Tuesday, June 29, 2010

FIVE SHAGGABLE PEOPLE


That's right. Who says I'm not classy.

We all have those celebrities in mind -- those certain people that when we see them on the screen, our hearts skip a beat.

When I was a teeny-bopper in the late 70's, it was all about the Cassidy brothers, David and Shaun.
















T.V.'s 'The Hardy Boys', starring the latter, was one of my favorite shows then and I'm sorry to admit now that my hall of shame includes my having Shaun Cassidy's posters on my walls and listening to his 8 tracks.

As for David -- well, shit. He's a no brainer. Gorgeous then with the perfect combination of feathered hair, mega-watt smile and puka shell necklaces -- and he's gorgeous now. To this day probably the ONLY song anyone could ever get me to karaoke to (I don't do public humiliation) is "I think I Love You".

So, I'm a sappy schmuck for schmaltz!

I always thought; "If only one of them would meet me they would fall in love with me".

Yep. Grown men falling in love with an 11 year old. Hey, if it's good enough for Jerry Lee Lewis..... Made sense to me.

How many hours, I wonder, did I practice writing 'Jo Anna Cassidy' on notebook paper, my binders, my diary....?

To this day, one of my heartbreaks is that Shaun Cassidy never answered my fan letters (yes, as in plural).

A) He probably couldn't read my girlish handwriting and non-sensical run-on sentences

B) I may very well have likely been the first stalker.

But alas, I was growing up. It had to happen. In 1978 for my 12th birthday, my brother, Vern, gave me Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' album (yes, I'm talking vinyl) and suddenly out went the Cassidy brothers, posters and all (sorry, boys), and in came adolescence along with my lifetime love of Rock & Roll. Especially the aforementioned group whom I fear I will never get to see in concert. Lindsey Buckingham's guitar riffs and Stevie Nick's wonderfully gravely voice still make my motor run.

Ahhh...'Fleetwood Mac', 'The Eagles', 'Boston' (R.I.P. Brad Delp).....the memories and their legendary music still lives within me and my CD collection.

Fast forward to the present. My good friend, Steven Anthony from 'Life In The Fish Bowl' (you can get to his wonderful blog from his blog button on my sidebar under 'My Favorite Blogs'), encouraged me to join in the fun of naming five celebrities I deem 'shaggable'.

You may be shocked to know that neither Cassidy brother is on my list. Hey, they had their chance. Time moved on without them.

5) Michael Keaton












I check IMDB.com quite regularly hoping and waiting for the deserved and long awaited cinematic comeback from one of my favorite actors of all time; the guy who brought us 'Mr. Mom', started the 'Batman' movie franchise (and nailed it!), 'My Life', 'The Paper' and 'Multiplicity'. He currently stars as the voice of 'Ken' in 'Toy Story 3'.

His piercing eyes, comedic timing, pouty lips, curly hair....Mmmmmmm.

Still a fan and always will be although I managed to refrain from stalking him. I'm a big girl now, after all. Er, minus the incident where cops were called....

4) Ville Valo, Finnish front man for the group 'H.I.M.'












Okay, so I like androgynous men. His deep and sexy voice, willowy, lanky body and penetrating eyes...not to mention he pulled off a beautiful remake of a rock & roll classic; 'Don't Fear The Reaper'.

3) Rufus Sewell -- tall British actor with big eyes and raspy voice. He was the antagonist in 'The Illusionist' with Edward Norton, the noble king in 'Tristan And Isolde' and the love Kate Winslet couldn't quite get over in 'The Holiday'.












Who could blame her?

2) Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Fresh off the heals of the series finale 'The Tudors' (about King Henry VIII -- please read the post two below this one for my praise of Mr. Rhys Meyers and this series as well as a little history lesson), one look from his gaze and I was hooked.








This Irish actor whose stare will melt any icy exterior -- whom you know from films like 'Bend It Like Beckham', 'August Rush' and his latest; 'From Paris With Love' co-starring John Travolta -- nailed the role of the infamous King Henry and made the British monarchy sexy.


1) Damien Rice. Irish singer of haunting songs such as '9 Crimes' and 'The Blowers Daughter' (which could be heard in the Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Natalie Portman and Jude Law film, 'Closer').












You can hear the angst and sincerity in his voice when he sings. This low key singer with the rugged yet boyish looks and intense eyes that burn right through you is the epitome of smoldering without even trying.

The Irish accent doesn't hurt, either.

*BONUS SHAG: I'm breaking the rules here by adding a posthumous honorary sex God title to the one and only Cary Grant.

Born Archibald Leach in Surrey, England, Mr. Grant only seemed to get better looking with age.

