Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Winter 2019: ATNY News, Classes, Workshops, Etc

Actors Technique NY | ATNY at Pearl Studios, 519 8th Ave. 35/36th St., 12th Floor, New York, NY 10019
TV/Film On-Camera Kids & Teens
Act & Audition Technique Classes

Begins January 26th/27th, Beginner/Advanced.
Saturdays l Sundays l Tuesdays l Wednesdays

Starts January 26th/27th
Ball, Hepburn & Davis.
What did these TV/Film legends have in common?
They Worked on Their Craft. Success Followed.
Control what you can.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Dirty Little Secret

Most of our clients at work are seniors. If not seniors, then like fifty and above. We get random younger people, especially for repairs, but generally, the soccer mom is not our clientele. For anyone that doesn't know, the quick explanation of what we do is that we make custom lighting and repair people's old lamps, other lighting, and lampshades. That's the short version. The reason that seniors are our main clientele is because that is who seems to care about quality. People closer to my age tend to go to Home Goods and when something breaks, they just get rid of it. Our clients are usually bringing in lamps or chandeliers to shade or repair that they've had for years or that have sentimental value.

Because social media tended to skew younger in the past, and even having smartphones, I didn't always ask customers if they had any kind of social media accounts. We didn't even really do much for work on Instagram until much later than we could or should have because I didn't get it. It seemed foreign to me and I felt like Facebook was enough. Then, Facebook bought Instagram so I decided to check it out again.

I was able to post on Instagram and have it go directly to our Facebook page too so it was getting a two-for-one. We also have so many photos of product it was easy to post on a semi-regular basis. We're not particularly tech-y with the computers and devices so we actually couldn't update our real website for awhile. We'd used a company to make and manage the site, and they were basically holding it hostage, not allowing us to do anything to it on our end, even once we ended the relationship with them. At least with social media, we could post and it immediately current stuff would be out there for people to see.

Now. we probably post a few times a week. Some weeks, it's daily. People are very visual and what we do is very unique. Since there are very few people that make things in this country, there are even fewer that seem to fix things. We do, so we show that. Also, most of what we make or do to reinvent things, comes from our heads. We don't necessarily have an example of what we plan to do, physically, in our store. So we take photos. We post them so someone might see and say- hey, that looks like my lamp. I didn't even know I could do or have something like that done to it. Sometimes, people get nervous when we try to push the envelope of creativity, so it's much easier to get them on the same page if they can see we've done something along the same line as what we want to do with their piece.

If a customer or couple seems interested in what we do as a whole and seems to be considering doing other things than what they originally came for, I'll show them photos on our Instagram from my phone. But really, the best thing, is if they have a Facebook or Instagram account, is for them to like our page(s) and look at their leisure.

I ask. I say, "Do you have Instagram or Facebook?" and the responses range from frustrating, to confusing, to hysterically funny. The commonality is that none of them seem to want to ADMIT they have an account. Like it's Tinder and they're married. Sure, there are some, with flip phones, that say they don't do social media, and it's legit. I can tell. Then, there are others, who I KNOW, just don't want to say they do. And I'm not sure what the big deal is and why it's like their dirty little secret.

When the answer is, "No, no...I don't get involved in all that...." but they sort of trail off and there's a, face. A face where I just know they do and they just don't want to tell me. I then ask them if there is anyone in their household who might just have an account. I follow that up, QUICKLY, with something along the lines of - "I don't need you to POST anything on it. I just want you to be able to look something up..." Then they almost always admit they HAVE an account, but just don't go on it. Which, I'm not sure I really believe either, but who knows?

Once they admit to an account or two, I get a whole long explanation of WHY they have it at all. Most of the time, I could've already guessed- they opened it, or their kid opened it for them, to see pictures of the grandchildren. That's the answer ninety percent of the time. Not that I needed one. If only they'd just say they have an account to begin with. We could avoid this whole bizarre exchange and just get to where they can see the photos much quicker.

I get seniors being suspicious of social media. I know smartphones and social media apps are new to many of them. I know that hackers take advantage of seniors often, using Facebook messenger to make them think a loved one is kidnapped, to get ransom money. However, this pulling teeth kind of conversation just trying to give them a better way of seeing our work can be exhausting. The funny thing is, once I get them to our page(s), they're thankful to have the photos to look through!

So, if I ask you if you have Facebook or Instagram, and you DO, just tell me! I won't sign you up for a dating app, I won't try to get ransom from you. I just want you to be able to access photos of our work! It's to make you more comfortable when you've shelled out money for a magenta and green lampshade and you originally came to me thinking you were leaving with a plain white lampshade. Yes, that tends to happen often. You never have to use the account for anything else, except to look at our stuff. I promise.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/shadesofsoho/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shadesofsoho/

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Lonely Boy

B put this on our Shades of Soho Facebook page so I'm copying & pasting it here below:

I wanted to give a shout out to another small business owner Corey at Cocoon Recording Studio. I met Corey thorough FB marketplace. I was purchasing a turntable for E from him. In the short conversation we had, he mentioned he had just opened a recording studio in Jersey City.  

I told him my nine year old son was into writing and performing his own music. He said that I should bring E there one day so he can show him around, since he is so into music. Nine months later, out of the blue, I messaged Corey that E had off from school for the holiday break and asked if the offer still stood. 

Without hesitation, Corey made time for us in his busy schedule. Corey really went over and beyond giving our son an incredible experience in the three hours they spent together. I never expected Corey to do all this, for no charge, no less, as I thought we were just going for a tour. I was taking some video with my phone just for fun when I realized this might make a fun music video. I didn't even capture all the fun that both my son and Corey seemed to have. I can't thank and recommend Corey enough to anyone looking for an intimate recording studio with a great all around caring guy. Hope you enjoy their work together!

