Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Experience With The Personal Trainer

So, last night I met with a personal trainer at the gym I recently joined. One of the “perks” of joining this gym is that you get a complimentary session with a personal trainer. I really didn’t know what to expect, but kind of thought that we would discuss some of my goals and that he would develop a plan for me and I would go about my business. As it turns out it was a little different than that.

We did sit down for a few minutes and discuss my goals and reasons for joining the gym as I expected. Then we went over to the weight lifting equipment where I thought he would show me how to do some things and then put those items in the plan I thought he was going to put together for me. Instead, he had me hop on the equipment and do 20 reps of every kind of leg press imaginable. On one of the machines, he had 190 pounds of eight on it! 190 pounds! Seriously? Does this man not know how lazy I’ve been for the last 33 years of my life? But, I powered through – for seven minutes! That’s right, go ahead and laugh, because I laughed too! After seven minutes of this guy saying “one more” and “come on” and “higher” or “deeper” I couldn’t go any further. I thought I was going to vomit, pass out and die of thirst all at the same time. It would not have been pretty. Clearly I haven’t done much weight lifting/training in my day. In fact, yesterday’s seven minutes reminded me of why I quit playing softball – I hate weight training!

After the most excruciating seven minutes of my life, I sat back down at the guy’s desk and tried to catch my breath and keep from vomiting in his garbage can. My legs felt like jello and I was afraid that if I got up to walk that my legs would buckle under me and I would crash to the floor. I was able to muster up enough courage to go and get a drink of water from the fountain before I fainted or fell over from lack of leg mobility.

After the most wonderful water break of my life, I headed back over to the desk and we discussed what the best route for me would be. Unfortunately, he didn’t put a plan together for me like I had hoped. Basically, the whole “free session with a trainer” thing is to try and get people to sign up with a personal trainer, which would be great if I had money to throw around, which I don’t, so I won’t. If anything, yesterday’s session was a motivator in the fact that I need to get my butt in gear and attempt to get in better shape. I mean, seven minutes, really? That’s terrible and I’m ashamed that’s all I can do, but it makes me laugh too and it really does make me want to do better for myself and my health.

After the meeting with the personal trainer, I walked on the treadmill for about 20 minutes to keep my legs from getting stiff. They are of course terribly sore today and I am walking as slow as a turtle. I’m sure people are wondering what the heck is wrong with me. I’m heading back to the gym after work today and will be working on arms, which means that tomorrow I may not be able to walk or lift anything – that should be interesting. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and hope that I’ll be losing some pounds soon. One of the biggest things we all need when attempting something like this is motivation and I hope you will all keep me motivated through this adventure, and feel free to make fun of my seven minutes or the way I’m walking today at any time – I think we could all use a good laugh from time to time.

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's Me Again

Well, I have rejoined the land of the internet. For those of you who have not heard, my work computer was confiscated by the IT department because it was having problems connecting to the network and I couldn’t access the internet or email. This happened on Monday afternoon. Come to find out my computer had not one, not two, but nine viruses and had to be cleaned up by IT before it was returned to me – late Thursday afternoon. In addition to all the virus nonsense, I also had other problems at work. It was one of the most stressful work weeks I have had in I don’t know how long and as a result, I ended up taking the day off on Friday to try and regain my sanity and level out my blood pressure. I was so emotionally exhausted that I actually slept in until about 8:00 on Friday, which is really late for me; so, it was obvious that I needed some rest.

Now that I’ve got the internet and email back up and running, my personal cell phone has quit working. With the help of The Tide, some milk was spilled on my phone and it is now not working at all. Thankfully, I have the insurance and can get a replacement phone, but Sprint is closed on Sundays! Hello! Who closes on Sundays? So, I hope to get that issue resolved today – and soon. Being without a cell is like walking around naked, or so it feels. I certainly hope everyone has a great week, and when you say your prayers, ask that I have a great week too! Love ya’ll!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

This is how I feel about my computer sometimes.

I’ve got a case of the Mondays today, how about you? It’s not often that I feel completely unmotivated (or is it?), but today is definitely one of those days. I guess a weekend of being lethargic and watching basketball non-stop will do it to you.

When I came in to work today, there was a “Happy Belated Birthday” sign written on my white board and balloons in my cubicle. I happen to know for a fact that the balloons were left over from another girl at work whose birthday was on Friday – I helped blow them up. For some reason I found this all to be annoying and I popped all the balloons, which was really loud and probably scared a few people. Later on in the morning when our secretary got to work, she brought over some coffee cake and cupcakes that she bought at Kroger this morning to “celebrate my belated birthday.” I guess everyone felt guilty about not celebrating it on the actual day, but almost two months later is a little unnecessary if you ask me. I guess it’s the thought that counts.

Unfortunately I have no Monday Movie Review for you today. Tony and I skipped the movies once again this weekend. The next movie we are really looking forward to seeing is Clash of the Titans. Did anyone see the original? Tony has it on DVD and brought it over a while back for us to watch and it wasn’t half bad. Now, I’m really looking forward to the new one, which, of course looks much better thanks to CGI and all the other fancy special effects movie directors have these days. Tony also mentioned wanting to see Hot Tub Time Machine. Don’t ask me why, maybe it’s a guy thing; and, we’d also like to see Crazy Heart but haven’t made it out for that one either. Personally, I’m hoping it will show up at the dollar movies soon. In case you didn’t know, Huntsvillians, the Carmike Cinema over behind Wal-Mart on University Drive now has one dollar movies all day long every day and they have dollar popcorn and sodas on Tuesdays as well. We haven’t had a dollar movie joint in Huntsville since I was in high school, so this is definitely a treat. I just hope they don’t end up closing their doors.

