Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mouth Organ Karaoke--ROCK AND ROLL

Please click on the photo above to watch a short one-minute movie from the "Mouth Organ Karaoke" series. In this film, a small baby goes on an adventure and experiences a different type of "Rock and Roll."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Germination of the Garden Geek’s Green Thumb

If someone had asked me five years ago whether I had any interest in gardening, I would have laughed in their face. Being a loyal New Yorker, I’d never intended to leave the confines of the city until my crumbling body finally rotted and withered away to nothing. Even then, I probably wouldn’t leave. So gardening didn’t seem like something that would ever be included in my resume of experience.

But then, circumstances changed in my life, and I was given this amazing house in Plainfield, NJ—complete with a yard, and plenty of room for gardens, trees and other such adornments. At first, I was overwhelmed by the prospect of taking care of such a massive amount of space. After all, I came from Manhattan. The most lawn I’d ever seen was between the sidewalk and the curb, and even then it was somewhat patchy. I also had horrible memories of helping my parents weed and maintain the family garden when I was younger. After a particularly close call with the churning blades of a Rototiller, I’d made a solemn promise never to enter the confines of a garden again. (To this day, I still have vivid nightmares about being pulverized by the churning blades of an old-fashioned nut grinder.)

Naturally, I procrastinated for a long time, hoping the mounting forest of weeds, vines and other assorted yard debris would somehow transform itself into a beautiful garden all by itself. Or perhaps a family of small elves would take it upon themselves to landscape my property for me, while I sat upstairs in my room making shoes. As neither of these scenarios appeared to be happening, I ultimately decided to tackle the terrain myself. For weeks, I pulled weeds and raked leaves and cleaned garden beds, until I was finally able to see the actual property underneath all the ground cover. And it wasn’t such a bad piece of land at that. Plenty of potential. All I needed now was decide what to do with it.

Luckily, my neighbor Ramona was a wealth of information when it came to gardening, and felt no compunction about forcing…er, offering her opinion at every opportunity. She was a great help when it came to deciding what kind of plants to get, where to put certain flowers and trees, and generally giving me some great advice about landscaping. And to my shock and surprise, I found myself actually enjoying every minute of it. It’s an amazing evolution to watch something grow from seed to seedling to sprouting flowers soaring ever upwards to the sky. Truly one of life’s little miracles, and I foolishly took it for granted most of my life.

But now, I’m hooked. I love tending to the garden and making my property look as nice as it possibly can. Last Fall, I even planted tulips for the first time, and was like a silly schoolboy this Spring when the stalks actually started appearing. Not only that, but the tulips grew to about two feet and had the biggest blossoms I’d ever seen. (Which isn’t really saying much, because I’d never paid much attention to flowers before. Now I greet them with a new kind of respect.)

I also finally understand why some people say Spring is the best time of year, and why the annual rebirth of the backyard is one of the most exciting personal pleasures you can experience. I haven’t bought a pair of Crocs yet, and I don’t have a subscription to Mother Earth News, but I am definitely a born-again Gardener. Now if only I could get my bank account to have a successful germination as well. Is there a Miracle Grow out there for that kind of green?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cat Clips--Am I Sexy?

Please click on the photo above to watch a short, one-minute video from the "Cat Clips" series called "Am I Sexy?" In this episode, the two cats discuss the female cat's sex appeal.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Blatant Overuse of LOL, ROFLOL and Other Electronic Acronyms

I recently got an e-mail from a friend with the following acronym in it: FMTYEWTK. Not being a frequent acronym user, I was a little confused as to what he was trying to tell me. Later in the letter he also used LSHMBH and WYSITWIRL, which made me wonder if I needed some kind of special Superhero Decoder Ring in order to translate his message. I realize we live in a world that is moving too fast, and people just don’t have time to write out entire sentences anymore, but come on!!! What the hell am I supposed to make of a bunch of letters strung together in a nonsensical fashion unless I’m already privy to the secret language it’s composed in?

I think some e-mail, text message and IM users have forgotten that some of us still live in the real world where communication means using actual words and phrases instead of generic fillers like LOL (laugh out loud) and ROFLOL (rolling on the floor laughing out loud). These two acronyms have been used so often, you’d think we had a nation of giddy idiots. Every time I see ROFLOL used in blog postings or in e-mails, I immediately begin to imagine what the person looks like as he’s rolling on the floor laughing so hard. And if he uses the abbreviation more than once in a paragraph, I’m tempted to call the local Psych Ward to go check him out. After all, if someone can’t control themselves from falling on the floor in a fit of laughter, they may have something akin to epilepsy, which is certainly nothing to laugh at.