E wrote all the lyrics and music to this song. When he first played the song for B, B got all emotional. B came to me and said something like- "He's a deep kid. Did you HEAR the lyrics? It's about a kid with no friends, who finally finds a friend, the friend gets cancer and dies! I don't know if we should be nervous?"  I'm just looking at him, apparently expressionless. He said, "What? You have no feelings? This doesn't make you emotional?" 

I then explained that E got this idea from Oscar Nero's story on General Hospital. E has been watching GH with me since in the womb. At some points, some stories, he's more invested than others. Oscar is a teenager and he tends to like the teen stories and he just likes the character. That story had been in it's infancy when he wrote the lyrics and he was quite captivated.

Ultimately, to any of you, it can mean anything you want it to mean. But, alas, no worries that E is feeling isolated or depressed himself, as one might question or interpret.  Enjoy!

Also, Ethan did his first commercial this past September for Barkbox. I'm putting it in here if you want to see. You have to watch for him til the way end. But he's there! 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Golden Globes 2019

I love the Golden Globes, usually, and watched the whole thing. Except of course, the last ten minutes when my DVR cut off right as Rami Malek started to speak (Best Actor, Movie). That's always the way it goes.

First, I'll say, while I love Sandra Oh and have no feelings whatsoever about Andy Samberg, I think they were really lackluster hosts of this type of event. I wanted to think they were funny but I didn't. It was great that Sandra was the first Asian women to host, and her parents were adorable. The two of them were kind of awkward and just weren't FUNNY. I'm sorry- we're used to Ricky Gervais, and it being a bit of an uncomfortable roast by a drunk uncle at a holiday dinner. Even Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler had a bit more edge and were just more comfortable being up there. Sandra is beautiful and accomplished, but for a drunken award show with a history and reputation for being bawdy and rowdy, these two just didn't do it for me. I only really know Andy from Dick in a Box so that's my small frame of reference. Dick in a Box was infinitely funnier.

I'll give them that they had a few money moments. Not enough moments though.

I meant to write a month ago, when we saw both A Star Is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody. We couldn't WAIT to see A Star Is Born. We got a babysitter! I LOVE Lady Gaga. I like Bradley Cooper. I was so resistant to going to see Bohemian Rhapsody. I didn't know much about Queen and I didn't really care. Movies are a big commitment for me in respect to my time and brain power. I get into it in the theater but before going, I'm always thinking of all the other things I should be doing with that time. When I watch TV, I can multitask. I listen. With a movie, I have to really watch.

Let me preface this by saying that I've never seen any of the three earlier incarnations of A Star Is Born. I didn't even know the story. All I knew from the trailer of this one is that it seemed to be a story about an established male singer bringing a newbie female up. After seeing A Star Is Born, I can say the following positives. Lady Gaga looked beautiful all stripped down. It was very refreshing to see her like that. She can act. I think she did a great job with the material she was given. Bradley Cooper did a great job and he really embodied that character. It was the first time, for me, that he wasn't playing the same character he has in every other movie.

Now for the negative. The major negative. It was a terrible story! Not terrible as in, depressing. Terrible as in, there was no connection. This movie has been done FOUR TIMES. I don't know if the others went exactly the same, but I assume they kind of had to, or the movie would be six hours long. None of the characters were developed, therefore the story wasn't developed.

The beginning was great. You had her relationship with her father, which wasn't fleshed out in any way. I don't know if it was said and I missed it, but we didn't know what happened to her mom or what her life was like before. So we had no real reason to root for her from the jump. It wasn't like we saw her REALLY struggling or whatever. She worked in a Drag club. She wasn't on the street or in some dingy apartment eating Ramen though. She lived with her loving dad.

Then, she meets Bradley Cooper and he just scoops her up and puts her on stage and she's a star? I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for something awful to happen, which didn't happen, until the way end. But they just got together. No push-pull, no chase, no real adversity. Even his addiction didn't see ALL that bad. Then there was this whole side wtf of her starting as some kind of singer-songwriter and then she went into a whole Britney Spears pop tart thing. It was really disconcerting.

It was also really hard to tell how long of time was passing between events. It seemed like a whirlwind with no build up to anything. The meet- she's on stage! Five minutes later, she's a star. She wins a Grammy! We didn't see the background of him and his brother. I didn't even realize it was his brother until a decent amount of time into the movie. I thought it was just someone who worked with him. Also, parts of the movie made it seem like it was set in the 70's or 80's but they had iPhones, so it had to be now.

I just found the whole movie to be disjointed and without feeling. I don't think I really cared that he died at the end. I didn't know he was dying either. It just seemed so weird for him to do that. Because they were supposed to be so in love and there was no cheating or taking breaks or whatever, it just seemed to come out of left field. You have to remember this is coming from someone who had no clue what the story was going to be. We cry at The Voice. I'm pretty sure neither of us shed one tear.

Now- Bohemian Rhapsody, I just was lukewarm about going because I didn't even realize how many songs I know that are by Queen. I went somewhat unwillingly and we took E. I was riveted and I didn't want it to end.

I think I liked it so much because it was like a giant warm fuzzy. Yes, Freddy Mercury had a lot of adversity and died of AIDS, but the movie was really like a tribute. It wasn't salacious and you really got the sense of how much the band loved each other, even when they felt Freddy had been a dick. That's an age-old story where the lead singer gets to big for his britches. In this story though, he comes to realize his mistakes, apologized and they were able to get over it. It was really awesome to see that.

