Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Sunday, December 31, 2006
Jumping the Gun
This photo is not meant to be a harbinger of Spring. It was taken at 1:00 PM on Sunday, December 31, 2006 on Mt. Royal Blvd., across from the Art Institute. I apologize for the poor quality - it was taken with my cell phone.
This crab apple tree clearly thinks that the dearth of seasonable temperatures means that spring is just around the corner. Sadly, these buds will freeze, and the tree will not produce fruit this summer as a result. Many other plants and trees will suffer similar fates this year.
Is this just a blip in the Almanac, or a sure sign that Global Warming is here to stay?
All I know is that I have never seen this happen before, and that worries me.
If that isn't the ultimate oxymoron. Just how do you make the extinguishing of a human life "tasteful"?
I'm not gonna get into the whole aspect of whether or not I think Saddam should or should not be executed in the first place, or whether or not it will further de-stabilize the region, or whether or not this was an inevitable outcome preordained with his capture three years ago, but "tasteful"?? Come on.
Besides, it's not like it won't be on YouTube in less than 60 seconds.
The bad news is that the little star break on my windshield is rapidly spider cracking and the windshield needs to be replaced.
The bad news is that I drive a BMW with lots of fancy features, many of which are embedded into the windshield and/or the rear view mirror (auto rain sensors, bluetooth, emergency response, polarized glass, etc.).
The bad news is that to have this replaced properly at the dealership with a warranty on making sure these features will continue to work - is $895.
The good news is that getting a new, normal, featureless windshield replaced costs about $350.
The bad news is that I have a $500 deductible.
The good news is that they will cover the additional $395.
The really good news is that once again, USAA Insurance and the people that they have working there, are the best examples of customer service in any industry I have ever used. Friendly, fast, efficient, helpful, and they always get it right. They explained everything thoroughly without patronizing me, told me exactly what I had to do to process the claim, called the dealership and authorized the repair. This is especially impressive when they sub-contract their glass claims through Safe Lite Auto Glass, and didn't bat an eye when I requested the dealer replacement for all the reasons I stated.
At the age of 93 (his birthday was Xmas Eve), he is perhaps the world's oldest blogger. And a good one at that! He's also a bit of a celebrity having been the Director of the Nova Scotia Museum for 25 years, and the host of a popular Canadian TV series.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Mr. Crowdis' blog, is that he doesn't own a computer! (Although he claims to be planning on buying two of them) After he takes all his pills at breakfast, he writes his posts in longhand and MAILS them to a relative's house, who enters them into the computer for him.
The blog is a lovely compilation of homor, wisdom, and snippets of history.
When I say to my first wife, "What should I write about?" she says, "Oh, about a page. Your clergyman father said that the congregation shuts off in less than 20 minutes." So I decided I would write about a page on what I should write about, since readers today are not only fewer but have shorter attention spans too.
His beloved wife, Margie ("I call her my first wife, so she doesn't get overly confident"), is currently in the hospital in a diabetic coma.
The plover is considered "exceptional," the best of three carvings used for the cover of the 1965 book American Bird Decoys. Appraisers called it "arguably the finest Crowell shorebird to come to auction."
Ummm...I'm sorry, but it's a piece of WOOD for cryin' out loud.
I managed to pick up a nasty case of Tennis Elbow in my right arm last week. I don't know how, especially since I am left handed, and I certainly don't play tennis, but my symptoms are exactly as described, it hurts like heck, it's pretty annoying, and not getting any better.
I had one of my docs check it out this morning, and Yep - Tennis Elbow allright. I also have a bit of cubital nerve compression which is causing tingling and shaking when I put any pressure on my arm. It's very painful to shift gears in the car, and lifting a glass or any motion that puts pressure on my forearm hurts like hell.
The cure? Not much. I got a cortisone shot, am taking Alleve, and using a heating pad in the evening. Time will tell......
UPDATE: The cortisone shot is working miracles, and I got yelled at for using the heating pad. Treating inflamation with heat is a no-no. So tonight, it's ice, ice baby!
For Christmas morning brunch, Mom makes homemade salmon gravlax which she starts curing four or five days ahead of time. Dad mixes everyone a stiff Bloody Mary, we break out the bagels and all the fixins, and have a schmear.
