Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

And it's on tonight on ABC at 8pm. I am a huge fan of Peanuts. This is one of the best of the Peanuts specials. My brother and I would constantly say to each other "I got a rock"

In honor of that and to wish everyone a Happy Halloween, here is the I got a rock scene from It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown:

And here is Charlie Brown trying to kick the football. Another great moment in Peanuts.

And here is Snoopy at the World War I flying ace.

I guess the best thing to do is just to watch the show and enjoy. And in no way is this getting a rock.

The Great Pumpkin Strips, Part I

Here is another in the always funny Peanuts series of Linus and the Great Pumpkin. This one of my favorite themes in the Peanuts strips. I just never get tired of Linus and his attempts to get people to believe in the Great Pumpkin.

The Great Pumpkin, Part II

More from Linus and the Great Pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It Pays to Discover — Well Maybe Not So Much

I'm sure you've noticed all those ads on TV for credit cards. I'm going to talk about a few things abut those ads.

One of them is Discover which promises a certain percentage of cash back on each purchase. They also offer specials where you get a higher percentage of cash back on a specific item you purchase. Recently it was 5 percent back on gas. I think this ran for a couple of months. Usually the offers of cash back aren't that. Mostly they run 1 or 2 percent.

Not bad considering how expensive gas can be.

The interesting thing is how and when you are able to use the cash back you've accumulated. If you want to use your cash back for buying something from a merchant, you only have to earn $25 before you can start spending. But if you want it in actually cash say to make a payment on your card you have to wait until you earn $50 to use it.

Now if you were getting 5 percent back on most of your purchases, you'd get to that $50 threshold rather quickly. But that's not the case. In most cases you're only getting the 1-2 percent back. So it's going to take a little while to get there. Several thousand dollars of charging items to get there in fact.

You'll also notice that that fact isn't mentioned in any of the ads.

The other thing that bugs me about the ads is all the benefits they advertise with the card. Like Discover has this late payment forgiveness. Capitol One has a miles program with no black out dates. The only problem is that these are all for new customers. If you are an existing customer you're out of luck. You don't get these offers.

How is that exactly fair?

It reminds me of one time when I cancelled a credit card. They came back with all sorts of offers for me. A lower interest rate being the chief among them. This was because I was such a good customer. I said well if I was such a great customer I shouldn't have had to threaten to quit to get the lower interest rate. I just should have gotten it because I was a good customer. They didn't have a come back on that one. I then added this makes me want to cancel the card even more.

It seems to me the smart thing to do would be to allow people to upgrade to those new cards. Maybe once year sort of like getting a new phone.

Until all that discovering is not all it's cracked up to be.

Marcia Wallace in Memorium

The wonderfully funny Edna Krabappel voice has been stilled. Her wonderful, infectious and incredibly funny laugh lost to us.

The very funny and sarcastic Carol Kester from the Bob Newhart Show is gone.

Marcia Wallace best know for the voice of Mrs. K, as Bart would call her, died on October 25.

This from the Post:

Ms. Wallace’s trademark “Ha!” punctuated Krabappel’s frequent wisecracks, and her character was known for the catchphrase “Do what I mean, not what I say.”

Ms. Wallace was among six voice actors from “The Simpsons” cast who received a combined Emmy in 1992 for outstanding voice-over performance.

Below is a montage of that wonderful laugh of Edna

Here's a little more about Marcia and her voice work as Edna Krabappel:

Marcia Wallace has over the years met ever challenge presented by the writers. It has been the writers of The Simpsons who are responsible for deepening the character, but what Wallace has done is to turn words on paper into emotional reality. The single greatest voice acting moment in Simpsons history, in my opinion, belongs to Julie Kavner and her heartbreaking message to Homer in The Simpsons Movie. But I would argue that perhaps the most fully successful voice performance of any one single character over the course of the Simpsons run might just possibly be Marcia Wallace and what she has done with Mrs. Krabappel.

Thank you Marcia for all those wonderful episodes of the Simpsons. I still think it is one of the funniest shows on television. You will be missed.