To this day I envy the love he had for fellow actor Randolph Scott (yes, ladies, Mr. Grant was in all probability gay).

With perfect comedic timing, that recognizable voice and never-ending sex appeal (um, hello 'To Catch A Thief'!), Cary Grant is a do-able shag for the ages.

Monday, June 28, 2010

IS IT JUST ME?


'CORONA' BEER EDITION:

How can anyone who loves a cold beer on a warm day -- especially with a little freshly squeezed citrusy lime in it -- served with your favorite foods (Mexican food comes to my mind....) take umbrage to a beer commercial showing people happily lazing about on a beach ocean gazing?

I seem to be summertime's answer to the notorious Ebenezer Scrooge.

Just call me Ebbie.

The 'Corona' beer commercials are supposed to evoke a feeling of an easy-breezy summertime.

Instead, in my case anyway, they evoke anger and puzzlement.

It all started innocently enough when last year I viewed one of their commercials: a couple sitting on an uncrowded beach in their well placed lawn chairs, seagulls squawking, ocean waves subtly crashing and enjoying their 'Corona's' which we see in a galvanized pail between the couple. The man is enjoying his 'Corona' when a bikini clad young woman walks by as his head turns following her. The woman with him then squirts him in the face with her cut lime.

Well deserved.

What gets to me though is at closer range we see the woman is drinking 'Corona Light' while the man is drinking the full caloried 'Corona'.

Are we to then assume by the misogynistic tone of that commercial that it is only women who need to watch their figures???

I resented it then and I resent it now.

Fast forward to last night as indeed summer is once again upon us and the 'Corona' beer people -- in their well timed wisdom -- aired a new commercial.

This time we see two males sitting next to each other in lawn chairs, again on a seemingly secluded beach, 'Corona's' in hand.

I see nothing wrong with this commercial thus far, in fact, I am delighted that it needs no explanation. Why can't two male friends or a gay male couple enjoy 'Corona's' on a beach just like last summers previous couple?

Let's put aside the fact that drinking on a public beach is illegal. So, we'll assume it's a private beach and all is well and as it should be.

So, back to my topic at hand; I was really digging 'Corona's' new flair. What, after all, would be so wrong with having two males -- assumptions or no assumptions -- enjoying their time together on this beach?

Apparently what is truly wrong is enough close-mindedness that the 'good people' at 'Corona' then decide to do a wide pan shot and we see that on each side of the two males in question are their female significant others.

Why couldn't it be left alone as is?

'Corona' in all their political incorrectness is doing anything but making me want to buy their beer for my 4th of July or my next Mexican food feast as I'm finding their commercials downright offensive.

Let's pull it together, 'Corona'. We're at the precipice of legal gay marriage everywhere and yes, men have love-handles, too!

Until you can find a way to stop insulting what I -- and no doubt many others --believe in, you can find me wasting away in Margaritaville this summer.

Pardon me, please, while I search for my lost shaker of salt.

Friday, June 25, 2010

THE END OF A DYNASTY


A few nights ago Ed and I watched the series finale of 'The Tudors'. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Showtime series, 'The Tudors' was a four seasons long adaptation of the reign of King Henry VIII, whose last name, of course, was Tudor.

Starring in the titular role was the gorgeous Irish actor, Jonathon Rhys Meyers who artistically nailed King Henry's tyrannical demeanor.

Jonathon Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII










What Henry Tudor wanted, Henry Tudor got and Jonathon Rhys Meyers did a beautiful job of portraying someone whom we really have no idea how he sounded, walked or even looked as even the well known paintings of the infamous king should really be viewed with an abstract eye as most paintings of that era portray everyone -- men and women alike -- as pretty much looking the same with heavily lidded eyes and small mouths. I, personally and in my humble opinion, attribute this more to the artistry of the era rather than accuracy.

What we do know is that King Henry VIII changed the face of religion as we know it today and added divorce to our vocabulary.

Throughout the series, Ed and I remained perpetually in awe of this man who wielded unstoppable power.

*Season one saw Henry married to Catherine of Aragon of Spain, his brothers widow.












Maria Doyle Kennedy as Catherine Of Aragon












They have one child, a daughter; Lady Mary.

Henry, in addition to being King, of course, was also a virile man, supposedly quite good looking and charming allowing him to have any woman he desired in his bed chambers, and he did, having several illegitimate children along the way.

When he meets Anne Boleyn, it is then -- with Anne Boleyn's encouragement and manipulation -- that he becomes increasingly dissatisfied and distasteful of the much beloved by the people, Queen Catherine, who miscarried numerous times unable to bore him a son, with Henry then seeking to annul their marriage so he could marry Ms. Boleyn (whose older sister, Mary, as history tells it, allegedly bore the King's illegitimate son whom Henry wouldn't acknowledge).

