Your Workaholic Siblings

Every now and then I check out my horoscope. Usually it’s on Sunday when I’m reading the actual newspaper, made of paper, and there they are, at the end of the Arts & Entertainment section, but since things have gone online for most of my reading one of the things that has gotten lost is my daily horoscope. Not that I really take much stock in what the horoscope says, especially because if you happen to do something crazy, like read every horoscope for every sign for the day, you will find all of them remarkably similar many times, but sometimes there is some entertainment value to what some person can write, in the most general terms, of how your day should go. Sometimes, though, they also make me sad because I know I’ve got no chance to accomplish what my horoscope says I should.

My case in point was a horoscope of mine from a few weeks ago. Me, I’m a Taurus, born in May, which supposedly lends me to being stubborn and liking gardening. As I started with the horoscope there was hope on the horizon: “Focus on making money for a few days.” I thought, “Who doesn’t want to do that? I’m in!” It then went on to tell me to strengthen my infrastructure, whatever that means, that I should “enter an intense work phase” and that would lead to reaping the rewards, and sure, I’m still going along. Suddenly it all came crashing down. “Partner with an older workaholic, especially a sibling.” I realized “I’m screwed.” Yup, I thought of my sister and brother, the basic definition of sibling, and while they have been known to work hard, I wouldn’t consider either of them addicted to work. My sister might be addicted to cats, but not work, and my brother, well, not the workaholic there if I recall unless something has changed in the last five years I don’t know about.

So much for making money for a few days, but reading that horoscope did make me wonder: Do you have a workaholic sibling?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Bound by Flesh

MPAA Rated – Not Rated
It’s 1:30 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Bound By Flesh
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Daisy Hilton, Violet Hilton
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Released By: IFC Films
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Kiddie Movie: Nah, it’s a documentary. They’d be bored.
Date Movie: If she’s a documentary kind of girl.
Gratuitous Sex: There’s talk.
Gratuitous Violence: Nah.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Some chuckles at some stories.
Memorable Scene: It was interesting seeing the sisters performing together.
Memorable Quote: “Freakery sells.”
Directed By: Leslie Zemeckis

Think about your best friend, your wife, your sibling. You like them, don’t you? You probably generally like to be around them? Now picture being attached to them, and I’m not talking emotionally, but physically attached, kind of around the butt area, for 60 years. Granted you didn’t start out that way, but Daisy and Violet Hilton were born, as conjoined twins, and “Bound By Flesh” gives a fascinating, yet kind of sad look at the ladies who had fame, sort of, but because of the people around them had nothing, really, but each other.

“Bound By Flesh” takes you on the journey, from birth to death, of Daisy and Violet. We learn early on that their Mom was devastated when they were born, feeling punished by God because she was having children out of wedlock. Mom was a barmaid, and though she wanted no part of the kids, her boss, Mary Hilton, saw financial potential in exploiting the kids so she bought them from mom. Thus began a life of being trotted out in front of people, bar patrons “testing” their connection, and isolation and control so that the girls couldn’t have a life.

The girls were taught music and dancing, oddly enough, so as their life progressed they ended up in the carnival circuit mostly thanks to Edith and Myer Myers, a couple who ended up with the twins after Mary Hilton died. They did well because, as one guy puts it in the documentary, “Freakery sells.”

Eventually a few people around them gave them the courage to sue Myer, and they won, but a life of isolation, and getting older, didn’t prove helpful to the sisters as bad business decisions and failed relationships followed them for most of the rest of their lives. Yes, they became one of the highest grossing acts in Vaudeville, but as is cautioned in the documentary, be careful what you wish for because now, without the control of Myers, the girls were free, promiscuous, and general party girls who could never figure out who the con-men were, and also never had decent guidance for the rest of their lives, losing touch with the changing world and not being able to understand why people didn’t want to see them any longer, nor understanding the business of it all, and failing to see that as they grew older their popularity went away.

Stranded in North Carolina by their tour manager and left with nothing, the twins, who at a time seemingly had it all, were hired by a local grocery store, and it’s there they lived out the rest of their lives. Working at the store gave them a little money, but more for the ladies, it gave them time to reminisce with the staff and customers as all they really wanted to do was entertain.

They could have been separated later in life, but Daisy and Violet, by this time, realized their lives were one, and they probably couldn’t survive without each other, and in the end Violet came down with the flu. Daisy made the decision to lie there, in their little home, and die along side her sister.

“Bound by Flesh” is a fantastic documentary showing both the ups, but mostly downs, of the Hilton sisters. Their lives are reminiscent of many child and young actors, where the manager or family pretty much steals everything from them, and eventually they become “whatever happened” anecdotes. The other thing about the documentary is that as much as it’s about the sisters, it’s also a great look a the early days of the carnival and of the side-show, how the shows got their start as outgrowths of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, as well as the rise and fall of Vaudeville, and it’s relation to the sisters.

