Archive for November, 2008

How You Can Accuse Him Is A Mystery

Last night, I spent a few hours at one of my favorite places to play some games.  I must say that The Office DVD Trivia Challenge is a BLAST.  I may have come in a distant third with 5 Schrute Bucks, but it was fun nonetheless.  I will have to start rewatching episodes Tuesday nights on TBS to hone my knowledge of Michael Scott and associates.  However, I will not bother to say who won the rest of the games.

We also discussed the choice for the upcoming summer musical production.  C asked me if I was going to audition.  I immediately answered “No.”  Honestly, I cannot believe it came out as deadpanned serious as it did because the reaction I got was… “YOU JERK.”  I broke out in laughter.  Of course I am going to audition but he better be, too.  To which taylhis responded about his low self-esteem and the fact that he will complain that his audition was terrible.  On this note, I must agree.

My friend, you have inspired me soooooo much in the past few years… I’m not sure I have mentioned all the ways  and I will not elaborate here.  I just do not understand how one that has inspired not only myself, but I am sure other members of this blog site can be so goofy.  I have seen first hand this TOTALLY UNFOUNDED quality in you more than once and it drives me CRAAAAAAAAZZZZZZYY!!!!!  Man, you are so unbelievably talented and ‘I know nothing any of us can say will change your mentality.  However, I do expect you to be right along with me in May when we BOTH go to audition.  Amen.

Who Wants To Open The Door On Black Friday?

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNNMoney.com) — Wal-Mart – expected to benefit this holiday season from its deep discounting in a tough economy – had its Black Friday marred when an employee was trampled to death as thousands of people rushed through the doors at the opening of the store in Valley Stream, N.Y.

Police said the man, identified as 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour, was a temporary employee who lived in New York City’s borough of Queens.

In addition, police officials said a pregnant woman was taken to a local hospital, but was expected to be released Friday.

Video footage showed as many as a dozen people knocked to the floor in the stampede of people trying to get into the Wal-Mart store, according to Nassau County Police detective Lt. Michael Fleming. The employee was “stepped on by hundreds of people” as other workers attempted to fight their way through the crowd, Fleming said.

“We expected a large crowd this morning and added additional internal security, additional third party security, additional store associates and we worked closely with the Nassau County Police,” said Hank Mullany, Wal-Mart’s vice president for the Northeast, in a statement. “Despite all of our precautions, this unfortunate event occurred.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those impacted,” he added, saying the company is cooperating with authorities in their investigation. (Full story)

Around the nation, shoppers descended upon Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) en masse in hopes of scoring Black Friday discounts. From New Jersey to Dallas, there were reports of hundreds of shoppers lining up before stores opened, looking for $2 DVDs and flat-panel TVs priced just under $400.

At the Fairfax, Va., location, the scene was social. Hundreds queued up before doors opened at 5 a.m., with some having arrived the night before in order to be among the first to shop.

“We skipped Thanksgiving dinner,” said 30-year-old Arash Habiezadeh.

Wal-Mart, which operates more than 4,100 U.S. stores and 3,100 international locations, is expected to be a big winner this holiday season as its discounts resonate with budget-conscious shoppers. The company has been aggressively courting customers by lowering its prices and introducing holiday-gift sections in stores.

“Even with the economy, you’ve got to go with the deals,” said Robert Balboni of Centreville, Va., while loading his shopping cart with a 42-inch flat panel TV, a portable DVD player and a Philips 2GB MP3 player.

Wal-Mart has already shown signs of benefiting from the economic slowdown. Same-store sales, or sales at retail stores open at least a year, gained 2.4% in October, beating the company’s own forecast.

Overall, the U.S. retail sector is expected to endure one of its worst holiday seasons in years. Sales are projected to climb just 2.2%, according to the National Retail Federation, making it the weakest sales gain in six years.

Unfortunately, the holiday temp working at a Wal-Mart store near New York City drew the short straw and found out first hand what a stampede feels like.  He obviously stood in the wrong place as the thousands of shoppers stormed the store at 5AM on Friday morning.  I worked at a Wal-Mart store for 6 years and only once had the pleasure of witnessing the mad rush enter the store in search of items at ridiculously low prices.  What got me was the fact that once the employee was down, the herd did not stop but kept on going.  When the store decided to shut down for rest of the day to investigate, shoppers were indifferent.  Some had been standing in line since Thursday morning.  All this for a $9.00 Incredible Hulk DVD?

While I worked at a Wal-Mart, I had a very good friend who actually volunteered to unlock the door to release the hounds.  Most brave on her part.  Now, the last I knew, she is the Manager of the Automotive Department.

I learned of the tragedy on Friday when I ran into another person whom I worked with.  She had just heard it on the news.  There was also a pregnant woman who was knocked down and taken to be examined; however, she and the baby were uninjured.  Perhaps taylhis was right in not venturing out into the battlefield?

