Our neighbor Penny, who lives almost directly across the street from us, sets up an elaborate holiday display on her front lawn every year. This year, she inherited even more decorations from a friend, so she has outdone the entire neighborhood even more than she usually does. Here's Penny's house:
And by contrast, here's our house:
Yep, not a Christmas decoration in sight.
I think between my dad's knee surgery and my unexpected move back home, none of us could stand the thought of any more work or trips to the storage unit. No matter. No one's going to be looking at our house, anyway. They'll all be blinded by the Christmas cheer that is Penny's doing!
A special note regarding the Oscars. I have not see the nominated movies but I do have some opinions about the show, winners, losers, outfits.
1. I thought the whole thing was a bore. Truly disappointed. I actually felt bad for Hugh Jackman, even embarrassed.
2. I did see Vicki Christina Barcelona and although, I thought Penelope Cruz's performance was great, I didn't think it was Oscar worthy. But again, I didn't see the other nominees performances.
3. Am pissed at the movie making gods from keeping my beloved Javier Bardem from coming to the Oscars. How dare they!
4. Although I thought it was a very nice tribute that past Oscar winners came to pay tribute to the nominees but it took too long.
5. I really loved Angelina Jolie's dress but the earrings did not go.
6. Mickey Rourke is a freak . . . but I think I like it!
7. I do agree with yahoo, that the best presenters were Tina Fey and Steve Martin.
8. Why only 3 nominated songs? What's up with that? And two were from the same movie!?!
9. I was so hoping that Jennifer Aniston was going to leap off stage and throw a smack down on Brangelina!
10. Again, disappointed.
Now onto Movie reviews:
He's Just Not That Into You, starring a slew of actors, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, etc.
I would say that Cupid has not been so kind to me in regards to healthy relationships so when I saw the original episode on Sex and The City by the same title, I thought, Wow, how 6 little words, one little sentence can make the most heart wrenching relationship/experience seem so easy. That by just realizing that He's Just Not That Into You can uplift and help you move forward. Then I subscribed to the book when it came out and I think I had various non-relationships between the episode and that book and one tends to forget that He's Just Not That Into You mantra so reading it was, again, catharsis. It does suck but it makes everything so much better. So in between the book and the movie I was involved in this non-relationship that took over my life (I let it) truly thinking that was going to be something. So I really debated about going to see the movie in the theater. I knew I eventually see it on DVD but to go see it BY MYSELF in the theater made me shutter. So I was in a mood and went to the movie theater on a whim and it was movie that didn't seem the crappiest and was playing next.
THERAPY. I'm so glad I saw it. How we woman torment ourselves over guys and how sometimes outside pressures like married and dating friends make this huge deal about being in a relationship but when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter.
It's about being yourself and just keep moving forward.
I really enjoyed Ginnifer Goodwin's character. I can relate with her situation(s) a lot. Although, I'm still single. But that's movies for ya, somebody always has to have a happy ending.
I give it 4 Tink's.
Interview Starring Steve Buscemi and Sienna Miller
I thought is was a boring movie. It was nice that they honored the original director who had passed and wanted his movies filmed in New York City but is was a so-so movie. It kinda made me sad. It's about not judging people but at the same time not trusting people as well. And that we are all pretty much f*** ups!
I really like Steve Buscemi but I'm still out to lunch on Sienna Miller. I saw the movie, Factory Girl, which I thought was a good movie and she did a good job but there is something that bugs me about her acting.
I give it 2 Tinks!
Iron Man Starring Robert Downey Jr, etc
Like Hancock, I really liked it. A bit predictable but it was entertaining. Not sure if Gweneth Paltrow was right for the part but I can't say too much about her character since I have never read a Iron Man comic but I felt something was missing in her character or it was not the the right role for her. I think it's great that Jon Favreau directed this. I also really like the fact that Robert Downey, Jr is getting these great roles. He's character in Tropic Thunder was hilarious. Totally deserved the Oscar nod.
But like Hancock, that is what Sequels and pre-quels are about, right?
I give it 3 Tinks!
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium Starring Natalie Portman, Dustin Hoffman and Jason Batman
I really enjoyed this movie. It had a great message. Very whimsical and imaginative.