When the pope refuses to grant him an annulment, Henry puts in motion to make himself the head of the Church Of England, thus making his own rules and religion and 'divorcing' Queen Catherine to marry Anne Boleyn.












Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn











Queen Catherine died shortly thereafter alone and in poverty by royal standards.

History: Lady Mary, of course, would later become known in her short reign as 'Bloody Mary' for her burning of hundreds of so-called heretics when she tried to reinstate Catholicism as England's only religion and denouncing protestants as heretics.













Sarah Bolger as Lady Mary








*In season two we see Anne Boleyn then crowned and married to King Henry as his second wife and already pregnant with Elizabeth who was born in September of that year. After several miscarriages thereafter and not producing Henry a son, he soon becomes bored with Anne and starts courting his future wife, Jane Seymour.

Cries of alleged heresy and incest with her brother surrounds Anne and she is soon imprisoned, tried for treason, found guilty (though she was not) and ultimately, infamously beheaded. Elizabeth was not yet three.

History:

Anne later becomes a sympathetic figure in the women's movement and their daughter, Elizabeth, 'The Virgin Queen', becomes the longest ruler in England's history with her reign known as 'The Golden years'-- she was the last of the Tudor dynasty.











Laoise Murray (right) as Elizabeth Tudor












*Season three opens with Henry marrying who is said to be the true love of his life, Jane Seymour, Henry's third wife.













Annabelle Wallis as Jane Seymour








Jane was said to be a gentle, agreeable woman and whom encouraged good relations with Henry's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, who went largely ignored by their father.

She gives birth to their son, Edward VI, but dies less than two weeks later from post-natal complications, sending Henry into a long period of grieving.

History: Jane Seymour was the only one of Henry's wives to receive a queens funeral.

Henry is then advised he must have a queen and it is arranged for him to marry Anne Of Cleves, a German noblewoman, who would become Henry's fourth wife.












Joss Stone as Anne Of Cleves











However, Henry is immediately dissatisfied in not being attracted to Anne and has the marriage soon annulled, bestowing upon Anne a home, generous income and the royal title of Henry's 'sister'.

Anne is particularly close to Henry's daughters and Henry and Anne remain good friends, often visiting and playing cards -- she becomes one of his confidants.


History:

Edward VI was nine when Henry died and thus became ruler of England under his maternal uncle's (Jane Seymour's brother, Edward Seymour) guardianship and guidance.

King Henry's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, were deemed illegitimate and therefore, not eligible at that time for ruling England: Mary was deemed illegitimate due to Henry's annulment from her Mother, Catherine Of Aragon. Elizabeth was deemed illegitimate due to her Mother's, Anne Boleyn's, execution.

Edward VI died when he was fifteen naming Lady Jane Grey, Henry's great-niece (oldest granddaughter of Henry's long deceased sister, Mary), the successor to Edward's throne.

Very soon after, Parliament declared Henry's eldest daughter, Mary, the rightful queen and reinstated her as such.

Lady Jane Grey was then executed less than two weeks after her succession to the throne for high treason.

Lady Jane Grey became a protestant martyr for centuries.

*Season four, and the final season, shows Henry now married to fifteen year old Catherine Howard, his fifth wife (and Anne Boleyn's cousin), with a renewed vigor for the aging king who is painfully afflicted with gout.












Tamzin Merchant as Catherine Howard











Catherine is young, immature, ill prepared and disinterested in her duties as queen. She is also immensely disliked by Henry's eldest daughter, Lady Mary.

Catherine's youth is the catalyst for her bad decisions, including allowing several people into her service who know of her past affairs as well as Catherine then beginning an affair with one of the Kings courtiers, Thomas Culpeper.

This is all soon found out and she becomes the second wife of Henry's to be tried for treason, found guilty (unlike Anne Boleyn, Catherine was guilty) and beheaded.

Catherine and Henry had no children.

History:

After her arrest, Catherine Howard admitted her past liaisons prior to meeting and marrying Henry but would never admit to an affair with Thomas Culpeper although it is alleged that her last words before the blade struck were: "I die a Queen, but I would rather have died the wife of Culpeper."

Upon her house arrest prior to being taken to the tower for imprisonment and, ultimately, her execution, it is said that Catherine Howard escaped the guards and ran to Henry screaming and begging for her life.

It is said Catherine's ghost still roams the palace halls re-enacting this scene.

The end of 'The Tudors' final season shows Henry's interest in Katharine Parr, a twice married protestant wealthy widow.












Joely Richardson as Katharine Parr











While she does not necessarily love Henry at first, she nonetheless marries him, thus becoming his sixth and final wife, and carries on her duties efficiently.

