April 30, 2007

The Sopranos - Chasing It - Episode 81

In each episode of the final episodes that I've seen so far, it seems like David Chase is slowly unraveling the world that he's knitted so carefully over the years. He's deconstructing his world by destroying Tony's friendships. Each week we see Tony Soprano losing hold of his world one person at a time. In last night's episode, we saw a different side of Tony's relationship with Hesh - one of many surrogate fathers Tony has adopted throughout the years of the show.

Question: What is pulling the on the loose string of their well knit relationship?
Answer: A $200,000 personal loan given by Hesh which Tony needed to cover some gambling debts.

It seems that through all the years I've been watching of the Sopranos, I missed Tony's gambling problem. But it makes sense, right? I mean. Aside from being unfaithful to his wife, Tony doesn't really have any vices. He seems bored and lonely. With the exception of that dead body the feds dug up in the previous episode, everything seems right in his world. But is it? He's so bored, he distracts himself with gambling and losing badly. Things are going well with his wife, so what does he do? He creates conflict. Over what? Gambling.

Add that he probably doesn't like to watch his wife succeed. Why else would he want to use the money she just earned from the sale of her spec house (to her cousin, no less) to gamble? It's a good thing she said no to that sure thing. Aside from the fact that he was reaching rock bottom he was also trying to undermine Carmella's newly restored self-esteem.

We also saw the beginning of the end of his relationship with Dr. Melfi. She doesn't want to put up with his crap anymore and told him basically to shit or get off the pot after he told her that he considers her office an oasis from the week. Dr. Melfi didn't like that.

It's worth mentioning that AJ proposed to his girlfriend and she refused him. Poor AJ. Honk twice if you think he's going to be killed by Phil Leotardo in vengeance.

Oh. And in the spirit of not leaving any loose ends, David Chase et al treated us to a storyline about the gay gangster's surviving family. It seems his teenage boy has turned goth, antisocial and borderline psychotic since his father's death. The gay gangster's widow goes to Tony for help. She needs $100,000 to relocate and set her family straight. But Tony loses the money on a bad bet and ends up sending the kid to an $18,000 boot camp for messed up kids.

Sleep Goggles

Wow. I sure could have used a pair of these last night.


According their website, Glo To Sleep goggles help slow down those pesky brainwaves that make your thoughts and worries gnaw at the backs of your eyes until you have to give up trying to go to sleep and start blogging.

Of course, if I get a pair of those, I'll probably need one of these to help me wake up in the morning.

April 28, 2007

Chicken Fried Veal

I don't know what got into me last night but I spontaneously decided to chicken fry our veal cutlets. At least I think they were chicken fried. And I used a wok instead of a skillet. And the wok was treated instead of cast iron. Anyway.

I got home. Started heating up the oil. Mixed some spices into some flour. Cracked an egg. Dredged the cutlets through the egg and flour and then dropped everything into the boiling hot oil. I've never been good at frying. Last night's dish was acceptable but not great. It was more like veal cutlet tempura than chicken fried veal. Maybe olive oil isn't the best for deep frying.

Why would I do this at 11:00 at night? I don't know. I just don't know.

April 27, 2007

Big Rock Candy Mountain

sansa-silver-earphoneJon and I recently purchased a refurbished, Sandisk MP3 player from Woot. It was only $30.00 and with this purchase, we have landed feet first in the 21st century of technology. Between our recent purchase of cell phones with cameras, our upgrade from digital cable service to DVR and this recent purchase, we are finally the techno savvy Gen X'ers we were always meant to be. Some friends showed us how to convert our CD's into MP3's. They came over on Monday night. We ate pizza and drank beer (I think we still owe money for pizza come to think of it). And had a great time. We got some good advice and in the process, Jon and I have discovered a new hobby that we can enjoy together. We only purchased one to see how we liked it and now I'm sorry we didn't buy two. It's not that it's a problem sharing it, except that when we're sharing it, only one of us can use it at a time.

Last night, Jon added the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou. When he brought it to bed and sharing the earphones, we listened to my favorite song from the soundtrack, Big Rock Candy Mountain by Harry McClintock. I'm sure I'm not the first one to discover the joy of this song. The lyrics speak of a hobo paradise where everything a hobo could dream of exists in abundance.