I really enjoyed seeing how they started, how they made the music, and how he was so charismatic and dynamic. Seeing how they used their strengths and weaknesses to be a team and create was inspiring. It was really nice to see how they stuck together against the powers that be to make the music they wanted to make.

I also found the connection between he and Mary Austin to be fascinating. It seemed like Freddie was like a light that everyone couldn't help but want to be around. You really rooted for him personally and the band.

At the end of Bohemian Rhapsody, even though it had already been out in the theaters for about a month, everyone was cheering and clapping. I've only had that happen in a few movies and I can't remember what others. I just know it's happened maybe three times to me. This one totally deserved it. I'd have to look up pics and videos of Freddie Mercury, which to be honest, I haven't, but I feel like Rami Malek did an outstanding job embodying Mercury and really doing him justice.

I was watching The View this morning, which is what prompted me to write this, and Meghan McCain was talking about how Lady Gaga and A Star Is Born were robbed all around. No surprise that I disagree with Meghan on pretty much everything anyway, but I couldn't disagree with her more about this. Maybe Lada Gaga could've won for Best Actress- I didn't see Glenn Close in The Wife (the movie she won for). Gaga did do a great job. However, the movie itself had a sucky story and didn't deserve the win.

Other noteworthy things- Not all the actors I was rooting for won. A guy I never heard of in a show I've never heard of won over Matthew Rhys, who I felt should've won for The Americans. I always feel like if someone is nominated in a show that's over, they should most likely get it since they don't have another chance. They were good enough to be nominated so they should get that honor. He was consistently overlooked and that was a great part, and a great job by him. Keri Russell was in the company of so much talent, while I think she definitely deserved it, I'm sure Sandra Oh deserved it too. Both B and I were crying just from how cute her dad was when her name was called. I was really happy for Regina King too. SHE should've won in the past for other shows. Really, she should've won for Southland.

I was really happy The Americans won since it's over. I'll miss it. I was happy for Rachel Brosnahan for Marvelous Mrs Maisel. She doesn't seem to have much personality in real life though, so that's a bit of a downer. Alas, the award IS for acting, and she clearly acts her butt off, so she deserved it. I haven't seen the show that won, so it's hard to judge, but I still think Maisel should've won for comedy. Alex Borstein is amazing as Suzie so I can't see Patricia Clarkson being more deserving. Jason Bateman should get his own category for being great in everything. I still think Matthew Rhys should've walked away with the Globe, but Bateman was also robbed. Too much talent in one category!

Last but not least, Christian Bale's speech was EVERYTHING. I didn't see Bale as Dick Chaney in Vice yet, but I will. I'm sure he turned in another stellar performance, and the speech alone was reason enough to give him a statue.

"Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration on how to play this role."

Friday, December 28, 2018

Christmakuh 2018

You know what I don't care about? Fluoride. That's the issue du jour I saw today on social media. The dangers of Fluoride. Not that this is a new assertion. I remember it coming up when it was time to give my son vitamins. To Fluoride vitamin or not. I think I first opted to not. Then I opted in. I've had fluoride and I'm fine. This isn't like- well, we lived without seat belts and we're fine. No, I just think there are bigger things to worry about. Just felt like telling you all my feelings on this today.

I realized writing this blog, whether zero or thousands read it, is my therapy. I need to get the stuff out of my brain or it all bubbles up inside until I'm uncomfortable. Like gas. I don't get gas from it, but I get angry. I'm still angry but maybe just not "as" angry.

So, the gift giving holidays are over- Hanukkah and Christmas of course. We attended two Menorah lightings, had friends over for Christmas Eve. Ethan got some stuff. I'm not into spoiling him with "stuff". I'd rather he have camp and whatever creative outlets he's into like guitar, voice, etc. And we NEED swim or the kid doesn't sleep. But we do have a little gift giving.

We got him a Chromebook for "the holidays". I told him that would be pretty much his only gift because it was two hundred dollars. He was fine with it. Why did we get him this when he is barely allowed to use an iPad, he has virtually no access to the internet on purpose and no video games? Because SCHOOL. I don't know what makes the school or teachers, or whomever is responsible for these decisions, think every kid has a computer or internet access, but they keep sending home "links" for the kids to go to study this or that. Extra math, or Word-something (literally Word something- I have no idea what it's really called) - I get links to this. Then I'm like, in my head, "what pray tell is he supposed to do this on?".

I'm not giving him my laptop. And he needs to learn to type, so I'm not giving him the iPad. I know they use Google Chrome, which I don't really get, but I know it's Windows and on Chromebooks. He can get to whatever he's doing in school on there so that's what it's for. However, I do still think it's pretty presumptuous for teachers to assume kids all just have access.

I found a good Black Friday deal at Target for an HP so I bought it. I think I gave it to him right away- not waiting for Hanukkah, because the holiday was coming in days anyway, and he already knew what he was getting.

The jig is up. He asked if Santa was real in the summer, B gleefully told him the truth, and that was that. I didn't feel any need to make any holiday magic then. He's almost ten. It was a good run, but really, call me Scrooge, but isn't it magical to have all an only child in a nice town, with good schools, and parents who love him already has? I mean, he got a computer. He certainly isn't underprivileged in any way.

I did also get him headphones, because he listens to music in his room at night like he's DJ Pauly D. It's so loud, you'd think he had a full D'Jais happy hour going on in there. I thought maybe he could use the headphones so I don't have to hear Marshmallow/Bastille one more time on a loop.

