Monday, June 15, 2015

This and That Tuesday...

Jane Austen attempts to publish her historic book, Pride and Prejudice… in the TWENTY FIRST CENTURY!!

(A) E-mail from Jane Austen, sent to publishers:
“Hello, my name is Jane Austen, and I have written a romance novel.  The main story concerns a gentleman who is very rich, but insufferable.  He falls in love with a poor young woman who is not as pretty as her sister, but has a quick wit about her.  Initially he proposes marriage to her while at the same time insulting her family.  He also convinces his best friend that her sister is not good enough for the man... for some reason I haven’t quite worked out yet.  Anyway, the young woman he loves gives him the old heave ho then travels to his home, sees how beautiful it is, and decides he’s the one for her.  The world length is 123,880.

(B) Reply from publishers:
“We do not accept inquiries thru the internet.”
“We thank you for your inquiry; however, we are not accepting new writers.”
“There is no way in hell for you to get a book published so why should we bother replying to you.”
“Unless your brother is a mass murdering pedophile, please do not bother us again.”

Finally, a glimmer of hope:
“Please submit the first twenty chapters of your novel, in duplicate, in print, on yellow lined paper, no staples, two-inch margins, triple-spaced.  Also, provide us with the demographic you wish to attract, a sample of your marketing plan, six forms of ID, and, no we still will not publish you, under any circumstance.  Unless you are a reality star.  Or, there’s really hot sex.  With bondage.  And cut it down to 95,000 words.”

(C) E-mail from Jane Austen to publisher in response:
“I can put sex in it.  Just one question, what is sex?  This is 1810, I am thirty-five years old and I live with my father, a former minister.  Give me a break.”


Can we all admit to a healthy fear of Mesothelioma and move on already...


Benedict Cumberbatch is a papa now.  Names generated on twitter include the following:

Cabbage Patch Cumberbatch
Sherlock Stephen Alan Khan Cumberbatch


You know what I really love are those commercials where there is an older woman, slender, dressed in some shimmery thing.  She has long, long, white hair that she peeks out at you from while she smirks, as the voiceover  talks about the super medication she's on for some reason, probably bladder control, and she's all "look at me...don't I look good for a woman in her fifties?" (because fifties are a near death experience for the young puppies who now run marketing programs)

And then the announcer tells of the side effects:
"If you experience swelling of the hands or gums, vaginal bleeding, hemorrhoids, dry mouth, vomiting, temporary blindness, heart palpitations, incontinence, momentary amnesia, tingling in your shoulder or elbow, loss of a limb..."
Meanwhile the old bat is grinning and writhing around on a sofa like she has back itch.
Yeah. Love that commercial.


Is swearing mandatory now on cable shows?  I have a few shows I like to watch - Silicon Valley, Episodes, Veep - and in all of them without exception the word fuck is shouted out at least twice in each sentence.  Also, vagina is really big (no pun intended). Also dickwad, prick, asswipe, cocksucker - do people actually talk like that in the real world?  I wander around freely when my restraints are removed and I have never heard people shrieking these things out
(unless I'm at Walmart - duh)

When did humor sink so low?  We still watch Seinfeld and laugh our heads off, and not once did someone grab their crotch and yell, 'eat me, MF', not even Kramer.
And they were funny.  Really funny.
But I digress...

We saw "Spy" with my favorite Melissa McCarthy and it was the same thing.  Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, MF, shithead... it went on and on.  Is the shock value supposed to be supplying the laughs?

Of course, I did really, really enjoy it when Colin Firth did it... duh.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

THIS AND THAT SUNDAY, and Oliver Cromwell

Haven't been here for a very long while.  I was very busy writing my third book, and then I was very busy pimping it anywhere and everywhere I could.  So, here I am back again, several years older and not much wiser, but with something earth shattering to tell you, something life altering.

Nah, not really...

I conclude that trains are possibly the most uncomfortable way to travel - outside of, I imagine, ox carts with mismatched wheels, or covered wagons (I was too little to really notice when the folks headed west).  It was in July that we took our Amtrak journey from Orlando to New York city.  In my opinion, after experiencing a ride that felt as if we'd been into a barrel and thrown into Niagara Falls, I am amazed that a train ever stays on the track at all.