It's about a very old man who has a magical toy store. The old man, played by Dustin Hoffman, feels that it's time for him to go. Kinda like Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. Not really dying but just going "someplace". Well the old man leaves the store to Natalie Portman's character, well she is having a difficult time believing in herself . Basically once you start believing in yourself anything is possible.
I give it 4 Tinks!
The Women Starring Meg Ryan and well a lot of women.
A remake of the 1939 movie by the same name, The Woman is about well women. There are no men in any of the scenes except at the end. One of the characters finds out her husband is having an affair and how she deals with it. Of course nothing can compare to the original movie. I thought it was o.k. not great but it has it's moments. I have decided that I'm not a fan of Meg Ryan. The stand out was Cloris Leachman's character and I'm glad Debi Mazar got some attention, I think she's a great actress.
I give it 2 Tinks!
The Incredible Hulk Starring Edward Norton and Liv Tyler
I thought the special effects were good. They tried to be funny in some scenes but it didn't translate very well. I liked the guest star scenes but that was pretty much it.
I give it 2 Tinks!
Hancock - Staring Will Smith and Charlize Theron
Hancock is about a everyday superhero named Hancock who needs to clean up his image just a bit.
Very Surprised. I was entertained. Although the story line between the characters of Will and Charlize was a bit annoying, I felt they could have developed that better but that's what sequels as well as prequels, are for, right?
I give it 3 Tinks!
Charlie Bartlett - Staring Anton Yelchin as Charlie Bartlett, Robert Downing Jr and Kat Dennings
Charlie Bartlett is about a teenager trying to find himself and it get's him into trouble. What else is new.
It was a good movie. It has Kat Dennings from Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (which I loved) who I think is a good up and coming actress but I see why she was picked for Nick and Norah, pretty much the same character.
I give it 2 Tinks!
Vicki Christina Barcelona Starring Javier Bardem (my love) and a slew of other people.
Well, it has Javier Bardem in it . . . O.K. I will get serious . . . The movie is about relationships and finding love, falling out of love and how love makes you CRAZY!
Basically I want to go to Spain, the movie makes you fall in love with Spain. So I'm going to Spain. I actually thought it was a good movie.
I give it 4 Tinks! one extra for Javier Bardem! Can you tell I love Javier Bardem? Just wondering.
The Duchess starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes
The Duchess is about the Duchess of Devonshire in the 1700's England. She was a young woman married in hopes that she would have Duke of Devonshire's son/hier. She was the talk of society in regards her fashions, debt and gossip. The movie was about her but it was more about how much of an a**hole her husband was to her.
I give it 4 Tinks!
Burn After Reading Starring Frances McDormand and George Clooney
The movie is about how very different lives collide and how the world is such a small place. I think it was a very standard Cohen Brother's film.
I give it 3 Tinks!
Fool's Gold Starring Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson
Another Romantic comedy from Matthew and McConaughey and Kate Hudson. Oh boy do they find themselves in trouble this time. Will they find the treasure and get back together. You will have to watch and find out. Predictable.
I give it 3 Tinks! (for the supporting cast)
Startin' 09' out with something new to Barflies . . . well, not new but it's been awhile. . . introducing Tink's Movie Reviews. I watch a lot movies.
Step-Brothers Starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly.
I find these guys hilarious. They make me laugh in everything they do. Have you seen the stuff on Funny or Die? FUNNY! I know there are some folks that are not particularly happy with their brand of HUMOR, but it's funny stuff.
Anyway, the movie is about these two people (Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins, who just was nominated for a Oscar for The Visitor, amazing performance and movie. Well Deserved!!!) who get married the second time around and they both happen to have 40 year old sons who still live at home. With this union, they all move in together and the mad cap fun begins. Both have just not grown up and with circumstances they are made to grow up. It's about finding your niche and just being yourself. The stand out performance for me is the brother of Will Ferrell character played by Adam Scott. He plays the best a**hole ever!
I give it 3 Tinks!
Run Fat Boy Fun Starring Simon Pegg (from Hot Fuzz) and Thandie Newton
A sweet movie about getting the girl you love back. You made some mistakes but when you realize you still love her, you will go at any lengths to get her back. I liked the movie. The little boy is cute. The supporting cast is what makes the movie, the Indian landlord and the best friend. The motto is about self confidence and if you want to make your dreams come true, go for it.
I give it 4 Tinks!
