Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Protest Worthy of the Captain's Attention

[This post may be NSFW... depends on where you work, I guess. - Captain Dave]

“Tall and tan and young and lovely,
the girl from Ipanema goes walking,
and when she passes, each one she passes goes – ‘ahhh’…”

In November, actress Cristina Flores was doing a photo shoot on the beach at Ipanema, during which she removed her shirt.

“When she walks, she’s like a samba
that swings so cool and sways so gently
that when she passes, each one she passes goes – ‘ooh’…”

Ipanema is one of the many beautiful beaches in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Rio is the host city for soccer’s World Cup next year and the Olympics two years later. Rio is also the home of the bossa nova and the famous “dental floss” bikini, as well as Carnivale!

“Oh, but I watch her so sadly,
how can I tell her I love her,
yes, I would give my heart gladly,
but each day when she walks to the sea
she looks straight ahead, not at me…”

But in November, when Cristina Flores removed her shirt on the beach, she was immediately set upon by municipal guards. You see, going topless is not allowed for women on "the world’s sexiest beach". (Travel Channel)

“Tall and tan and young and lovely,
the girl from Ipanema goes walking,
and when she passes, I smile – but she doesn’t see…
she doesn’t see…”

So on this past Saturday, a protest was scheduled to take place at Ipanema. Women were encouraged to come out and bare their breasts in protest of this law that has been on the books since the 1940s.

“Olha que coisa mais linda mais cheia de graa
ela, menina, que vem e que passa
num doce balano a caminho do mar
moa do corpo dourado do sol de Ipanema
o seu balanado parece um poema
a coisa mais linda que eu j vi passer…”

[I have no idea what that says!]

The day of the protest came. The Associated Press reported that more than 100 “photojournalists” showed up to cover the biggest international news story of the year.

And then the protest began. The first woman removed her top.

“Ooh, but I watch her so sadly,
aah, por que tudo eh tao triste?
yes, I would give my heart gladly
but each day when she walks to the sea
she looks straight ahead, not at me…”

Then three more women embrace the protest.

 “Tall, tan, young, lovely,
the girl from Ipanema goes walking,
and when she passes, I smile – but she doesn’t see…”

And then came the following quote in the AP report:
“A breast isn’t dangerous!" said Olga Salon, a 73-year-old Rio native, as she stripped off her black tank top.” 
[*hurk!*] I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth…

With apologies: “Girl from Ipanema”, songwriters: NORMAN GIMBEL, ANTONIO JOBIM, VINICIUS MORAES

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Little Christmas Cheer!

Merry Christmas 
from the Captain and Crew 
of the Banana Winds!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Shaking, Not Stirred

The LA Times reported today that a trio of British medical researchers have put forth a scientific explanation for why James Bond always asks for his martinis "shaken, not stirred". 

And to think I wasted four years in college and four years in seminary to earn my paycheck!

They are not the first. This has apparently been a subject of conversation scientific inquiry for quite some time. For example, researchers in Ontario found that a shaken martini has more antioxidants than a stirred one. 

Yes! Martinis are good for you!

On the other hand, many professional bartenders insist that drinks containing only clear liquids must be stirred in order to maintain clarity and texture. Shaking a martini would introduce air bubbles and make the drink cloudy upon presentation.

And the really snooty martini drinkers say shaking the drink "bruises" the gin!

Lord knows we don't want to "bruise" our gin!

But I digress...

After exhaustive research - which apparently didn't involved drinking martinis - the British doctors determined that James Bond was a severe alcoholic. This conclusion is based upon reading 12 of the 14 Bond novels penned by Ian Fleming.

Ultimately, the researchers found that James Bond (in the novels, not the movies) consumed so much alcohol on a regular basis that he ought to be dead! 

At the peak of his binge (in "From Russia With Love"), Bond drank the equivalent of 398.4 grams of pure alcohol (or 14 martinis) in a 24-hour period. On average, throughout the novels his alcohol intake came to 738 grams per week or 105.1 grams per day. 

By comparison, you might want to know how much the Captain drinks.

But I will tell you that the British National Health Service recommends no more than 168 grams per week, with no more than 32 grams per day - taking at least two dry days per week.

So, according to the researchers, rather than being the suave, sophisticated secret agent with a dead-eye aim,  James Bond more likely suffered from hypertension, depression, and sexual disfunction; he was a strong candidate for a stroke and most likely developing cirrhosis of the liver. 

