Dec 30, 2010

Big Dreams

My dad was the king of "I coulda been a contender." In his mind, he had invented nearly everything in the world and just never got the credit.  

One of his biggest ‘inventions’ was the outdoor metal closet in which gas stations keep tires.  You couldn’t drive by a service station without him declaring, "You know, those were my idea. John Acton, who owned the service station down on Oak, he asked me where he could store his tires and I said here's what you could do."

At this point my dad usually rooted around in his pockets for a napkin or scrap of paper and sketched what could have been a rectangular item of any size from shoe box to airplane hangar, with two scratch marks on the front as door handles. He would never have won any Pictionary rounds with his drawings. With the sketch as proof, Dad would get more puffed up, angrier and emphatic, "I told him he could fit all his tires in there and they'd be secure, no worries about weather or theft, but he wouldn't listen to me.  A few years later my tire enclosures started popping up everywhere. I never got a cent."  By this point he would be poking at the rectangle with the business end of his pen and splattering occasional bits of spittle.

I think you're getting the idea.  With his concept of inventing things, we should all own patents on things like comfortable pillows and good chocolate.  (I told Red Roof Inn five years ago they needed fluffier pillows.  Now they've got fluffier pillows and do I see a penny of that business?  No.)  

He also could have been an investor.  He claimed he'd had an opportunity to buy into a McDonalds franchise in the early years but hadn't been able to get a bank to loan him the money.   Of course, the major problem with his investing ideas and his inventions, one that he never seemed to grasp, was that we were poor and had no collateral to speak of.  No one in his right mind would have loaned us money back then, decades before the current housing crisis revealed a new philosophy of finance.  

His ideas didn’t always make a lot of sense, either.  The last invention, which he conceived in his eighties, was a steering wheel cover for hot weather.  His prototype was a manila envelope that he would somehow bend and fold so it would magically stay on the wheel and keep the sun off.  This invention was going to be the big one.  It was going to make him millions.  When I pointed out that people could buy their own manila envelopes much cheaper, he was truly crestfallen.  And I was truly sorry I had poured water on his still tenacious dreams. Maybe it coulda been the big one, Dad, maybe that was the one.

Dec 18, 2010

Holiday Driving

Holiday driving this year is awfully rough and I'm not just talking on the roads.  Some shoppers are maniacs with those supermarket carts!  Sudden wide turns in narrow aisles; audible sounds of exasperation when another shopper dares to stop and look at an item, check a price, or God forbid, check the ingredients.  I guess the impatient holiday revelers expect us to use only baskets, never carts, and flatten ourselves against the shelves while they make a game show paced run down the aisles, sweeping merchandise into their cart, then a mad dash to a register to pay.

Or maybe those eye rollers and mad dashers just wish we'd stay home until December 26th.   Leave all the holiday warmth, cheer, and goodwill toward man for them.

And the roads are bad, too.  

Dec 15, 2010

Statute of Limitations

The Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning. What's up with the Temple Grandin nomination?  I mean yes, it's an absolutely wonderful movie.  Top notch.  But it won several Emmys last year.  What is the statute of limitations on award nominations for movies, songs, and shows?  Is it just me or do these awards now seem to cover a two to three year period? There must be some really complicated formula like "if a made for TV movie kicked critic butt and aired in an otherwise slow year and had its first release date anywhere in the known world including North Korea at least three seconds after a) the curtain of any competing awards show, 2) Fashion Week, c) the closing bell of the Stock Exchange any day except Wednesday, and/or the advertising revenue for said movie has the potential to continue a strong showing if said movie is provided with additional nominations and awards, then said movie may retain its eligibility until further notice."

And similar formulae for the Grammys, Emmys, Oscars, Clios, People's Choice Awards, you name it, must exist on paper somewhere: "If said song is re-released on a "best of" cd after a proper waiting period, such as forty-eight hours after the original release obtained significant recognition, the aforementioned song may regain eligibility in all categories including: best single, best song, best album, best comeback, best throwback, best duet with cymbals, best duet without cymbals, best big band featuring washed-up former rocker, best current rocker thrilled to be on same stage with blues legend, and additional categories not list here.  Call Grammy office for additional information."

