Thursday, January 31, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
By now, I would think that most of you have probably heard the song -
" I will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor.
(click to see Youtube video), In this song she rallies all the women who have been dealt a dirty deed by their "No good Men" and hypnotizes them with her funky beat and soulful melodic voice into a state of frenzy. I'm sure many of you have been in a bar or night club when this song played? Did you notice how all of the women in the place knew all of the words and proved it by singing as loud as they possibly could? While all the men sat there meekly with their heads bowed bashfully in their drinks. The dance floor always fills up with groups of ladies dancing with each other and that energy sets the mark for the night.
And men- have you ever been driving in the car with a date, girlfriend, wife or lover when the song hit the waves? Ever notice how the volume is never loud enough for this particular song? Notice how the women always reach down and crank it up just a little bit and then manage to out sing and out-volume the radio.
Some would argue that these are subtle biological messages sent by women to the male species designed to raise their level of interest and call out the most suitable mate. And on an intellectual note, I'd buy that. I'd also praise the spirit of the song and the liberation it gives to some women who have emerged from ugly relationships. But equally, I've learned to detest the song over the years. I guess in reality, I don't detest the song so much as I resent being the target of some of the built up aggression that stems from those destructive relationships.
So over the years, I've come up with my own name for this song: I've affectionately renamed it:
The B-HOLW Song. (pronounced Bee Hole). For - The Battle Hymn of Liberated Women! Some, erroneously assume I mean "Butt Hole" and that stands for the guy in the song (smile).
I named it BHOLW after a date with a "liberated woman." Yes, a few years back I went on a second date with a young lady that I thought I was pretty fond of. We shared a dinner together in which she opened up to me about all of the horrible relationships she had suffered through in the past. Not what I consider a good idea by the way. Opening that can of worms on a second date..... Bad Plan. It can sour the evening and be quite a turn off. Nonetheless, I endured it all and thought to myself - She'll think I'm "Prince Charming" after dealing with all of those dirt bags!
So after dinner we agreed to mix it up with some dancing. And that's when it happened...... I suppose the two hours we spent over dinner discussing her prior bad relationships conjured up some evil demons. Ironically, we found ourselves on the dance floor when they played the B-HOLW song. And since it was our second date I foolishly agreed to stay and dance with her. It occurred to me later that I was the only male on the floor. But that's okay, I stood there and took my punishment like a man. I danced through finger pointing, attitude, and a little shower of spittle as she screamed "I will survive" in my face!
I don't need to say that our relationship didn't go anywhere after that. That night pretty much killed any desire that I might have had for romance with her. Perhaps it was my fragile ego, my insensitivity to her pain and suffering, or simply my unwillingness to take the bullet for all of my fellow brothers who trampled on her heart in the past. I was certainly happy for where she was in her life and I was thrilled that she could move on and keep her self-respect. But I was looking to be a giver and receiver of some TLC and not the destination point for years of her aggression and rage! I guess the bottom line was -to put it in Chuck Woolery's words:
"We didn't have a Love Connection!"
So fast forward a few years. I've made peace with the BHOLW song. I can listen to the entire thing without cringing. And I've actually learned to like two other recent songs with similar themes. The first is Irreplaceable by Beyonce where she shows her man the door and packs up all of his stuff "To the Left.. To the Left." The second, and the song I'm really digging right now is: Before He Cheats by the American Idol Queen - Carrie Underwood.
Now that's a great song! As you know by now, I enjoy songs with great lyrics. And this song has got a mouth full. I'm not talking your typical corny and sappy stuff either. This song really hits home with some powerful, vengeful, incendiary stuff. So here, watch the video and enjoy!
Now that's what I call liberating! I'd imagine there's a whole lot of freedom generated when you swing a Louisville Slugger into your boyfriends headlights!
You all be nice out there and have some fun.......
I'm attaching the lyrics below so feel free to sing along:
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Last year this time - and PB - for me. (PB stands for Pre-Blog) I recall reading about a gentleman named Wesley Autrey. Mr. Autrey was a 50 year old construction worker and Navy veteran who happened to be waiting for a subway train in in Manhattan. While waiting with his two daughters, a nearby man collapsed and began convulsing. When Mr Autrey walked over to help, the man stumbled to the edge of the platform and fell to the tracks below. While observers stood by in shock and watched the approaching train, Mr. Autrey fearlessly jumped below and lay on the victim securing him between the two rails. The train attempted to stop but as the brakes screeched, five cars rolled overhead the motionless duo before the train could be halted.
