Monday, September 29, 2008

Reality TV Fun Begins Again - Survivor vs. The Amazing Race

Ah, it's that time of year again. I say, there's nothing like watching grown men and women running amok in the mud in their underwear in one new show, and couple's bossing each other around while gallivanting across the world in another one. Talk about great tv. I'm in heaven...

After watching both season premiers, I'm afraid I cast my vote for the Amazing Race this time, mainly because Jeff Probst is getting so annoying. Does anyone else think he gets more sardonic and mean with each passing episode? Perhaps he's had enough of the exotic traveling and is sick of the beach sand that has taken up permanent residence in his know, where the sun doesn't shine? That would make me annoying too.

The Amazing Race only had one couple I liked, and it was two geeky men. They brought me back to my love of the hippies from several seasons ago. I wonder what ever happened to them. Probably built a convent somewhere and passed on their peace and love. Can these two nerdy men fill their shoes? Who will Jeff Probst verbally malign and belittle in the next tribal council? Anybody else watching and care to offer an opinion?
If not, stay tuned.....

Book Review - Fearless Fourteen (A Stephanie Plum Novel)

Fearless Fourteen (A Stephanie Plum Novel)
by Janet Evanovich

Oh, I remember the good old days, when these Plum novels (Numbers 1-10) were wildly funny, super sexy and mildly entertaining. Now I'm wondering....what happened? Here we are with number fourteen and I was bored out of my mind after the first chapter. The last 5-6 of these novels have been the same story rehashed with the only changes being which animal will be highlighted (this one was a monkey)and what year and make of car will blow up. Yawn....nothing but bland bean burrito without cheese. Where's the hot sauce, where's the lettuce and tomato??

To say Ms. Evanovich is not stuck in a rut the size of her home state of New Jersey is like saying they don't sell more Aquanet hairspray there than in any other state. Some suggestions to spice it up and make me ever want to read another one....

1. Kill off Rex the hamster. What is he, 50 years old now? She needs a new pet, like a snake that accidentally eats Rex.
2. Enough with the Ranger-Morelli stand off. Everybody is sick of it. Stephanie needs to pick one and move forward. Isn't she in her forties by now? Is she still going to be a bounty hunter when she's Grandma Mazur's age?
3. Get her married or pregnant or something. You'd be surprised how funny commitment can be.

Fearless Fourteen, didn't seem so fearless to me. It seemed like, it lined my pockets with money so I don't care, safe. How about reckless abandon next time Janet. Be like Lewis and Clark, forge a new trail of Plum thinking through your brain. Maybe you'll find a prune instead.

I rate 3 out of 10. Yuck.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Angry Old Man vs. The Pauser - My take on Friday night's debate

I don't know about you, but boy was I relieved that McCain was able to find the time in his busy schedule of thwarting the progress of the bailout compromise, and head to Mississippi to attend the first presidential debate. Although he would probably profess otherwise, he hasn't had the best week. His VP choice is falling off the deepest part of the deep end, the 'fundamentally strong' economy tanked, his supposedly suspended campaign seemed staged more than anything and he's now David Letterman's archest enemy.

Considering all that, I will give McCain some credit here, he did better than I thought he would. It was his debate to lose. I believe he offered nothing more than what most people already knew, he's experienced in foreign policy, he's a war vet, and he's got a furious temper.

I believe Obama fared a bit better, but not by much. One of his weaknesses is foreign policy, I believe he showed increased amplitude on this subject here, although it takes him so long to finish a sentence, I almost got lost in grammatical no man's land, where Sarah Palin apparently lives. (People that pause too much give me migraines. I want to finish the sentences for them. Except in Palin's case, I want to write them for her.)

I will say also Obama seemed calmer, smarter and more presidential. Just what I'm looking for in the next President of the United States. But seriously, couldn't they have looked at each other a little more?? There appeared to be no love lost between these two men, especially from McCain, who did everything in his power to talk down to the Senate newbie. Aren't we grown-ups here?

This seems more like playground bullying than intelligent debating. In the words of Rodney King during the LA riots - Can't we all just get along?
Apparently not.

