Binge Watching TV

It all began when my financial advisor asked me what I was doing since my wife died. I told him I watch movies on TV. He asked me if I watch any of the material being produced by the new companies like Amazon, and Netflix. I told him I can get all the movies I can watch without Netflix. That he dropped a bomb on me. You know these companies are now producing their own movies and series TV shows don’t you? “Well, no I didn’t know that, I’ll have to look into it.”

I can’t lose anything so why not try something new and daring. I’m not so old yet that I’m happy watching public TV programs at fixed times of the day. I found a series produced by Showtime called “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” It turned out to be a hilarious comedy about a family in New York. I watched four seasons within a month. I can hardly wait for the next season to begin.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Six months ago A friend suggested I look at a TV program titled Homeland. I did, and I became addicted. We watched episodes together, she in her home, me in mine. Afterwards we texted each other with questions like will “Cary take the bait,” or will “Brodie turn terrorist?”We never could predict what the next moves would be during this complicated story. That is until she watched non-stop to finish the entire series. With modern TV it is easy to watch what you want when you want to watch. Services like xFinity or Amazon Prime Video keep all the seasons of various programs available on their servers. For a nominal subscription price I have been able to see entire seasons of a specific show (like 8-12 episodes) within two evenings. This form to TV viewing is referred to as “binge” watching. I finished eight seasons of Homeland within a couple of months of binge watching several episodes nightly. I couldn’t get enough.

Homeland

After Homeland Another series titled “Billions” came upon the scene, although not very new because it to had four seasons in the can. I chose not to watch it immediately because the main character in Billions was also a main character in Homeland. I felt that I wouldn’t be able to separate them. I watched movies instead. There are some evenings when I will watch two movies before retiring. I love drama, comedy, love stories, adventure stories, and modern westerns. I deplore zombies, terminators, and comic book stories. My movie list now contains 221 films watched. Of those 121 were since my wife Peg died a year ago. I watch a lot of films. So much so that I have set a goal to watch less and write more. It was time to begin “Billions.” Within the first five minutes of this new story I was able to separate actor Damian Lewis from his role in Homeland as a US Marine held hostage by radical Muslim Terrorists for eight years and he new role as Bobby Axelrod the owner of AxeCapital a multi-billion dollar hedge fund. I watched all four and a half seasons and look forward to new episodes as they come online. Then one day while discussing this story with a friend he asked if I was aware that Damian Lewis is an English actor. “Get out,” i exclaimed. Since then I am looking at act biography to learn about the and their careers. Yes, he is Brittish and can speak with a heavy Brittish accent when he wants to. Quite amazing that he can pull off the accent of a New Yorker with ease.

Yellowstone

After “Billions” I found a newer series called “Yellowstone” a story about a rancher in Montana that is at constant war with Indians who want their land back, and real estate developers who want his land to build multi-million dollar estate for the filthy rich. It is a western set in 2020. The scenery alone in this story was enough to hook me into watching Kevin Costner defend his ranch any way he saw fit. The story has mystery, murder, fist fights, chicanery, love, jealousy, and ranch life. I am also waiting for the arrival of new episodes on this one as well. So far there are only three seasons completed.

This afternoon after spending several hours in the garden trimming shrubs and pulling weeds I found myself wanting to know who the actors are in the latest series that I am hooked on called “Heartland.” This story takes place in Alberta, Canada. The scenery is magnificent, and the story revolves around horses. This is the ultimate horse lovers film. The actors in this story must all be experienced equestrians. The story is the longest running TV program in Canada TV history. There are fourteen seasons to watch. The main character is fourteen years old when the story begins. Imagine watching someone grow up on TV in a fictiious story. By the fourteenth season these actors grew up, got married, and had children, and some of them have died. The story has me mesmerized even though I know it is fiction and it is a serial soap opera. I find myself living in this story and I can’t get enough. I want to be one of them, and I find myself digging into the actor’s lives to learn more of them and their families.

Heartland

It is beginning to warm up here in Illinois and when the temperature begins climbing into the nineties along with the humidity I know I will be enjoying watching a series in a darkened cool room.

Day 63-SIP-Fun Again?

The big news today is Illinois’ move toward phase three COVID-19 policy. The news is buzzing about things opening up, mainly restaurants. The hook is that they may allow only outdoor seating and must provide social distancing. That means in Frankfort we will have about a half a dozen restaurants available for some thirty six tables. Outdoor venues in our town are available, but in very limited numbers even when there is not need for distancing. Regardless, plans are being formulated by businesses for opening again.

Frankfort has a rather unique venue just outside the village limits which has become a popular place over the last ten years. CD&ME opened as a place to have catered events. Realizing that the business of catering large events leaves them with a very expensive venue 5-6 days a week they dreamed up various ways to make it busier. One of the things it has become popular for is their Thursday night concerts through the summer. They have several buildings that open up around a beautiful patio area and several outdoor stages. You pay to get in and then buy drinks or food to your hearts content.

