Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Psssssst - I'm following an escaped snake

First and foremost let me state for the record that I am not - repeat - not a snake lover. In fact, I'm not even a snake liker and would go out of my way to avoid any type of confrontation. Be that as it may, I'm following a snake and a deadly species to boot, without any fear or trepidation.

Last Saturday, an Egyptian cobra escaped from her/his (no indication of its sex supplied) home in the reptile house of the Bronx Zoo. Of course this made headlines everywhere because an escaped cobra is a dangerous cobra. As expected the reptile house is closed until further notice and there is a watch out for any signs of the escapee. Personally? I wouldn't try to find him or her.

As a Twitter-er - at least that's what I call myself - I enjoy reading tweet updates supplied by people. You know - the usual i.e. what they're doing at any given moment, what restaurant they're eating at...normal stuff. However, yesterday and much to my surprise, there were tweet updates supplied by none other than the Bronx Zoo Cobra! Seems the snake is literally and figuratively out on the town, visiting all the New York sites. I mean, how often would a cobra get to visit New York? I would safely guess, never.

For example, yesterday the cobra tweeted and shared: "On top of the Empire State Building! All the people look like little mice down there. Delicious little mice." Most likely he/she meant 'delicious little mice' not in the visually cute sense but as... You get where I'm going.

These tweets are very entertaining and witty so I decided to follow Mr. or Ms Bronx Zoo Cobra. An hour ago, cobra warned, "Getting my morning coffee at the Mudtruck. Don't even talk to me until I've had my morning coffee. Seriously, don't. I'm venomous." I believe her/him. In fact I even tweeted back: "What are the chances you'll be heading to Canada? Just want to be prepared." Really I do. A person can't be too prepared where escaped cobras are concerned.!/BronxZoosCobra

Monday, March 28, 2011

Further information about anti-chalk-writing rule story

Did some further checking on the story focusing on children living in Whitehorse, Australia, whose artistic endeavors with chalk were deemed a legal no-no.

According to the newspaper, The Whitehorse Leader, the children, residents of a suburb called Nunawading, located 18 km east of the city of Melbourne, were actually drawing with chalk on a footpath located in an open strip mall in front of a cafe called, White's Cafe. In fact, according to the owner of the cafe, the children have been doodling there for almost a year without any complaints. The town council decided to act based on the complaint of one - count it - one person. Perhaps the person didn't care for the artistic renderings - go know.

The owner of the cafe said that a council officer told her that the children's drawings were considered graffiti and had to cease and desist (my words). For the record, the chalkings fall into the category of stick figures, scribbles, fish and pirates - typical topics of the young-at-heart.

Sounds okay to me!

She said the cafe had started a petition supporting the drawings, which had so far been signed by 180 patrons and residents. Furthermore, they would even go so far as to volunteer to wash away the drawings every afternoon once the cafe closed, or apply for a permit from the council if that would help.

The Council’s general manager corporate services, Peter Smith, said the drawings were in contravention of council’s Local Law No. 1 2006 and the state government’s Graffiti Act 2007. He went on to explain that age has no relevance and that drawing on public property is considered graffiti. One wonders if said council is generally busy.

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” (Pablo Picasso)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Anti-chalk adults - what were they thinking?

Another rant, this time focusing on adults who are unaware of the concept of being a kid and having fun.

In Whitehorse, Australia, a town council with obviously nothing better to do, decided to pass legislation prohibiting children to use chalk on the sidewalk, declaring it a violation of municipal graffiti laws. I mean - really - children all over planet earth or at least where there are sidewalks, have been creating hop-scotch patterns and other artistic endeavors, like, forever.

As if this isn't bad enough, they also declared the children who use chalk as safety hazards. Say what? A safety hazard? How does chalk writing on sidewalks in any way impede the safety of people?

For its part, the council declared sidewalk chalk a violation of the state graffiti laws. An option, according to local officials, would be to issue a permit that would allow the students to play with sidewalk chalk, however, seems that this is not a viable solution. According to a cafe owner, the Mayor of the town said that they would like to issue us a permit but can't because it raises health and safety issues, in case somebody fell over a child on the footpath or into the street.

