Saturday, January 25, 2020

Music

In my effort to drown out the impeachment, the coronavirus, and most of the other bad news flooding the airwaves these days, I've been listening to music by two artists I hadn't been familiar with: Leon Bridges and Jill Barber. I happened to hear a song called "Texas Sun" by Leon Bridges and a band called Khruangbin on a Sirius station while I was driving and really liked it, so I looked into some of his other music. He's very talented and I hate that I'm late to the game in even hearing of him, but I don't tend to listen to a lot of modern music.

Jill Barber came on my radar when I was looking for Louis Armstrong's version of "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" (thanks, Grantchester!) and I listened to her version via iTunes and was hooked. Her version "A Kiss..." is really great not only because of her voice, but because of the arrangement. The violin sections are really wonderful. She also sings a version of "Sukiyaki" that I enjoy.

After watching the first season of "The Politician" on Netflix, I was driven to download Billy Joel's "Vienna" (which, unfortunately, is not on my Billy Joel's greatest hits CD) and James Taylor's version of Joni Mitchell's song "River." I am not a Mitchell fan, but JT's version of "River" is very soothing and very Taylor-esque. If you're a fan of his music, as I am, you'll surely enjoy it.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

This Is Why...

I need to stop watching these Netflix documentaries like the ones involving the Bikram yoga guy and the Fyre Festival because they only serve to reinforce my feeling that there are a lot of gullible people in the world. I'm constantly amazed at what people are willing to believe. This is why Donny T is POTUS. It's really sad that so many people seem to get taken my charlatans these days. You'd think with the wealth of information out there via the internet that people would do more research before investing in something, but the internet is part of the problem. There's so much bad information out there that sometimes it's hard to find the good information. When I watched both documentaries, I kept thinking about that posted from the X Files that Mulder had in his office that said "I Want to Believe." The Fyre Festival people wanted to believe they were attending an exclusive event with fashionable people. The Bikram followers wanted to believe they were in the presence of a true yogi who could transform their lives. Yeah. Okay. Irrationality loses to rationality on a daily basis. It happens to all of us from time to time, but hopefully not to such an extent.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Coyotes and Hypocrites

We've had a few coyote attacks in Chicago lately and a few of the animals have been rounded up, but I believe there's still one (or more) out there on the loose. The animal experts keep saying it's unusual for coyotes to attack humans, but they're clearly attacking folks around here. A kid was attacked and a man claimed one bit him on the ass. (The ass attack was still under investigation.) Animals are just that...animals. Their behavior is unpredictable and that's why your dog isn't held accountable for biting someone (or for biting another animal). You, as the owner, are held accountable for your dog's actions. I've watched enough episodes of The People's Court and Judge Judy to know that. Two of the theories I heard on the news were that the coyotes that attacked people around here were sick and, therefore, exhibiting abnormal behavior as a result of illness and the other theory was that the coyotes had become too familiar with people because people had been feeding them. I can believe both scenarios. I could see someone mistaking a coyote for a dog and feeding it. Sad, but true. It's still amazing to me to know that we have wild coyotes roaming the streets of Chicago. Crazy!

In other news, I was emailing with a coworker last week about Harry and Meghan's exit from the Royal Family since that fiasco has been all over the news lately. I am not a royal watcher at all. I might take a look at pictures of the kids that show up in the media, but that's about it. I don't keep up with the palace intrigue because I largely don't care. But when I was asked to give my views on Megxit, I admitted my feelings were mixed. On one hand, Harry and Meghan should live their lives as they see fit. If they want to walk away from royal life, then they should. On the other hand, I think Meghan got a rude awakening after marrying Harry and just wasn't prepared for the changes her life would take as a result. I remember telling someone back when they first announced their engagement that no amount of love in the world would make me marry into something like that, not after I'd been free and controlling my own life for more than 30 years. To go from being an independent person to under the thumb of the Queen, unable to make even basic decisions about what to wear or where to go? Forget it. But that's what she signed up for when she married into that family. Still, it kills me that the media just dump on this woman and act like the royals aren't a hot mess themselves. They're far from being squeaky clean, yet they want to pull rank on the half-black American woman? Please. Such hypocrites.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Up in Smoke