She is well informed, kind, intelligent and deeply loves Henry's children. In fact, it is she who reinstates the Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth back at the palace, thus, helping them grow closer to their father.

In spite of the new queens love for her, Lady Mary, due to her strong Catholic beliefs, goes on a quest to have her new protestant step-mother denounced as a heretic and tries, with the help of an ambitious and pious clergyman, to have her arrested.

Their plot is unsuccessful due to interference from Henry.

Katharine Parr and Henry had no children together.

History:

Prior to Henry's death -- at the age of 55 in 1547 -- he told Katharine that she will be treated and regarded as Queen of England even after his death. She was also granted a generous stipend from Henry's fortune and was given his blessing for her to remarry with no interference of her income and status.

She then married Thomas Seymour (another one of Jane's brother's), her fourth husband, six months after the kings death, causing a small scandal. Thomas Seymour and Katharine were having an affair prior to her marrying Henry, however, there is no evidence to suggest that the affair continued during her marriage to the king.

Katharine and Thomas Seymour had a little girl named Mary in August of 1548.

Katharine died a month after giving birth to Mary at the age of 35 due to post-natal complications, as was quite common back then. Katharine's husband, Thomas Seymour, was executed when Mary was one due to treason.

Not much is known about Mary Seymour although it is speculated that she was orphaned penniless as it is said her late Mother's wealth was later confiscated by the crown.

It is suggested that Mary Seymour didn't live past the age of ten after being passed around from family to family.

There are also speculations saying she indeed grew to see adulthood marrying a member of the household of Queen Anne Of Denmark.

Another theory suggests she became a lady in waiting to Elizabeth I.


The end of the series:

During the reign of King Henry VIII, we see him execute Sir Thomas More, Cardinal Wolsey, Secretary Cromwell and Lord Surrey -- all one time friends and advisers of the king.

In the end, we see a re-emergence of most of Henry's dead wives in the series finale come back to chide and taunt him in his near death state.










Henry is left with but one true friend, Charles Brandon, the one he's had the longest, and not since the death of Henry's beloved third wife, Jane Seymour, do we see such a decline and grief in the king as we do when Charles dies.












Henry Cavill as Charles Brandon












Henry, in a fit of uncharacteristic generosity, insists on Charles being buried in the royal cemetery, with full honors and fully paid for by the king.

It was this moment of immortality and rare humanity that touched me at the end of this series the most.

We don't see Henry die, instead we see him commission what will become the most famous painting of the king and as he sees it's unveiling, we see Henry reflecting back on the glory days of his reign, his loves, his children, his tyranny, his life.

We then see in slow motion the grim reaper on a white horse coming towards a youthful king....

Well done and....long live the king.

Monday, June 21, 2010

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?


Saturday my Mom lost her best friend/sister, Joan (see previous post). She was simply unable to recover from her injuries and of being alone on the floor of her apartment unattended and un-checked on for four days.

With her already being in ill health, this was, sadly, an inevitable outcome.

Equally sad is apathy.

I want to be clear. I didn't know Joan from a can of paint -- and vice versa. I, of course, met her several times in the course of my life but it had been years since I'd seen her with her living in northern California and myself and my clan in the southern part of the state. Joan was indeed reclusive the older she got and became more neurotic as time went on.

While my Mom acknowledged her "sister's" 'loony-ness', the fact remains that they'd been connected initially since birth and remained so.

Naturally, this is a very difficult time for my Mom.

Regardless of whether or not Joan was a part of my existence is irrelevant, the fact is that she was very much connected with my Mom throughout her entire life.

Imagine losing the person in your life who has known you the longest. They were indeed witnesses to each others lives long before husbands and children.

Upon calling a close family member to inform them of my Mom's loss, I was shocked by the apathetic attitude of: "I didn't even know the woman" kind of thing. Okay, well, neither did I but can we not still acknowledge my Mom's loss and heartache?

Another family member seemed much more in tune and empathetic when speaking to my Mom by phone while the one that I called seemed to want to make me feel positively stupid for calling (although, I refuse to do so and stand by my decision) since I received nothing but silence on the other end before informing me of their lack of acquaintance with Joan as well as that they'll simply "think about calling" my Mom to lend some support -- which, of course, they haven't; this was Saturday.

This family member has been upset with my Mom for many years stemming from bad marital choices and financial decisions and no doubt think that I coddle her.

If by "coddling" they mean that I'm able to just let go of certain things -- and the ones that I'm not able to get a grasp on, I go to therapy for...then they're absolutely right.

Hanging onto bitterness and disapproval of bad decisions, even when they affected me personally, have the earmark for an ulcer in the making, not to mention a bitter heart and soul.

