Archive for November, 2011

Black Friday Madness

I’m not even sure why most stores opened Thanksgiving night at either 9 or midnight.  Did they think perhaps it would be less chaotic than opening at 4am?  My brother and his friend hit Wal-Mart at 10.  My cousin and her annual group headed out at 11.  Me?! I traveled to our area Wally World about 8am to a half-full store.  While there, I was even able to chat with a few of my former co-workers.  It seems that the store was the place to be earlier. No less than 18 shoppers had to be escorted out. A co-manager stated that next year it would be necessary to rethink some of the procedures and have lines around more of the doorbusters.  Seriously, it is Not at all worth rushing, clamoring, and FIGHTING to get that 32″ LCD tv for $200 (or whatever the deal was).  I was able to find gifts for all but two people on my list (Cyber Monday sounds nice to me) and spend less than $60 total after getting a decent night’s sleep.  I even picked up the All-Star Superman DVD for $1.98.  Perhaps it would be fun to go in and watch the lunatics have a free-for-all making every effort to get that last Tickle Me Elmo doll (ok… that was SO 20 years ago) but not to go in and see 18 people be escorted out.  That is lunacy at it’s worst and this is SMALL TOWN U.S.A. “Peace on Earth, good will toward men” and Black Friday shoppers.

A Muppetational Thanksgiving

What a fun-filled day full of loving (if a bit wacky) family with so many blessings given to us from above.  So thankful that He has led me through this one of the toughest years I have had to endure with not only my own physical hurdles but hopefully within a few weeks those of my Dad and Chad’s as well.  Chad is having his gall bladder removed on the 1st and Dad goes to a specialist on the 2nd.  I pray that both of them come out of these experiences better and stronger for the experience.

As tradition, I got up and helped set the table for the first of two feasts and then watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade getting a glimpse of some of the best of this year’s Broadway shows and a sneak at the coming Newsies!!!! that would be EXTREMELY fun to see on stage.

Before we sat down to two long tables in the dining room and Mom joined a few of the littles in the kitchen, Alex provided the blessing.  He is serving as chaplain in his Boy Scout troop.  He says he is also bugler but has yet to get a bugle.

After the noon day feast, I stretched out and tried to nap… NICE TRY!  Not sure what we did, just sat around enjoying each other’s company and viewed Elizabeth’s video she made for her honors English or Lit class (whichever it was) a faux trailer for a new version of H.G. Wells’ (not Orson, Jeff) The Time Machine.  And at 4, the annual Drug Cartel of Dallas football game.  And around 5, the Swary contingent arrived for the second feast.

FINALLY, a troop of us headed to the movies to watch The Muppets!  YAY!!!!!! Highly, HIGHLY recommended!  I would pay to see it again!  Everything that I love about the old series and the movies rolled into one and with nods to both.  The new character, Walter stole the show he was SOOOOOOO adorable.  Cameos, singing, dancing, fun for the ENTIRE family.  It could have done with a bit more Statler and Waldorf but still great fun!  Mahna Mahna!  In an interview, Jason Segel (who plays Walter’s human twin, Gary and served as a writer and producer) stated that every generation needs a Muppet movie.  No spoilers just plain, good, FAMILY fun!

Finally, Chad and Cynthia stayed to go to shop electronics at Wal-Mart for Black Friday while the rest of us drove home.

Hope all of you my friends AND family had a blessed Thanksgiving  filled with love.  Do DOO de Do Do! Mahna Mahna! I think that will be stuck in my head for a few days.


Honestly, he is NOT retiring!  Moments ago after 28 1/2 years, and a combined on-air time over 53 years of 17,000 hours (a Guinness record), Regis Philbin said goodbye to HIS show.  He moved from NYC to California years ago after graduating from his beloved University of Notre Dame.  In 1983, he returned to his home and eventually created what I have enjoyed since it went national in 1985 (not every day, but every day I was able).  Whether it was with Kathie Lee or Kelly (Lee as Letterman refers to her),  the warmth that Reege brought to millions will never be replaced.  Succeeded but never replaced.

The celebration of his career in the morning began almost minutes following the announcement of his vacating the role on January 18, 2011.  Support from fans both in the limelight and we ordinary joes poured in from all over the country.  It culminated the past few weeks with extended tribute segments paying tribute to the legend.  Last night, a Katie Couric special followed his backstage ritual and around the city.  Something that surprise me as they made their way to Cardinal Hayes High School and the auditorium that was named after Regis:  He never performed on the stage during his time at his alma mater.  I could tell that he wished he had.  During his “exit Interview,” Big Daddy stated that he was happiest when he was entertaining people (so he won’t be gone long).  I could NOT agree more.

