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Burglar proofed.

So, I’m hanging on the porch of Green Victoria this week-end. I’m sitting on the couch, being lazy, reading “Turn of the Screw” (lovely Memorial Day week-end reading), relaxing. Suddenly I hear a scampering and look up to see THIS…




...which turns into THIS...



Hmm. Guess we we don’t need a house alarm any more. All we need is Ping, waiting to pounce…

Serene.


So, why am I looking so contemplative, you may wonder?

Is it because I am thinking about the Swedish fish martini I am drinking and wondering why on earth I ordered it, because it's so damn sweet that I'm pretty sure it's rotting my teeth with each gulp? Maybe.

Is it because I am thinking about the 11 year anniversary we are celebrating and considering all the many wonderful things Corb has brought into my life? I mean, maybe. Sure, let's go with that.

Is it because Corb forced me to pose like this to take the photo? Yes, there is a strong likelihood that is exactly why I am looking so contemplative in this photo. In fact, he even instructed me on how to hold the glass and which direction to look. I am sure that the patrons of the very manly Eagle Brook Saloon (including the boys baseball team that kept running around in the room next to us) loved watching me posing for this photo.

It might also be because yesterday, with one mighty stroke of my pen, I gave up ownership of the Homestead. Yep, Josie now owns the house outright! After twelve years of paying for her place (and never missing a payment may I add), my years of paying child support have finally at long last come to an end. I made it out alive!

And you know what? After all those years of complaining about the unfair child support system, about how ridiculous it is that I have the kids exactly the same amount of time as Josie and yet have to pay her mortgage plus take care of their expenses, too; after all the times I said I was going to wait until the payments were over and then really go off about how unfair the system is and blahblahblah, you know what I feel right now?

Like I just want to have a few drinks. And enjoy the sense of peace.

Yes, upon reflection, that is EXACTLY why I am looking so contemplative in this photo. Also thanks, Corb, for posing me!
beauty

Today is the eleventh year anniversary of my first date with das Corbster.

Except when it's not, as the following Live Journal entry from last year demonstrates:

May 7, 2014: Today marks the ten-year anniversary that Corb and I have been  together. Who would have thought it would have lasted this long?

Oops! I guess we were in a rush to celebrate our ten year anniversary and didn't check the facts. So, when I read that this morning, I congratulated Corb on our eleven year and seven day anniversary.

A look of confusion crossed his face. "What? Are you sure?"

"It says it on Live Journal!" I replied, pointing to this entry.

He scowled. "We are so forgetful. Does that mean we don't love each other enough?"

An hour later, I received a Facebook message from him.

I WAS RIGHT! IT IS TODAY!

Then he provided proof...from my own Live Journal.

May 7th, 2004:
"For some reason I'm very nervous about this date next Friday."


May 14th, 2004:
"I went out at lunch today and picked up a new pair of black jeans and a black shirt for tonight."


Despite the fact that we practiced retroactive history last year, I guess we got it right this time around. And despite this difference in seven days, one thing has stayed true whatever length of time it is: Corb's my life partner and best friend, and the only person I want to live my life with. So, what's a week between friends, when you get right down to it? We love each other MORE than enough.

NOTE TO SELF: Read THIS entry next year!!!

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Distractify

Last night I finished Amy Poehler's book "Yes Please," and I was especially amused by the final chapter in the book, entitled "The Robots will kill us all," where she basically concludes that "this internet thing has been a disaster."

I know exactly what she's talking about.

Her point was that she used to be the sort of person who swore she would never have a cell phone, but now it's by her side constantly and a perpetual distraction. She discussed how she couldn't get through even writing the first paragraph of the chapter without being distracted by 5,000 different things.

I think everyone can relate, and I'm not sure it's made the world a better place. Just writing those three paragraphs I had the exact same experience. I have one guy on a social app that keeps pinging me every five seconds. My Facebook is popping up with this or that. I have 11 unread emails in my personal account (most of that probably crap) and while it used to be that I would keep my in-box properly maintained, I have stuff I haven't read that I probably should have that stretches back months. There's just too much content. Too much. I don't care any more.