I did see a few bands this weekend. Friday night, Tony’s band Local Orbit played and Jackie was kind enough to go see them with me. Before we saw them, we went out to see The Robertsons, which is a band that a few of our friends are in. On Saturday night, Tony and I met up with Jackie and saw Redd Letters and The Robertsons play. So, I guess you could say it was a music packed weekend.

When we weren’t listening to bands play, we were watching basketball. I still can’t believe that Kansas lost and seeing as I had them picked to win it all, well, I’m definitely not going to win the Parker Tournament Challenge. In fact, it looks like Tony may end up winning. My dad and I both lost two Final Four teams and Tony has three remaining. Such is life.

Yesterday was the selection show for the NCAA Hockey Tournament – known as the Frozen Four. UAH is playing #1 ranked Miami-Ohio on Saturday in the opening round. I wish them well, but don’t hold out hope for a victory. Back when I worked in sports information and lived in New York, I correctly picked the hockey tournament bracket from the first round to the winner – I didn’t miss a single game. That’s a feat that will most likely never be repeated.

I joined a gym last week and haven’t been to work out yet. Nice, huh? I actually haven’t had time and this week I’ve got something to do every night – Monday (Ladies’ Night Out), Tuesday (American Idol at my house), Wednesday (church), and Thursday (Wynton Marsalis concert). So, basically, I’m not going to have my first day at the gym until Friday. Next Monday I meet with the personal trainer so he can tell me how fat I am and what I can do to improve on that. I’ll keep you all posted on my progress and let you know how I’m doing. My goal is to lose 20-30 pounds, which can be discouraging at first because I always seem to gain weight when I first start working out and then I start crying and frequenting the Krispy Kreme.

There have been no more Michael Jackson sightings, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled.

My shoulder hurts today and I’m looking forward to visiting the chiropractor this afternoon.

Oh and it was snowing this morning. SNOWING! I think I mentioned on here numerous times that I was ready for the big one – I’m not. I’m ready for spring. It’s hard for me to get motivated to do anything outside when it’s 70 degrees one day and 40 the next. I’m ready for flip-flops and sundresses, open windows and the smell of a freshly mown lawn. Does anyone else out there feel this way? Usually I don’t mind the winter holding on, because it means it will soon be hot and I don’t care for hot; but this year I am ready for the sun to come out and play. The weather is not helping with my case of the Mondays.

Well, this is what happens when I open a blank word document and start typing. I’m just trying to keep you readers happy. I try my best to post Monday-Friday, but last week it just wasn’t happening and I wanted to do better by you this week. So, this is what you got for Monday – ramblings. Hope you have a good day!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Look Out Huntsville!

Apparently there is a Michael Jackson impersonator on the streets of Huntsville. I’ve heard reports of him doing his thing at the Wal-Mart in Hampton Cove and he was most recently spotted at the Fuel City at the corner of Governor’s and Whitesburg. Jackie was the one who spotted him there and she snapped the photo below with her Blackberry before driving off. Has anyone else seen this guy? I sure hope I run into him because I love a good laugh and a good impersonator! The photo Jackie took has a girl in it as well. She apparently came up to him and started dancing along. Tony said, “I’ve got to go see this guy.” If you didn’t know, Tony is a huge Michael Jackson fan and can also do the moonwalk – it was one of the first things he ever did for me. If you’ve seen this guy or know where he performs, send a shout out in the comments. UPDATE: A guy I work with saw this Michael Jackson impersonator at a wedding over the weekend. Apparently he is available for hire.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone! Saint Patrick’s Day has always been one of my favorites. I guess because it’s kind of an obscure holiday and no one really pays much attention to it.

I haven’t been blogging this week because quite frankly, I don’t really have anything to write about. Tony and I didn’t do much exciting last weekend – no movies, no plays, no musicals – and I’ve also been spending most of my spare time reading the Percy Jackson books. So, I’ve taken the opportunity to have a reprieve from writing this week. Hopefully something fun and exciting will take place over this coming up weekend and I can share it with you all next week. Until then…

May the sun always shine on your windowpane
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain
May the hand of a friend always be near you
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
~ Irish blessing

Happy St. Pat’s!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Random Thoughts for Friday

Well, it’s Friday and all week I have planned on doing a random thoughts post. Although now that it’s Friday, I can’t think of much to randomly say – probably because this has been an exhausting work week, I’ve had a frustrating day, and my head has been hurting off and on for two days. The first thought I actually typed up last week. So, at least I had a head start.

Once again, the US Postal Service is mulling over the idea of dropping Saturday delivery and guess what else – raising the rates again! Seriously, USPS, this is getting ridiculous. I understand that the USPS is losing money, but why do we have to have a rate change every stinkin’ year? Why can they not raise the rate to, say, 50 cents and then not raise it again for a few years. I know they have the “forever” stamp that can still be used when the rates increase, but the forever stamp is U-G-L-Y and I prefer pretty stamps. So, USPS, if you’re listening – cancel Saturday delivery; it’s really not a big deal and the workers can watch college football in the fall; and would you please have a six or seven cent increase that will last a few years instead of a two cent increase every year. I’m just saying.