Since Hanukkah and Christmas had a long break in between each other, I did have time to grab him something small for Christmas if I felt like it. I'd bought my friend's daughter Gymnastics Coach Barbie and he saw it before I wrapped it. He said that it was cool and he likes playing Barbie and Ken with her when he goes to their house. He said- "It's kind of fun". He's an only child with a close girl friend. He's going to play whatever she wants to play and he's a roll with it kind of kid that way. He just wants to play and doesn't care what. He'll find a way to make it fun for him.

He never really liked action figures or superhero figures. They don't have clothes, cars, houses, bikes, and other accoutrements though. Barbie and Ken have a whole world of crap that they can do and use.

When I was in Target, I saw they now have "Fashionista Ken". This isn't the the blonde eunuch Kens of yesteryear. These are hot, buff, fashionable Kens of today. Ken has cool-ass clothes too. It's a whole new world.

So I picked up a Fashionista Ken, in a camo shorts, a jersey type shirt, and sunglasses. Oh, and dyed tips. It's still plastic hair, but it's cut, styled, and colored like any proud Jersey shore fist pumping summer resident. And Ken himself is only just under ten dollars.

The clothes are expensive though! No way I was buying Ken an outfit for ten dollars a piece. I went on eBay and bought a decent used lot for ten dollars instead. B just shook his head and said E would never play with any of this.

You know what WAS magical? On Christmas morning when I sent E downstairs for something, he saw gifts, and asked who they're for, since he didn't think he was getting anything. I said they are for him and he was surprised and happy with his two gifts. 

HA! Au contraire, husband. All was quiet for forty-five minutes Christmas Day evening, with not even the tv on. I didn't even know where in the house E was, when B called me into the sunroom. E had taken all the Ken clothes and organized them into color and activity coordinated outfits. BINGO. THIS, is how I'm going to teach him to match and pick things weather and activity appropriate. I hadn't had much success with this prior with his own clothes, but this, for some reason, putting clothes together for someone else, he found fun. He had- High School Ken, Surfer Ken, Date Ken, Work Ken, etc. And everything matched!

I love that my kid is so versatile. He was putting clothes on Ken in between watching Cobra Kai on tv with us, and doing his own versions of wax on, wax off, and the crane. I'd also much prefer he play with a hundred Kens to one game of Fortnight (which he doesn't have and probably would be playing on if he did).

Ken was hit. What was not a hit was what he was going to store these Ken clothes in. I'm gearing up to write one of my famous angry letters to Mattel. Old school Ken had a brown armoir back in the day. There was also a vinyl ken carrying case back then too. Today? They make a Barbie Ultimate closet a Barbie and all her clothes and accessories can fit it, but no Ken closet! Ken has to keep his clothes in a baggie like he's perpetually doing the Walk of Shame, but Barbie gets a whole closet? I know in the doll world, women rule, but come on. If you're going to give us Fashionista Ken with ten bucks an outfit clothing, then Ken deserves an Ultimate closet to hang up his designer duds too.

I hunted too- I Googled. I looked on regular toy store sites. I scoured eBay, Mercari, and anywhere else that came up. I found collector cases that ranged from tattered to usable in all sorts of price ranges for used items. So I know a current new closet doesn't exist. Is there a call for it? Well, I don't know if there are a lot of boys playing with Kens, but GIRLS do. Maybe Mattel's marketing department is looking at it incorrectly. As in, thinking, there probably isn't a call for it because there aren't many boys playing with them. Not taking into account that girls might want a closet for their Barbie male friends and/or boyfriends/husbands.

I wasn't buying the Ultimate Barbie Closet for Ken because it's thirty dollars and already filled with Barbie clothes and shoes. That would be a complete waste. So what's a mom to do? Write a letter. Hey- if it got the EZ Bake Oven gender neutralized from pink to silver, then maybe I can get a Ken closet to store his wide aray of cool kicks and club clothes.

A male friend from school came over the other day with his mom. The first question they asked is what he got for Christmas. I didn't know if he was going to tell or not, because you know, boys + dolls = stigma. I think he was a little nervous to tell but he also has me in him so I think he partly wanted to be like- "a doll, AND??". But this is a close friend of his and a REALLY nice kid. I guess he showed his friend because the friend's mom texted me later that now her son wants Fashionista Ken too. I'm more than happy to start a Fashionista Ken movement for the boys. It's safer than what I hear is being looked at on the internet by boys only two school grades ahead of them!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Month O'Festivus

I realize I should be all puppies and rainbows or gumdrops and candy canes in December, because...you know, the HOLIDAYS!! But that's just never going to happen. Not in December, not in January, and not in any month following those. B likes to call me the angriest person alive, and I might be. So I'm just going to keep compiling all my anger and putting it down here. I'll just call these December posts my "Month O'Festivus" where I air my grievances as they come up.

Let me explain how I start my day once I leave my house to come to work. And that's assuming nothing happened at home to grievance about. For example, but not limited to- not being able to find something I have to ship to someone, finding something E left home that should be at school, cat barf, out of something I need, etc. Let's assume I got through my morning at home without too much issue. Then, I get to work and where do I have to park? IF there's even parking?


Ok, so that's my car. You see the proximity to that flag. And you can't tell, luckily today, what that flag says is, but it's the epitome of assholery wrapped in douchebaggery. It's a "TRUMP 2020- NO MORE BULLSHIT" flag. Yes siree. Granted, the local townsfolk wrote letters to this Bag of Dicks to please take it down because of the profanity. It's like fifty feet where like half the elementary school crosses the street to go to school. You know, so if you're walking your first grader to school, they can say, "Mommy, what's bull..shit?"