I suppose I just find it interesting that people are much more apt to lend a hand to a stranger or a community (which is indeed needed and warranted, of course) but cannot reach out to a family member in need.

I felt this way when Ed and I were down, alone and scared last year that I would have LOVED a phone call from someone -- anyone -- just to say that they were thinking about us.

Or in this case praying for us as this family member is deeply rooted in Christian values.

I guess those values don't reach out to California.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

THE OTHER SIDE OF RIGHT



Where do our responsibilities lie? How much are we accountable for others?

I found myself in the uncomfortable position of righteous indignation yesterday. This was an unfamiliar feeling as most of the time I feel ill prepared for life and it's surprises whether it be grand, tragic or somewhere in between.

My Mom has a lifelong best friend named Joan Rhea (Rhea is her middle name) whom I was named after. My grandparents and Joan's parents were best friends their whole adult lives and Joan and my Mom were born close together, growing up like sisters. They even looked somewhat alike and having been raised in the same neighborhood and going to school together all through adolescence, they were often mistaken as sisters.

In their hearts and to each other, they would indeed refer to each other as such.

They are both now nearly 77.

Joan has two grown boys, one of whom is a vagabond; frequently homeless whose whereabouts are often unknown and the other is quite successful living in Oregon with his wife and infant daughter.

Joan (being long divorced) lives on her own, as she has for many years now, in a retirement community (not an assisted living but rather a lovely condominium complex) in northern California.

Many times my Mom over the years has visited Joan, often sitting on the balcony over-looking the beautiful grounds and enjoying watching the deer.

Joan has become quite reclusive (and a bit odd, to be frank) so it's always my Mom who had to visit her. Due to my Mom's increasing transportation issues, the visits have become less frequent but they talk by phone several times a week.

To lose one would be like losing a part of themselves. They are that close.

So imagine my Mom's worry when after four days she was unable to reach Joan by phone.

I told my Mom she needs to call the retirement complex in which Joan lives to have someone go check on her but she was unable to locate the number.

So, I got on-line yesterday, looked up the name of the complex and found the phone number and explained to the woman who answered the situation with Joan, who then connected me to the security gate.

I spoke to a security guard who immediately took down my name and number, asked for my Mom's name and immediately went to go check on Joan, with a promise to call me back.

He did.

Joan was thankfully alive but had been lying on the floor for four days unable to move or call for help.

Security naturally called 9-1-1 and I could hear the sirens in the background. She was taken to the local hospital where she is due to have surgery today due to a fractured hip.

I called the hospital and told them who I was -- they had to go ask Joan permission to give me any information, which I then relayed to my Mom followed by her great relief. My Mom was positively frantic during this ordeal.

No doubt Joan was dehydrated and weak and when my Mom finally was able to speak to her by phone, hours later, she wasn't very lucid. A stroke perhaps, medication or simply a weakened state from her experience, we're not exactly sure.

I found out through the nurse that in the hospital emergency room sitting next to Joan was a woman named Arlene (yes, I am using real names!). Arlene and her husband, Jerry, live directly upstairs from Joan and have her apartment key. Joan PAYS them to do her grocery shopping for her as Joan has been in a weakened state due to health issues, mostly having to do with her needing a breathing apparatus.

They are also supposed to look in on her. They didn't. Obviously.

Only upon hearing the sirens entering the gated community did Arlene put on her Florence Nightingale act and proceed to accompany Joan to the hospital.

When my Mom heard of this, I swear there was a thump from her hitting the floor!

Not only that, but Arlene is the only one who had Joan's sons phone number. Joan has refused to give my Mom his number because she knew my Mom would call him with concerns for Joan's health and living conditions.

Due to Joan's increasing health risks and her spending habits (she is flat broke after blowing money on QVC and such), her son has tried to convince Joan to move to Oregon to be closer to him and his wife but she has refused to leave her home nor has she permitted a visit from him because she knows he will see the condition she has let herself and her place get and demand that she move to be closer to him where he can keep a watchful eye on her.

So, Arlene has his number but, of course, didn't call him. The hospital got it out of her and was able to contact him.

My Mom was livid. So, Joan's son was eventually reached and he then called my Mom (she now has his number locked and loaded in her address book) to thank her and I for getting Joan help.

Joan will be having surgery today on her fractured hip and will no doubt have to re-think her place of residence and whom will care for her.

Joan's accountability for her condition and refusal of common sense will now no doubt have consequences.

And what about Arlene, this "friend" who was supposed to be looking in on Joan?

The son is quite appalled and will be removing the key from Arlene upon his trip to see his Mom tomorrow, as well as making some big decisions while his wife and baby are at home.