And in addition to being distracting, I'm here to tell you, the user interface experience is just awful. I literally hate my iPhone. I wish I could have anything...anything! besides it. A few weeks ago I made the purchase of my song in 1776 so I could sing it in the shower. Although iTunes says it was downloaded, it's nowhere to be found in my Music folder. If I try playing the song on YouTube, it usually stops playing one minute into the song and I have to turn the shower off and try to get it going again. Which it will do, for twenty more seconds. I only want to play one song in my shower. A CD would have been way more dependable.

Last night, Corb and Theo and I wanted to watch an episode of Once Upon a Time. We have Chromecast. Corb purchased the show through Amazon. We tried to play it (we've done it succesfully in the past). One hour later, owing to a variety of glitches, we were still unable to see it. Looks like Chromecast isn't interfacing with Amazon well. Or maybe it's Comcast? A DVD would have been far easier.

And God forbid you need service! Having to deal with places like AT&T or Apple is an absolute torture. Either you stay on the phone for hours at a time, go online for iffy service, or travel out of your way to a store, where they are by design understaffed and constantly trying to upsell you stuff. So you wait for hours. All they care about is selling. The service is incidental.

For the past few weeks my son has been having trouble with his iPhone. He's having trouble getting it to charge. I kind of put off dealing with it, because I knew it was going to be torture having it taken care of, but finally I took him to AT&T to take a look at it at the local mall, which is apparently the regional headquarters. There were two guys in the store equiped to handle everyone who came in. Just two! Fortunately, we only had to wait for about fifteen minutes to be looked. The guy was nice enough, and looked at the phone, and said, "Yep, there's a problem with the way this is charging. You definitely need to get this fixed. You've had it for less than a year so Apple should replace it. All you need to do is go to your Apple store and they should replace it."

Only go? The closest Apple store is in Providence. Fortunately, I had the sense to call to see if I could get in that night. When I called, rather than they trying to talk to me, they tried to push me to a web site for an appointment. Okay, fine. I let them push a link to my phone. But of course, what I was calling about was not an option, because rather than simply give me the option to make an appointment, they tried to figure out why I wanted an appointment in the first place. The closest I could get was a hardware problem. But even when I selected that option, they tried to run a diagnostic rather than letting me schedule a simple appointment.

Frustrated, I called back. Just kept hitting zero this time. Totally bypassed the frustrating computer voice. Finally, I got a human. The minute she found out what I wanted (after trying to upsell me an Apple watch) she had no real interest in helping out. It didn't involve a sale, you see. "Well, you can come tonight, but we probaly won't be able to help you out between store hours." It was six o'clock.

"When can I schedule an appointment?" I asked.

"Friday night?" It was a Tuesday. "Or, you could just come in during the day, and wait. Not at night, though." Oh, so I have to take time out of work for this. How helpful.

Theo couldn't do Friday night. I scheduled an appointment for Monday. I am sure it will be absolute torture. There is no way in hell I will be buying an Apple Watch, no matter how much they try to push it on me. I am so dreading this.

My point being, I'm just not sure we're in a better place than we were even ten years ago. Social technology has not made life better, it's made life more distracted, less convenient, more isolated, and keeps people from really focusing on living life.

Corb and I keep saying we are going to just set aside our phones for a set period of time. Try to live distraction free. Try not to respond to the beeps and the whirrs and the alerts. Will it help restore our sanity? We've only tried it for a few hours on a week-end now and then, but I think we are ready to take the big plunge: go phone free for a whole day. Maybe a whole week-end!

It's time for a change. I am tired of perpetual distraction and having an app for everything. It's not helping any more. I'm not sure it ever really did. Amy Poehler is right: the Robots will kill us all.


 

Help! Jesus at Ground Zero

Saturday night, Corb and I went to The Strand Theater in Boston to see a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. I wasn't really that excited about seeing it so soon, but a friend of ours was appearing in it and asked us to go. He's a good guy, so sure.

