Friday, March 24, 2006

"Or Am I Standing Still?"

Don’t know if you’re catching the latest version of the Sopranos. When it first came out we watched it pretty religiously like the rest of the cable nation but then it got strung out and winded and we lost interest. And of course it was GONE for two years. That may have has something to do with it. Such that when it came back out a week or two ago I was fairly numbed by the hoopla. Sopranos is back – big deal. Show the game.

Well I read a review of the first episode where Tony got shot and I had to watch. In a TV way I’m sort of glued to HBO because I have to watch my boyze on Entourage (Yo Drama!) so I’ll go a round or two with Tony. But I thought Episode 2 was fairly fascinating.

After Junior, in an Alzheimer’s haze, shoots Tony in Episode 1 we know he’s basically going to be on death watch for awhile. But Episode 2 starts of with Tony as Joe Regular Bidnessman attending a conference in Costa Mesa (just down the road here). Seeing Tony attending a conference and wishing he can get in to hear the first speaker is a far cry from Bada Bing. Seeing him sit at the bar trying to wile away the hours of another boring business trip was a grand juxtaposition as well. And if even before he went through the missing identity bit in the program I turned to Deborah and said “He’s in purgatory”.

One of my favorite words – and a funny favorite word for a term that essentially means the holding place between heaven and hell. And growing up Catholic I should know it well. Hell, getting to purgatory would be good.

Or am I already there.

My mother thinks we live in hell already. Well maybe only 50.1% of her thinks that way. But the girl who was schooled by nuns likes to think that way at times. Especially when there's cork in her Cabernet.

If you hadn’t seen the show, Tony is lying in a coma but you see him dreaming in this alternative state that has him at this business conference in Costa Mesa which interestingly enough shows local (and typical SoCal) burning brushfire images on the TV in the bar. Hell or heaven?

Deal or no deal? (I 'm also kind of interested in the notion that Costa Mesa is potentially hell).

In this netherworld Tony also loses his wallet so he has no ID and cannot get on a plane and leave or check into a hotel and stay. He has to borrow the identity (credit card) of someone else to hang around. Admittedly he is no one.

No one and still hanging around.

Ever feel like that? (I mean that explains my last three weeks!?) Is my angst just dripping? For some of us who travel alot this is amost what it feels like - always going someplace but frankly not going anywhere. When Tony is sitting there at the bar I imagined myself just last week - and a thousand other weeks. He later tells a group of fellow conventioneers in the bar (fellow "purgators" - or should say "purgatorians") that he just turned 46 and he still didn't know where he was going. Hey I got two more years on that one Ton.

Aaah fuhgedaboutit.

I had planned a longer rant but college basketball still beckons - and I think you get my drift. Tony will do okay - he's still got two more seasons.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Duke lost tonight. They have the best college basketball program in the nation. They do it right and Coach K. is the best coach in the land. He's gracious in winning and defeat and he gets guys who will play in his system. J. J. Reddick - the player of the year - had an awful game tonight - LSU got to him big time. Sad. Very sad.

Go Zags.

Okay. They lose too. Up by 17 and lose!? Unbelievable. Tragic. Horror. Unsettling.

I think I'm swearing off sports. I can't handle it anymore.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Safe Harbor?

Confused about the Dubai Port deal? Unfortunately everyone is - go to this place for one hard opinion.

Or go here.

Friday, March 10, 2006

"Cradle Your Head in Your Hands"

"...and breathe. Just breathe."

We lost a big project last week. The company had been following it for three years. The real hard work started last July. I spent three weeks in Houston in October working on the proposal. We were supposedly favored - teams actually dropped out because of our presence. It came down to us and another firm - we interviewed twice - sandwiched around Christmas. We answered four sets of official written questions and we were told last Thursday that the other guys won. And they still won't tell us why. I still had to go to City Council this Monday and give a few words on how it was a shame that City Council could not even SEE what we did or what the winner did since it will all be clouded as the staff spends the next several months negotiating with the other team while we are the back-up. Meaning something sort of smells.

So we just didn't lose - we sort of got fucked.

"Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable, and life's like an hourglass glued to the the table. No one can find the rewind button boys, so cradle your head ....."

And this sort of cost me - comissions, stature and blah blah blah. And this other company has now become somewhat of an archrival because we are the only two left in the industry who do all of the the things we do. Sort of like Ali/Frazier ("Down goes Frazier!"). So I have been in a bit of mild shock the past week- followed by depression and seemingly missing certain components of my personality. Today my sense of humour finally reappeared - after awhile the human psyche just naturally rebounds.

"And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd cause the words are my diary screaming out loud and I know that you'll use them however you want to...."

But what really sucked was having to spend all weekend knowing I would still have to fly up there for a City Council meeting and, without sounding like sour grapes, make a point as to how strange the procurement process was. That also meant I had to stay up there that night and fly back in the morning without much will to work or do anything else. And frankly when I get real depressed about certain situations there is only one thing I like to do at all.