When one takes on the responsibility of accepting a key and taking money from someone to do their grocery shopping (even though you go to the store anyway) with the understanding of checking in daily just to make sure everything is all right, with that comes an obligation, yes? A sense of responsibility.

This is not the time, place or situation for compromise -- and this is where Arlene failed.

"We need to restore the full meaning of that old word, duty. It is the other side of rights."
~Pearl Buck

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

REMOVING THE TOXINS


Hi, all. It's been a week or so since I last posted but the explanation for such is quite simple: our computer caught a virus and we had to naturally take it into professionals to have it removed. Costly.

Although we've had it back for a few days now, I've simply been enjoying some much needed quality time with Ed, making some equally much needed changes in my life and dealing with other kinds of viruses: my world is seemingly full of euphemisms.

Ed works in Los Angeles, easily and hour to an hour and a half drive from where we live, more often than not it is much more depending on traffic. He's been working six days a week and on M-F he is gone from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. There is much work that needs to be done and he is currently the only one in his department that can do it. Due to this, we've been able to not only catch up on bills, but are paying for B's school, eating a little better and trying to build our savings.

All those things are, of course, good. What is not good is the toll this is taking on Ed. I make a point to feed him only healthy food. He'll be 48 next month, has high blood pressure and a job that's digging him an early grave -- it's my 'job' to counter all those toxins in his life with doing my part for him: home cooked healthy meals, a clean house, laundry that is done, etc.

We also make a point to spend an hour or so together every evening before he goes to bed watching our favorite shows and/or hanging out in the garage watching the boys play pool, which Ed enjoys also. Everyone needs something to help them unwind.

I knew, though. I didn't want to see but I did anyway. I could see that Ed was unraveling.

Was it greed that provided my rose colored glasses and thought process? "If I just do what I need to do, then Ed will have the strength to keep going, too...."

Monday morning Ed didn't go to work. He rarely calls in and when he does, he typically gets an earful from me about responsibility, accountability, what happens when he returns to work (even more work piled up) and yes, money.

This time I laid off. I just let it happen knowing that one day off isn't, of course, enough. However, with the weather nearing triple digits again, he spent the day buying us portable air conditioners as neither of us can withstand a hot, nasty triple degree summer again with no A/C where our house is even hotter inside than it is out. Ed did his research and found a good deal and managed to stay under budget and the boys helped him execute in getting the main one up and running.

Not much of a day off.

So, Tuesday morning comes and Ed wakes me up at 4:30 asking if he could stay home again. Without going into details so as not to infringe on my husbands privacy let me just say that there was a breakdown and my grieved heart overcame my need for stability as I worried about Ed's.

So, yesterday he slept in, played a little pool, watched a movie on DVD ("Dan In Real Life" with Steve Carrell --EXCELLENT MOVIE!) relaxed and got us some lunch while I went to my neurologists appointment and bought a few groceries (including some fresh summer fruit which is now in abundance).

I could tell upon my return he was better. He just needed to vent and not think about anything: not do any chores, not put in any work orders, not have people demand a single thing of him other than what I wanted on my burrito.

He was in better spirits and whatever happened early that morning obviously needed to. In my groggy state I heard a man who's exhausted and desperate.

The solution has yet to be figured out: work less, compromise, delegate -- we don't know.

But I do know what signs to look for in Ed and if need be, I'll make the decisions for him and his own betterment -- no one else's: not mine, not his company's.

My rant has only just begun -- that's cute, though, that you thought I was finished. :D

Adding to our troubles, a few nights ago, B's Jeep was broken into and his sub woofers stolen. This Jeep that he's put so much into is like a bad penny -- one damned thing after another. So, he bought some used sub woofers and Ed and I paid to have an alarm system put in his Jeep.

But, wait...there's more.....

Ever get stuck in a rut because you don't like change? That's me. I'd rather stick a needle in my eye than to learn something new. While I enjoy reading a great deal, it's merely for pleasure as I'm simply not one of those people who craves knowledge, everything I know I'm quite happy with. I'm not exactly a dumb bunny: I know who Diane Arbus is and David Greenglass. I know the play Abraham Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated was called "Our American Cousin", I know 'Sweetwater' was the very first band to play at Woodstock, I know how to spell Mississippi and that 1+1 makes 2.

What more do you people want from me?


So, after seventeen years, I have finally had it with 'Charter Communications', our cable company, and am switching providers. This means not only new cable, but also phone and Internet.

Must've been pretty drastic and really bad customer service that led someone like ME to seek out change after almost twenty years with the same cable company.

It was.

What do you consider free?

Free to me is those samples of the latest crackers and cheese whiz we get at the supermarket from the nice lady in the apron.