I'm glad I went, but I can't say I enjoyed the production. What I think I learned is that you may have some money to stage a show and greater technical ability, but if you've got a concept you haven't thought it through well enough, it really doesn't matter. The concept is always the crazy glue that keeps a show together, no matter what.

In this case, the concept was interesting. Or at least, provacative, which god knows is what Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber wanted the show to be way back when. The show started off on the day of September 11. We see footage of the WTC towers going down. Then, people dealing with the aftermath. Then, Jesus (apparently a businessman in the Tower) crawling out from the wreckage, holding in his arms Mary Magdelaine, who in this version happens to be played by a transexual actor.

I have no problems with this premise at all. In fact, it's actually quite interesting. The problem is in the details.

I think it's the timey wimey elements that bothered me the most. This is hard to do, I realize, but on the other hand, September 11 only happened 14 years ago, as opposed to say, the Jesus story happening 2000 years ago. So how can people have such amnesia or be so careless about the past 15 years?

First off, the entire show takes place in front of the ruined Twin Towers. Wow! People eat there, drink there, sleep there, hold book signings there, and also, apparently, crucify Jesus there. Who would have thought? My memory of that area is that it was extremely difficult to get into. For obvious reasons. Didn't anyone in the cast actually go to New York City during that time?

BUT THEN. The show decides to have Jesus run for president. In 2008. So they can play off of the Obama "change" theme. Ummm, what? Jesus "tried" for three years...it's in the lyrics. Hmmm, let me do the math...2001 plus 3 equals...hmmm. And wait, were the Twin Towers still in the exact same state of disrepair in 2004?

BUT WAIT! Now it gets worse. Jesus is at a book signing to promote his new book and people are taking selfies with him. Now wait. Isn't taking selfies a relatively new thing? Like, a last few years thing? Oh sure, it came about mainly as a result of the advent of smart phones, so you could go back earlier than that...Apple started making them widely available in 2007, and camera phones were "really taking off" in by 2003...but even so, when does this sucker take place, exactly? The phones I saw were pretty new looking!

I could go on and on and on. Buzzfeed is quoted in one of the headlines that appear on the screen. That media company was launched in 2006 as a viral lab. It wasn't really that big...well, whenever this thing takes place.

The play was renamed #JCSuperstar. Those hashtags make things all new and modern, don't they? Don't get me started on when stupid hashtags became a thing.

Then we get to suspend our disbelief about the actual set itself! Even though the set is Ground Zero and there are supposedly these huge steel beams lying around everywhere, at one point these construction-type guys casually lift one up effortlessly to have a...get this...pizza party in place of the Last Supper. They lift up huge steel beams. huge steel beams! Like they are made of paper or something. Amazing!

Well, at least they are construction workers. Oh, and some buds of Jesus, just hanging around at Ground Zero. Some hooker friends of Mary. No apostles, because all of the Apostles have been removed from this version, so they could be replaced by reporters asking questions during what's the buzz...which sounds cool, except that it makes lines like "When do we ride into Jerusalem?" make ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE AT ALL.

Then they all leave after the supper is over. Meaning that when Jesus sings "Will no one stay awake with me," it makes no sense, because no one is there with him. Not even Mary. She just kind of waves him away. Guess she had somewhere else to go. That's gratitude for you. After rescuing her from the Twin Towers and everything!

Poor Judas has a similar problem. Instead of hanging himself, he gets to jump off a steel girder. I think? It's not clear. During his death, a steel beam is lowered to the ground. He moves to it and steps on it. Then jumps? Even though it's only a five inch high steel beam? I mean, I guess? Wow.

The Pharisees are even more confusing. In place of the Pharisees, the director decided to make it something like the Ecumenical Council of Churches. So, we get a few priests, a Protestant minister, someone from what looks like a Unitarian faith...all sneering and looking evil. I think they were supposed to be right wing (a headline flashes that Jesus is for gay marriage at one point), but it's really hard to wrap my head around. So...they are religious people that believe in Jesus from Israel 4 BC, right? But...this Jesus is a different one. But he's called Jesus. But they hate him, even the nice Unitarian churches that believe, hey whatever. Because he's not their Jesus. But he is. But...but...but...

