Game On!

Game of Thrones

Tomorrow, the eighth and final season of HBO’s popular TV series debuts. In this age of streaming, where the TV watching public has become balkanized, this series has been heralded as our last water cooler show. Around the office come Monday morning, notes will be compared, spoilers told and for those not in the know, they will be left out. I know this, because I’ve seen this all before.

Outside the conversation, looking in, listening but still feeling left out. I first felt this shunning in childhood, which for me was back in the days of the three network monopoly. Mom was on one of her no TV tears. The old set had gone kaput and wasn’t to be replaced. There was some show, I can’t remember which that all the other school kids watched on Sunday night. I felt so left out.

I again felt this way in my waning working days. This time it was with Game of Thrones. I was familiar with the series, having read the first two books and rented the first season. I tried to keep abreast of the story through YouTube, where all the major plot points could be found. I eventually broke down and subscribed to HBO, but I couldn’t force myself to sit down and watch a full episode, let alone a whole season. It was too late. The seventh season was over, the moment had passed, but now it’s back again for one last time.

I will try to stream the show Sunday night. I hope that HBO is prepared for the predicted onslaught. I can’t guarantee though that I will watch the whole thing. That ship may have already sailed. I don’t have an office to go to anymore, let alone a water cooler to stand around. So, without peer pressure, will I feel obligated to sit through what is purported to be the even longer episodes with this season? In the north, winter may still be coming on, but here it is high spring, with fair enough weather to be outside, instead of in front of a screen.

Hey, did you see the new Star Wars trailer on Friday? 😉

Annunciation Day

The Annunciation, Jay DeFao, 1959

Yesterday, was Annunciation Day, but our local aficionado Harry was totally underwhelmed with this example from the Contemporary wing of the Chicago Art Institute. I can’t sat that I really blame him though. I, like him, really prefer my art to be a little bit more figurative.

In other art news, Dan announced that he has been working the set of the hit TV series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. This show is about a 1950s NYC housewife, who decides to become a stand-up comic. It’s won lots of awards. I haven’t seen it, but then neither has he. Maybe he’ll watch some of it now? Maybe not?

We flew back from Michigan and I am already missing Amtrak, even with its five-hour delays. Uber Jane got to the airport on time, but only just. We were not TSA Pre and had to slog through security, which seemed especially intrusive. We were both singled out for special attention. Could you please turn your head and cough? We made our flight, which was at the end of the concourse, more steps, since the tram was inoperable. We squeezed into an aluminum tube for an hour-and-a-half and eventually landed in Saint Louis. Our cabbie hugged us, when we got home and he saw our sign welcoming diversity. It offers a neighborly message in English, Spanish and Arabic. He read the Arabic aloud.

The painters/plasters have finished their work. It looks great. We showed it off to our next door neighbor Caroline, who was suitably impressed. We got the bed made and then called it quits for the day. It has certainly been an eventful one, beginning with breakfast at the Fleetwood, with Bill and Jane.


NYC telephone totem from Life Underground, Tom Otterness, 2001

This is the first Monday after daylight savings time has returned. We were awoken by a call from Kelly, asking Anne, if she wanted to work this afternoon. The job offer was for the Early Childhood Center (ECC), which the Kelly robot always pronounces as Eek! We refer to it as plague central. Why Kelly felt obliged to call so early on what is arguably one of the hardest morning to get up on, is a mystery. A normal person would have waited for a more decent hour before calling, but in this personification, Kelly was just another heartless automaton.

I also suffer from robocalls, but their root cause is even more mysterious. I have a suspicion though. Just before I was inundated, I signed up for the rewards program at Schuncks, where I use my cell number as an identifier to get a 2% discount. It could just be coincidence, because I’ve used said number for other things too. Caller ID shows that most of these robocalls originate locally, in neighboring Ladue. It does seem somewhat incongruous that hoity-toity La-dee-do hosts a call center, but if even tonier Frontenac can house a trailer park, then why not a phone bank in Ladue? Or, the spammers could just be spoofing me.

I’ve railed against this epidemic before and recently I did something about it. Our provider, AT&T offers an app called, Call Protect. It is supposed to block these unwanted calls. I downloaded it over the weekend, making today, its first real trial. So far, I am underwhelmed. It has not blocked a single call. It does offer an easier way to individually block spam calls and supposedly will give an accounting of its success, but that still remains to be seen. The app was free, but can be upgraded for four buck a month. I am reluctant to pay for three reasons. I haven’t seen any benefits yet, I already pay AT&T way too much already and I am adverse to giving money to a business that is arguably part of the problem.

It smacks too much of ransomware. Neither do I hold out much hope with my manually blocking of numbers. There are some 6,400,000,000 possible legit phone numbers in the US alone. This number is way too conservative though, because many of these robocalls have illegitimate numbers or no number at all, think blocked numbers. Hey, maybe the Donald is trying to reach me?