The reason I love this song so much is it exemplifies how people dream who they are. For example, if you are school teacher, you might dream of having your own school where all the teachers work with a curriculum that you've designed; where all the supplies grow with the apples on the trees in back of the school house; where all the children behave like angels and all the parents agree with your teachings and the school's paradigm. If you're a fire fighter you might dream of a machine that can be lowered over a fire to snuff it out immediately without causing further damage to the people within or the structure without.

At Big Rock Candy Mountain, the hobos dream of empty trains where they can ride alone; where bulldogs are rendered harmless by their rubber teeth and where every barn is full of hay for their comfort. Here are the lyrics, if you don't already know them. Read them, and you'll see what I mean. It's charming.

Big Rock Candy Mountain
One evening as the sun went down and the jungle fire was burning
Down the track came a hobo hiking and he said boys I'm not turning
I'm headin for a land that's far away beside the crystal fountains
So come with me we'll go and see the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains there's a land that's fair and bright
Where the handouts grow on bushes and you sleep out every night
Where the boxcars are all empty and the sun shines every day
On the birds and the bees and the cigarette trees
Where the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains all the cops have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth and the hens lay soft boiled eggs
The farmer's trees are full of fruit and the barns are full of hay
Oh, I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall and the wind don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains you never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol come a-trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats and the railroad bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew and of whiskey too
You can paddle all around 'em in a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains the jails are made of tin
And you can walk right out again as soon as you are in
There ain't no short handled shovels, no axes saws or picks
I'm a goin to stay where you sleep all day
Where they hung the jerk that invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

I'll see you all this coming fall in the Big Rock Candy Mountains

April 26, 2007

American Idol Results Show

I recorded the show because I was working and then later fast forwarded through most of it. Especially, the part with Bono.

Nobody was sent home. Which of course they didn't tell you until the last possible moment of the program because they were fund raising.

Honestly, is it necessary? Between News Corporation, Coca Cola and Ford - those three alone could wipe out hunger in most of the regions they were raising money for. Isn't it enough that we buy and read publications put out by News Corp, drink Coke and drive Mustangs? Those companies wouldn't exist without the buying American public.

You get my meaning, right?

Just let the show be the entertaining show it is without trying to extract duckets (derived from ducats) from its adoring audience. If we want to give to charity, we'll do it on our own.

Libretto by Sir Mix-A-Lot

Over at Addled Writer, I found this video of Baby Got Back done in the style of Gilbert & Sullivan. If you are old enough, you'll recognize the footage from a popular 80's movie.

April 25, 2007

American Idol - Six Give Back

Because American Idol is "giving back" the contestants were required to sing inspirational songs. All six constestants chose songs meant to inspire people to want to change the world in which we live from a place of misery and despair to one of happiness and charity. And in between we were shown footage of Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest touring slums in Africa. Later we were shown footage of Randy Jackson touring the distaster stricken areas of Louisiana. All of the footage was very depressing - particularly the fly covered, starving orphans in Africa.

And somehow, in spite of all that sadness, everyone was somehow able to put on a show.

Chris Richardson sang a ho-hum version of Change the World by Eric Clapton. However, I couldn't tell if Chris's blah performance was because of who he is, how he sang or if the song itself was bland.

Melinda sang a real pretty song that I never heard before but it was real pretty and she sang it real well. In my opinion it was the best performance of the evening.

Blake Lewis sang Imagine. And I tried to imagine that the song was more exciting than it was. I kept waiting for him to break out into his beatbox routine and to make the song more exciting that it was. But I guess that he would have been blaspheming John Lennon somehow had he done that.

I didn't believe that Lakisha believed in her ability to belt out "I Believe". She was accused by judges of screaming through most of the song. There's that pesky technique thing again. I believe in her ability to improve. I just wish she had a better coach because I'm afraid she is going to blow out her voice before American Idol is over.

Phil Stacey was so boring it was like watching paint dry or water boil when he sang a really dull Garth Brooks ballad. He was able to work some kind of magic on the judges though because they thought he sounded good and that he's finally coming into his own. I still can't believe that Gina Glocksen went home before this guy.

Jordin Sparks closed the show with "You'll Never Walk Alone". Yes. I agree that she was emotionally connected to the song and that she's entertaining to watch but it sounded to me like she was shouting even more than Lakisha was, an observation NOT made by the judges. The judges thought it was the best American Idol performance ever. I have to disagree. She was shouting. But sometimes I get the feeling that the judges really, really, really, really want America to pick Jordin as the A-number-one Idol.