Later, David Letterman presented a gift to his frequent (scheduled or otherwise) guest: a motorized scooter.  Regis went outside the Ed Sullivan Theatre (been there, inside, AND performed… but that is another post) and proceeded to crash after about five feet!  Way to go Dave; kill the man hours before his final bow!

This morning was a fantastic send off.  The audience was filled with friends, dignitaries, and other special people.  We finally got to hear the details of Regis and Joy’s honeymoon…. something that has been hinted about for several years.  Also interspersed were “Reflections by Regis” on his life.  And what would a Regis celebration be without the 100s of people who have (for better or worse) come up with their own interpretations on the King’s unique personal.

For me, the greatest part of the show has been Regis, himself.  He’s like the uncle everyone wishes they had (or actually do have, who knows).  He is a remarkable story teller.  In fact, I tuned in every morning I could to see the first 15 minute host chat and if the guests did not appeal to me, I turned the channel.  He created a totally family feeling atmosphere by introduced his audience to Joy, his daughters Joanna and JJ, his son-in-law Michael Schur  (a writer on The Office), and his grandkids Mr. Trouble and Ivy.  Everyone on the show from Kelly to his executive producer Michael Gelman to the “Executive in Charge of Production” Art Moore (whatever it is he does besides sit in the corner begging for air time) were like an extended family coming into homes every weekday morning for an hour. Regis really did entertain for an hour with the extraordinary brand of “guerilla television” and made us feel better.

Thanks for the memories, Reege!  We will see you soon!

And anyone looking for that GREAT Christmas gift idea: How I Got This WayI do like some reading material in actual book form instead of downloading it onto my Nook. 😉


Les Misérables Remastered

SO GLAD Megan could get tickets!  Back in June, I learned that the 25 Anniversary of Les Misérables was making its way to the Stranahan.  I did not forget but with all the eventful events surrounding my family the past few months, it kind of took a back seat.  However, Megan was able to score us a trio of seats for tonight’s show.  I was willing to drive which at times met with some rather humorous moments from young Miss Clark (“OMG WE ARE GOING TO DIE!”).  Even walking to the theatre parking lot after the show.  MWHAHAHAHAHA!

We made excellent time even with my capable driving.  We got a bit of dinner with an hour to spare before curtain.  The show was even more spectacular than I remember. I last saw a high school production about 3-4 years ago and saw a professional production (it had to be) about 10 years ago at the Stranahan.  There were several changes made in the staging, scenery, and lyrics which all combined to enhance what was already one of my favorite shows.

Immediately noticeable was the changing of the backdrop pre-show.  It had previously been a drawing of the young Cosette with her broom.  It has been replaced by a Victor Hugo painting.  I did not know that the author of the original novel as well as The Hunchback of Notre Dame was also an artist.  Gone also were the captions indicating the time and location of the story.  These were not needed as the action just moved at a steady clip.

The revolving platform that had previously been used in productions was also noticeably absent.  Instead, different levels of perspective were used to heighten the drama.  Marius sang the beginning of “A Heart Full of Love” to the mature Cosette from the ground while his love stood on her balcony (think Tony and Maria or Romeo and Juliet).  Later, the audience could “see” Valjean carry the wounded Marius through the different sections of the sewers.  Finally, Javert falls back and is enveloped by the water as he falls to his death.  A brilliant re-imagining of a classic theatrical event!

After the show, the three of us had our picture taken with M. and Mme. Thénardier (who as usual stole the show).  We lined up and (also as Usual) I was relegated to the back but go right between the charming couple.  As you may recall, I performed “Master of the House” with Carol at a recital last spring.  How I would relish the opportunity to play the role in a full scale production.  I will post the picture as soon as Carol makes a copy.

The drive home was fun as well.  After stopping at a gas station before getting on the turnpike for a drink (again after Megan made her patented quip about dying), we popped in the new LIVE anniversary recording.  As we approached our drop off point  I heard “TURN LEFT! TURN LEFT! NO, KEEP GOING!  KEEP GOING!”  HAHHAH!  Sorry…at least I did not mention how many times the lovely ladies had to visit the powder room 😉  (oops)

I also learned for future reference that a high school classmate of mine live a short distance away from the theatre.  A handy tidbit for those times when we have to go dashing through the snow like a few years ago on Good Friday.

Thanks Megan and Carol! 😀

Now that I know how to put accents above letters in words like Misérables and Thénardier, I cannot stop myself.  Such a fantastic show!  A silver screen version of the musical Les Misérables is soon to start filming with Hugh Jackman as Valjean, Russell Crowe as Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Geoffrey Rush as Thénardier, and Helena Bonham Carter as Mme. Thénardier.  Set for a 2012 release.  If they ruin the show with the translation to the screen, I will not be happy!

