Friday, April 27, 2007

Chasing Cars

Since I hate listening to the radio, it's difficult for me to hear new music. Here's an embarassing example: the first "Charlie's Angels" movie had a kicking soundtrack, which I purchased. I particularly loved one song, and enthusiastically told a co-worker, "Hey, you've gotta listen to this great song, it's called 'Baby Got Back.'" When she picked herself up off the floor, still laughing hysterically, she informed me that it had been around for a while. Like YEARS. Whoops. Well, she never let me forget that, and would pop into my office now and then to announce that there was a really cool new song that I HAD to listen to, called "Hey Jude." Or "Flashdance." You get the idea.

Anyway, I still hear new music either purely by chance, or from the soundtrack of a movie or tv show. Today I was checking out a video post on Rosie O'Donnell's blog, called Snow Patrol. I heard the song, thought it sounded familiar, and needed to ID it so I could buy it from iTunes. My friend Erin recognized it right away -- "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol. When I looked it up on iTunes, I noticed it had been used in last season's finale of "Grey's Anatomy," which makes perfect sense. That show prides itself on selecting the ideal songs to go with the story being told, and there have been two "soundtrack" CDs released to date.

Here are the lyrics. I think they're beautiful.

Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol)

We’ll do it all
On our own

We don’t need
Or anyone

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

I don’t quite know
How to say
How I feel

Those three words
Are said too much
They’re not enough

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that’s bursting into life

Let’s waste time
Chasing cars
Around our heads

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that’s bursting into life

All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes, they’re all I can see

I don’t know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things will never change for us at all

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

David Halberstam, R.I.P. -- Who Can Fill His Shoes?

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author David Halberstam, 73, was killed in a car accident earlier this week. Noted for his Vietnam War reporting (for which he won the Pulitzer), he later authored many books on war, politics, baseball, 9/11 firefighters, and other subjects. Currently, he was researching a book about the 1958 NFL championship game, and was traveling to interview one of the players when the car in which he was riding was broadsided.

The only book of Halberstam's that I've read is "Firefighters," which he wrote about the firehouse in his Manhattan neighborhood, which lost all but one of its shift responding to the 9/11 tragedy. I came upon it when Vanity Fair published a generous excerpt from the book, which moved me to tears. I purchased a copy for my uncle, a volunteer firefighter and a heroic survivor of Tower Two.

Mike Lupica, whom I've always called our generation's Damon Runyon, is a gifted columnist for the New York Daily News. He is primarily a sports columnist, but started out writing about more general topics. He now writes a political column once a week, probably in response to the yahoos who write in and complain when his Sunday sports and opinion column dares to include a comment about the war in Iraq or other important things outside the realm of sports. He's one of the best.

Lupica wrote about Halberstam on Wednesday, April 24. I am going to quote from the last paragraphs, because I think more people should read his words:

"Could a more vigilant media have stopped any of this [the Iraq mess]? Of course not. Halberstam and Neil Sheehan and the rest of them couldn't stop the war in Vietnam from playing out to its tragic conclusions 40 years ago and nobody was going to stop this President from his Messianic vision for Iraq and the Middle East and himself most of all. Or force him to learn from the past.

This is from the last page of [Halberstam's book] 'The Best and the Brightest':

'...time was on the side of the enemy, and we were in a position of not being able to win, not being able to get out...And so the war went on, tearing at this country; a sense of numbness seemed to replace an earlier anger. There was, Americans were finding, no light at the end of the tunnel, only greater darkness.'

The man who wrote that, wrote about a war from which we did not learn, died Monday. Along with nine more of ours in Iraq."

Dare I say that the baton has been passed to you, Mike Lupica?

The Rose Is Off The View

A few days prior to her self-imposed "deciding deadline" of May 1, Rosie O'Donnell has announced that she could not come to terms with ABC on her contract. They wanted three years, she only one. reported that she will make frequent appearances next season, but will not be a regular.

Roseanne Barr put it best when she told Rosie that she'd brought a new level of intelligence to the always-lively "Hot Topics" discussions (in fact, most days devote three instead of the customary two segments to "Hot Topics," as they've become incendiary).

If Rosie shows up fairly regularly, I'll continue to tape and watch, but will have to make a judgement on that depending on how the program is reworked. Perhaps her spot will be filled by one of the guest hosts (I vote for Sherry Springfield; she's terrific) and O'Donnell can become sort of a permanent guest host. I could live with that.