And the shakes.

Yes, the conclusion of the research team is that James Bond most likely suffered from alcohol-induced tremors that would have prevented him from stirring a martini even if he had tried!

However, the Captain is not satisfied. The phrase "shaken, not stirred" comes as a bar order. James Bond rarely made his own martinis. So why would he drink a sub-par martini made by someone else? Frankly, if you're pouring, I want the good stuff!

Furthermore, if Bond's hands shook that much, how could he possibly even drink a martini?

No, for a more realistic explanation, I go back to the 2002 episode of "West Wing", in which President Josiah Bartlet is ruminating about James Bond. He turns to his aide and says, 

Bartlet: Can I tell you what's messed up about James Bond?
Aide: Nothing.
Bartlet: "Shaken, not stirred" will get you cold water with a dash of gin and dry vermouth. The reason you stir it with a special spoon is so not to chip the ice. James is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it.

I loved that show!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Top Ten Reasons I Hate Snow!

A colleague is always posting articles he has read on Facebook that are lists: “Top ten this…” “Top three that…” It gets old after a while. It implies that either the reader is too lazy to read a real essay on the subject, or the writer is too lazy to write a real essay on the subject.

Today’s blog is because the Captain is just plain lazy!

We had ice and snow on Thursday and Friday, which pretty much locked down the whole area. So I had a lot of time to sit and reflect.

It’s a good thing!

And last evening during this enforced meditation, I came up with this list of the “Top Ten Reasons I Hate Snow!” Enjoy!

10. It’s cold!
You can't convince me these people are having fun!

9. Layers of clothing!
Now I have to pee!

8. It brings out the “crazy” in people!
There's something that's just not right about this picture!

7. A snowflake is deceptively pretty. 
But when the little bastards gang up on you, look out!

6. It makes driving difficult!
Sometimes impossible!

5. Cabin Fever!
A "must see": Charlie Chaplin in "The Gold Rush"!

4. Which then makes people “NEED” to get out!
Gee, I hope that was important!

3. Hot beverages!  
Next Blog: "Top Ten Reasons I Hate Hot Beverages!"

2. Jimmy won’t play!
"I gotta go where it's warm!"

1. And the number one reason I Hate Snow: “Bikinis”!
This also happens to be the #1 reason I love beaches!
Only 193 days until summer!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

First-World Problems

There’s this thing called “First-World Problems”. Some refer to it as “White Whine”. (See link to blog site at bottom right.) The label applies to all those little things that we (mostly upper-class white) in America grumble about so often that poor people and those who live in other countries would have no concept of – like…

Seriously, if that’s the biggest problem you face today, you are truly blessed!

As I have been thinking about all the ruckus in America leading up to the recent Thanksgiving Day, I wonder if it isn’t really just more “White Whine”.

At issue: several major retailers announced they would open for business in the early evening on Thanksgiving Day.

Outrage followed! Protests! Anger! Righteous indignation!

The complainers (and I’ll confess I was part of this group) insisted that Thanksgiving Day has always been a day set aside to pause and give thanks to God for our many blessings. One should not have to work, but should be allowed a day to be with family and friends and to gorge oneself on a feast of turkey & dressing.

And pies!

As one who has researched the history of Thanksgiving, I can point to the precedent set by the Thanksgiving Declaration of the Continental Congress of 1777:
And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.

So there!

The reason for stores opening on Thanksgiving Day was to try to beat other retailers who have in past years opened at midnight or 6 a.m. on “Black Friday” – the day in modern retail mythology on which retailers turn their ledger sheets from red ink to black.

Pretty much everyone agrees that there is only so much “Christmas Shopping money” to go around. This year’s sales reports for the weekend after Thanksgiving indicate there was even less money this year than last. So, at least in theory, if yours is the first store to open, you have the first shot at that magical Pot o’ Gold.

But let’s take a moment and consider the reality of our First-World nation.
  • WalMart is regularly open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It only closes on Christmas Day. So being open on Thanksgiving is nothing new for WalMart.
  • Most grocery stores remain open at least until noon or early afternoon on Thanksgiving Day to provide for those of us who forgot the ReadiWhip for our pumpkin pie.
  • The local movie theater keeps normal hours on Thanksgiving Day to provide relief to those who can only stand family gatherings for so long!

Hey! You know it’s true!

And then there are the essential employees – Police, Fire, and hospital workers; the people who keep your utilities running; the radio and TV employees.

The list grows long.