Here's another thing - where the hell did I get the idea that a train food car had curtains on the windows and tablecloths and waiters in tailcoats serving you by candlelight, bowing as they hand over the menu.


European Train Waiters

American Train Waiters

Our food car consisted of about eight hard industrial tables which you clung to for dear life as the train careened along - and, you're packed in there, sitting cheek to jowl with really creepy characters who look like they have issues with opiates!  And dental hygiene!  And then our ankles were all shackled together! - no, wait  That was that other time...

Don't even ask about the sleeping car - ok, ok, go ahead and ask.  They call it a roomette.  More like a broomclosetette.  I had the top bunk since Richie's hip was already hurting him, and there's a toilet right there in the broom closet with you, right beside you. No walls around it; no privacy at all. I had my Kindle Fire sitting on the closed lid while it charged.  The Kindle, not the toilet.  Ever try to pee while your husband is asking you if you closed the garage door? Anyway, to get up to the top bunk I had to stand on the toilet and hoist myself up - no ladders.  And, at my age, I had to climb down about six times during the night to pee.  Richie kept thinking we were home and the sprinklers were going off.

I hate Amtrak.  Extremely unfortunate about the accident though.  Especially since we're taking it again in September.


Yes, we are returning once again to the land of scones and honey, to that most blessed Isle, to England.  And, since we don't fly, we are again sailing for seven days there and back on the QM2.  Did you know that on the Queen Mary women are not allowed to wear shorts after a certain hour, and neither are men, nor flip flops.  "Gymnasium" attire is frowned upon when walking around and if you're not going to the 'Formal Nights' dinners (there are 3 on a 7 day crossing), nor to the two Balls that are thrown (the Black and White Ball, and the Ascot Ball, or something like that) one is not encouraged to linger around where those dressed up people may see one. They have Ye Olde Rack on the Lido deck.

Richie and I managed to miss every single formal night and both balls.  We buffeted our way across the Atlantic and sat back and watched the beautiful people stroll by in their sequined gowns and black tuxedos.  The men were dressed nice too.

The Brochure

The Reality

Our immediate impression was that ALL men - old, young, fat, skinny - look great in a tux, but there are precious few women over fifty who look any good dressed up.  I really mean it.  Well, look, most of us are pudgy, if not downright fat, and the hair is 'not what it was'...  Make up is always heavy and scary looking for evening.  It takes a real lot of money to look good when you're a certain age, and there isn't enough money circulating in the free world for me to get into heels again.


You know what really bothers me about this? It hasn't a thing to do with religion, or being an abomination to the lord, or 'a great athlete's tragic emasculation'.  No.  It's that she looks twenty years younger.  If I was transgender I would look like a real old John Denver.  


Again with England - We have tickets to see Mark Rylance (he plays Cromwell in Wolf Hall) perform in Finnegan and the Lamb Chop (that's not the real title but I am too lazy to look it up).  I really wanted to see Byzantine Crumberpants in Hamlet, however those tickets sold out before the ink was even dry, and now there is a lottery for one hundred fans to be superglued to the ceiling for a performance.  I'll take it.  Except... we have only four days in London.  What are the chances that I will (1) get chosen for a pair of tickets at all, or (2) that the date will be one of only three days left while we're in the city.  I keep telling Richie we should just move to London already.

Maybe not...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

RICHARD ARMITAGE IN THE CRUCIBLE (an inarticulate review)

Richard Armitage

What a wonderful play.  Rich and I saw The Crucible at the Old Vic on July 14 (I think).  We had unbelievable seats - dress circle, first row, smack in the middle.  I had no idea what to expect, and was disappointed, at first, when I read on the side of the theater that it was in the round.  I hate theater in the round.  Usually I get distracted very easily - slight attention span problem there - and, I end up worrying about the actors or if they're going to fall or trip over someone's big feet.

(Actually, in this play, one had to be concerned about the sighing women in the audience with RA in the lead.  One very funny bit - when he removes his shirt to wash up - there was a drastic intake of breath causing a severe loss of breathable oxygen in the room!)

