Thursday, October 26, 2006

Desperate Housewives Not So Wife-like

If you are a fan of the ABC television show Desperate Housewives, tell me this: why are they called housewives? Most of the “housewives” in the show aren’t even married. Susan is divorced, although she did recently remarry her Ex just long enough to commit insurance fraud. Edie the bimbo is not married, nor are we sure if she ever has been. Bree the Stepford Wife had a husband but he was murdered by the pharmacist who was secretly in love with Bree. Thus, she was unmarried most of last season. She just remarried last week to another potential murderer, so that marriage probably won't last either. Gabrielle the Beauty Queen is in the process of divorcing her husband, while grandstanding her hatred for Carlos by sleeping with other men in front of him. She may not be divorced yet, but shouldn't that kind of behavior disqualify her from being a wife? The only true housewife on the show is Lynette. (And really the only one with any sense.)

So a more apt name for the show might be Desperate Housewife.

I’m not even sure what makes them “desperate.” Is it that they’re so busy hurting one another that they are dying to get out of the suburban graves they’ve dug for themselves? After watching my taped recording of Sunday’s episode earlier this week, it occurred to me that the show’s portrayal of middle class America is flat-out pathetic. More accurately, it’s depressing.

Mind you, it is TV and therefore pure entertainment. But if you think about it (and I don’t encourage that), Wisteria Lane seems to bring out the worst in people.

Consider what these middle class suburbanites are not only capable of but seem to excel at: divorce, alcoholism, fraud, lying, back-stabbing, committing adultery (three out of four characters in the show commit this sin), abandoning their children to street life, murder (several so far), covering up murder, stealing boyfriends, burning down each other’s houses, chaining their children to the basement, motor vehicle hit-and-run accidents, stealing, promiscuity, kidnapping, suicide (too common a theme, if you ask me), home-wrecking, and other bad behaviors designed to basically ruin the lives of their neighbors. There’s even a bit of gay porn and prostitution thrown in for good measure.

I think the show has managed to cover just about all the bad things people can do to one another, with the exception of instigating nuclear war. And it really hasn’t been on the air all that long. It probably took Law & Order ten years to get this many crimes under its belt – and L&O is solely about crime.

With all of this evil going on, do you think this comic sitcom will last? Or do we relish the evil? Just how many more disappearing bodies can we take? True, we do enjoy a good mystery. But with underlying themes like suicide, adultery, and bad parenting prevailing with every new season, I don’t have high hopes for the show.

I suspect that viewers will get sick of being presented with suicide as a topic in their weekly TV viewing. In the very first episode the narrator of the show (a former housewife) blew her brains out with a .38 in her own living room. Later, when the freaky pharmacist George sucked down a bunch of pills, Bree sat by his bedside and watched him die. Just last week, Bree’s daughter feigned a suicide attempt to get attention. (Ironically, I found her brother Andrew’s sarcasm over the act to be pretty hysterical. Maybe throwing humor into attempted suicide will help ratings.) And now Bree’s new husband has intimated that he didn’t murder his ex-wife (as his ex-neighbor announced at the engagement party) – but rather that she’d committed suicide.

So what’s next for these desperate women and their families and neighbors? I don’t know, but I have a feeling that the show’s writers are going to start running out of ideas and continue to repeat the same old ones until we’re finally, ultimately sick of 42-year-old Teri Hatcher’s Size 2 jeans. By the way, has anyone figured out what she does for a living? She’s never once gone to work.

Stay tuned for why Meredith Grey should gain some weight, update her hair style, and start dating women. (That's another show that's gotten really old really fast. Same old, same old.)

Good night!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Old Town Alexandria

October 15, 2006

Happy Birthday to my mom!

Yesterday Rashmi and I took a little late-afternoon jaunt down to Old Town in Northern Virginia. Six miles outside of D.C., Alexandria is an historic town located on the west bank of the Potomac River that played a part in many a war. George Washington used the Market Square there for militia drills in 1754. Robert E. Lee grew up in Alexandria before leaving home to attend West Point. The British held the town hostage during the War of 1812. The famous Torpedo Factory there was built in the early 1900's and used as a U.S. munitions factory in World War II. The list goes on. . . .

Rashmi and I made the most of the daylight we had. It was a crisp fall day with perfect weather - perfect to me, anyway because it's what I call "sweatshirt weather." It sure beats the torturous heat of the past several months. Our little walking tour took us down the charming brick sidewalks of King Street past City Hall to the Torpedo Factory Art Center at the waterfront. There we met Brian Wilson, president of the Wilson Parrot Foundation.

Mr. Wilson is a former firefighter. After spending 2o years saving the lives of people, now he rescues parrots and is a regular attraction on the streets of Old Town, along with his traveling parrot clan. Rashmi and I stepped right up to have our photo taken with the friendly birds (the macaw resting upside-down on our palms was such a ham).

If you go to Brian's Web site you can click on a link near the top of the page to see video him featured on WUSA News JC and Friends in July 2006.

After passing through a couple of shops, we stopped to listen to a man who could play "Over the Rainbow" on water glasses. Pretty impressive! We watched the riverboat Cherry Blossom leave the dock with a well-dressed wedding party aboard and I chatted with a wonderful lady from upstate New York who had fled the 3-foot snows of this past week.

Later, after shopping, we returned to the waterfront to eat seafood at the Chart House restaurant, which has nice river views. With no reservations available, we sat at the bar. As we found out from one of the locals at the bar, it's a chain restaurant that has "terrible, overpriced food." The couple told us they never eat there; they were just there for drinks. The place to eat, apparently, is Landini's. So, we'll have to try that place next time we go.