The Parker Griffith commercials are REALLY annoying the snot out of me! I have never been a fan of this man, and I never will be. I hear his stupid commercial at least three times every morning while getting ready for work. Finally, one day last week I happened to be looking at the TV when it came on and I happen to know two of the idiots on the commercial. The funny thing is I’ve known them since I was in college and have always thought they were idiots and now that they are supporting Parker Griffith for Congress, my suspicions have been confirmed! I hope he loses in the primary!

Speaking of commercials, it seems like I am seeing more people I know starring in commercials then ever before. In addition to the two people mentioned above, a guy I work with is on a couple of the Redstone Federal Credit Union commercials and my very first boyfriend is on another one; and earlier this week I could have sworn I saw a girl I grew up going to church with on a commercial for a local lawyer. I want to know how to cash in on the commercial extravaganza!

I don’t know about the rest of you American Idol watchers, but I was TOTALLY shocked when Lily Scott got booted off of the show last night. I liked her a lot. I guess that’s what happens when I don’t vote, huh? Well, maybe she will still do well in her singing career, I mean look at Chris Daughtry!

My uncle won the showcase showdown on The Price Is Right this week – I am not kidding. My grandmother called me on Wednesday and asked me to record Thursday’s show because my uncle had called her and told her to watch because he might be in the audience. I recorded it, but didn’t watch it (I will now!) and then today found out he won a trip to Whistler, a trip to Hawaii, a jet ski and a snow mobile; and when he spun the wheel – it landed on $1.00, so he won $1,000 also! This is the same uncle who last year inherited about half a million dollars from a woman he wasn’t even related too! How does one person get so lucky?

Well, these random thoughts didn’t turn out half bad, I guess. Have you got a question for Nat, well, leave it in the comments and maybe I’ll answer it next week. Until then, have a good weekend!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday Movie Review - Alice In Wonderland

As promised – the second movie review of the week; this time for Alice in Wonderland, which has been a highly anticipated film. Directed by the ever so interesting Tim Burton and starring none other than his good friend Johnny Depp and his domestic partner of almost 10 years, Helena Bonham Carter, this movie was an absolute delight.

Everyone knows the story of Alice and her adventures in Wonderland (unless you’ve been living in a cave) and the story has been told over and over and over again. Mr. Burton’s film, however, is a bit different from versions you may have seen in the past. Rather than Alice being a young girl, as is the case in every other film and play, Alice is 19 years old in this film and she is returning to Wonderland for the first time since she was a small child. Rather than have Alice hop from scene to scene encountering various characters of sorts, this version actually tells a story. The movie is also in 3D (what is it with 3D films these days) although it doesn’t seem like there are an overwhelming number of 3D scenes and it would be just as entertaining in 2D.

The film was extremely well cast in my opinion, which as I’ve mentioned in the past can help a production beyond measure. I found this film to be interesting from start to finish and four days after having seen it, I find that I like it even more know than I originally thought I did. It’s one of those films that would be worth seeing again and I’ll probably purchase it once available on DVD.

The movie just opened this past weekend, and debuted at the number one spot; so, you should have plenty of time to go out to the theater and see it. It’s worth the watch.

Tony's take: pretty good

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday Movie Review - Percy Jackson

This past weekend, Tony and I went to see a couple of movies which I will review here over the next two days. The first movie I want to tell you about is Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

As I have mentioned in the past, if a movie is based on a book, then I am a firm believer in reading the book before you see the movie. Tony got me the Percy Jackson set of books for Valentine’s Day so that I could read the first book before we saw it. (I’m currently on book number three – they are really good.) I finished the book a couple of weeks ago and Saturday we decided to see the movie. I’ve also mentioned in the past that I absolutely hate it when a movie steers far away from the book and that is exactly what happened in the case of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. I was extremely disappointed in this movie. I mean really, how hard is it to write a script based on a novel; especially when the novel is less than 400 pages? I just don’t get it. I really don’t. If I wrote a book and sold the rights to filmmakers, I would make absolutely sure that the film script was true to my novel and it certainly wasn’t in this case. Maybe I’m just a nit-picker, but I didn’t care for this film at all. On the other hand, Tony has not (and probably will not) read the book and he really liked it or in his words, “it was pretty good.” But, keep in mind, he says “pretty good” about everything. Maybe he will leave a comment letting you know his opinion.

Here are some of the differences I noticed in the movie:

• In the book, Annabeth has a signature New York Yankees baseball cap that makes her invisible when she is wearing it. This cap happens to be mentioned in the book no less than 50 times. There was no Yankees cap in the movie.
• In the book, when Percy arrives at camp, he does not know who his father is. Later on, during a game of capture the flag, Poseidon claims Percy as his son. This did not happen in the book. Once Percy arrived at camp, he was told Poseidon was his dad. I was really looking forward to the claiming scene and it didn’t happen.
• In the book, Camp Half Blood was run by Dionysus – he as not in the movie.

