut the grapes in half as I worried about about their juices making things too wet.
 All I had left to do the next morning was to core and cut the apple and banana.  Normally this couldn't be done until right before eating as the apple and banana start to go brown so quickly. But the "magic" dressing took care of that problem.
 The dressing is made from the juice of one orange and one lemon, some honey, and poppy seeds.  It's a very light mixture.
 So mixing the fruit up with the dressing an hour or two before guests arrived worked out perfect.  It coated the fruit keeping it from browning and the taste was so mild, not interfering with the fruit flavors.  I didn't use all of the dressing to keep if from pooling in the bottom of the bowl - just enough to see it glaze all of the fruit.
Having similarly prepped the Chinese Chicken Salad and the bread before everyone arrived, the only thing I had to do was pull the dishes out of the fridge, add the dressing to the salad, and serve.  I will definitely make this fruit salad again. It would even be great as take-to salad.  Before leaving for a party it can be made and mixed.  It would last a few hours before serving and there's no melon in it at all!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bags and Bags of Hair

For the last 20 years I have owned dogs (2) with white fur that sheds all year long.  I'm not sure why I didn't learn my lesson with the first one, but I didn't and now have a second one that sheds more than any dog I've ever had, ever.  I keep tape rollers in all the rooms of the house and friends who come over regularly usually bring some sort of sweater/sweatshirt to wear in order to play with my lovable dog and then, afterwards, remove it and be reasonably hair free.  With the new floors throughout the house, Rigby's fur has been the bane of my existence.  White clumps of it just appear out of nowhere ALL DAY LONG.  I adore my new floors, but at times I feel like I'm tethered to that vacuum and dust mop.
It is said that brushing dogs who shed helps with constant shedding, but it's not something I've ever done regularly with my lack of time when working.  Now that summer break is here and I don't have any major plans or responsibilities, I decided I would solve this shedding all over my floors problem once and for all.  I dug out my FURminator, a comb/brush gadget this is supposed to make brushing easier (I'm not entirely convinced), intent on making dog brushing part of my daily routine this summer.  We are 19 days into summer break today (including weekends), and I've brushed her 11 of those days.  As expected, the first two days of brushing were very very hairy.  Being part Queensland and part Shepherd Rigby has a thick undercoat that is soft and fine while the top coat is more hair-like, thick and wiry.  About three days in, it seemed as if I was making progress with the undercoat, and it didn't seem so thick.  But she is still shedding.  In 11 days I have filled 11 plastic grocery bags with dog hair, enough dog hair that would make it seem there was no hair actually left on the dog, but there is.  I don't know how Rigby is not bald at that point!
While hair is still winding up on my new floors, it HAS lessened quite a bit.  I'm only feeling the need to vacuum or dry mop about once a day now.  And with our 100+ degree weather over the last two weeks, I'm sure Rigby is feeling cooler with those bags of hair in the trash instead of on her body.  But I do wonder if she will ever stop shedding completely.