Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Paula, Nicole and Steve have left the X-Factor building

Figured this was inevitable. Once the dust had settled so to speak after the first edition of "X-Factor", the show is now missing two judges and one as the Brits call them, presenter.

Can't say that I'm sorry that MC Steve Jones is gone. In my view he was arrogant, somewhat rude and insensitive when chatting with the contestants after a performance, particularly if it wasn't one of their best efforts. He seemed to thrive on asking stupid, inane and on occasion, hurtful questions that definitely had a negative impact on the singer. Perhaps his personna goes over well in the UK but it obviously hit a negative nerve with North American viewers. Count me in as one of them.

In as far as Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger are concerned - they were so alike in their critiques of the singers that it was difficult to know where one left off and the other started. In retrospect, perhaps it would have been better had Simon Cowell left things as they were with Paula remembered as a departing American Idol judge.

Although Nicole Scherzinger is a good singer and entertainer, she shouldn't give up her day job as the expression goes. Very wishy-washy with her critiques, when she actually ciritiqued the singers.

The writing was on the wall for both female judges when they didn't support Cowell's singer/protoge, Rachel Crow, who ended up having to leave the show. Not wise not to back the boss, ladies!

In any case, it will be interesting to see who their replacements will be. According to all the media sites, rumor has it that Mariah Carey is being considered as a replacement judge. She can sing for sure but not sure if she will be a good addition to the mix. Depends on who the second choice will be. Maybe Simon should consider trying to get Ryan Seacrest. Just saying...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Famous names who declined to be royally recognized

As a writer in the silver years of a career as a local columnist - the word "golden" seems so final - it would be nice to be recognized for my contribution to the literary world. Having retired from covering and reporting on all the local community happenings, somehow it's doubtful that readers will recall my pieces focusing on pot holes or lack of snow clearance and the like.

"Ah yes - those great pot hole stories in '98," someone might but not likely recall when discussing writers. "That Eleanor Tylbor sure knew how to cover those large holes in the road! And those wonderful rants about the lack of snow clearance were the best!"

In any case, there are famous writers who have been recognized for their literary accomplishments by none other than Queen Elizabeth, who bestows letters after their names in the way of recognition. These letters mean that their careers have been successful and they are known in their genre. Then there are others who for whatever reason have declined to accept the royal honor.

Contained in a official and formerlyt secret document, were the names of 250 people who declined the Queen's offer to honor their work. This leaves one - me - who wonder as to the reason for the big secrecy. For example and according to an article in Reuters, artist Lucien Freud, sculptor Henry Moore and author Roald Dahl it was "thanks-but-no-thanks" offer. Same thing for director Alfred Hitchcock but he accepted a knighthood eventually. One presumes that a knighthood is a step above three letters. I mean, go know as an ordinary person, which honor is higher. You have your O.B.E. and your C.B.E. and then your knighthood and the female equivalent, sisterhood... Checking further on Wiki, you also have your OBE, GBE, CH, OM...the list goes on. It's like an alphabet soup of honorary letters. But I digress.

Some other well-known public figures that fall into the "thanks-but-no-thanks"category are Francis Bacon, L.S. Lowry and Aldous Huxley.

It appears that the information was made public after numerous requests under the freedom of information laws. This leaves one - me - to ponder why people would want to know who rejected being honored but somebody obviously wanted to keep track of the "nays."

Ruminating further regarding the bestowing of honors, perhaps there should be special honors or mention for your ordinary but very necessary people whose jobs over a long period of time contribute to the well-being of society.

OTC- Outstand Trash Collector - bestowed to brave trash collectors who daring feats of bravery risked their lives hanging on the back of garbaage trucks, holding on to the rear of the truck with one gloved hand while balancing on one foot, and survived.

PDPA - Paper Delivery Person Award - honoring people who get up at the break of dawn to ensure that readers are kept abreast of the latest breaking news at their door steps

SCPPA - Shopping Cart Person Picker-upper award given to supermarket personnel whose job it is to gather and pick up all the shopping carts that are discarded anywhere and everywhere, including on car bumpers

WSPC - Waterspray Produce Creator award given to person who created the water spray that drops seemingly every two minutes inundating and soaking everthing and everybody standing within 3 feet of the produce display.

Any interesting additions to the above are welcome and will be added to the list.

When it's all said and done, my epitaph will be, "she lived - she wrote - she croaked."  Then again, I'm always open for a few letters.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Still more stories to make you wonder and utter "huh?"

Fresh from the last blog focusing on "interesting" pieces that make you shake your head in wonderment and ask yourself, "why?", some more of these stories found around the Net to elicit a similar response.


