Love Lessons from My Fair Lady

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OK, maybe this scene was romantic. Even if the Professor was a grumpy old man.

With my hubby on the road for work, I was hunting around for something to watch last night. I found ‘My Fair Lady’ was available from my cable provider for free. Knowing this might be the last night for a while I could get away with watching such a ‘chick flick,’ I settled into the couch with a glass of wine to watch.

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Eliza Doolittle – before being transformed by the Professor. All his doing, of course.

I remember loving the musical numbers, and practicing my best cockney Eliza in drama class. (ayeee – I’m a good girl, I am!) I also remember thinking this was one of the greatest love stories ever.

But now having been married for almost 8 years and looking through older, more experienced eyes, I couldn’t stand the Professor. Maybe it was ‘The Ghost and Mrs. Muir’ that gave me my strange crush on Rex Harrison, but seeing it again it was obvious that the newly reformed Ms. Doolittle makes a bad choice at the end of ‘My Fair Lady.’ Instead of opting for the man who writes her gushing love letters several times a day and seems content to be homeless on ‘the street where she lives,’ she returns like a lost puppy to the man who used her as a verbal punching bag.

If it were not for the kindness of the Captain, Eliza would have walked out a long time before.  And are we led to believe that the Captain is picking out her amazing clothes to make her impressive debut into London society?  Watching it now, it seems an obvious presumption that the Captain and the Professor are an older gay couple who like to dress up their doll Eliza in beautiful clothes when they are not falling all over each other about the science of phonetics. (And Henry’s song ‘Why can’t a woman be more like a man’ seems to validate my theory.)

The closest Henry Higgins ever comes to showing any affection to Eliza is ‘I’ve grown accustomed to her face.’ (And Rex never really sings any of the songs – they are more spoken than sung. If Hugh Jackman did this role, he would actually SING. And it would sound great and the Professor would not be gay.) He uses terms for Eliza like ‘you presumptuous insect’ and ‘you impotent hussy.’ More than once he refers to her as a ‘guttersnipe’ which is a great comedic word but literally means ‘of the lowest class’ or ‘street urchin.’ I do enjoy a little sparring of the romantic leads before they realize they’re in love, but ‘you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy looking nerf herder’ is more obviously a message of true love (see The Empire Strikes Back.)

The Professor does finally admit to Eliza that he cares, only brought on by his mother’s sneaky plan. ‘You infamous creature it’s you who’ve wounded me to the heart.’ This is how men said I love you in 1912.

Poor Freddy.  Young and handsome by deemed 'a fool' by the Professor.  Jealous?

Poor Freddy. Young and handsome, but deemed ‘a fool’ by the Professor. Jealous?

Then you have poor Freddy – the ‘nice guy.’ Waiting patiently outside to catch a glimpse of Eliza. But apparently Freddie is not as rich as the Professor, so what girl would want to end up struggling again after getting used to such lavish surroundings?

So Eliza chooses the teacher/father figure who gave her verbal walloppings. Will they find romance and live happily ever after? Or will she be his personal valet who tells whether he wants coffee or tea and fetches his slippers?  Judging by their age differences, the Professor will be dead in about 15 years leaving the younger Eliza a wealthy widow. Then she can find dear Freddy again and finally give the good guy a chance.  

 

 

 

 

 

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Fun in the Texas Wine Country

Every now and then my husband and I like to get out of the big city and take a road trip to the hill country.  One of our favorite spots is Fredericksburg.  When I was a kid I vaguely remember passing through the town during hunting season, and stopping for a meal at the Rathskeller on the way to the deer lease near Comfort.  But as an adult I can appreciate how the little road stop town has grown into a little mecca of wine, food, antiques and art.

They call it a 'barn' but no hay in sight!

They call it a ‘barn’ but no hay in sight!

For this excursion I decided we would stay off the beaten path outside of town.  There are plenty of lodging options in town within walking distance to shopping and restaurants on Main Street.  But I found this lovely converted ‘barn’ a few miles outside of town on VRBO.

Our welcome gift

Our welcome gift

The place has everything you could need, including two TVs with Dish satellite channels.  The hostess had made us a loaf of banana walnut bread as a welcome gift, and the kitchen was well-equipped if we wanted to stay in for dinner.  (Including mustard, a necessary condiment for the variety of sausages you can buy in town.)  I had made reservations for us at renowned local restaurant, the Cabernet Grill, which was just down the main road from our cozy barn.