So......I'm back, after a much less harrowing drive. I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday weekend with your families and friends, or simply enjoyed the quiet peacefulness of a long weekend.
As with most families, we have pretty specific traditions for the Holidays. Those traditions have evolved over the years depending on age and circumstance, but for the last 15 years or so, one of them has been that we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve with a large family dinner, and open our gifts. This allows my siblings with in-laws and out-laws to open gifts at home with their kids and have dinner with their families on Christmas Day.
The other tradition has been that my Mom and I cook Christmas Eve dinner and I buy most /all of the ingredients as one of my gifts for the family. Most years we do an elaborate seafood dish, but this year, we did something a little different and very, very, elegant.
To make these individual Beef Wellingtons, you must start with very, very, nice fillet mignon....
Searing them quickly in some olive oil gives them a lovely crust, and prepares them for all the lovely fillings that will go with them.
Next, we have to assemble them. After I rolled out pastry dough into ten inch rounds, I cut a four by three inch rectangle in the center and started to layer. First, it's a layer of spinach, topped with some good crumbled blue cheese:
Now, we add a layer of caramelized onions with lots of sherry, a seared fillet, a layer of marinated portobello mushrooms and some more spinach....
From here, we wrap up all the ends, starting with the short ones, seal them, wash the entire thing with an egg wash to make it shiny, and add decorative cut outs from all the edges we cut out of the circles. It helps to have a Mom that is a very talented artist at this point, who can actually create 30+ individual holly leaves from pastry dough and stick them on the eleven individual Wellingtons.
After the oven, slice open the present to show the green and holiday red, toss some pomegranate seeds for the Holly Berries, and VOILA! Happy Holidays! We served this with an arugula field salad with oranges, red onions, pomegranate seeds, and goat cheese.
I on the other hand, spent SEVEN hours driving 300 miles in dense, impenetrable fog and pouring rain. A trip that normally takes five hours, took seven, because at times, I couldn't see more than one car ahead of me, or even tell if I was still on the road. The high mountain pass through Cresson and Ebensburg in Cambria County was so foggy that I drove with my hazard lights on at about 25 miles an hour.
Given a choice, I would have rather had the root canal.
Continuing with the birth and new arrivals theme this week, I have a new niece!!
Her name is Suzy, and she is 11 months old. A toddler, really.
My sister the professor, lost one of her cats earlier this year after a long and happy life, and while she still has the brother of that cat, he is now lonely and depressed without his little buddy around.
The 4 year old son of my sister's best friend found Suzy wandering around the yard a few weeks ago and they took her in. From all accounts she is a sweet, mellow, loving kitty, and if not entirely pure bred, certainly has a lot of Ocicat in her blood (large ears, narrow face, lots of spots, and amber/orange eyes - my tabby has green eyes).
I'll get to meet her this weekend when I go home. Looks like I have more Xmas shopping to do! (Mrs. ACW is not the only one who buys Xmas gifts for their pets!)
A 23 year old woman with two wombs gave birth by C-section to a pair of identical tins from womb number one, and a single child from womb number two - in the same pregnancy, making the three girls triplets from two eggs.
Only 70 women are known to have this condition in the entire world, making the odds of something like this happening 25 million to one. And although this condition is rare - it does run in families. Both the woman's mother and sister also have two wombs each. *Click here to see the anatomy.
This was in yesterday's barrage of Christmas themed emails, but was actually funny.
VODKA CHRISTMAS CAKE
Really, Really Good Cake!!
Ingredients: 1 cup of water 1 tsp. baking soda 1 cup of sugar 1 tsp. salt 1 cup of brown sugar lemon juice 4 large eggs nuts 1 bottle good Vodka 2 cups of dried fruit
Sample the vodka to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the vodka again. To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point it's best to make sure the vodka is shtill OK. Try another cup .... just in case. Turn off the mixerer. Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Pick fruit off floor. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample the vodka to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Check the vodka. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window, finish the vodka and kick the cat.
This is the first of three batches of "Tomato Confit" I made last night till 2:00 AM. Actually, I've been making it since Saturday since each batch required roasting the tomatoes for 18 hours at low temp in the oven, and I had to borrow two oven racks from the neighbor to fit all eight baking sheets in the oven. Betchya didn't know Broadsheet was all crafty-like didjya? Relax, I'm not, but I do love to cook.
