July 27, 2007

Out, Damn Spot!

How Clean Is Your House is my newest obsession. After only two episodes, I am completely hooked. And I've been completely obsessed with cleaning since I first viewed the show on BBC America two days ago.

The show is hosted by Kim and Aggie. With cameras they go into the absolutely filthiest homes you have ever seen. Aggie goes around the house, teaching the inhabitants various cleaning methods. Kim finds the dirtiest spots she can find and collects biological samples which she takes to a lab. After Aggie finishes cleaning the house, Kim shows the inhabitants what grew in the Petry dishes. It's not pretty.

On the program I watched yesterday, they revealed a petry dish full of shigella and a bacteria that kills goats (they were goat farmers). There was a third that I can't recall but I can guarantee that it was exceedingly gross and scary.

So after I watched that episode I went to work on our bathroom with a pair of rubber gloves and a bottle of X-14 which kills mold and mildew with its highly concentrated bleach formula. I cleaned the bathroom for over an hour. It's probably the cleanest it's ever been and I know how to clean. Then I went over the floors with a Swiffer, for the third day in a row. I changed our sheets which I hadn't change in about 10 days or so.

Just now, I went over the kitchen counters with some Clorox Disinfecting Kitchen Cleanser and I'm about to tackle the spice rack - just 'cause it's disorganized, not because of germs. Or I might go to the laundry and throw the bathroom mats into a machine.

I'm on a cleaning jag.

July 25, 2007

The Brooklyn Cyclones

Sunday afternoon we joined our friends at a Cyclones game. We had great seats right behind third base - practically on the field. We could put our feet up on the rail and we had a great view of the parachute ride which has been jazzed up with a fresh coat of paint.

Coney Island Parachute Jump

Pictured below is the Cyclones' mascot which we all assumed is a seagul, but we weren't sure. The mascot looks fine in the picture, but his costume was really, really filthy dirty. If I were a parent, I would be very uncomfortable letting my child touch the dirty seagul, but I probably would. I wouldn't want to be the parent who embarrassed their child by shouting out that they should stop doing what all the other children are doing - but I would have those Handiwipes ready to go as soon as he or she came back to me.

Cyclone MascotCyclone Mascot 2

This is the sculpture above the scoreboard. Jon and I assumed that the rollercoaster moved anytime a Cyclone hit a homerun but it doesn't. I guess it's just fun to look at.
Cyclones Coaster

And for the most part we had a very nice time. Just one complaint. The family next to us had a toddler with a noticebly poopy diaper. We were downwind.
A Poopy Diaper

Cortland, Cooperstown and Syracuse

Jon's parents picked us up shortly after the bus dropped us off. We spent the evening walking up and down Main Street sampling the wares of different restaurants and bars. It was part of a promotion to encourage business. We had a nice time and the outing ended with dinner at the Starr Bistro. When we walked in the chef was right there. His kitchen is set up like a sushi bar. The chef greets you and makes you feel at home. His food was tasty and a lot of the dishes involve apples which makes sense because there's a whole apple thing going on in Cortland. I loved my duck breast. Sorry. No pictures. I was enjoying the food too much.

Sunday we kind of hung back. Jon went on a really long bike ride and I went to WalMart with Jon's mom.

On Monday, Jon's dad drove us to Cooperstown where baseball was "invented" by Abner Doubleday.

We found a parking space by Otsego Lake which is just dreamy.
Cooperstown Lake

We walked around Cooperstown a bit before heading into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cooperstown is quaint - a nice place to visit.
Cooperstown Street

We stopped in at Doubleday Field.
Jon and Val Doubleday Field

Here's Jon with his dad.
Jon and Con

We watched about 3o minutes of an intense game between two teenage teams. It was quiet and low key. No blaring music or flashing neon signs. Great way to see a game. Very nice.
Doubleday Game

We posed for a few pictures outside the stadium. Here's Jon with the Sandlot Kid - an absolute icon in Cooperstown souveniring.
Jon Sandlot Boy

Shortly after this we went to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum which was way more interesting than I thought it would be. I found myself absorbed in some of the displays - in the museum part anyway. The Hall of Fame part was just kind of "eh" for me. Hundreds of plaques that look exactly the same hang on walls splashed in bright sun light. Not knowing anything about baseball or its heroes or its mythology, I felt lost in there. I preferred the museum part. At least there, I could learn a little bit about the sport.