Sure, sure, that's assuming you're not me and your kid never heard the word bullshit. Whatever. Point is, it's on a main road, THE main road, and this is just not that kind of town. It's not Deal or Toms River. We don't have Trump flags flying all over the place like he's our dictator. We have a decent amount of PRIDE flags and some Irish flags, but not THIS mess. Thankfully, any Trumpism here is kept pretty much on the DL. Nope- not this fool. Right in my face. I start off every work day pissed off and going off on him (and/or her) in my head.

As an aside, could you imagine having flags all over saying, "CLINTON" or better, "CLINTON: NO MORE BULLSHIT". Or best- "OBAMA: NO MORE BULLSHIT". No, BECAUSE IT'S RIDICULOUS and INSANE. These Trump flags are the equivalent of idol worship.

Yes, he took it down, covered the "SHIT" part with tape or something, THEN PUT IT BACK UP. You need a Trump flag, as a relatively new renter, THAT bad, that you'd go to all that trouble? It's fascinating and rage inducing all in one.

Before the tape over the "SHIT"

Alrighty...Now that I got that out....

As a follow up to the other day's entry, we decided to watch The Path on Hulu. We just got Hulu with that Black Friday deal of ninety-nine cents a month for a year. Why not?? I'm trying to figure out how to cut our extra exorbitant cable bill so we're trying out all the streaming. I have Netflix and Amazon Prime. I still need network TV. Hello, Sunday night Castle re-runs. But I'm going to look at seeing how far I can cut down the cable. I just have to figure out how I'll be able to watch Bill Maher.

I'll just add into my grievances that I don't understand how every month my cable AND my cellular service bill just climb higher and higher with no rhyme or reason. No overages or anything. Just..."fees". It's all a crock and you can't do anything about it. They just tack on whatever and you have no choice but to pay. It's highway robbery.

Anyway, We're on episode four or five of The Path and it's really good so far. Of course, I get crazy at how easily people can be brainwashed, but it's definitely an interesting eye into how that all goes down. Certain people are just easy marks to believe anything. It's sad, scary and fascinating. I picked it also because E did background work in the third season, I think, so I figured we'd check it out and see if we can spot him.

Well, it's Thursday and I'm now on the couch watching General Hospital. So I'm going to end here and hope I'm out of grievances for the next few days. Feel free to add your own though. I won't even challenge you to the Feats of Strength!


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Immersed in Fantasy

I got a notification from my Know It All Facebook page that I hadn't updated in too long or something, so here I am. Instead of doing the laundry list of other things I should be doing, like fighting with the f*cking douchebags at Affinity Credit Union for being like the mafia, I'd rather write. However, Affinity can suck it. They just keep sending me bills for random amounts of "late fee" money for my old car, then when I call to fight them on it, they just transfer me from moron to shining moron. It's a good time, especially when I DON'T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME TO DICK AROUND. Add them to my hate cape

Anyhow, I could sit and debate Baby It's Cold Outside, however, IDGAF about that. My take on that is- STOP DEBATING IT. It bothers some people. That's valid. Some people think it's crazy to analyze to this extent. That's valid. It's all valid. But stop trying to invalidate each other on it. I'm seeing diatribes on this topic on social media. I want to poke my eyes out.

If it sounds rapey to some, then it's rapey to some and they don't have to like it. I don't like it because it's ultimately shitty old timey music to me. I like my sayings to be old timey but not most of my music. Not that old timey. I'll go with the 70's being the earliest I want to hear music from. And if you think my musical taste sucks, that's okay too. I just played Bitchin' Camaro for E the other night. So you might as well judge my parenting too.

I actually don't want to talk about any current events because at this point, I'm just sitting back and waiting for stuff to happen, good and bad, while immersing myself fully in Vanderpump Rules. I have to say, we really need Vanderpump Rules right now. When real life, your life, political happenings, etc, gets you down, makes you want to walk into traffic, we have the kids at SUR as a shiny bright light. I can't imagine any better Chicken Soup For The Soul than Stassi, Ariana, Sandoval, Jax & Brittany, James, Doute, Lala & her man, Katie & Schwartz, and Scheana & her iPhone. This is the only reality show ever that I watch the episodes over and over.

Speaking of TV, I'm amazed and delighted with the success of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. This show is everything. Not that I thought Amy Sherman Palladino could ever make a bomb. Even Bunheads, while not widely received, I believe got a raw deal being on some obscure channel. She managed to make a deliciously palatable to the masses, scripted show, about Jews. I didn't think I'd ever see it. I've written about this before- we get the standard sitcom with the nebbishy Jewish husband and blond Shiksa wife (Mad About You) or Friends with characters that are supposed to be Jewish but couldn't be less (Courtney Cox as Monica Gellar, never spoken about on the show, even when they did the Hanukkah armadillo episode with Ross). But a whole show with endless Jewish references? Unheard of and I'm loving it! Of course I know what a valuable commodity a fabulous brisket could be to trade for favors!

I know it's been getting some backlash for the way Midge is as a mother, how you never see her with the kids. Please. That's not the point of the show. Every great show gets backlash anyway. Look at This Is Us. Everyone LOVED it, so people found ways to pick it apart. Including me- Alpine to Philly in a hop skip and a jump? Just. No. But that's just how the cookie crumbles (see- old timey sayings). Everyone loves you, applauds you, then tries to knock you down a peg.

We burned through the first season of Maisel's eight episodes last year and then in three days when season two came out a week or two ago. If you haven't seen it, I haven't done a great job explaining it. I don't know how palatable a show about Jews sounds to the average non-Jew, but trust me, it's worth the watch. I posted the countdown to the season two release on my Facebook page and the people proclaiming their love for it the most were my non-Jewish friends.

