Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Random Thoughts

Nothing is going on and I am not sure what I am going to for the next few days. I suppose I shall do the usual, which means just going through the motions. Doing what I have to do and not because I want to do it. But I’m sure I have options.

It’s Halloween and there is the old silent German vampire movie, Nosferatu, which they are going to play at the Unitarian church in Philly for a charity event accompanied by live organ music as it must have been done when the movie first came out. That might be nice. But I’ve seen it before and after seeing Freddie Kruger and other countless slasher movies, I’m not sure that overacting and bad lighting will do it for me this weekend. Plus I’m not sure that I could get anyone to go with me for that one, although that’s never stopped me before. And also, I can see it for free down below.

There are of course a large number of different parties going on, both privately and publically. Maybe I’ll do one of those. However since no one has invited me out a party, I invariably never show up even when I am invited, I may head to a bar or club. That means that I will end up regretting it on Saturday thinking that I spent way too much money on some rat hole for very little entertainment and watered down drinks. Well I guess that means Bill Maher on HBO, oh how I hate that show, or New York City for the parade.

I haven’t done the New York's Village Halloween Parade since the 80’s. I wonder if it’s changed much. I can try out the camera I got last month and see how it works at night. For that, I know I will have to be by myself. I can’t run as much as I have to or circle round as many times as I can when there are people with me. This is becoming a diary entry; the one thing that I said I would never do. Oh hell, there are so many “nevers” in my life that I wonder why I bother saying it.

I heard today that John McCain was in Defiance Ohio trying to rally the troops. He was probably giving the “Never give up, never surrender” speech where he calls his opposition everything short of Osama Bin-Laden Incarnate and gives no real or meaningful alternative answer to the majority of the country. Defiance OH; you have to hand it to his campaign, they may be going down in flames but they seem to bring a certain flare to it.

Defiance OH, that reminds me of when Obama and Hillary went to Unity NH just before the DNC Convention. Who thinks of these things? That’s the job I want. “Now Sen. McCain, if you can do a stimulating and exciting stump speech in Slim Chance NJ, I’m sure we will be able to rouse all the supporters, all 3 of them and not look like complete idiots on Election Day.”

Speaking of which, my friend Patrick told me that he would be at the Obama election head quarters in Philly on Tuesday to await the results. I asked why he didn’t think staying at home and watching George Stephanopoulos like the rest of the nation wasn’t good enough for him. Now that I think about it, I think I have found something on Tuesday to do now as well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday with Garrison

On Sunday I saw Garrison Keillor walking down the street in Philadelphia. I didn’t recognize him at first. As we walked towards each other, I just noticed this really tall elderly white man wearing an unbuttoned rain coat on a sunny day with red sneakers and jeans that were at least 2 or 3 inches too short for him. I saw his ankles. He seemed to be trying to read a map or something and was talking as he walked to the female companion that was with him. “Tourist,” I thought and “I wonder if I should offer to help him. No, just mind your business and keep going.” But then I saw that heavy slack jaw, the drooping eyes and the forehead with the unkempt hair that reminded me of the Boris Karloff playing the Frankenstein monster and I knew it was him.

Garrison Keillor has been the radio host of a variety show called A Prairie Home Companion on NPR, or is it PRI I can never tell, for over 30 years and the star of the Robert Altman movie by the same name. Meryl Streep was also in the movie and I love me some Meryl Streep ever since I saw her in Sophie’s Choice. In this movie, even though I fell asleep twice in it, she was the only thing that stopped me from asking for my money back. Well alright, stopped me from thinking about asking for my money back because I probably never would go through with it, I’m not cut like that. But here I was, just after hearing Mr. Keillor on NPR about an hour earlier when I wasn’t sure if I was or wasn’t going to the gym and there he was in front of me, live and in the flesh. I saw my chance to ask him about the format of his show.

