Thursday, February 28, 2013

It's Just Me

Why do folks, especially women, from other parts of the country always say, "You are just so cute," when they first meet me? Are worse yet, ask me, "Can you say that again? I just love to hear you talk". Why is this the first impression most people get of southern women, well that is those who have are all their teeth, are wearing clothes that match, and none of those clothes sport anything having to do with NASCAR?

I cannot help the way my Mama and Daddy reared me and how I pronounce my words. Hopefully, some of those lessons in manners stuck. Like the one not to ask people from southern New Jersey to please restrain from speaking in my presence because every time they open their mouths I hear finger nails on a chalk board.

When I meet strangers and they learn where I come from, honest to God, I think they are surprised I am not wearing my hoop skirt and quickly waving a frilly fan in front of my face. Although some refer to it as "our most recent unpleasantness" it was 150 years ago and we have moved on. Perhaps everyone else should also. Rhett left Scarlet, Richmond fell, and Lee surrendered. Move along folks, nothing to see here. 

Photography Post - Dew Drops

Dew drops on the leaf of a hosta.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Good and an The Bad

Looking at my calendar, two dates are circled in red and I am counting down. 53 days to my daughter's nuptials and 81 until my next trip to the islands. And, therein are lying two issues. Good for the former: new shoes - an issue most woman find a thrill in the hunt for. After all, who doesn't have a collection in their closet. (If you don't, then you are either very frugal, restrained, and I am impressed or a mere amateur working on your collection.)

For the later, horrors: I need a new swimsuit. Ugh!!!! (Insert primal scream.)

Photography Post - Farm Truck

Abandoned truck in a field.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Wedding Receptions, Tattoos, and Dog Pens

In talking with our florist about the wedding I expressed my concerns about some of the details. "Oh, honey, you won't believe some of things we have seen." Then he went on to tell the story of a wedding in a near by country town. The grandmother of the bride was a good customer of his and had asked him to  do the flowers for the wedding and the reception. Her comment was, "My granddaughter is white trash and I hate to say, but she is marrying even trashier white trash."

He said when they showed up with the flowers for the reception at the bride's house, they just knew he was at the wrong house because there was a 55 gallon drum of trash burning in the front yard. But, alas they were at the correct address. 

They asked the mother where they were to put the cake table and were told "Back there by the dog pens". (And, the pens were full of howling dogs complete with the sanity (or lack there of) that goes with them.) And, it only got worse. The assortment of plastic and wooden tables were covered with thin white plastic from a large roll.

After "decorating" for the reception the florist went to meet the grandmother at the church. His first words were, "I hope you drink and if you don't, you are going to need a Zanex or two." Her response was,"Oh, I know how bad it is, I just had to do my part and know it was done right."

The couple was married and the guests made their way to the reception. The gifts for the guests were rub-on tattoos - in sheets. Of course, the bride provided scissors so the guests could  select the ones they wanted. Fun was had by all in comparing their various tattoos. By the end of the evening, the bride and the groom left - he with one of the bridesmaids and the bride with one of the groom's best friends. 

I asked how long the marriage lasted. "Oh four months or so. But, it was her third or fourth, and his second." Then the florist assistant piped up, "You did tell them about us having to decorate the baby carriage so they could carry their baby down the aisle with them." "Oh, and then there was that."

I was still recovering from the wedding cake being placed by the dog pens.

Photography Post - Pink Mist

A misty morning sunrise in the Great Smokey Mountains

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Impossible, a Movie Review

There is a major reason - beside the lack fungible resources - that I choose to enjoy my tropical vacations in the British West Indies rather than Bali, Thailand, the Maldives, or any of the other exotic locals in the Indian Ocean -Tsunamis. They tend to favor that part of the world.

That said, I did not want to see The Impossible . I had no desire to spend 114 minutes tied up in angst, struggling underwater, or dealing with the aftermath of the devastating Tsunami  in that area that destroyed many utopia including much of Thailand, December 26, 2004. 