Fueling my rage, John Oliver has just harped on this subject too. His trenchant satire is guaranteed to at least bring a smile to your seething. He stuck it to HBO’s “business daddy,” AT&T, mocked Susan Collins for a contrived spoofing stunt, but saved his most venomous enmity for FCC commissioner and “goober,” Ajit Pai. His closing stunt was to unleash an avalanche of robocalls upon Pai and his fellow commissioners via a giant button-pushing fake finger. It was a futile and stupid gesture that left the audience roaring. 

Our Eve

Overheard by Dan on the streets of NYC, “There is no holding hands in Times Square, if we get separated, we’ll meet again in heaven.” Our Eve was quieter than the one presented last night on TV, but it was also much drier. It did rain here and quite a bit, but that was well done my midnight. I know this, because we all managed to make it to the witching hour. We did see some fireworks, just not the ones pictured. Ours were of the local, neighborhood variety.

Unexpectedly, Dan stayed in for the night. I was surprised and a bit unprepared, but there was more than enough supper for the three of us. As the out-of-town impresario, Dan held the remote for the night’s entertainment. Befitting the only member of our household having his own IMDb page, he began with a series of lectures from movie dialect coach Erik Singer. Singer’s talks included voice coach analysis of famous actors speaking with an accent not their own. He also deconstructed fictional “constructed languages,” such as Klingon and Dothraki.

For the feature film, Dan chose Avengers: Infinity Wars. This Marvel superhero movie includes a cast of thousands, so I was always asking Dan, “Who’s that?” Meanwhile, Anne the biblioklept, read Dan’s book, Hope Never Dies. This non-Marvel superhero story, features two buds, two out-of-work civil servants, Joe and Barack, now chaffing at the lack of action. A suspicious death launches this dynamic duo into the role of amateur sleuths. These two parallel tales concluded at about the same time, just before the night’s big countdown got interesting. 

A Christmas Toad

A Christmas Toad

This post is the story of a blogger who goes undercover and masquerades as a smart teacher to get the inside scoop on a playboy toad and then gets tangled in some royal intrigue and ends up finding true luv or at least some warts, but how long can you keep up such a lie? “Where there’s a Tiara, there’s dirt. Trust me.” 

At this point, you the reader might be asking yourself, shouldn’t this piece be about a Christmas frog? I mean in fairy-tales the princess kisses a frog not a toad and gets her charming prince. Well, not to get all Anura on you, but the whole prince-frog trope has been done so many times. Order! Order! I mean, it has gotten to be so tiresome. Let’s try to mix it up some. Shall we?

Back to the story. What we’ve got here is a legit Aldovian birther scandal. The prince, I mean toad, may have been born in Kenya, but why do all of his Aldovian relatives have British accents? If at this point, like at the beginning, you feel that you know everything that will happen in this story, don’t tell me.

This is a story of his royal hotness, at least on a summer’s day. Otherwise, even  with darting tongue, he is just sort of ambient. Still, as the leading amphibian, you find romance in the darnedest places. Just don’t drain the swamp. We need more wetlands after all. That’s enough ecological soap-boxing for now. 

It is so heartwarming to see that Aldovians with disabilities has become the law of the land. Not to get all political on you again, but the acorn act has got to go. It is hardly constitutional to govern through ornamental proclamations. Ah, but a king’s reach from beyond the grave should never exceed his grasp, or what’s a parliament for? Beside big set pieces that is…

Please don’t throw me to the wolves. I had to get them in here, but truly, I have not watched A Christmas Toad or whatever you want to call it. Humbug! That’s my big reveal. I just heard on NPR that its sequel drops today and thought that it was a subject rife for derision. I hope dear reader that you have enjoyed my snark and like I asked, please don’t throw me to the wolves. They’re protected.

It’s no mystery that this post is just a puff piece. That’s not rocket science. As satire, it is not even very good theater, but still, I hope that it garners like 3,000 likes. And I admire the fact that you read my blog online, instead of anywhere else. You know who you are. And to the people who have reread this post 18 times: Who hurt you? – Net-Flics

Just Another Cowboy Bar

Howdy Doody Time

Dave has landed. We four after much deliberation settled upon Blueberry Hill for a mid-afternoon repast. At that time of day, it was not a hopping place and we had our choice of almost any table. All but Dave had had a light lunch. Anne and I each settled for just a cup of soup, while the boys each had a more manly meals. Conversation dwelled on Warhammer 40K, a miniatures game that the guys play. Even though I had gotten them both started with 40K, which Anne pointed out, we both felt left out of the loop on this. We tried to distract them with snide remarks, but they were impervious to our derision.

In the end, we should be pleased that the boys have learned how to get along with each other so well. We certainly worked hard on getting them to do this. Next month, they plan for Dan to head up to Boston, hangout and play 40K. Years ago, we would have killed for them to get along like this.

Blueberry Hill is not just another cowboy bar, no matter what little Dan once announced in his unusually loud voice, to God, the world and his grandparents, “You’re not taking me to another cowboy bar, are you?” Anne and I were so mortified. It is a bar and it does have cowboys in it, but it is usually frequented by college students, not ranch hands. The place is chock full of pop culture memorabilia, including the pictured display case devoted to Howdy Doody, a type of cowboy, who would likely make an impression on a small child.