Friday, May 30, 2008

R.I.P. Harvey Korman

I grew up watching the Carol Burnett show, the last of the great TV variety shows. In the midst of the madness was always Harvey Korman. Korman passed away yesterday from complications following an aneurysm. He was 81 years old.

Korman was vital to the comedy of two of the great physical comedians of the 20th Century - Carol Burnett and Tim Conway. A truly great straight man will never get the credit he deserves. Korman was one of the greatest straight men of all time. He brought a suave, smooth presence to the outrageous work of his co-workers. It was clear that Harvey was up for just about anything.

Korman's career began in 1960 and stretched into last year. He was nominated for six Emmys and won four. He was also nominated for four Golden Globes and won once. Next to his work on The Carol Burnett Show his best known and loved work was in the movies of Mel Brooks. Hedley LaMarr from "Blazing Saddles" is a role worth watching over and over again. As always Harvey's character is the closest thing to a sane center to be found in the swirling insanity of a Brooks film.

But my favorite moments were when Harvey and Tim Conway worked together. You waited to see who would crack first. These are classic moments(And I'm not alone. Korman and Conway have spent the last couple years on tour together just being the kind of fall down funny silly they raised to a high art)

Thank you Harvey for so many laughs. What better way to remember him than a classic Harvey and Tim sketch "The Dentist Sketch"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

When in danger or in doubt...

Run in circles, scream and shout!

That's about how I feel right now. Curiously things are going very well at the moment. Let's see:

Had a staff meeting yesterday. My automatic reaction to the words "staff meeting" it moaning, rolling of eyes and other signs of profound suffering. The reality is that the staff meetings with this diocesan staff are usually on point and enjoyable. It's great working with people who appear to like me and respect my voice in the discussion. I come out of them feeling good. Just like yesterday.

That was followed by a "The bishop will be out of country later this year and what do we do if all hell breaks loose" planning meeting. I was encouraged that I was not only invited to sit in, my opinion was asked and the one small suggestion I made was received very favorably.

Damn, I enjoy working with these people.

Of course I was scheduled for two more meetings (on different topics) before I could escape! One of which has an amusing (at least to me) twist.

Each year we meet with a variety of TEC and ACC (Anglican Church of Canada)diocesan staffs. There are a total of five dioceses represented (WNY, Rochester,Niagara, Huron and Toronto). We simply refer to the event as "Quint Diocese" day. Well now the Diocese of Northwest Pennsylvania (NWPA) are joining us. Which makes it Sex Diocese, no maybe not...

International Diocese day.

Got a new kitten. All black per my preference. Named Zaphod. Award yourself two extra points if you know the source of the name. I'll get a photo of her as soon as she stops zooming around harassing the senior cat (who is NOT amused!). She's exceedingly adorable.

Also got a new (for us) car for my lady wife. Her previous vehicle was a mistake from day one and cost me a lot of money for no apparent good outcome. It'll be sold as junk. Good riddance. I'll share a photo of that when I get one. It's having it's last few minor fixes being done, then tomorrow it's mine! Well actually hers but hey.

Been working in the garage to try and turn it into a real workspace. That's coming along nicely. Also using it to create a new scratching post for the cats. Turning out nicely as well.

I have defeated yet a SECOND groundhog! I'd always wondered if there weren't two of them but I never saw them together. Well a second, smaller one did indeed make itself known. And now it's been dispatched to the same woods as the first one. This one was MUCH more aggressive, fighting the trap and trying to get out. Now I have to seal up the holes before someone else moves in. I really want out of the critter gitter business.

Bought tickets for 15 people to travel to San Antonio in July for EYE. Always a frightening prospect to spend that much money. Managed to keep the cost under control (kinda sorta).

Plus today I checked in with my insurance agent, scheduled the OTHER car for a service visit(shocks, ball joint), made an appointment to get my hair cut, checked my mail, answered some e-mails, bought stuff for the next batch of chores around the house (new motion sensor light for driveway, sisal rope for cat scratch post, fencing for around veggie patch) plus I need to go buy some high density foam for the carry case I'm working on for our diocesan youth ministry communion set. I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to glue the foam into the case, how I'm going to cut the neccesary spaces out or how I'll finish the case - I want it to look nice - but I'm working on it.

Plus I need to mow the lawn, practice my guitar, read two books, do the Soap Box Derby race on Saturday(I'm the race announcer), oh yeah and there's this whole long list of things to do on my to do list for the office.

So do I wave my arms in the air while I run in circles, scream and shout?

I want to get it right, of course.


Friday, May 23, 2008

My latest dilemma

I was just trying to check out.
But suddenly a moral/ethical dilemma reared its head and I was stuck.

On the card reader at the check out was the question that had pulled me up short. I just wanted to swipe my card, buy the drain cleaner and oranges and get one with my life.

But it demanded:

"Was your cashier friendly today? Yes. No."

Ummm, well, neither actually. It's not a binary system. She wasn't rude. She didn't ignore me. At the same time she wasn't pleasant. It was very basic, very business-like. A few quick words to get the process through to it's mercantile completion all wrapped around the business of chewing her gum. Even that wasn't obnoxious. It was just there like a third player in this little drama.