Mind. Gone. Haywire.

I know, I get it. Maybe the director was trying to suggest that modern Christianity has lost its way, that it wouldn't recognize Jesus if he walked out of the rubble after September 11. And that makes sense in a certain context...and then you try to think about it from a logistical standpoint...people wearing crosses trying to exterminate a guy named Jesus and crucify him and...well, I start seeing cross-eyed again. It just starts to fall apart. It's silly.

I guess the point is, new ideas and concepts are great, but it's really helpful if you actually think them through to make certain they make sense. That your world actually is consistent within itself. This show didn't bother to think through those details, and as a result, it made it really hard to sit through. Shock and awe are one thing. Good visuals effects are helpful too (this show had it all over ours in that regard). But when you get right down to it, a story should try to make sense. Some kind of sense.

This show couldn't be bothered to think that hard.

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Deep Thoughts

These are the deep things I think about at work...



Question: If someone is missing an eye, would their smiley face emoticon look like this?

.)

And, if someone was a pirate, would their smiley face emoticon looks like this?

.)?

Aspire.

This morning, as I was getting into my car at Stop & Shop, this rather disheveled looking guy called out to me. As I stopped, car door open, he rode up to my car on his bike. "Would you have any interest in a soft top Eddie Bauer cooler?" he asked, unhooking the item from his bike and trying to hand it over to me.

I have to confess, I hate being approached about things like this. My immediate reaction is to run away. It doesn't matter what it is, but it seems to be uniquely reserved for people asking for donations or trying to sell me stuff. Especially the latter. I have an especial hatred right now for the sales people they allow to infest Best Buy, trying to get you to change your internet provider to that shitty DirectTV. Sales people should be there to assist you, not try to upsell you anything. Every time I get approached I start to go off, so much that Corb has to literally push me away before I say anything too obnoxious. I know, they are only doing their job. I am not angry at them, I am angry at Best Buy for allowing them to do it. Which is why, incidentally, I am currently boycotting Best Buy.

Anyway, I digress. The minute he asked this, I did what I always do. I moved away. "No, thank you," I said, quietly and politely, but still, in a way that was firm, with my head lowered. I immediately started to close my car door.

"You sure?" he asked, moving his soft top Eddie Bauer cooler back to behind his bike.

"No thank you" I repeated in the same tone and closed the door.

He left. I drove off. But still, this image lingered in my head. Him, on his bike. I think it was the way he said "soft top Eddie Bauer cooler" that bothered me. It had been so precise, so rehearsed.

Why was he approaching me about this? Was it perfectly innocent? Was he indeed just looking to give me, out of the kindness of his heart, a soft top Eddie Bauer cooler? Why would he be doing something like that? Was it some kind of homeless thing, like the people who stand outside of malls with increasing frequency these days, looking for a donation? (I am positive that is staged, by the way, and that's not without precedent. Back in the 1800s, the poor and indigent were put to work shoveling horse crap off the streets, until they protested the demeaning work. Look it up, it's true.) What was his story?

And what is it about me that shut down the way I did? Slam. Walls come down. Why am I like that? Would it kill me to keep a five or something in my wallet, for situations like that, instead of my George Castanza-like wallet spilling to the brim with receipts and plastic and nothing else? Isn't there something I can do to be better than I am?

Anyway, I just made a donation of $20 to my favorite homeless shelter, Crossroads of Rhode Island. It surely will not make me a better person or help me on the path to the countless hours of therapy that I so clearly need. But, maybe it will help someone in some small way. And maybe, it's a reminder to stop and think..and aspire higher.

Free for three Days: Pictures of You


Just wanted everyone to know, in case you haven't read it yet: my book Pictures of You is available for free as a KDP download for three days starting today.