The restaurant sits next to the Cotton Gin Village, a group of B&B cabins which are also owned by the chef/owner of the Cabernet Grill.      They look very nice, and might be a good option for a future trip, although not as private as our VRBO barn.  Known for offering the largest selection of Texas wines, the place is very popular on the weekends so a reservation is a must.  The food was very good, but come hungry, because it’s a Texas-sized serving of ‘we’re not counting calories’ kind of food.

After a quick stop by the H.E.B. for some provisions (cheese, sausage and crackers for dinner the next night) – we made our way back to the barn where we enjoyed a lovely fire.  Men love to build fires, or at least my husband does.  It must be his inner caveman coming out.  We had a sound night’s sleep on the pillow top bed and woke up rested and ready to explore some wineries.  (After breakfast of course!)

First stop, the Chisolm Trail Winery.  This little spot takes a little more effort to find than most of the other wineries – it’s west of town and south of 290.  The Old West theme goes from the name, to the decor, and on the labels of the wine bottles.

Brick oven pizza at Chisolm Trail - his and hers edition!

Brick oven pizza at Chisolm Trail – his and hers edition!

The wine is ok, but it’s better when accompanied by one of the brick oven-baked pizzas they make in the back.  Yum!  We ran into a couple who comes there specifically for the pizza.

Chisolm Trail is also known for their donkey mascots, Jack and Daisy.  Here’s Jack.  Or maybe Daisy.  I didn’t look too closely!

Jack.  Or Daisy?  One of their donkey 'mascots'

Jack. Or Daisy? One of their donkey ‘mascots’

 

We headed north toward 290 and then east through Fredericksburg itself toward where most of the ‘big’ vineyards are.  The 290 Wine Trail is a little calmer on Sundays (Saturdays are usually very busy), so that made it easy for us to get a tour of Grape Creek Vineyards.  Only one other couple had signed up for the tour so it was almost like having our own private tour and tasting.  The grounds are really lovely, dubbed as ‘Tuscany in Texas.’  If you like dessert wines, you must try their Muscat Canelli.  It is sweet but not heavy, making it a little too easy to drink!

Tasting from the barrel at Grape Creek

Tasting from the barrel at Grape Creek

 

Although there is a Grape Creek Restaurant just down the road from the vineyard, it is not under the same ownership as the vineyard.  They are planning to put casual restaurant into the main building at the vineyard (coming in Fall 2014), but in the meantime you can stop by their picnic shop to pick up all kinds of snacks to enjoy.  And if you’re a member of their wine club, you have access to the private patio and wine club lounge.  Even on a Sunday, it was packed with wine lovers enjoying a beautiful day.

It’s amazing how you think you are going to make it to every winery on your list, but after spending an hour and a half at Grape Creek we could hear our little barn by the creek calling our name.  So with our newly purchased Texas wines we headed back and enjoyed a tasty meal of sausage, cheese, crackers, and of course, mustard.

Check back here for our next adventure in the Texas wine country!  So much wine…so little time.

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Life Without Facebook Experiment: Update

Tomorrow I will celebrate one month Facebook-free.  Did I miss it?  Will I go back?  I know these are the burning questions all three of my blog readers will want to know.

What did I learn in my Facebook sabbatical?

1.  Most of your friends won’t notice you’re absent from Facebook.  Don’t take it personally.  Most of them are too busy bragging about how awesome their life is to worry about where you’ve been.

2.  I have a friend who seems to ‘live’ on Facebook cannot understand why I have been off it for a month.  ‘Why don’t you just block the a-holes’ posts?’  Good point.

3.  Not wasting time on Facebook makes time for other things:  reading, blogging, texting, Tweeting.

4.  Twitter feels like a safe place to freely give your opinion, but watch out.  I have only half as many Followers (Twitter) as Friends (Facebook).  But you never know when the Council on American-Islamic Relations is going to start following you to keep tabs on your comments.  Yes, really.  (Of course you can block people on Twitter too but you don’t have to be Edward Snowden to know that anything on social media is out there for the NSA and the world to see.)

5.  Blogging is fun.  Don’t you get tired of coming up with clever one-liners for other social media?  I can blog and blog all day long and no one will complain that I posted a marathon post on their wall.