Shouldn’t they, also, get Thanksgiving Day off?

Sure, we were upset when Macy’s announced they would open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. But I didn’t hear anyone crying out against that same company for making thousands of parade workers, dancers, marching bands and city employees work that morning.

And I heard nary a peep against the NFL for making football players, stadium workers and broadcast personnel work that afternoon.

Apparently we’re okay with letting people entertain us on Thanksgiving Day, but we’re not okay with letting the poor woman – who could probably really use the extra income – sell you merchandise at [insert most hated retailer’s name here].

I sense a double-standard!

At best, we’re not being honest with ourselves.

And, at least for today, I’ve had a change of heart.

Let me state clearly that I believe everybody needs a day off. I totally believe God gave us the Sabbath as a blessing.
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work…” (Genesis 20:8-10)

Of course, we took that blessing and turned it into a curse, fleshing it out with harsh rules about which day of the week is officially the Sabbath, what you can and cannot do on that day, along with a laundry list of punishments for failing to “rest”.

But again, the Sabbath commandment was originally meant to be a blessing. God knows we all need rest. We all need time away from work. We all need Sabbath.

So what about working on Thanksgiving Day then?

For the person who truly needs the extra money, closing all the stores on Thanksgiving Day unfairly deprives him of an opportunity to earn. In a hunter/gatherer society, if you don’t work, you don’t eat. While America is far removed from our hunter/gatherer past, many of our working poor still live on that same edge.

For the person who has no family or friends nearby, closing all the stores on Thanksgiving Day under the premise that you should go home and celebrate with family and friends will make for a very lonely day. She won’t even be able to go to the mall to forget about her loneliness.

Truth is, most of us “First-World People” speaking up for the little people those who were forced to work didn’t have to work on Thanksgiving Day anyway. We are salaried, with scheduled, paid vacations (like Thanksgiving Day) built in. We had family members on their way. There was a 20 lb. turkey smoking in our “Big Green Egg”.

And I wasn’t planning to go shopping that day anyway.

So was our protest really about guilt?

I suspect that rather than standing up for the poor, downtrodden workers who were “forced” to work on Thanksgiving Day - and yes, I know some were forced to work - we were actually fighting for an upper-middle class ideal, as depicted so grandly in old Norman Rockwell paintings. Fearful of losing a tradition that we hold dear, we didn’t stop to consider the ramification for others.

As with the Sabbath blessing, we tried to change Thanksgiving Day into a curse – forcing people to stop work; forcing people to gather with their families; forcing people to eat turkey; forcing people to observe the day as we think they should.

My cynical side further suspects that our real fear is that eventually we, too, will choose to forego the traditional Thanksgiving Day gatherings altogether – “Oh, we can get together another time” – opting to join the great unwashed masses at the mall to get a jump on our Christmas shopping instead.

And for a while, we will feel TERRIBLE about that!

For a while...

And eventually (more sooner than later), as more and more stores remain open, and more and more of us are forced to work, and more and more of us who don’t have to work go shopping (because the stores are open), I predict that the Thanksgiving Day observance will all but disappear and the 4th Thursday of November will become just another day on the calendar – like it is in most of the rest of the world.

And once that happens, the sights will be turned toward Christmas Day…

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Pirate Looks at 50... again!

I thought I was ready to move on after turning 50 – after all, it’s just a number, right?

At least, that’s what I tell everyone else.

So Saturday afternoon the First Mate and I took in a movie. “Last Vegas” features many of our favorite actors and the premise looked kind of cute, so I wanted to see it before it left town.

In a small town like this, good movies hang around for about a week; the really crappy ones seem to linger for months!

I’ll try not to spoil “Last Vegas” for anyone who still hasn’t seen it, but here’s the premise: four childhood friends – Billy, Paddy, Archie and Sam – all meet up in Las Vegas to throw Billy a bachelor party. At somewhere around 70, Billy is getting married for the first time… to a 31-year-old hottie!

Before moving on, know that “Rotten Tomatoes” gave the movie a 44%; as you might guess, that is not great. Another critic said the film was just the movie “Hangover” “retread for the older set”. The film grossed $33 million in its first week… mostly from that “older set”.

On this particular day, the First Mate and I were the youngest persons in the theater for the showing.

While the movie was mostly humorous and light-hearted fun, I also came away slightly depressed.

As I mentioned, the movie was filled with actors I love. Michael Douglas (Billy) had been great in “Wall Street” (1987) and “Basic Instinct” (1992). 