I predict that Blake, Lakisha and Phil will be in the bottom three tonight and sadly, I predict that either Blake or Lakisha will be going home. Phil has at least one more week in him. If he doesn't go home tonight, which I doubt will happen, he'll be going home next week.

Grey Gardens - Again

Grey Gardens Marquis I'm working at Grey Gardens again this week. It's still just as good as ever. Actually, I think it might be a little better. I've noticed subtle changes in the various performers since the last time I worked the show which was about a month ago. Tony voters are out and about, getting their last looks at new shows and revivials that will make up the Tony nominees in a couple of weeks or so. Lots of shows have been tweeked or fine tuned for the occassion. The dramatic pauses are a 1/2 second longers. The knowing glances are a little bit more knowing. You get the idea.

It's been a while since I've spotted any celebrities. Today, I spotted Bruce Vilanch watching the show from fourth orchestra. I found out from a random patron that he recently performed in Hairspray as Edna Turnblatt. That random patron also mentioned that he was very funny in the part. But I don't know. I saw Harvey Fierstein do it and he was great. I can't imagine anyone else doing the part better (with the exception fo Divine of course, who didn't have to sing and dance in the John Waters movie, I might add). It's a shame they tapped John Travolta for the movie version of the musical version of Hairspray. Fierstein would have been just fine and I'm sure Travolta won't be as funny.

Yesterday, walking down the street, passed by Roger Rees, who has been in a lot of plays and movies. I only know him from Men In Tights. He played the Sheriff of Rotingham. He looks amazingly sexy for someone born in 1944. Amazingly. Very handsome man.

April 21, 2007

What a Day

Today's matinee was challenging. Well, there were two challenges that I met. This week, I'm working near Times Square so gettting through the crowd alone was challenging.

When you come up that first staircase from the subway at the Times Square station you are instantly confronted with thousands of people - New Yorkers, tourists, Martians - walking past and through each other to get to the street. When I exit Times Square, I walk toward the Lichtenstein and hang a left for the escalators. Usually there is either a group or an individual performing there, making noise and causing people stand in useless clumps. More often than not the performers aren't worth the trouble: a guy playing garbage cans like they were drums; a man dancing with a doll as his fake partner; kids dancing, doing flips and jumping around; a woman playing a saw. Every now and then the gathering crowd is treated to an actual jazz quintet or a classical violinist earning money while attending Juilliard. But that's only occassionally. Usually, it's just dreck.

But that wasn't the first challenge. That's just a normal commute through Times Square station. The first challenge, after fighting my way through the crowds on Broadway, was the surprise of having to fight a crowd where I didn't expect there to be a crowd. Right in the middle of the street and not far from the theater, Project Dance had set up a platform flanked by enormous speakers, so their dancers could perform for New York City. I have no idea at all why they were doing this. But their music was extremely, extremely loud with the thumping bass that always accompanies bad and loud music. So while I was pushing my way through the mesmerized crowd that at that moment was watching teenagers in ridiculous costumes performing a routine to Puttin' On The Ritz, my first thought was whether or not my patrons were going to hear this loud music while they were watching (and listening to) the play. I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough headsets.

Once I entered the main auditorium I met my second challenge. Down by the stage, in front of orchestra right, the theater's electrician was setting up a closed captioning board for a special group that was coming in for the matinee. Panic set in. Between the loud music coming from the street and the 70 or so partially to totally deaf people that were coming to the show, I was very concerned I wasn't going to have enough headsets. Add that there is usualy a high volume of distribution on matinees and that today was the first truly nice day we've seen in a while, I was genuinely concerned my demand was going to exceed the 100 or so headsets I had in my booth.

Quick but separate conversations with the house manager and the person in charge of the closed captioning group soon put me at ease. The house manager said that the performance would be halted for the duration of the show. The person in charge of the special event for the hearing impaired assured me that everyone in her group probably would NOT be taking a headset, just one out of every four or so.

In the end, I only handed out 50 headsets. Normally, that would be considered high volume, but I was happy with that number because that means I had enough for everyone. Whew!

Cute Puppy Playing

I was looking for something cute on YouTube that I could use on my site by searching for "puppies playing". I found a lot of really sweet home videos, but this one was my favorite. It's really, really cute. This puppy is named Gizmo. Did I mention it was cute?

