May 31, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

We did do stuff and things over Memorial Day Weekend, we just didn't do all of our stuff and things together. For example, Jon and I both worked on Saturday. Jon worked his usual shift at the New York Post. And I worked two incredibly busy shifts at Frost/Nixon - an excellent show with less than excellent sound.

Sunday, Jon stayed home to put the final touches on his book before sending it back to his publisher while I spent the day with my parents who were babysitting my nephew. At 3.5 years of age he is just as cute as he should be. We had a great time blowing bubbles, playing hide and go seek, and doing puzzles. What I enjoyed most was showing Ethan how to use our digital camera. He almost hasthe hang of it. It was really fun to see how excited he got as he got better at handling the camera. He just wanted to capture everything and it was hard to get him to move on to the next activity which was basically getting into a car and driving him home.

Here are some of the pictures he took.

Aunt Valerie

A Butterfly


Monday, Jon and I went for an epic bike ride, well, epic for me. We rode from Astoria to Flushing Corona Park. It was an 18 mile ride in total. And it took about three hours including breaks for water, sightseeing and a Froze Fruit. Monday night we went to dinner at my favorite local restaurant, Gowasabi, where we pigged out on Gob Dol Bibimbop. And then we had tempura ice cream.

It was a good weekend.

May 30, 2007

A Tail of Two Kitties

File this under the category of RANDOM.

Jon and I took our bikes out this morning. After an hour and a half of riding up and down the hills of Queens I decided to call it quits while Jon continued on. In my post-ride, cool down period I was channel surfing and landed on a scene from A TAIL OF TWO KITTIES. In this scene, Garfield had instructed barn yard animals in the fine art of making lasagna. Pigs stomped tomatoes to make sauce. A rat ran in a wheel attached to a cheese grater that grated cheese. And a bunny turned the pasta maker that converted lumps of dough into fine, flat lasagna noodles. The scene concluded with all the animals, including Garfield, sitting at a table consuming their freshly cooked treat.

And here is the question that bubbled to the top of my hazy brain after witnessing this unlikely scenario. How did they get Bill Murray to sign on for a second movie as the voice of Garfield?

May 25, 2007

The Sopranos - The Second Coming - Episode 84

Episode 84 revealed to us how both of Tony's families are starting to fall apart.

Immediate Family
Tony gave Carmella a beautiful, engraved watch to appease his guilt about leaving her for a meeting in Las Vegas. You might remember that meeting as a tryst with Christopher's ex-fling/prostitute. He did peyote, had sex and gambled to help get over the guilt of having killed Christopher, which he didn't really feel guilty about in the first place. Maybe he was trying to get over the guilt of not feeling guilty about killing his surrogate son. I'm always so disappointed at how easiliy Carmella goes along with the lie. She must know by now that Tony gives her expensive gifts when he's been with someone else. I guess in a way, his giving Carmella the watch was another way for him to appease his conscience. Is there anyone out there who still believes that Tony Soprano is a good guy?

AJ tried to kill himself. He tried to kill himself in the pool where in the first episode, Tony had fatalistic dreams about ducks and water. He sat on the diving board with a concrete block tied to his ankle and a plastic bag over his head. Once he got into the water, he realized he didn't want to die after all. His father arrived home just in the nick of time to pull him out of the pool. For a fleeting moment I thought Tony was going to let his son die, rather than deal with his son's pain and any responsibility he bares for causing his son pain, but I guess even Tony Soprano isn't that cold and unfeeling. When Tony returned to BadaBing the day after AJ's suicide attempt, his friends tried to comfort him with stories of their troubled children. This is when we learn about Patsy Parisi's other son. We already met Jason in two previous episodes when AJ joined his band of merry men in violence and book making. Patsy described his other son as having been a hyperactive kid. I only mention this because of Meadow.

Meadow, in a tete-a-tete with her mother finally revealed the identity of the man she's been secretly dating. And of course, it's Patsy Parisi's other kid. In that same conversation she also told Carmella that instead of going through with med school she's decided to go back to studying law, because after all, her new boyfriend is a lawyer. When she was with Finn she switched from wanting to be lawyer to wanting to be a doctor, because Finn was studying dentistry. Now that she's with a lawyer, she wants to become a lawyer.