Starring Johnny Knoxville and Katherine Heigl
When I started watching the movie and subsequently fell asleep, I thought, I just wasted a few minutes of my life. HORRIBLE. But I gave it a second chance, and I thought it was one of the sweetest movie ever. It's not the best movie in the world by no means but still it's got heart. It's about this guy, who gets in a bit of trouble and somehow a scheme is made up to throw the Special Olympics. It's a bit far fetched. At first, you think how rude they are making fun of people of special needs but most of the cast were special needs people. Actually, I happen to know one of the cast members. Really what it comes down to is accepting people for who they are. Even, if they have challenges, they get to make their dreams come true, too. They just want some respect too!
I give it 2 Tinks!
P.S. I Love You Starring Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank
This movie made me cry like a baby. And it has Gerard Butler in it. Enough Said.
I give it 3 Tinks! (just for Gerard Butler and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, too) O.K. I will stop gushing.
Did I tell you it has Gerard Butler in it. Just checking . . .
Attending my 10-year high school reunion...and learning that I am not nearly as bitter as I thought I was.
Discovering public transit. Even though gas prices are currently at a five-year low, life is so much more interesting when you ride the bus to work.
Spending way too much time in the desert for the Coachella and Stagecoach Music Festivals.
Getting kidnapped by the Eli Young Band after the CMA Awards.
Volunteering at a beer booth at Gay Pride. My favorite moment was watching a young man lose his lunch into a trash can...then watching his boyfriend hand him another beer.
Taking my goddaughter to the beach for the first time!
Seeing the Kirov Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Los Angeles Ballet - all in the same year!
Serving as a panelist on the "Call Day" panel at the Americana Music Conference (for those counting at home - that's four trips to Nashville I made this year. FOUR!!!!).
Visiting the Autry Museum, California Science Center, and Skirball Center for the first time.
An historic election.
Adopting two kitties from a local shelter. Or, rather, I should say, they adopted me. Either way, it's the best thing I've ever done for myself.
And to think that it all started by waking up with a terrific hangover at my friend Natasha's house on January 1, 2008 after her annual New Year's Party....and realizing I'd locked my keys in the truck.
I love Halloween. And one of my all time favorite "adult" things to do is to hand out Halloween candy, which is really just an excuse to play along with all the kids that come to the door. Tonight, my house is fully decorated, the lights are out, the music is ghoulish (thanks to DJ Wes) and the candy is flowing.
And then I notice a frightening, horrifying trend: many of my neighborhood trick-or-treaters are being DRIVEN from house to house by their parents. Yup, kids come to the door while an SUV sits idling at the curb, like they're some rock star that might be mobbed by paparazzi.
Aside from the obvious reasons this is wrong - the damage to the environment, the price of gas, our dependence on foreign oil - I'm horrified by the thought that 1) parents think the neighborhood is not safe for their children and 2) kids don't get any exercise or learn how to take care of themselves by trick-or-treating.
I always thought trick-or-treating was a rite of passage in America. Going door-to-door while your parents stood patiently at the curb. Remembering to say "please" and "thank you" for the candy your neighbors gave you, and when you were old enough, running through the darkened streets with your friends.
Now the world seems to be a scary place, where people don't know their neighbors (I admit I don't know all of mine), and every two or three houses are dark. Where are my neighbors, and why aren't they handing out candy?
Now I don't mean there are no kids wandering the streets - there are plenty, as well as plenty of parents dressed up to take their kids, pets in costume, and gangs of kids on bikes, scooters, and yes, on foot. But it's no wonder there are so many news stories about obese children when kids are being driven door-to-door to pick up candy.
Parents, get out of the car and walk through the neighborhood with your children. Introduce yourself to your neighbors, and teach your children about exercise, the importance of saying "thank you" and which houses have the best candy. I'll give you extra Kit Kats if you do!
Remember, the old saying - When you have your health you have everything?
Those words could not ring more true, but we are usually so caught up in the demands of life we forget how important that phrase is.
Recently, my mother was hospitalized for "routine" gall bladder surgery. Looking back, I wonder what exactly they mean by "routine". Her surgery turned out to be anything but...and it's been a most stressful time.
Thousands of people across the U.S. suffer from gall bladder related problems each year. Most have "gall bladder attacks" that are brought on by gall stones, those sometimes large and sometimes small stones that can collect in the gall bladder. There are times when a stone or two will move and get caught in the bile duct between the liver and gall bladder creating a LOT of pain.
