Monday, October 16, 2017

Evacuation Hysteria, and the man who loved her

Hello, everyone.  Back again after a two year absence, the last few months having been spent wondering what in the hell happened to our country.

But I digress...

I have been asked to speak to you all today about...EVACUATION

No, not one's bowels, silly person. This type of evacuation occurs during a hurricane, or a flash flood, or a raging fire, or the sudden appearance of one's relatives.

In our case this past September, it was Hurricane Irma, or as Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel liked to say every blessed five minutes


MONSTER HURRICANE IRMA was the very worst hurricane ever in the history of hurricanes (until the next one, Hurricane Maria). It was a Cat 84 hurricane, it registered higher than an earthquake, it was going to rip Florida from mainland United States and fling it somewhere awful in the middle of the country, like over Arkansas or something, tear the skin from our bodies and suck the magma from the earth's core.

I became concerned.

We decided to run for our lives.

EVACUATION - Episode One

Our escape began on the Thursday before the Sunday Irma was scheduled to go Medieval on our home, believing that would give us plenty of time to get out of Dodge. Plenty of time.  Unfortunately, the Weather Channel had stirred up so much terror the week before with the Texas hurricane, Harvey, that everyone else in Florida decided they had plenty of time too.

There were at least a billion people heading up the middle of the state on Highway 75, so we decided to take Route 41.

Actual aerial view of Route 41 through Florida

Route 41 is notoriously slow, but then again Highway 75 was bumper to bumper, cars stalling out and abandoned, gas stations empty - well, we thought 41 would be a better choice. We drove in two cars (each with its own huge, panting dog beside drive) for at least five hours before we stopped for food and to look for gas, our tanks were half empty.

There. Was. No. Gas. Anywhere.  Literally. All the stations in Florida were empty. Every single one.

We pulled into a Walmart in Dunedin, Florida. After five hours of driving (usually it takes four hours to get to the Georgia border from our home) we were only halfway up the state, tanks half full, with MONSTER HURRICANE IRMA only days away.

I asked the gas station person if she was expecting a gas delivery. She turned on me like a wounded bear and screamed, "WE AINT GOT NO GAS AND WE AINT EXPECTING ANY!" Have to give the fat pig the benefit of the doubt that she'd had some trouble that day with the million or so people running for their lives. I still wanted punch her in the face.

By now I was pretty nervous. Driving two separate cars when your only communication between are cheap Tracphones that are always losing charge is stressful. Interesting aside - my husband doesn't get stressed out. Probably for the best because of who he married.  But I digress.

Eventually I talked to the second shift gas attendant who begrudgingly informed me they might get another gas tanker in after closing, at 9:00 p.m. So Rich and I pulled out some chairs from our trunk and decided to wait and see. We figured Walmart would get gas if anyone would, and we didn't want to continue our convoluted drive. It was 3:30 in the afternoon.

The tanker did not pull in until 8:30 that night followed by about a thousand cars that had been trailing it down the road. We had waited for five hours at that point and I had made a fool of myself crying in Walmart to the manager, begging her to find out if there was a shelter in the area that took dogs.  There wasn't.

The moment I saw the tanker I jumped into my car, screamed for Rich to get the dogs into his, and we raced to the gas pump. I was first in line, Richie second, and behind us a conga line of cars crowded in, wrapping itself around Walmart and out into the street. It was chaos. The police came to direct everyone, fights broke out, people were hysterical (mostly me). I saw two or three guys wandering around, drugged out of their minds, babbling out loud, angry and screaming. Dunedin is a fun town.

We slept in Walmart parking lot that night, the two cars side by side, the dogs hot and cranky, just like their owners. I kept going into the store all night to charge up phones, buy some water (which was also sold out before. A shipment that came in allowed us two cases each)

In the morning, we cleaned up in the Walmart bathroom then continued on, following directions now given us by one of the aggravated police directing traffic all night. Unfortunately, he was sending us northwest to Pensacola instead of north to Perry Georgia. Or maybe he thought we were going to Perry Florida. I don't know. I don't care. By the early afternoon we realized we had to pick another road and we started to head east again.