• In the book, the camp’s “cover” was that it was a strawberry farm. There was not one strawberry in the film.
• In the book, Clarisse, daughter of Ares, is one of the campers and she and Percy don’t get along too well. While Clarisse isn’t a huge part of book one, she is mentioned several times. There is no Clarisse in the movie.
• Speaking of Ares, in the book, while on their quest, Percy, Annabeth and Grover run into Ares who tricks them. Area was not in the movie.
• Speaking of the quest, in the book, the quest was assigned to Percy, Annabeth and Grover and in the movie they snuck out of camp to go on the quest.
• In the movie, the threesome receives a map from Luke before going on their quest. The map showed them where to get three pearls of Persephone to use in order to leave the Underworld. In the book, there was no map, they did not have to find the pearls of Persephone, and the pearls were given to Percy by a naiad under water.
• In the movie, the threesome stops in Nashville to collect one of the pearls. In the book, there was no stop in Nashville.
• In the book, the three did stop in Saint Louis, and Percy got stuck in the top of the arch with a monster and then a hole was blown in the side of the arch and Percy jumped out into the river – this didn’t happen in the book.
• When Percy went to Olympus, he went alone. In the movie, his mom rode the elevator with him and Annabeth went with him also.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. There were an innumerable amount of differences between the book and the film and I was extremely disappointed. If you’ve read the book, chances are you won’t like it much either; but, if you haven’t read the book, maybe you will.

Tony's take: pretty good

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

BTL's The Wizard Of Oz: A Review

This past Sunday, Tony and I went to see Broadway’s Theater League’s production of The Wizard of Oz and it was fabulous. As many of you know, I love, love, love Broadway plays and musicals. Last year I was lucky enough to win season tickets to the Broadway Theater League. This year, we’ve been to two shows – A Chorus Line and The Wizard of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz is based on the 1939 film of the same name, which is, as I’m sure you know, based on the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. As a child, The Wizard of Oz was one of my most favorite movies, and still is to this day. It is truly a classic in my opinion. So, when I heard the musical was coming to Huntsville, I knew I had to go.

The show had two acts and many of the lines were the exact same as in the movie. The special effects were absolutely phenomenal! The wicked witch even threw fire at the scarecrow just like in the movie. I have no idea how she did it, but both Tony and I were impressed. The songs were all from the movie as well and made me want to get up and dance and sing along – in fact, I’ve been singing them ever since Sunday night. I think Tony’s probably tired of hearing me sing “If I were king of the forest”. The show was really well cast also, which makes a huge difference in these types of productions. There were a lot of children in the audience as well and I really didn’t hear any of them moving about or talking; so, obviously the show was quite captivating to them as well. And, did I mention there was a real live Toto! That Toto was one of the most well behaved dogs I have ever seen in my life. Tony was mesmerized by the dog and how still it was during the various scenes. You can’t beat a show with a real dog!

I have seen a lot of Broadways shows in my day, but I would venture to say that The Wizard of Oz has become one of my favorites. It had one of the best sets I have ever seen and was just an all around good show. I would definitely see it again.

If you happened to miss this production of The Wizard of Oz, then check out an upcoming local production of it, coming up at the end of April put on by Fantasy Playhouse. The tickets are around $10 and it is being directed by one of my co-workers, Billy Jenkins. Fantasy Playhouse is geared toward children, so don’t be afraid to load up your little ones for a night on the town. It’s sure to be a lot of fun.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Redemption and Lord Stanley's Cup

Today’s story is 15 years in the making. You see, when I was a senior in high school, my parents, brother and I took a multiple stop Spring Break trip. We drove to Atlanta and boarded the Amtrack train and headed up the East Coast. At the time, Amtrack offered a three-city trip for a discounted price. So, we took advantage of the offer and visited New York City, Buffalo, and Philadelphia.

While in Buffalo, we rented a car and visited Niagara Falls and one day drove up to Toronto to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame. We were all excited about this trip since we all loved hockey; not to mention the opportunity to see Lord Stanley's Cup!

We arrived at the Hockey Hall of Fame and my dad bought our tickets. We took a tour of the facility and played all the games that they had available. There was one were you could go into a recording booth and do the play-by-play for a game; another where you could shoot pucks into a net and so on.

At one point during the day, and it may have been on the tour, we were able to enter the room where the Stanley Cup resides. We were so excited. My dad was ready with camera in hand to take everyone’s photo with the Stanley Cup. We stood beside it with large smiles on our faces! We couldn’t believe our luck – after all it’s not everyone who gets to be up close and in person with Lord Stanley’s Cup. After we all had our photo taken with the cup, we walked around the room looking at the various awards and bands that had been taken off of the cup. It was a really fun and enjoyable day and we were all glad we had come. We got back in the car and headed east to Buffalo to spend the night before our morning train trip to Philadelphia.

Our first tour in Philadelphia was the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We walked around, took some photos and then started on a tour. I will never forget the next moment. I remember it like it was yesterday and I can see the image in my mind so vividly it’s almost like it’s in slow-motion. I remember sitting on a wooden bench along a wall waiting on the next portion of the tour. It seems like my mom was sitting next to me and my brother on her other side. My dad was standing up and the next thing we knew he had dropped the camera. Now, this may not seem like a big deal this day and age – that is unless you break your camera – but, in 1995, digital cameras were non-existent. This was the age of film and when my dad dropped that camera, the back door of the camera popped open and exposed the entire roll of film! No pictures of the Liberty Bell; no pictures of Independence Hall and horror of horrors – no pictures of Lord Stanley’s Cup! My dad said not to worry. He would take the film in anyway and see if there were any pictures on it – there weren’t. Nothing, nada, zilch, zero! We no longer had proof that we had stood beside and touched with our hands Lord Stanley’s Cup! Who would believe us without proof?!