Most of us frequent salad bars to for a dose of food variety - you know - a pick of this...a bit of that. Then there are others who use salad bars to accomplish engineering feats. A scientist, no less, with obviously a lot of spare time on his hands, has devised and created a way to pick and pile food into a three foot tower. This begs the question at least in my mind, why?

Based on his experience the food builder, one Shen Hongrui, a Chinese engineer, has offered advice to diners as to how to create their own food towers to be brought back to the table and presumably eaten. This once again begs the question: why?

In order to comply with the "one bowl, one visit" rule of his local Pizza Hut in Beijing, he created a set of instructions that would maximize the diner's variety needs. Salad building requires a formula and the engineer suggests that a chick pea and potato base be used as the bottom base, followed by carrot sticks acting as a scaffold of sorts, toss in or on some cucumber slices or blocks of fruit to act as walls and favorte food choice(s) sit on the top of the tower.

The tower building known as "salad bar hacking"  has become so popular that Pizza Huts in China have stepped in and removed all the salad bars in their restaurants. Not surprising. No information available focusing on falling towers that weren't structurally sound.
Here's a photo of a food tower: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2084033/The-leaning-tower--Pizza-Huts-salad-bar-Diner-devises-3ft-pile-round-rules-local-restaurant.html


Sometimes you just can't win for losing, even when you die. The family of a man who died is asking the town council in Port Colborne, Ontario, to re-adjust their water bill. Actually, not their water bill but the bill of Allister McPherson, who passed on while leaving his water tap running. His daughter, Cara Zandvliet, turned to the municiaplity to ask for some type of relief from a $600 water bill charged to her late father.

Thinking further on the dilemma, strikes me that the dead man didn't leave the water running on purpose. I mean, he didn't mean to die or anything. If he had a choice and if it was possible, most likely he would have turned off the tap before dying but these things happen without any warning. But I digress.

Seems that the water remained on for three weeks before the discover of MacPherson by family members. According to the daughter, a normal water bill would cost $200 for a three-month period, but MacPherson was charged close to $600 for two months. Futhermore, she believes that her father shouldn't be charged for water from the bathroom faucet because the water wasn't used.

No follow up decision as to whether she will have to pay in the end. Obviously, every drop of water counts, even when you're dead.

Here's a photo of Ms Zandvliet holding up the water bill:  http://www.wellandtribune.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3435886&


When people check into a hospital for a medical procedure, they expect to receive a bill. There are bills - and then there are bills. Patient, Alexis Rodriguez, an unemployed doorman, was hospitalized at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center last Spring for pneumonia. He was on the verge of becaming sick again after receiving a bill for - wait for it - $44.8 million dollars for his hospital stay. Seems that the company that sends out the bills made an error placing the invoice number in a space designated for the amount. For its part, the billing company is telling those patients affected to ignore the miltimillion dollar bills. I bet.


Actor/comedienne, Betty White, has turned 90 years young. Given her fantastic comedic talent and that she is working in yet another hit TV series, she is an inspiration to everyone that age is a mere number. Loved her in "Golden Girls" and she was the inspiration in the creation of one my characters in my play, "Gin: an Allergory for Playing the Game of Life." Hope she pulls out all the stops in celebrating her life.

Meanwhile, here's the birthday girl in her video, "I'm So Hot."

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Life's interesting but sort-of weird stories

It's the beginning of a new year and the holiday frenzy has been replaced by new year's resolutions that may or may not be kept plus a period of restrospection and refelection, there are interesting (at least to me) things happening to be shared with readers of this blog. You know who you are!


Always amazed when reading about people who acquire grants for - how shall we phrase it - "interesting" projects. This certainly falls into this category.

An Austrian inventor has won a £400,000 government grant to set up a museum of failed inventions. Not useful or practical creations that could help woman/mankind mind you, but failed inventions.

The word "why" springs to mind but I digress.

The inventor, Fritz Gall, devised the concept of a museum of this nature to display the not-so-successful inventions by would-be/wanna-be entrepreneurs. Grant in hand, Gall and his parter, Friedl Umscheid, opened the Museum of Nonsense in Herrnbaumgarten, Austria. Appropriate name.

For its part, the museum prides itself on housing useless creations like the 'portable anonymyser' - a piece of black card on a stick so people who don't want to be in the public eye can black out their own eyes. Thinking further about the description of this...whatever, why would people and how would it help to disguise a person's identity?

Then we have lead-less pencils for civil servants, a fully transportable hat stand and - wait for it - a portable hole and  a bristleless toothbrush for people with no teeth.