So this leads one - me - to wonder whether other types of writing tools would be acceptable, other than chalk. Like paint, perhaps? Would they prefer children to paint up the sidewalks? How about loose stones being used to etch images into pavement that will be there much longer than chalk? Will/can the young offenders who ignore the anti-chalk rule be prosecuted in court, or be fined?

Is the next step to outlaw the sale of chalk altogether and related writing tools? Taking it to the absurd, perhaps the usage of chalk by the local teaching profession could be considered a safety hazard.

I mean, really...

To say that the town residents aren't happy with the situation is an understatement with more than 200 people signing a petition to let the children play with sidewalk chalk.

Absolutely unbelievable that this is an issue at all! What next? No roller skating on sidewalks? Or playing jump rope...after all, somebody could fall over a child that is doing what children love to do. The mind boggles.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Simon Cowell sent me a letter!

Checking my various e-mails this morning, I was surprised to find one from a well-known celebrity/TV personality. It was none other than Simon Cowell, he of "American Idol" ex-judge fame who wanted to know "do you, a friend or a family member have what it takes to become a global superstar? I'm looking for the next singing sensation, someone with that special something - 'The X Factor.'."

It's not every day that one receives a personal letter from the king-of-mean and I wondered who had passed on my e-mail to him. Obviously, it was someone who wasn't familiar with my singing voice because if they had heard my renditions of well-known songs, they would never have suggested my name, although I do a mean version of "Respect" in the shower. In any case, Simon - I feel we are friends now - goes on:

"The X Factor is my new show launching this Fall on Fox. It's a make-it-or-break-it singing competition, and this time there are no restrictions. Solo singers, vocal groups and anyone over the age of 12 have the chance to win a $5 million recording deal with Sony Music. There's NO upper age limit"

The words "no restrictions" might give me an incentive to throw my hat into the ring, so to speak. I mean, these days there is technical help that could at the very least make my voice passable. Perhaps as a unique angle and being an artist, I could create a canvas for a song. Actually, I do that anyway but I digress.

What might make the difference as to whether I should enter is the opportunity of winning big bucks. As Simon himself pitches: "now is your chance, who knows, you or your group could walk away with a $5 million recording contract and a lifetime of stardom."

"The search starts in Los Angeles on March 27th, and then continues on to Miami, Newark, Seattle, and Chicago, ending in Dallas."

The $5 million dollars grabbed my attention but my hopes were dashed with these seven little words: "You have to be a U.S. citizen."

I'm a Canadian so that leaves me out. They'll never know what they've been missing, lucky for them.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rant time - physically "normal" people who park in handicapped zones

Rant time and this time the subject focuses on a very serious subject. Question of the day: why do people who are physically healthy park in the limited spaces reserved for people who aren't?

Turned into a small parking lot to do some indoor banking and while searching for a place, spotted a young woman who appeared to be in her 30's, rushing into her car and preparing to back up out of the spot. At that point, especially since it was raining and being close to the entrance of the bank, it would have been an ideal parking spot for us. Another spot became empty and we parked there instead. Getting out of the car, my attention focused on the woman who had backed out and saw that her space had been set aside for handicapped persons by a bright yellow wheelchair painted on the cement. Perhaps I shouldn't have been shocked but I was and as she slowly passed and our eyes met, I tilted my head up and stared at the designated handicap parking space and then glared at her. She turned her head and glanced backwards, looked at me and then sped off.

It's not the first time I've seen "normal" people use these spaces for a quick run in to a supermarket or pharmacy...or wherever. It's not like they don't see that they are specifically marked as such and by law the malls have to put aside specific areas for people who aren't physically capable of walking far or use wheelchairs. You can't blame the mall owners since there is no way for them to ensure that the wrong people don't park where they shouldn't be. In the end it's up to people's good will and conscience to do the right thing. Big deal - so they have to walk a few extra steps!

The lyrics of the song, "Walk a Mile in My Shoes" says it perfectly: "If I could be you and you could be me for just one hour
If we could find a way to get inside each other's mind..."

Enough said.

Friday, March 11, 2011

American Idol - the result show - blah

I'm probably like many people who complain about American Idol and the judges, but make sure to watch the show. This year's group of young singers really show promise and can actually carry a tune. Or so it seemed.