 But, I digress.  I said I hate in the round theater, but happily this was very different.  For one thing, the stage is rather foggy, so that the audience across from you looks more like other characters in the play somehow; almost as if they were sitting in judgement over the proceedings.  And the theater felt more oblong than in a round, with the rows of seats across from us facing ours, with the tiers of balcony seats reminding me of representations of the Globe theater.  Instead of sloping away, the different levels where stacked one directly over the other, giving the theater a more closed in feeling - absolutely perfect for this play.

Enough about all that! The play was wonderful, from the very first moment with the eeriness of Tituba's silent (nearly silent) walk around the stage.   Richard was really magnificent.  Even my husband, who had fallen fast asleep last year when we visited London and saw Perfect Nonsense, was captivated by the play, especially the second half which is magnificent.  The girls - oh, you just want to slap the lot of them - but, when they begin chanting in unison, it is incredibly creepy.

All of the actors were equally wonderful, with two standouts.  Richard, of course, and also Jack Ellis (I think that's his name - I was much too cheap to buy a program).  He played Deputy Governor Danforth, another person deserving a slap on the face.

The only thing that bothered me was RA's voice.  Normally it's such a soothing sound, but he sounded very hoarse here - and no wonder.  We saw the matinee show and then they did it all again for the evening show two hours after we left the theater.   Actors are wonderful.  How they can project such emotion, such heart wrenching tragedy, night after night, is amazing to me.


Anyway, what I really wanted to say was this.  At one moment during the play - don't ask me when because my mind froze up completely - RA exits the stage by walking up a staircase.  A staircase that led directly to where I was seated.  I watched his shadowed figure come up the steps, one at a time, very slowly - and he kept coming closer, and this dark figure kept getting larger and larger, until I thought he was going to jump over the dress circle wall I was grabbing onto in front of my seat.  I truly was smack dab in the middle, and there was a time in my life when that man would not have made it out of the theater alive.  As it was, the girl next to me began making strange hawking noises in the back of her throat.

Anyway, he did get almost eye level and then the steps head downward.  I don't think I took a breath the whole time.  All I remember is that my eyebrow began to twitch and get really, really itchy, but RA was walking straight toward me and I was afraid to move.   I finally went nuts and began gouging at my eyeball to scratch it during this very, very dramatic ascent.  He must have thought I was a looney bird.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

First Jobs and the havoc they wreak...part seventy-eight. And Colin Firth

Since I have written exhaustively about my days at G. D. Searle, and with the now defunct accounting firm of Brown, Coleman and Hale, we will continue with my accounting career POST college.  Since I had returned to college late in my twenties, I emerged from college in my early thirties, confident with my business degree and ready to accept any six figure salary thrown my way.

This begins the Dark Ages of my life.   I like to think of my life in eras.  There was the magnificent Roman Empire (my mother), the Era of Enlightenment (my youth), the Swinging Sixties (which I missed altogether), and then I went back to school and screwed up everything.



My biggest problem, other than having no idea how to do accounting, was that I strolled out into the workforce alongside twenty-one year old graduates.  The comparison did not bode well for me, especially when these graduates were pouring out of the universities faster than they were going in.  They were like cockroaches in suits.  And they knew what they were doing, which I didn't, but I digress.

After leaving Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe  I went to work at a series of the most bizarre places poor grades can offer. We will begin with "THE CROOK".  I honestly can't remember his name anymore (hardly surprising since I even forget to turn off the faucet these days).  Anyway, he was a sole proprietor, and, in my experience, it is NEVER a good idea to work for one of these.   He sold Insurance and he provided Bookkeeping, sometimes at the same time.  I should be been suspicious from the start.

There was one large room where all his employees labored, both his insurance clerks and his Accounting Division.  In the center of this room sat - and this is the honest truth - an antique barber chair.  All the desks were against the wall, in a circle, facing inward toward the chair.   The man who had just been hired to be the head (and only) Accountant (I was the entire bookkeeping department) stared at the chair, and the strange configuration of office furniture as well.  Then we looked at each other.  Finally, he asked one of the harried looking women in the room.

"Why is there are barber chair in the middle of the room?"

Before he could finish the question, she huffed out, "You'll see!"