I'm actually looking for another show for us to watch. We're abandoning Blindspot. It really jumped the shark after the first season. I rarely abandon and I LOVE that actors that were in LA Complex keep popping up in it. Ennis Esmer is a treasure. But it takes hella concentration to watch that show and I just can't devote the brain power to it. And I don't care. Jane's bad now. Great. Not interested.

I did find a show that could make me pee my pants. We just got Hulu and I had wanted to check out Difficult People, because I love Billy On The Street. It does not disappoint. IF you REALLY know pop culture. B and I are pop culture aficionados. We have been binging this show since all our other shows are on holiday/winter hiatus. This Is Us, A Million Little Things, The Good Doctor, The Resident, The Connors, Will & Grace, Murphy Brown are all on our TV watching schedule and we're all caught up. We LOVE 9-1-1 but I'm not sure if the season is over or if it's just on winter hiatus. Currently we're also watching Ray Donovan too. This week's looked like it would/could be the finale, but surprisingly it wasn't.

Nothing is really jumping out at me to try though. I know, I know, the Handmaid's Tale. But it sounds so depressing. Feel free to give me some suggestions though, based on what I've said we watch. We also watch The Blacklist. And I watch all the ABC Thursday line-up - Grey's Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, and I hate-watch Station 19. I just don't like any of the characters on Station 19. I also watch the Chicago Trilogy (PD, Fire, Med) on the treadmill. SMILF comes back on Jan 20th and we'll be watching that. I'm not watching Dirty John. I don't know the whole story, but I do know it's a lot of Three's Company nonsense where we all know the truth and Connie Britton has to play the moron. I don't like Connie and her gorgeous mane playing the fool.

So help me out. What to watch?

Friday, November 30, 2018

Life in Chaos

All I've been thinking on constant loop for like two months is, "Serenity NOW, Serenity NOW!" The photo above is what I imagine I look like. I wouldn't know because I can't even say I've really looked in the mirror. That's the last thing on my priority list. One of these days, I'll get around to shaving my legs too. Or really, what I'm hoping is that, like an old tanning salon boss I had, my leg hair just ends up rubbing off from being encased in leggings for so many days in a row.

I'm BACK. This time I wasn't on hiatus because of politics getting to me or whatever. Politics is going to get to me until the White House changes hands, and I've resigned myself to the wait. However, I was on hiatus because I HAD NO LAPTOP. "What?!", you say? That is like you not having an arm! I KNOW.

September rolled around and school started. About two or three weeks into September, swim team was starting for E, at a new pool, in a substantially bigger pain the behind location for me. It was going to be fine though, in my head. I took him to his first practice, on a Friday at around four o'clock. I got there in FOURTEEN MINUTES. I thought - wow, this is going to be a breeze. Oh, no no. I quickly found out, it COULD be fourteen minutes, or it could be FORTY. I forgot what it was like to drive this route, as I did daily, for work, before we moved our business to the town we live in. If you get caught at either or both commuter trains, and/or the freight train, you're screwed. I realized I was going to have to sit there the whole two hours. At three or four practices a week, those are two hours at a clip I need to be doing other things. Laundry, doing work, EATING.

Along with a venue change, the time for practice changed to earlier, which just makes my life more hectic. Then, the sitting for two hours, and the rushing to get homework done, get food for E and me for some cobbled together dinner, it was making me so unorganized, like I've never been in my life. I was missing doctors (and other) appointments. I missed dinner plans with a friend. I sent a BLANK CHECK to someone. Totally, completely, BLANK. Luckily it was someone I know well. She sent me a text, "Hey, thanks for the blank check. I bought a YSL bag with it. Hope you don't mind. Haha". Also luckily, I know I'd never have enough money for a YSL bag in the checking account anyway, but I was mortified. Apparently I hadn't filled out the paperwork that went along with the check either.

I was turning into a flake, the quality I can't deal with in others. I'm pretty sure one day I just sat in my car and cried from not sleeping, being unorganized, and having no time to get anything done.

There were also really messed up things going on, which I'll just give to you briefly:
-Our health insurance was erroneously saying we were canceled for like a week. A week I'd just happened to have three appointments. Two for me, one for E. Appointments that couldn't easily be rescheduled.
-The credit union who held the lease for my previous car was telling me I owed them money I didn't. Which still isn't fully resolved. #AffinityCreditUnionCanSuckIt

Then, as luck would have it, I notice something wasn't right with my laptop. The AC adapter thingy on the end wasn't staying in and my laptop wasn't charging. A piece fell out where the adapter plug goes into the laptop and it's not something easily replaceable. The laptop would seem to be fine, I'd be typing, then it would just shut off. It wasn't bad enough that for some reason at work, I'd get bounced off the internet, just on this particular laptop, sometimes ten times an hour, sometimes ten times in four hours. But now, I had to start rigging the wire by stuffing business cards and Post It blocks underneath it to secure it into place. For awhile that worked. Until it didn't.

Let me backtrack and explain a little. In the early 2000's I'd had a laptop given to me from work. I used that and it was fine. Until it wasn't. The screen went but I just hooked it up to a desktop monitor and made it work. When I met B, I don't remember exactly how it happened, but I sort of remember Sony having a store and for some reason we both got Sony Vaio laptops. We bought those in 2005 or 2006. They were great and I was used to that.