A Prairie Home Companion is set in the fictional town of Lake Wobegone where all the women are strong and all the men are good looking as they tell you in the opening of the show. What they don’t tell you is that all the people seem to be really really white and that no other race seems to exist there unless of course it was a group of people that died out or left the town during the fifties for a more liberal clime. I wanted to ask the host if perhaps he didn’t think that since there was no one of color or different culture on his show unless it was western European. I wanted to ask him if he thought that there might be a benign hint of racism on his show; a sort of Donna Reed Show for the New Millennium where everything is perfect and white.

Evidently, I am leaving out the fact that the lead solo singer for the show happens to be black. But since she is also female I am guessing that she is probably paid the least. I am also leaving out that they will also bring on other black artists as long as they are harmless and close to death. But like a good John McCain stump speech, you have to leave out some of the truth if you want to put your point across no matter what that point may be. So of course I will leave that out.

I wanted to ask him these questions but I figured that if I wanted to point out the short comings of his show, get a decent workout done, a little reward afterwards from a bakery and get back home in time for my show (The Amazing Race), I probably would not have time to cover it all. So his education had to go. Besides he is probably a decent enough fellow and I have never heard of him being caught at a Neo-Nazi rally in Minnesota where he has one of his homes and who am I to judge anyway? So I just kept walking and all I wanted to say was that I saw Garrison Keillor on Sunday.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Must See TV

I’ve just made reservations to fly to Tampa to see the old ladies, my mother and grandmother, for Thanksgiving again. I’ve done this every year since my father died and it’s sort of become a tradition. A tradition I never planned to get into but my mother always starts to pressure me about going to visit her around October. This year was no different even though I had just spent a week there last month.

Something else that has also somehow turned into a tradition will be the scorn that my mother will show me when after watching Jeopardy on television, that’s what we do every weekday evening; she will ask me why I never audition to go on the show. She thinks that because I know the difference between Beethoven and Bismarck and the occupations they chose in life, I must be a genius who is just wasting his time by not enriching himself on syndicated TV.

Try as much as I can to convince her that 9 times out of 10, the questions that would be asked on the show would not be the ones I would be able to answer under the lights, cameras and pressure of facing the host and other competitors. Plus I don’t have the type of life story that I would want whittled down to one pithy statement that will be thrown out by Alex Trebek to a TV audience while they gobble up their frozen meals and down their canned beers. But if there was a show that I would like to go on, now that I have gotten over the fact that lame ass reality shows are now a fact of TV life and won’t soon disappear, it would be The Amazing Race.

Now some people won’t get excited by travelling around the world, experiencing different cultures sights and locations in the space of one or two days. I mean how can they? There is too much to go through before moving on to the next place and task of outsmarting, out running and if necessary, out back stabbing the competition? In fact I’m not sure I would like it either except for the excitement lots of contestants must feel of feeling their hearts tighten, their lungs burst and the hopes diminish or rise as they run towards each pit stop.

If offered it would be something I could not turn away from. After all what better bliss would there be of going through the stress and tension of fighting with your loved one or partner? Strengthening or breaking your relationship as you blame each other for slowing the other one down. I know for a fact that not matter whomever I chose for a running mate, there would be such an inevitable clash of wills and bickering when I found myself not getting my way, the ratings would probably increase for the show.

There is no better TV show where you can test your own fortitude and your own core beliefs than The Amazing Race; a show that gives you the opportunity to be placed far from home and away from your comfort zones and still come out on top.

So I think this Thanksgiving in between the eating, the arguing and wondering how much more it will cost me to leave early, I shall probably secretly be telling myself, “I’ll take The Amazing Race for a thousand Alex.”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Joe the Plumber

Just a word.

Who is Joe the plumber? How much of a cliche is that name? Is he real? Or is he just a fictional friend that McCain just made up to help bolster up his campaign and how much money does he actually make, real or imagined?

For the first time ever, I have actually watched all of the debates, both presidential and vice-presidential. I have listened to what both candidates have listed as the issues and their policies in solving them and the only thing that I can think about or remember is Joe the plumber. The highlight of the whole affair.