Extended Family
With the exception of Bacala's marriage to Tony's sister Janice, Christopher's death effectively cut any personal relations between Tony's immediate family and his mob family. But when Tony Soprano's children started dating and palling around with the children of his mob associates, effectively they brought back together the ties that had been severed by Christopher's death. And I think ultimately condemning his children to a dismal future as either criminals or accessories to criminals or victims of criminals.

Phil Leotardo continued to bust Tony's balls over the 25% he wanted for dumping the asbestos. But Tony continued to refuse him. So, some things happened with some guys. Tony pulled a couple of no-show jobs from Phil's crew on some project or the other they're corrupting which combined with Phil's utter lack of respect for the Jersey family mob boss, led to one of those guys who was pissed about the cancellation of his no-show job, to mess around with Meadow. I don't know where this guy COCO came from but I knew he wasn't long for this show when he started making lewd suggestions to Meadow while on a date with Patsy's son. Once Meadow told Tony that Coco wanted to cream on Meadow's face, Tony really lost it. He went to see Coco at his restaurant, beat the crap out of him, then stomped on his head knocking out his teeth.

After Tony knocked out Coco's teeth, the new overlap between the two families was even more obvious. During AJ's family therapy session, while AJ was expressing his disappointment in both life and his parents, Tony was distracted by one of Coco's bloody teeth in his pant cuff.

Little Carmine tried a little family therapy of his own when he attempted to broker a peace agreement between Phil and Tony to no avail. Phil refused to meet with Tony. We all know what this means - War. There is going to be a war between New York and New Jersey. Granted it will be a short war but it will be a war none the less. Phil just can't get over the death of his brother and is still holding Tony accountable for his cousin Tony's actions (Steve Buscemi) several seasons ago. He still wants revenge for that. Which is why I think AJ is going to end up dead at the hands of Phil.

Dr. Melfi
When Dr. Melfi met with her therapist, Dr. Kupferberg (who continues to be smug, superior and sanctimonious) he told her about a study that was done on the effectiveness of talk therapy on sociopath patients. He told her the study proved that not only did talk therapy NOT help heal sociopath tendencies but it made sociopaths even better criminals providing them with a platform to work out their crimes and hone their lying skills.

What will Dr. Melfi do? Will Meadow just give up on school entirely so she could be the perfect mob wife like her mother? Will AJ grow a pair and find some meaning to his existence and direction in his life? Will we ever see Artie Bucco again? Will Uncle Junior die a lonely and pathetic death? Will Tony finally confess to Carmella that he had Adrianna whacked? Will Janice be the person who brings down Tony in the end? Will Tony kill Phil or will Phil kill Tony?

We won't find out for two weeks. After waiting as long as we have for this series to conclude I think it's unfair that we haven't to wait for another two weeks, but what choice to I have? I'll just have to wait it out, like everyone else?


I wanna' go back!

May 24, 2007

American Idol Finale

Jordin Sparks won.

Lost Season 3 Finale (spoilers)

When I first started watching LOST a few years ago, I stopped mid-way through the first season because the suspense was driving me insane. When Season 2 came around, I didn't give it a second thought until Jon wanted to start watching LOST on DVD. He got me back into the show. I finished watching season 1. Then we watched season 2 together. Once we were all caught up, we watched this recent season as it was happening. So far, Season 3 has been the best. Answers from Seasons 1 and 2 have been answered for the most part but enough new questions were introduced to make sure viewers continue to watch.

Last night's episode was no exception.

The show started with a Jack flashback. This flashback was different. We could tell Jack was falling apart, because he had an ugly beard and seemed drunk and stoned. First he's drunk on a plane, then drunk in a car. Some obituary he saw in a newspaper made him stop on a bridge so he can jump to the pavement in a bloody suicide attempt. But someone crashed into his parked car and he was compelled to rescue them. Through the rest of the flashback, he travels down his spiral of despair and hits rock bottom when he breaks into the hospital's medicine chest for some Oxycodone. The flashback ended with a desperate meeting between him and a mysterious person he'd been trying to reach throughout the story. Who was his meeting with? His meeting was with Kate. Where did they meet? By an airport runway. What does he tell her? That they shouldn't have left the island.

And that, my friends, is how the producers keep you hooked on this show. Instead of a flashback, they gave us a flash-forward. The flash-forward answers the question that we've been asking for three seasons. Will these people get off of this weird island? But it leaves you wondering what the hell happened to Jack.

Meanwhile back at the island, lots of things happened.