We arrived at our motel in Perry Georgia by six that second evening. I was looking forward to a shower and sleep in a real bed (I cannot imagine the horrors in Puerto Rico right now. I was sobbing with losing only one night's sleep to fear) Anyway, despite the fact we had phoned ahead to let them know we'd be a day late the motel had given away our room. Fortunately I didn't not have to strangle the sweet boy behind the desk. He must have seen the burning hatred in my eyes cause they did find us a room on the second floor, right over the office. It wasn't the best, but it was the best we could do.

Now all we had to do was wait for our home to be destroyed back in Florida (Episode 2)

Monday, October 19, 2015

A bad review for The Martian - and, I believe this is the one and only bad review too (SPOILERS)

 I don't understand the over-hype of THE MARTIAN. Is this a case of everyone jumping on the same bandwagon, some sort of group thing like a lynch mob? Honestly, people, get a grip on yourselves. Either I have missed the entire charm of this movie, or I am so old that I've seen every one of these plot gimmicks before. At least a dozen times.

First of all, I've come to realize I don't like 3D movies. They were lame in the fifties when I saw '13 Ghosts' and they are lame now.  The screen always looks dark...

(I wonder why)

...and, maybe, that spoiled some of The Martian fun for me. 3D is absolutely unnecessary to a film unless it's a film about throwing baseballs at the audience. It always looks like pop-up Christmas cards, with gratuitous shooting stars thrown in just so you can do the movie in 3D. There was no benefit - absolutely none - in shooting in 3D.

Stop it.

(Matt Damon. I love Matt Damon usually)

The humor - honestly? Really? There were some bravado jokes made by a man who believed he was doomed to die in space - but, we all knew he wasn't really. And then there was that whole "disco suck" running joke stuff. Y'all realize that that has been done before, right?

"You're music sucks, captain (or whatever Jessica Chastain was). 
Female captain grins reluctantly while the others snigger. 
So fresh.

Then there are some typical sterotypes:

The fun Latino crew member.

The no nonsense captain (Jessica Chastain - actually a nice change of pace there, to have a woman as captain).

The beautiful girl crew member whose job I never understood.

The handsome crew member boy she loves.

(Cat Women of The Moon - 1953)

The tough talking head of the space stuff - Jeff Daniels (who is doing the same character he does in The Newsroom, a show I enjoyed much more than this movie),

The obscure but brilliant, flip, antisocial, computer geek tech who solves the problem with a really simple solution He also treats the head of the space program (Daniels) with disinterest, as if he were just anyone, which  bemuses the head of the space stuff.

(Interesting aside - usually the black team member gets killed during the mission. Luckily in this movie the guy was a geek, and on earth, so he survived. But I guarantee if he'd been in the space capsule, somehow he would have been toast.  But I Digress...)

Mat Damon. Our boy in space, the brave, brilliant, cute as a button, humble, yada, yada, yada... (He really is cute as the dickens isn't he?)

Ok, the rest was kind of Gravity meets Apollo 13 (a much better movie) comprising hours and hours of the experiments to save Matt, the brilliant ideas that at first work, and then fail, one by one, periodically throughout the film... until...

The rescue itself. OK. There is this guy who is going to float outside the rescue capsule and grab Matt Damon as he flies by - BUT Jessica Chastain - the captain who feels soooo bad about leaving the poor schmuck up there in the first place - DEMANDS to be the one to catch him. As he flies by.

REALLY? Dear God in Heaven. If it were me, and my only chance at survival - a one in one billion chance that someone was going to 'catch' me fly past in outer space - I would want the BIG STRONG GUY to catch me, not the slight woman who looks like she's a size zero or something.

I want the big strong GUY to catch me.

2 Stars

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.  F***, 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...