Fascinating yet sad lives, if you are looking for a wonderful documentary I must say I really enjoyed “Bound by Flesh.” It’s 4 out of 5 stars for this great look at two ladies who could have had so much more if it weren’t for the scumbags around them.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Everyone Has Gotten Caught Shoplifting

I’ll admit the title of this “Andy Wonders” is a little bit of an exaggeration, but it occurred to me the other day when I was shopping at Target that most everyone has gotten caught shoplifting, or nearly everyone at least in the eyes of the scanners that sound off an alarm when you leave the store if the anti-shoplifting tag hasn’t been de-activated properly. I know it’s happened to me. Sometimes it has happened when I bagged my own stuff at the store, which of course makes me wonder if I did forget to scan something, and then there are the times when it happens after I go to a real, live check-out person, and I’m pissed that either they A) Didn’t scan something and that makes me a shoplifter, or B) They didn’t deactivate the anti-shoplifting tag thereby having everyone look at me as I’m leaving the store thinking I’ve just stolen the latest Taylor Swift CD or porterhouse steak.

What I find mostly, though, is that for all of the times I’ve gone through the scanners and they’ve gone off, or when I’ve seen other people go through the scanners and they sound the alarm, I’ve never seen anyone actually care. I generally just keep on walking, maybe making a motion that I noticed the alarm, but also making the motion and face of “What, I didn’t steal nothin’.” Most other people seem to have the same reaction, and I can’t recall ever seeing a store employee jump to action, yelling “Halt! Thief! We must check your bags because that little metal strip inside your DVD says you are stealing it!”

I’ve never seen anyone really care up until the other day.

There I found myself, about twenty to thirty feet behind two girls as they were leaving, and the alarm sounded as they were leaving the store. Rather than act like 99.9999% of every human being, these two girls actually stopped in their tracks, turned around, and I heard the one girl tell the other “We have to go back to see if they forgot to scan something.” I wasn’t sure if I was proud of the girl for her honesty, guilty because I know I would have just kept walking, or mystified at their decision to verify their purchase.

I also wondered another couple of things. One has always been how those little things protecting the merchandise actually set off the alarm. I mean, I’ve taken them apart and it just looks like a couple of strips of metal in a plastic container. For this post I actually took one apart for you to see, at least the one inside a Reservoir Dogs DVD I had. The other thing was a little more people related, so for this post I wonder: Have you ever gone back into the store to verify your purchase when the anti-shoplifting alarm goes off?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

When Funny is Shot Down

No Photoshop. No digital editing. Just a couple of magazines, someone with a weird curiosity, and old-school cutting-and-pasting. There on the table were the magazines and my quick glance brought me Taylor Swift on the cover of Time, and Tony Robbins on the cover of Fortune. A second glance, and then the coffee nearly came out of my nose as I saw the change, laughed out loud, and wondered if either Taylor or Tony would have the career they have if they had a different mouth.

I took a picture of the magazines and giggled with glee every time I looked at it. The sweet, pouty lips of Taylor on Tony almost gave him a sensitive quality, but that giant grin with the huge teeth on Taylor was the kicker for me. I planned a wonder if they could be popular with their new mouths, and later in the day, with uber excitement, pulled out my phone with my latest find of laughter, intending to bring my wife as much joy as I was experiencing. She looked at the picture, looked at me with my giddy anticipation of her enjoyment, and quickly gave a look of “What? So someone switched their mouths.” Then she said “What’s funny about that?” My funny was shot down.

I tried to defend my funny, but she had none of it. I tried to explain the humor of the juxtaposition of the mouths, but she didn’t care. She just didn’t find it funny.

I did.

Maybe it’s because I have the sense of humor of a 12-year old, maybe it’s because in my head I see all kinds of images, like Tony Robbins singing and dancing to “Shake It Off,” while Taylor Swift is on stage, her sweet voice coming through a giant mouth, and explaining how you aren’t handling your finances well (Tony’s got a new book out called “MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom”), but for me the picture is funny.

So I wonder. I know my answer, and I know the answer from my wife, but is the image of Tony Robbins with Taylor Swift’s mouth, and vice-versa, funny?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Maybe This is Why Your Child is Fat

I kind of remember the first time I saw a little baby being fed Cheerios. I believe it was in church. I found it kind of odd, but it did seem to keep the baby happy. At issue, though, in my head, was the baby was kind of chubby and the bag of Cheerios the mom had was about two servings of Cheerios. In my head I said, “Shouldn’t you at least scale down the amount you give the kid to be an appropriate serving?”

Oh well.