I printed up pretty labels, a recipe card, slap a bow on them, and voila! Martha Stewart comes to Bolton Hill.
Layers of oven roasted / dried tomatoes with slivers of garlic and sprigs of marjoram in good EVOO. Drain them, chop them, and spread them on bruschetta, or toss them in pasta with some goat cheese and grilled chicken. They're not chewy like sun dried tomatoes, they are soft, flavorful and very tomato-ey. A little bit of summer in the middle of winter, and the colors are festive too. I got to test drive a jar that didn't achieve that all important vaccuum seal for some reason for dinner this evening.
Speaking of which, I'm hoping I did this right and don't give everyone a case of Holiday botulism....
An 82 year old woman received a Xmas gift from her 80 year old sister in Iowa.
"I called my sister and asked her, 'What the heck did you send me?'" recalled Ms. Ferreira, 67, who has lived here on the eastern tip of Long Island since 1982. "She said: 'I don’t know, but I found it on the beach in Montauk 50 years ago and just kept it around. You're the one who lives by the ocean; ask someone out there what it is.'"
If it is indeed ambergris - it could be worth $18,000.
Ambergris has been a valued commodity for centuries, used in perfume because of its strangely alluring aroma as well as its ability to retain other fine-fragrance ingredients and "fix" a scent so it does not evaporate quickly. Its name is derived from the French "ambre gris," or gray amber. During the Renaissance, ambergris was molded, dried, decorated and worn as jewelry. It has been an aphrodisiac, a restorative balm, and a spice for food and wine. Arabs used it as heart and brain medicine. The Chinese called it lung sien hiang, or "dragon's spittle fragrance." It has been the object of high-seas treachery and caused countries to enact maritime possession laws and laws banning whale hunting. Madame du Barry supposedly washed herself with it to make herself irresistible to Louis XV.
Three million to six million people in the United States have brain aneurysms but do not know it, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation in Boston. Aneurysms form when artery walls weaken, but the underlying cause is unknown. Most do not rupture.
But 30,000 people a year do suffer ruptures, with dreadful results. Half die within a month, and many survivors wind up with significant brain damage.
Who the heck hijacked Maryland and moved us to South Carolina last week? It's 55 degrees and it's only 9:00 AM - and it's one week before Christmas! The weekend was beautiful, but it was hardly December-like.
The grass is green, and in fact, it needs to be mowed for Christ's sake. The rose bush in my neighbor's yard is still blooming, and I expect to see daffodils start peaking up any day now, and it's not even officially winter.
It's very hard to feel festive when you don't even have to wear a jacket to work, and the Salvation Army guy ringing the bell in front of the grocery store yesterday was wearing a T-shirt.
Well, it took me all morning to run all my errands and grab some lunch, so I really didn't start Christmas shopping till about 1:30 PM. I shopped until about 4:30 PM, when fatigue and a really bad headache sent me home to the couch for a nap until just now. Of those 3 hours of shopping, fully one hour was spent sitting in unbelievable parking lot traffic and just getting in and out of parking spaces. I'm SURE there were a record number of fender benders out there today. UGH. And if the retailers aren't having a merry financial Christmas with the crowds I saw out there today, then they're doing something wrong.
But it's over. I'm done. I even got gifts for the family our office adopted for Xmas. A basketball for the boy, clothes for the little one, and a cool collection of "Hello Kitty" items for the girl who had asked for them on her list. I got Mom some nice bed and bath stuff and a gift card to boot.
All the on-line gifts have either arrived or been ordered, and I picked up the last of the in store things today. I have to assemble a couple of boxes of things to ship here and there, and I have to make and can the homemade gift I am creating for the neighbors and coworkers tomorrow.
Now, it's off to grab a shower, get dressed, and head to the first of two parties this evening.
I'd really rather stay home, light a fire, watch a movie, and go to bed early if you want to know the truth. Ho, ho, ho.
My photo showed up in the company newsletter today. I had to present some award to somebody for something. It's a little photo tucked away on the back page with little news bits.
Thank goodness, because as two people have already been kind enough to point out, I was wearing a turtleneck sweater with a good Hermes scarf that day instead of a jacket, and prominent parts of my anatomy decided to be "perkier" than I was aware of at the time.