The Seven Layers of John McCain Tortilla Pie

Recipe of the Week -

The Seven Layers of John McCain Tortilla Pie
(But beware, this pie, like John McCain, may fill you full of gas)

2 15 oz. cans pinto beans (drain and rinse)
1 cup salsa (divided)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1 15 oz. can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup tomato (chopped), 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
(Now stop here if your just making a great bean dip for chips!!)

7 8" tortillas
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
salsa and sour cream for topping

Preheat oven 400 degrees. Mash pinto beans, add 3/4 cup salsa and garlic, mix. Then in separate bowl, mix 1/4 cup salsa, blackbeans, cilantro, onion, tomato. In a pie plate, layer tortillas, pinto mix, cheese, tortilla, blackbeans, cheese, then alternate with cheese ending up on the very top. Cook 40 minutes.

Book Review - To Kill a Mockingbird

Book Review -
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

She seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl. -Scout

I just finished this book for my wonderful book club, and not having read it in years I must say I was happy to return to Maycomb Alabama and dust off and relearn the lessons that were taught in between the inky lines of this great read.

I know this is a popular selection for students to read in high school English classes, and having reread it again, it's so easy to see why. As an aging adult I appreciate its message even more, especially now that I'm a parent and can appreciate Atticus Finch's parenting style, even though mine at times seems to be the opposite reflection of it.

Even with the seriousness of its material, its portrayal of conflict between children and adults, references to sex, and the truth about how African Americans were once treated, although somewhat lightened because it's chronicled through the eyes of a child, I would have no problem allowing a young teen to read it. As was brought up in my book club, we can't sugarcoat the past. We must either learn from it, or repeat it.

I rate it 8 out of 10.
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. -Atticus

Thursday, September 25, 2008

McCain's Time-Out

McCain flys to Washington to save the world from tyranny!!

The original 'maverick' is hard at work putting the country first again. As soon as he woke up yesterday, he'd decided those insignificant sycophants (senators and congressmen and women) were incapable of reaching a resolution without him and he needed to fly to Washington to add his prepresidential two bits to the bailout debate. Oh wait, it was actually after his call from Obama for a bipartisan statement on coming together as candidates in this financial crisis, that this 'maverick' came up with idea to 'bail out' of his campaign.

It's just for this reason that I contributed to the McCain camp. Who cares if an important debate is in two days! Who needs to debate the issues when the super rich are about to become the super poor, unless the super poor pay for it! (The super poor here are people that own only one house and don't drive a Mercedes). Who cares if his VP choice is a bit of a lunatic. Who cares that he's slipping in the polls because he once thought, last week I think, that the economy is good. Boy, its never been better!

I didn't know I could take a 'time-out' when problems get clustered and crowded together in my life. I like the idea of only handling one issue at a time, especially in my extreme age, forty. Good going McCain, for showing us it's okay to take a break when the going gets tough.

Never have I seen my donated dollars better spent. Oh wait, I didn't contribute to the McCain campaign. Whew......

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Book Review - Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

by Gregory Maguire

"Very close to being an instant classic.....Maguire has hit a home run his first time at bat." Memphis Commercial Appeal

I guess when I read that review I should have considered the source. Memphis Commercial Appeal?? Sounds like a legal firm for Elvis's TV.

All I can say about it is this: it was a strange odd trip reading this book and having heard the musical of Wicked is wonderful, the music fantastic, I'm having a hard time reconciling the fact that the book is so bizarre. Whoever wrote the screen play must of left out most of the original contents.

Some good points -

The plot and story lines started out interesting enough. I thought it original and fun, wondering how did that old bat begin and how did she get so bad. Unfortunately, you don't find out until the end and she's really not so bad after all. What??

The description and background of the main characters, the landscape they arise from and why they do what they do, and did in the original story was detail rich and overflowed with imagination. Maguire gave it serious thought. He's very good at description, making you feel part of the story, sucking you in so to speak, whether I wanted to or not.

Elphaba (the witch) is very well written. She has all the best lines and scenes. The book covers her life from its inception to its watery end, trying to explain everything in between. I thought it a great concept, at first.....

