Sesame Street is must see TV

sesame streetOctober 30, 2013 – When my son was a toddler I enjoyed watching “Sesame Street” with him and tapping my foot to such music videos such as Muppet Billy Idol singing “Rebel L” and Muppet Beatles singing “Letter B”. It was clever and entertaining stuff.

Now, it looks like I’m the one missing some great television because he’s grown and I don’t tune in anymore. I’ve just discovered a treasure chest of familiar shows that Children’s Television Workshop parodies, such as “Desperate House Plants”, “A’s Anatomy”, “Birdwalk Empire”, “Mad Men”, “Upside Downton Abbey“, and their latest, “Homelamb”. The show’s writers deserve applause for their creative genius. These clips are funnier than anything I’ve seen on SNL in a long time. They even have a wonderful parody of “Casablanca” that classic movie lovers may appreciate.

Other parodies I came across while perusing YouTube include “The Voice”, “True Blood”, “Sons of Anarchy”, and “The Closer”. I don’t watch these shows, and haven’t yet watched the clips, but if they are anything like the others above, and if you are a fan of the original program, they may be worth your time.

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A tiny house, a covered bridge, and a tree

October 28, 2013 – When the trains once passed by, this was a most likely a station house that sold tickets. Now it’s a home to an interesting looking fellow with a long beard. That’s who I see walking around the place when I pass, anyway. The picture may be deceiving; this is a tiny building, and perhaps the smallest home I’ve ever seen. It’s located in Beth Ayres, Pa., in Montgomery County. Look at the shadows of the tree on the side. Morning shadows are always surprising.

small house

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Pennsylvania is home to more than 200 covered bridges, more than any other state, making the Keystone State the covered bridge capital of America. Here’s a shot of the Van Sandt Bridge in Solebury Township in Bucks County, Pa. near Washington Crossing State Park. Constructed in 1875, the bridge is 86 feet long, and according to several paranormal groups who have investigated the area, it is also haunted. That’s not surprising since the bridge is 10 minutes south of New Hope, Pa., said to be among the most haunted places in the United States.

bridge

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Autumn colors make a beautiful photograph, and while we’re past peak season, this shot taken on River Road just past the Black Bass Hotel in North Bucks County, shows that some leaves are more determined than others. They almost seem painted on, as they appear perfectly placed on the branches.

tree

The Moody States of America

downloadOctober 25,2013 – Do you feel out-of-place, or unable to relate to your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers? Perhaps moving to the state that better suits your personality will cure you of your ills.

“Time” magazine released data this week, researched by a group led by American psychologist Jason Rentfrow, that maps the American mood with state-by-state ratings of personality and temperament. By gathering personality test data from over one million people, the group identified distinct personality regions in the country, and by taking a simple test, you can discover where you belong.

Take the test and read the full article

According to the test, my best fit is Georgia, because the Peach State is friendly and conventional, relaxed and creative, and temperamental and uninhibited. Supposedly I am too. I’ve visited Georgia a few times, and it was agreeable because my stays occurred in the fall and winter. I’m not sure I would like the climate during the summer. As far as sports, I could never call myself a Braves or Falcons fan, so scientific data aside, I think I’ll stay in Pennsylvania for now.

Still, it is nice to know I have a place to run to that would understand me should I need to make a quick getaway.

Things I’d like to do before the year’s end

imagesOctober 23, 2013 –New Year’s resolutions usually don’t work for me because there is no pressure to make an immediate commitment. Cramming it all in to the last two months of the year, however, better suits me because stress improves my odds for success. Therefore, here is a list of things I’d like to accomplish before midnight on December 31, 2013:

  1. Get through 2001: A Space Odyssey without falling asleep. It might be impossible.
  2. Paint another picture at “Painting with a Twist”. I loved it so much the first time.
  3. Attend the writer’s workshop at the Northeast Philadelphia Library. Saturday morning. I swear.
  4. Figure out exactly how many states I’ve visited. I think it’s 45 of the 50, but I want to be sure.
  5. Write a message in a bottle and throw it out to sea. Just because.
  6. Donate blood. I have a crazy fear about this.
  7. Learn how to take a photo with my new camera outside of auto mode. Holidays are a perfect time to experiment.
  8. Take more risks at work. I can do it!
  9. Try sushi. I’m scared.
  10. Decide on whether to get my Master’s Degree or not. Is it worth it?
  11. Bake a good cheesecake and serve it to my family at Christmas. Last one was too dry.
  12. Send out holiday cards this year. I’ve been lax.
  13. Update my website. It’s been over a year and that’s not good.
  14. Better manage my finances. Yea, right…
  15. Find my iPod. It has to be in the house somewhere.
  16. Get past level 39 on Candy Crush. I have been stuck for over a week!
  17. Win a huge jackpot at the casino. Our traditional visit with family between Christmas and New Year is almost here, so I can get it in under the wire.
  18. Finish a huge editing project. I don’t want to but…
  19. Turn another year older in December. Don’t have a choice, do I?
  20. Be nicer to someone. You know who you are.