And I also don’t think everything that someone says or thinks is LOL funny. I rarely laugh out loud, except in the privacy of my own home. So when someone describes their day, and uses the LOL acronym after every sentence, I begin to wonder how good their sense of humor actually is. “I went to see my mother. LOL. She was in the hospital. LOL. The nurse was very cute. LOL. I ate all her Jell-O cubes. LOL. She got mad at me. LOL. Told me never to come back unless I brought ice cream. LOL.” As with everything, less is more.

Another variation of this acronym is ROTFLMAOWPIMP, which literally means “Rolling on the floor laughing my a** off while peeing in my pants.” I don’t think I need to tell you what kind of colorful imagery that phrase invokes.

Students and twenty-somethings are probably the biggest abusers of this new form of electronic language, because they’re the ones obsessed with text-messaging their friends at every opportunity they get. A visit with my nieces now means frequent interruptions in our conversation; because they must constantly respond to the other five “text” conversations they’re having at the same time. Undivided attention appears to be a thing of the past, as multi-tasking conversations is now the “new Black.”

I guess I wouldn’t mind all the acronyms, if they were short and made sense. But right now, it takes so much time to figure out what each letter means that reading a simple one-paragraph e-mail might require a half hour of deciphering. Especially for someone like me, who falls into the “PCMCIA” category (People can’t master computer industry acronyms). And don’t get me wrong, I love a mystery. I just don’t think every e-mail should be akin to solving the Sunday Junior Jumble.

At any rate, I felt the need to expound on this topic for some reason. So for those of you who are also a little shaky when it comes to cracking an acronym, here are the meanings of the various phrases in the first paragraph. LSHMBH means “Laughing so hard my belly hurts” (Maybe you should go see a doctor about this) and WYSITWIRL means “What you see is TOTALLY WORTHLESS IN REAL LIFE!” (I can’t even imagine ever having the need to use this phrase, so I’m still not sure what my friend was trying to convey with it either.)

But perhaps the most important acronym is the very first one, FMTYEWTK, which means “Far more than you ever needed to know,” a clear reference to how I feel about the content of this post.

But that’s just me. What do you think about the overuse of acronyms?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cat Clips--Cartoon Envy

Please click on the photo above to watch a short, humorous video about two cats watching the Disney movie, "The Aristocats."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Light and Fluffy “Cry Baby” Packs a Powerful Dancing Punch

"Cry Baby," based on the 1990 movie starring Johnny Depp, is the second John Waters movie to be turned into a Broadway musical. Though currently in previews, I decided to catch a recent performance of the musical to see how it compared with "Hairspray," Water’s first Broadway outing. And while it’s not really fair to assume these shows would be similar, it’s inevitable to compare them because the writing team is the same for both. The musical elements of the show, however, were written by somebody else. And while the music is fun and peppy, it's not as crisp and laser-perfect as the score for “Hairspray” was. The show also doesn’t include an underlining social commentary, except maybe Rich vs. Poor, a theme so uncomfortably prevalent in today’s society that it almost comes across as passé.

This is not to say that “Cry Baby” isn’t a lot of fun, because it is. Like Cotton Candy, it’s light, airy and full of fluff; a colorful calliope of sugary confection. But also like Cotton Candy, you know as soon as you take a bite of it, you’ll be left with nothing but air. In other words, there is nothing particularly original or ground-breaking about the story, the characters, or the so-called plot of the show. It’s the tried-and-true tale of the socially elite good girl who falls for the morally ambiguous bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Grease meets West Side Story meets Happy Days. But who cares? I doubt anyone is going to see this show for intellectual stimulation. And for those non-discriminatory people, “Cry Baby” delivers whole-heartedly. The stars of the show are pitch perfect in their campy characterizations, including “Frasier” alumni Harriet Harris as the prim and proper Aunt.

But the one element that sets “Cry Baby” apart from other musicals on Broadway is the amazing display of athletic and energetic dancing by the supporting cast. Rob Ashford’s choreography is truly incredible. His first-rate dancers appear to be made of rubber, as they bounce, jump and fly across the stage. It’s almost animalistic at times, even primeval. Or at least that’s what I assumed as I watched one particularly nimble male dancer shake and gyrate so aggressively, it appeared as if he was auditioning for gay porn. (Or maybe he already has.)

So if you’re looking for pure escapist fun, with a fun rock and roll sensibility, “Cry Baby” will knock your socks off.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mouth Organ Karaoke--SUPER BEAK

Please click on the picture above to watch a stupid little 40 second video from the "Mouth Organ Karaoke" series that will hopefully give you a little smile on a Sunday! Or not.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Filler Television" Pads Programming with Unnecessary Bulk

How dumb do television producers think we are? Apparently pretty dumb, based on the growing phenomenon known as “filler television” that seems to permeate a number of very popular TV shows. And I don’t even know if “filler television” is the correct term for all the “padding” producers use to extend their lack of content into longer programs; but it seems like an appropriate moniker.

