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!
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 crowd of people who purchased track passes in addition to their race tickets.
Mrs. R. on the front row.
Pit crews at attention.
Mr. R. tries out climbing into a car.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
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.
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.
I love Valentine’s Day. I didn’t always. When you don’t have a Valentine, or when you have one who treats you badly, it’s just another day to endure, right? But with Mr. R. by my side, I’m a lucky girl.
Last Valentine’s Day we splurged, making reservations at SoLita in Delray Beach, a chi-chi joint that was getting a lot of buzz at the time. It was a horrible experience. I have never been treated so badly at a restaurant, by a host and servers who acted like they were doing us a favor to let us in. I vowed to pass the word as often as possible: NEVER go to SoLita in Delray Beach. In fact, avoid Delray Beach entirely.
If you want to go to a nice, romantic dinner, go to O-BO in Northwood Village in West Palm Beach. The food is incredible and they’re actually happy to have you there.
This year, if you recall, we’re scaling back, financially speaking. No fancy dinner out for us. That doesn’t mean we didn’t celebrate, though. Through the magic of free event tickets and a gift card, Mr. R. and I had a fabulous Valentine’s Day. We were blessed to have a beautiful day for Valentine’s Day. It was cool, in the 60s all day, with a biting breeze, but the sun was shining in a cloudless blue sky.
Our first stop was ArtiGras, for which we had free tickets. This year is the 30th anniversary of the three-day juried art show, held at Abacoa in Jupiter. The main attraction of ArtiGras is the Fine Arts Area, where some 300 artists exhibit and sell their work in thirteen different categories such as sculpture, photography, fiber, and mixed media, to name a few. Mr. R. and I had the best time strolling along and browsing the various booths.
I’m always drawn to the photography booths. We saw some really lovely pieces. Oh to have hit the Powerball and be able to afford some of them. As we were browsing one booth, a young couple came in, looked around briefly, and called the artist over.
“We’ll take two. This one and that one,” the husband said, pointing to two beautiful photos on steel, both about three feet wide and two feet high. I leaned over to Mr. R. “You realized they just dropped about $1,600.” We contented ourselves with just window shopping and daydreaming about the pieces we’d buy, where we’d put them in our home.
ArtiGras also has a children’s area where kids can do different art activities, a silent auction, and an area where local schools exhibit student art. The proceeds from the event are supposed to go to art education in local schools. Whether or not that happens, or how much actually goes to schools, I couldn’t tell you and I’m not inclined to do that research.
They’re very militant about being ‘green’, though. We’d only just walked in the gate when we were accosted by high school students who demanded our tickets. “We’re recycling,” they said. Alrighty, then. As we walked along, we noticed trash cans arranged down the middle of the street. They’d been decorated by local school children. I suppose they encourage people to ‘give a hoot and not pollute’ and they’re certainly more aesthetically pleasing than plain old garbage cans.
Having seen everything we wanted to see at ArtiGras, we left and headed east to A1A, the better to drive along the beach. It was cool and blustery, and the usual joggers and walkers were bundled up. We stopped to look at the water which was rougher than I’ve seen it in a long time, thanks to the strong breeze. Hardly anyone was relaxing on the beach. We watched the surf for a few minutes before getting back into the truck and heading to one of my favorite places on the planet, Guanabanas, for which we had a gift card.
Guanabanas is an entirely outdoor restaurant/bar in Jupiter between A1A and the Loxahatchee River. They feature fresh locally sourced seafood and great tropical cuisine. They have live music every night, and they have Happy Hour every day from 3-6 in the bar area.
Being Valentine’s Day, finding a table in the bar area was tough. Mr. R. ended up snagging us two stools at a tiny tree-side counter across from the bar. I immediately ordered my favorite Cat 5, their version of a hurricane, while he sensibly went with Diet Coke. We pondered ordering small plates, but the reality was that we weren’t actually hungry. We contented ourselves with our view of the river and the stand-up paddle boarders passing by, and with people watching, which was enjoyable. The head chef and another Guanabana-ite built a fire in a bowl just on the other side of our tree, all the better to set up a S’mores Station. We watched mostly kids roasting marshmallows to press into the tasty treats. After two Cat 5s and no small plates, I was more like six sheets to the wind as we made our way back to the truck, but I was happy as a clam. Well, who wouldn’t be?
Once we arrived home, I discovered that my sly Mr. R. had a couple of surprises for me. Somehow he always finds a way, which is reason #12 that I love him so much. We had a glorious Valentine’s Day. I hope you did, too.