Flash forward 15 years – last Tuesday, my dad called me. Left a message and said he had some exciting news to share. I had no idea what it could have been; so, I called him as soon as I could. “Lord Stanley’s Cup is going to be at the UAH game on Friday!” my dad said. I was so excited I could hardly stand it! Redemption – at last! There would be no film exposure this time around!

Once Friday rolled around I was so excited it put me in one of the best moods ever! I was jumping around like a school girl with a big smile on my face all day! My dad came and picked me up and then we drove over to Tony’s to pick him up and we headed to the VBC. The doors opened at 4:00 and we got there about 3:45. My dad stood in line while Tony and I handled the ticket purchasing – you had to buy a ticket to the game to get in and see the Cup. We were probably the fifth – seventh people in line.

My dad went first. He was like a kid in a candy store. In the first photo I took, I was trying to get just a photo of Lord Stanley’s Cup and then my dad stuck his finger in the shot because he was so excited pointing away!

I got quite a few pictures and had to shoo my dad out of the way so I could get a photo of just me and the cup and he still ended up in background – I had to crop him out. My only regret is that I didn’t get a shot of me kissing it like my dad and Tony (and Tony’s not even a hockey fan!). I felt so rushed and didn’t have time to think – it all happened so fast. I realize there were other people in line behind us, but come on – don’t rush a twice in a lifetime experience. After I had my photo taken with Lord Stanley’s Cup and then Tony, guess who wanted just one more picture – that’s right, my dad. Friday’s Stanley Cup visit didn’t have the magic of Toronto, but I finally have proof that I’ve touched the Stanley Cup – even if it is 15 years overdue.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Movie Review - Valentine's Day

This past Sunday, Erika and I went to see “Valentine’s Day.” Erika had won tickets for the movie and invited me to go along with her. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film. I had heard mixed reviews about it and generally speaking when a film has a large ensemble cast, the movie tends to suffer. The only exception (in my opinion) being the Ocean’s films, which often tend to make me laugh, or drool, depending on who’s on the screen. A prime example of a film that had a large cast and I thought was terrible would be “He’s Just Not That Into You.” That movie had some potential, but was absolutely terrible; again, my opinion.

“Valentine’s Day”, is, of course, a romantic comedy. It is a heartwarming film about people, relationships, love and break-ups. The previews for the movie looked like it wouldn’t be half bad; but, again, with the large cast, I just wasn’t so sure. So, when Erika asked me to tag along with her I was more than happy to say yes so I could see what this film was all about.

There are many story lines in the film, a lot of which are intertwined with one another, but the movie was easy to follow, nonetheless. All of the acting was well done and it seemed as though most of the characters had equal screen time. Well, maybe Ashton Kutcher had a little more, but seriously, who’s going to complain about that? There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments as well; and not just ones from the previews. In fact, I think my loud laughing may have run off one of the other two people in the theater. Either that or she just didn’t like the film. I would recommend this movie to any gal who is looking for a good pick-me-up chick-flick. It doesn’t require a lot of thinking, which is typical of chick-flicks, but also good when you just want to watch something light hearted. I don’t imagine this film will be out much longer; so, if you don’t have a chance to see it in the theater, check it out when it’s released on DVD later this year.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wintzell's Oyster House: A Review

This is the week of reviews, I guess. Today’s review is of a restaurant, though, so, it’s a little different. Tony and I went to Wintzell’s Oyster House on Saturday before the symphony. We were looking to go somewhere new for a change of pace; so, Wintzell’s is what we decided on. I found this a little surprising since Tony isn’t much of a seafood eater; but, he likes fish occasionally and I guess he was up for a change of pace as well.

I don’t eat oysters. I don’t even know if I’ve ever tried them; I don’t think I have. So, in all honesty, if I tried them I might love them and never look back. My grandfather loves oysters and he and my grandmother have eaten at Wintzell’s three or four times since it opened in Huntsville and he loves the oysters there.

We arrived at 5:45 and were told there would be a 30 minute wait. So, we took our seats and looked over the menu and it also gave me an opportunity to interview Tony about our Harry experience from Thursday night. The wait took exactly 30 minutes; so, they are good at judging the wait time, or at least they were on this particular night. The place was packed too. We got there at just the right time because people started pouring in and the wait was up to an hour when we were seated at our table.

The show started at 7:30 p.m. and we were sat at our table at 6:15 and I was so nervous that we wouldn’t get our food and be finished eating and make it to the VBC on time. If you know me, then you know I hate being late. Even the thought of it makes me a wreck; but, Tony, he is always late and doesn’t really care that he is. So, he wasn’t sweating bullets; meanwhile, however, I was wringing my hands thinking about being the late person.