I use the LIVING SH*T out of my laptops. I'm old school. I'm online all the time, and I'm on social media like Facebook, Blogger, and a little Instagram, but even my social media is old school. I don't use Snapchat- I don't know how, and I'm not really technologically savvy. I know my way around Windows, Microsoft Office, etc. But when the technology goes awry higher than my pay grade, I don't know what to do.

Apparently appliances, laptops, and pretty much everything, is supposed to have a short shelf life these days. Laptops aren't supposed to last ten years or whatever. I get that. So, in September of 2009, when my 2005/2006 Sony Vaio was starting to slow down, get viruses, and just not work, I went to the Sony store in Garden State Plaza and got a new Vaio. I'm loyal to a fault. I've been going to the same hairdresser for over twenty years. I got my nails done at the same place for seventeen years. And I WANTED MY VAIO. I got their credit card with free financing for like a year and probably spent like six or seven hundred dollars for what was then, a teenager kind of model. That is a lot of money, but I knew I'd use it, so I closed my eyes, bit the bullet, and signed the credit card slip.

Well, that 2009 Sony Vaio lasted until around January 2017. That's when I found out Sony cut laptops and Vaio loose. No more Sony Vaio laptops. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I'm not good with change!!

What do you mean I can't get a new Vaio. Well, I could, but not by Sony, and for a ridiculous expensive sum of money. Nope. What could I do?

I went to eBay. I ended up purchasing a refurbished Vaio, on eBay, in a newer model than the one I had, but very similar. I bought it, for three hundred dollars, from some guy in a rural part of Texas, who wasn't the easiest to deal with, but it seemed to work fine. I was happy. It was still the size and weight of a giant Porterhouse steak but I didn't care. I wasn't used to a light, on the go, laptop anyway. I'm no MAC person with their thin light Whatever-Books.

I got about a year and a half out of the refurbished laptop, when the adapter area fell apart & crapped out. But it was the end of September, beginning of October. I thought I could rig the adapter enough and wait until Black Friday to get something. It's not like I had or have the budget for a laptop. So I was going to wait for a deal and just try to do something with no interest payments again. But then the screen just died or the whole thing just wouldn't power on, and our computer guy told B it was a goner. I had no choice. It wasn't just about jimmying the adapter, I couldn't SEE anything.

We'd joined Costco through some Groupon deal so I get their flyers in the mail. It looked like they were starting their Black Friday deals early. They had an HP Envy x360 for a really good deal. I took it. I couldn't wait any longer. My calendars weren't syncing, I had no way to check certain credit card payments because I had no usernames and passwords. I just can't even explain how much I rely on my laptop. Right or wrong, old school or not, I don't care. I need it.

Of course, I had to order it online. The deal wasn't in-store, it was only online. I got it. OF COURSE IT WAS DEFECTIVE. The short version is that it wouldn't connect to the internet. I looked it up and this was a common problem for this version of the laptop I guess. I try to return it in-store. More problems. Yadda Yadda, they figured out how to give me back my money in some unorthodox way.

I went to Microcenter (a discount computer store with only 3.5% tax) on someones recommendation. That didn't work out. I wasn't in the head space to be there after the debacle at Costco and I didn't feel the guy knew what he was talking about. I ended up just going on Ebates, then to HP through there, ponied up & ordered their flash deal for a better version of the defective one. That was November 13th. Guess when I got my laptop?

YESTERDAY. They never said it was coming FROM CHINA. Directly from China. I don't know why. So, from Costco, I could order on a Friday, and get one, albeit defective, by Monday. I order it directly from the manufacturer, and it took over two weeks. I also forgot to have it shipped to work instead of home. I used PayPal Credit to get the six months free financing deal and it defaults to my home shipping address. FedEx, unfortunately, is no Amazon. Amazon texts you that your stuff is x amount of stops away. FedEx is like the cable company. They give you a window of- Anytime from eight in the morning to eight in the evening.

I did get a text saying they thought it might come between 12:35p and 4:35p so I had a better window by the time I got to work. I told B that at twelve-thirty I was going to get in my car and stalk FedEx trucks around town. I walked out the door of work at twelve-thirty, drove to my street and the streets around it and didn't see ONE Fed Ex truck. But, then, on my way back towards work, I saw one come out of the strip mall where we have our store, turn up the main street, and park in front of the pharmacy. I waited from the Fed Ex guy to come out of the pharmacy and asked if he had my package.

HE DID. He let me sign for it right there and take it. I FINALLY GOT MY LAPTOP.

And I LOVE IT. I made what I think is a smart choice, so far. I got the HP Spectre x360 i5 13.3" something. I can't give you all the specs. The defective one was a 15.6". I didn't know what that was going to look like, then I opened it, and it seemed HUGE. I think my Sony was considered a 14" but it had a thick rim around the screen so it seemed smaller. My Spectre is not the newest or fastest model because I got it for WAY less money than I see them priced at normally at retail stores. Maybe it was also a good deal since I was going to be waiting till some new gray hairs come in for it to arrive. I don't really understand or need to know/understand all the specs. I need to be able to go on the internet, social media, and use Word, Photo Manager, and Excel. I don't know how much space it has, or anything.

What I DO know, is that it's super thin and light- it has no dvd thing. It doesn't have some loud hot fan like my Vaio, and it CONNECTS TO THE INTERNET LIKE I NEED IT TO DO. I've been on it typing this for the past forty-five minutes and I haven't once been disconnected from the wi-fi at work.

Now I just have to figure out how to get all my angry letters, finial orders, and brisket/kugel recipes from my old hard drive into this laptop, but there's time for that. Right now, I just want to get my calendars back in order, order E's lunches for school for the month, and make sure I have websites, usernames, and passwords saved somewhere else. And for the record, I worked the swim team thing out too. One word, carpool. I never had a reason or events to carpool anywhere really prior, but now I surely know the value of that. So, I'm back. And I have plenty to say. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Who Doesn't Love Cake?