April 19, 2007

American Idol - Sanjaya Went Home

Even Vote For The Worst couldn't help Sanjaya Malakar after his dismal performance on Wednesday night's show.

So for all you Sanjaya haters out there, congratulations.

April 18, 2007

American Idol - 7- Country Music

Nothing slows down the momentum of well-liked and well performing contestants like Country Music week on American Idol. With the exception of Melinda and Jordin who could sing the contents of their dresser drawers with meaning, everyone did poorly last night. One might argue that Phil Stacey did well last night, but as I've mentioned time and time again, I don't like him.

Country music is always challenging for the contestants because usually the songs are boring unless they are sung by the incredible personalities for whom they were written. Martina McBride was the guest mentor and she'll perform on tonight's show. Like Jennifer Lopez, she took a break from her busy touring schedule to work with the contestants. It must have been a real hardship. She was lovely with the contestants like all the mentors. I'd be amazed if any of the mentors actually said what they thought truly about anybody they have helped.

Phil Stacey sang "Where the Blacktop Ends" by Keith Urban. I'm not a country music fan and as a result, unless the song is exceptional, all the songs sound the same to me. I couldn't tell you one thing about that song except that the lyrics were . . . oh no, I can't tell you anything about those either. Never mind. Apparently, the judges felt he was in his element, that he's most comfortable singing country music. I have to admit, his performance last night had more personality than previous performances combined but I still don't like him as a solo performer, maybe as part of a Naval singing group or something. Oh yeah. That is what he does when he's not on American Idol. I almost forgot. I still can't believe Gina Glocksen went home before this guy.

Jordin Sparks sang Broken Wing by Martina McBride. In her little segment with Martina McBride, McBride was blown away by Jordin Sparks. And after she performed the song, the audience and the judges were very impressed. Simon even told her that with that song, he finally sees Jordin as the American Idol. Again, I couldn't tell you what the song is about. But I can tell you that Jordin is more enjoyable to watch than most of the remaining contestants. And listening to her sing is an absolute joy.

Sanjaya really disappointed me last night. He picked the absolute worst song anyone could have picked for a singing competition. Bonnie Raitt wrote Something To Talk About and sings it like no one else can because she wrote it for herself. I've already explained my theory that when a song writer writes a song for him or herself, only that artist can perform it well. You know already that I am a fan of Sanjaya and before last night I believed him to be a fairly decent singer. If I'd only seen last night's performance, I wouldn't have understood at all why he was on the show. He didn't do anything to make the song his own. He moved around awkwardly in a bad outfit which made him hard to watch. And he forgot to apply any technique or music theory he's learned over the years to anything he was singing, which made him hard to listen to. Add the fact that he repeated "Let's Give Them Something to Talk About" about 50 times in two minutes and you've got an equation for the most boring performance of the evening.

Lakisha sang the corniest song of the evening, Jesus Takes the Wheel by Carrie Underwood. Lakisha was really out of her element on this one. She was connected to the song emotionally but her voice was not a good match for the arrangement. But I can't blame her for having trouble. Country music isn't that interesting and it's very, very hard to make it interesting. Especially if you have no real technique or music theory to lean on which is what I suspect is the contributing to factor to all of Lakisha's weak performances. If only she had more technique to rely on maybe she could have made that incredibly corny song work.

Chris Richardson proved last night how much he truly does suck. He's been hiding behind pop songs which don't require much from singers in terms of range and personality. Last night, he sang out of key and entirely through his nose. He chose the song Mayberry by Rascal Flatts, a sentimental song about how simple life used to be for the singer when he lived in Mayberry. This was a bad choice for Chris, not just because he couldn't sing the song, but because he's too young to sing a song a like this. This is a good song for someone 40 and older to sing, someone whose lived a little bit. He's too young to make any connections at all with a song like this.

Melinda Doolittle chose a great song. Up until Melinda all the song choices were ballads or as boring as ballads. "Trouble is a Woman" by Julie Reeves was upbeat and fun - more like a square dancing song than a corny ballad. The song allowed Melinda yet another opportunity to show off all of her fantastic singing qualities - including phrasing, lyric interpretation and good technique. (And by technique I mean tools in her singing arsenal that contribute to how she sounds when she sings.) It was the best performance of the evening.

Blake Lewis sang "When the Stars Go Blue" by Tim McGraw. Boring. It was boring. To me it sounded like he was singing out of key for the whole song. He looked uncomfortable to me. There wasn't much he could do to that song to make it his own and I don't really know why he chose it.