Locke was rescued by what I can only assume was the smoke monster manifesting himself in the form of Walt. In spite of having been fatally shot and re-paralyzed, the Walt manifestation told Locke that he need to keep going because he had work to do. Yes. Locke is alive. That answered that question, but what work does he have to do?

Charlie survived his deep sea dive into the Looking Glass station but was taken prisoner by the two psycho hose beasts, who because of their blind belief in Ben's uber knowledge of the legendary Jacob, have been guarding the station. The sequence ends with a Charlie's daring rescue by Desmond, the resurrection of that crafty Russian guy and the death of Charlie as prophesied by Desmond. Yes. He turned off the jamming equipment. Yes. Penny was sending messages to the island trying to find Desmond. No. Penny DID NOT send a ship with a rescuer named Naomi. Yes. Charlie died telling Desmond that Penny DID NOT send the ship. That answered the question of Charlie's fate and Desmond's quest for Penny but raised the following question. Is that Russian guy indestructable? He survived electrocution by those weird pylons guarding the Others' camp. He survived a violent harpooning. Will he survive the exploding hand grenade he used to kill Charlie?

The ambush was complicated but in the end Sayid, Kwon and Rose's husband accomplished what they set out to do which was to stop the attack of the Others by setting off a series of explosions. Yes. They were captured by three of the Others after successfully killing seven of them. Yes. Sawyer and Juliette worked well together. Yes. Hurley saved the day by crashing his DHARMA van into the Others. Yes. All the Others involved in the ambush died. But wait? That was actually tied up very nicely. So. Nothing unresolved there.

side note: True bad ass that he is, Sayid broke someone's neck with his feet.

On the way to the radio tower, Ben and his surrogate daughter Alex met up with our survivors so Ben could have a tete a tete with Jack. He wanted to convince Jack that Naomi shouldn't be trusted and that he shouldn't contact the ship waiting 18 miles off the island. During that conversation we learn that Ben killed 40 people so 40 new people could take over running the island. We also learn that there are 40 survivors so . . . maybe, Jack is not supposed to call for help because his band of survivors were chosen by the island to take over from Ben and his crew as the new keepers of the island and all its secrets.

That would explain why Locke murdered Naomi while she was trying to get through to her vessel after Charlie destroyed the jamming equipment. Locke knows that these survivors are NOT SUPPOSED to leave the island. But Jack called the ship anyway. He doesn't believe in fate. He just wanted to rescue his friends. Now, Ben had told Jack that Naomi wasn't who she said she was which was confirmed when Charlie got the message from Penny that she didn't know of Naomi or her rescue ship. And finally, the last thing we saw in the finale of season 3 was Jack weeping to Kate in the flash forward that they weren't supposed to leave the island and that he needed to go back.

Whose non-funeral did Jack attend? Why did Jack tell someone that his father was alive and drunk somewhere when we know that Jack's father is dead? What force of nature restored Locke's broken spine and rescued him from the jaws of death? Is Kate living with Sawyer? Why did Jack fall apart? Is that Russian guy really dead? Is Charlie really dead? Did Jack's flash forward happen in an alternate reality? Did Claire really give birth to a devil baby? What is the secret of that damn island? Does Locke leave the island with his friends or does he decide to stay? Why doesn't that Richard guy from the others ever age? Is Kate pregnant with Sawyer's baby?

May 23, 2007

American Idol - Final Two

The final night of competition began with a scene from last week. Ryan Seacrest flipped a coin and Blake Lewis won the right to choose when he would sing - first or second. He chose first. I don't know if it would have made a difference because Jordin Sparks outsang him. Yes. I agree. He is more entertaining but his singing voice isn't as strong Jordin's. Letting Jordin go last was a mistake. The last impressions viewers got was Jordin crying after an emotional performance of the song submitted by the songwriting contest winners.

It was a crap song - just the kind of song the producers like. The singer who makes the crap original song they save for the occasion of the finale is usually the winner.

Did anyone else notice that they sang different arrangements of the song? Blake's version was a little more top 40 while the only trick missing from Jordin's arrangement was a live gospel choir backing her up. I know there are a lot of conspiracy theories regarding the producers of American Idol fixing the show so certain people will win. I don't normally subscribe to other people's paranoid fantasies but if one were arguing in a court of law that the producers of American Idol do indeed fix the show, they could offer those differing arrangements as evidence.