Monday, October 28, 2013

More Scary Stuff in Georgetown

Here's a few more of the decorations I found while wandering around Georgetown on Sunday.

Last Panels from the Peanuts Baseball Series

Sunday's World Series game was a little less dramatic then the one the night before:

ST. LOUIS — The man the St. Louis Cardinals respected was, understandably, David Ortiz, who commands respect in his own dugout and throughout baseball. In the fifth inning, he had addressed his own team – passionately and purposefully – in the dugout. When he came up in the sixth, the Cardinals sent their outfielders to the edge of the warning track, lest he hit one in the gap. Then they tossed him four straight balls. Ortiz scarcely looked tempted, and walked to first base.

By extension, then, the man the Cardinals didn’t respect was Jonny Gomes. And at this point why would they? When he came to the plate he was hitless in the World Series. He wasn’t even in the original lineup. He looked lost.

So Cardinals reliever Seth Maness fed Gomes fastballs. Trickery seemed unnecessary – until it was. Until, on that fifth fastball, Gomes unleashed a swing that spun the series back to Boston. Gomes’s three-run homer helped deliver a 4-2 victory for the Red Sox in Game 4, a victory started by ragged-but-ready right-hander Clay Buchholz, who was backed up ably by five relievers, including a particularly important effort from lefty Felix Doubront, an inning from Game 2 starter John Lackey – and a game-ending pickoff from closer Koji Uehara.

More of Washington Prepares for Halloween

Here are a few more pictures of houses with their Halloween decorations up. I saw a report on the news the other day about the of money spent on Halloween. It is almost $7 billion. Here's a little more on how the money is spread around on Halloween:

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans plan to spend $6.9 billion this year for Halloween. To put that number into context, the same NRF survey found that Americans planned to spend $3.3 billion as recently as 2005.

This biggest chunk of this money — $2.5 billion of it — will go to costumes. Of that total, a little more than $300 million will be spent on costumes for pets. We’ll also drop $2 billion on candy and just under that on decorations.

This year isn’t an anomaly, either. Halloween spending did decline in 2009, when it dropped by about $1 billion to $4.8 billion. But by last year, it had bounced back to $5.8 billion.

Here are some places that went all out. This is in Georgetown.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Washington Prepares for Halloween

Here's a little of the preparation in my neighborhood, Brookland, for Halloween.

One More of the Peanuts Baseball Series

In light of the very bizarre ending to the World Series game last night, these next couple of panels in this Peanuts series are priceless.

Here is by the way what happened in St. Louis last night:

The first tangle of bodies came at third base, where Will Middlebrooks of the Boston Red Sox stretched to take a throw from home, the winning run sliding in at his feet. Catch the ball, and the third game of the World Series would have remained tied. Miss it — and, well, sit down, because this will take some explaining.

The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Red Sox, 5-4, on Saturday night at Busch Stadium with one of the most bizarre plays ever to end a World Series game. Middlebrooks was called for obstruction on runner Allen Craig, and even as the Red Sox chased down the throw down — eventually making what looked like a successful attempt to nail Craig at the plate — the game was over.

Forget that play at the plate. Forget the throw from left fielder Daniel Nava and the tag from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Third base umpire Jim Joyce had watched Craig slide into Middlebrooks, and Middlebrooks fall on Craig, and made the obstruction call — granting Craig home plate, where he scored the winning run, and immediately found himself in the second tangle of bodies, with the Cardinals celebrating around him.

“Tough way to have a game end, particularly of this significance, when Will is trying to dive inside to stop the throw,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “I don’t know how he gets out of the way when he’s lying on the ground.”

Friday, October 25, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Peanuts and Baseball

In honor of the World Series here is a series of incredibly funny strips from Peanuts and baseball. This is the first part.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What We Learned from the Republican Shutdown — Obama Stood His Ground

I have to say I found this one a little hard to believe at first. That Obama would stand his ground and not give in on the Affordable Care Act. But the more I read the more it seemed obvious that he would not bend this time. He learned that being accommodating with Republicans only meant they dig their heels in and demand even more.

I'm reminded of something a co-worker used to say: What is it about no did you not understand.