Maybe the Belgians aren't, but I sure as hell am. This is hilarious! A state funded TV station in Flanders ran a fake documentary piece, apparently worthy of Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" (or Stephen Colbert), showing the King and Queen of Belgium fleeing the country after Flanders announced its independence.
More than 2,000 callers jammed the switchboard at RTBF. Belgian diplomats around the world called authorities back home to find out whether the country's federal system had indeed collapsed.
"Embassies and ambassadors who were worried asked what they had to tell their capitals," said the chairwoman of the Senate, Anne-Marie Lizin. "This fiction was seen as a reality, and it created a catastrophic image of the country."
If you've ever been to Beligium, you appreciate the familial dysfunction of the Dutch-speaking Flanders in the North always niggling and poking at the French-speaking Wallonia of the South.
Because she has a bun in the oven. She must be just pregnant, because she certainly wasn't holding back when she played Martina Navritalova last week here in Baltimore. She is freakishly tall by the way. She's gotta be at least six feet or more.
Martina's in her fifties. Lindsay is only 30, but she has a very impressive resume in tennis. No shame in retiring after these titles:
Davenport, who picked up an Olympic gold medal with the USA in 1996, won the US Open in 1998 before beating Steffi Graf in the Wimbledon final the following year.
She also won the 2000 Australian Open and finished 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2005 ranked number one in the world.
She has won 51 singles titles and is currently 25th in the world rankings.
I am really, seriously, busy right now; as in no time to blog.
The Korean mini-mart in my neighborhood had these packs of Korean cookie/crackers on the counter as a promotion . I asked my buddy Alex, the Korean store owner, if they were any good, and he tossed a small package into my purchase for free last week. Oh. My. God. I am SO addicted to these things!!! I can't tell you the name since the entire package is labeled in Korean, but they are light, crisp, sweet, and are PERFECT with tea. They sell them in large packs, which I hastily purchased, and they are now my nightly ritual with herbal tea before bed. Sooooo . Good.
Tis the season for people to send their parents, spouses, children, and other relatives their Xmas wish list. When I was a kid, this was the Sears catalog with lots of dog eared pages.
I am old.
Later on, it became a bunch of different catalogs (L.L Bean, Pottery Barn, Lands End, etc...) with Post-it-Notes next to the things you most desired.
Nowadays, it's Amazon.com, or any other host of web site vendors that provide the opportunity for you to select items you wish to receive, put them on a "list", and email that list to all the people that you think might buy you a gift. Suddenly, Xmas has become one big Wedding Registry.
So, with the Holiday Season feeling in mind, my brother sent me his "wish list". No, not from Amazon. Noooo, not from some hunting and fishing catalog. Noooo, my brother sent his wish list to this site: Rockler.com "Tools and woodworking hardware since 1954". Better yet, the list included this unique item, that every serious woodworker needs.
I swear, my brother and ACW were switched at birth.
I don't know whether it's the ever diminishing hours of daylight, the change in the weather, or what, but my ass is DRAGGING this morning. Despite the social calendar this weekend, I had neither too much to drink (quite the opposite actually), and was in bed both nights in plenty of time to get 7-8 hours of sleep. I slept well, and I'm certainly not depressed (stressed, yes, despressed? not so much), but all I want to do is crawl under my desk and sleep for another 5 hours....
Anyway, the dinner party was very nice last night. Lots of really interesting conversation with Foreign Service types, and it was nice to see the Ambassador relax at home with friends. He's such a humble guy, I think the 6 man bodyguard detail he has to endure in his own house overseas is taking a fair amount of getting used to. After seeing the photos of his security detail? Those buff and hunky Marines could watch over me all they wanted....yummy.
Speaking of Yummy....this went over like gangbusters last night. It's rich, but it's REALLY good. Serve on good crostini or heavy crackers.
Curried Wild Mushroom and Cashew Pate'
1 1/4 pound of shitake, cremini, portobello, or other wild mushrooms 5 oz. butter* 2-3 large shallots - chopped 4 cloves garlic - chopped 2 Tablespoons fresh herbs: chives, parsley, thyme and basil 2 teaspoons of hot Madras curry powder 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder 1 cup salted, roasted cashews 2 Tablespoons olive oil
*Note: I used the fresh garlic herb butter from Whole Foods and omitted the additional herbs, since it had all of them in it, in about the same amounts.