I think Jordin is going to win this. Swelling music and gospel musical influences are very inspiring and in this case, they will have inspired people to vote for Jordin.

I wish the final contest could have been between Jordin and Melinda. Not that I don't like Blake Lewis. I like him a lot. He's fun to watch and seems like a nice person.

But it would have been more of a contest.

Meanwhile Back In Astoria

We've been back a week. The pictures in my head of the things that we did on vacation are still vivid enough that I can close my eyes and summon the memories as if they were as fresh as yesterday. I really need that too because this week they have me working at a great play - but it's a show that requires a lot of patience and perserverence dealing with the public.

I'm not going to say which show because I don't want to implicate anybody or give anyone ideas about how to jam up theater management.

The subject matter is attracting an older somewhat harder of hearing patronage and much to my dismay they are all crabby. That's not always the case. I've spent some time working at Journey's End and those patrons were all lovely. It's a similar demographic.

These patrons - woof. Last night, I got several complaints about my equipment. Two people were so insistent that the manager gave them the option to come back again and see the show for free. I work very hard to make sure my equipment is functioning properly before the show. There's a playback that can only be heard by my patrons that plays before the show to help the patrons adjust and test their headset. In spite of all those efforts, people still complained. What more can I do? It's the failing of the equipment.

Now. If the show had an intermission, that would be a different creature. Because then the patrons could exchange their headsets for better ones if the need arose. I'm not looking forward to today. Traditionally, the Wednesday matine attracts the nastiest patrons.

But while we're on the subject of patrons, they've got some nerve. I offer free freaking service. They aren't "entitled" to use the headsets. The ADA requires that facilities make accessible activities that were not previously accessible by the physically challenged. I don't think, being slightly hard of hearing qualifies as being truly disabled.

Don't get me wrong. I've got patrons who have some serious hearing loss. But for the most part, they're just people who want to hear a little bit better.

I've never seen so many people get so up in arms about a free service.

Barbados - Catamaran

Our last full day in Barbados was spent riding a catamaran to a couple of beautiful snorkeling spots where we saw lots and lots of beautiful fish and swam with sea turtles. I guess I don't really need to say anything more than the catamaran took us up the west coast, the best place for both those activities. Everything was beautiful.
Catamaran View

May 21, 2007

Barbados - Oistins

On Friday afternoon we went to Oistins for the famous fishfry. Here are some cool shots from the Oistins market.

Oistins is a fishing town where you can watch fishmongers cleaning the fresh catches of the day for purchase.

Nothing is hidden. Everything is out in the open, like this lovely bin of fishheads on ice.

Everyone can get in on the action. These cranes are picking at the nasty leftover fish scraps in the trash heap.

While we still had some time to kill before the fishfry, we wandered into a boatyard with beautiful wooden points in various stages of repair. This trip to the boatyard was my second favorite adventure on the island.




And of course the fishfry itself was really great. The location consists of 20-30 small shacks, all competing for your business. Here is the guy who won our hearts. He was friendly without being pushy, complimented Jon on his wife's smile and looked like he really knew what he was doing at the grill. We shared a plate of grilled red snapper and then a plate of grilled marlin. Both platters were delicious. I didn't catch his name but if you ever find yourself at the fishfry in Oistins, be sure to stop at Pat's Place.

May 20, 2007


I've finally uploaded our vacation photos and I won't bore you to death with all the details but here are some pretty pictures with brief explanations.

Frangipani grows like crazy all over the island.
The Hotel

Some other amazing flora includes this enormous snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue whose tallest leaf stood at 4.5 feet high.
The Hotel

I really, really like plants and flowers. If you are interested in seeing more pictures, you can find them by clicking on either of the above two photographs.

On our first trip to Bridgetown we visited the synagogue which claims to be the oldest in the Western hemisphere. There was a synagogue in St. Thomas that claimed to be the oldest as well, but Jon reminded me that, there, it's only under the American flag that they can say theirs is the oldest. Here are a couple of interior shots from the temple in Barbados.

The one in St. Thomas was nicer. It had sand floors. But this synagogue has an amazing old cemetery with remarkably old and cool headstones. Bridgetown

Jon took some shots of these headstones that have little illustrations that demonstrate the profession of the person buried beneath.

We walked around a bit after our visit to the synagogue. Here is a slice of life photo of a vendor selling fresh coconut water.