6.  You really can have too many Facebook friends.  Unfriend the ones who wouldn’t know you if you called them tomorrow.  If you don’t have their number in your phone, that’s a good way to know. 

7.  But on the positive side – I really do keep in touch with some real friends through Facebook. Some out of town, some here in town. Now that doesn’t mean I see every event they post, but at least I have an idea what’s happening in their lives.

So even if Facebook is on the way out, I don’t think I’m ready to shut down my page just yet.

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History Lesson from The Eagles

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Last Friday night my husband and I got a rock n’ roll history lesson.  We went to the ‘History of The Eagles’ concert at Toyota Center.  Having watched the DVD of the same name too many times to count, we were psyched for the live and in-person version.

I was fortunate enough to have seen the taping of MTV’s ‘Hell Freezes Over’ event when the band got together in 1994.  But at the time I really didn’t understand the magnitude of what I was witnessing, or fully appreciate the band’s body of work.  Maybe you have to start getting old to do that, but at least we were on the young end of the demo at this concert.  Before the show started, the rules were laid out on the screens.  ‘Please no texting or talking on your cell phone.’  ‘No photos or video during the concert.’  And here’s a good one for us short people:  ‘Do not stand if you are blocking someone’s view.’  Really?  This sounds more drastic than it really is, because most concert crowds (other than Demi Lovato or One Direction) stand up or sit down pretty much in unison depending on the tempo or popularity of the song at the time.

We weren’t even two songs in when Don, in typical ‘malcontent’ Henley fashion, called out some people down front who were distracting him with their loud conversation.  ‘Are we having a conversation here?  ‘Cause we’re trying to do a show here, if you want to talk, take it outside.’  Although followed by mild applause, you could sense the awkward school-boy-being-sent-to-the-principal’s-office vibe in the venue.  (David Geffen describes Henley as ‘always a malcontent’ in the ‘History’ DVD.)  Leading the show off with two mellow, lesser known tracks ‘Saturday Night’ and ‘Train Leaves Here This Morning,’ Glenn Frey explained that although they were not two of their biggest hits, they were ‘an important part of our history.’  I’m surprised he didn’t say ‘There’s going to be a test later.’  The show could have used some humor, perhaps making light of all the rules posted on screen with a punchline like ‘Rule #5:  If you light up a joint then you must share it with your entire row.’  Now that would have brought added a little levity!

It really was an amazing show, even if it took a couple of songs to get to a crowd-pleaser.  Things seem to move in the same chronological order as the rockumentary, with Bernie Leadon reuniting with the band onstage.  Soon after came Timothy B. Schmit, talking in his familiar and soothing tenor voice and launches into ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ with the band.  And as the fourth song ‘Witchy Woman’ starts, Joe Walsh emerges and the band is complete.

Joe Walsh was the star of the show, his voice and guitar sounded pitch perfect all night.  While Henley’s solo hits may be out of his range now, Joe was more than comfortable singing ‘Life’s Been Good,’ ‘In the City,’ and ‘Rocky Mountain Way.’  And he looks pretty cut (gym rat?) for 66, obviously this clean livin’ is agreeing with him.

The way they were.

The way they were.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I had been in the front row back in the 70’s, I’m not sure I would have thought any of the Eagles were ‘hot.’  It’s kind of like how Chad Kroeger (Nickelback) is ‘hot’ because he slings a guitar and sings good songs.  (This will most likely be the subject of a future blog, because I feel the need to defend the reputation of this Canadian rock band who have become the butt of many ‘p-rock’ jokes.  Marrying Avril will not help this, BTW Chad.)

Nickelback Live At The O2 Arena

The power of the guitar as demonstrated by Chad Kroeger – he wasn’t there, just as a point of comparison.

 

 

 

The power of the guitar as demonstrated by Joe Walsh.

The power of the guitar as demonstrated by Joe Walsh.