Michael Douglas, "Wall Street" (1987)
And he’s married to the still-hot Catherine Zeta-Jones (who is 44). But Michael Douglas is 69 now, and after a recent battle with cancer, it shows!

Robert DeNiro (Paddy) is 70 now. He was the young Vito Corleone in “Godfather II” back in 1974… when he was only 31 (and I was 11).

Robert DeNiro, "Godfather II" (1974) 
Morgan Freeman, the elder statesman of the bunch, is now 76. He was already 52 when he starred in “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989).

Morgan Freeman (2013)
Kevin Kline is the baby of the bunch at 66. But I still remember him from “The Big Chill” in 1983 and “A Fish Called Wanda” in 1988.

Kevin Kline, "The Big Chill" (1983)
And prior to the movie there was a trailer for the upcoming “Grudge Match”, starring Sylvester Stallone (67) and Robert DeNiro, who portray two former boxers pitted together in a geriatric boxing match to settle an old score.

Stallone & De Niro, "Grudge Match" (2013)

How did these guys get so old?!?

And if they’re that old, how old does that make me???

Oh, right. I’m 50.

Another depressing part of the movie was that while in most movies the make-up artists are instructed to hide the wrinkles and blemishes, in this movie they were apparently instructed to enhance them. The crows feet, “turkey necks” and liver spots were all on harsh display.

Kevin Kline, "Last Vegas" (2013)
Except for Kevin Kline. He still has a youthful exuberance about him that, despite the gray beard, the intentionally obvious hearing aids, and the ridiculous wearing of two pair of glasses, he appeared a much younger “old guy” than his cohorts.

I confided to a friend last week that whenever I look in the mirror, I still see the 25-year-old me… despite the gray, thinning hair and spreading waistline. 

So how old do I look to everyone else?

And finally, the message of the movie felt contradictory. What I think I was supposed to come away with was, “You’re never too old to really live!”

I like that thought.

But I’m not sure what that really means. Do I continue to try to desperately hang on to my youth, even when youth has gone? Or do I act my age? What exactly is “acting your age”?

Throughout the movie, those who were trying to “live” were ridiculed:

Bre Blair
-Billy was constantly put down for wanting to marry a hot 31-year-old (played by Bre Blair). The badgering was constant throughout the movie and sometimes vicious!

-When the four paid to be judges at a poolside bikini contest – because, you know, they wanted the privilege of staring at young hot bodies – they were again ridiculed. As if the insults weren’t obvious enough, the young DJ ended up stripping down to a Speedo and waving his junk in Paddy’s face.

-As they tried to pick up younger women in Vegas, they were frequently dismissed as “cute” and were compared to “my grandpa”!

And the worst insult came when Paddy convinced Billy that marrying the younger woman was wrong; so he dumped her and married the much older lounge singer (Mary Steenburgen, 60).

Mary Steenburgen (2013)
Oops. Sorry. Didn’t mean to spoil it for you – but you had to see that coming!

But hear me when I say, if finding a 31-year-old hottie who is will marry you is not “living”, I don’t know what is!

Sure, the jokes about prostates and hip replacement surgery and Viagra were all there – as would be expected. And most of the time they were funny! But in the end, I felt like old age won out.  

Near the end of the movie, as the foursome prepared to leave Vegas, Paddy once again produced the bottle of 12-year-old Scotch that the boys had swiped from a store when they were kids together. It was a recurring prop – Billy had been saving it all these years for the perfect occasion when the four would be together again.

Frankly, I can’t believe the kids didn’t drink it back then, but… [Initiate ‘intentional suspension of disbelief’ here.]

And so, sixty years later, the four friends lift a glass of now 72-year-old Scotch in a toast – but the liquor has obviously turned. As the others run to find a place to spit, Sam declares, “It can’t be bad; it’s Scotch!”

As the movie attempted to depict the lives of these men at 70 – likewise declaring “It can’t be bad; it’s Life!” – I found myself also looking for a place to spit. I’m just not ready for this.

We live in a youth-oriented culture. If you don’t believe me, just go to the mall and try to find clothes for adults!

Or check out your favorite newspaper. Even the liberal-minded Huffington Post played up this incredulous headline: “Debbie Gibson Rocks a Leotard at 42 During NBA Game”. Yes, even Debbie Gibson, the former teen pop idol, is growing older. But do they really have to put her age in the headline? As if a 42-year-old can’t still look hot?