May 18, 2007

Melinda Doolittle Went Home

I was surprised that Melinda received the least amount of calls after American Idol on Tuesday night, resulting in her leaving the show. But she's probably already got a recording contract as a result of her consistently excellent performances. I was absolutely confident that she was going to be one of the final two contestants. She was my favorite.

May 16, 2007

American Idol - Three Final Contestants

Last night, the contestants sang songs picked by the judges, the producers and then finally by themselves. We saw the contestants being celebrated by their home towns where they were informed of the choices made for them by the judges.

Simon and Randy picked good songs for their contestants - Wishing on a Star for Jordan and I Believe In You and Me for Melinda - but Paula failed Blake when she picked Roxanne for him. Jordan did a decent job performing Wishing On A Star and the judges liked it. Melinda closed the segment with I Believe In You and Me and performed it flawlessly much to the admiration of the judges. But poor Blake was stuck in the middle with Roxanne. Unless your Sting or Eddie Murphy in the opening of 48 hours, you're not really going to have much success performing that song without sounding like a copycat - which was the sentiment expressed by Simon. Paula of course loved it and Randy seemed please but unenthusiastic with the choice.

Then it was the producers turns to pick songs for the final three. For Jordin they chose Hard for the Money. It was pretty lacklustre. Watching her, I got the feeling she wasn't thrilled with the choice that was made for her. She went through the motions of performing the song while not actually connecting to it. The producers saved Blake by choosing a Maroon 5 song - This Love -which perfectly suited his voice. And for Melinda they chose the oddly titled Nut Bush City Limits. I guess it was meant to bring out her inner Tina Turner and she did a great job performing it but it really was a kind of sucky song.

Then the contestants got to pick their own song. Jordin picked I Who Have Nothing which she had some success performing earlier in the season. She did do a nice job. But not as good as Blake and Melinda. Blake performed something called When I Get You Alone and it was really entertaining. Melinda reprised her version of I Am Woman and again it was perfect.

I'm pretty sure Melinda will be one of the two moving on to the finale. And I would be disappointed if Blake didn't make it, but it could go either way between Jordin and Blake.

Blake should be rewarded for his creativity and originality. I'd love to see him move on. But then again Jordin just has raw talent that if nurtured properly could help her become an enormous star. They both deserve to move on. But between the two of them, I prefer Blake.

The Sopranos - Heidi and Kennedy - Episode 83

Christopher's death in the first five minutes of Episode 83 was the most shocking of the entire series. Perhaps it was because of the way he died. Christopher was driving Tony home from a meeting with his asbestos-dumping guy where he learned that Phil wanted a 25% cut of the asbestos-dumping business before he could resume dumping at Barone's. While driving he was trying to talk Tony into accepting the deal and wondered what happened to the "stop and smell the roses" philosophy bandied about by the two men after their extensive hospital stays. He was also distracted by the radio and continued to fiddle through the stations until he got to Comfortably Numb (not the Pink Floyd version by the way). It was around that moment that Christopher swerved into the wrong lane of traffic and then swerved again, causing his car to flip over and over until finally landing in a pile on the side of the rode.

Tony was looking over at Christopher, lying in a heap behind the steering wheel when he heard him asking for Tony's help because he would never pass a drug test. Tony looked at the back seat where he saw a tree branch had somehow crushed the baby's carseat. Then he made a decision I never imagined he would make. He pulled himself out of the wreck, limped over to the driver's side of the car and suffocated Christopher. But it wasn't just that he suffocated Christopher, it was how he did it. When he saw that Christopher was coughing up blood he knew how badly injured Christopher was. He suffocated him by holding his nose and mouth so he could choke to death on his own blood. He held his nose and mouth with one hand and waited until Christopher was dead. With his bare hand. Hand.

The rest of the episode he tried to convince himself and those around him that Christopher was better off dead. His unfeeling gangster pals agreed but I got the feeling they didn't care either way. Actually, they don't really seem to care about each other - at all - except in as much as they can trust a guy. And I guess Christopher was no longer trustworthy. Their reaction made me think that in the world created by David Chase the death of someone you can no longer trust is the result of some kind of kharma. In other words, Christopher had it coming to him.