After awhile why didn't the Republicans get that. I guess they thought Obama would cave like he'd done in the past. But at some point they must have realized he was series. Like I don't know the first day of the shut down.

Then the terms on what the Republicans wanted change on the Affordable Care Act. Suddenly there was all this concern from the Republicans about the burden the individual mandate would have on people. (Also the fact the website was having major problems). So the new line was it was "reasonable" to postpone the individual mandate by a year even though enrollment had started. Then suddenly from the mouth of these Tea Partiers was they never wanted the Affordable Care Act repealed but just postponed for a year.

Did Republicans really think people would not see through this for what it was?

I glad Obama did not give ground on the Affordable Care Act. Maybe now negotiations between the Republicans and Obama will exist in the real world as opposed to the fantasy land that most Tea Partiers are in.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

To the Very Brink — What We Learned from the Republican Shutdown

I've been thinking about what's happened this past week. I put off doing a post because of all I had to say. Then I thought it might be easier to do a bunch a smaller posts about what happened.

So here goes.

The Tea Party said over and over they didn't want to shut down the government. Well to put it mildly this was a falsehood if not an out and out right lie. On several of the news shows Tea Parties were shown speaking in front of supporters or in interviews saying their goal was to shut down the government. Essentially saying if they didn't get their way that's what they would do. I also remember video of a meeting of Tea Parties chanting like they were at some frat beer chugging contest shut it down shut it down.

The notion that they did not want a shut down simply doesn't stand up to what Tea Partiers themselves said.

Another thing that I thought was very interesting was the Tea Partiers reaction to when the government shut down. They seemed genuinely surprised at some of the things that were shut down. National Parks. Who knew? NIH. Who knew? Kids loosing Head Start money. Who knew?

Gee Congressperson Tea Partier you should have know. Slogans are great. Shut it down. That's great red meat for the people who support you and for raising money. But when reality comes along, it is a little different. Real people were actually impacted. Who knew?

That was the incredibly cynical approach the Republicans took to open parts of the government. As you went through the list of what Republicans wanted to reopen, it was those parts of the government that would cause the Republicans the most embarrassment. People being turned away from memorials, the World War II one being the epicenter of this one. Clinical trials at NIH for people with cancer. The Veterans Administration. All of this to show that Republicans weren't heartless bastards. The fact that they went to these lengths just show how heartless they were. Some people were worth calling back to work everyone else well they could just suffer.

More thoughts a little later.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Charlie and Linus

In the midst of what could be a potential melt down in the U.S., I thought it might be a nice idea to put up some pictures of Charlie and Linus. Here they are both on the couch with me. Linus is cleaning up Charlie.

Then they try and pick out something to watch on TV. It was a toss up between Rachel Maddow or Anderson Cooper.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Republican Shut Down — No End in Sight

There was a flicker of good news toward the end of the week. Talks were started between the Republicans and the White House. The stock market went up 300 points in one day. There was movement. There was a possibility of a deal. That's what the news reported.

A few days later we are no closer to a deal on the Republican shut down but we are much closer to the fiscal cliff. Much much closer.

We've seen a great deal in the past week. There were the baby and the bully from the Republican Party. The baby is Rep. Marlin Stutzman who said:

Just ask Rep. Marlin Stutzman (Ind.). “We’re not going to be disrespected,” Stutzman told David Drucker of the Washington Examiner. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

You've been disrespected!? What are you 12?

Then there is U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer who confronted a park ranger at the World War II memorial and said she and the Park Service should be ashamed for blocking the vets from the memorial. She should be ashamed over something you caused. Wow just unbelievable.

Then over last weekend we had the Tea Party members of congress fanning out to the talk shows saying that default wouldn't really be all that bad. There were even people who said that by defaulting it would reassure world markets we were taking our debt seriously. Seriously!!!!

Several Tea Partiers were pressed on this view on the news shows. They essentially said they are right and everyone else including most if not all economists were wrong. Once again the denial of reality is stunning.