Debbie Gibson (2013)
God, I’m getting old! That 42-year-old is looking hot!

But then again, my eyesight is not what it used to be either!

At my church we have a large number of members who have surpassed 90+ years of life, many of whom still enjoy good health. And I celebrate with them and all the years they have lived. Their battle cry is, “Growing old is not for sissies!”

But I’m not sure I want to go there. I just don’t want to be that 72-year-old bottle of Scotch.

“It can’t be bad; it’s Scotch!”


Other aging actors:
            -Jennifer Aniston 44          
-Charlie Sheen 48
            -Demi Moore 51
            -Bruce Willis 58
            -Jackie Chan 59 (yes, he’s still alive!)
            -Ted Dansen 65
-Arnold Schwarzenegger 66
            -Jimmy Buffett 66 (12-25-1946)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fly Me

The First Mate and I just returned from a week’s break in sunny southern California!

And it was actually sunny this time!

I won’t bore you with slides of my vacation.

Other than this one. My niece took me to Omar’s Exotic Birds store in Brea, where the birds are out and available for customers to pick up and handle.

I’m still not sure I think this is such a good thing for the birds, but it was a neat opportunity! Now if I can just save up $1400 I can get me one of these big guys!

We had a good time, and managed to squeeze a whole week of activity into only seven days! There was a birthday celebration, two special worship services, a volleyball game, a softball game, and a trip to “Pirates Dinner Adventure”, where the First Mate actually got to be part of the show!

Then we boarded a plane and headed for home.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate flying? I know it’s the only way to get across country in a short period of time, but it seems the airlines are doing everything they can to make the trip as uncomfortable as possible.

Of course, they try to hide the realities of flying until the last minute – kind of like when you take the dog to the vet:

“Wanna go for a ride in the car, boy?”

The airports are large, spacious buildings.

And nowadays, they contain everything you could possibly need. In addition to the Starbucks and fast foods and newsstands, there are also massage therapists and chiropractors. You can even get a flu shot!

And if you’ve committed some transgression while away from the spouse, there is a vending machine from which you can purchase a bouquet of flowers to take home!

But then your number is called. You move from the spacious terminal – and that name alone should be your first warning! – down a smaller hallway.

Finally you enter the plane… and take your seat…

That’s me in the middle – sitting between the First Mate (always on the aisle) and some large, flatulent Asian guy who didn’t speak English.

Boarding a plane is kind of like Russian Roulette. You find your seat and watch as others board the plane. Who will be your seat-mate? The hot chick in the short skirt? The large Samoan guy with the tattoos and piercings who will fill up half of your seat as well as his own? The grandmotherly-looking woman who will want to talk about her cats the whole trip? The nun?

By the way, it’s never the hot chick in the short skirt! I have come to believe that the airlines hire such women just to walk through the airplane to raise morale - and hopes - then she escapes out a rear exit before the plane departs!

Behind us sat a couple returning from a trip to one of those island nations that, when you mention its name, people say “Ooohhh!” and immediately have wet dreams of thatched huts on stilts out on a pristine turquoise bay. She was dressed in a strapless sundress – showing off her sunburned bosom, just inviting people to ask where she’s been – seemingly unaware that while the temps on her special island were a toasty 95 degrees, when the plane lands in Nashville it will be a very non-tropical 35 degrees!   

So we all sat smushed into these ridiculously small seats with our knees pressed up against the seats in front of us for 3 ½ hours, because “the Captain has turned on the seatbelt light”… which means you can’t get up!

Of course, being stuck in my seat caused my mind to conjure up strange questions, like, “Why are the emergency exits segregated?”

“Why do I need a life jacket when we’re flying over land?”

And why would we be making a “water landing” anyway? Don’t they really mean “crash into the ocean”?

“Why does the little package of honey-roasted peanuts have to have a warning letting me know that it was “produced in a facility that processes peanuts and other nuts”?

I did take a journey to the head at one point, which is always a unique experience.

Will someone please tell me how ANYONE can join the “Mile High Club” in one of these things?

There’s hardly even room for one person in there!

Smoking has been banned on commercial airlines for 15 years now – a fact they still need to remind us of before every flight – and yet there is still an ashtray on the restroom door!

“If I push this button, will a waitress bring me a cocktail?”

The good news is, we made it home without any problems. 

And we were greeted at the door by our two cats... who missed us terribly!

And that’s what matters most.