Journey Beyond Your Imagination

This evening, I went with my family to watch the Santa parade here in town.  One of the nieces was somehow scared to death of Santa until grandpa took her up.  Then you could not get her away.  While we waited for the free photos to develop we watched the junior high band play carols in the fire hall (my oldest niece is now in the 7th GRADE).

Following the festivities, we went back to the house and learned that The Polar Express was playing on network television.  Once again, if you want to watch a good movie watch it on video with out the butchering and commercials.  The movie is fast becoming a holiday classic and a tradition as has the book by Chris Van Allsburg.  It tells the story of a doubting boy who boards a magical train on Christmas Eve and travels to the North Pole and Santa’s home.  On the train, the boy meets a trio of other children each of whom have a specific reason for being on the journey.  On the trip, the quartet have a series of adventures inside, outside, and on top of the train.  I loved the idea behind the personalized tickets… each passenger is given a ticket which eventually reveals something meaningful.

My favorite character is the lonely young boy who in his own words claims that “Christmas just doesn’t work out for me.”  The hero boy, hero girl, and lonely boy sing a beautiful number entitled “When Christmas Comes to Town.”

Plus, the coolest actor ever has at least 5 roles in the movie.  When you watch it, pay close attention and see how many roles you can hear Tom Hanks give voice to.  It is just a beautiful film to watch every year while you prepare to celebrate the most joyous time of the year and believe in what can and, more importantly, what you can’t see… that which is in your heart.  After all… The thing about trains… It doesn’t matter where they’re going.  What matters is deciding to get on.

Look inside this title
The Polar Express - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com
The Polar Express (Selections from the Motion Picture) Music by Alan Silvestri, Glen Ballard. Songbook for voice, piano and guitar (chords only). 72 pages. Published by Alfred Publishing. (AP.PFM0428)
See more info…

Thanksgiving KO

Round two started around 5.30 when my mother’s brother and sister and their children and children’s children arrived.  By the end, we probably had 25-30 people in the house.  We keep talking about renting out the local hall or church basement (prolly impossible for the church I think our organist has a life time resevation for Thanksgiving).  My uncle’s wife has a gathering where they had 109 people earlier this afternoon.  So, while we were watching Chad enjoy his traditional Dallas Cowboy game (in which the Dallas Drug Cartel disposed of the Seattle Seahawks 34-9 unlike the Lions who are perennial favorites of other members of the family).

My cousin, his wife, and myself discussed the many flavors of Jones Pure Sugar Cane soda.  Carla has had the regular varieties but has never had the opportunity to tast the many holiday flavored delights.  Who wants to drink Christmas Tree flavored beverages?  More food, lots of desserts (too MUCH dessert) and lots of laughs and planning for the newly arrived holiday season.  Who is going shopping during the Black Friday merriment?  I have to be at work at 6.45, so I decided to miss the game night that was planned.  I hope you all had a great day remembering all the blessings bestowed upon you and yours in the past year and that you endulged heartily.  Apparently, I did as many have commented after the digestion process began.

Thanksgiving… Round One

Let’s see… I got up around 8.30 for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and to bring the long table and chairs down to set up.  That is my job, set the table and chairs up… kind of easy… get it done and over with (then again, I have to haul them up later).  Parade time:  floats, large helium balloons (including the new Smurf balloon), marching bands (including a band made up of senior citizens… kind of neat).  But my favorite part as always (big surprise, right)… the casts of Broadway shows performing songs.  Featured this year, last year’s big Tony winner, In the Heights; the revival of South Pacific (another possible musical I have been considering bringing to the committee’s attention); a new stage production of Irving Berlin’s immortal White Christmas; The Little Mermaid; and the coming revival of Hair.

Around 10 o’clock the family started gathering.  One little one was sick (having 7 children at a gathering, isn’t it usual to have one down).  At 11.45, the chronically late members of the family showed up.  I was surprised because if anything they are usually 15 minutes late.  Those members you need to tell that dinner starts a half hour before it actually does.  Chad entered and had hair down the front of his pants.  I asked where the hair came from.  His response led to my response of “That’s what SHE said.”  A case of inneuendosis.

So the feast was delcious as always.  Turkey, ham, delicious dressing, masked potatoes, noodles, pie, pie, pie (apple, cheery, pumpkin and more on the way tonight).  The only problem being the dead phone line.  It sounds like there is a phone off the hook or the person who called last did not hang up.  So I could not call to wish Happy Thanksgiving to friends.