Hmm. Can't think of anything else. Sad.

But I know what isn't free? Our 'On Demand' channels and I resent the people at Charter telling me that it is a 'free service' they provide for their customers. It isn't.

Ed and I have the full cable package because we don't go out much at all. Probably even less than most people I'd say.

I like being at home as long as I have everything I need -- enter cable.

Ed and I have favorite shows we watch on cable T.V. ('The Ricky Gervais Show', 'Nurse Jackie', 'Tudors', 'U.S. Of Tara' just to name a few) and if we can't catch them when they're on or if we forget to DVR them, well, we can then catch them On Demand. That's what it's there for, that's what we PAY for.

However, for the past two months or so, our On Demand has been only working part time. Every other day it is on the fritz ("Error Code 204 -- we apologize for the inconvenience....") and about once a week at least I've had to call and/or have a technician come out to try and resolve this. We've re-booted, switched out our HD cable box, I've talked to supervisors, customer service and technicians.

Nothing has been resolved and the issues remain.

The catalyst for me was speaking yesterday to a nifty supervisor named Mark. After explaining once again what our issues are and that all I really want is for it to work as it should, he then proceeded to tell me that On Demand is a free service and that in essence (and I'm paraphrasing here but this is the gist of his 'point') I'm lucky we have it at all -- and if my other services are working fine then what's the problem? Why can't I just watch my shows when they come on? Um, because I have a life, that's why and because we are paying for something that we should be able to utilize. That's how commerce and democracy works.

I know this because when Ed and I had to scale down last year during our financial troubles, we had to rid ourselves of some premium channels and when we did so, those premium channels weren't available for us On Demand, either. Fair enough. You get what you pay for.

When we later took advantage of an offer by Charter to have the full package for a lower cost, those premium channels were once again available to us On Demand. So, don't tell me they're 'free' -- they're not.

Furthermore, they should work. Again, that's what we pay for and I resented this schmuck, Mark, not only telling me otherwise but inferring that I should be happy with the toys I have and not complain.

That's all, brother. I was done right then and there.

Ed works too hard, too long and spends way too much time away from home for our money just for this asshole to tell me what we should be grateful for.

It's almost like he was saying: "So, your wagon has one broken wheel, big deal -- you still have three good ones!"

It was sheer audacity.

So, while Ed got on our house phone with AT & T, I got on my cell phone with Charter and finally explained to them that after seventeen years, we were switching companies and why.

I spoke with two representatives who were mortified at Mark's behavior and apologized profusely all the while I'm standing firm, appreciating their efforts but making it clear that nothing they can do at this point is going to change my mind.

I told Kassie, a very nice supervisor there, that most everyone I have spoken with has been apologetic and I told her what I told them; "Apologies are all good and well, I just want a solution. I just want this problem fixed once and for all" and they obviously couldn't do that.

When I think of how many times they've been out here and how long I've spent on the phone trying to resolve this, it really came down to being a no-brainer.

So, thank you to Kassie, Adolfo and Ron at Charter for their time, efforts and empathy. It was too little too late but your time and efforts were appreciated.

Some things, whether you like it or not, are worth changing in exchange for peace of mind and the small cost of high aggravation being removed from your life.

This is what I learned this week. I didn't want to learn it and fought against it. But I obviously needed this lesson in my life.

There are exceptions to every rule, even mine.

Wishing you all peace.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

SEX AND THE PITY


WARNING: This post of my 'Sex And The City 2' movie review contains spoilers -- read no further if you haven't yet seen the movie.

This past Sunday we treated ourselves to the long awaited 'Sex And The City 2' movie -- the sequel to 2008's 'Sex And The City: The Movie'.

At our local AMC theater, if you go to any movie on Friday, Saturday or Sunday before noon, the cost is only $6.00. With movie prices now at $11.00 for non-matinee show times, the early show times at $6.00 a pop are well worth getting up and ready for. Purchase your own candy ahead of time, too (this is where big purses come in handy), and it's really a bargain.

Or so we thought.....

The first movie found Carrie and 'Big' finally controlling the helm of their long time coming (ten years to be exact) happy ending after their disastrous and heartbreaking large wedding fell through thanks to 'Big's' inability to accept marriage again in his life. In the end all turned out well and they married at city hall. 'Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours'.

Miranda and Steve found peace after he revealed to Miranda his infidelities and Miranda herself faced -- and came to terms with -- her own truth and shortcomings leading to a reconciliation.

After years of infertility, Charlotte and Harry were finally able to conceive 'baby Rose' adding to their happy family with their addition of adopted Lily.

Samantha ended her and Smith Jerrod's five year romance leaving Smith -- and us audience members -- heartbroken. She moved back from L.A. to New York solo to learn how to be single again and continue her public relations career.