I found the movie to be a tale of the strength one can draw from love to overcome overwhelming odds. It is a testament to the human spirit and determination. After the storm hits this lovely area there is nothing pretty - everything is raw and ugly. The tropical paradise quickly turns into a murky swell of water that literally washes the life out of everything in sight. Often it seems to be a land of the walking wounded among the dead. The remainder of the movie is the true story of a family violently separated by the force of nature and then their desperate quest to find each other in the miles of aftermath that resembles the remains of an atomic bomb.

My initial protest aside, I thought it was a good movie. While I didn't drown as the wave turned the world upset down and everything and everyone was under water, I was exhausted by the time they found dry land. And, for this movie, that is the way you should be. Given these folks spent days fighting these conditions and some areas, to this day, have still not recovered, I think giving 114 minutes of my time as a rubbernecking bystander seems paltry. 

Naomi Watt in the role of the mother of the family well deserves her Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Unfortunately, the movie did not get a lot of buzz and this year's Best Actress group this year is strong and deep.

Photography Post - Violet

A mountain violet in the morning dew.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Photography Post - Rusty Chair

And then there those times when you find something you cannot resist photographing. This is exactly like I found it. God only know how long it had been there. Note the SC licence tag on the porch. There were also an assortment of empty libation bottles strewn about. The house was abandoned, and yes, I was trespassing. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hissy Fits

Sometimes you grow up hearing something and you always wonder - Just where did that come from? Down here, we don't care about the provenience, as long as we know what it means. My Aunty (Fode) used to always say (referring to her sister, my Granny (Mamie)), "Oh, she's just got her knickers in a knot." Which meant that once again Aunty had said something a little off color that had offended Granny. Aunty's sailor mouth off times went against my Granny's proper Presbyterian bearing. I would say upbringing, but seeing that they were sisters, that would make no sense.

If Granny's degree of aggravation was elevated, then she was "Having a hissy fit." Most probably Aunty had said something in public that offended her.

But there were degrees of escalated annoyance between those two. Aunty rarely got annoyed. She just took it all in, chuckled, and took another drag off of her ever present Salem cigarette. Granny, on the other hand, was fair game to Aunty's fowl mouth and antics. Aunty took no prisoners and suffered no fools. Basically, she called it as she saw it. 

"Having a hissy fit with a tail on it" indicated that my Granny was even more peeved than before. And, if Aunty kept on going, Granny would have a "Duck fit" which was at least one step above a "Hissy fit". Of course, we all knew Aunty was in her prime when my Granny had a "Dying duck fit" which translated to an escalated "Duck Fit". And, nothing gave my Aunty more pleasure than to achieve this goal. 

Fode aka Flora Katherine (my Aunty) on the left with the ever present Salem and Mamie aka Mary Margaret (my Granny) on the right.

Photography Post - Marsh off Kiawah Island

A lonely egret sits in the marsh grass off Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

Photography Post - Cypress Knees

Cypress knees in the sun in Congaree National Park. To this day, the botanists still say they are not sure what the purpose of the knees are.

Friday, February 15, 2013

You Can Rest Assured

As I have said before there are some things in life that are certain. An example being when a woman calls another woman a “Hussy”. You can rest assured the other is prettier and drives a nicer car.

And, you know you are in the company of a red neck when you hear, "Lawd, Mama was so mad, she din't even  remove her Marlboro before telling that State Trooper to kiss her ass".

Photography Post - Buckets on a Dock

Colorful buckets lined up on a dock in McClellanville, SC

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What Would They Say?

I'm trying to get everything straight in my mind. So I am checking my list again, yes, the invitations have been ordered, the menu is set, we still need to settle on the linens, I can put the flowers out of my mind for a week or two.

What would my Aunt Kat say? Oh, God, her concern would be the receiving line and making sure that someone was going to be on hand from the Laurinburg Exchange to get the details so it would make Monday's social column. (Not much goes on up there.) I can remember the social column in our local paper when I was little called "Over the Second Cup" with Becky Puckett. Being included or excluded from her notice could make or doom a hostess's reputation. But, I digress.