I had the fried shrimp platter (can’t beat fried seafood) and Tony had the blackened Tilapia. We both really enjoyed our dinner. The friend shrimp is apparently Wintzell’s own recipe and the breading had a spicy kick to it. It was really quite delicious. I had fries as my side item and they were also good. Sometimes fries can be blah, but these were crispy and salty, just the way I like them. The hushpuppies also had a kick to them and were quite good. I’m a tartar sauce lover, but am picky about the way it is made. The tartar sauce at Wintzell’s was exceptionally good. We both had salads with our meal, which were fresh and had homemade croutons, and were also served French bread with the salads which was buttered and grilled – also very good.

The service from Scott, our waiter, was great. Having been a waitress in the past, I am very particular about the type of service I receive when I am out. Scott did a great job. He was very prompt and polite and we got our food, ate and made it to the VBC with time to spare.

If you like seafood, then I would definitely recommend Wintzell’s Oyster House. The prices are more reasonable at lunch and little higher for dinner, but well worth it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Classical Mystery Tour And The HSO

Saturday evening, Tony and I went to the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra’s pop series concert, “Classical Mystery Tour.” If you’ve never been to the symphony, you should go. It is always a lot of fun. I love watching the different instruments being played and find it so fascinating how it sounds so powerful and so much more alive in person.

The “Classical Mystery Tour” is actually a group of four guys who dress up as and sing songs by The Beatles. They play guitars, piano and the Ringo plays drums, of course, while the symphony plays along with them. Tony and I are both huge Beatles fans and so when I won tickets to the symphony at work a few months ago, I knew this show was our only option.

When we first got there, we found our seats and I was sitting next to a man that had to have been in his 80s. I gathered (from eavesdropping) that he and his (I assume) wife were season ticket holders to the symphony. We also looked around and saw a guy we work with there; he was a couple of rows behind us. We gathered that he was there because it was a Beatles show because I doubt this particular guy would be into the symphony; but I could be wrong.

The set list for the evening was handed out as we took our seats and Tony was disappointed that some of his favorites weren’t on there. The Beatles recorded over 200 songs; so, it’s doubtful that these guys would get to everyone’s favorite song. When they first came out on stage, they were dressed in the black suits that The Beatles wore when they first hit the scene. The guy that portrayed Paul could easily pass as his twin; they look so similar and their mannerisms were very similar too. There were three empty seats in front of us and right before the show started, a man came in and sat down in front of me. He was wearing a hat and I wasn’t sure if he planned to take it off. Thankfully, he did. He kept looking around like he was waiting for someone, but must have given up on the mystery person’s arrival because he moved over a seat and was now in front of Tony. The next thing we knew he was answering his phone and proceeded to have a conversation – while the show was going on! I couldn’t believe it. If it had continued much longer, I would have asked him to leave; but he finally told the person to call back and leave a message. I really don’t understand people that do this. I’ve had this happen in the movie theater and other places and I just don’t understand. Can you really not stand to answer your phone? Why are you so rude and inconsiderate? Did your parents not teach you any manners?

After the first set, there was a 20 minute intermission and seized the opportunity for a bathroom break. Of course I had to stand in line for half of that time and listen to ladies tell their Beatles stories, which I really wasn’t interested in.

The second set started and Tony thought they really turned it up a notch. The second set was quite a bit better; plus, they had had a few technical difficulties during the first set. The cell phone talker man came back in and then left mid-way through the second set, never to be seen again. I’m not really sure what was going on with him, Maybe he was upset that he didn’t have a plus one.

After the second set, the guys received a standing ovation and then came out for an encore. They played “Hey Jude,” which is one of my favorites. When they asked the audience to sing along, I looked over at the older gentlemen next to me (remember in his 80s, easily) and he was singing along like it was nobody’s business. Then everyone ended up on their feet clapping and waving their hands in the air and Mr. 80s was doing it too. It cracked me up. The Beatles’ music spans and touches the heart and soul of multiple generations, which cannot be said of many entertainers.

This was a very good show and if it comes to Huntsville again, I will definitely consider going. We both liked Rain better – Rain is another Beatles show that is fantastic – but liked this show as well. My favorite songs of the night were “A Day In the Life” and “Hey Jude” and Tony liked “Golden Slumbers.” We both cracked up when “Ringo” sang “Good Night.” When he as whispering at the end, it was all I could do to control my laughter. The guys also changed into Sargent Pepper costumes as well as clothes from when The Beatles preformed in the 1970s, including John’s white suit. I would recommend this show to anyone who is a Beatles’ fan.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Basketball Tournament With My Dad

This past Friday, my dad and I went to Birmingham for the Alabama High School Basketball Tournament. We try to go one day every year; which is actually rather odd considering neither one of us is a big fan of basketball. We’ve been going since I was in high school, maybe even junior high. When I was younger, the whole family would go and we would go every day of the tournament. Now, we just pick one day to go and we stay the whole day.

This year we picked Friday because the Madison Academy boys and girls were playing in the Class 3A finals; and, since my dad and just about everyone else in my family is an alumnus of MA, we try to support them as much as possible. My dad came by and picked me up around 8:30 on Friday morning and we hit the road, stopping off at Hardee’s in Decatur for some breakfast.

The day before we had both entered to win tickets to the tournament on a blog and the winner was supposed to be announced at 10 a.m. So, we called Tony, who was stuck at work, and asked him to check on it for us. Finally the results were posted and… we didn’t win. Since we didn’t have to go anywhere to pick up tickets, we found a parking spot. We had been driving around in circles while Tony was trying to find out if we were winners and spotted a lot sponsored by the VFW and decided we would park there. However, by the time we pulled in and parked, there was no one around to take up money. So, we parked waited around a few minutes and since no one ever came, we started walking to the arena –we got free parking!

