Recent Posts

Sunday, January 31, 2010

What Does Lady Gaga Have that I Don't?

Oops. In case you missed it...last Friday, January 29th, was National Lady Gaga Day. The gagalicious event was celebrated on Facebook by 100,000 of Lady Gaga's fans. For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with this over-the-top, glam rock diva...Lady Gaga is an American pop music artist known for her outlandish costumes and outrageous antics. Think: female version of a young Elton John. She performed last night with Elton on the Grammy Awards Show. Bedazzled in a blindingly glittery costume, the glitzy Gaga made the legendary but aging rock star look like a Tweedledum tax accountant in comparison.

So what can we learn from Lady Gaga? She pushes the envelope. She is not afraid to put herself out there. She embraces the moment. She doesn't care what people think. Not such bad traits to possess. Having said all that...I must admit that I'm not a fan of Lady Gaga. She's weird, skanky and her music is cheesy-sleezy. I am bemused by her. She's bold and brazen and she'd really liven up our condo potluck parties. Lady Gaga encourages everyone to celebrate their "inner freak". I'm not certain I even have an "inner freak". But if I did have one...I'd keep it to myself. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

The ladies are out on the bay, sailing away in their prams today. A pram is an old-fashioned shallow draft boat with a squarish bow. Imagine rigging a sail to a row boat and you have an idea what a pram looks like. Sounds weird but these little floating dinghies are perfect for sailing in the bay off Caladesi Island near Dunedin, Florida. Caladesi, by the way, has been rated the #1 beach in the United States.

It's an all-women sailing club and most of the gals out on the water today are over fifty. Although the boats are small, they're just the right size for having fun without a whole lot of effort. Even in a diminutive vessel, sailing can be wonderful recreational therapy. It's relaxing and enjoyable exercise with the wind in your hair, sunshine, fresh air, sparkling blue water and the comarraderie of your sailing companions. Not to mention...a round or two of Margaritas for the lady salts after a dandy day out on the water.

A few Sunfish sailboats get ready to join the prams out on the bay.
Sphere: Related Content

Monday, January 25, 2010


Over the past year, the world has witnessed a series of colossal failures: Bank closings, real estate foreclosures, huge corporations going broke...the list goes on and on. Sometimes it seems as if failure is rewarded as in the mega-billion dollar corporate bailouts. For the rest of us average folks, failure can be ruthless and often no fault of our own. And we don't get no stinkin' bailouts. I got to pondering the merits of success and failure and I realized that even though we all would much rather behooves the human spirit to experience failure every so often. Failure can actually be an audaciously good thing and here's why:

1. It didn't hurt Conan O'Brien. He got fired and forty million dollars.

2. Failure is empowering. We gain knowledge and insight from our blunders which provide a powerful incentive not to repeat the same mistakes. 

3. Failure builds character. If we're able to shake off disappointment, renew our determination, accept responsibility and not wallow in self-pity, we become stronger, self-reliant  and more likely to find solutions.

4. Failure can be awe-inspiring. We screwed up. So we're not perfect. Who cares? We're still alive and we've learned things that we didn't know before which makes us wiser and better off than when we started.

5. Failure offers us positive examine what went wrong, explore better ideas or experiment with totally different strategies.

6. Failure gives us accept what happened and move on...or not. We can choose to discard the negative and rise above the ordinary. We can take calculated risks and learn to become fearless.

7. It's part of the creative process. We should embrace failure as one step closer to achieving our goal. Failure encourages us to think outside the box. It spurs our creativity and ignites our imagination. We should capitalize on our mistakes and not be embarrassed by them...unless we're John Edwards or Tiger Woods.

8. Failure separates our loyal friends from fair-weather ones and identifies who we can rely on for support when the going gets tough.

9. Failure gives us a fresh start. It expands our horizons and emboldens us to dump the bad stuff and turn adversity into advantage.

10. Failure teaches us a valuable lesson in survival. We either succumb to the depths of our misery or we regroup, reflect, reinvent and recognize that "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new".....Albert Einstein. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fog Is Not My Friend

Outside my window, the fog slithers in like a boa constrictor, squeezing the light from the late afternoon. It’s sunset time where I am on the Gulf of Mexico. And on any given day in this part of Florida, the sky is aglow with a brilliant orange conflagration. But today is different. The air drips with a viscous mist. Quietly and disarmingly, the fog enchants you with its mysterious, smoky shroud. Then before you know it, you’re blindsided by its deceptively gauzy yet tenacious hold. The street lights come on…ghostly blurs of amber flickering in the haze. Some people enjoy the fog. They find it tantalizing and seductive. I for one do not like fog. It’s eerie. It conceals things. It’s scary if not downright spooky. On the road, it’s dangerous. The poet, Carl Sandburg, wrote: "The fog creeps in on little cat feet.” Fog is creepy but not like a sweet, cuddly kitty. More like a slimey, wet snake. And I don’t like snakes. The fog is cunning and conniving. It threatens with a chilling silence. It will snatch away your children if you’re not watchful. The fog will reach out its wispy, fiendish fingers and grab you by the throat and do untold harm. No, I am not a fan of fog.