That's my round up. Who do I think will be going home tonight? I have no idea. I just hope it's not Melinda or Jordin.

April 17, 2007

Sadness on Virginia Tech Campus

Yesterday's tragedy at Virginia Tech makes me feel sad for the people who lost members of their family and beyond. People who were present while their friends and teachers were being wounded and murdered now have to live with the trauma caused by the acts of one highly disturbed individual. Not that I don't feel bad for the families. Of course I do. But it's not just the families that suffer. Every time something terrible like this happens, any innocence associated with an institutution where a tragedy of this nature occurs is irrevocably lost.

People who thought that Virginia Tech was a safe place to work or attend classes or send their children to school will never think that again.

Jon and I first of heard about the shooting driving home from a weekend in South Jersey and I turned on 1010 WINS for a traffic report. It reminded me of when I was listening to a news report on NPR about a plane crashing into one of the towers at the World Trade Center. When I heard that news it didn't quite make sense. I understood the words the newscaster was speaking in his well modulated voice but didn't comprehend the magnitude of the tragedy until much, much later. And innocence was lost. Before that happened, it never occurred to many of us that anyone would hijack a plane and kill thousands of people in order to honor some suicide pact made in the name of God.

After watching the news last night and listening to the convocation this afternoon on the radio; after watching interviews with survivors of the gunman's rampage and hearing the speeches given by President Bush and religious leaders at the memorial service on the Virginia Tech campus it is only now that I comprehend the full extent of this tragedy. I'm sure no one expected the academic and hopeful environment of a place like a college campus to be disturbed by the actions of one destructive and suicidal individual.

To the people who lost those 32 family members, you have my deepest sympathy.

April 13, 2007

Curtains for Onion Breath

This week I've been handing out headsets hand over fists to the patrons at Curtains currently playing at the Hirshfeld Theater. My headset console is located in a former closet, a situation which invites intimacy apparently. The patrons, very often, stand inches from my face when they make their requests for headsets "that work".

I'm not sure what's happening but onions seem to be popular with my older lady customers. More than half the women I've helped have expressed more than their need for a device to help them hear better. The sulfuric, acidic smell of onions has passed through many of their dentures and into my sweet unassuming face.

Of course, I can't say anything to them. A lot of the ladies are really sweet, and I've made at least $20 in tips this week.

But lordy loo. It takes a lot of energy to stand there smiling in the face of so much bad breath.

I just want to offer them all breath mints.

April 12, 2007

Mahna Mahna

Remember this?

Gosh. I miss The Muppet Show.

April Showers Bring Aches and Pains

This damp weather is a good sign that Spring is here and that the weather will soon be warming up. But the damp weather is making me stiff and achy from head to toe. I'll probably end up taking some ALEVE to aleviate my symptoms.

April 09, 2007

The Sopranos - Episode 78 - Home Movies

The Sopranos finale started with a subtle episode that was designed to feel like a dream. A big chunk of the show was spent up in the Adirondacks where Bobby Bacala and his lovely wife Janice (Tony's sister) have a summer home. The show's title comes from Janet's gift of home movies Janice converted to DVD for her brother's birthday. It also suggests that the past somehow played a part in the storyline. The past haunted Tony and Janice throughout the episode.
Last night's episode started with a flashback to the day Johnny Sac got arrested. But something was added to the flashback. If you recall, Tony was meeting with Johnny that day, but ran away when he saw the Feds coming over a hill. He ran home for miles through the snow. In this flashback, we see Tony dropped his gun. And we were shown a young boy watching from a window in Johnny Sac's house. I'm still not clear who the young boy was and I'm actually not sure he was watching from Johnny's house.

After this scene, Tony and Carmella were awoken by pounding on the front door, the kind of pounding that policemen do early in the morning when they're hot for an arrest. Carmella jumped out of bed and asked "is this it?" I was wondering the same thing. Was this it? Was Tony going to be arrested? He was.

The Essex County police department arrested him because his gun was used in crimes committed by the young man who had found the gun in the flashback. The charge may have been that Tony Soprano owned a gun? I'm not sure how that works, but it doesn't matter because the charges were dropped so the Feds could pick up the charges later in the episode. We briefly saw Tony in jail. And just to keep the show feeling real, the scene came complete with a guy using the toilet for all the world to see. Tony made bail and was welcomed home by his family and crew with the exception Christopher whose absence was not explained. In a parallel scene we see the Brooklyn crew welcoming back Phil from his stay in the hospital. In those few minutes, we caught a glimpse of most of the people who will most likely be making up the drama for the upcoming season.