The accompanying story line followed AJ's descent into a world antidepressants and violence. We saw him talking to his therapist about how even tempered he's been feeling about Christopher's death and Bianca's desertion. In stark contrast to the peace AJ seems to be feeling, the next time we see him, he's laughing with his friends about violently amputating some kid's toes in a previous episode - as if that violent episode had somehow pacified his inner rage. After that his friends beat up a Somalian guy who crashed into the door of Jason Parisi's car - calling him the N word and telling him was in the wrong neighborhood. When AJ went to see the therapist after that he was clearly distraught and I saw the beginnings of a conscience, sadly lacking in his father - who to deal with the death of his believed surrogate son Christopher, decided to go to Las Vegas, screw Christopher's girlfriend and gamble.

The episode ended with Tony winning at roulette. It seemed Christopher's death was what he needed to break his losing streak which was thoroughly explored in the previous episode.

I really enjoyed this episode even though it was highly upsetting. It was the first time, that viewers really got to see just how ruthless and loathsome Tony Soprano really is. Sure there have been hints over the years, but the fact that he would kill Christopher just to appease his own guilt about failing the young man he'd taken under his wing as a tribute to his friend, Christopher's dead father, in such an intimate and cruel manner and then celebrate his death for freeing his guilty conscience. It was just despicable.

Other things happened in the episode but for me, the above two storylines were the highlights.

We're Back

May 12, 2007

Barbados - Still hot

Jon and I are having a great time. We're doing so much during the day that we're going to bed early which means we're waking up early which is why I find myself using the internet at 7 in the morning. I checked my emails, looked at my friends' blogs, checked to see new comments on my flickr photos and now I'm blogging.

Yesterday, I had an amazing facial. Hydradermie by Guinot. It was the best facial, I've EVER had. I was going to get a massage and deep cleansing but instead I upgraded to the more expensive fancy facial. What's nice is since yesterday, I've discovered there is a spa very close to our apartment that does the same treatment for around the same price. Three of the Hydradermie treatments in one month are supposed to do wonders for your face. It felt good and my skin looks AMAZING.

Then we went swimming in the ocean but it was so windy that the current kept either knocking me over or pulling me ashore. So then we went swimming in the pool. I swam with my snorkeling gear on. It's long been my problem that I can't coordinate my breathing with my fourth swim stroke properly. But with the snorkel mask I can actually swim laps. I wish I could wear snorkel gear at my local pool in Queens without people looking at me like I was a freak.

Last night we went to Oistins. We were smart. Instead of spending $15.00 per person on the shuttle offered by the hotel, we took the bus for 75 cents each. The busses here are great. In Oistins we took photos of some drydocked boats waiting for repair. I feel like I got some great shots. Oistins is famous for its fishfry. So the second part of the evening we pigged out on some amazingly fresh fish. We had grilled red snapper and grilled marlin and we met some other travellers who made us feel superior because they paid $25 per person to get to the fishfry when they could have taken the bus. But they were nice.

Two days ago, we took the bus to someplace absolutely amazing. The west coast of Barbados has the most beautiful beaches with the best snorkeling. We visited Mullins Bay and snorkeled for hours. Then we spent an hour and a half getting back.

Today, we're taking a free shuttle into Bridgetown. This will be our second trip. The first trip we had two missions. One was to visit the Synagogue. The second was to find me a new bathing suit. Jon's indulging me. I want to go back for the sole purpose of taking pictures, but we might pick up some souvenirs along the way.

Tomorrow, we're booked for a catamaran cruise. Six hours. Two snorkeling stops. One lunch on the beach.

Then Monday, it's home for us. But that's okay with me, because seven days is about my limit for any vacation.

May 08, 2007

Barbados Is Hot

Jon and I made it to Barbados. It's hot down here. The beach is beautiful and breezy, so as long as we're on the beach it's not so bad. We're staying at the Amaryllis Beach Resort. Our room has a view of the ocean which looks both sapphire and turquoise. Yes. The ocean is striped. I'm not kidding. Well, at least it looks that way through my sunglasses. We have been repeatedly warned about the hot caribbean sun. So, at every opportunity today I've been slathering on the 45 spf lotion we picked up at Eckerd's on Sunday. Yet, somehow, I've still managed to manufacture freckles, but thankfully without the sunburn, so far.

You will probably be amazed by this, but I've taken less than 10 pictures so far. On our walk this morning, I saw two interesting houses - two pictures. And I may have taken one of the ocean from my lounge chair. I don't remember. Maybe I was just sizing up the shot. I don't remember because my memory is shot to pieces. The last week or so, I've been having trouble remembering the silliest things. Anyway, while I'm luxuriating in this cool, air conditioned internet cafe, Jon is looking for a supermarket where we might be able to pick up some supplies. Our room has a kitchenette which is fortunate because the hotel restaurants are expensive with a capital "e".