Outside my window, the mist is subsiding. At last, the late afternoon sun…the glorious, golden, guiding light of mankind…peers out from the murky gray shadows. Somehow, I know everything will be alright again. Sphere: Related Content

Waiting for Knology

I've been waiting all day for the Knology guy to come. The what guy? By way of brief explanation: Knology is an internet/cable company...the only choice we have in Dunedin, Florida where I am spending a few months this winter. As far as I'm concerned, it's a really dumb name for a communications company. It's not catchy and it doesn't exactly roll off your tongue. Loosely translated, I think ology is Greek for "the study of" as in criminology, theology, biology. So what are the Knology folks trying to convey? That they specialize in the study of...knowledge? I could come up with a better name in my sleep: How about Teknology? Maybe that was already taken but if it's not, I got dibs on it. Anyway, what they really need to bone up on is how to treat their customers effectively and courteously. The fact is that their internet connection to my new laptop seldom works. For the past two weeks, my computer has been going on and off. On and off. On and off. I fully expect it to disconnect before I get through writing this post.

Two weeks ago, I called Knology and told them we had a problem. They said they'd send a technician out in two days. "Could they give us a time frame?" I asked hopefully. "Sometime during the day", was their response. "But we'll be sure to call ahead and let you know we're on the way." So I stayed inside on a perfectly beautiful day and waited for the technician to come. Finally around 4 p.m. my laptop sprang back to life. The service person never showed but I figured maybe they were able to remotely fix it.  Around 8:30 at night, the door bell rang. At 8:30 here in Florida, it's very dark. I wasn't expecting anyone so I looked out the window. I didn't see anybody. Then came another buzz on the bell. I was by myself so I cautiously opened the front door. Standing outside was a guy with a 3 day beard growth, rumpled clothes, big boots and a sloppy shirt. Not the sort you'd invite inside. I thought he had the wrong address. Then he asked: "You need service?" Not from you, if you were the last man on earth...I thought to myself. Then I noticed some words on his shirt: Knology. Turns out he was the technician although he hadn't bothered to identify himself, nor phone ahead. I debated whether to let him in because it seemed like the problem was fixed. Then I thought maybe he could take a look...just in case. So I let him inside.

All the while he was in our house, I was nervous. He wasn't friendly and looked more like he'd been out digging up sewers, than solving computer problems. He spent exactly 2 minutes at my laptop keying in some jibberish on the screen and said: "OK, all fixed." I was more than happy to show him out the door. 

Shortly after he left, my laptop went down again. It's been going on and off ever since. I called again. This time, their office told me somebody would come out on Friday between 2 and 4 pm. Today is Friday. It's almost 6 o'clock in the evening. I'm still waiting. Knology never showed. They never called. Amazingly, I'm nearly at the end of this post and my laptop is still connected. But it won't be long before the connection shuts down again. And I'm waiting and I'm waiting..... Sphere: Related Content

Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Survivors Teach Important Lessons

The massive earthquake that shook Haiti one week ago, did not shake the faith of the people who live in this impoverished Caribbean nation. Some estimates predict the death toll may eventually reach 200,000. The disaster buried thousands upon thousands under tons of collapsed buildings. For nearly the entire first week after the quake, Haitian survivors endured with little or no water, food or medical care in the blistering tropical heat. I can only imagine the unspeakable agony of the suffering victims as they laid helpless on the dirt ground or as they dug with their bare hands in a valiant search for loved ones.