I don’t know why the Cheerios thing came to my head when I saw the girl, but there she was, yes, kind of chubby, and gnawing on a fast-food hash brown. I pegged her to be about three years old, a cute-enough kid, and found it odd, her gnawing on a hash-brown, or maybe more odd, that Mom was just about forcing it down her throat. I guess I’ll leave any preaching aside, but today just wonder: Would you feed fast-food hash browns to a three year old?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

The Halloween Lie?

Now that it’s over, and my research has begun, I’m beginning to think that Halloween is just a lie. Okay, maybe not Halloween, but the idea that hundreds of cute, little kids will be showing up at your door, with their cute, little costumes, pronouncing “Trick or treat!”, and you will smile with glee, tell them how cute they are, give them some candy, and have their parents remind them to say “Thank you.” I think it’s a scam propagated by the candy companies to entice you to buy bags and bags of candy only to leave you waiting by the front door, peering out to see if the kiddies are coming, while you are chowing down on Reese’s Cup after Reese’s Cup only to be left with bags and bags of candy to eat because hey, who returns candy?

Sure, some of my Facebook friends professed their busloads of children arriving at their door, and a couple of people I talked to spoke of a couple of dozen kids showing up, but I think they are just plants for the candy companies, sustaining the stories, and I also think they are paid-off by the candy folk. I also think the companies hire a couple of hundred little kids, dress them up nicely, and ship them off to a few neighborhoods so that some pictures can be posted and the tall-tales of Halloween mayhem will continue.

Why do I feel that this entire trick-or-treating thing is a scam? It started when I lived in my townhouse. I remember the first Halloween. There were a lot of kids in the neighborhood, and in my head I thought a townhouse development would be a fantastic place to trick-or-treat so I loaded up on candy. I think that first year I had five kids show up. Year after year I would buy candy in the anticipation of kids, but there were years with no kids, some years I would have maybe five, but I think the best year was about ten and that was only because some high-schoolers were running from house to house, with their pillow cases, not really in costume, and I was able to unload a bag of candy on them.

A neighborhood anomaly I figured, so when we moved to our new house, a neighborhood with a lot of kids, hope for trick-or-treaters began anew. How many bags of candy would we need? Should we give out full-size bars? Should we decorate the house? The big night came, a howling night of cold with a winter wind that would leave the kiddies in their winter coats and the parents huddled at the end of the walk saying “Don’t forget to say ‘Thank you!'”, we expected it all. And expected. And expected.

Peering out the window and the door, the streets were barren. Leaves were blowing by, “Is that a group of kids?” “No, just the neighbor walking their dogs.”, but finally, success, our neighbors started their trick-or-treating, so here they came. The dog was dressed like The Lion King, the little girl was from Frosted, and the boy was adorable as he tried to jump up to ring the doorbell.

Two kids, a dog, and yes, parents reminding their children to say “Thank you.”, and that was it. The trick-or-treating was over. Left with bags of candy we blamed the weather, but I don’t think it was the weather, I think Halloween trick-or-treaters is a lie, and even though I probably won’t believe you if you answer anything higher than 25, I wonder: How many trick-or-treaters did you have for Halloween?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

It’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Time

Every now and then for lunch, especially when the household is out of things like chicken breast, ham, or maybe even a leftover from dinner the night before, we break out the peanut butter and jelly. It might seem odd coming from a 40something year old dude, but I still like the standard peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The fact even came up with someone when they asked what I had for lunch one day, and I told them a PB&J sandwich. He initially looked at me like I was crazy, like how could you be having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at your age, but then you could see the look on his face that it sounded refreshing and different, with almost a hint of jealousy that I was enjoying the tasty mix of the creamy peanut butter with the sweetness of the jelly.

There are a lot of variations on the sandwich, well, okay, maybe not a lot, but even the standard sandwich has choices like crunchy or smooth peanut butter, jelly or jam, toasted bread, white or wheat, and even with or without the crusts. For this wondering I’m not going to get crazy about the choices, but for me, I like my peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a little bit more jelly. Others I know prefer a lot of the peanut butter and just a dab of the jelly, then of course there are those who go for the even mix. And so I wonder: How do you like your peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Shopping Until You’re Dropping

So the other day was the 25th of October which means Christmas is now less than two months away. I’m already seeing stories on Facebook about stores that won’t be open on Thanksgiving to kick off the shopping season, and even though I do have my question of their validity, I’m too tired of “Snoping” everything for people when they keep sharing stuff that sounds odd, but with the simple thought that “It sounds good enough for me I’ll share it anyway even if there is not chance Bill Gates will give me money.” Then of course there is the opposite story, the ones how “Store X is the Devil because they will be open on Thanksgiving.”