Since this isn't a Biology lesson, I won't get into what forms the stones, etc. You can research that on the Internet if it interests you. However, if one of those stones gets lodged in the duct you risk infection and a multitude of complications. If nothing else you never know when one of the "pain attacks" will come upon you and affect your quality of life. Some people get only one attack in the their entire life, while others have many.
So, as I was saying.... most GB surgeries are termed "routine", and I never realized how untrue that can be until my mother had surgery. Her GB was not inflamed or infected, but it was sick with multiple stones and needed to be removed. The day of came and the surgery was performed and she was sent home to recover.
As older folks sometimes can suffer complications, after surgery she developed a stomach blockage from the anesthesia, and she had to go back to the hospital to see what was actually happening. Point A - the stomach blockage was located via a CT scan, but Point B was a complete shock. Guess what? A tiny gall stone was showing up in the bile duct. What? Don't they scan for such things before they send a patient home? Doesn't the surgeon cover himself and the patient and hospital making sure nothing is left behind? Guess again. It is not considered "standard procedure" to do so. The surgeon may or may not have this checked out. After all, procedures are in place by the American Surgical Board, and the Hospital Administration. Insurance may or may not cover such a procedure depending on the carrier. Lots of red tape.
I was in shock when I met with the hospital Risk Manager to ask many questions, and also to ask WHY? Why would you send a patient home from surgery like a ticking time bomb, never knowing if stones were in the bile duct? It seems a no brainer to me, but not to them. I have known three people now who lost loved ones to infection from lodged stones in the bile duct. It seems much closer to home than the percentages I've read about.
My mother had a minimally invasive procedure called and ERCP along with dye injection to located and obtain all of the stones for removal. It's an endoscopic procedure and no surgery is required. With that being successful and the stomach blockage breaking up, I thought she was out of the out of the woods and then the pancreas became irritated and swelled, and bladder infection set in, along with a tiny blood clot in the foot. Again, some of these infections might be brought on by older age, but not all. One thing can lead to another regardless of age.
The lesson here is that you need to be sure that before you consent to a gall bladder surgery, discuss the possibility of bile duct stones prior to the surgery. Make sure the surgeon, insurance and hospital agree to scan, or do some type of procedure to locate stones left behind prior to you leaving the hospital.
Approximately, 600,000 gall bladder surgeries are performed across the U.S. each day. 10-20% develop complications as a result of stones left in the bile duct. Some have no complications whatsoever, and others are not so lucky. More than 5,000 die each year from gall bladder related surgeries and complications. It may be a small number when you look at the percentages, but who wants to be the dead guy?
My mother is now home recovering from her 11 day ordeal, and I feel blessed, because it's the 2nd surgery she's had the last five years. The other surgery also had complications, so this was not the first time around for her.
Research, know your options, know your surgeon and the hospital procedures before you sign consent for surgery. Be sure you have a family member or a good friend to be your advocate and voice in the case that you're too sick to do that for yourself. It could one day save your life!
***All opinions expressed are strictly those of the writer.
Yes, I'm a crazy cat lady. I own three cats and have been "adopted" by a stray that lives outside (shown above). I feed strays. Sometimes I take them in. I can't help it. Skinny, hungry, flea bitten, they come to my door and I can't help but love them.
Sometimes they have been left behind by a family that didn't care, like The Lady Boo, a declawed female I found living under my house. Other times, they are wild, like "Scrappy," the semi-feral, neutered cat that lives outside.
And then there are the non-fixed, intact males that come around for the food and cause trouble. I don't know what to do about these cats. If I round them up and take them to the pound, they'll be killed. No one wants a wild male cat with behavior issues. and even if they are neutered late, they frequently still have behavior issues. If I leave them be, I run the risk of them bringing disease into my neighborhood or even my home.
Now, a retired surgeon and one of America's richest men has decided that enough is enough and he is putting his money behind the need for a safe pet-sterilization method. Gary Michelson is making $50 million available in research funds and another $25 million available to the firm or scientist that can bring forward a viable and safe solution to the pet overpopulation problem.
According to USA Today, "animal lover Michelson is convinced, like most animal-welfare experts, that if unwanted litters never materialized, U.S. shelters wouldn't be euthanizing 4 million to 6 million animals a year." Read the whole story here.
I applaud Michelson for his efforts. And I hope they work.