Their first failed inventions fair drew more than 5,000 visitors and they are planning to expand to larger premises.

This statement by Gall says it all: "We have government funding and some private backing and we hope the people out there like nonsense just as much as we do,"

Obviously the taxpayers don't seem to mind.


These days, the word "bug" is frequently used when discussing computer problems and related issues. Many people consider the word in as far as it applies to the insect world, like entomologist Skye Blackurn. Her interest in creepy-crawlies has taken her to breeding edible bugs, which she also sells as novelty gifts.

To be candid, the vision/concept of eating bugs isn't appealing to say the least, but to each his own. As an aside (big on these), a while back when hosting a public access TV program focusing on animals, I sampled a bug lollipop. Actually, it wasn't bad especially if one wasn't aware it was composed of insects but therein lay/lies the problem: I was aware. In addition I could have if I so chose, dined on sauteed bugs in tomato sauce (I declined the invite) but I digress. Again.

Crickets and mealworms are placed in lollipops after which they are coated in chocolate. Another personal aside: I've also nibbled (key word here) on chocolate-covered grasshoppers. Crispy on the inside but I digress. Once more.

According to Ms Blackburn, the aim is to encompass the bugs in an edible form in which people would recognize. Actually thinking further about this and IMHO, it would probably be preferable NOT to recognize the insects. She has ground up roasted mealworms and used the end result a powdered flour, to make other dishes including banana bread and cookies. The insects, which are bred on an insect farm outside of Sydney, Australia, are killed ethically by freezing them after which they fall into a death sleep. They are kept in a very sterile environment and fed organic grains and vegetables, which are supposed to increased the flavor of the insects. Actually, a cold demise is preferable to death by shoe and other hand-held articles by insect dislikers.

The insect delights are proving to be very popular and plans are afoot to expand her menu to include water bugs, scorpions and possibly tarantulas. I'll pass on that, chocolate-covered or not.


As an artist, I'm aware that people's taste in art is subjective. While my taste run to landscapes, others may prefer abstract or cubism and other styles. Some people take art to the extreme.

A painting made by abstract expressionist artist, Clyford Still, received damages to the extent of $10,000. A 36-year old woman punched and scratched the painting, an oil-on-canvas called “1957-J no.2”, at the newly opened Clyfford Still museum in Denver, Colorado. To express her distaste for the painting, the female pulled down her pants to slide her buttocks against the surface. Talk about the ultimate expression of dislike! As if that wasn't enough, she allegedly urinated after rubbing up against the canvas. I mean, I've heard of body art but this is taking things too far.


A new species of crab will be named after Baywatch star, David Hasselhoff, given the hairy chest of the crustacean. The crab who now goes by 'The Hoff', was discovered living around volcanic vents of South Georgia. Oh well - at least he will be remembered for something.

How did your week go?

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Resolving to resolve good intentions for the New Year

For whatever reason and on the arrival of the new year, we resolve to make changes in our lives. When you think about it, these modifications could easily be made throughout the year. It's as if the turning of year numbers wipes out all the things we wanted to do but somehow didn't happen.

As usual I'm aspiring to turn the scale; shift the scene, turn over a new leaf  in the hope that at least one of them will be realized.

"Good for you, Eleanor. How about sharing with us?"

- I'm going to make a concerted effort to cut back on painting images of fields and flowers and flowers and fields. The minute I take brush in hand, somehow, some way, those fields and flowers suddenly jump up on the canvas. There is a definite draw like a magnet to metal filings to this type of image as is adding a lake or river or water to the scene. Thing is - I'm not really good at water but it always seems to show up.

"Just stop buying blue paint, Eleanor! Voila! Water problem solved."

Were it that easy! My angst covers the color of water and rarely achieving the "right" color. The wrong shades are those that end up on the canvas. Should it be light blue...medium blue...aqua...green... Maybe pond water - or a river stream. It just never ends.

- When using the palette knife, I will also make a concerted effort not to cut the surface of the canvas

Moving on...

- I'm going to send my plays packing in the hope of finding a new home.

Really, really and I mean it this time, I'm going to do something progressive with my plays. Definitely more submitting and checking out the submission guidelines to find and ensure a good fit. What is a good fit, anyway? Let me put it this way: they wouldn't be submitted to a theatre that focuses on Shakespere.

- Focusing on re-writing and converting "Old Soldiers" into a radio play. Joe McKenna, the main character, isn't getting any younger

To quote Oprah Winfrey - the lady does have a way with words: "Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right."

Couldn't have said it better myself.