My Aunt J'nelle, who always sounded like a Yankee after she came back from graduate school in Boston would nit pick everything. My daddy always said she dreamed of being a Kennedy, but he wasn't sure even they were good enough for her. She had to come back home where she made it clear, that obviously,  none of us were up to her expectations. I can hear her now, "I just can't understand why you want to get married down there. I can see not wanting to get married in your own church, but outside? I remember when Caroline Kennedy got married, that beautiful little church in Massachusetts." Spare me!

Then there was my Aunty. "Why child what difference does it make? You just do what you want to do and don't worry about it. But, I'll tell you one thing - (then she would take a long drag off her ever present Salem cigarette) if you invite your friends, make sure they have something to drink. 'Cause they all  gonna be mighty thirsty when it's all over."

Of course, Mama, bless her heart would be thrilled our daughter is getting married in the low country, she would go along with any details having to do with the catering and the flowers, as long as the invitations were engraved and our daughter had selected a sterling silver pattern.  There were certain things in her world that never changed.

Photography Post -Arms of an Oak

The arms of a live oak, laden with Spanish moss silhouetted in the morning sun rise at Middle Place Plantation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wedding Dates and Tide Charts

When our daughter said she wanted to get married on Edisto, we knew we needed to procure a venue. Not having one of the tidewater plantations in the family, we were able to find one that was available and visited it. The sight for the ceremony was on a lawn that gently sloped down to the tidal creek framed by ancient oak trees. The guests would be looking over the tidal creek to a view of the old plantation house and more oak trees.

Before we committed to it, naturally we had questions. There were the logistics, where would the guests park? (near the polo field). Were there bathroom facilities? (yes, they were built just for such occasions) What about SC's infamous no-seeum's? (there was a service that would spray prior to the event). Then we asked about dates.

This is when it got interesting. The owner said she needed to look at a Tide Chart to see what date was preferable. "Tide Chart?", I asked. "Why yes," she said. "You don't understand. Down here we do everything by the tides." Now, personally, I found this condescending because I knew what a Tide Chart was and what the tides were, but what the Hell did a Tidal Chart have to do with the date of my daughter's wedding. (I think I would have been more understanding had she wanted to consult a crystal ball.)

"Well, of course, you want to get married at high tide," she said with a smile looking at my daughter. Quickly I thought to myself, is there some superstition here? Low country voo doo? Will the haints curse you for life if you don't? My daughter spoke up, "Why? What difference does it make?" "Oh, a great deal. Have you ever seen the creek at low tide?" I answered, "Yes, certainly we have." And I wanted to add, - I was under the impression that she was getting married on the lawn, not in the creek. "Well, you don't want it to look like that during the ceremony?" "Like what?" I asked.

We walked out to the edge of the creek, which was about at half tide. Then she looked at me, and carefully said, "Most people don't want the mud in their pictures?" "You mean the plough mud?" "Yes." "Well, it's not just mud. You have all the grasses and everything else out there. That is the beauty of the marsh." I looked at my daughter. "I don't see a problem." Bumfuzzled, the lady led us back in the house to discuss dates.

When we settled on a date, she quickly typed on her laptop. I assumed she was entering the information into her calendar. She looked up and smiled, "Oh, I am so happy to tell you. Your wedding will be at high tide, so the mud will not be an issue." Oh, happy days. 

Now, I need to add this to my "Wedding List": Check Tide Charts. Who knew? Who cares?

Identity Thief, a Movie Review

My overall impression of Identity Thief is that the story is better than the movie. That said Melissa McCarthy is one of the most talented comedic actresses since Lucille Ball (IMHO). I'm not sure who would be strong enough to play her straight man. Jason Bateman gave it a good college try, but just came up short. The casting of him to play the role of (the real) Sandy Patterson is the only weak part of the movie. But, that puts the burden on McCarthy to carry the load (no pun intended).

I have not enjoyed so much physical comedy in a while. And, I am not talking as in The Hangover (1) which was excellent, but more like Lucy and Ethel in the candy factory. McCarthy's timing is uncanny. Her character is quick to act. She doesn't miss any opportunity to swindle, con, dodge or  fiddle an unsuspecting victim. Her physical size does not hinder her from much. Instead Sandy aka Julie, Diana, or Marji, the chameleon uses it as a cloak of innocence. 