Cooking Disasters

On the cover of our extremely late newspaper this evening (inserts for Black Friday sales, but really the store did not get their supply until after 6.30) there was an article detailing various peoples mishaps in the kitchen.  Invariably, this causes my mind to wander to two incidents that I have heard tell about time and again.  They both involve the culinary artistry of my father (who is back to his old self again and we can all be thankful for that).  Apparently, long ago either when I was a wee lad or not even born, he ATTEMPTED to cook goulash.  I say attempted because he began by putting the uncooked macaroni along with the meat and other ingredients into a pot of not boiling water.  I guess he was going for the goulash soup.

On another occasion while serving as Assistant Scoutmaster of my brother’s Boy Scout troop, he attempted to cook spaghetti on a camping excursion.  What the boys eventually were about to consume was a pasty substance that only the Scoutmaster himself would sample.

I think from then on, my mother was the gourmet and dad was left to the everyday hamburger, grilled cheese and the like.

So from all of us to all of you, may you have a blessed Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, blessings, and a day void of cooking disasters.  BTW, taylhis, what time did your paper arrive at your doorstep?

Drink With Me

Looking for something original for your Thanksgiving gathering? Try Jones’ holiday sodas.  As far back as 2003, the soda gurus have bottled tasty concoctions such as turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes and butter, cranberry, green bean casserole, and fruitcake sodas.  I’m not sure if any local stores carry the seasonal treats, but I do know of at least one store that carries the traditional Jones pure sugar cane sodas.  Enough to keep you going all day long.  For Christmas, the company also offers a gift pack featuring such delectable delights as sugar plum, christmas tree, egg nog, and christmas ham flavors.  For our Jewish friends, chocolate coins, apple sauce, latke, and jelly doughnut flavors will delight during the season of light.

Or maybe the Jones bottling company should make a deal with Disney to have their holiday sodas join the sodas of the world display at EPCOT.

How About Some CHEESE, Please?

While working today, the boss and I were doing up cheese trays for the holiday.  She asked my opinion on the festivity of her trays.  Some of them were appropriate; however, there were a few of the most attrocious looking things I have ever seen.  They kind of reminded me of some of the place settings of Liswathistan.  One had a pea green, brown, and funky looking orange scheme.  It might have been ok with a more decorative scene on it.  All the trays were covered with alluminum foil so the scheme was effectively hidden.  Diane also informed me that most of the trays had been left over from the previous owners.  Apparently, they did not like them either.  Hard to believe that it took 8-9 years to find them.  They were hidden really well.  I can’t wait to see the trays she plans to use for Christmas cheese trays.  One good thing came of this: I got to sample some hot pepper cheese (YUUUUUMMMY!)

5 In A Row!!!

This past weekend saw a feat never before accomplished by an Ohio State University football team.  The Buckeyes successfully defeated the dreaded “Team from the North” for the fifth year in a row (42-7).  How many rivalries can actually attest to the fact that a coach’s career seemingly hinges upon one game year after year.  Coaches are booed or cheered, lauded or fired on the outcome of the traditional regular season finale for OSU and UofM.  I had the thrill of sitting in the south stands of Ohio Stadium in the Block O section in November 1992.  What I remember most came at the closing moments of halftime.  A man decided to have his brief moment of fame by running across the field wearing absolutely nothing.  Although what is name actually is is anyone’s guess (so much for his fifteen minutes).  The streaker was subsequently given an overcoat and apprehended by officers following his run for the goal posts.  Incidentally, the game ended in a 13-13 tie much to the dismay of the OSU seniors who had never defeated their archrivals.

Christmas Snooping

WOW… One month from today is one of the most perfect nights of the year… better get started.  I’m sure I can fill my blog with many a holiday tale by then.  This one was prompted by an email that was sent to me which I forward to a bunch of people.  A list of questions that got me even more in the spirit of things.  One of the questions was

  • What was the WORST Christmas present you ever received?

My answer was quite cryptic as I replied that it was a “keyboard that I THOUGHT I was getting after someone else snooped and informed me of.”   Santa always delivers our presents early and strategically hides them throughout the house.  How else can he get to all those houses in one night?  Anyway, my second oldest brother who is extremely fond of pulling little pranks (if you know him at all then you can imagine).  One day, he was investigating one of Santa’s favorite hiding places and came upon a small keyboard and immediately thought that he knew to whom it would be going.  He subsequently told that person of his discovery.  So, Christmas morning came and no keyboard.  At our extended family gathering, my cousin opened up said keyboard.  Of course Chad had to have been the one to open his mouth and say “oops. I thought that was for you.”  At the time, I am sure that I was a bit let down but soon after everytime the incident is mentioned, everyone in the know gets a big laugh.  Lesson learned by me: don’t trust everything your older brother tells you, especially THAT one.  I’m not sure if Chad learned any lesson that year, but judging from other years, I don’t think so.  It was a pretty easy prank to pull since Dan and I are both musically inclined.

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