I should be able to upload pictures at the hotel's business centre. We'll see. If not, I'll post some pictures when we get home.

Enjoy the nice spring weather. We'll be home soon.

May 06, 2007

The Sopranos - Episode 82 - Walk Like a Man

Spoilers about episode 82 follow.

Tonight's episode was very upsetting.

Walk Like A Man was no doubt chosen as the title of the episode because both AJ and Christopher were challenged by their circumstances to act like the men they are expected to be instead of the men that they are.

On the one hand you had Christopher who has been staying clean and sober by avoiding the situations that caused him to drink and use drugs. His friends have started noticing that he doesn't hang around the strip club like he used to and they are starting to resent him for it, especially Paulie. Paulie challenged Christopher by having his nephew rob tools from Chrisopher's father-in-law's store. You might recall that those tools were being supplied by a connection made through Paulie in the first place. But still. The whole point of stealing from the father-in-law was to create problems for Christopher.

When Christopher tried to talk to Tony about it, Tony told him that his problems stem from his absence from the strip club. He's not in the loop. He's a ghost, therefore he's losing respect. After Paulie's nephew steals from the store a second time, Christopher beats him up, throws him out a window and breaks his back. While Christopher and Tony were meeting about this Paulie drove in circles on Christopher's front lawn destroying $40 thousand in landscaping. A peace is reached. Christopher went to the Bada Bing club to settle things with Tony and Paulie. He decided to have a drink with Paulie to close the deal and ended up getting wasted. Feeling sorry for himself he went to talk to his writer friend played by Tim Daly. When Tim Daly's character told him that he didn't want to hear about Chris's war stories, Chris shot him point blank in the head. Dead. He murdered his friend after having a few drinks. That was very, very upsetting.

It seems that Christopher's father figures (Tony and Paulie) are failing him. This theme has been a constant through these last few episodes. And continued through AJ's story line.

As you remember, last week, AJ's fiance returned her engagement ring and broke it off, which has sent him into a downward spiral of despair and suicidal ideation. After responsibly setting him on the path of therapy, Tony then irresponsibly suggested to AJ that he start hanging out with Patsy Parisi's kid who has become a successful bookmaker at his sleep away college. AJ's new friends invited him to drink at the Bada Bing strip club and then later in the week to a frat party on campus. From the frat party they invited him along to rough up one of their debtors. AJ helped hold down a kid his own age while his friends beat him up and poured sulfuric acid on his feet - all for squelching on his bet. But that's what Tony wanted. He wanted him to hook up with Patsy's kid so his son would stop feeling sorry for himself. But I think he also wanted to set AJ on the same path that Tony's father set him on all those years ago. I think he wants AJ to become a criminal like him.

Tony as a father figure has let down two of his charges. First his nephew by discouraging him from staying sober and then his own son by encouraging him to hang out with hoods.

It was an upsetting episode all around.

Camera Dump

I emptied out my camera for the first time in a month. I did this because Jon and I are going to Barbados tomorrow and I wanted a clean canvas.

Here are some of the more memorable images.

Red Wall
Jon and I were walking one day and he liked this wall. He asked me to take a picture of it.
Red Wall

What can I say? I like to photograph fruits and vegetables. Is that really so wrong?

Macy's Marker
New York City has been adding these plaques to the sidewalks in front of famous landmarks, like Macy's.
Macy's Marker

Dead Bird
Walking down 30th Avenue, I saw a dead pigeon. I took its picture because I thought it was interesting that his feathers match the color of the sidewalk where died.
Dead Bird

Ooga Chugger

In light of David Hasselhoff's recent bout with insobriety, I thought I would post something that maybe paints him in a better light.

Which activity of Hasselhoff's in the following video is your favorite?

1) Bouncing with tribal people in a safari outfit
2) Flying on his motorcycle
3) Tobogganning in a fur coat

May 03, 2007

American Idol - Final Four

The final four contestants are Lakisha Jones, Jordin Sparks, Blake Lewis and Melinda Doolittle.