Don't let the slow start of the movie fool you. Once McCarthy's character explodes on the scene, the rest is a rodeo complete with the clown. Even when the movie slows (and there are some sluggish scenes) there is a sweet story weaving its way through the background. You're not sure you want to kill her or just ride along with her for the sheer madness of what she attracts. And, Bateman's character, whose life up until this time, has been one of milktoast and number crunching, is so out of his comfort zone he is only driven by his desire to get his life back for the sake of his family. 

After seeing a glimpse of McCarthy's talent in Bridesmaids, this is a vehicle for her to shine. And, she is brilliant. I recommend the movie. 

Photography Post - Moss Laden Oak

A moss laden oak tree.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Side Effects, a Movie Review

The movie Side Effects, Steven Soderbergh's swan song, is said to be made in the genre of the Hitchcokian thriller. I don't want to say anything to divulge the plot. But, I will say, I could reveal  any part of the movie and you still would not have a clue what was coming next, much less how it ends. One critic went as far as to say "See the movie then read the reviews". 

No spoiler alert here - every trailer and every review reveals this much: The premise of the movie is a young wife fighting depression drives her car into a wall, in an unsuccessful suicide attempt,  just after her husband has been released from prison, doing time for insider trading. Her compassionate doctor prescribes her a new medication to help her deal with her psychological issues. And, so goes the story. . . But no, no, no. That is just the first 15-20 minutes. Every time I thought I had figured it out, the story took another turn. By the end of the film, I looked at my DH, and said "Boy, I didn't see that one coming."

Rooney Mara (aka The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is hardly recognizable as Emily the tortured mousy wife and Channing Tatum (last seen in Magic Mike) is her husband, trying to get his life back together after serving four years in federal prison. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Emily's former uptight psychiatrist with Jude Law in the role as Emily's current psychiatrist. 

It is a great movie, well acted with a good plot and a super cast. Unfortunately, this is the type of film that will get little buzz. The public will find the trailer ho-hum, without cars blowing up, steamy love scenes, or futuristic space ships flying over a destroyed earth. And, this will be their loss.

Photography Post - Surf at Dawn

That magical time when morning meets the surf. This was on Kiawah Island, SC.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Magical Words

There are seven words that a southern girl loves  to hear. These words bring peace to her soul and make her realize that, yes, her Daddy was right. The world can be her oyster after all. And, most of the time she gets her way without dealing with some plough mud* and a knife or two. So when I heard those words yesterday, "Now, honey don't you worry about that," from the lips of my Daryl, our flamboyant but extremely talented florist, I knew that all would be right with the world.

I have worked my way down the list to "Flowers". And, I knew I could either meet with Daryl yesterday or it would be March before he came up for air and back to his senses after the crush of Valentine's Day. So into his shop I went and showed him the pictures of the arrangements my daughter had seen with the cabbage. "Oh, my dear that is the coming rage. Why just now," and he pointed to his computer screen, "In my trend updates they are starting to mention cabbage - cabbage and succulents." "No succulents, I have no desire for cactus." "Oh, it's not like that. Anyway, this winter I did a wedding for this young lady, she wanted all neutrals, it was white and green. And, I used white flowers, cabbage and ivy. I must say it was to die for." (I was so glad he didn't.)

I got him back to the wedding at hand and we discussed other flowers, colors, and numbers. "And when is the wedding?" "April 20th," I said fearing he was going to tell me he was taking that month off to travel to France on a cruise with Cher or Kathy Griffen. "Oh, that's a great time. Everything we want is in season. Well, almost everything, but we'll deal with that." And, that was when he said the magical words and set my heart at ease.

Now, I realize nothing has been done, And, I am aware there are a thousand and one things that can go wrong between now and then, just dealing with the flowers alone. However, now, for a month or so, I can live in ignorant bliss that at least the flowers are taken care of. I'll take solace in anything I can.