Saute' the shallots and garlic in the butter until soft, and add the mushrooms. Cook until all the liquid is evaporated, and the mushrooms start to brown (10 - 12 min.) Add the curry powder (more if you like more curry), cumin, and herbs and set aside to cool.
Grind the cashews in a food processor and drizzle in the olive oil until a thick paste forms.
Add the mushroom mixture to the food processor, and using the pulse blade, pulse until the mushrooms are well chopped and incorporated into the cashew butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste (if you use salted cashews, you shouldn't need much/any).
Smooth the pate' into a serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
When I got back from Florida last weekend, I simply couldn't adjust to the fact that Christmas was nigh. Everyone's decorations were up, the music was blaring in every store and on every radio station. When I innocently tried to go to the grocery store after being out of town for nearly two weeks, I ran smack into the Mayor's Holiday parade in Hampden, and quite literally into the Mayor Martin O'Malley himself, when his car passed in front of mine at the parade staging lane, and I was forced to listen to perhaps the worst music of all.....poorly played carols by less than talented high school marching bands. I just wasn't ready for the sudden onslaught of Holiday frenzy.
I got to run smack into the Mayor / governor-elect again last night, but this time it was up close and personal at a social event. With the release of the "Iraq Study Group Report" this week, all 22 Ambassadors to the major Arab countries were recalled to Washington for meetings and briefings. So....my buddy the Ambassador is back in town this week from Algeria.
I had been invited to attend the Maryland Democratic Party's Holiday party held least evening at the Beaux Arts building of MICA, just a few blocks away, so I met the Ambassador at his house, and we walked to the party together. It was very posh, the location is just stunning, and all the political movers and shakers were in attendance. While the Ambassador chatted the Governor-elect up about port tarriffs, terrorism, and trade with North Africa, I stood dumbly by his side, and then, when when he stopped to acknowledge my presence and asked what I did, I barely managed to answer him and mumbled something pathetic about the Maryland Health Care for All Coalition. I was totally tongue tied, and then he was whisked away to talk to some other adoring constituents. Way to go Broadsheet. And can I just say how incredibly HOT our new governor is?? Oh. My. Goodness. He could give George Clooney a run for his money. His wife, Judge Katie O'Malley, was securely by his side all evening, and no slouch herself in the looks department.
The reception was over by 7:30, and the Ambassador and I had just enough time to run down the street and catch Handel's Messiah at the Myerhoff. I honestly think that last night's performance was the best choral performance I have ever heard. The soloists were mixed: the soprano was just perfect - bright, shiny, crisp, and strong. So was the bass, but the alto and tenor were merely adequate in light of the absolutely stunning performance of the choir. They were so SHARP - every note was distinct and spot on. When everyone stood to sing the Hallelujah Chorus - Christmas suddenly hit home, and now it feels right.
It may feel right, but I am so hopelessly behind, it's not funny. I have done NOTHING. I ordered some pretty canning jars to make the gifts I want to give the neighbors and co-workers, but I have a few evenings of work ahead of me to create them, and now we're down to one more weekend and a few more days, many of which have evening commitments for meetings, holiday open houses, etc....
The Ambassador is having a dinner party this evening. I'm making appetizers.
I love the Holidays, but I hate the stress. Ho, ho, ho.
I am honored to count these two, lovely, distinguished, gentlemen as my friends and neighbors. They have welcomed me into their gracious and elegant home on many occasions for dinners and parties, and I cannot imagine better role models for this cause. They are true veterans in the cause for civil rights in a very real and literal sense.
Now, four decades after risking his life in a civil rights struggle for others, Blackburn, 73, says it is time to fight for himself. Along with his partner of 28 years, Glen Dehn, he is a plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to expand marriage to gay and lesbian couples in Maryland.
After fifteen years in a successful, loving relationship...
The Virgin Mary - at least as far as the Bush Administration is concerned - announced her pregnancy.
I so admire her honesty and privacy while living in a fishbowl, and in the face of all her father stands for. Nonetheless, I have to give credit where credit is due: I hold her father in very, very, very low esteem as a politician, but in this regard, when he stands behind her and supports her - I will give him all the credit in the world as a father.