The next day, Jon and I borrowed the car and drove to Syracuse. I found Syracuse to be quite stark. As exemplified in this picture of Dinosaur BBQwhich is also where we had lunch.
Dinosaur BBQ Exterioe

The interior of the restaurant was much warmer and inviting. Here is some of their artwork.
The picture on the left is relief of a motorcycle that was hanging next to our table. The picture on the right is a creepy boar's head reminding people not to smoke.
Dinosaur BBQ artDinosaur BBQ Art 2

This is a mural of a dinosaur eating Syracuse.
Dinosaur BBQ Art 3

What was on the menu? A lot of pork.
Dinosaur BBQ Menu 2

We each ordered a sampler - which all came with a rack of ribs. Here I am praying that the food doesn't make me sick to my stomach.
Dinosaur BBQ Prayer

And here's our food.
Dinosaur Jon LunchDinosaur Valerie Lunch

We visited the outside of the NiMo building (Niagara Mohauk) which was built in the Art Deco style - quite nice.
Nimo Front

And then we drove over to the Carousel Mall - which of course has a great old carousel not pictured here.

The next day, we rode the bus all the way back to New York and this time without any problems.

It was a nice trip.

Our Bus Trip

Last week, Jon and I spent five days visiting my in-laws who we hadn't seen in quite some time. It was a welcome and much needed break.

Getting There
We took a Greyhound bus to reduce the stress of having to drive such a long way. But because of technical difficulties, stress was unavoidable. About 45 minutes out of Scranton, the bus started slowing down and then drifting over to the shoulder. The driver told us that the bus had shut itself down and he wasn't sure why. He thought the bus may have been overheating, so we sat on the shoulder while the bus cooled down. After about five minutes, the driver started again but had to pull over about 10 minutes later for the same reason.

This time he went to check the engine. He turned off the bus, flipped open the sun roof (escape hatch) and went around the back. Then he came back into the bus and climbed up through the sun roof so he could close it. He stayed up there. We heard footsteps moving on the roof walking toward the rear of the bus. When he realized he couldn't get down off the roof we heard him walk back. He tried to pull open the hatch but couldn't. So he had to knock so someone inside the bus could open the roof and let him back in. The entire bus was roaring with laughter.

As funny as that was, it didn't inspire much confidence. The driver made a series of phone calls to learn that he should go to a service station - duh - which he did. He poured water into the engine and we were on our way. He kept looking at a clipboard which had pages and pages of directions to different destinations.

A Boy on the BusAn inpatient passenger ended up giving him directions into the bus station at Binghamton because she had to transfer to another bus. We all found that pretty amusing - well, some of us did. Others were audibly upset and losing patience with the demonstrably incompetent driver. One person who did impress me with their coping abilities was this sweet boy who occupied himself quietly throughout all the nonsense.

When we got to Binghamton another driver offered to take some of us on his bus, so Jon and I joined him immediately - anything to get away from the king of incompetence. We made it to our destination, only one hour behind schedule.

Harry Potter was Great!!!

I finished the final Harry Potter book and boy was it great.

JK Rowling is a great story teller.

Don't worry. No spoilers here.

But when you're finished with the book, let me know in the comment section so I can write my Harry Potter post.

July 24, 2007

Promises, Promises

It's been a while since I've posted and I owe a few posts to the people who follow my daily travails (cliche alert).

But a good friend of mine just gave me the newest Harry Potter book and I haven't been able to put it down much since I started reading it Sunday night.

Here are some topics to come.