* If you are not familiar with it, this is pronounced (plŭff mŭd) and is the rich dark gray mud where one finds the oyster beds.

Photography Post - Ferns

These are ferns growing off a vertical bank just off the Pacific Ocean in Northern California. This picture was taken in the fall of 2008 and was one of the first that made me realize, "Hey, I really like photography and if I work at this I could become decent at this." I took this with a small point and shoot (three camera and lots of money ago).

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Functional Flowers

The flowers are one item on "The List" that are still in flux. My daughter and I continue to look for unique ideas that are both formal yet compliment the Low Country atmosphere of the wedding. When I first spoke with Daryl, our flamboyant and very talented florist, he had some good ideas. I impressed upon him that there is a budget to keep his imagination within certain bounds. That usually just makes him more creative.

Then my daughter called with a new idea. At an event she had attended the night before she had seen table arrangements that she really liked. And, she said, not only were they unique, she did not think they would be that expensive. The arrangements were made around kale or cabbage (she wasn't sure which). She was sending me pictures I could share with Daryl.

I never thought about starting in the fruit and vegetable aisle when making a floral arrangement but my creativity has been known to run wild. (Like the year I put  Peacock feathers in the Christmas tree. My family still to this day does not appreciate the artistic flair there. But, I digress.) However, I know I need to make sure Daryl understands when I expressed my concern over our budget, he doesn't get the idea of dual functionality. I can see the arrangement arriving complete with radishes, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and  red onions designed to be placed on the salad table complete with serving forks and bowls.

Photography Post - The Eyes Have It

The American Alligator - gets a bad reputation because it is often confused with Crocodiles. Of course exceptions here being small dogs, stupid people, and shiny things. To find a Crocodile in the United States one must go to Florida. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Disturbances in the Fine Print

Luckily I do not have problems sleeping. And, after reading the side effects and warnings accompanying a prescription sleeping aide, I will count sheep or some other non-medical trick to avoid the need for such a drug. Someone must have a serious sleep deprivation problem or want to live on the edge to be willing to take such drastic measures. Or, maybe they don't read the instructions. The following are actual side effects and warnings for a sleep medication issued by the drug company (and its attorneys I am sure to cover all liability.) Whatever the case, if offers little solace to those seeking peace. But, who really reads "the fine print".

The "possible" side effects:
  • chest pain, fast or irregular heartbeat, feeling short of breath
  • trouble breathing or swallowing; or
  • feeling like you might pass out

Less serious side effects may include:
  • daytime drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, feeling "drugged" or light-headed;
  • tired feeling, loss of coordination;
  • dry mouth, nose or throat irritation;
  • nausea, constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach;
  • stuffy nose, sore throat; or
  • headache, muscle pain.
And, worse yet, the warnings:
  • Nervous system side effects most frequently have included visual disturbances, ataxia, and dizziness. Headache, drugged feeling, confusion, anterograde amnesia, excessive sedation, lightheadedness, delirium, nightmares, hallucinations, nervousness, and agitation have also been reported.
Before taking the medication, advise your Doctor if you have any:
  • Alcohol abuse, or history of 
  • Drug abuse or dependence, history of—Dependence on this drug  may develop.
  • Diseases affecting metabolism or disease involving blood circulation—Caution should be used in patients with these medical problems.
    • Emphysema, asthma, bronchitis, or other chronic lung disease 
    • Mental depression, history of or
    • Mental illness, history of or
    • Myasthenia gravis (severe muscle weakness) or
    • Sleep apnea (temporary stopping of breathing during sleep)—use  may make these conditions worse.
    • Kidney disease or
    • Liver disease—Use with caution. Higher blood levels of the use may result, increasing the chance of side effects.

Complex behaviors such as “sleep-driving” (i.e., driving while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic, with amnesia for the event) have been reported in sedative-hypnotic-naive as well as in sedative-hypnotic-experienced persons.

In primarily depressed patients treated with sedative-hypnotics, worsening of depression, and suicidal thoughts and actions (including completed suicides), have been reported. Suicidal tendencies may increase.