Naturally, there are rumors that she may undertake another show altogether. She's been getting lots of emails raving about her video blogs, which also feature her hairdresser and producer. Her responses to questions about that have been extremely positive.

Nevertheless, I will miss watching, listening and learning from this wise and witty woman. She's made me think, made me angry (mostly about the current administration and this illegal war in Iraq), made me laugh, and managed to introduce me to a couple of Broadway shows I might not have otherwise seen.

Rosie, you gave it your all, and always gave your true view. I thank you for this past year of magical thinking. You done good, kid. Now it's time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the view from Nyack and Miami...until your next project. Bless you.

Hooray! The Votes Are In...And Heather's Out!

The only reason why this came as a (minor) surprise is because Heather Mills has been playing the "look at me, I've got one leg" card for her entire tenure on "Dancing With The Stars." Finally, the votes reflected her lack of talent. Yes, actor John Ratzenberger scored lower with the judges this week, but Heather's dances had been spotty at best, relying on stunts and sympathy. She even had a farewell speech prepared (tucked into her bandage, no doubt, forcing her to reveal her prothesis one last time), which was a bit self-serving (did you know it was judge Carrie Ann Inaba's fault that she lost, for daring to score her a 7?).

Anyway, she's gone and I'm happy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Loving "Dancing With The Stars"...for the most part

Early on, I predicted that the Final Four would be Cheryl and Ian, Laila and Maks, Joey and Kym, and Apolo and Julianne. I don't think I'm far off, and feel safe to now predict that the two finalists will be Apolo and Laila.

Heather Mills is going for the sympathy vote (never mind last week's fall, did you notice how high she was swishing her skirts this week, clearly revealing her prothesis?). Mills also has no real fan base to count on, but it must be considered that her soon-to-be ex-husband, beloved Beatle Paul McCartney has a huge number of fans, and I'll bet they're not casting their votes for the "Charity Campaigner."

Billy Ray Cyrus has a double base, his music fans and the fans of the Disney show he appears on (which stars his daughter), "Hannah Montana." His dancing is erratic -- he can be entertaining or downright awful.

John Ratzenberger, like the geezers before him (Jerry Springer, George Hamilton), charms everyone, but he is one of the weaker dancers. Last week, Judge Bruno proclaimed his dance "the best worst samba I've ever seen!" He's managed to hold on, but tonight could be it for the former "Cheers" star.

Cheryl and Ian may suffer from the fact that she's the reigning champion, two seasons running, and I think the judges are being particularly tough on them. True, Ian does come across as "McStiffy" at times, but he is working hard at learning the routine. Cheryl needs to loosen him up. If she could get retired athelete Emmitt Smith to the winner's circle, she certainly can do it with Ian.

Apolo's speed skating expertise adds to his natural grace and exuberance. He's a delight to watch, and I thought his "Pulp Fiction" number from a few weeks ago was underrated by the judges. Last week he scored the first perfect 30, and came close again last night. The tacky disco ball trophy may yet join his Olympic Gold Medals -- won't that be an interesting trophy case?

Joey is following in Drew Lachey's boy band alumni shoes, which gives him a bit of an edge, as he's spent time learning grueling song and dance routines through his career. I run hot and cold on him, but still think he'll be in the Final Four. Plus, his appearance with Guillermo on Jimmy Kimmel's segment last week was very funny. He gets points for spoofing himself.

What is there to say about Laila other than she is gorgeous and has turned in several very credible dances? I was surprised at first, then remembered all the footwork involved in boxing (courtesy of "Million Dollar Baby"). That gives her a decided edge, along with her strong personality (wherever did she get that?). Paired up with the equally strong-willed Maksim, and you've got a winning team. I thought her dance last night was stunning, even the part that she choreographed for herself, and she deserves to go all the way to the finals.

I've been hooked on this show since the first season. At times the choice of "Stars" for each season has stymied me, but most have proven to be most entertaining (major exceptions: Master P, Kenny Moyle, Tucker Carlson, Clyde Drexler, and Trista the Bachelorette). The "Results" show, with its mix of guest artists, is reminiscent of the old "Ed Sullivan" variety show, and works as a program all on its own (and I wish the producers would consider continuing it, obviously without the "results" segments, as a stand-alone variety show). After each "DWTS" show, I immediately call a dear friend and dancing teacher extraordinaire, Patty, and we critique the performances, which is as much fun as watching them.

