Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"The Secret"

You know, I've been hearing all the hoopla about Oprah's newest literary love, and I have to laugh. Several years ago -- like, about 1985 or 86 -- my mother forced me to go to a seminar called "Creative Visualization," along with her friend, Ann. The five-hour long seminar had a lunch break, and my mother and her friend Marion arranged to meet me and Ann for lunch at that time. Their reason? They knew that if they didn't, we would sneak out and never return to the seminar. They were right. We had to listen to this guy pontificate about how if you visualize what you want (obsessively, in my book), it will be yours. That was how he got his Porsche, for heaven's sake! I remember Ann and I turning to each other frequently, snarling and glancing at our watches. We were the only two in the group who flat-out refused to participate, as far as sharing our desires with the group. Afterwards, we met Marion and my mom at a bar. We got there early and started drinking, snarling between sips/gulps. When the evil seminar forces showed up, we snarled at them. Why they made us go to this absurd waste of time was beyond us, and we made them suffer.

So, all the hype about "The Secret" has brought back a memory of something I probably tried to suppress all these years. What a bunch of hooey -- then and now.

Decorating Frenzy

Not my usual pasttime, but a necessary task, due to the fact that I had a horrible roof leak which resulted in the destruction of my bathroom wallpaper (and a good portion of the walls). Management finally completed the repairs and painting, and my bathroom now has bright white walls (oil-based Benjamin Moore paint to combat mold/mildew; it's been nearly a week and the paint still reeks). The rest of the walls have lovely yellow tiles halfway up and more so in the shower/bath area. I decided to build on my mother's shell collection and create a sand/beach/surf theme, and found the perfect shower curtain at Bed, Bath and Beyond (it's been discontinued there, so the price was great, but Linens n Things carries the whole collection under the "Surf's Up!" name). It has surfboards, Woody Wagons, sand and seashells, so there are a lot of things I can do. I plan to get some glass shelves to display shells and a model Woody Wagon sent by a friend (as well as some perfume bottles -- some things never change) and am on the prowl for a small surfboard or two to hang on the other wall. A large glass jar -- catproof -- of my mother's shells now sits atop the toilet tank, and a coordinating rug covers part of the white tiled floor. (If I can find a small surfboard-shaped rug, the other one's history!)

One thing I found particularly amusing about this venture was that on St. Patrick's Day, I called creative P to ask for tips/hints. She had just finished a SPD breakfast with friends that had featured Guinness. What's wrong with this picture, I asked -- you're having an Irish breakfast and I'm calling for bathroom decorating help! Something is very mixed up here.

If I get really ambitious, I'll have to frame a Beach Boys album cover or 45 (remember them?) and then my fate will be sealed: P will sign me up for a subscription to "Martha Stewart Living." It has been threatened before, this may finally do it. Yikes.

Rocking With Th Wh

No, those aren't typos in the header -- since half of The Who have gone to their reward, I now refer to them as "Th Wh." Nevertheless, the concert was wonderful. Our seats were side of stage, maybe two-thirds up the wall, and they were great. I had a pair of binoculars, but they were only needed to zone in on things. We could see all the band members quite nicely, and we had the added benefit of a large screen nearby.

They had a small power trio of young guys from Colorado open the show. I don't recall their band's name, but they were heavily influenced by Led Zep. I couldn't help but marvel at the fact that these unknown pups were opening for TH WH! What an honor -- probably the highlight of their musical careers thus far. They played for about a half hour and then, 20 minutes later, the main event began.

"I Can't Explain," followed by "Anytime, Anyhow, Anywhere." Classic. "Who Are You." Fabulous. Then a couple of songs off the new album (not so exciting), followed by "Behind Blue Eyes." Yay. After a six-song mini-opera off the new album, the band rewarded us with "Baba O'Riley." Screams ensued. Some more classics, then the first big finish: "Won't Get Fooled Again." A brief exit, then they returned, triumphant, as Pete Townshend hit the opening chords of "Pinball Wizard," which turned into an extended medley from "Tommy." Fantastic. One more exit, then the original band members returned to perform an acoustic tune about being survivors or something along those lines.

Both Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend were stellar. Daltry was a little hoarse here and there, but that's not unusual. He still swings a mean microphone and looks great. Townshend jumps, windmills, and sings as well as ever. Drummer Zak Starkey is one of the greatest musicians ever to command a drum set, and bassist Pino Palladino is also excellent. Keyboards played by Rabbit, background vocals and rhythm guitar by Simon Townshend, Pete's younger brother.

They played for about two hours. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday night and I was due at work the next day, which I managed to attend, despite staying awake until 2am on a concert-induced high (no, nothing illicit -- Nassau Coliseum, like many arenas, is smoke-free, so no contact highs available). You'd stay up late too if you'd just seen Th Wh. And yes, I'd still walk over you to see Th Wh!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

My Own Pursuit of Happyness

Looking over my most recent entries, I see they are decidedly serious. Therefore, here's some fun stuff:

1. I just got tickets to see THE WHO at Nassau Coliseum! First of all, I LOVE going to Nassau. It's so much easier than Madison Square Garden and the Meadowlands (not quite as easy as Westbury Music Fair, but it's much larger and gets bigger acts). They haven't been doing as many concerts at Nassau as they used to, so I was absolutely delighted when I saw this on the Daily News calendar for March. The tickets are side stage, upper level, but it doesn't matter. I've seen The Who three times (my first was their legendary performance of "Tommy" at Lincoln Center; I believe I was all of nine years old), and this will be the first time without bassist John Entwhistle. However, their best post-Keith Moon drummer, Zak Starkey, will be behind the skins, and he has ten times the drumming skills of his legendary dad (BTW, that would be Ringo Starr!). I'm going with my fellow Who-lover, BennyO, and we should have a blast. Time to start listening to some Who CDs!