The problems:

From the very beginning you can tell this book's not for kids or even teens, which is a shame, they could have benefited from its 'moral' lessons. He makes it very adult from the start, dwelling too much on the sexual side of things. I thought it unnecessary and in some scenes, just too plain weird. It pulled me out of the story, trying to figure out what he was talking about.

From the second half on, I was bored out of my mind. It became more of a monkey on my back than an enjoyable read. By the end, I just didn't care, which is a problem since its lessons are taught in its very conclusion. And it does conclude, sort of.

Did anyone really love this book that's not from Memphis? And by love I mean, would you ever read it again? That's my litmus test when it comes to books I've read. They take up so much of my precious time, they'd better be worth the effort. On a scale of 1-10, I give this one a 4. Anything below a 5 will probably never be under my long green nose again.

Obama Zucchini Bread - Recipe of the Week

Obama Zucchini Bread
(Chocolatey on the outside, gooey and good for you on the inside)

3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 1/4 c sugar
3 tsp vanilla
2 c grated zucchini
1/4 c baking cocoa

Mix together, grease and flour bread pan, and bake @ 325 degrees for 40-60 minutes or until done.
Cool in pan 20 minutes before removing onto drying rack. Waiting that long will help it retain moisture.

This recipe is excellent for using up that prolific cucumber-like squash that is so abundant this time of year.
Who knew chocolate and a vegetable could be so good together!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sarah Palin - Annie Oakley Personified

My friend saw a campaign bumper sticker on a car the other day that read: What's-his-name and Palin. Funny, funny stuff. Anyone know where I can get one of those, because good grief, I'm getting so sick of hearing about this woman who isn't even running for president.

I saw yet another picture of her with a gun on the cover of Newsweek. For once, I'd like a woman running for office to actually act like a woman instead of trying to act like a man acting like a woman. News flash! New photos of Sarah Palin's eyes glued to the television set watching football, or of her complaining that her husband nags her all the time to pick up her socks and help with the kids after she gets home from work.

I know, how about a picture of her knitting, cooking, helping with homework, tilling her garden, shopping, working in her office (Oh ya, there was one of her in her office in Alaska, right next to a dead grizzly bear carcass! How fetching! How attractive to other females!)

I mean seriously, how many of you women out there, other than those of us in the military that must do so, how many of you like to shoot semi-automatic weapons for fun? How many of you actually hunt, actually slay wild beasts all by yourselves, with no influence from your husbands, fathers, boyfriends, etc? If you do, I'd love to hear from you, but I would guess the number to be very small. Why? Because it's not in our nature to kill; to destroy. We are genetically the gatherers, not the hunters.

I had a newly married friend some years ago who bought a deer tag and went hunting with her husband, probably because newly married couples are under the delusion that they must do everything together. Thankfully, that doesn't last very long....

Afterwards, she said the thrill of the hunt was fun, but after she shot the deer and saw how it suffered at her expense, she wept and never did it again. I personally can't imagine something I would like to do less. Other that getting my feet scraped. (One of my favorite lines delivered by the cook in Seems Like Old Times, I have no idea what that is but it sounds terrible!)

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not against hunting. My husband does it, much to my chagrin but I love him anyway, despite his deer slayer gene. If it's done humanely it is a good management tool for our forest ecosystems, preventing overpopulation, etc. My problem is what I mentioned in the second paragraph; enough with the guns, enough with the political pandering, the extreme right wing views (Creationism taught in science class? Come on!) Are most women concerned about this on a daily basis?

Didn't McCain put a woman on the ticket to talk about women's issues? Like health care, education, how to manage paying the bills and childcare, making the world a better and safer place for our children? These are issues that matter to women, not the $1000 eye glasses Palin wears that the news articles say make you look more intelligent, even though contacts would do just fine.

Did Hillary Clinton wear glasses while campaigning? No. Did she need to? No, absolutely not.

Up next: Hillary Clinton and her guide to pretend campaigning for Barack. Future political aspirations, anyone?? Is she looking to campaign again in four years??