It's true, my swordfish was pretty awful, but Rashmi's Chilean Sea Bass was wonderful. As our fine waiter was clearing our dishes away, I let him know not to recommend the swordfish to any more customers that evening. He asked me if he could bring me something else to eat, and I declined. But he insisted that I get something on the house to take with me. So, I got an order of the Chilean Sea Bass to take home. When we got the bill, we found out he hadn't charged for my entire meal. That was a pleasant surprise! And I had a lovely dinner at home the next evening.

Anyway, we met some nice people at the restaurant and stayed to watch the Detroit Tigers win a trip to the World Series with a two-out three-run homer by Magglio Ordonez in the bottom of the 9th. Rashmi and I both cheered when Ordonez easily popped the ball right over the fence. It's so nice to finally see a different team (other than the Yankees or Red Sox) headed to the World Series for a change. Remember a few years back when the Diamondbacks won? We need more variety like that.

So, I need to go back to Old Town when I can spend an entire day there and visit some of the muesums and other historic attractions. It's really a neat place, and the shopping is decent. I love the Artcraft store there - lots of gift potential in that place. I ended up getting another chunk of my Christmas shopping done. We noticed there were a number of international visitors in Old Town, including several young girls from Austria, so apparently Old Town is a popular tourist attraction. And it has some of the highest quality street performers I've seen and heard.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Little Italy in north Boston Posted by Picasa

Paul Revere's house in Little Italy (built by Matt Barnard in 1680) Posted by Picasa

George Washington statue Posted by Picasa

Public Gardens at Boston Common Posted by Picasa

Oldest public park in the country Posted by Picasa

Gorgeous Beacon Hill residence (I could live there!!) Posted by Picasa

All of us baby boomers are familiar with this sign Posted by Picasa

New England aquarium at the harbor Posted by Picasa

Little blue penguins under the sprinklers Posted by Picasa

More penguins! They are so cute. Posted by Picasa

Beacon Hill grocery Posted by Picasa

Downtown skyscraper Posted by Picasa

Fun at Dick's Last Resort at Fanueil Hall Posted by Picasa

Park across from the Public Library and Westin hotel Posted by Picasa

Beautiful old church across the street from the Westin Posted by Picasa

The Westin where I stayed for way too much money, and that's the public library on the right Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Boston Trip Part III: Plenty to See

On Saturday it rained all day until late afternoon. The weatherman had been right. I was glad that I brought a baseball cap and rain coat. I walked so
much that by the evening I was worn out! Boston is a great walking city.

One of my stops was the New England aquarium and

one of its prime attractions, the little blue penguins. They are incredibly cute creatures – especially when they wiggle playfully in the water. For a bird that can’t fly, it’s interesting to note that Penguins have more feathers per square inch then any other bird.

Equally intriguing is the fact that some types of penguins can hold their breath underwater for up to three minutes. The aquarium was terribly crowded and overrun with baby strollers and toddlers, so after a quick tour, I grabbed a few gifts for nieces and nephews and got on the trolley.

The intention was to get off the trolley in Little Italy, but that stop on the route was cancelled on that particular day because they were repaving some roads along the route. I took the trolley through downtown, past Boston Common, up Beacon Hill (where the wealthy folk prosper in their brick million-dollar townhomes), and across the Charles river. Just before crossing the river we passed a prison that is being converted to condominiums. That was something I'd never seen before!

I saw the MIT campus and, on the way back across the river toward Back Bay, the famous 40-foot neon Citgo sign, which happened to be a big news item that night thanks to Hugo Chavez’ anti-American remarks at the U.N. the previous day.

In Faneuil Hall I ate at a fun place called Dick's Last Resort. I gotta admit that I was skeptical at first, but it turned out to be one of the best burgers I've ever had. One of the young waitresses made hats out of paper table liners and put them on the heads of eating patrons. Everyone was having a good time.

I eventually made it to Little Italy on foot where I bought a Boston t-shirt for seven bucks (one-third the price they sell for in Faneuil Hall). Little Italy is neat, but you have to watch your step on the very old cobblestone sidewalks. I toured Paul Revere's house, built in 1680, and learned that he never said "The British are coming!" to John Hancock and Sam Adams after his midnight ride from Boston to Lexington on April 19, 1775. What he really said was "The regulars are out!"

Then I stood in the very crowded must-see Mike's Pastry for some yummy treats to take home on the plane. (The pistachio macaroons are to die for!)

I made my way back to Boston Common on the subway and toured the beautiful Public Gardens before walking up to Beacon Hill. I briefly went in the Cheers bar on Beacon Street, only to find it looks nothing like the bar on TV. After a quick gander at price tags in the gift shop, I left and went for a walk through the beautiful Beacon Hill neighborhoods. What a nice place to live - if you can afford it.

At the end of a long walk after that I found myself at the Museum of Fine Arts. Unfortunately, the Paris show was sold out, so I took the subway back to the hotel to rest for an hour before getting back on my feet. I had done a lot of walking that day and realized just how old I am these days if I actually need to stop and "rest" - something I'm not known for doing.

Before dark, I walked down the ritzy Newbury Street to have dinner at a good Indian place called Kashmir, recommended by my friend Rashmi. Sitting at an outdoor table, I was shocked to see the young girls at a table near me smoking out of a three-foot bong that also doubled as the table's center piece.

"What are you smokin'?" I asked one of the girls after she took a toke off the end of a hose connect to the thing. "It's tobacco," she smiled. I'd never seen anything like it and, apparently, niether had any of the passers-by on the sidewalk above the little patio where we sat. Several people stopped to gawk. Note that they all had smiles on their faces as they did, as if to say, "I want some of that!" :)

I walked back to the hotel down the busy Newbury Street. Boston has quite the night life. That's one of the things I miss about being in the suburbs - the liveliness of the streets and sidewalks at all hours.