 

 

 

 

 

A great time was had by all – in spite of all the rules.  It was nice to focus on the music and  take a break from Tweeting bad concert photos.  Here’s the setlist from their show at Toyota Center on February 21, 2014:

  1. Saturday Night
  2. Train Leaves Here This Morning
  3. Peaceful Easy Feeling
  4. Witchy Woman
  5. Doolin-Dalton
  6. Tequila Sunrise
  7. Doolin’-Dalton/Desperado (Reprise)
  8. Already Gone
  9. The Best of My Love
  10. Lyin’ Eyes
  11. One of These Nights
  12. Take It to the Limit
  13. Set 2
  14. Pretty Maids All in a Row
  15. I Can’t Tell You Why
  16. New Kid in Town
  17. Love Will Keep Us Alive
  18. Heartache Tonight
  19. Those Shoes
  20. In the City 
(Joe Walsh song)
  21. Life’s Been Good 
(Joe Walsh song)
  22. The Long Run
  23. Funk #49 
(James Gang cover)
  24. Life in the Fast Lane
  25. Encore:
  26. Hotel California
  27. Encore 2:
  28. Take It Easy
  29. Rocky Mountain Way 
(Joe Walsh song)
  30. Desperado
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Embracing the ‘P-rock’ – say hello to ‘Chavril’

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Really? We Need to Spend Money on THIS?

OK, Oprah has truly lost it.  She thinks the world would be a better place if we all just learn to ‘just say hello.’  If I run into Oprah one day soon and ‘just say hello,’ do you think it will really brighten her day?  Did they really get Jennifer Aniston, Ellen DeGeneres and Tom Hanks to participate in this?  Or did they just find clips of everyone saying ‘hello?’  Hello, I think they really think they are part of something big here.  Now, I know I sound SO cynical, I guess I could be wrong.  But watch this and see if you agree:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, author and former advisor to Hillary Clinton, tries to make this credible by explaining the importance of personal contact.  (I smell a new book club book coming soon…) This is true, as we get lost in the world of social media more and more.  But how ironic is it that Oprah is asking you to Tweet, Vine, Facebook etc your ‘say hello’ moments?  Isn’t the point to increase ‘face-to-face’ contact?

The U.K.’s Daily Mail has noted that Julia Roberts is part of the campaign.  Julia’s half-sister just died of a drug overdose, and was apparently very sad and lonely and tweeted not-so-nice things about ‘America’s sweetheart.’  So does #justsayhello need Julia, or does Julia need this for a PR move?  See I told you I was cynical.  Gotta go, I need to call all those long lost friends posting on Facebook and make sure I just say hello.

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The Genuineness of Jay

Waking up this morning was rough – because I had to stay up to watch Jay Leno’s last Tonight Show.  Over the past months, I’ve seen Ellen DeGeneres, Matthew McConaughey, and many other guest stars thank Jay for his generosity, kindness, and support in their careers.  Last night Billy Crystal talked about how Jay’s tiny Boston apartment used to be like a shelter for comedians on the road. The night before Sandra Bullock thanked him for always being supportive ‘no matter what her life choices’ (Jesse James, perhaps?) – as if she sees him as a father figure after all these years.  With so many people who love him, it’s hard to blame him for not being on Team Coco.

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Critics of Leno say he stole the Tonight Show job from its ‘rightful heir’ David Letterman.

I personally feel very defensive of Jay, maybe it’s because I hate to see an older yet still at the top of his game talent forced out.  I’m a fan of Jimmy Fallon, whose likability stems from his adorable awkwardness and his seemingly endless knowledge of pop culture.  But it’s not going to be the same.  Jay’s monologue was always a great recap of the day, and usually pretty fair-handed politically.  And since the announcement of his departure, I’d say the monologue has become even sharper and funnier.  He obviously has a great team behind him, and some of the man-on-the-street bits they’ve come up with are classic, like the guy testing out fake new products on customers.  

Jimmy Fallon’s humor is usually more ‘long form,’ and sometimes wears on you a little before they are done.  (The ‘Slow Jams News’ for example.)  Of course he can always pull the ‘surprise guest star Justin Timberlake’ card out of his pocket which will instantly send everyone under 55 swooning.  I’m sure Jimmy will be given plenty of time to succeed, but now Dave is the old guy and the two Jimmys will be in competition for the millennials.  (I think I have detected Kimmel moving a little more toward the middle to prepare for this new landscape.)