Capturing the moment

canon_powershot_sx30_is_angle_medium 2October 21, 2013 – I’ve always had a strong interest in photography, yet I know little more about the art than placing the camera in auto mode and pushing the button.

It’s time to learn more. The inspiration behind my decision – the night shots I took at my sister’s outdoor wedding reception last month were nothing more than a blur of lights mixed with darkness, which probably had more to do with my camera than photography skills. Still, my quest requires me to upgrade both.

Research led me to Canon because I have had a positive experience with them in the past. Back in the day, when film was king, I had a Canon Sure Shot that took beautiful pictures. I decided on a Canon Power Shot, a definite upgrade from my old Nikon Coolpix. Not quite a professional photographer’s choice, but a good beginner camera for anyone who wants to learn the science behind the photo. Once I read the manual, I will experiment (and share the results) without the help of auto mode. Until then, if only to get a feel for the camera, I’m on auto mode all the way. Here are the first shots:

Peddler's Village in Lahaska, Pa.

Peddler’s Village in Lahaska, Pa.

The pond at Peddler's Village

The pond at Peddler’s Village

The gazebo in Peddler's Village

The gazebo in Peddler’s Village

The water wheel at Peddler's Village

The water wheel at Peddler’s Village

A drive-in movie theater in Philly?

downloadOctober 18, 2013 – If you remember dancing hot dogs and promotions like “Five dollars a car load” and “Free popcorn for the kiddies”, chances are you remember the drive-in movie.

Just the mention of a drive-in brings back memories of dressing in pajamas and bringing blankets and pillows so you could sleep in the back of the station wagon while Mom and Dad watched the second of a double feature.

Want to give your family a taste of what it’s like to go to a drive-in movie? Beginning tonight and over the next several Fridays, Eakins Oval, located at 26th & Benjamin Franklin Parkway pays homage to the old-fashioned drive-in by creating their own drive-in movie experience. Celebrate yesterday, and the 80th anniversary of the drive-in with one of five features:

  • October 18: King Kong vs. Godzilla & Pacific Rim
  •  October 25: Grease & The Blob
  •  November 1: The Car & Christine
  •  November 8: Arachnophobia & Big Ass Spider!
  •  November 22: Planes, Trains & Automobiles & Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Admission is 25 cents for Enterprise CarShare members (to celebrate the price of movie tickets 80 years ago), and $19.33 for non-members. If you don’t have a car, there is plenty of room on the grass area of the Oval. Admission is free for those who arrive by foot or bike.

To buy tickets in advance and for more information, visit www.theawesomefest.com.

The joy of serial fiction: Unraveling, Part 11

Unraveling RopePart 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8Part 9Part 10

Unraveling, Part 11

“Jess, was it easier to talk to him?”

The storm was starting to break now, as the thunder sounded farther away. The lights hadn’t come back on, but the rain had let up.

She shrugged. “In a way it was,” she said honestly, and it pierced this heart. “When I looked at you, I did see your pain, but I couldn’t help you. I just had to tell myself that you weren’t as affected me. And then you accused me of being unfaithful, and that was the last thing I needed. I felt like I failed you in every way. I lost our baby, and then I lost your confidence in me. Gary knew I was in pain. He listened to me and made me feel better, and with no strings attached.”

The words stung, but he knew they were true. “You didn’t fail me or yourself. It just wasn’t meant to be, I suppose. That’s what everyone said to me, anyway. I just didn’t understand why you looked for comfort outside of us.”

“I don’t know what you want me to say, Kevin. I thought I just explained that. You pushed me away!”

“I don’t want to believe that, but if you do that’s what matters,” he said quietly and feeling  ashamed now that it was all out in the open. But there was still one thing he couldn’t get past. “I thought I was helping you by avoiding it. Why didn’t you tell me what you needed? Why didn’t you try harder, Jess? I would have for you.”

She shook her head. “You can’t say that for sure. Besides, you did the same thing I did. You turned to someone for comfort, too. You have Sara.”

He smiled and suddenly felt foolish. “You actually said her name. That’s a major step for you.”

She smiled, too. “I guess it is. The point is, you did the same thing I did, and we both found a way to survive. That’s a sure sign we’re not meant to be together, Kevin.”

“For god’s sake, Jess. There is no Sara!” He paused momentarily. “Well, there is a Sara, but it’s not what you think. She’s a co-worker’s dog. I took care of her while they were on vacation. When I was talking to you on the phone that day and I told you I had to go because I had to take care of Sara, you acted sort of jealous, and I liked it. So, the first time I told you about her, it was true. I had to go make sure she was walked and fed. I just made you to believe she was a person.”

Jess looked shocked for a moment, but then she started to giggle incessantly. There were so many emotions set free in the short time they’d been talking about the baby, he knew she’d probably have a hard time gaining her composure. “I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I guess I’m surprised, Kevin, but I have to admit it’s the funniest thing I ever heard.”