You see the dilemma arises because I'm sure that the computer system will note the time, the station, the date. Will my answer affect her next job review? What if she's right on the edge and one more down mark will push her out the door? Do I want that on my conscience?

In the end I chose the coward's way out. If I just swipe my card I can avoid the responsibility of grading this woman's job performance. I can exchange our few words, grab my oranges and Drano and escape.

Maybe I should have taken a different tack on the decision. She wasn't UN-friendly. I could have just accepted anything short of overt hostility as meeting the minimum requirement for making the "friendly" grade. But that seems cheap to me. A quick look at an online dictionary tells me that friendly means:

"...favorably disposed, not antagonistic...warm, comforting..."

Well she made the grade on one of four concepts (I skipped over the part having to do with friends. We're certainly not friends so that doesn't have any connection with the situation. What if we were friends? Would I have given her the thumbs up no matter how she reacted? But that assumes she would reacted the same way to me even if we were friends. "STOP", I shout to myself. That way lies madness.) She only made a one in four, 25%, a failing grade no matter how much you tweak the bell curve.

Now I have no choice I must pursue this moral/ethical hare to it's burrow. What about "unfriendly"?

"...not disposed to friendship..." (No, we've ruled that concept out of bounds so we'll pass) "...indicating a bad prospect, unfavorable..."

Well. Now what?

I'm starting to like that "unfavorable". All it would have take was a smile, you know! How much would that have cost, huh? Just a smile and I'm free from all of this! Some people, you know?

"...indicating a bad prospect...", well no, not really. She did her job efficiently. I was on my way with my stuff in short order.

No, I made the right decision. In the end this wasn't my fault or hers.

It's the store's fault. With its binary, black and white view of the world. Here's a perfectly efficient employee who does her job quickly and without error. Sure she's not the most personable person this green planet Earth. But really, what would you rather have - some chatty cheerful type who messes up the job, or a sober serious worker who gets it right the first time.

I can feel my disdain for the store on the rise. Feelings of fraternity and solidarity for my oppressed sister rising in my breast.

Stupid store!

Next time I'm there I'm going to look for her and go through her checkout.

And choose "YES".

Just to screw with the man.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Some catching up

Lots of things going on so let's do a quick catch up:

Las Vegas was great fun! I'll share a couple pictures as soon as I download them from the camera. Highlight for both my lady wife and me had to be the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton. She got her photo taken with a Klingon,I got to sit in the Captain's chair on the bridge of the Enterprise and I have my very own phaser now! Exceedingly cool. We gambled a little. She won a bit on the slots, I won a bit on blackjack and lost it on roulette (roulette is a sucker bet. But it's kind of fun). We saw the Grand Canyon, had dinner with old friends, walked the strip, gawked like tourists. We're looking forward to going back some day. Best deal is the monorail on the strip and the bus service, worst deal is breakfast. We spent more on breakfast several days than we did on other meals. It is possible to go to Vegas and not spend a ton of money. We stayed at a casino (Sahara) for $79 a night. You can do food pretty cheap (lots of chains and fast food available. Even eating at the casinos can be done with a little work for not too much). And you don't have to gamble at all and still have fun.

Seen two movies in the theaters in the last two weeks.

Iron Man - This was my boyhood favorite among the comic book heroes. Conflicted, not impervious to destruction and just the right amount of snappy repartee. So I was concerned about how it would translate to the big screen. About half of the comic book movies are just dreadful (Fantastic Four as an example). But I really liked this. Robert Downey Jr as Stark is great, love the rest of the cast. While I understand the complaints about Pepper Potts being a bit of a wilting female "oooh, save me Iron Man" I don't think it's too over the top. Besides Gwyneth Paltrow is stunning as a red head and I think I'm in love.
Also an interesting commentary on the American way of life and foreign policy. Highly recommend.

Prince Caspian -
The second Narnia movie is another highly recommend. The CG stuff is better, the movie is a faithful representation of the book. It did get a little noisy at times with all the girlie sighing coming from my lady wife and daughter every time Ben Barnes who plays the title role was on the screen. My whole family really like the first movie in this series, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" but were in agreement that this one is even better.

I think both movies would make great starting points for discussion with youth groups.

Wow, I'm way behind on movies so let's do it quickly:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind This is a well written, well acted, well directed,nicely filmed movie...that I didn't like at all. Weird, huh? The problem is that I don't much like either of the two main characters. It mirrors my feelings about "Lost in Translation". Plus I'm appalled at the way Netflix describes some of these movies. This one was described as a "romantic comedy". Romantic, yes. Comedy? Not even. Saw it. Moving on.

Gandhi - A movie I've seen several times before. Stunning, wonderful and powerful. Love everything about it. Even it's astounding length.

Ten Items or Less - Now here's a quirky little movie that I loved. Morgan Freeman is on my list of people I'd watch doing just about anything. And Paz Vega is on my list of people I'd just watch. Period. Funny, silly, a little off center. Really enjoyed it.