Once we got to the arena, we bought our tickets and found a seat inside. The first sets of games were semi-final games and most of those were pretty good. We had brought a backpack full of snack food to munch on and I had also frozen some bottled sodas for us. My dad asked for one of his sodas and I handed him the one that was most thawed. Well, when he opened it, it spewed everywhere. It got on the seats, the floor, our clothes, the guy in front of us. So, a word to the wise, if your bottled soda is frozen solid and has only thawed a little bit, do not open it unless you want soda all over you and everyone around you. I had some napkins and wet wipes so we were able to clean up pretty well and we shared with the guy in front of us so he could wipe off his sweater and head. When it came time for the second Class 6A boys’ semi-final, we were surrounded by fans from Homewood and let me tell you, they were obnoxious! I graduated from Hoover and so naturally I didn’t like Homewood while in high school, but my goodness, my dislike was confirmed when sitting around their kicking and screaming and flailing fans.

After the Homewood game, everyone was asked to leave the arena and buy another ticket for the evening final session, which would feature Class 2A girls’, and Class 3A girls and boys. We waited around and let a lot of the people clear out before we started out ourselves. Now, if you go to these tournaments often, then you know that when the arena is cleared before the next session, people will place their folded newspapers and game programs over the seats in the arena to save their spot. Everybody knows this and it’s common courtesy to not take those seats. As we were about to walk up the stairs, I noticed a guy picked up one of these seat saving programs. At first I thought he was just going to look at something and put it back, but no, he looked at it and took it with him. Then he took some newspapers on another row. For some reason this really cracked me up and I also made the determination that there was no way we were leaving anything to save our seats.

I made a pit stop on the way out and when I came out of the restroom my dad was lingering around the fruit smoothie stand talking to a couple of girls. When he saw me he told me we were just going to hang out there with them so we wouldn’t have to leave and pay to get back in. One of the girls worked at the smoothie stand and another one knew one of the Birmingham cops and he told her she didn’t have to leave so we just hung out there with her as if we were all together. At one point someone told us to leave and about that time the cop walked by and pointed to the girl and said that she was with him, and so that person thought we were all together. The plan worked. As my dad says, the preacher never pays!

The final session of the day didn’t turn out as well. Both Madison Academy teams lost for the second year in a row. We left the boys’ game a little early because we knew they were beat and we wanted to get a jump start on the traffic. We stopped at Wendy’s for a burger on the way out of town to balance out all the snack food we had been munching on for most of the day. We finally headed south for good and my dad told me stories about his latest goings on the whole way home, which was funny and good because it kept me awake. Despite the MA losses, it was a really good day, one that I always look forward to.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tony Stole My Harry Moment

This past Thursday, Tony and I went to the Harry Connick, Jr. concert. As I mentioned in my last post, I have loved Harry since I was 15 years old and I own all of his CDs. I would venture to say that if I had to choose one person’s music to listen to for the rest of my life, it would be Harry. Yep, that’s how much I love him.

This story actually starts back on January 23 when the tickets for this show went on sale. I went down to the VBC an hour before the tickets went on sale to stand in line so that I could get a good seat. There was no way I was going to be stuck far away from Harry. So, I arrived at the VBC at 9:00 a.m. armed with a folding chair and a book and stood in line behind five other people who managed to get there before me. In fact, the first two people in line had been there since 6:00 a.m. When the ticket windows opened, my heart started pounding! I knew I was going to get an awesome seat! When it was my turn to go up to the window the lady said I’ve got two on the front row. I’ll take ‘em, I said, trying not to scream with excitement! I paid for the tickets and skipped out the door with a smile on my face and a song in my heart!

Finally the day arrived for the concert. I took half a day off from work so I could go home and nap in order not to be too tired for the show, which started at 8:00. Tony and I went to Mikato for dinner, which was awesome, as always, and then headed over to the VBC. We walked in to the concert hall only to discover that we were not on the front row, but on the fourth row! The fourth row! For a whole month I thought I would be on row number one, only to find out I had been duped my the ticket counter lady. Our row was “A” and maybe that’s why she thought it was the front row, but there were three rows in the orchestra pit and “AA” was actually row number one. To make matters worse, a man I work with, who was in line behind me was on the row in front of me! I couldn’t believe it! I also figure that some people bought their tickets on the internet and that’s how they got in front of me. But, we were close to the middle of row “A” and in fact the view was incredible and closer to the piano so we had a great view when Harry tickled the ivories, as they say.

Harry came on stage singing, “We Are In Love” which is from his album, We Are In Love, from 1990, a song that I really like, I might add. Oh it was wonderful! Have you ever seen Harry in concert? If not, you should. Not only does he sing like an angel, but he is also very witty and jokes around with the audience. He could have been a stand-up comedian if he wanted, he’s a natural. So, Harry joked around with the audience and sang some songs and the next thing we knew he had come to the far side of our row and got his picture taken with a gal named Lee Ann and he also autographed a CD and a DVD for her. How this all came about, I can’t even remember, that Lee Ann had a great plan I guess, Tony said it was genius. Harry went back to singing and playing the piano and joking with the audience. He even talked about American Idol and guess what? Harry is going to be on an episode later this season! I guess the contestants are going to sing some Harry songs. They won’t hold a candle to Harry, I assure you.