And, if you do decide to take this medication, for God's sake talk with your Doctor before you consider stopping because withdrawal symptoms after either abrupt cessation or fast tapering may occur. Withdrawal symptoms may include agitation, restlessness, anxiety, depression, insomnia, tremor, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and sweating.

It would do me no good, because I would lie in bed every night, looking at the ceiling pondering my certain doom waiting for the signs of chest pains, irregular heart beat, or trouble breathing. Of course, I am sure the stuffy nose, head ache, muscle pain, and dry mouth would also be an issue. And, I as I feared my oncoming  demise, there would be no rest for the weary, for if I did succumb to sleep, I am sure I would be a victim of "sleep driving".

Photography Post - Gate

The gate and front steps to what would have been the main house at Middleton Place Plantation had it not been burned during the war.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Say Yes to the Dress

As you know (if you read this Blog) I despise reality TV. But, I have seen ads for a show called, "Say Yes to the Dress." Just from the ads I saw, it involves a lethal combination of divas and their search for a weddings dress. Talk about drama. 

And, I cannot decide which would be more annoying, the episode following the southern girl with her mother in tow trying to make sure she chose some gown that involved a hoop skirt, cathedral train, and required a cadre of young girls to keep it perfectly aligned as she glides down the aisle like a float in the Tournament of Roses parade. 

Or, the girl from Staten Island, whose voice would rip wallpaper clean off the wall, who states right up front, she likes sexy and bling as she shakes her long bleached tresses from her face. Spare me.

Saturday I went with my daughter for the fitting of her wedding gown. The store, or rather I should say boutique, is in Charleston and specializes in upscale designer gowns and the owner, Sara, takes very good care of her customers. The appointment ahead of us was running a little late, so I took that time to look through the racks of gowns. The styles have changed a lot since the days of my proventional  gown. In fact, thinking back on it, comparatively speaking, my gown now looks like something out of a bad opera before the fat lady sang. These gowns were breathtaking. Well, most were. Some, were a little over the top (after all, one has to cater to the divas.) 

My daughter pulled one out covered with what looked like taffeta pedals on the skirt. "This is the gown Hugh Hefner's bride wore last month."  "The same one?" "Yes, the exact same dress by the same designer?" Who knew? "And, this gown is real popular and usually sells for $9,000, but you can get it here for a little over 3."  She continued pulling out gowns, some that were exquisite, others not so much. Then Sara came and let us know they were ready for her.

The gown she has chosen is elegant and breathtaking. I had seen a picture of it, but that did not do it justice. And, it looked like it was made for her. After some discussion, the seamstress pinned the bottom of the dress and the bustle. The seamstress finished. Sara was discussing the date the dress would be ready and then she asked if there was anything else she could do. I spoke up, "It's just too bad, you don't carry mother of the bride dresses." She smiled and said, "Oh, I have something that you might like." And, she reached behind her and pulled out a deep purple long dress.

My heart sank. "No, I'm afraid, I need something short." "OK," and she quickly went to the front of the shop and returned with a short blue strapless number. "I love the color. And, it is dupioni silk, which is what I am looking for, but it is strapless," I said very disappointingly. "Oh, it doesn't have to be strapless. Try it on, I'll show you."

When I came out and looked in the mirror she came up behind me and took, what I thought was the back sash and quickly wrapped it around my shoulders twice and tied it in the back. Suddenly, I was looking at a dress that came off my shoulders with elegant front and a fussy bow in the back. "Wow, I love it. But, are you coming out to Edisto that night to dress me?" "Oh, it's easy, I'll show you." Yeah, I thought, that's what my Daddy told me the first time I tried to tie my shoes at the age of three.

"What other colors, does it come in?" She pulled out another dress just like it in a light peach. (Sara was truly a magician pulling these colored dresses out of racks of white and ivory.) "I like that."  "Anything but that blue," my daughter said. "Why?" "Because that blue is a mother of the bride color if I have ever seen one." A fate worse than death. "Well, I guess that will not do."