All right, we had a job to do.  The owner had a number of bookkeeping clients who had not been serviced for a while, and the files where a sloppy mess.  The first thing the Accountant decided to do was take each and every folder out of the file cabinets, and begin going thru each item, one by one.  Right then and there I wanted to stick a pen in my eye.  Talk about boring.  And, it only made the mess worse.  We had files heaped on tables, on chairs, on the floor - by the third day, I wanted to weep.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I was doing it quickly, and trying to hide my incompetence with bullshit.

And then it happened.  Out of nowhere a tall gentleman walked to the middle of the room, a cloth draped over his shoulder.  He stood at attention and waited.  The room grew deathly still.  Suddenly our little (he was about 5'3") leader, the owner of the firm, a cocky little bantam rooster of a jerk, strode to the middle of the room, hopped onto the barber chair, (I'm certain he used a booster seat) crossed his legs and steepled his fingers.  The gentleman standing behind the chair then flicked out the cloth he had been holding and draped it over bossman.  It was grooming day.

I could not believe it.  Arnie, or Bernie, or Wally - whatever tiny man's name actually was - was getting his weekly haircut!  In the middle of the office.  Like a plantation owner amidst the slaves.  It was the strangest sight I'd ever seen.

 I was entranced, at first.  Then, abruptly, ArnieBernieWally started snapping out questions.  "Louise!  Did you follow up with Crenshaw?"  "Mr. Tiny Man, you  said that wasn't until next month."  "You do it now, or you're fired!"  He pointed to the side and the barber swung the chair around to face another victim. "Nancy, are the forms filled out for yadayadayada?"  "I'm nearly finished, Mr. Tiny Man."  "Not good enough, goddamn it!  It want them now."  "But you just handed them to me."  "You want to lose your job?"  "No, Mr. Tiny Man.  Sorry, Mr. Tiny Man." He pointed in another direction, and the barber, not missing a beat of the haircut, swung the chair in the new direction.  And the onslaught, the verbal attacks, continued until he reached the Accounting Division - me and Gus.  I freaked.

"What is that fucking goddamn mess - it looks look a fucking bomb exploded! What the fuck are you two doing?  I didn't hire you two to waste my time....yadayadayada."  I was terrified, and so was Gus.

Fortunately, my days at this combination Insurance/Accounting/Self Grooming Emporium were short lived after that.  Immediately, Gus and I plowed folders back into just about any opening we could find (don't bend over if you have a big butt and I am desperate to hide bad work), then he whispered that I should meet him outside.  He was pale as a ghost.

"What's wrong now," I whimpered.
"I'm leaving."
I gripped his lapels and hung on like grim death.  "Don't say that.  Please don't say that."
"You should too.  This is bad, Carol."
"Karen.  My name is Karen."
"Whatever.  The shit's gonna hit the fan here, and I don't want to be around."
"Maybe he was having a bad day.  The cut was good."
"It's not that.  He's Certifying reports, Carol."
I blinked my eyes rapidly.  Somewhere in my schooling I had heard that...
"He's not a CPA, Carol.  It's against the law, Carol!"
"Is that really bad?"  I really needed this job.
"YES!  I could lose my license.  I am getting the hell out of here, and so should you!"

And so I quit.  I had to, without Gus Grimley beside me I hadn't a clue as to what I was doing.  Besides, I had learned Tiny Man and his father had already been indicted months before for Sales Tax Fraud, and both had been featured on 60 Minutes.  Lucky me.  I worked for a celebrity.  I went home and cried like a baby, terrified we were going to starve. Who'd pay the mortgage, who'd pay for our food?  Mom, as always clueless as to how bad things were, kept saying, "Stay home with me.  We'll be all right.  I'll make spaghetti."

ARGGH!  I needed a job, and I needed it quickly.  However, I had one small problem.  My grades were pathetic and I had no experience.  And, then there were those hordes of eighteen-year-old looking accounting graduates crammed inside elevators, popping out at me each time I heard a Ding.  No, the competition for positions was thick as Oliver Platt's eyebrows.   I needed a boost, a little edge on these others.

So I began to lie - like a rug.  I falsified the very best Resume money could buy, and talked friends in other companies to verify my working years at their firms. And, I survived.


And now, without further ado, more from my good friend, Colin.  He's never forgiven me for telling him this was a good idea...