Power was then cut to the train and workers rescued the two. Both men escaped with minor injuries. It appeared the 20 year old victim, Cameron Hollopeter, had suffered a seizure. When asked about his valiant act, Mr. Autrey replied: "I don’t feel like I did something spectacular; I just saw someone who needed help. I did what I felt was right.”
Mr. Autrey, for your dauntless and selfless act .......
I salute you!
On a lighter note. It seems Ms. Antibarbie is performing her own act of bravery. She is taking on all comers in her post: "Hit me with your Best shot." She has agreed to answer any of your questions. And she says anything! The door is wide open. To date she has about 30 comments. Most people, like me, have asked some pretty easy going questions. But come on. You all get in there and take the gloves off and go ask some juicy questions....... (smile) I'll be reading. See her taunts below:
Hope had this great idea for me to do a Q&A session with all my readers. So, feel free to ask me anything in the comments section of this post…. and I do mean anything. I have no shame and will air all my most sinful secrets, embarrassing facts, stupid mistakes, views, philosophies, fears, dreams and anything else you might throw at me. Nothing is off limits and nothing is sacred.
That pretty much sums it all up. Speak up now or forever bite your tongue.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
The shocking news:
Heath Ledger who played the Joker in the filming of the latest Batman movie - The Dark Knight, was found dead today in his Manhattan apartment. He was declared dead at about 3:30 PM. He was 28 years old. A bottle of over the counter sleeping medication was found in the vicinity of his bed, making the suspected cause of death a possible drug overdose. Heath Ledger was found dead by his housekeeper when she tried to wake him for an appointment.
The Australian born Ledger starred in two movies that I am quite fond of: The Patriot, and A Knight's Tale. He is probably more widely known for his performance in the movie Brokeback Mountain, for which he received both Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. I haven't seen Brokeback yet but I know his passing will shed a darker cloud over the movie when I do view it.
Ledger unfortunately joins the list of too many other rising young entertainers who have tragically fallen victim to the far too common "drug overdose syndrome."
I wonder if it's the fame and fortune or just the "Times we live in?"
Have a look at Heath in one of my favorite roles:
Saturday, January 19, 2008
So what do the following names have in common?
If you're an American Idol fan then you know that they are, in order, the winners of the past 6 American Idol contests. And as a result of winning, have seen their respective music careers rocketed to new heights. Last week kicked off the seventh season of the very popular series. And in addition to putting a few pennies in the bank for the winners, Idol has been a veritable gold mine for the Fox network. If there's any doubt about Fox's winnings, the next time you watch the show take note of how many, how often, and how long the commercials are and then factor in the revenue for each. Other benefactors of the show are the several other popular finalists that have been able to parlay their time on the show into some notable fame and dollars as well. Think: Chris Daughtry, Elliot Yamin, Clay Aiken, Jennifer Hudson, and Bo Bice to name a few.
So as I tuned in this past week, I shamelessly took note at how many seasons I've suffered through- (Don't get me wrong, there have been many enjoyable and entertaining moments) If I make it through this season, It will mark my fourth full season of Idol. And along with that note, I reflected on some brutal irony of the show:
- Sanjaya Molakar, after displaying very little talent, threatens the credibility of the show when he makes it into the final 24 based entirely on his looks and appeal to a very large population of teen aged girls.
- Elliot Yamin, after displaying truck loads of talent, doesn't win because some say he needed dental work. (He's taken care of that now and looks great)
- Jennifer Hudson, after not winning on Idol, goes on to win countless awards including - A Golden Globe and an Oscar, for her performance in the movie Dream Girls.
- Taylor Hicks, a season winner who captivated audiences and warmed hearts with his soulful R&B sound, has just been dropped by his record label (J Records) a fate that fell upon another winner Ruben Studdard.
I also remembered how I started this journey. My introduction to Idol started with a laughing hysterical telephone call from one of my cousins. When she was able to control herself enough to talk, she asked if I was watching American Idol. Of course I wasn't but I turned it on at her request and the journey began. My adventure included the following dialog and audition:
"Not only can you not sing one note in tune but you have one of the weirdest voices I've ever heard in my life"
"Well, weirdness is originality too!"