Since Illinois is now allowing for the sale of recreational marijuana (effective January 1), the dispensaries have been doing a brisk business. Business has been so brisk that some sellers have sold out and they've been forced to shut their doors due to a lack of supply for recreational users. Did they not anticipate the crowds that would come for this? Apparently not. I have issues with the legalization of marijuana for a couple of reasons. One, marijuana is a gateway drug. I've witnessed someone in my own family go from being a recreational pot smoker to being a crack smoker. It happens, people! Two, marijuana use can devastate already vulnerable people. For example, I knew someone, again, who was a recreational pot smoker for years. But she worked in a medical environment (not as a medical professional like a doctor or nurse) and when a new company took over her place of employment and required drug testing for its employees, she tried to use her daughter's drug-free urine to pass the test, was caught, and lost a job she'd had for more than ten years. This wasn't someone who was in a financial situation that enabled her to take a hit (no pun intended) like this. She wasn't wealthy. (Clearly, she had enough cash for weed, but still.) This woman lost her job because of marijuana use. It's not a harmless drug!

I'm all for people having civil liberties, but there's a dark side to marijuana use and I think a lot of folks who advocate for the legalization of weed don't see this. Illinois is broke and becoming the legal weedman allows the state to rack in a ton of cash quickly to cover costs. I saw a story on the news last week that $100 worth of legal weed in Chicago will set you back another $28 in taxes. That's almost 30% in taxes! That didn't stop folks from lining up in the cold for hours to get their legal weed on and after January 1.

Another thing that bothers me about the legal weed is that these dispensaries deal in cash only. That's a recipe for disaster! Banks don't want to deal with marijuana transactions, so the dispensaries have to deal in cash, but those places are sitting ducks for thieves. One dispensary was robbed recently and I heard on the news the thieves didn't even take any of the weed! They went straight for the cash. Better security is needed for the dispensaries and for the people visiting them.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year

For the first day of 2020, I'm really going to try and put 2019 in my rear view mirror and leave it there. Not that 2019 was a terrible year for me personally, but it wasn't that great either. I remember posting that I was going to try and go into 2019 with a more positive outlook and that worked for a while, but didn't last. (I'll try again for 2020!)

What I'd really like to see for myself in 2020 is personal growth and that may mean a change in my day job, a class, a travel adventure, or all of the above. One thing I am working on is a new book. After a lot of starts and stops, I'm finally moving forward with that and hope to have it done in another couple of months. It's been a struggle, but I feel like it's finally coming together.

Happy New Year! Keep calm and carry on!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Post-Christmas Greetings

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas and, if you're still on vacation, I hope you're enjoying the additional time off. I, unfortunately, am back to the grind, but I did have a few days off to enjoy the strangely warm weather we've been having around Chicago. Winter took a break this week and it's been quite nice, but we all know it's coming back.

I've been reading a lot lately about how bad the Cats movie is. I don't even understand who thought a movie version of Cats would be a good idea. The play is one thing, but a movie version just seems odd. Who is the audience for this? No one, apparently, given the lousy box office receipts and bad reviews. Speaking of movies, I saw Uncut Gems yesterday. Oy vey! I don't know what to make of it. Adam Sandler was good, but the movie was kind of a mess. A lot yelling, cursing, and thuggery. It wasn't my kind of movie, but it's been getting good reviews and the theater was packed when I saw it yesterday, so there is an audience out there for it.

And, speaking of audiences, there's been a lot of chatter on the internet about the Hallmark channel and their holiday movies and their censorship of commercials with gay characters (yet they claim they're open to having movies on their channel with gay characters--yeah, right). Although I don't watch the Hallmark channel, my stepmother and one of my cousins are huge fans. Why, I don't know. I guess they like the romance and escapism of their made-for-TV movies. There's something for everyone, I guess. I'd love to see them try to do a gay romance. That I would watch (hate watch) so I could complain about it later.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Kensington on the Come Up!

My old Brooklyn neighborhood and my old apartment building were featured in the real estate section of the NY Times this week. The broker I used is also featured. I couldn't believe how much the rent has increased in my old building since I left six years ago. (The couple hunting for a place didn't end up in my old building, unfortunately, because it really was a great building.) I always tell people that I couldn't afford to go back to Kensington if I wanted to and, clearly, I was right! The place is out of my price range now.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/19/realestate/19hunt-hively.html