As I watch this heartwrenching human drama unfold from the comfort of my living room, I am awed and deeply moved by the astonishing spirituality, humility and courage of the Haitian people who have survived. It is only one week into the tragedy, yet out of the chaos, several images captured by TV cameras stick in my mind:
      The rescue of a woman who was totally buried under several floors of concrete for SIX days...only to be found by the persistence of her husband. The first thing she did after rescuers finally pulled her out was sing. On the stretcher, covered in dust and debris, she lifted her voice in lyrical praise to the Lord with a song of rejoicing.
      Survivors marching in spontaneous procession down a rubble strewn street, their arms uplifted and joyously...yes, joyously, chanting and praising God.
      A young woman pulled from mountains of concrete...her leg amputated in order to save her, calmly tells relatives: "Don't cry for me. Pray for those who didn't make it."
      Signs of life: a bustling street market with vendors selling a smattering of fruits and vegetables. The first steps in returning to some semblance of normal routine.
      Sunday Mass at an undamaged church..hundreds of parishioners in their Sunday best, most of whom have lost everything in the quake...attend Mass and celebrate their survival by clapping and singing.

In this catastrophe beyond measure, the global community can learn much from the passionate resolve of the Haitian people. They are deeply religious. Their faith is woven into the fabric of their life and those threads of faith are what they cling to in this tragedy. Instead of feeling abandoned by God, many Haitians say the quake has strengthened their religious fervor. They do not blame God. Instead they seek refuge in their faith and are thankful to be alive.

I am struck by the incredible inner joy of these long-suffering and devout people. Their devotion to God, their sense of gratitude, their optimism about life in the face of extreme hardship is a testament to their resilient spirit and persevering nature. Even in their darkest hour, the people of Haiti are teaching the world the power of faith, hope and love. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Apocalypse

The horror of Haiti. It's hard to imagine hell in the middle of paradise. But for decades, Haiti has been the scourge of the Caribbean. A forlorn, mountainous island that's been plagued by unstable and corrupt government, violent rebellions and wicked dictatorships, brutal torture, voodoo culture, scorching poverty, horrific disregard for human rights, deplorable desecration of the environment, blood-thirsty drug gangs, devastating hurricanes, mudslides, floods and now...a monstrous earthquake.

I'm sure the Haitian people are seriously questioning why God hates them so much. What did they do to deserve such miserable chaos in their lives? Is their unimaginable agony a manifestation of divine wrath? Has God totally forsaken Haiti? Indeed, if there truly is a God...why would he so systematically punish such a downtrodden little island nation? There are outsiders who assert that the Haitians themselves brought many of their troubles down upon themselves years ago.

I make no claim to answer these existential quandaries. We don't always understand why things happen. Personally, I believe these catastrophic events are a supreme test of faith. An epic test of the character and goodness of mankind...or lack thereof. The manner in which human beings react and respond when tragedy befalls others with whom we share this planet offers a profound insight into the human spirit. Do we rise to the challenge with compassion and generosity? Or do we succumb to the baser levels of disinterest and noninvolvement?  I believe that in adversity, you just can't ask "Why?" or "Who's responsible? Sometimes you just have to give of yourself in the best way you questions asked. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, January 8, 2010

A New Twist on the Bucket List

For this new decade of 2K10, I considered making a Bucket List. You know...where you write down all the things you'd still like to do before you kick the bucket, aka die. Then I read about an upended version of the Bucket List...the shuck it, chuck it, F#*k It List. Ironically, your F#*k It List is pretty much the same as the Bucket List. Only difference is that you give yourself permission to forget about doing a lot of the stuff on your Bucket list. Simply put: don't do it...screw it and set yourself free.

For me personally, a F#*k It List removes all the pressure to sky dive out of an airplane just to prove I am fearless; to climb Macchu Picchu, to run a marathon or to finish the book I've been struggling to write for the last 10 years. At this stage of my life, I accept the fact that I am not fearless. I am afraid of things but I have learned to overcome my fears and move forward. I am a strong person. I've battled cancer, other serious ongoing health issues and devastating personal situations with humor, determination and optimism. I am a thriver, not just a survivor. I may never write the great American novel but apparently after 10 years, I really don't want to finish my book. The only reason I'd like to run a marathon is because many of my friends have done it. Since I'm extremely competitive, I think "Why shouldn't I run one too?" But then why subject myself to pain and possible injury when I don't have to?  Duh. No pain, no gain. Forget that. Life should be pain free and enjoyable. Walking, talking, laughing, hoisting a glass of wine and soaking up a gorgeous sunset not gasping for breath as you stumble along a city street, in the cold and rain, dodging traffic and feeling like your legs are about to be ripped off your body. No thank you. But that's just me. 