The fact that he does not support or defend Gay rights and Gay marriage outside of his own personal sphere? for the sake of his party? Hypocrisy at its finest.
I'm still shaking my head over an incident I went through on Tuesday evening. I received an email from a company called 'Publishing House' that was updating alumni records for my graduate school in advance of printing a new alumni directory. There was a 1-800 number to call and review my records, but no website was listed. I typed the name of the company into Google, found the corporate website, and was able to verify that they were legit and all, but their was no "update your school record" link to be found.
I logged onto the alumni website instead, and sure enough, all my information was current. I had made sure I updated all my contact information in as many places as I could think of when I switched jobs last year. The alumni database is pretty comprehensive. You can search for alumni by location, date of graduation, etc. Very easy to navigate, and it's free as long as you're a member of the alumni association.
For reasons I still regret, I called the 800 number anyway and asked if I they used the alumni database for their information. "No m'am, we're just the Publishing House. We have our own database". Oh. OK.
"Well then, can I just log on to your website and update my information? What's the URL?"
"Yeah - the web address. I couldn't find it on your web page"
"ummmm - I don't know m'am. We don't do the updating on line. Would you like to update it over the phone?"
Not really, but I realized trying to get this kid to understand what I was trying to do was useless and just wanted to shorten the misery, so I said "Sure - let's go". The kid on the phone was an idiot. He read every line in his script like gospel and I kept looking in vain for the fast forward button to no avail. Of course, all of their information was outdated, and contained none of the updated info I had entered into the database over a year ago. (The only thing that hadn't changed was my personal email address, or they wouldn't have been able to contact me in the first place.)
Painfully - we updated it. And then the sales pitch started.... "Reserve your copy of the Alumni Yearbook now! For $100, you can keep in touch with fellow alums and network!".
"Ummmm - excuse me?" I interrupted him. "Why would I want to spend $100 at Xmas time for a dead tree version of what's available to me for free on the alumni web site?" (I should have said URL just to confuse him).
Silence, then a truly resigned "I don't know M'am."
"You know, unless 'Publishing House' decides to put this on line, or the university decides to start charging a separate fee to access to their database, you guys are pretty irrelevant. And if alumni aren't willing to pay a nominal alumni association fee, why on earth would they want to pay $100 for a book that's out of date the day it's printed? Have a nice evening."
I'm actually starting to question the value of my graduate degree if one of the better business schools in the country thinks their own graduates are dumb enough to fall for this.
Turns out Zenny is very well connected, because these seats were on the FLOOR baby!! Seven rows courtside. All the beautiful people were there, and many homes in Lutherville, Ruxton, and Hunt Valley were empty this evening.
We were sitting next to a Baltimore Colts player whose name I missed, but he kept being asked for photos. BUT more excitingly, we were a mere seven seats directly behind tennis legend Martina Navratilova for a few sets during the doubles matchup between the Bryan brothers (cute!), Mardy Fish, and Robby Ginerpi.
Pam Shriver was also in attendance, sat in our section most of the time, and clearly enjoyed getting caught up with old Baltimore friends. Zenny told me that Pam's now married to James Bond - George Lazenby, and they have three kids together, which is kind of creepy since he's my Dad's age and she's the same age I am. Ick.
Anyway, we stayed to watch a few sets of the last mixed doubles matchup to see Martina and Lindsey Davenport play, and headed back to drop me off.
They've been filming an indie flick in my neighborhood for weeks now, and Zenny wanted to stop and watch the filming. I swear, I sometimes think I moved to a Hollywood suburb given the number of film crews that use Bolton Hill. We double parked and Zenny chatted up the location scout and some of the film crew as only Zenny can do to get the inside scoop on the film, and then we hung out for a few scenes, hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars, Noah Wylie (of ER fame), and Gretchen Mol. We didn't get to see either one since they were filming in the living room of one of the brownstones, and we were out front on the sidewalk, but we got to hear lots of "quiet on the set", "roll film!", and "Cut!".
The working title of the film is "Boy of Pigs". Subject to change, it will hopefully make the film festival circuit next summer - might be worth catching if for no other reason than it is set in my hood - again.
Now, my glamorous evening must end since it's already past my weeknight curfew and I have to take out the trash for pickup tomorrow morning.