"No problem," Sara said  as she pulled out a color card and opened it. This just got complicated - there were a good hundred or so color swatches. After a long discussion of "This peach has more orange than that one", "No you cannot wear red." "This green is too green for April", "Copper may do, but it is really a fall color",  - we all settled on a deep peach. 

Done and done - say, yes to the dress, without the drama.

Photography Post - Congaree Stump

The stump of an old Cypress tree in the Congaree National Park. What was left after the virgin timber was harvested years ago.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Quartet, a Movie Review

Before we saw Quartet, all I knew was that Dustin Hoffman directed it and it starred Maggie Smith (the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey). Having seen everything else decent that was playing, this was our choice. 

The movie is set at a retirement home for elderly musicians in England. Every year the residents produce a musical gala celebrating Verdi's birthday. However, putting together this year's gala involves a little more drama, a diva or two, some dementia, and a reunion of former artists. The story is a fairly predictable, but still an enjoyable tale. It rocks along, with enough characters and plot to keep one interested. However, it just lacks something. The movie is good but begs to be so much more.

It is well cast. Not only are there familiar actors, (even if you don't know their names, you'll recognize their faces), many of the roles of the residents at the home are played by little known authentic professional classical musicians and artists. As always, Maggie Smith plays her part with aplomb. But, she alone, cannot carry the load. 

I walked out of the theater thinking - I enjoyed that. It was a good movie, but not a great movie. And, then it hit me - this movie was like having a glass of red wine. Looking at it, the wine is a deep red color and has a wonderful aroma. However, when you take your first sip, you find it to be weak,  but not bad nor bitter. You can still taste the flavors you imagined, however, they are just faint. But, you keep sipping because the flavor is pleasing and you feel the flavor will get stronger if you just sip it long enough. 

I recommend the movie with the caveat that it is a "light" version.

Photography Post - Boy on a porch

A farm boy on a porch.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Super Bowl of Commercials

Talk about the tail wagging the dog - during the television coverage of last year's Super Bowl, there were 47 minutes of commercials (3 more than 2010). Now, remember the game of football is made up of four - fifteen minute periods (a mere 60 minutes) - and, much additional time monkeying around on the field trying to figure out if what the refs said happened was what really happened, men gathering in a circle (what's that all about?) and then the players trying to figure out where they are supposed to be on the field.

According to the Wall Street Journal in 2010 the average NFL game included 11 minutes of actual football play, about an hour of advertising, and the rest of the time was just whatever else they do on and off the field.

But the Super Bowl has become Madison Avenue's grand day. This year, it is so bad (or good) that TV shows have been doing teasers of the ads for weeks. So the ad companies have managed to get free air time on just the buzz of what their 30 second ad is going be. If you think about it, they are getting bang for their buck before the ad runs.

And, then Monday morning, the talk shows always rank the top ads, and play them once again. Even if your ad is seen as a loser, chances are, if there was any controversy, the ad will be played again on the talk shows, or least talked about enough that folks (who didn't see it the night before) will go find it online and stream it. 

Over the years, there have been classic ads that folks still talk about. (And, some we could do without.) Cute kids and sexy women sell. Doritos has their "Crash the Super Bowl" ad campaign where fans submit  their "home made" commercials.  The top five are awarded prizes, including tickets to the game. And, the winner's ad is run during the game. 

Some of the more memorable Super Bowl ads of all time include:

  • Farrah Fawcett and Joe Nameth (Noxzema)
  • Cindy Crawford and the little boys (Pepsi),
  • Pizza Guy Wazzzup, Frog, Lizards' ads (Budweiser), 
  • VW - The Force, 
  • Zerox - The Monks, 
  • The Budweiser Clydesdales 9/11 Tribute, 
  • Coca Cola - Mean Joe Green, 
  • Apples 1984 ad.
It has gotten so as we eat our pizza, wings, chips, and salsa we don't take any breaks to excuse ourselves or answer the phone until the game starts again. No one wants to miss the ads and come back to, "Oh, you should have seen that Budweiser ad. It was priceless. This little . . ." Remind me, what teams are playing again.

Photography Post - Chapel of Ease

Another view of the Chapel of Ease on St Helena Island in South Carolina.