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Monday, September 22, 2008

Snooze Fest

Last night I made the terrible mistake of watching the Emmy Awards telecast.

Boooooring! I kept hoping it would get better but unfortunately it didn’t.

The five hosts were an embarrassment. Sure they can read cue cards for their “unscripted” shows, but what were they trying to prove last night? Each of them should never be allowed to host the Emmy Awards ever again, and the category of Best Host for a Reality Series needs to be eliminated.

Yeah for Tina Fey and “30 Rock.”

Yeah for Don Rickles.

Yeah for “Mad Men.”

Yeah for Josh Groban performing thirty television theme songs in less than five minutes.

Yeah for Ricky Gervais.

It was the least watched Emmy Awards in television history. Maybe next year the producers will put “entertainment” back into the show.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect

Back when I was in grammar school, fourth grade to be exact, I started taking violin lessons. Why violin? It was the only instrument being offered. (Band instruments weren't taught until fifth grade.)

Soon thereafter my parents bought me my very own violin. I remember picking it up from my violin teacher on a Saturday morning. It was a tremendous moment in my simple suburban life.

The following morning I woke up at something like 5 AM and immediately grabbed my violin and began to play, not with a bow but plucking the strings, pizzicato. The only songs I knew at the time were “Three Blind Mice” and “Hot Cross Buns.” I plucked and plucked those three notes of “Hot Cross Buns” with all the determination of a future violin maestro.

My incessant plucking woke my parents and with that came threats of losing the violin forever. I quickly slid back into bed and waited patiently for them to eventually get up. A minute seemed like hours as my fingers yearned to caress the fingerboard and pluck those strings.

Through the years I played in my junior and senior high school orchestras. I never was a prodigy, and I never practiced enough, but that experience gave me a deep respect for classical music.

Since then I’ve sporadically picked up the violin to play again. It would always amaze me how arthritic my hands felt.

Last night I was reminiscing about my violin and succumbed to temptation. I took it out to play. Tuning it was a real thrill and all the memories came flooding back... and then I picked up the bow and laid it over the strings...

Screeeeeeeeech! Egad, it sounded awful. My fingers seemed too fat for the strings and holding the bow gave my wrist cramps. I was horrified.

But instead of tossing it back into the case I hunted through the closet for my rehearsal books and propped one on the music stand. I played again, and this time it sounded better, not much, but I was encouraged. I played some more. And guess what? I enjoyed it, I really did. It was soothing, and something I want to do more often.

“Hot Cross Buns” is beginning to sound mighty fine....

I just have to remember to practice when my neighbors aren’t home.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Suddenly Rich

Lately my in-box has been flooded with emails from all sorts of people who want to give me lots of money, and I mean millions. I’ve supposedly won contests and sweepstakes from all over the world. I’ve also been chosen to inherit millions of dollars because someone yearns to do one last good deed before, I assume, descending into the flames of hell.

When I first read these emails a little fantasy voice inside my head said, “Wouldn’t that be just swell!” Then milliseconds later reality reared its ugly head and hit me with “SCAM!”

Are there really people out there who believe by answering one of these emails, and giving all personal information, that suddenly they’d be living the high life? Sadly, I’m certain that people do; otherwise, why would scammers continue sending these emails?

The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it’s also a potential weapon of personal destruction.

Here’s an email I received earlier today:

Compliments of the day to you. By way of introduction, I am Ma Delun, Head, Operations Department of Bank Of China. I would respectfully request that you keep the contents of this mail confidential and respect the integrity of the information you come by as a result of this mail. I have a business proposal which I believe would be of interest to you. It concerns a deceased client and an estate he left behind, without naming a beneficiary to. If its in your interest to proceed with the transaction, please respond to this email account "delun.ma2005@yahoo.com.cn". I will give you a detailed account of the source and origin of the estate as well as the transaction proper. I anticipate your cooperation.
Regards,
Ma Delun


I Googled Ma Delun, and there is a Ma Delun who works as Deputy Governor for the Bank of China. Does he know about these emails?

And yesterday I received this one:

This is to inform you that you have been selected for a cash prize of £500.000,00 GBP. from British online programs you are advice to send your contact to fiduciary_wellermilla@live.com FULL NAMES, ADDRESS, PHONE NUMBER

Aaah, if sudden wealth were only that easy...

I think I’ll stick with buying lottery tickets.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I-M-E-A-C-H

Every night after dinner I take a walk around my neighborhood, usually for a couple of miles. It’s my time to clear my head of all the stuff that’s been swirling around all day, and also to get some additional cardio exercise.

One night as I wandered past an apartment building I looked up and saw big letters pasted on sliding glass doors. The letters were I-M-E-A-C-H. I couldn’t figure out what it meant. All sorts of theories ran through my mind. When I got home I did a Google search, but couldn’t find an explanation.

For the next few weeks I would glance up and see the same letters. I-M-E-A-C-H.

Maybe it was some sort of message to extra-terrestrials?

Maybe it was the owner’s way of screwing with people’s minds, a sick joke?

Maybe it was an unfinished game of Wheel of Fortune?

I pondered and pondered, and the nagging mystery continued night after night.

A few days ago as I was walking by I looked up and something was different. The owner of the apartment had closed the sliding glass doors and suddenly the mystery was solved.

I-M-P-E-A-C-H

Now it makes sense.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Brains, Brawn, and Bullets

On September 12, 1910 the city of Los Angeles appointed Alice Stebbins Wells the first woman police officer.

She later founded the International Association of Police Women and was the organization’s first president.

She became Sergeant in 1934. She retired in 1940, and died in 1957.

Forget Kate, Jaclyn, or Farrah. Alice was the original Charlie’s Angel.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Just Wondering...

Anyone else thinking that Oprah’s ego has gotten out of control?

I think she needs to be reminded she’s a talk show host, not the first lady of the world.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Make Me Laugh, Hamlet

The other evening I was in the mood to laugh. I didn’t want to chuckle, giggle, or grin. I wanted to laugh out loud, the kind of laughter that’s contagious to the people sitting around you. It had been a long, hard week and if laughter is the best medicine then I wanted to overdose.

With that in mind a friend and I went to see Hamlet 2.

Oooh... what coulda been shoulda been and woulda been if the sloppy script had been polished a little bit more. Sure there were laughs, not uproarious belly laughs, but laughs nonetheless, and the premise was silly fun, but overall the movie lacked the edge it really needed. (Paging John Waters...)

It’s the story of a marginally talented never-made-it actor named Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) who now lives in Tucson, AZ and teaches high school drama. Unfortunately the drama department is being cut the next semester, so he stages a politically incorrect musical, the sequel to Hamlet, aptly titled Hamlet 2, to help save the drama department.

The musical numbers do shine. I mean, how can you go wrong with songs called “Rape My Face” and “Rock Me Sexy Jesus”?


It’s what happens between the musical numbers that needs work. Halfway through I was getting restless as we trudged through Marschz’s failing marriage (his wife is wonderfully played by Catherine Keener), her affair with their roommate (David Arquette in a forgettable role), and Marschz's infatuation with Elizabeth Shue (who plays a parody of herself).

With Coogan a little goes a long way... his comedy tends to be way over-the-top, bordering on cartoonish. For Hamlet 2 he needed to take it down a notch.

Overall it’s not a bad picture. The percentage of laughs is high, but not high enough when you think of what it coulda been.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Interesting Tidbit

According to the book Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt the most often dropped item on Los Angeles freeways is ladders.

Ladders? Yup.

I would’ve thought it would be bicycles.

There’s something new to be learned every single day.