Over the years I've wondered what possesses some people to audition for a show that they have absolutely no chance at winning. Is it resolute faith? Fanatical encouragement from friends and family? Delusional interpretation of reality? Or is it all just an act to entertain the viewing public and secure their 15 minutes of fame? I've also had my doubts about the tipsy trio - Randy, Paula, and Simon. What's in those Coca Cola cups? Are they just role playing for our benefit? Or is everything so perfect in Paula's world, moderate in Randy's world, and condescending, egotistical, and arrogant in Simon's palace? Who knows? But in this "Brave New World" of reality shows I find it increasingly more difficult to distinguish reality from fantasy.
I'll leave you with some more funny auditions,
Enjoy the Season!
Friday, January 18, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
(see my post here) I talked a bit about the movie and a bit about the main character Frank Lucas. Part of the appeal of the movie, in my opinion, is that it was based on a true story - Right? Generally speaking when a movie is based on a true story it adds a bit of credibility and authenticity.
Ooooops. Well maybe not. At least in the case of "American Gangster" - Perhaps not all of the story is true. The buzz on the street today is that the "Cadaver connection" May not have existed at all. And that law suits may follow.
Federal Judge Sterling Johnson Jr., who as special narcotics prosecutor was instrumental in Lucas' arrest and trial had this to say:
“Everybody always thought the caskets (carried heroin) — even I thought it,”
“The picture is 1 percent reality and 99 percent Hollywood,” Johnson says. “Frank was illiterate, Frank was vicious, violent. Frank was everything Denzel Washington was not.” (Get more of this story here)
To add fuel to the fire, several former Drug Enforcement Agents who investigated Lucas filed a class-action lawsuit yesterday against General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal claiming the film defames them and grossly misrepresents the truth.
All this just in time for the big Oscar race. So what do you think? Does this misrepresentation alter your opinion of the film? Does it make you feel manipulated and used? Do you lose respect for main actors like Denzel Washington and Russel Crowe when something like this happens? Or do you think it's okay for the film industry to take a bit of license from time to time?
Saturday, January 12, 2008
So here's how I did it. Maybe you'll find some information that will be helpful to you:
Before I went, I asked people I knew who had been there and they said it's a good idea to get an early start in the morning and go to the section of the wall with the ski lifts and alpine slides. The alpine run is a refreshing way to get down the hill after you've toured the Wall. Based on their recommendation, I decided to go to the area called Mutianyu. It's a little farther away from Beijing than other sections but it's a lot less crowded and well worth the drive. I then located a driver (see card below) who would pick me up at my hotel and drop me off at the end. The key information here is to make sure you know what kind of vehicle your driver will be driving. With the Olympics in August, you can be sure that it will be nice and warm. So you'll want to be sure that your driver has a newer car with air conditioning. Next, you'll want to decide if you want a guided tour or if you just want to go it on your own. I chose to have the guided tour. We lucked out and got a nice van with a good driver and a knowledgeable guide who spoke English. There were 4 people total in our van and I think we each paid roughly $60 US for the tour. This did not include gratuity. Definitely make sure you get an early start. This section of the wall opens about 07:30 A.M. You'll want to be there just as the Wall opens. By leaving early you'll miss most of the morning traffic and get there during the cooler part of the day. Secondly, it tends to be clearer in the morning, thus you'll get better viewing and better/clearer pictures.
Here are a few links that you might find useful:
- Beijing Day Trips
- Great Wall at Mutianyu Reviews
- Great Wall of China Mutianyu Section
Friday, January 11, 2008
Later, as an adult, I was disconcerted to learn of all of the controversy that surrounded this famous expedition. For on their return, Peary and Henson learned that another American, Frederick Cook was claiming to have reached the North Pole a whole year earlier than they did. Cook was eventually proven to be a liar and a fake and spent time in jail. Peary was declared the first man to reach the North Pole. But that just seemed to open whole new can of worms when reports surfaced that Matthew Henson, in fact, was the first man to reach the pole. The story reads that Henson, racing ahead of the four Eskimos who were pulling Peary on a sled (his feet were frostbitten), actually planted the American flag on the North Pole. Peary maintained that he had planted the flag and the dispute continued. It wasn't until years later that Henson was given the recognition that he deserved.