Actually I used to know a Joe the plumber when I worked at a hospital, but he died recently. Before he died, people would joke about him because of his name. It was source of much amusement for some, you know those who had no real sense of humor or have 3 brain cells that could work in optimum unity. Now Joe lives again.

I'm starting to feel that I'm over all of this election thing now.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Philly Outfest 2008

I guess it's too late to say that it's the end of summer since it's now the middle of October, but for me National Coming Out Day, which is celebrated by the Outfest Festival in Philadelphia, always signals the start of fall. The nights start earlier and earlier and there is a chill in the air after 6pm that makes you wonder why you didn't come out with a jacket like your mother used to tell you to when you were young.

This year I wasn't sure that I was going to go, but it was time for a post and I couldn't finish anything that I had started writing. Showing pictures seemed like it would be so much easier. No syntax or logic of argument, or lack of logic to think about. Did you read the one about McCain and Palin that I wrote about? What was I smoking?

Anyway, I showed up late as usual. I never want too eager or too early and the thing be a dud, that could ruin the whole day. Best to show up late for the last hour and let anyone who is left see you there and then head for the nearest bar, restaurant, club or in my case home. It's all about meeting people and hanging out with old friends anyway. A sort of "game show" for the streets. The one where you run into someone after such a long time, pretend that it's great fun to see them and then walk away thinking that you hope you won't see them again for at least another year.

So they had the ususal fare there. Drag queens on stage performing, dull women singing, other people selling unwanted chachke from their stalls and spectators reaching up to see what was real or not.

I even saw a few people there that I knew. I ran into Curtis and a friend of his. I don't think that he's talking to me. I think I upset him when he insisted on my opinion on something and I answered him. A mistake he probably won't do again lightly. I'll figure out a way to make it up to him, later perhaps.

The rest were just people that I know slightly or seen before including my favorite criminal suspect. I suppose that if you can recognize who I am speaking about, you will probably assume that he must be the good twin because I belive the evil one still has not made bail yet and is still a guest of the state and I can't really tell them apart. Does jail mean that you are a guest of the city and not the state? I don't know.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Trading Places?

Continuing with the Eddie Murphy part of my last post, the first time that I saw the building pictured above was in the movie Trading Places. It was the building owned by brothers Randolph and Mortimer Duke, the owners of an investment firm in Philadelphia that traded in futures and commodities. They educated me and Mr. Murphy to the beauty of Wall St. and that how no matter how much money their clients made or lost, they would still get theirs.

At that time in my life, I am not even sure that I had even heard of Philadelphia or if I had, I had no concept of where it was. But as I got older and moved to the Delaware Valley region I was surprised to find that the building was actually a bank headquarters. I have forgotten what the name of the bank was when I arrived, but suffice it to say it the name has changed 3 or 4 times in the last 18 years.

I was always amazed that whenever the bank changed hands, they would change the name on the front, not by putting up some cheap plastic sign with glowing lights inside but by re-concreting the edifice and carving out the new name. Is there such a word as re-concrete? Anyway, I always thought this was really grand that the new owners would keep the original integrity of the architectural design of the building. This helped maintain an aura of stability for Broad Street Philadelphia in what has really been an unstable industry around the nation.

Word came last week that the name on the building may change again. I believe both Citigroup and Wells Fargo are trying to take over the banking interests of the present owner, Wachovia Bank. Originally, the FDIC had brokered a deal Wachovia to purchase many of their bad loans if they sold their banking interests to Citigroup. But then Wells Fargo and principal shareholder Warren Buffett came along and offered much more money for the whole thing. There would have been so much in fact that the FDIC would no longer need to spend any of its own money to cover the debt. A conundrum.

Well as is the way of all things financial where a dispute is involved, both companies have taken their case to court and I have no idea what the outcome will be. But I think that somehow, some way, the real Duke Brothers of the world are still going be able to get theirs.


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