Well. None of the above really matters much for the episode at hand except that it caught up the viewers with the what's been happening since the last season. When the Sopranos is on hiatus, the characters lives advance - they do not stop. So, we get the feeling that we are really following their story lines in some kind of real time, well, real for television anyway if that makes sense.

So. While Tony was dealing with his arrest, Janice was hassling Carmela about coming up to the Adirondacks for Tony's birthday. Carmela was hesitant but Janice was a total dick about it. After Tony's lawyer told him the gun charges have been dropped, Tony decided to make the trip after all -Most likely because Bobby was working out some kind of shady dealings with some Canadians. I don't think he really cared about seeing his sister.

The scenery up in the Adirondacks was breathtaking. And Tony spent a lot of time staring out at the big lake much like he stares out at his pool. While Tony and Bobby were bonding over automatic weapons in the woods and speed boats on the lake, Bobby revealed a weakness to Tony. He told Tony that he never killed anyone, that his father never wanted him to be a killer. We see Tony filing that one away in his mental cabinet under "things to use against people later on."

And while the men were out playing, Janice was filling in Carmela on the work she'd been doing with her therapist. Her therapist explained to Janice that their mother was a splitter - that she wasn't happy unless everyone was at odds with each other. And that once Livia's children started talking, she stopped loving them because she didn't like her family to express opinions.
Chase, the show's writer, always manages to keep Tony's mother involved in the story line.

The birthday dinner was surprisingly tension free, except for when Janice told Tony he's changed. Tension started building right there because we could see Tony filing that one away under "grudges to hold against my sister." Tony received two very nice gifts. One was a set of golf clubs from Carmela and the other were the home movies mentioned earlier on.

Dinner blended into a Monopoly game which started out nice enough. But as the liquor bottles emptied tensions started rising. I was nervous watching the game because Tony can't stand seeing his sister have a good time and he always has to ruin it and I knew this was some kind of quiet before some kind of storm. The first indication that there was going to be a problem came when Bobby objected to the Free Parking rule, which is an accepted home rule that everyone plays with - except Bobby Bacala. And when he started saying how it's wrong for people to make up rules in a game which has printed rules, I got the feeling he was referring to something else, perhaps about his life as a mobster, perhaps about how the rules of being promoted to Capo don't quite apply to him because Tony never moves him ahead.

As the bottles emptied, the game grew more intense and Janice decided it would be fun to tell a frightening story about when Tony and Janice's father shot a bullet through a woman's beehive hairdo. Tony objected to Janice telling this story because it paints their father in a bad light, and he can't accept the fact that his father had any thing to do with the bad parenting he recievedd. So, Tony started to make cutting remarks about his sister in retalliation. Eventually, Bobby stood up for his wife and asked Tony to stop dogging her. But Tony didn't stop and Bobby slugged him and they had a big fight and Bobby won. Bobby beat the tar out of Tony. After the fight Bobby ran out to his car and Carmela helped Tony off the floor. Tony had gotten a monopoly piece stuck to his face (some thankful humor to dissipate the scaryfeeling and give the viwer a brake from the tension - a perfect example of good directing/writing whatever) and Carmela flicked it off.

The next day Bobby and Tony went to their meeting with the Canadians while Janice and Carmela were left to wonder what's going to happen next. Janice told Carmela a story about how she blew up at ex-boyfriend once for hitting her (which was actually a sanitized version of the incident where she shot and killed Richie Abril) to illustrate how Janice is actually like the Soprano father and then explained that Tony is actually more like Livia, their mother. Their father would react to things immediately while their mother would let things simmer. This angered Carmela because she thought Janice was implying that Tony was simmering about the previous evening's fight and she shouted at Janice that Tony was not a vindictive man.

At the meeting with the Canadians, Tony offered to kill someone for them in order to get a lower price on expired Fosamex. And guess who he wants to do the kill. Yes. That's right. He wants Bobby to do the kill. Tony proved that even though he said there were no hard feelings regarding the fight, it was actually going to cost Bobby something. In the end, Bobby committed the murder because he knew it was a mistake to punch out the head of his crime family. He took his lumps. He paid the price.