For me it's the attraction has been the try-outs and auditions to find or discover the best singers during their cross-country trip, followed by their performances during "Hollywood Week." It's always amazing and definitely sad to be subjected to the very un-talented wanna-be's who for whatever reason, are of the opinion that they can sing, when it's very obvious they are tone deaf but I digress.

The performances this week of the final thirteen contestants was uneven at best and maybe nerves got the best of them. Perhaps, IMHO, there were four who really stood out but the rest were...there. So much for the performance critique.

Last night was the first elimination. Can't fathom the rationale by the powers-that-be for bringing on the first few singers and then eliminating one of them right at the start. Perhaps it was to spare them all the agony of having to wait it out but somehow something was missing. The buildup...the tension...the other words, the drama. When Ryan Seacrest moved over to the safe group, they seemed in shock. He had to actually tell them to be excited and relieved.

Still find this year's judges to be bland. Although I enjoy Steven Tyler as a singer and an entertainer, he seems out of it at times and definitely not critical enough of the performances. On the other hand, Jennifer Lopez wears nice clothes. Randy Jackson is the only one who offers an objective opinion on the performances. Sorry but I still miss Simon Cowell but will have the opportunity to become re-acquainted with him in the fall during his "X-Factor" show, which will most likely give AI a run for its money.

Oh yeah - Adam Lambert performed offering some excitement. Great entertainer who got his start and opportunity on American Idol and that in a nutshell is what the show is about.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Baby Gaga ice cream update: it's baaaaack!

I dunno - this world is getting nutsier and nutsier.

In case anybody still cares or is interested, and in spite of Lady Gaga, the singer's opinion and legal threats, baby breast milk ice cream is back and deemed fit for human consumption. Anybody reading this tried a scoop?

For their part, Lady Gaga's lawyers opined that the ice cream is "nausea-inducing" and the name/flavor takes advantage of the singer's "reputation and good will"

Presumably and pure speculation on my part and having given their opinion, said lawyers must have actually tasted said ice cream. No? In addition, they demanded company bosses change the title to prevent the singer from being associated with the product.

Recently, Westminster Council confiscated Baby Gaga ice cream for testing for quality control. However, the council has given the okay to go ahead and sell the stuff, deeming it safe for human consumption.

Meanwhile, Icecreamists, the ice cream outlet, are considering taking legal action citing damage to their reputation.

Say what? Paying mothers for their breast milk, turning it into an ice cream flavor and selling at a hefty price is ethical and okay? It would be interesting to know statistically how many people have actually bought and tasted the flavor, how much of the stuff was sold and how much money was made. Meanwhile, the owners of Icecreamists are getting a lot of free publicity - and cold cash of course.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Adjustments needed for "The Adjustment Bureau"

Let me first admit that I'm in no way a film critique but I am a paying movie goer. This being written, caught the new Matt Damon offering, "The Adjustment Bureau" based on trailers of the film. In retrospect, sometimes it's better to remember the movie previews and skip seeing the film itself, at least until it comes out on DVD. This is one of those situations. It's not that I don't care for Matt as an actor because he's always done justice to other roles in which he acted.

The premise of the film is that our lives are pre-ordained and we can't or shouldn't change them but sometimes there are exceptions to the rule, and if and when we do try, there is a price to be paid. Got that?

As an up and coming young politician, the film opens with David Norris (Damon) seeking a congressional seat but on election night, a report surfaces concerning a brawl he has at a college reunion causing his rating to fall among his constituents. While practicing his concession speech, he encounters Elise, played by Emily Blunt, a ballerina hiding from security having crashed a wedding.

Security? For crashing a wedding? Say what? Why they chose Blunt for the role is a mystery from my perspective. She was...there. Period.

They meet and sense something familiar. After a much too long discussion about where and why they know each other that seemed to go nowhere, he suddenly feels inspired to change his concession speech into a confession in front of his supporters, which in turn things around positively and he prepares for another try. He meets her again while travelling on a bus to his new job at a venture capital firm, she gives him her phone number and he promoses to call. This whole scene seemed agonizingly long as did a large portion of the movie.