Back in the 90’s I was living in Burbank and not really a fan of Jay.  I was a cool hip Letterman lover.  One day at the gym I was on the treadmill reading ‘The Late Shift’ when the woman next to me asked me whom I preferred ‘Leno or Letterman?’  I told her I was more of a Dave fan, and when I asked her if she’d read the book, she responded tersely, ‘I lived it.’  Based on her reputation, I’m lucky Helen Kushnick didn’t knock me off of my treadmill.  http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1141861/bio#mini_bio

It was that November when my parents visited me in California that I became a Jay convert.  My radio connections afforded me great access to VIP treatment at Universal Studios, the House of Blues and of course tickets to sit in the studio audience at The Tonight Show.  I didn’t have any special ‘backstage’ access, but when Jay came out to say hello before the taping and take a few questions, I felt a sudden burst of bravery.  I shot up out of my seat and said ‘Jay – my parents are here all the way from Texas and it’s their anniversary today!’  Leno said, ‘Really?  Well come down here, I think we’ve got something for your parents.’  By the time we had made our way to the stage, a frantic-looking Jay came running out from backstage carrying a paper plate full of cookies he had swiped from the green room.  He presented them to me saying, ‘Here ya go, we got these for your folks since the only thing you got them was free tickets to the Tonight Show!’  The crowd laughed, I think I remember Jay asking my father how many bathrooms were in his house but it was all a blur after that.  All I knew was that Jay had made that anniversary one of the most memorable ones ever.  

I sat in the audience several times after that, to fawn over guest stars or treat my out-of-town visitors.  Jay Leno consistently came across as spontaneous, funny and friendly.  I thought that if more people could see THIS part, they would like him so much more.  Compare that to the icy aloofness of Letterman’s pre-show, and Jay wins every time.

After having seen him in person, and watching his final farewell last night, I am still impressed with the genuineness of Jay.  I don’t care if that makes me less cool, or old and out of touch with the millennials.  He deserves a break, to tinker with his cars and take long trips with his wife Mavis.  I hope he can be happy in his post-Tonight Show world.  

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A surprise musical number from friends of Jay (L-R): Sheryl Crow, Carol Burnett (look it up kids!), Oprah, Kim Kardashian, Jack Black, Chris Paul of the LA Clippers, Billy Crystal, and Jim Parsons

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Jay in his pre-show uniform, denim on denim. He loves it so much, Ellen DeGeneres had a denim Snuggy made for him.Image

 

 

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‘It Is Your Destiny’

 

Lately I’ve been thinking a lotImage about fate and destiny.  (Maybe this is my mid-life crisis?)  Do we have the ability to change fate?  How much is our ‘destiny’ affected when we make different choices and follow what appears to be the best path?  It can be overwhelming to consider.  Being a Christian makes it easier, because you have faith that a higher power is in charge and everything happens for a reason.  I used to have a framed copy of ‘Desiderata’ on my wall, the 1927 poem written by Max Ehrmann.  ‘And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.’   I had this up where I could see it because the man I had expected to spend my life with suddenly died in a car accident.  It’s hard to understand tragedies like that, but fortunately with the help of good friends, family, and faith, I was able to get through it.  And then I immersed myself in a career which became my primary concern for the next 17 years.  

So sometimes I wonder what path my life would have been on if that had not occurred.  Would I be a full-time mom with kids heading to college soon?  Possibly.  But perhaps that was not my destiny.

Movie makers have always been fascinated by this subject.  Can you change fate?  Maybe that is why time travel is such a great vehicle in film and has made for some of the most compelling Star Trek episodes and movies.  In ‘Back to the Future’ Marty accidentally messes up his parents’ first meeting, and if he doesn’t correct the situation he and his siblings will be ‘erased’ from the future.  But as fate would have it, his involvement actually ends up improving their whole situation and makes his life in the future better.  

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So do we stumble into different choices by fate or do we seek them out?  If you are unhappy with your life, do you just sit quietly and say, ‘This must be my destiny.  The universe is unfolding as it should.  It’s all happening for a reason.’  George McFly needed his son to come back in time and awaken him (with a little help from Van Halen) to his real destiny.  

How do you know your ‘true destiny’ when you see it?  Luke didn’t want to believe that Darth Vader was really his father (we were ALL in denial about that back in 1980) but that didn’t mean he had to turn evil and serve the Emperor.  

There are many interesting quotes on the subject, and I found two which demonstrate opposite views.  One from French fabulist (that means he wrote fables, not that he thought he was ‘fabulous’) Jean de La Fontaine, and the other from motivational speaker Tony Robbins:  

A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.  – Jean de La Fontaine

It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.  – Tony Robbins

Of course the motivational speaker is going to tell you ‘your fate is up to you.’  The Frenchman is going embrace the inevitable and just enjoy his glass of wine.  

Are you meeting or shaping your destiny?

 

 

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