He laughed, too. “Well, I’m glad I can still surprise you. Unfortunately, I know Gary is real, Jess. You found another lover and friend. That’s what you did.” He started to fill with tears again, and this time he let them fall freely down his cheeks. “You know, I thought you wanted to get away from everything I was, and that’s why you turned to him. You hated that I loved to watch football on Sunday and fell asleep during the week in front of the TV by nine. You hated that I didn’t read enough and I didn’t go to museums with you every weekend. You even hated my friends.”

She looked at him kindly and smiled. “Those were the things I loved about you, too. I guess I was looking for something else and I blamed you because I couldn’t find it. My plan wasn’t working. I wasn’t a published author by 30, and I felt my time was running out. Losing the baby was the final blow. Then for some crazy reason, I got it into my head that I should just bury my feelings. Therapy made me realize that I needed just the opposite.” She smiled tenderly. “I should have known it was not too smart, but it was the only thing I could do to make it through the day. Then when you didn’t talk to me about it either, I buried those feelings. At least until the day of the confrontation we had with Gary.”

He looked at her sadly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t understand,” he said.

She smiled again and reached out to touch him on the shoulder. “Kevin, perhaps it’s time for the whole truth to come out,” she said. “I guess I have a confession to make, as well.”

He looked at her and wondered what else she could possibly say. It had all been said and then some.

“I never slept with him.”

Instantly his mood brightened. No words could have made him happier at this moment. “You didn’t?”

“Nope. We were never more than friends. That day he just asked me how I was feeling, and I didn’t hold back. I had a therapist appointment the afternoon before, and I guess it was ready to come out. I think I scared him off for good after that. And if I didn’t, you certainly did.” She smiled. “After that, I saw him in a new light. I found him to be a bit pretentious.”

He looked at her and smiled.

“I know what you’re thinking,” she said. “I know I can be pretentious, too, and I know I have some bizarre habits, just like you do. But we didn’t share a history with each other to help make those weird little habits bearable.”

He started to laugh again. He couldn’t believe what was happening. “We’re sure a pair, aren’t we? We both have vivid imaginations and the nerve to make up outside love affairs. Maybe we can refer to them as our transitional love affairs. How’s that for literary use?”

She smiled. “Not bad, even though that doesn’t make any sense.” She started to rub her arms to generate warmth. “I guess the heat is out, too. I’m freezing.”

“If we were at our house we could light a fire.

“You still refer to it as our house. Are you sorry to be living there?”

“It has its memories. I understand why you would want to walk away and start clean, though. It’s difficult to be there alone.”

“I’d love to light a fire now, but this drafty old building doesn’t have a fireplace on this floor.”

“We could light a fire in the kitchen and pretend it’s a fireplace the way we used to in our first apartment. I can remember the kitchen being so cold on winter mornings we’d have to light the stove burners to warm it up. We could use our divorce papers as kindling. How’s that idea, metaphorically speaking?”

“Now that’s better literary reference,” she said with a pleasant smile. And it was a real smile, he could tell. “And I’m glad we’re talking instead of arguing. I’m even glad we talked about the baby.”

“I guess we have the power failure to thank for this time. And Jamaica.”

“And you,” she said softly. “You didn’t give up, Kevin. That’s good.”

“No problem. Now you owe me one.”

“Well…”

“Ok, I’ll sign. Do you have a pen?”

She shook her head and laughed. “Now you give in,” she said cynically. “I’ve been after you for six months, Kevin, and now you’re finally ready to given in. After all of this.”

He laughed, too. “Isn’t that what you want?”

She paused for a moment and smiled. “I guess I never thought you’d agree to it. And I haven’t thought about what to do if you did.”

He smiled, too. “That must mean you didn’t want me give in.”

“I’ll be honest with you Kevin, I don’t know what I want. Except that I don’t want you to sign the papers right now. And that I’d like you to come to my next therapy session with me.” As she said the words the protective armor she’d been wearing the last year seemed to fall away, and she began to look soft, gentle and familiar again—like the woman he knew and loved. “Maybe this morning I thought I knew what I wanted, but now I’m not sure.” She shrugged. “I know this makes no sense to you, but let me put it this way.” She looked into his eyes and took his hand into hers holding it to her heart. “I need your help.”

He grinned playing along. “And what is my mission if I choose to accept it.”

“Be patient with me while I sort some things out. Like you’ve said, what’s the rush?” she smiled, and this time it was real and warm and inviting just like he remembered. “It can’t be for the fictitious people in our lives, that’s for sure.”

He looked at the woman he loved more than anyone else in the world, the woman he shared a decade full of history with, and he hoped to spend the rest of his life knowing how great they were together. He felt sure they’d make it work now that so much was out in the open. “If I have my way they will never be signed,” he said softly and inching over closer to her on the sofa. “I think we should listen with our hearts more often, the way we used to do.”

She leaned into him and smiled. “That is one emotion you should be proud of.”

The End