And that's go to Costco.

I never discovered Costco or Sam's until I moved out here and it took me a couple of years to finally sign up but I became hooked. "Making a Costco Run" is one of my favorite terms of all time. And you have to because you cannot live out here by just going to the grocery store - going to the grocery store out here is like buying everything at 7-11 - it's horrible. So it makes great sense to buy in bulk - even if you are just buying for two.

I don't want to really go through the number of staples I rely on Costco for - except to say they are large and come in bottles - but really the meat section is the best in town and I love just buying pallets of canned goods that we can stash away. Being a former restaurant worker in high school and college I like inventory. I like knowing that if I want to make my world famous spaghetti at two in the morning I have Contadina tomato paste and pasta on hand. Thank God it comes in a 24 pack.

I believe in value. I love the grocery store also but I frown on buying a little bottle of A-1 there when I can get the double-value pack for almost the same price at Costco. I will however wait and wait until they put the Chunky Soup on sale at almost a third off and buy about a hundred - that's value - and when the locusts come we'll be set up.

Sing it if you understand.

And breathe.

Just breathe.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Oscars 2006

Ok – here we go with the Hard Place Boffo Bloggo Oscar Picks for 2006.

Frankly with all of the award shows that go on nowadays its is not really that hard to handicap “most” races. Golden Globes tells you one thing – I think SAG (Screen Actor’s Guild – and its only been around for 8 years) really tells you another thing. However, it has been interesting as I perused one entertainment periodical and I could not believe all of the diverse selections (and hackneyed reasons behind those selections) that various directors, producers and actors gave for their Oscar picks. Well, I’m neither so here goes:

Best Supporting Actor Paul Giamatti. Frankly if it goes to anybody else it’s a travesty. The guy gave great performances in American Splendor (not nominated) and Sideways (nominated but didn’t win) so he’s beyond overdue. And regardless of that he was fabulous in Cinderella Man – which by the way is an excellent movie and if idiot whathisname didn’t throw a phone at a hotel clerk it would have been nominated as well – I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE GREAT INDIFFERENCE this movie received. Clooney? Get real. (You can’t give an acting Oscar to guy who started off in 1980’s “Hardbodies” (remember that kids?).

Best Supporting ActressRachael Weiss. Can’t imagine that they would give it to anyone else after the previous award shows – although I do like Michelle Williams quiet agony in Brokeback (but a Dawson’s Creek alum? Not yet mister). Rachael very much carries the film with her nobility and grace in a plot line that I had to nudge Deborah several times to ask what the hell was going on. That’s Oscar material like English Patient. Nice bath scene too.

Best ActorPhillip Seymour Hoffman. I haven’t seen it yet! Capote was our last movie to go see among the best picture nominees but we had appliances delivered last weekend costing our last chance to go see it before this Sunday. Great Odin’s Beard! But the guy has been great in so many things (and SAG voted for him so we must be right) and I just want the guy who drove the TV/media van in Twister to win. And when he does and staggers up there to the podium I want him to turn to the audience and go “Losers!”

“Looo-oooosers”. (Welcome to the “suck zone”.)

Best ActressReese Witherspoon. Well I’ll have to admit I do think Reese is as cute as a button and I liked her ever since “Election” some eight years ago – so I’m pretty amazed that the Academy and all of these other groups have pretty much embraced her as a favorite – and she swept Golden Globe and SAG. So she would probably have to break a heel to lose. I saw “Walk the Line” on a plane (always a tough place to gauge a movie – and frankly I thought the movie was so slow and depressing I wanted to kill myself with a plastic knife) but when Reese’s June Carter came on she just lit it up – with that and her real life singing she gets the nod. Now if Joaquin could just lighten up himself.

Best MovieBrokeback Mountain. Ok, I lied – I didn’t see Munich either but I feel it only got nominated because Spielberg called in every favor he had in Hollywood to at least get invited to the party. That movie got so vilified in the press here that it certainly lost its soul somewhere along the way. Liked “Good Night and Good Luck” for its smoke filled room feel and dramatic authenticity to the time but it was actually rather a light film at the end. Capote’s screenplay was written by the actor who played the engaged son on the great farce The Birdcage (and he actually might win) but no best film here. We saw Crash when it first came out and we really liked it – very cool feel, music, cinematography and a narrative web woven with articulate detail. I am very happy it got nominated and the buzz is that it actually has a chance. But I don’t see them stopping the Brokeback juggernaut – too much steam. Although a lot of producer director types might favor Crash instead. I’ll go with the movie about Wyoming filmed in Canada because of all of that rural starkness I spoke of before - but would be happy with either.

Like last year this is your “one” race. Enjoy it.