So last year when I was presented with the opportunity to travel to Beijing, China I gladly took it. The Bonus; we would be flying a polar route to get there. North out of Washington, D.C. into Canada and Greenland; over the Pole and down into Russia, and China. I had the pleasure of flying from Washington D.C. to Beijing nearly 100 years after Peary's team planted the flag and returned to doubters, disbelievers, and controversy. As we soared high above the ice and cold in April 2007, I couldn't help but ponder the present day controversy: Global Warming. Is the icecap really melting? So with camera in hand, I eagerly waited as we approached the geographic North Pole. Below you'll see some photos I snapped en route. The very bottom photo was take approximately 100 miles from the North Pole. I know these shots aren't great quality and may be a bit anti climatic but what do you expect? It's cold down there and it was a long way down (smile). But you be the judge. I haven't seen Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" but I now own the DVD and the first chance I get, I'll take a look. Clearly, the snow falling in Baghdad and my pictures from last year have really got me thinking!
You all take care now.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
On a more somber note, the other thing that I remember as vividly as my meal was the devastation I saw in Myrtle Beach from Hurricane Hugo. Some of you may recall that Hugo slammed into Charleston, SC on September 21, 1989.
Hugo ranked as the eleventh most intense hurricane at time of landfall to strike the U.S. this century and is rated as the second costliest hurricane with over $7 billion in damages. Hugo's storm surge was the highest ever recorded on the East Coast. It was estimated at 20 feet just north of Charleston. Hugo's 150 mile wide swath destroyed about one billion board feet of timber and resulted in major damage hundreds of miles inland. The total number of deaths associated with Hurricane Hugo is 82. (Follow this link to NOAA.gov for more info on Hugo)
Ironically, I spoke with a weatherman on that trip and I asked him a bunch of questions about the hurricane. He handed me a satellite picture of Hugo just off the coast as a gift. It was a spectacular picture that showed a very clear "Eye of the Storm" and I carried it around in my briefcase for a while. In fact, I know I still have it filed around here somewhere. My picture, unlike the one above, was black and white. Hugo looked like a big soft blob of cotton with a hole in the middle. I remember thinking - How could something that looks so calm and peaceful from above be so devastating and destructive down below?
So let's advance forward about 18 years when a storm of a different kind will hit Myrtle Beach, South Carolina tonight. The Republican presidential debates will take place at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. With the mudslinging already starting over Ron Paul's "alleged" racist news letters. I wonder if it will get dirty tonight... Ya Think?
Catch the Action tonight!
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
In my Christmas Epilog post I mentioned some really good crab cakes! Well, I don't want to just enjoy them alone so after attempts at bribery, intimidation, and a whole lot of begging - (the begging finally worked) I was able to secure the recipe from the chef for these absolutely, scrumptious crab cakes. As I've mentioned before, I've spent some time on the East coast - You know? "Maryland is for Crabs" and "Virginia is for Lovers"? So I've enjoyed many a crab cake. But these guys offered something special. I do believe it was the addition of the mint that I found so appealing.
This was (at least) my second helping. (Who was counting?) Excuse the presentation. It looked a lot better on the first serving.
Here's the Recipe:
1 shake of seasoned pepper
1/4 cup of yellow or white corn kernels
1 pound of lump crab meat, preferably blue crab. Be sure to pick fro bits of shell.
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely snipped chives
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint (about 16 small leaves)
1 /2 teaspoon fine sea salt or more to taste
3 tablespoons of store bought Mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
wedges of lemon and extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
1 bottle of Silver Palate Apricot mustard sauce
garnish as desired
This is what you do:
Bring some lightly salted water to a boil and then blanch the corn for 8 minutes. Drain the corn and then chop coarsely.
Press and drain the crab meat gently to remove as much moisture as possible without breaking it up too much. You'll want the nice big chunks in your cakes. In a bowl, combine the crab, corn, shallot, chives, mint, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss together thoroughly and add just enough mayonnaise to bind the mixture together, but not so much that it's soupy. Form the crab mixture into little cakes about 2 inches around and 1/2 inch think, compacting them firmly between your hands. Place on a platter, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 2 to 3 hours.
Place a nonstick pan over medium heat, and add the oil and butter. When the foam has subsided, add the crab cakes and saute until golden brown on each side, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Plan at least 2 cakes per person for an appetizer. Serve with the apricot mustard sauce or alternative sauce of your choice.
Tips: These cakes would also be great with a spicy or tangy sauce like a mixture of ketchup, mayo and hot sauce.
You could enjoy this dish with a light white wine of your choice. I found a glass of 7 Deadly Zins, quite complimentary.
Here's another look:
I'd love to give credit to the source of this recipe but it appears that it may have come from several places. The Chef, who has asked to remain anonymous, referred me to a book: Cuisine Naturelle - French classics redefined. This book will no doubt enhance your eating experience and has a similar recipe. You can get a copy from Amazon by following this link: Click Here