A Sad Day In Happy Valley

This will be relatively short.  I do agree with the firing of Joe Paterno after the shocking week at Penn State University.  In 2002, after he was approached by the graduate assistant who knew of the assistant coach’s gross inappropriate conduct, Joe Pa should have gone NOT to the Athletic Director nor even to the head of the school, he should have gone to THE POLICE! He was morally and (most importantly in this case) legally obligated to do something more.  Instead the assistant coach’s actions were covered up.  It may be easy to say… “In hindsight….” Well… in my eyes, that does not excuse the suffering of the 25 (I believe) victims of the crime.  The 61 year coaching tenure of the most winning and one of the most revered coach’s in college football history ended by scandal.  Not a good year for Big 10 football off the field.

Help Wanted

Well… it seems that Oscar is in need of a host once again.  Yesterday, amid scandal and controversy the producer of next year’s Academy Award extravaganza Brett Ratner backed out of his duties.  Shortly after, Eddie Murphy stepped down as host.  This morning, I heard two possible contenders being promoted (two being rather subjective).  On GMA, there was a huge push for the soon to be returning to the silver screen Muppets to take the gig.  What a boon that would be!  An instant band for the evening courtesy of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.  Comedy provided by Fozzie Bear.  Joan Rivers could be joined on the red carpet by the queen of fashion, Miss Piggy.  The Oscar parties could be catered by the Swedish Chef.  Gonzo could do…. Whatever.  Even heckling would be provided by the masters, Statler and Waldorf.  And of course, your Master of Ceremonies…. Kermit The Frog.  YAAAAAAAAAAA!  I cannot wait for the movie to open in time for the holidays.  There is even an on-line push for the Muppets chance at the gig

Later during my morning cup of cocoa (boy it is starting to feel like November), Regis jokingly threw his hat in the ring.  Of course, after next Friday, the Reege will have plenty of time to devote following the final episode of his 28 year run on his morning program.  I don’t know where they will possibly come up with a worthy successor to his charming, acerbic wit.  Maybe even an unknown… Mr. Philbin’s memoir is soon to be on bookshelves everywhere.  Of course, he is “JUST MOVING ON!” and NOT actually retiring.  If memory serves, Regis did serve as the host of a pre-Oscar show a few years ago and did take over on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve after Dick Clark suffered a stroke.  Maybe he should step up to the big show?

Or… dare I say… combine the two.

The Wonder Of Childhood

I hate to disagree with Father’s sermon this morning but I do not think ALL adults lose that sense of wonder and imagination that all children share.  Some of we old’uns still possess some of those traits that create a magical feeling on Christmas morning and throughout the year.  Many seem to choose to hide it under a “safe” facade.  As usual, Father Art delivered a meaningful lesson with just the right amount of humor.  In one tale, he related a episode involving a large delivery truck that had become stuck underneath a viaduct.  A group of adults including big wigs of the delivery company and members of the highway patrol attempted to use their far superior intellect which they had obtained through experience and learning.  However, all their formulas and brain power could not accomplish what an 8-10 year old child did.  After numerous attempts to be heard, the youth finally convinced his elders to listen to his idea:  To release just enough air from the tires to lower the truck enough and allow it to pass under.

I know that I have heard that story before but it does bear repeating.  The young whippersnapper outsmarted his adult counterparts.  Perhaps I do lose that wonder throughout the year, but as the Most Wonderful Time of the Year does approach, I for one always seem to become that 8-10 year old locked inside all of us.  It seems to come earlier every year.  The CLASSIC, animated “Grinch” was on last night for the first time in what will probably be at least one showing a week from now until December 25 (I DVRed it so that I could have a Christmas classic -athon sometime in the next month or so).

Shopping complexes have already spruced up with trees and decorations and the return of layaway where it had been discontinued a few years ago.  While at Wally World the other day, I noticed Halloween clearance in front of Christmas decorations.  I think Thanksgiving has become lost in the shuffle.  I for one enjoy Turkey day.  Not only can we stuff ourselves but also gather to share our wondrous blessings with those we love… of course, something we should do every day.

Towns have already hung their candy canes from light poles.  I volunteered to assist at our county’s Idol contest and sure enough, driving down SR 15, right as I turned into the hotel where the contest was held… there were the decorations hung,

Ok… enough of that (I hate to depress anyone with the number of days we have left ;)).  After mass, the church had it’s annual Fall Brunch.  Father Art came over to our table mentioned how good the choir sounded today and asked how my brother was doing.  He had only a short time before he had to venture out to his next mass.  Quite a fellow who has made quite an impact on the entire community in the short time he has been serving as our priest.  He takes all his meals at Rita’s. He also  enjoys sporting events (he congratulated our high school football team for making it to the playoffs for the second year in a row… the team lost in the first round 39-28).