Speaking of denying reality, Ted Cruz. He said that the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, showing that Republicans were blamed for the shut down by the American people and an overwhelming majority in the poll think Republicans are playing politics on this issue, was in fact wrong. Why is it wrong because they went out and asked a bunch of Obama supporters what they thought not real people. These are the same polls that were "wrong" about Obama being re-elected.

To me what was most interesting this week was when the main stream supporters of the Tea Party finally realized that the Tea Party really could take the country over the fiscal cliff. The sudden movement by the Republican leadership (dropping the main cause of the shut down getting rid or a delaying Obama care went away) was because of this pressure.

I believe the phrase is reap the whirlwind. The Republican establishment saw in the Tea Party a way to go after Obama. As a way to win the House of Representatives and maybe the Senate and maybe even the presidency. They were right on the first one but completely wrong on the other two. The establishment also thought they could control the Tea Party. That the Tea Party rhetoric was just that rhetoric. They were shocked and stun when they couldn't control the Tea Party and that the Tea Party did indeed believe in their rhetoric (and existed in an alternate reality their reaction to Obama winning a second term being a prime example).

Now this Republican establishment is scrambling to blunt the Tea Party. The Post shows how much things have changed:

Trade groups such as the U.S. Chamber are also discussing an unprecedented step: supporting more moderate candidates in primaries. In the past, the groups have gone to enormous lengths to support mostly Republican campaigns — but only to beat Democrats, not other Republicans.

Until this week, many in the business community have been standing on the sidelines, trusting that the GOP, to which it has been allied for decades, would work out its internal squabbling. But with some companies already seeing a drag on their businesses from the shutdown, executives are getting involved far beyond the usual menu of interests such as taxes and regulations.

The article goes on and shows this very ironic (to me) comment:

Dirk Van Dongen, head of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors said he and others are considering ways to counter the impact of “far right groups” that threaten Republican members and their leaders in the House and Senate.

These groups, he said, “severely handicap leadership’s ability to be an intelligent firewall against Obama liberalism.”

Van Dongen is an avowed conservative who backs Republicans. But like other business leaders, he is upset about the brinksmanship strategy of tea party Republicans.

“Leadership and rank-and-file Republicans are scared to death of far-right groups who threaten to challenge them in primaries because they are not 100 percent pure,” he said.

How they did they not realize how dangerous these people were? They didn't care as long as the Tea Party allowed the Republicans to win. As long as the Tea Party could be used as a weapon against Obama. That's all that mattered to the Republican establishment getting back in power and defeating Obama everything and everyone else be damned. 

The moral of the story is: play with fire you sometimes get burned. Only in this case they are not only getting burned they are allowing the fire to burn down the entire country. 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Evening in Annapolis, Part I

I decided to do something a little different for dinner last night and Stu came along for the ride. We went to Annapolis. Even in rush hour traffic we were there in less than an hour. There were a bunch of sailboats in the harbor. They are part of the United States Sailboat Show:

Now in its 44th year, the United States Sailboat Show, October 10 - 14, 2013, attracts more than 50,000 boating enthusiasts from around the world to the waterfront of historic Annapolis, Maryland. The Chesapeake Bay town is also home of U.S. Naval Academy. Recognized worldwide as the premier sailing showcase, this is the place to buy, sell or dream.

There were some very impressive boats. It was a little hard to see them because there was a fence around the docks.

We had dinner at Middleton Tavern. It was great. Stu had the Big Surf & Turf Burger which was sautéed pork belly, seared scallops, coleslaw, and onion crisps finished with a Sriracha aioli. I started out with clam chowder and then had Fettuccini Alfredo Parmigiano
Reggiano Fettuccini tossed with prosciutto and peas, in a cream sauce. I added some shrimp to it. It was fantastic.

Then we walked around for about 45 minutes. Most of the stores were closed but most of the food places weren't. You can see a little more about them in the next post.

A few of the boats at the United States Sailboat show which starts on October 10.

Evening in Annapolis, Part II

A little more from our evening in Annapolis.

Stu taking all the sweets at one shop

Candy apple anyone?

Everything looked soooooo good.

Even more apples!!

I don't know how it happened by somehow I ended up with some peanut butter fudge. Oh is it good!