Truthfully, I'd still like to visit Macchu Picchu because I love to travel. But if I don't get there, I'm not going to beat myself up about it. That's the beauty of the F#*k It list. You can give yourself permission to chuck all of your previous aspirations or only some of them...with no regrets. Make no mistake. It's not about turning into a couch potato. It's not about giving up. It's not about punishing yourself by setting unrealistic feats of endurance. I still have goals and dreams. But I've come to realize that in reality, I've actually achieved much of what I was hoping to accomplish. I don't need to jump out of an airplane to determine if I'm a risk-taker. I already know I have taken huge risks over my risks, personal risks, emotional and physical risks. Most of them worked out just fine.

We all share a desire to be happy, healthy and comfortable and have people in our lives who are kind and give us support when we need it. Of course, we must reciprocate. And that's what it's all about. So for me, I am relinquishing some old expectations and embracing new opportunities. I'm focusing my energy and attention on people I love and respect. I may not go sky-diving because I truly don't want to do such insanity. But I can walk along the Great Wall of China. I can reconnect with long lost friends and explore Alaska. By this time, most of us know who we can count on and who we can't. It's OK to shuck the schmucks in your life. They only make you miserable.

Once you write down your chuck it, shuck it, F#*k It list, you will feel liberated and alive. If you still want to jump out of an airplane, go for it. You might want to wear a parachute. But if you don't like having your brains sucked out of your head as you're yanked into the wild blue yonder, let it go. Move on and relish other opportunities and possiblities out there for you. Do what you value most. Release issues you cannot control. Be flexible and open to change. Embrace spontaneity. Humor goes a long way. As the inimitable comedian, George Carlin used to say: "Enjoy the ride. There's no return ticket." Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Movie NINE is Minus Zero.

I generally don't go to the movies. We Netflix instead. As a matter of fact, I haven't been in a movie theater in over a year...maybe longer. But a friend asked me to go with her to see "NINE" and since it was a cold, gloomy day in Dunedin, Florida, I accepted her invite. We got to the theater and there were 10 thousand old people in line. I'm not joking. Turns out it was seniors day. Five bucks per geezer. To make matters worse, it was a 20 multiplex theater with only one cashier. My friend and I fit the age criteria but we didn't want to wait in line because we figured tickets would be sold out by the time we got to the front. Luckily, my friend has a keen eye and spotted a credit card ticket machine outside. These devices are a brilliant invention and nobody was using it. She stuck her credit card in the slot, punched a few buttons and out popped 2 crisp, blue tickets for the movie NINE. We did a quick happy dance then ran inside and found the very last seats in the entire theater...way, way, way in the back. We were so far up and to the rear, we could touch the back wall...and the ceiling. Nonetheless, we still had a good view of the screen and the sound system was fine. I looked around and noticed that every seat was occupied by somebody who grew up knowing the names of all the original Mouseketeers or the Little Rascals or had served in WWI.

OK, enough of the prelude. Here's the main point of this story. Do NOT, I repeat do NOT go see the movie NINE...unless you are a masochist. It is excruciatingly, outrageously, painfully, atrociously dreadful. Boring doesn't even begin to describe it. After the first 5 minutes, I prayed it would end quickly but it dragged on and on and on for what seemed like a lost weekend at a mortuary. Hours of sheer, unadulterated, tediously dull, insipid monotony. Oh, did I mention it's a musical?

The movie is set during the 1960s and revolves around the life of a famous but tortured Italian film director and his lust for women. It is based on the influential Italian director Frederico Fellini, who was known for his distinct cinematic style of blending fantasy and sexual desire. La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2 are two classic Fellini films.

If ever there was a movie audience that might have been the least bit receptive to was the crowd of old boomers packed in the theater with us. In our heyday, we actually knew who the real Federico Fellini was and we adored Sophia Loren. Back then, we were mesmerized by the glamorous Italian lifestyle, chic fashion and fast cars. Oleg Cassini, Lamborgini, Gucci and Gina Lollobrigida. We dreamed of living the sweet life in Rome, having a romantic tryst with a beautiful Italian, riding a flirty Vespa motor scooter while belting out Cuando, Cuando Cuando. Well, at least some of us did.

So it was with great disappointment that this film, in my humble opinion, did not deliver...anything. It was a collossal waste of my time and of the multi millions of production dollars spent on it. There was a lot of singing and dancing...out of which came not a single show-stopper song or even a catchy tune. For the most part, the music was downright depressing. After a while, I inwardly groaned every time somebody opened their mouth to sing. Flamboyant, elaborate sets, surreal dream scenes, extravagant costumes and tons of gaudy sex still don't make this movie the least bit interesting. Watching spaghetti boil would have been much more entertaining.