May 02, 2007

American Idol - Bon Jovi Mentors Remaining Six Idols

Jon Bon Jovi was this week's guest mentor which means that all the contestants had to sing Bon Jovi songs. It's too bad he didn't go the way of Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Lopez. They had the decency to NOT INSIST that the contestants only sing their songs. It gave the contestants a much great selection than Bon Jovi's limited book. Not to take anything way from Bon Jovi. It's just that most of their songs kind of sound the same and none of them are particularly good for showing off someone's vocal talents. But with that said, he was pretty nice to the contestants. All the contestants acted excited to be in his presence. I have to admit. He is pretty handsome. But I'm one of those people who actually prefers his acting to his music, so I'm not the most subjective person when it comes to critiquing his music.

On to the show. Opening for the American Idol's menagerie was Phil Stacey in the first spot. I know I've said repeatedly that I'm not a fan of Phil Stacey but even I can't deny him his moment in the "I finally don't suck" spotlight. He finally found a song that matches his mediocre voice and he sang the bejeezuz out of it. I found my listening to him and not watching him. When I listened to him "only" I enjoyed his rendition of "Blaze of Glory", a song I don't know. But when I did watch him, it was difficult. Is it just me or does he look unwell?

Jordin struggled through Living On A Prayer. She shouted her way through the song, like she did last week. Yet. Last week the judges didn't mention anything about her having shouted her way through the song while criticizing Lakisha quite harshly for doing so. That was last week. This week, the judges seem to have forgotten about the "Jordin Sparks Will Be The Next Idol" conspiracy and judged her appropriately. The cool thing about Jordin is she knew she didn't do well. So she was accepting of the judges' critiques - without being defensive - which is always a good quality for an American Idol contestant. I hope she doesn't have to go home tonight. I like her. She's confident and spunky.

At this point, I wondered again, why these poor contesants had to sing these lame songs. But I guess if you can sell a lame song well enough, you can succeed at anything in the music industry.

Lakisha found the one song probably of the Bon Jovi book that was good for her voice. And she sang it beautifully and she didn't shout and she brought a tear to my eye and she restored my faith in her ability to overcome her obvious lack of training. She sang something called "This Ain't A Love Song" a song I had never heard of either. I say either because before her meeting with Jon Bon Jovi, her only experience with him or his music had been an interview she'd seen on Oprah Winfrey. How cool is that? That's like Yoko Ono saying she had never heard of the Beatles when she first met John Lennon. Whether you believe it or not, it was probably humbling for Jon Bon Jovi to hear something like that - which in my opinion was much needed as you'll see in the chapter about Blake Lewis.

In his film clip, Blake was shown displaying his arrangement of "You Give Love A Bad Name" to JBJ and his accompianist. He expressed doubt that Blake's interpretation of his song would be well received because the song was such a familiar part of the rock-n-roll lexicon. He thought that Blake was taking a huge risk. That made me laugh. Because who walks around thinking that "You Give Love A Bad Name" is as untouchable as "Hey Jude" or "Feelin' Groovy". Did JBJ really expect the audience to storm the stage with torches and pitchforks because Blake dared to change "You Give Love A Bad Name"? (Honestly. What hubris.) Blake Lewis nailed it of course. His rendition made the song more interesting that it ever was any time I've heard it on the radio. He took a boring, generic 80's rock song and turned into an excuse to show off his originality, personality and inate abilites. Go BLAKE!!!

Chris Richardson sang "Dead or Alive", apparently employing the nasal technique so lauded during country music week. I'm still don't see his alleged resemblance to Justin Timberlake, either vocally or physically. I don't have anything more to say about him.

Melinda sang "Have A Nice Day". I never heard it before but as I was listening to it, I realized it's one of those tracks that falls somewhere near the end of the album. It would have been song 5 on the B side of the vinyl release. But she sang it like it was the most important song ever written and probably made that song sound better than it ever has or ever will. In other words, I didn't like the song, but I loved the singer.

The show ended with a pre-recorded message from the President and Laura Bush. You may not like President Bush and chances are that you don't because his approval rating is so low, but you have to admit that it was nice of the President to take the time to thank the people who helped raise $70 million last week. He's not running for office again. He didn't have to do that. I thought it was nice.

Because none of the contestants were sent home last week, tonight they'll be sending home two people, which means tonight we find out who the final four American Contestant Idols will be. I predicted a long time ago that Gina Glocksen would be in the final four. I'm sorry that she's not. I'm hoping the final four are (in no specific order) Melinda, Jordin, Lakisha and Blake. I'll be surprised if Phil and Chris make it. But they probably will.