In the end, Tony was watching the DVD his sister made for him. He was watching in that tired, amused way he always seems to watch TV. Who knows what he was thinking?

This episode laid out the groundwork for what's coming up in this final season. It was a good episode and completely in keeping with Chase's style of layering and building and taking his time with a good story.

April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday

It's cold outside which is why I am inside. I slept late this morning, snuggling up with my husband under our warm blanket but I had to get up eventually, right? Because at some point every morning, the bacterial growth in my mouth compels me to rise from the comfort of my marital bed and journey to the bathroom for my ritual morning oral ablution. In other words, my morning breath tasted so bad I had to get up and brush my teeth.

Today was a good old fashioned do nothing kind of day, meaning I did nothing. Then I took a nap for a couple of hours and I've been tooling around on the computer, messing around with some old photos from some old trips.

I spent some time tweeking my panoramic shot from Thingvellir, Iceland.

I know it looks like a small picture but it's something like 120 inches long. I've been trying to upload the image to my Shutterfly account so I can get a printout and maybe get it framed but Shutterfly isn't accepting the image. I guess I'll have to tweek it a little more.

I just finished the last of some garlicky, peppery chicken soup I made to combat this latest viral onslaught Jon and I are undergoing at the moment. And I'm drinking a Tom Collins with actual vodka. And it's good. I broke down and bought some mixers at the supermarket. This is the first time in my life, I've ever made a drink like this.

It's tasty. Yum. Tonight I'll be watching the beginning of the end of The Sopranos.

Tony Soprano has risen again. God bless HBO.

April 07, 2007

Kitchen Confidential

This was a great book. Bourdain provides a candid look at the culinary industry. If you have romantic notions of what chef's life is like, forget about it. It's hard, never ending, relationship straining work that imagine only very specific personality types are cut out for.

I entertained the idea of becoming a chef up until about 10 years ago when I met a women named Sharon who worked as a sous-chef before becoming an administrative assistant. She said it was awful. Really awful. She described most of her work environments as hostile and mysoginistic. Coincidentally so did Bourdain.

Before becoming a chef you should read his book.

David Zayas

I was just sitting in the internet cafe minding my own business when all of a sudden David Zayas sat down next to me use a computer. Who is David Zayas? He is a really good character actor that I really enjoyed on the show Oz. I've seen him pop up here and there on different shows but most memorably for me, I remember he played a small part in the movie Wit.

How cool is that? He was right next to me. Of course, I didn't want to bother him. So. I didn't.

Here is his picture.

He played a really, really bad guy on Oz.

April 05, 2007

American Idol Surprise

I was surprised and disappointed last night when Gina Glocksen was told to go home. Haley Scarnato might have better boobs but she certainly is not a better singer. And I know I write about how much I like Sanjaya but he wasn't better than Gina either. Chris Richardson and Phil Stacey are two other people I would have predicted to go home before Gina but alas I was wrong.

I hope Gina gets signed by someone. I can't wait to see what she does next.

April 04, 2007

American Idol - Nine Singers Left

Last night's hour of competition passed by quickly not only because it was good but because Jon and I had saved the show on our DVR. We were able to fast forward through the miles and miles of commercials that pay the salaries of everyone working on the American Idol assembly line and most likely half the executives at FOX.

Guest mentor Tony Bennett provided the contestants with solid and practical advice. Some of them listened and some of them didn't. He was very nice and said something nice to everybody which you could tell gave them all a boost.

Blake Lewis opened the show with his mostly on key rendition of Mac The Knife. Although his wasn't the best performance of the whole evening, I thought he did a good job. At this point he is my favorite male contestant. It is a weird song. It wasn't until a night of karaoke at a bar in Jamaica, when Jon and I were on our honeymoon, that I learned that Mac The Knife is about a hit man. The lyrics are a dark contrast to the jazzy hip music. And it's a weird song. He wriggled a little too much for my taste. I often think that contestants would do better if they would just stand still and sing, but they often insist on moving around.

If you missed Phil Stacy's performance last night, don't feel bad, because you didn't miss much. He put me to sleep with his Frank Sinatra imitation style rendition of Night and Day. I was surprised when Tony Bennett said that Phil Stacy was a good singer. He may be. But I just don't like him. I still think he looks creepy like that nice boy, serial killer who might be living next door to you. And I hate his cocky swagger. I just dislike him in general. With that said, I can hear his training when he sings and would agree that, technically, he MAY be a good singer. He just doesn't have a good voice, in spite of his training.