Rumor has it that next Thursday, 4 June 2020 they will open with a parking lot concert. Limit 100 cars parked in every other parking slot. A band will play and a food vendor will have a rolling cart with food available. Drinks are BYOB. Cars will be limited to four occupants. That can make for four hundred people in one big party, or rather one hundred separate car parties. What ever, the town is buzzing with anticipation. I just want to be able to get a haircut.

Meanwhile the COVID-19 confirmed cases in Will Township is still at 104 and growing. The virus lives among us. I am curious to know just how this virus spreads so quickly and what mechanism does it use to jump. I am sure a lot of scientists would also like to know the answers. A new report today suggests that the virus doesn’t spread from surfaces as easily as we thought. That points more strongly toward human to human contact, but how does it do it? I can see the obvious like coughing and sneezing, but I haven’t seen another human coughing or sneezing, no matter where I am.

If anyone spreads this thing it will be health care workers who touch people while attending to them, Taking temperatures, blood pressure, swabbing, drawing blood, etc. What I don’t see is how normal day to day activity of shopping is dangerous. Another thing I have trouble understanding is why is it so much dangerous in nursing homes? What are they doing in those places? I’d also like to know the death rate for people in th seventy-eighty age group that are not in nursing homes.

Even though I am in my eighties, I don’t feel or think like I’m eighty, in fact I feel like fifty, so does that makes me less vulnerable? Nature is an amazing process. If we ever figure it out we will be transporting from planet to planet with Star Trek’s transporter beam.

I just want to get a haircut.

Unemployment – OUT OF WORK

Abbott & Costello

Who’s on First

As a kid I enjoyed the antics of a very famous duo-comedy force called Abbott and Costello. One was a straight man for the other. They had some classic side splitting skits. One of them called  “Who’s on First” is genius comedy.  The skit below is modeled after “Who’s On First.”  This version is even funnier than the original.   Of course, if you are either unemployed or out of work you may not see the humor.

Unemployment- OUT OF WORK

 COSTELLO:  I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America .

 ABBOTT: Good Subject. Terrible Times. It’s  9%.

COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.

COSTELLO: You just said 9%.

ABBOTT: 9% Unemployed.

COSTELLO: Right 9% out of work.

 ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.

 COSTELLO: Okay, so it’s 16% unemployed.

 ABBOTT: No, that’s 9%.

COSTELLO: WAIT A MINUTE.    Is it 9% or16%?

 ABBOTT: 9% are unemployed.  16% are out of work.

 COSTELLO: IF you are out of work you are unemployed.

 ABBOTT: No, Obama said you can’t count the “Out of Work” as the unemployed.

You have to look for work to be unemployed.

COSTELLO: BUT THEY ARE OUT OF WORK!!!

ABBOTT: No, you miss his point.

COSTELLO: What point?

 ABBOTT: Someone who doesn’t look for work can’t be counted with those who look for work.

  It wouldn’t be fair.

 COSTELLO: To whom?

ABBOTT: The  unemployed.

COSTELLO: But they are ALL out of work.

ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work. Those who are out of work gave up looking and if you give up, you are no longer in the  ranks of the unemployed.

COSTELLO: So if you’re off the

unemployment roles that would count as less unemployment?

 ABBOTT:

Unemployment would go down.  Absolutely!

COSTELLO: The

unemployment just goes down because you don’t look for work?

 ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That’s how Obama

gets it to 9%.   Otherwise it would be 16%. He doesn’t want you to read about 16% unemployment.

COSTELLO: That would be tough on his reelection.

ABBOTT: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question

for you. That means there are two ways to bring down the unemployment  number?

 ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.

 COSTELLO:

Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?

 ABBOTT: Correct.

COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?

ABBOTT: Bingo.

COSTELLO: So there are two  ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to have Obama’s supporters stop looking for work.

 ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like the Obama Economy Czar.

 COSTELLO: I don’t even know what the hell I just said!

 ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like Obama.

Thanks Diane for a great laugh.

Branson Hiatus

Every once in  a while we need to get away. Peggy and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary by taking a trip to Branson, Missouri. I fully expected to add posts and cartoons to grumpajoesplace, but learned very early in the trip that my computer was trashed. It needs a reload of the operating system. I now have it at the fixer to try and save my files before it is re-loaded to factory status. In the meantime, I work on my seven-year old lap top; sloooow, verrry slooow.

Branson is pure fun. It has to be the entertainment capital of the world. A person can see three shows a day for a week and not see all of them. Each one is better than the last. Even the second tier entertainers are great. We saw a young man, Keith Allyn,  who put on a Neil Diamond tribute. He looked like Neil, and sounded like Neil too. We learned of him one morning at breakfast. He came into our hotel to hand out business cards and to talk up his show. Had he not done this, we would never seen his act.