1. Age of Love and Rock of Love
2. Our trip upstate and our visit to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame
3. Our outing to Brooklyn for a Cyclones game
4. Pictures of stuff

July 20, 2007

George Takei

What a treat. I saw George Takei at Spring Awakening. Sadly, I couldn't talk to him. I was stationed at my headset booth during intermission and a crowd of about 10 people stood in front of me for the duration. They were drinking and talking, apparently unable to get over the shock of seeing some nudity at the end of act I. Over their heads I saw George Takei. I was thinking that if they hadn't been standing there, I may have been able to get his attention - made some eye contact or spoken with him even. But I couldn't. He was gone before I could finish the above thought.

Then after the show, while walking away from the theater, George Takei was four groups of people ahead of me. I tried to catch up with him but I couldn't. The crowd was too dense and moved too slowly. He broke away from the crowd at the hotel where I assume he was staying but by then, he was in a private conversation with a friend. What would have been a cool moment on a sidewalk in a crowd of people, would have been a weird and uncomfortable moment in the lobby of his hotel. You know what I mean?

If I could have spoken with him, I would have told him that I'm a big fan; that I loved him in Star Trek, that I loved his autobiography, To The Stars, which I own on audio cassette (as read by George Takei) and that I am happy his career is on the rise again.

And from what I know about him, he probably would have been receptive.

I just didn't want to chase him into a corner to tell him all that. It would have been weird.

July 18, 2007

July 15, 2007

McDonald Land

I mentioned earlier this month that Jon and I have joined a secret Jeopardy society. We're becoming pretty active participants and we've started submitting game boards for other members to play. That means that we've been researching and writing our own questions.

Jon is much quicker than me when it comes to submitting boards and he's written five to my one. But I started work on a second board. My third category on that board is fictional mayors. As part of my research, Jon suggested I check into a law suit that the Sydney and Marty Craft brought against McDonald's for stealing from the H.R. Puf"n'Stuff program for their McDonald's land ideas, which is what I did.

Anyway, as a result of all that Jon found this video on YouTube which I present to you here. It is definitely trippy and if you're familiar with H.R Puf'n'Stuff, you will recognize the imagery immediately.

July 13, 2007

Rachel Ray

Is it just me or does Rachel Ray drive anyone else mad with her bastardized version of English?

E.V.O.O. - This is what RR calls Extra Virgin Olive Oil. But honestly. Does it take that much longer to say it than it does to abbreviate it? And could she just say at the top of her show that when she refers to oil, she is referring to Extra Virgin Olive Oil since that's the only type of oil she ever uses?

To make it even more annoying, EVOO is getting added to the dictionary - I couldn't tell you which one though. Maybe it's some dictionary of annoying invented language .

Yum-O - What is she? Six years old? She can't remember how to say Yummy.

Delish - One more syllable and she'd have the word delicious. Not cute. Not really a time saver.

Sammies - Perhaps the most annoying of her euphemisms, it's how Rachel Ray refers to sandwiches. I'm assuming that's the shortened form of the common childhood mispronunciation sammiches. Not cute.

Daniel Radcliffe At A Chorus Line

Last night, I saw Harry Potter or rather I saw the actor who plays Harry Potter in the movies. I knew something special was going because I saw a couple of security guards standing in the back of the theater near my booth. Aside from always wearing suits, security guards very often wear devices in their ears with little coils so they can conduct discreet conversations with each other.

Daniel Radcliffe was hard to spot. He was sitting in the orchestra section on the aisle about 15 rows back. He was wearing a clever disguse - a beige painter's cap. Amazingly no one was bothering him. I heard later from an usher that a couple of girls sitting across the aisle starting giggling madly when they noticed him and tried to get an autograph but the usher discouraged them. Thank goodness. That would have started an assault of giggling girls because for whatever reason, last night, there were a lot of teenage girls seeing the show. Sometimes crowds are skewed a certain way with no explanation - people wearing red shirts; people over 50; groups of pregnant women.