So, Florida can be a beautiful place. There are sunrises to be seen from the balcony in the morning....
And yes, I got up at 6:30 even when I was on vacation. The beauty of which is that when you're on vacation, you can have a margarita at lunch and nap on the beach later!
But Florida is also a strange and weird place. Some of the things you would expect, like a young sand shark washed up on shore (we threw him back in the surf and after a few disoriented thrashes, he swam off into the surf).
But the weirdness of Florida also comes in the most unexpected places, and at the most unexpected times. We met this guy - a real Boar's head - nailed to a tree in a very posh neighborhood while riding our bikes to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. No explanation, but someone had recently placed a palmello on his snout for effect. Go figure.
After you've blogged for a while, you start to filter the world through a bloggable versus non-bloggable lens. Interactions with people, conversations, articles, events, all of them end up being evaluated as to whether they are bloggable post material or not.
Some bloggers are fearless. They have no filter. EVERYTHING is bloggable no matter how intimate, embarrassing, outrageous, offensive, demeaning, but mostly boring it may be. I admire their fearlessness, and I enjoy reading them sometimes, but I am certainly not one of them, or this blog would be called "Tabloid", instead of "Broadsheet". I have a few standards. Not many, but I will never demean, insult, or ridicule anyone here - at least not a private citizen, including other bloggers. Public figures, however, are open to whatever they deserve (cough, Bush, cough), by being in the public spotlight.
Same goes for publicly embarrassing people. This is the internet after all, and no matter how funny or amusing I think something is, if it comes at the risk of mortally embarrassing someone who may or may not even ever read this, or other people who know them might read it - then it's off limits no matter how laugh out loud funny I might think it is.
So, with that in mind, I can't post about the funny thing that has happened two nights in a row now. You're just going to have to trust me on this one and I can assure you, it was effin hilariously embarrassing for the people involved.
Greetings from the Daytona International Airport, land of the newly wed, newly dead, bikers, and NASCAR fans. Yes - an odd mix to be sure. The terminal looks amazingly like the living room set from the "Golden Girls" sitcom. Peaches, greens and a florid hybiscus patterned carpet with fake palm trees everywhere. It also vaguely looks like a maxi-pad commercial. All feminine and calm colors, but I guess that's in direct opposition to the Golden Girls theme.
While the rest of the country suffered an early winter storm, we were content to lie on the beach, read a LOT, go on long bike rides to pretty lighthouses, soak in the hot tub, sit on outside decks overlooking beaches or picturesque inlets, and drink beers and drinks with umbrellas in them. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.
Because the night life in Daytona leaves a lot to be desired this time of year, we decided to throw caution to the wind and went on one of the large luxury casino liners one evening. They head offshore to international waters, and as soon as they cross the three mile mark, the horns go off, and the slot machines magically start to work.
Broadsheet got bored about 30 minutes into the cruise while playing $.25 slots. I never risk more than a stake of $50 if I gamble (I can count on exactly one hand how many times I've actually been to a casino), and after a half hour at the slots, I had increased my kitty to $70.
Bored, my friends and I walked over to the Roulette table and watched for a while. I have no idea how to play Roulette other than to pick a number and hope the ball lands on it. A guy from Texas was nice enough to show me how he was placing his bets and why, and the dealer let me play two hands for free to get the hang of things. Roulette turns out to be a BLAST. You can play a bunch of different games within the same spin, and spread your options to cover the house much more easily than a stupid slot machine, and you actually have to THINK to play it. I was hooked. At one point, I had almost exhausted the $70 kitty I had from the slot machines, and I was only placing $1 bets. I started spreading my bets across the odds and covering multiple numbers at the same time, and was quickly back in the game. Feeling bold, I started covering $1 bets on the board with outside bets of $5 and $10. I finally hit the jackpot and won a $500 hand!
Yeah - should have walked away then, but I was having a ball. I still ended up walking away $350 ahead of what I had when I sat down at the table. Covered my airfare, the rental car for the trip, and my beer money. Not a bad night.
Got some good sunrise photos from our balcony, lots of pelican and bird shots, and even found a "bag in tree" photo for our friends over at BIT. Will post when I get home.
I have to fly through the fourth portal of hell known at the Altanta International Airport, which charges for wireless internet, so I won't be on line from there.