We only see Smith once early on in this new 'SATC' (Sex And The City) film when he asks Samantha to go to the opening of his new movie. He knows his career is all owed to her and her P.R. prowess. They obviously remained on good terms.

I was disappointed, however, as while the filming of the new SATC movie was going on, pictures were taken and published by the media of 'Samantha' on the 'SATC 2' set in a wedding gown complete with a hand held bouquet leaving us fans to jump to conclusions about her finally settling down with Smith.

Alas, that didn't happen in this film and no where in the film did she don a wedding gown.

The makers of the film obviously did one of two things: decided to go another route with her character or was simply throwing fans and media off the scented trail.

Either way, this new film was one big cluster f*@& and a waste of time, money and energy, in my opinion.

This new film opens with the marriage of Stanford and Anthony, once enemies throughout the series who, in the first film, finally gave in to love.

It is revealed that Anthony gave Standford the elaborate wedding of his dreams complete with swans and Liza Minelli officiating and then completing the ceremony with a Beyonce song and dance number.

Gays and fans alike will see this as the highlight of the film -- with one hiccup: Anthony gave Stanford the wedding of his dreams in exchange for Anthony being allowed to cheat during their marriage.

Huh?

Then we don't see them again for the rest of the film.

Are we to hope and assume that Anthony has a change of heart and that they live happily ever after?

The film doesn't answer that question for us and does a disservice to those of us who are pro-gay marriage.

Next we see Carrie as the one now dissatisfied with married life -- Big is perfectly happy and content to stay home and watch old movies with her while we see Carrie as having no growth. Finally landing the love of her life after ten years, wild child Carrie wants to still party and enjoy the nightlife. She and Big decided that children isn't something either of them desire but yet she remains dissatisfied with home life.

So, she pouts and runs off to her apartment (which she kept) to finish a new book giving Big the idea that perhaps a few days apart each week will be good for them.

Then she wonders why he feels that way.

A business opportunity then arrives for Samantha to visit a five star hotel in Abu Dhabi courtesy of the business men who want her to do P.R. for their new hotel.

Her and the girls then run off for a few weeks in what is an all paid, all inclusive vacation in a $22,000 a night suite complete with personal servants.

This comes at a perfect time for Charlotte who, after finally getting everything she too wants in life, is overwhelmed with 'Mommyhood' and a constantly crying two year old Rose.

Also ready for a break is Miranda whose new boss is demeaning of her. So, she quits the law firm and heads off to the middle east with the girls.

The tag line being; "Sometimes you just have to get away with the girls".

For me during this pointless romp, all I wanted to do was get away from the theater.

Being a long time, die hard fan of the show and of these ladies, I was eager to see where life had led them, in spite of my feeling that the first movie concluded everyone's storyline quite well.

During a shopping trip to the local spice market, Carrie runs smack into Aidan (who is there on a business trip), the love she let go of years ago and left broken hearted because she could never quite get over Big.

Running into Aidan makes Carrie once again question her life and they then share a passionate kiss -- in which she then immediately flees in her 'slit up to there' gown, looks back at Aidan with one last longing look and proceeds to confess all to Big on the phone.

Pointless.

While Charlotte and Miranda (the only Mommy's) bond over drinks and confessions of how hard motherhood is, Samantha soon gets in trouble with locals for her immodest clothing and openly sexual ways after meeting a business man and carrying on in public with him.

She is soon arrested -- and ultimately allowed to leave -- and the business men to whom this vacation was paid for by, soon drop their interest in her and the girls are forced to flee the hotel in one hour. Of course, not before having more run-in's with locals thanks to Samantha's menopausal hot flashes thus her wearing shorts and a tank top. Not helping matters is her purse strap breaking in which her condoms fall out in the middle of the street, causing a mob scene in which they're chased by angry men and forced to hide all the while trying to make it to the airport on time, while Carrie searches frantically for her lost passport.

Again, pointless.

Finally back home, we see Charlotte and Miranda happy to be home and met by their families (and a job in a new law firm for Miranda) while Big is no where to be found upon Carrie's arrival. A few hours later, Big arrives home admitting his hurt over Carrie's kiss with Aidan and then gives her a diamond ring with her promising to never to stray again and Big promising to stick it out for the long haul with neither of them leaving their nest for that previously discussed two day break.

Once again, I was left with a bewildered 'huh?'.

The movie had no plot, no point and worst of all, no heart. It was two and a half hours of fluff and only Samantha's continuing sexual exploits and antics make the film worth seeing at all.

'Sex And The City 2' was outdone by the new 'Shrek' movie in box office sales.

Ogre trumps Prada.