P.S. Two readers have told me they were unable to comment on Is It Just Me because Blogspot requires an ID for comments.  Only my high tech brother-in-law was able to comment.  When my high tech husband explains the ID system to me this weekend I will post instructions.

Dec 14, 2010

Cutting for Stone

This morning I finished my reading group book, Cutting for Stone.  Insert huge spoiler alert here.  This book stinks!  And it's 560 pages so it stinks for a REALLY long time.  It has the most unlikeable central character to come along since Humbert Humbert of Lolita but without all the redeeming aspects of that seminal work (pun intended.)

Cutting for Stone is not without potential.  Author Verghese starts out with an intriguing and likable female character, Sister Mary Joseph Praise.  Later he introduces another female character, Hema, extremely interesting and uber capable.  He puts the reader on the high seas and in the air, in life-and-death situations and in humorous one. But Verghese kills off Praise early on and relegates Hema to a supporting actress role.  He also brings us the delightful Ghosh, his best male character, who thankfully does get substantial page time.

But it is Marion, the less interesting of the twin sons, whom Verghese puts at the center of the book.  Marion can nurse a grudge like nobody's business.  The guy is like a pit bull with a marrow bone.  Genet doesn't love him.  Boo hoo hoo.  Shiva sleeps with Genet.  Boo hoo hoo. For christsake, they're barely pubescent and Shiva is obviously a Spock-like guy with a penis that does new things Shiva's glad to discover.  Genet pays a horrible price for her rampant hormones but Marion is the one with the grudge. And did I mention he loves her?  He will always love her?  He carries his virginal ass around until he's twenty-five-ish because "he loves her."  When he finally comes face to face with the love of his life, Genet is feverish and bleeding but Dr. Marion Stone doesn't hear warning bells loud enough to stop him from consummating his 'love' while she is less than 100%.  Then he gets her hepatitis, nearly dies, get a liver transplant from not-yet-forgiven Shiva, who dies, then Marion nearly but not quite forgives and warms to his real father, who performed the transplant, then accuses his adoptive mother of always favoring Shiva, now dead, then finally finds the letter, the oft mentioned letter from his real mother, (the actually interesting but now dead nun, Sister Mary Joseph Praise), behind the framed picture that he has been schlepping from continent to continent.  Is there really a reader out there who wasn't yelling early and often at the book "Look behind the picture!!  Look behind the picture!!"

Oh my, one downside of reading on a Kindle is you can't throw the book at the wall for a satisfactory thud.

Dec 13, 2010


This morning I got up and thought, today, today I had better get at that blog.  It's probably been a month, maybe even five weeks,  since I set up Is It Just Me and perhaps I'll get at it in earnest.  I went to Blogspot, opened my blog, and saw that my inaugural and only entry was written in September!  Evidently it is just me, or more accurately, it isn't even me.  Ai yi yi.  Not an auspicious start.

Since I created Is It Just Me, (did I mention this was back in September?) Whoopi Goldberg has had a book published entitled Is It Just Me? Or Is It Nuts Out There? Congratulations on your book, Whoopi.  I'm about to embark on my third paragraph myself.

Saw Burlesque last night.  It's fun, entertaining.  Christina Aguilera has a voice to die for.  But honestly, if a huge part of the story hinges on switching from lip-synced numbers to live numbers in the burlesque hall, it might be a bad idea for the performers to lip-sync the numbers in the film.  It just doesn't feel authentic. You can tell they are singing in a studio because you don't hear any variation in the sound.  No movement, no ambient sound, no winded breathing.  I would have preferred the clinking of some glasses and banging of heels on the stage to the consistent power of the voice in the mic.  Is it just me or is Hollywood consistently disappointing?