Who else did we see? I’ll list them all and review them for you.

1.”SIX *****” This act partners six brothers who use their voices as instruments. They do not have a single musician on stage, yet they sounded like a full orchestra at times.

2. “Butterfly Palace. **”  More of a tourist trap than entertainment. It was interesting to walk through a jungle like atrium with white butterflies flitting all about. There were hundreds of them. The image being conveyed was that of snow falling. That is why they used white butterflies. All of them are purchased from Costa Rica in cocoon form. They are hatched in the Palace, and live for two weeks. I learned that a butterfly will not reproduce unless it has its host plant to do it on. Since Palace does not have any of the  host plants, they do not reproduce in Branson.

3. “Neil Diamond Tribute ***” very entertaining and well done one man show.

4.” Tony Orlando  ****and the Lennon Sisters ****”  The trio of Lennon Sisters sang beautifully. They combined favorite songs from the Lawrence Welk show with more contemporary tunes. Since Branson features Christmas shows from November through early December, many of the songs are Christmas Carols. Stage sets are typically loaded with Christmas trees. Tony Orlando combined his hour of both contemporary songs “Tie A Yellow Ribbon,” with a Christmas skit starring Santa Claus and the Nativity. Although in his mid-sixties, his voice was pure and powerful.

5. “The Oak Ridge Boys, *****” The boys are back. All of them are original, and now in their sixties, but one would never know by their sound. It was obvious that this group had done a lot of tour performances. The level of professionalism was astounding, the sound was great, the lighting, and the accompanying band solid. Lead singer Joe Bonsall sang a song in tribute to his parents and for veterans. It was a knock out. Joe sang it with such emotion, that the audience had tears in their eyes. The song is “G.I Joe and Lillie.” Veterans day falls into the Christmas season at Branson and each show pays tribute to veterans. The Boys are on their annual Christmas tour and come back to Branson mid-week to perform in their theater.

6. “Andy Williams, *****” this guy is amazing. He invented the Christmas season in Branson. His Christmas show is without rival. At eighty-two, the Andy performed for an hour and forty-five minutes and sounded great. I thought for sure he was lip synching.  We had front row center seats, and I can tell you he does not lip synch. His voice is as powerful as it always was.  His show emulates his old TV show. He has a few acts coming out to keep things lively and to give him a break. As long as he lives, he will do this show, and I will go to see him.

7. “Shoji Tabuchi, ****” An immigrant from Japan, this man became a first class country western fiddle player. although he can play classic violin, he came to America to be a CW star. He migrated to Branson nineteen years ago and built a theater for his performances.  The theater is a show case venue. He made the restrooms a feature that people talk about as much as they do  his performances. I can only speak for the men’s room which contains a billiard parlor with two rows of perimeter seating to watch  matches. The interior of the elimination room is absolutely stunning.  His show is also stunning. He combines his play with many well choreographed dances, flying angels, and songs by his daughter.

8. “Yakov, ****” Russian born and an immigrant to the US, Yakov is a very funny man. He has a unique way of looking at our culture from his perspective, and to point out the humor.  Like Shoji and Andy Williams, he has been in Branson for nineteen years. He built his own theater and plays to capacity crowds regularly. He boasted of how hard it was to earn “a lousy $100,000.00 a week.”  I left his show laughing for hours afterward. His jokes lingered and the humor kept me in high spirits. In one of his skits he showed the value of humor in longevity. He taped a couple who were married for seventy-five years. He asked what their secret was for staying married so long. The wife answered this way, “never go to sleep angry, stay up and fight.”

9. “Dalena Ditto,”  **** Another second tier performer who puts on a great show. This time she used me as a celebrity walk on. As part of her show, she picks an old fat guy from the audience to fool around with on stage. I was the second guy she picked. She had me sit on a chair facing the audience. She wore long red gloves and a stunning red gown. During her song I felt and saw red gloves against my face and through my hair. The audience was screaming with delight. I helped out by nuzzling the hand against my face. At the end of the song, I learned that the red gloves were on the hands of the male guitar player. Lots of fun. Dalena sings great and is a good looker too. She comes from family of performers. She spoke of her father playing in the Country Western scene.

Joey Riley, ****” Joey has been playing straight man for Mickey Gilley for seventeen years. The two of them are hilarious together. This year, Mickey cancelled his season because of an accident. Joey Riley filled in for him with his own show. He is a talented musician, playing the fiddle, guitar, and the steel guitar. His wit is spontaneous and quick.  He featured his lovely wife in several dance routines. We  spent another two hours of side-splitting laughter.

The worst part of going to Branson is the nine-hour drive home.

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