With that said, he managed to maintain his anonymity throughout the show, because he didn't remove his cap until the show started. I didn't get a good look at him until the show as over. He was brought up the aisle and escorted back stage by his security guards. On his way back stage, he walked by me.

And I have to say, he looks like a regular nice kid. He's got very big eyes. He's not that tall. And he had a pleasant air about him meaning he didn't seem arrogant or spoiiled or obnoxious. In addition to his security detail (2 beefy, goodlooking English guys), he was with two adults who could have been his parents, but I don't really know who they were.

Most importantly he looked like a kid. I know there are people who think that Daniel Radcliffe is starting to look too old to play Harry Potter but when you see him in person, he looks just the right age. He looks like a teenager and I think might even look a little younger than his age.

If I were a teenager, I probably would have had the same reaction. I've never been a giggler in the face of celebrity - just people with I might really have had a chance of getting romantic.

So what's my take on Daniel Radcliffe? Leave him alone if you see him. He's a nice boy.

July 11, 2007

Grey Gardens Comes To An End

Sadly, one of my favorite new Broadway shows will be closing prematurely on July 29th.

Grey Gardens is the musical that some really smart people based on the Maysles brother's documentary about Jackie O's aunt and cousin, big and little Edie Beale. Sadly, they just haven't been able to fill seats, in spite of the two big Tony wins.

This really saddens me, but maybe it's a good thing. Christine Ebersole who won a Tony for playing both big and little Edie through the course of the show, has got to be exhausted by now. She's been playing the part for two years or so, since before it was on Broadway.

Additionally, a short run of a fantastic show makes you feel like you were part of something really special if you got to see it, of course.

Whether or not the show could succeed on the road with two other actresses playing their parts is an entirely different issue. And probably the reason why the show didn't win a Tony. From all the people I've talked to over the last year, I heard that a big consideration for awarding a Tony to a show is whether or not the show can travel. By traveling, I mean whether or not the show will succeed when community theater groups or bigger venues in cities like in Missouri or Chicago try to stage the show. It was the general concensus of quite a few people that I've spoken with the show simply will not travel as well as something like Curtains or Spring Awakening (2007 winner for best show).

I loved Grey Gardens all 20 or so times I saw the show. And just thinking about it now for this brief moment, I've got three songs from the show bouncing around my brain, particularly the opening number of ACT II. And the beautiful duet at the end of ACT II.

The final duet with Ebersole and Wilson, for me, is alone worth the ticket price.

Please. I implore you. If you haven't seen Christine Ebersole and Mary Wilson's Tony award winning performances yet, GO SEE THEM. Nobody on Broadway can touch them in terms of performance, personal chemistry and emotional connection to the audience.

It's a beautiful show and it's a shame it has to come to an end.

Xanadu - The Reviews Are In

The reviews for Xanadu the Musical are in.

NY Times reviewer Charles Isherwood liked it but didn't love it. Overall, the review is favorable. He describes the lead Keri Butler as "heaven on wheels, and in leg warmers".

Daily News reviewer Joe Dziemianowicz liked it for the most part. I thought he gave the most honest review. He liked the parts of the show that were strong and pointed out the parts that were weak. Isherwood did that too, but Dziemianowicz did it in a more constructive way.

NY Post reviewer Clive Barnes, in his review which is not so cleverly entitled "XANADON'T", really panned the play. While I agree that this isn't the BEST thing Broadway has to offer, it certainly doesn't deserve the harsh critique Barnes wrote up for it. Sometimes I think he is mean spirited just because he can be. He reminds of Anton Ego, the food critic from Ratatouille, whose mission in life is to make it impossible for any restaurant to succeed culinarily.

And while I agree that there are some dead spots in the show, something that all three critics commented on, overall the show is very entertaining. The nights I was there, not a single person walked out with their heads hanging low. They all felt good - the way they should.

Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School

I bet you've all been wondering if after my inexplicable obsession with VH1's hit Flavor of Love if I would watch Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School. Of course I did. I've just been too embarrassed to admit it up until now. What changed? Why am I now admitting that I watched it? Because in the reunion show, the show's host Mo'Nique said that Charm School was VH1's number one show. So with that many people watching the show, how could I deny ever having watched it? I can't.

The reason I enjoy this show much is it requires absolutely no thought at all. And it's designed that way. Somehow, Cris Abrego - the show's producer - has figured out a way to make a show that is all surface and no substance, more than any other reality show out there. And it's addictive. Once you watch a couple of episodes you become invested in the outcome. And you get caught up in all the little dramas. Never for one second did I believe that the producers really had any interest in teaching the Charm School students how to be more charming, although Mo'Nique did a pretty good job trying to convince us that she really did care.

If they really wanted to help these women improve their images, they would never have shown half the footage they did. When you think about it though, if they really, really wanted to help they would never have even filmed them. Of course, some of the women did thrive and those were the ones who really wanted to change their lives. But much like Flavor of Love, most of the women really just wanted to be on television. It was interesting to watch the women who couldn't reconcile that with themselves - like poor Larissa. Larissa - formerly known as Bootz - came in as a certain type of person and left as that person. She behaved just terribly on the show and really embarrassed herself. Not that the other women didn't, but her more than all the others.

Like I said, I found myself caught up in the life stories of these ladies and all their little conflicts. Will Leilene discover her inner strength? Will Buckwild shed her wigger pretense? Will Saaphyri be able to keep her temper under control? Will Shay and Larissa's friendship survive in the aftermath of having framed Shatar by stealing the photos of Leilene's dead mother? You get the idea.

And I was actually happy when Saaphyri Windsor won the $50,000. At the reunion show, I learned that with the money, Saaphyri put down a deposit on a condo, is starting a charity for women who have lost their hair through either cancer treatments or alopecia and is also starting her own line of "lip chap". I would like to know where she's living that she can make a dollar stretch that far. But I also hope that she's able to hold herself together after letting her image fall so far south in her first appearance on the Flavor of Love.

So. Yes. I did watch the show. I saw every episode - some I watched twice. And yes. I did enjoy the show.

July 10, 2007

Shady Lady

Because of the extremely hot and humid weather I have not left my cool, air-condtioned house (which we keep at a constant 73 degrees) since 11 Sunday morning. Don't be jealous. I do work, just not on Sundays or Mondays. And you should be especially NOT jealous of me because I am about to do our laundry which must be done by this afternoon or I won't have anything wear to work tonight.

Where am I working this week you ask? This week, I am working at A Chorus Line which is running at the Schoenfeld (formerly the Plymouth) theater. I imagine it will be sold out which means I'll have to stand in order watch the show (poor me). But that's okay because I'm reading a Jodi Piccoult book and that should keep me busy for a couple of hours.

July 07, 2007


What a nice surprise. I actually enjoyed this movie. It was surprisingly well developed and not so surprisingly it was beautifully animated.

Who knew that I could enjoy a movie about rats in a kitchen especially after reading Rats by Robert Sullivan. I was afraid that after reading his book that it would have been IMPOSSIBLE for me to suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy the movie but somehow PIXAR worked it out. The rat was cute and voiced by the personification of cuteness, comedian Patton Oswalt.

I wonder if Disney ever really listened to his stand up. I'm sure if that were the only thing on which they based choosing him, he wouldn't have gotten it because he is a dirty, dirty boy. But, like all comedians who make it as actors, he is immensely talented. In his stand up routines he portrays himself as an obsessive compulsive who loves food eating or as an eloquent person might put it, eating food. In the movie he plays a rat gourmand, obsessed with cleanliness. I like Oswalt so I'm not going to say he's a rat. He's not. But the other part doesn't seem like to much of a stretch. He was well suited for the role.

The movie is fun. Go see it. Now.

The Misanthrope has spoken.