Arriving at his place of work, he catches sight of strange-looking men in suits wearing hats. The suits looked normal to me but the hats - that's something else. What the symbolism behind wearing hats is a mystery. Perhaps there were film investors who were hat company owners or maybe I missed the explanation. Have to admit that I dozed off for a few minutes. In any case, the good/bad-ish-at-times guys kidnap Damon. He is informed by the head-hat-person, Mr. Richardson, that they are "Adjusters" and that he wasn't supposed to have met Elise the second time on the bus. Where these adjusters come from - we presume heaven or some ethereal place but it's not clear - walk the earth among humans to ensure things go according to "The Plan." This 'plan', laid out by their Chairman, is kept in a notebook and it's their responsibility to keep balance in the world. A close-up of The Plan shows lots of lines and squiggles and directional arrows on maps.

It's a very convoluted film with warnings by the hat people about dire consequences if David contacts Elise again since it will ruin her chances into devleloping into a world-famous ballerina and his political career will be over. He is given the choice and to drag out the film even more, he walks away from Elise who eventually ends up engaged to someone else, but after seeing headlines of her impending nuptials in a newspaper, Norris goes after her. And so on, and so on...
Let me state for the record that I really enjoy these type of films, which present people with moral choices that could affect the future. This film, however, didn't do it for me. Somehow the hat-people seemed almost comical, which definitely was not intentional in spite of their austere demeanor. It also didn't help that the chase scenes featured the couple on the run entering doors that lead to different geographical locations to flee their pursuers. At one point and upon entering a door, the couple found themselves in the middle of an empty stadium. What was the symbolism? Empty stadium equals empty lives, equals no hotdogs or peanuts?

BTW - the couple are informed at the end of the movie that the people-who-wear-hats look like all of us only wearing hats are among us. This includes cops, construction get the picture. Now we know why the world is the way it is.

As I mentioned at the beginning - wait for the DVD.

Rating: 2 hats out of 5

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Dancing with the who? Pass!

Usually enjoy this show and the premise of well-known or people we've at least heard of, or seen their name in the headlines, dancing with professional dancers for our entertainment and votes. Just reading about the list of so-called stars chosen for this year's edition.

Stars - did I say stars? Not!

The only real personality (not star) is Kirstie Alley but in as far as the rest are concerned: who the heck are they and where did they find them? Read a while back that David Cassidy, he of Partridge Family fame, was slated as one of the non-professionals but he must have backed out. Not surprising given the unknown status of the participants.

For example: anybody ever heard of Chris Jericho? No? FYI - he's a wrestler. Or how about:

Petra Nemcova Who? me neither but she's a model.

Chelsea Kane, a star on the Disney channel. How do you say, searching for a younger demographic?

Mike Catherwood - Mike who?

On top of which, the always popular pro dancer, Derek Hough, is sitting this one out. Again, don't blame him.

This is one of the most boring line-ups since the show began. Guess some of the big(ger) names were too busy or something... Neh - gonna sit this one out.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Update: breast milk ice cream no longer available

In case anyone reading this and living in London, England, was toying with the idea of tasting breast milk ice cream - forgetaboutit! Not surprisingly, the unusual treat or whatever you want to call it, was removed from purchase by the public by the London council. What took them so long?

Of all the dumb ideas, this one takes the cake.

The first problem I have with it is its origin in that mother's breast milk is intended for consumption by babies. The second issue is the mothers who would supply the milk, obviously for a price. I mean - c'mon - selling your breast milk? One assumes that the moms who would normally feed said milk to their babies, instead fed them commercial forumla.

The issue that the London council had with the breast ice cream was their concern that the ice cream could spread viruses. Members of the council had visited the restaurant where it was sold (not more free publicity!) and removed all the breast milk ice cream for testing, after being advised that it was being sold to the public.
The fear was that food items made from bodily fluids could lead to viruses being passed on. The restaurant owner for his part, agreed to stop making and serving the ice cream while it was being tested. He dismissed the allegations claiming that the milk had gone through the same screen proceedures as milk, blood and sperm found in donation banks.

Meanwhile, a serving of the breast milk ice cream was going for $23. Wonder how many people actually tried it. Thinking further, why would anyone want to try this particular...flavor, anyway, given all the choice of flavors on the marketplace? No indication whether it will be back as a flavor choice if the test prove the milk is safe.