Soon there will be the radio station playing nothing but Christmas music, although even with thousands and thousand of Christmas songs and variations they’ll be playing the same, short playlist of the same songs over and over, with Halloween coming to a close the shelves will magically transform to all things Christmas, and we’ll start to here stories of strategies for the best sales, and what the hot toy of the season will be. Yup, Christmas season is pretty much here, my wife is already threatening that we should decorate our house, and last weekend would have been perfect for it because the weather was nice except, well, we don’t really have any decorations for the house. Yet.

Bells will be jingling, reindeer will have a red nose, and there will be this baby in a manger very soon, but I’m wondering: Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

To Eat Ice Cream, or Not Eat Ice Cream?

Maybe it’s because year after year they are the same, or maybe it’s because I’m just not focused on TV any longer when I’m watching TV thanks to multitasking, but it’s been increasingly easy to “tune-out” all of the political ads lately. Sure I’ll see them come on, but even if I’m in the midst of watching a show I’ll immediately zone out of that TV moment and let my mind drift to something more important, something like “To eat ice cream, or not eat ice cream?” Every now and then I’ll pay a little bit of attention, but when they aren’t lambasting the other candidate instead of explaining how they are going to be a better person in charge, they’re saying they will be the better guy and still not explaining how they are going to be the better person in charge. There was a blip when there seemed to be an uptick in the desire to vote or at least listen to a candidate’s message. It was only a few short years ago when President Obama started his campaigning, with a ton of charisma and a message that this will be a better world, but, alas, that hope for change turned into the same bullshit. I’m not blaming the President, I think it’s the system and too many alpha-people who, as much as they say they want to work together, only want to work together if you want to do it their way. (Heavy sigh.)

I’ll be honest that I’m not always the most diligent voter, especially when it comes to primaries, but here in Illinois we have a Governor’s race that is at least interesting because we have Governor Quinn, who, if you listen to any approval ratings, well, maybe about one third of the people think he’s doing a good job. That means 60 to 70% of the people pretty much think he sucks. You would think that with that kind of rating you could put any despicable oaf up there to run against him and that oaf would win, but no, you have a candidate in Bruce Rauner who can barely, right now, muster up a tie if the vote were to be held by the people polled. I think part of the problem is now that people are just disheartened in the system especially when things were supposed to be different with President Obama in office. People were supposed to finally get along and work together, but sadly most common folks realize the candidates are, for the most part, the same blowhards, and even if they have the desire to make things better, the obstacles they have, the games they have to play, won’t allow it.

Alas, my issue now is figuring out where I vote. It’s easy once you’ve been settled at an address for a while, your driver’s license matches your mail, and you’re not getting things with yellow “forwarding” stickers from the post office, but I suppose I’ll check with my local voting folks the issues I might run into and get them fixed before the November 4th mid-term elections.

This is, I suppose, an important election season as it’s a mid-term election, with the House of Representatives up for grabs, a boatload of Senators up for grabs, and maybe we can have a new Governor in Illinois who can mess things up as badly as the other guy or just not be able to do squat because Michael Madigan doesn’t want it done. I’ll do my due-diligence and figure out how I can make a difference with my vote, though I’m wondering, and sadly I think I already know the answer, but I’ll ask anyway: Do you plan on voting in the 2014 mid-term elections on November 4th?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Sitting Where Their Butt Sat

As sometimes my wondering follows current events or people I see while I’m out on the town, the experience of moving has left me with lots of things I’m wondering about so count on seeing a few as the weeks roll by. This time it’s about toilet seats.

There are things I don’t always think of that are important I suppose, but others in my family seem to have it as just about #1 on the priority list when moving. Sure, there is contacting a moving company, making sure you have everything at closing, packing, maybe figuring out new furniture or the best place to put a lamp, even buying cleaning supplies for the initial move-in, but nowhere on my list of things to do was buy a new toilet seat. Yet there it was, I would say #2, nah, actually #1, on things to buy and install for the new house.

At the Home Depot we’re in the toilet seat isle and it’s not the easiest of choices to make. There are the easy-remove versions, elongated versus round (and from the number of boxes that were obviously returned it appears most people don’t get this one correct), padded, no-slam, and then do you go with the no-name brand versus say a Kohler? Sadly they didn’t have the version with the money molded into the plastic, so standard white was in order for our bathroom.

With new toilet seats in hand (we went with Kohler, with the slightly nicer one for the upstairs bathroom), and at the new house, changing out the toilet seats became one of my first priorities as, well, the need to use the toilet was quickly approaching and there would be no sitting where their butts sat. I will say as gross as it can be to change out your own toilet seat and see whatever gets in places under the plastic caps, it’s even a little more gross when it’s not your toilet seat and not your own gross.

With my fat ass nestled nicely on the new seat, and my correct guessing that we had round instead of elongated toilet bowls, I must admit it was kind of nice to be the person to christen a new toilet seat knowing mine was the first butt to grace its plastic. I also couldn’t help but wonder: Do you change the toilet seat when you move to a new place?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!