Here's the gratuitous blurb about what it's all about:


A story of a haunting. Of a memory that lingers. Of voices that hide in the shadows. Video geek Ashes16 discovers disturbing videos popping up on her YouTube account, bringing back memories of her brother's grisly death. What happens when she finally understands their meaning is the chilling secret behind Pictures of You. Discover what’s been called a "supernatural thriller with a real heart and soul that helps carry this work high above many of its contemporaries." Get it now!

http://www.amazon.com/Pictures-You-TJ-Alexian-ebook/dp/B00IHOC7V6

If you pick it up, cool! Please do let me know what you think.

A dilemma

I don't usually get that angry with my family. Seriously, everyone loves my parents. Both Corb and Josie have said on multiple occasions that they wish my parents were there's. I know I'm lucky.

Really, the only person I've ever had huge problems with in years is my sister Laurie, but even that has kind of gotten better this past year. We've become civil to each other, and I was starting to feel better about our relationship.

That kind of changed today. As we were relaxing before dinner, the subject of mother's day came up. "Oh, we're not having mother's day this year," my Dad told me.

What? "Why not," I asked, kind of surprised.

"Your sisters are taking us to Disney World that week," was his reply. "I meant to tell you about it a few weeks ago, but you were busy at the time and it slipped my mind."

Wait...so, I'm not going to get to see my mother on mother's day because my sisters decided to take her away somewhere and no one thought it was important enough to tell me about? Maybe even...I don't know, this is crazy, invite me to go along? At least, give me the opportunity?

My brother, it turns out, did know about it. "They told me, and I had the same reaction as you," he said. "I wanted to go and said they might want to make it a whole family thing. The next day I learned they bought the tickets without asking me."

I'm not sure who got the worse deal: me, for not knowing anything, or Tommy, for knowing and then deliberately being excluded. My sister Kerrie was at dinner, and my dad told her that I was upset, so she came over and asked why I was angry. "We didn't think you would have the money to go, anyway," she said.

"It would have been nice to have been given the chance to make that decision myself," I replied.

"Well, fine!" she said, sounding irritated. "You're invited now. Can you come?"

Well, wait... now we are talking four weeks away, as opposed to six or seven weeks away. Everything's probably going to be more expensive, including flight, hotel fare, etc. Especially during mother's day week-end!

"I knew he was going to get angry and take it all out on me," I overheard her say behind my back later on.

I mean, maybe she's right about that. Maybe I should be mad at my parents, too, because they clearly knew and didn't tell me. Laurie I expect this from. She is so self-centered and thoughtless that this one's no surprise at all, even though, get this: she is mad at our aunt because she traveled to Boston for a wedding her son was having and felt it was inconsiderate that they neglected to invite her to the rehearsal dinner the night before. This seems to be to be a hundred times more inconsiderate.

I don't know. Maybe I'm reacting this way because going to Disney with my parents has always been a dream of mine. In fact, I brought the subject up with them a year ago, as something I'd really like to do with them. So maybe the thought that that's been taken away from me makes it even more of a sensitive subject, aside from the fact I won't see my mom on mother's day. Because let's face it, if I brought it up again, a year from now, their reaction is surely going to be, "Oh, well, we did that last year with your sisters..."

Any suggestions on how to handle this one? I don't want it to become a wedge issue, but I can feel it becoming that already with me. How can I keep my cool? Josie suggested having an alternative mother's day without my sisters, which is a great idea, but it's still going to hurt my feelings terribly (I just know) when I have to see all the fun they had that I wasn't allowed to participate in! Not sure how to deal with this one. I know it's not the biggest thing in the world, but I do feel they were really thoughtless here.

Tedwords Picture Parade: Easter Bliss


I have to admit, I am slightly obsessed with this photo. I haven't seen nearly enough creepy Easter bunny photos on my Facebook feed this year, so imagine my delight when I came across this while doing taxes in the bathroom last night. It's perfect! Check out the look of sheer terror on that baby's face! Look how perfectly the frightened baby and the creepy frozen-smiling Easter Bunny match up, from a color palette perspective, including the white wicker chair the bunny is sitting in. Even the denim blue baby hat matches the blue bunny eyes. Can you imagine how much therapy this kid is going to need someday?

I tell you, American Horror Story should skip evil clowns next year and go right for the bunny.  

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