I did enjoy the location scenes of Rome...the ancient buildings, narrow streets and sexy little Italian sports cars. There are a bevy of popular and beautiful actresses in this film but I was most fascinated to see legendary movie icon, Sophia Loren again. Her bio lists her as 75 but I bet she's pushing 80. Even so, she looks fantastico...absolutely stunning. 

Throughout the movie, I had the weird feeling I was watching an Italianized version of the award-winning film CHICAGO minus a plot, decent acting, superb dancing or kick-up-your-feet music. I enjoyed CHICAGO very much and I'm shocked to learn that the fellow who directed NINE is the very same guy who directed CHICAGO. How could he go so abysmally wrong?

When the film finally ended in anticlimatic fashion, the audience seemed so totally glazed over from hours of monumental boredom that we didn't realize it was indeed finished. It was like a sentence left in mid air. But when the entire screen abruptly faded to black, I swear I heard everyone in the theater whisper, "Thank God, that's over."  For five bucks, I could have had a tasty lunch of linguine and meatballs instead of enduring what amounted to one man's pathetic obsession with the female buttocks and Italian cigarettes. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Walkabout Dunedin

Tall masts overlooking Gulf of Mexico. Dunedin, Florida.

Currently, I am staying for a while in a quaint little Scottish town on the Gulf of Mexico called Dunedin, Florida. Brick streets, funky shops and tasty eateries. And of course...there's the beautiful Gulf with sailboats bobbing up and down as far as the eye can see in the sparkling water under a glinting sun. It's an easy walking town and I take advantage of that almost daily. Yesterday on my walkabout here's what I encountered:
  • An outdoor wedding in the park between a rather "mature" man and woman. I congratulated the blushing bride and she said: "Oh, this is my 6th husband and he's been hitched 4 times before."  I wonder if they'll last through February.
  • Two young children zipping through the park on rollerblades followed by what appeared to be their elderly grandparents...also on rollerblades, laughing their heads off while struggling to keep up. The grandmother nearly took a tumble but one of the kids grabbed her and granny straighted up and continued merrily rolling along.
  • Lots of bike riders cycling along the bike/walking trail. Several of them were riding very low-style bicycle contraptions that nearly touch the ground. I don't know what they're called but the rider nearly lays prostrate and peddles. Looks awkward but I've heard it's quite comfortable. I'll have to rent one and see for myself. If you can lay down and ride a cool is that. And if it had a cupholder for my Margarita glass...sold!
  • An older gent standing on the sidewalk looking befuddled and disgusted...both at the same time. I stopped and asked him if he needed help and he said he couldn't find his car in the nearby parking lot. I offered to assist and in a few minutes we found his car. He got in, started up and drove longer befuddled but still disgusted and crotchety. A simple "thank you" might have been nice.
  • Thousands of stately Spanish oak trees. The giant trees grow all over Dunedin and many are several hundred years old. They produce long, mossy plumes several feet in length that dangle down from the branches. The plumes swish and sway in the breeze like feathery-gray cotton candy.

Come on down and join me!
Sphere: Related Content

Friday, January 1, 2010

Jose Cuervo's a Friend of Mine

Jose Cuervo's a friend of mine
He knows how to treat me mighty fine
Turns a Margarita into a real good time
Jose Cuervo's a friend of mine.

When life throws me a few hard knocks
I like Jose on the rocks
A double shot and a zesty lime
Takes the edge off in record time.

Forget about your whiskey or your girly wine
Jose sends tingles down your spine
Whatever the it rain or shine
Jose likes to party all the time.

If I'm blue or feeling down
Jose Cuervo rides into town
He's cool and fun to be around
And makes me smile instead of frown.

Some folks warn he's the devil in disguise
Wickedly smooth with hypnotic eyes
They say he's a fake, corrupt and crude
But after 2 drinks, I'm in love with this dude.

When friends have all deserted me
And no one helps in my adversity
Jose lifts my spirits..we laugh with glee
And raise a ruckus til quarter to three.

If you would like to meet Jose
You drop my mi casa any old day
I will introduce the two of you
And you will sing his praises too.

Jose Cuervo's a friend of mine
He knows how to show me a mighty good time
In a fancy glass or a plastic cup
Salt the rim and bottoms up.

CHEERS and HAPPY 2K10 to all my loyal readers!

DISCLAIMER: Since I wrote this little ditty, I've learned that there is a country tune with a similar title about a gal who drinks too much tequila and spends the night with a cowboy. For the record, my post is absolutely my own creation. I don't drink all that much and I've never slept with any grungy cowpokes. Sphere: Related Content
Related Posts with Thumbnails