Five weeks to go, and I'll be glued to the set for all of them. Sadly, when it ends, that means I have to pick up another night (Monday) at the gym. Well, maybe I'll be inspired by the DWTS participants, all of whom are in better shape at the end of the competition (have you seen Edyta's abs? Dumb question; if you watch the show, you've seen most of what Edyta's got, and it's enough to make one go to the gym!).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

On Another Front...

My bathroom is 95 percent finished! Mainly due to my buddy Pete, who came over last Thursday after a long day of work and spent two hours hanging shelves and other things on the newly painted walls. I ended up going to Fortunoff's and spending more than I wanted to on two glass shelves and a towel ring, but what the heck. It's not like you're going to be buying those items frequently. The style wasn't exactly what I wanted (the ones I preferred were only available in chrome, rats), a bit more ornate, but they look lovely and were hung perfectly. One displays some perfume bottles, the other a model Woody Wagon and a beautiful conch shell that my mother treasured.The new towels (yes, more money spent, but worth it) pick up on the aquamarine colors in the shower curtain and are lovely and fluffy. Amazing what a spin in Aunt Judy's washer and dryer, complete with the vanilla and lavender soap and softener that she buys because I love the scent, will do. All of a sudden, these flat things I'd bought at Kohl's had doubled in size and smelled gorgeous.

One final thing is needed to complete the bathroom, and it will either be a small, fake surfboard or a framed Beach Boys (or Ventures) record. There is a chance that my pal Kelly B. will find a porthole-shaped mirror on one of her shopping trips (I admired the one in her son's bathroom), which would work nicely.

While on a decorating tear, it must be mentioned that my cable company came last week to swap out new digital set-top boxes for the existing ones and caused quite a commotion. The old ones were about the size of a DVD player and had a clock display that was always accurate, even during the switch to/from Daylight Savings Time. The new and improved digital boxes are about the size of a portable CD player -- but NO clock display! The technician laughed at my howls of woe and admitted that all his other customers had the same reaction.

I saw my friends Sharon and Gary enjoying the sunny weather on their front stoop and told them about the change. They howled, too. Gary is determined to delay their swap out. Sharon, ever the voice of reason, said, "Well, we'll just have to get small digital clocks to put on top of the televisions so we can glance at it the way we always have."

She's right. The next day, we were caught in a Nor'easter rain storm, and spent the day at home (except for poor Gary, who works on Sunday). I decided to start a "Twin Peaks" marathon, and almost immediately called Sharon in horror. Not because Laura Palmer had washed up on the beach, mind you, but because when something is playing on the VCR/DVD combo, the clock display changes to tick off the time of the tape or DVD playing! OMG! I told Sharon that she was the only person I could call who would understand my angst. She laughed, agreed, and said, "I guess we'll be visiting Radio Shack this week!"

If this is the worst trauma I experienced during the storm (it was), I deserve no pity. None. Especially since it seems my roof is FINALLY leak-proof, and I won't have to redecorate the bathroom any time soon. I just thought I'd share.

Words Fail

Today's Daily News ran pictures of the Virginia Tech victims, along with a brief bio of each. I am struggling to hold back tears here in my office at work because I work for two rabid NRA members who would no doubt defend the shooter's right to bear arms.

As was expressed on "The View" yesterday, when the Bill of Rights was created, no one could possibly have envisioned a world with rapidly firing automatic weapons. They were used to muskets and heavy cannon. Militias were needed to protect citizens. It's more than 200 years later. Other parts of the Constitution have been amended. It is time that this is addressed in a calm and sane manner.

I have no problem with licensed folks who are trained to use firearms to own them for their own personal protection. Some people transport money or valuables as part of their business. Others are fearful in their own homes, which they have the right to protect. However, does one need an AK-47 to hunt deer? Quail? Buffalo? I think not.

Rosie O'Donnell has said that she spent five years protesting our gun control "laws," but has come to realize that they will never change as long as they have such a powerful lobbying group (that would be the NRA). Look at Europe. They have much stricter rein over guns there (British police do not even carry guns) and fewer incidents of the Columbine or VT kind. Fewer individual murders caused by guns, too.

The shooter passed the requisite FBI check needed to purchase a gun. Perhaps a psychological test is in order. From all accounts, no one who knew him on that campus would have felt comfortable if he possessed a sling shot, let alone guns.

I grieve for these students and faculty members, along with our fallen service men and women. The first group dead because of our archaic laws. The second group dead because our administration lied to us and put our troops in harm's way. Which instance is more egregious?