27 September 2008

Paul Newman RIP

Paul Newman (1925-2008)

I think this photograph says it all, doesn't it?

26 September 2008

Dodging the Blood Suckers

In the New York Times today is an article saying this is the mildest season for West Nile virus in seven years -- which is a good thing because it is the worst season for mosquitoes at our house near downtown Phoenix.

We normally do not have many mosquitoes here, not like some places. Certainly one of the advantages of living in a dry climate. Usually, in summer, we might see one, maybe two mosquitoes in the house. No biggie. THIS year, we have had more than a dozen (at different times) but consecutively since mid August.

Around these parts, the prevailing theory for this increased number of skeeters is that we have had a very wet summer. Since June we have gotten at least seven inches of rain at our house alone (we normally get seven inches in an entire year).

While it is true wetter years see more mosquitoes, I think the real culprits are swimming pools abandoned at foreclosed homes. The metro Phoenix area has one of the highest rates of foreclosed houses, and I think those artificial lakes are the spawning grounds for this year's outsized crop of flying blood suckers.

Who's right? Who knows. I just know I will be glad when the night-time temperatures start going down to about 50 degrees. That's cold enough to kill them (I hope). Luckily, no one here has exhibited any of the signs of West Nile virus, so, whew!

You may read the article here.

14 September 2008

Something Wonderful

I am so proud of our state's 911 system, and you will be too after reading this article about how a 911 operator helped when a dog (!) dialed the number for assistance when his owner had a seizure. You hear about shits who argue with callers, or just hang up. This operator, Chris Trott, did the right thing and saved a life. Pretty incredible that a dog can be trained to dial for help isn't it? No, wait. They're pretty damned smart.

13 September 2008

Crazy Dancin' Me

For about a dozen years I was in theater -- I sang, I danced and I acted. I did them all well, but none of them well enough to form the basis for a career. Oh, well.

Here is a video (from a 16mm original) of me dancing when I was about four years old. I danced all the time around the house, non stop. I was hyperactive (duh!). A few years after this movie I won a dance contest at one of my dad's company picnics. The prize? A giant box of chocolates. Yes, life was good.

Click for about a minute of silliness. There is no sound (things were primitive back then).

07 September 2008

A Gentler, Happier War

Oh, don't you miss war years when everyone pitched in to get the job done -- rather than like the current war years when most everyone is in it to make the oil companies richer? Sigh. Those were the good ol' days, weren't they?

Here is a little piece of nostalgia: a 1943 radio commercial for Spry Vegetable Shortening, a competitor of Crisco which, as we all know, won. (When was the last time you heard of Spry? Probably never.)

Ration points, mentioned in the commercial, were little stamps you got in a booklet. You had to give your grocer the appropriate number of stamps to allow you to buy things like meat, sugar, coffee, shoes and the like. No stamps? You could not buy the product. This was to insure that no person got more than his or her fair share of that certain item -- to prevent shortages.

You can read more about Spry, and its primary spokesperson Aunt Jenny (pictured).

05 September 2008

02 September 2008

Ancien Regime RIP

So, here's the thing: I've had a hate-hate affair with this guy -- not him personally, rather his voice. He is the guy who has voiced something like 8 billion movie previews and not a small amount of radio and television spots over something like the last 150 years.

I have hated his voice since I first noticed that every damned American movie preview sounded the same. I mean, the plots are already the same and star the same four actors, made by the same two studios and directed by the same three people. The movies are virtual clones of themselves, but do they have to SOUND exactly alike too?

Of course, they do. Mainstream American cinema is all about remaking the same movie over and over, so why should they sound different?

Well, this guy just died. I don't want you to think I have been doing a little happy dance since I heard about his death because that would be just mean. It's sad when anyone dies, generally. I told my spouse, Matt, that I wanted to write a blog entry about this, but did not want to seem ghoulish that someone has died and that cinemas will (eventually) stop sounding exactly alike (this guy probably recorded a couple thousand move trailers that will play out over the next decade or so, but someday they will run out) and that maybe, one day, it will be safe to step back into a cinema again.

Maybe this will be the beginning of the end of American films all being alike, maybe people will want to do something DIFFERENT and not succumb to the easy money of making sequel after sequel, remake after remake, and every film based on some television show from the 1960s.

Okay, maybe I'm drunk with delirium but it COULD happen.

01 September 2008

The Gods Work in Mysterious Ways

Okay, so which is it?

Was hurricane Katrina god's punishment because New Orleans was the site of a big gay-themed event or is hurricane Gustav currently god's punishment for the world tolerating Republicans?

If the first is true, then the second must be true; if the second one is untrue, then the first must also be untrue.