Saturday Night Serenade–Feeling Good

I love Michael Buble.  I’ve heard his version of this song many times.  But somehow, when searching for a post for tonight, his was somewhat unsatisfying.  That’s when I stumbled upon the 1965 version by Nina Simone.

And here’s the thing about that: My boss puts on music first thing in the morning.  He has eclectic taste, not unlike myself, and he tends to go in jags.  For weeks he’ll have music he finds inspirational (Stand By Me performed by the street musicians of Playing for Change), then moldy oldies from the sixties, or, if the mood strikes, the Florida State fight song.  Once when someone complained, he got pissed off and played bagpipe music.  I shit you not.  But one of his jags is classic bluesy-jazz, and that is where I’ve heard Nina Simone’s version a million times without realizing it.  It has more depth and soul than Michael Buble’s version.  I hope you enjoy it.  Happy Saturday night!

In The News

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A popular ‘human interest’ story in the news involved the saga of a couple of llamas that got loose in Arizona today. Sounds more like ‘critter interest if you ask me, but what do I know?

Mr. R. is the news professional in our house. He’s an assignment editor at one of our local television news stations.

“You want to hear my new punk band name?” he asked me after work today.

“Of course I do,” I replied.

“Llamas on the Loose,” he announced proudly.

The man needs a vacation.

Oscar Night

We don’t go to many movies.  They aren’t exactly great for date night.  When you go to a movie you sit in the dark and you don’t talk for a couple of hours.  When we do go, I like to go for cocktails after so we can talk about it.

Another problem with going to the movies is that I tend to treat a movie as an interactive event.  I like to shout at the screen: No, don’t go in there, that’s where the bad guy is!  You dumb ass!  We usually do our movie-watching at home when they come on cable or Netflix.

Mr. R. is not generally a fan of movies.  He puts them in two categories: those he watches (meaning he liked them, like Little Miss Sunshine), and those I make him watch (meaning he hated them, like The Descendents).

So that being said, we haven’t seen most of the Oscar-nominated movies.  That won’t stop us from watching the awards show.  More correctly, it won’t stop me from watching it.  Mr. R. just humors me.  He’s good like that.

We have actually seen one Best Picture nominee: The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Okay, we saw it because it came on HBO, but still, we saw it.  I’d like to highly recommend this movie if you haven’t seen it.

It’s a strange, odd, quirky little film, which is right up our alley, really.  If you’re open to that kind of story, where you have no idea where it’s going but you’re happy to be along for the ride, you’ll like this movie.

It’s one of those stories that begins at the end and tells the story in recollections, not unlike Ammadeus.

The stellar cast includes Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and Owen Wilson.  These amazing actors pop up unexpectedly as new characters are introduced.

IMDB describes the plot like this:  The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.  They don’t exactly make it sound riveting, but trust me, it’s interesting.  Visually, it’s cool, too.

So, tonight I’ll be sitting on the sofa with my popcorn and sauvignon blanc, rooting for Grand Budapest.  And DVRing The Walking Dead.  Priorities, people.

The Great American Race

Sunday brings us the Daytona 500, baby, known as The Great American Race.  Every February, tens of thousands of people from all over the country descend on Daytona Beach for the spectacle.  Some call it the ‘Super Bowl’ of auto-racing, but the truth is that the Daytona 500 is the first race of the season.

Fun Fact: Mr. R. and I attended FIVE Daytona 500s in a row, back when we had running around money.  It’s an amazing experience, whether or not you enjoy NASCAR.  We’d been dating less than a year when I mentioned that it was one of my ‘bucket list’ items, so for my birthday in October, Mr. R. purchased tickets for the following February.  When I told one of my friends, she said, “When you break up, can I have his ticket?”  A few years later, I had to divorce that friend, but that’s a story for another post.

And so it was that we attended our first Daytona 500 in February 2007.  Our seats were on the back stretch, not the best seats in the place, but we were thrilled.  Words can’t adequately describe the moment when the cars first roar past at nearly 200 miles per hour.  In later visits we sat on the front stretch between the start-finish line and turn one, right across the exit to Pit Road.  We sat low in the stands, once on Row 2, which turned out to be the front row.  Ear plugs are necessary, and you can feel the roar of the engines in your chest.  You need to have a cover on your drink because you get sprinkled with tiny particles of rubber.  Being directly across from the pits, you have a great view of the drivers and the pit crews.

The race isn’t the only attraction at the Daytona 500.  Outside the speedway there’s a whole city set up with interactive fan activities and every driver has at least one merchandise truck.  The on-track pageantry is really something to see, from the Budweiser Clydesdales to the driver introductions to the pre-race entertainment.

The first year we went, we walked around the whole place just to get a feel for it.  At one point, we saw a place where there was a gap in the fence and you could look straight out onto the track.  A female security guard was stationed at that spot.  Mr. R. approached the woman with a big smile.  “Would it be okay if I just ran across the track and ran back?  Real quick?” he asked her.

“Uh–NO!” she spluttered.

“But I’m really, really fast,” he added.  We died laughing.

One of my favorite stories is the year that Brad Paisley gave a mini-concert directly across from the start-finish line.  Our seats were much further down and only those ticket-holders were allowed in that section but I really wanted to see him.  Mr. R. headed on in like a boss until we were stopped by an usher.  “May I see your tickets, please?” he said.

I rolled my eyes at Mr. R.  “I just put the tickets away,” I complained.

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” the usher apologized.

I dug them out of my purse and waited for him to tell us we couldn’t come in.  Instead, he looked over the tickets, handed them back to me, and apologized again.  “I’m sorry.  Go on in,” he said.

Some things to consider if you ever go:

  • Pay to park near the speedway, like at the mall right across the street.  Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT use the free parking.  They put out in a pasture somewhere and load you up onto school buses.  We literally spent five hours after the race was over just waiting to get out of the pasture.
  • You’re allowed to bring in food and drinks–so DO.
  • Remember ear plugs.
  • If you’re considering purchasing the official program with commemorative die-cast, do it right away.  They sell out quickly.
  • Tickets for the front stretch are more expensive, and worth it.
  • And, oh, by the way, there’s a Krispy Kreme just down the street from the speedway.  Just saying…

I’m a little sad to be watching this year’s race from home.  But we have great memories of our times at The Great American Race.

There’s A Hole

Early this morning at work, the entire staff was called to together for what we were promised would be a brief meeting.  I grumbled about being called away from what I was trying to get accomplished, but went nevertheless.

Once we were all together, I noticed a few people in tears.  The boss cleared his throat uncomfortably.  “There’s no easy way to say this.  Rich died on Sunday.”  Rich was a coworker who worked in a different department from me.  We weren’t friends exactly, but he had his lunch when I did, so I saw him every day.  He was about our age, which is to say, way too young to drop from a massive heart attack.

I blinked.  What?  How can that be?  I just saw him on Friday.  He was talking about his catering side business.  He had mountains of chocolate-dipped strawberries to make and deliver for Valentine’s Day.  He was funny, and witty, and he seemed healthy and vital, in spite of being what I would call a ‘big guy.’  Grief counselors were called in and were available all day to anyone who felt the need.  We weren’t close, I didn’t feel that talking to the grief counselors was necessary.  But I dreaded going to lunch.  I knew there’d be a hole where Rich used to sit.  And there was.

And that brought my thoughts to Mr. R.  He doesn’t always take the best care of himself.  There are small changes he could make to be healthier.  There’s a hole in my life left by a someone who I simply took for granted would be at lunch every day.

How much bigger the hole if my sweet were gone.  I need to appreciate him every moment.