2. Rod Stewart will be at Nassau in May, and I am working on getting tickets for that, too.

3. Business is taking me to October! Not only will I get to see some dear friends who live outside the city, but I'll have a better-than-excellent chance of drinking beer at the Oktoberfest! (When I last went, it was the closing weekend, and it was totally packed...if you didn't have a seat, you didn't get served. I made two visits/attempts, and left Oktoberfest beerless. What a sin.)

4. Planning a girl's weekend in New Orleans with two dear friends. We'll stay at a lovely B&B I discovered a few years back, right inside the French Quarter. Lessez les bon temps roulez!

5. Erin and Miko are getting married! The night before my birthday! So, I can party hard with plenty of friends, then crash at the hotel, having celebrated their wedding and my birthday in one fell swoop. Niiiice.

The Oscars, In A Word: Bor-ing

I did everything I could to make sure I'd make it through the entire award ceremony. Slept late, took a nap, coordinated dinner with the start of the show at 8 pm, and still...around 10:30, I was in dreamland. Appropriate, since I'd just had a nightmare that Eddie Murphy lost the Best Supporting Actor award to Alan Arkin. Unfortunately, the tape I had running as a backup proved that nightmare true. Then I viewed part two of my nightmare, which was that "Dreamgirls" did not win the Best Song category.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against either Alan Arkin or Melissa Etheridge. I saw "Little Miss Sunshine" the day before the Oscars and was underwhelmed by everything except Arkin's all-too-brief performance (his character died about 30 minutes into the movie). I admire Etheridge both as a talented singer/songwriter and as a strong, smart woman. HOWEVER. Has anyone heard her song from the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth?" Okay, it's Melissa Etheridge, it has to be good, if not excellent. HOWEVER. "Dreamgirls" is now one of my favorite movies of all time. I saw it on Broadway after it opened 26 years ago, with the original cast, and wore out my vinyl record of its cast recording. Loved it. I went to see the movie a few days after it opened, and I loved it, too. I have never, ever been to a movie that was given three rounds of applause. The first, after Jennifer Hudson's unforgettable performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." The second came at the end. And then the audience actually waited for the credits to roll so they could applaud Hudson once more. (This phenomena was not limited to the theater I was in, it was reported all across the country.)

Because of Oscar rules, only songs written for a movie may be nominated for an award, which left out the original Broadway tunes. However, there were plenty of good new ones in the movie, evidenced by the fact that it got three of the five nominations (Randy Newman's song from "Cars" was also nominated). Director Bill Condon staged a special arrangement of the three nominated songs, performed beautifully by Hudson, Beyonce, Aniki Noni Rose, and Keith Washington.

Fortunately, I was able to see that when I woke up the next day. Then, to my horror, I saw the award go to someone else.

Of course I was thrilled when Jennifer Hudson received her richly-deserved Best Supporting Actress Oscar, and happy that Helen Mirren, Forrest Whitaker and Martin Scorsese won, too (kudos to Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg for presenting the Best Director Oscar to Scorsese). Ellen was no Billy Crystal, but she was okay. She pulled it off far better than most, that's for sure (with the exception of Crystal). I agreed with Regis Philbin, who said the show needed MORE Ellen! But it was long, which translated to dull. Way too long.

A solution? Televise only the acting, directing, song and picture awards (including Foreign Film and Documentary). Have a separate show, perhaps on the AMC cable channel, that includes everything else. Then you can insert your tributes to those who have passed away, and another one or two about the movies, even a humanitarian and/or legendary award, and you'll have an Oscar telecast that is half the length and much more entertaining. Here's another thought: The Grammys have worked without a main host for the last two telecasts, and all seemed fine. Maybe that's too radical for the Oscars, but it's clear that radical changes must be made.

DWI Horror Resolved? Hardly.

About a year and a half ago, there was a horrific drunken driving accident on Long Island. A family returning home from a relative's wedding in a limosine was slammed into by a guy DRIVING THE WRONG WAY on the Meadowbrook Parkway. The limo driver was killed, as was a seven year old child, who had earlier that day served as a flower girl at the wedding. The child was decapitated. Her mother held her severed head in her lap.

Amazingly, the perpetrator (I will not call him by name), who had at least 14 drinks before choosing to get behind the wheel of his pickup, pleaded not guilty, then was astonished when the prosecutors pushed for a murder charge (two, actually). Depraved indifference to human life, they called it, and I absolutely agree. He was eventually convicted on the murder charges, and was sentenced yesterday.

The judge could have given the maximum 25 years to life punishment, which seemed lenient after hearing victim impact statements from the two anguished families. Instead, although he agreed that the defendant "showed pure, blatant, callious and wanton disregard" for life, he imposed a sentence of 18 to life.

I don't know when this perp will be eligible for parole, but I do know that there are two families serving life without parole -- but plenty of agony -- because of the deaths of Stanley Rabinowitz and Katie Flynn. Here's one thing I know for certain: the name of the judge who imposed this joke of a sentence. He is Acting Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Alan Honorof. Even his surname is a joke.

This will not give them closure, but I fervently hope that the Flynn and Rabinowitz families sue the bar that served those drinks to the perp for punitive damages. Put them out of business. Teach them a lesson. And may they every day see the faces of the victims of a crime they aided and abetted.

For the Flynn and Rabinowitz families, I wish strength and peace, and I hope it comes sooner rather than later.