Forrest Gump - I'm always amazed at the folks who take pot shots at Tom Hanks as an actor. He takes risks (come on he's playing a mentally challenged person in this role who has to carry the whole freaking film!)and he creates lovable, believable characters. Really enjoyed this movie. Has a great supporting cast too. I completely understand the 6 Oscars it won.

Schindler's List - This one blew me away. Especially the final scene (which comes as a wonderful surprise so I won't spoil it) Powerful and challenging. Great cast and great performances. Yes, it's another very long movie (two discs) but well worth the time.

Looking back any of these movies would be a great discussion point for youth ministry. Even "Eternal Sunshine". I'd just never watch it for enjoyment.

My pace for watching movies has slowed. I've been watching a BBC production called "Foyle's War" which I've been enjoying too.

Ok, now I'm back.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Away Message

I'm on vacation.
I'm in Las Vegas.
It's my "second honeymoon"

Nuff said?


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Clear your schedule

Traces of the Trade web site
Movie trailer

This movie is so amazing, so moving, so challenging that I'm just going to tell you to schedule nothing for its broadcast date, Tuesday June 24 @ 10 PM on PBS. Get in contact with your local PBS station and let them know you want this to air and find out when it will air locally. Tell your friends. Contact everyone you know. Spread the word at work and church and the gym and your local coffee shop.

I saw the rough cut of it at General Convention 2006. It was unbelievable. I was reduced to tears several time. Afterwards we were invited to make comments to the filmmakers. The subject of weeping had come up in the film and my only response was "How can I not weep?" The challenge posed at the end of the trailer about white people getting not "pissed off" about slavery is a valid one I think.

Don't miss this movie. Not "Gee, I really liked it and think you should see it". No. DON'T MISS THIS MOVIE! Don't schedule events that evening, reschedule meetings, die some other day.

Don't miss this movie.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008


A year long battle with my furry, four footed foe has come to a glorious end!

I have met the enemy on the field of battle and victory is mine. After careful skirmishing by both sides I succeeded in out flanking him and have banished him from the field of honor.

Yes, it's true.

I outsmarted a groundhog.

Yes, there he is - Marmota Monax of the family Sciuridae. Known to friend and foe as ground hog, woodchuck, whistle pig, land beaver or bunnydog (I swear to you). This one had taken up residence under my house. His travels took him under my bedroom, dining room and kitchen and his primary entrance ran directly under the bath tub. He has destroyed the insulation under the floor in the crawl space, dug holes under the foundation to the front porch and it sounded like was gnawing on the floor joists.

I tried discouraging him by blocking his holes as fast as he dug them but since digging was his full time job and filling was only part time for me he took round one.

As woodchucks are rather lacking in imagination (put your own comic simile here) he refused to take a hint. Making loud noises did nothing. He was also rather particular in his eating habits. I obtained a live trap from a fellow parishioner who is a local animal control officer and used several foods recommended to me - carrots, celery and apples. My cunning foe passed them by with out a sideward glance. I watched him do it!

But in the end it was the higher functions of manly memory that did him in. I remembered that last summer he had shown special affection for my tomato plants. So last night I baited the trap with a large juicy tomato. From my long observation of the enemy I knew he was a mid-day forager so I went off to work.

When I returned I saw his utter defeat. Safely locked in the confines of the cage trap he submitted with rather good grace to his fate. I transported him some 7 miles away to a wooded area that I know is frequented by others of his clan. Upon release he gave me one swift, malice-free glance and raced off into the woods.

The taste of victory is sweet.

Monday, May 05, 2008

So tired

Well the Happening weekend went very well. If you're not familiar that's a major spirituality retreat program in the Episcopal church. It's a time when our youth can dig a little deeper into their relationship with God and what that means. The weekend is also a lot of fun.

For the folks on the team that run the weekend it's also exhausting. I was the "Head Pop" (lead adult male) for our Prayer team which is much less stressful than doing the Visible team portion. But as a very strong Myers-Briggs introvert all that face time with the team just wears me out. Good team and a great weekend.

Oh yes, and our video rocked!

This is going to be a busy week as I prepare for some vacation time next week. Lots of ducks that need to be ordered into rows and the like.

Then we're off to Las Vegas. What happens in Vegas is none of your business! We'll check out the Star Trek exhibit at the Hilton, maybe catch a show, hang out by the pool at the hotel. I don't advise trying to reach me. At all. Just go away and leave me along, thank you very much. This will be my second trip there, the first for my lady wife. We're both looking forward to it.

The Happening weekend put a hole in my weight loss program. I've got to figure out how to survive at youth events when I will be surrounded by junk food. And inevitably the kids will congregate there, so if I want to talk with them I end up standing next to the chips, and the queso dip and the pizza....

Four pounds this weekend! I put on FOUR pounds!!!
Not much else to say at the moment, just trying to get squared away on a Monday.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What Spice am I? Oooooh, spicy!

Your Score: Saffron

You scored 75% intoxication, 50% hotness, 100% complexity, and 25% craziness!

You are Saffron!

Those other spices have nothing on you! You're warm, smart, and you make people feel really good (and with no side-effects!). You can be difficult to get to know and require a lot of those who try, but you're so totally worth it. *Sigh*

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
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