If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, I will give you some examples. “American Idol” is the biggest and most popular abuser of “filler” television, especially when they extend a two-minute elimination ceremony into an hour-long event. (Or a two-hour event, in the case of the overly hyped season finales.) Having little original content in which to fill the time slot, they regurgitate footage of the last episode over and over again until our brains are turned to mush. To me, this is insulting. Why would I want to sit through highlights of a show I saw only last night? Do they really think I won’t remember what happened unless they replay it for me? Am I really that vacuous?

I also think it’s ridiculous when the show comes back after a commercial break and before we can continue the program, we must sit through five minutes of recap on what we just saw before the break. This is not only insulting, but degrading, as the producers are clearly indicating that we can’t even remember what happened five minutes ago. Which makes me wonder if television is still geared toward the lowest common denominator, or we’ve all just become “the lowest common denominator” because we watch television.

If I want to watch a TV show again, I’ll wait for a rerun. I don’t need you to show it again the next day in bite-size pieces as if I’m suffering from Alzheimer’s. It only contributes to the dumbing down of America when you have to give a recap every twenty-four hours to make sure we're paying attention. Imagine if that convention spilled over into “real life,” and someone would have to remind you the day after your wedding that you’d actually gone through with it.

“Last night, the couple fought for their relationship in a nail-biting matrimonial ceremony that can only be referred to as ostentatious. Hearts were joined, wine was spilled, and the Best Man ran away with the new Mother-in-Law. Yes, it was an exciting evening of thrills and surprises. But it’s nothing compared with what the Honeymoon might offer. Stay tuned for upcoming scenes.

All I can say is, Thank God for DVR. It used to be that I would only use it this helpful recording device to fast forward through commercial breaks. But now I’ve found that I can actually fast forward through most of the shows, too. Last night, I watched the results show for “Dancing with the Stars” in a record-breaking four minutes. And you know what? I didn’t miss a thing. And today, I feel like some of my brain cells are actually started to regenerate themselves.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Celebrity Mystery in Madrid

Please click on the photo above to watch another episode in the "Celebrity Mystery" series. In this installment, Fritz Freewhenever travels to Madrid, Spain to investigate another series of bizarre celebrity sightings, including Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Incredible Lightness of Blogging

Ever since I can remember, I’ve enjoyed writing down my thoughts. Even if it was only for little notes I’d pass to friends in Algebra class, I always made the most of my writing endeavors. My teachers were not always thrilled with my literary accomplishments, however. Especially on the days when my private missives were rudely intercepted by the Teacher’s Pet. (And I mean this literally. Our Algebra Instructor had a lizard in her class, which had a nasty habit of hopping out of its cage to chase after the many notes I’d throw to my friends on the other side of the room. If the Lizard was lucky enough to retrieve one, he would immediately run to the front of the class and deposit his “treasure” at our teacher’s feet. This led to a very uncomfortable confrontation between the teacher, the lizard and me; the end result being a week of detention for me and an extra can of crickets for the lizard. Needless to say, I’ve never been very fond of either Math or Reptiles.)

At any rate, once I learned about blogging, I thought this would be a perfect avenue for my “note” writing. I could jot down my thoughts about anything and everything, and then send them out into the world to see where they landed. If someone read them, fine. If not, they would just meld into the ever-growing universe of data out in cyberspace. But even then, I still felt like I was contributing to something. (Even if what I was contributing to was just a giant junk pile of jargon.)

Today I am celebrating another year of sending my missives out into the world via the Internet. It has been a great experience, allowing me to write about topics I wouldn’t normally give much attention to. (At least not in public.) But the universe is vast, and so are the topics in which to cover. And though I tend to gravitate toward the amusing side of pop culture, there are other times when I’ve felt like ranting on topics of a much more serious nature. (Not TOO serious, though. There’s only so much grimacing one can do in a day before it starts to affect the elasticity of your skin.)

Therefore, I try to keep my “column” light and reader-friendly, looking at the world through humorous-colored glasses. I find that it’s much easier to attract readers if you keep things light. And they might even come back more than once if they find your writing funny. (Even if they only come back to drop another Entrecard in your box, it’s still an opportunity for you to grab their attention.)

In conclusion, this blog has given me a great outlet for my creativity and imagination to run wild. So if you care to join me on my journey at any of the various “stops” (i.e. postings) along the way, I welcome your company. And don't feel the need to bring any of your own baggage with you. Because with me, you’ll always be traveling “light.”

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mouth Organ Karaoke--TWO SHOES, ONE BOOT

Please click on the photo above to watch a short film from the "Mouth Organ Karaoke" series, which seems like a perfect fit for April Fool's Day! (Not to be confused with the other YouTube series which began with "Two Girls, One Cup.")