I don't know if I love anything as much as I love cake. Jellybeans are my favorite candy treat, but I've stayed at weddings and Bar Mitzvah's to the bitter end because I wasn't leaving without having the cake. Horrible when the cake wasn't even worth it, but I had to HAVE it. I even took home the remainder of my friend Julie's ginormous fortieth birthday cake because they let me. So I walked through the streets of the West Village in NYC with a GIANT box of cake because I knew it would go in the garbage otherwise. I couldn't let that happen.

I have two new finds for you. Get ready.

Whenever E has an audition in the city, we look for a bakery close by after if we have time. We've tried quite a few in the last year but I really couldn't write about any. Two were cookie places. While they were okay, they were JUST okay. Okay doesn't inspire a blog entry. I wouldn't call them a waste of calories, but I think of it more like a local cupcake place- I could walk by a hundred times and not go in. I'd rather drive to NYC, JUST for certain cake over going to a neighboring town to get these. Or, better, I'd rather eat Yodels than those cupcakes.

While E is in class in NYC on Saturdays, I walk around all over. If I spot a bakery, I usually get something. For awhile I was going to Macaron Cafe, which has the best French Macarons I've had since Pam at A La Cupcakes in Glen Rock (RIP, A La Cupcakes, not Pam). But they're fifteen dollars for six, which is normal, but a little rich for my blood. And I was bored of them eventually.

I was walking down 7th Ave about a month ago and noticed a little pop up shop with a banner that says "Caked Up Cafe". I looked in and saw what looked like fabulous looking cupcakes. I went in. I was correct. They LOOKED fabulous. But how do they TASTE? Magnolia looks good too. Until you eat them. 

I got four. One chocolate raspberry - chocolate cake filled with vanilla buttercream, topped with raspberry buttercream and chocolate shavings on the frosting. One vanilla raspberry - vanilla cake with raspberry buttercream. One cookie dough- not sure what the specifics are because I HAD to give ONE to E once he saw them. And one strawberry shortcake. I don't remember what the specifics were of that one either.

Ok. Everyone knows I generally don't like chocolate cake. It's usually dry and I'm just more of a vanilla person. But the chocolate raspberry is the WINNER. Put it this way- I bought four, just for me, last Saturday, and enjoyed each one like it was Last Supper material.

On top of them being awesome already, Denise, the owner was there this past Saturday. She was out of the chocolate raspberry and I was literally crestfallen. She said she'd whip me up four, no problem. She asked me if I wanted the raspberry buttercream as the filling too- I SURE DID. And she put EXTRA on top. She also told me that they can always be whipped up there if I want, so to just ask. Hi, I'm going to be your best customer. I don't know what I'm going to do when E's class is over for the session. They were perfection. And I don't share.

Just FYI- their main store is in Rockland County, NY. So if you're closer to there, have at it. Otherwise they're on 7th around 29th St in a tiny storefront. They make wedding and other occasion cakes too. They do everything. I'm having my birthday cake made from them, I decided now, for August. I ate my cupcakes before thinking to take a pic, so I stole some pics from their Instagram.

My other find was about three weeks ago. Lady M Cake Boutique. After an audition, I quickly looked up "bakery" to see if there was one nearby. Around the corner? SCORE. It's a small place. We go to walk in and I can see from the large window they're cutting cake by the slice. PERFECT. I didn't see the menu and pricing on a podium outside. I should've looked. 

I got four slices, of course. One for B, one for E, and two for me. Of course. I get up to the register, which is no longer a thing- it's just like, a tablet. The girl working says, "That will be $31.50". Come again? So, I paid $31.50 for four pieces of cake. Fabulous looking cake, but $31.50?

Obviously, I take it, because they already cut it. But I'm having a silent heart attack. E asks, "Mom, can I eat mine in the car?" And I'm all- "NO YOU CANNOT. This isn't #CARCAKE! This is cake you eat, at home, on a place, with a utensil, all fancy-like, watching a favorite tv show. SAVORED, for EIGHT DOLLARS A SLICE!". And you best savor it because it's the last time you'll be eating it. YOU, my little chickadee can go back to #carcake next time. 

Lady M
We ate it that night. I have to say, it WAS totally worth the cost. That's just not a sustainable cost for cake, for the D-K family, as a whole, anyway. I can't say I didn't go back a week later, just for me, but I had to go back to be able to sample another flavor. I mean, if I'm going to write about something I need to be fully knowledgeable.

The place is called Lady M. When I wrote about it on Facebook, so many people already seemed to know about it. They were like- "Did you have the crepe cake???" I guess that's what they're known for. I did actually get that one. It was really good- sort of like a really good whipped cream Napoleon. I had their strawberry shortcake too that first time and it was amazing. I had another two after and they were both just as good. I was thinking B and I should pretend to be getting married again and see if we could go for a tasting. But this is luxury cake. You aren't taking your kids here when you can get them Dunkin' Munchkins and call it a day. This is #bathcake. As in I picture a commercial with a lady in a huge tub, with candles, classical music, and a silver plate with a dome on it, housing this cake.

I'll be going back to Denise though, at Caked Up, this Saturday. Instead of four, I'll be getting seven or eight, to last me to the next week. I'm out of cupcakes for tonight and may have to run out for some Yodels. And I won't be happy about it. Those cupcakes are what dreams are made of and four, for four days only cost me fifteen dollars.