In addition to interacting with that sneaky Lee Ann, Harry also talked with a guy on the front row who wore a lot of Mardi Gras beads, including one that had what Harry called a shrunken head – he said it was scary, I would have to agree. The funny thing about this is that when I saw this guy come in, I asked Tony if that guy thought he was going to get Harry’s attention with those beads. Well, if that was his plan it worked! Why didn’t I think of that?! Harry talked to this guy throughout the show and at one point called the guy a stalker because the guy seemed to know way too much about Harry.

Midway through the set, Harry brought on Lucien Barbarin to play trombone and he was fabulous! They played “Little Mardi Gras” and a few other songs and danced around on stage together. It was hilarious and fun and made me want to get up and dance! If it wouldn’t’ have embarrassed Tony, I probably would have; instead I just got up and clapped.

A little while later, Harry closed the stage curtain and said he was going to have an intermission so folks could go get another drink from the bar. He said if folks were liquored up then he would sound like a genius. The bad thing was the bar was closed. The good thing was that Harry had a Q&A with the audience. He said he never does this, but who knows? I doubt anyone goes to every show; so can anyone really prove it? Here’s where the night got interesting. I interviewed Tony for this bit of the story:

Me: What did you think about Harry before the show?
Tony: Well, I didn’t know a lot of his songs, but I liked him. I knew his Christmas songs and I liked those and I was familiar with him from his movies, in particular, Copycat. I’ve never seen Hope Floats.
Me: WHAT?! You’ve never seen Hope Floats?
Tony: No
Side note – Tony is missing out, Hope Floats is one of my all time favorites! I know every line in that movie!
Me: What was your feeling heading into the show?
Tony: I didn’t know what to expect and thought it might be all slow romantic ballads.
Me: What have you got against romantic ballads?
Tony: Nothing against them, but extended periods can become quite monotonous.
Me: What did you think after the show started?
Tony: I thought he did a good job talking with the audience. He put on a good show; pretty darn good.
Me: Would you go back?
Tony: Yes
Me: Would you pay for the tickets?
Tony: Yes
Me: So, you think it was worth the money?
Tony: Yes

While Harry was having his Q&A, he sat down on the stage and answered some questions and then he started walking in the audience. The next thing I knew, he was walking down our aisle – coming from my right side. My heart started beating so fast I think it could have powered the electricity for all of Huntsville. My hands were sweaty and I quickly racked my brain. What could I ask Harry and three seconds later I knew the answer! I would ask him to sing "Tangerine". "Tangerine" is from Harry’s album 25 from 1992 and I have had this song stuck in my head since the middle of December. I sing it everyday. It’s always been one of the songs I liked best and I have no explanation as to why because clearly there are a lot more beautiful songs than this one; but I’ve often imagined myself singing alongside Harry on this number so maybe that’s way I’ve always loved it. So, Harry started getting closer and closer and if you looked closely at me you probably could have seen my heart beating out of my chest. The next thing I knew Harry was right in front of us – he could have stepped on my toes, but he didn’t. He shook the hands of the people next to Tony and then he shook Tony’s hand and Tony said, “you were great in Copycat” and Harry said, “Thanks bro” and as I was holding out my hand to shake Harry’s hand ask him to sing "Tangerine", someone behind me asked him a question. He stopped, talked for a bit and then horror of horrors went the other way!! I didn’t get to shake his hand or request my song. I was crushed! Tony had stolen my Harry moment! Back to the interview:

Me: When Harry started down our aisle, what were you thinking?
Tony: I started having doubts about whether or not that was him in Copycat. (This is true because he asked me, that was him in Copycat, wasn’t it?)
Me: How did you feel?
Tony: A little nervous
Me: What were you thinking when you shook his hand?
Tony: Well, going into the handshake my plan was to make the move (the handshake) and get him to stop so that you could make your move. Then the person behind us asked him something. The whole operation was compromised at that moment. They are to blame! He wasn’t even on their row; they should have kept their mouth shut.
Me: And when he started walking the other way, what did you think?
Tony: Son of a b****! I felt really bad. It was a bad way to end the show.

To be quite honest, if I was able to ask Harry something, I probably would have stuttered! I was so nervous! I have never been that nervous in my life. I wish ya’ll could have felt my heart beating. I could hear it in my ears, just pounding away! When Harry decided to go the other way, I got up for a bathroom break. I had had four or five glasses of water at dinner and just couldn’t hold it any longer. Harry sang two or three more songs to end the show and then it was over. On the way out I got to hold Tony’s hand that Harry shook so I guess I got some Harry germs. Tony said he hasn’t washed that hand, but I don’t believe it.

The show was so wonderful – his best one yet of the ones I have attended! I wish he would have sung all night! When we left, we saw people standing outside the busses waiting for Harry. If it hadn’t been cold and if I had had my camera with me, I would have lurked outside as well, but it was cold and I didn’t have my camera so I went back home and laughed about how Tony stole my Harry moment. At least we will have something to look back on and laugh about; and as Tony said, “At least he was really close to us; you could even see the stubble on his face.” It’s true, and what a handsome face it is.