Melinda Doolittle gave the most polished performance of the evening with her interpretation of I've Got Rhythm. I like listening to her sing and I like watching her perform. With the perfect combination of talent and training, she does everything right. A naturally good voice added to training and practice creates get great singers like Melinda Doolittle. Phil Stacy may have the same training but he just doesn't have the same talent. And he'll never be the American Idol. If this competition is really about talent, then Melinda Doolittle will definitely win.

Chris Richardson butchered Night and Day while simultaneously hypnotizing the judges into believing that he was good. His performance was mediocre at best. He's another one who looks creepy enough to have buried his neighbor's dogs in his mother's backyard, yet every week, he manages to convince the viewing public that he's worthy of their votes. I can only hope that we don't have to endure his smug face and limited vocal range for much longer.

Jordin Sparks delivered the second most polished performance with On A Clear Day. She sang with joy and lit up the stage with her youthful enthusiasm. She's just good. She's got talent and she has clearly had some training and did some practicing. See the above description of Melinda Doolittle's performance. I don't want to repeat myself. If American Idol is about choosing the youngest person with the most potential for a singing career then Jordin Sparks will be the next American Idol.

Gina Glocksen almost brought me to tears with Smile by Charlie Chaplin. I thought it was a great performance - sweet, sensitive, modest - and she connected with the lyrics. I hope she's makes it to the final four. I'm not sure she will but I really hope she does. She's gets better every week.

Sanjaya Malakar represented himself well with his version of Dancing Cheek to Cheek. His was my second favorite male performance of the evening. He definitely sounded better than Chris Richardson yet the judges wouldn't even comment on his vocals. Why are they so hard on Sanjaya? I guess being an awkward teen is too much of a reminder of what adolescence was like for most of us. And Sanjaya is displaying an in your face kind of awkwardness that makes everyone uncomfortable. If only he would just stand still and sing. I think his voice is lovely but he's not ready for this competition. He needs a couple more years to percolate.

Haley Scarnato looked pretty.

Lakisha sang Stormy Weather. She is an example of someone with a lot of talent but not enough training. You can hear the missing technique from time to time like in last night's performance. The opening was all over the place when it came to pitch, but she found her key again during the middle and end of her performance. She's got the confidence but I really hope she'll benefit from the coaching I imagine the contestants receive on a weekly basis. I like her but I think she'll be a third place finish in the end.

Okay. That's my weekly wrap up of the American Idol.

I have to go back over to the August Wilson theater for another performance of Jersey Boys. Don't be envious. It's not my favorite show and I don't have anything to read.

I Am Anonymous

Last night, I saw someone from high school that I haven't seen since she graduated in 1984. I never really spoke to her when we were growing up and vice versa so it was a strange moment of non-vocal recognition. I was standing by my headset booth next to the bar when I saw her. She was wearing one of those "pay-attention-to-me-I'm-important" blue tooth devices on her ear. (No offense to anyone who uses them but you really aren't be going to use it in the theater so you might as well take it off before you come in because unless you're the president or the parent of a sick child, no one needs to get in touch with you that badly. )

And she looked her age - about 40, maybe even a little older and that made me feel good. I actually took joy in the fact that she looked her age or older than me. (Well, I like to think I look younger than I am, maybe I don't, but if you don't agree, I don't want to hear it.) I felt good until I got home and googled her. Turns out she's a tremendously successful lawyer and president of the lawyer's association where I grew up. And she's on several of those watch lists that quantify people of a certain age in a certain profession. And for the first time in a long time I felt less important than I am and embarrassed that this girl I competed with in grade school, middle school and high school is so much more professionally successful than me. I guess most people are more successful than me.

Anyway, that prompted me to conduct a google search for my maiden name to see what came up. I figured if I could google her then she might do the same (although that is ultimately egotistical to think that after seeing me people just go on and on, wondering who I am and what I'm up to). The google search turned up 35 pages of results with my maiden name. There are so many people that have my old name, that the one entry that did come up for me is lost in a sea of VG's. That's really great. I don't have to worry about people holding my blog against me.
Not that I'm going to ever write how I truly feel about anything that is really important to me.

I have secret personal blogs that you'll never find no matter how hard you search.

But I am anonymous unless you know where to look.