Friday, January 25

I Love Sly, But...

(My favorite Stallone picture and the photo on my mousepad.)

When I was a senior in high school my school held a Father-Daughter Dance. I didn't want to go because I thought it was weird for a girl to dance with her dad all night. My dad is a great dancer but being a teenager, I didn't want to go. Because I love my dad, I didn't want to slight him, either. So, I asked him to go on a "date" instead. We agreed to go see Rambo, First Blood, Part 2. We are both Rocky and Rambo fans and the movie had just come out so we went to the movies instead and then got something to eat. We had a great time and whenever Rambo 2 comes on I think of my Father-Daughter Night.

It turns out that Rambo, First Blood, Part 2 was, in our opinion at least, the best of the three Rambos. I loved when Stallone pops out of the mud mountain and grabs that commie bastard. One of my favorite lines of all time is when Murdock pretends he's happy Rambo is alive and says "Rambo, this is Murdock, we're glad you're alive. ...we'll come to pick you up! " and Rambo's mouth barely moves as he says "Murdock... I'm coming to get...YOU." And Murdock starts sweating bullets. It's in my Top 10 movie list for sure.

So, when I found out the 4th Rambo sequel was in the works, having just seen my aging hero in Balboa, I wasn't very excited. I thought, what's this? "Rambo, Last Rites, Part 1?" I love Stallone, don't get me wrong, I have most of the Rocky movies memorized and after all, the guy's from Philly- our very own hometown superstar. But the idea of Stallone lumbering around the jungles of Burma just doesn't seem like a just ending for the series.
Sly was hot, HOT, in Rambo 2. That slow motion scene where he is running to escape the impending explosion? Hubba, Hubba!

Now the guy is 63 and looks great for his age, of course, but believable as a warrior? Not so much. So, I'm going to skip this Sly movie, and there aren't many I have skipped- yes, I even saw "Stop or My Mom Will Shoot," but I want to remember Rambo as he was- hot, ripped and raging. (No steroid pun intended.)

Sunday, January 20

FA FREDDO, Dammit!

Pennsylvania. It's the only state I've ever called home, although I have lived in a lot of different parts of it. I have spent a lot of time in New Jersey; every summer of my life has included a trip down the shore, and several weeks a year in Florida while my grandparents lived in West Palm Beach for ten years. I hate the beach so trips to the Jersey shore are akin to torture for me. The sand mysteriously ending up everywhere on my body, the salt on my skin, the jellyfish, the wind sending grains of sand into my contacts lenses in spite of my sunglasses, the four times in my life I have been crapped on by seagulls, the chasing of them from my children so they can eat in peace, the seaweed that tangles itself up in places the sand may not have gotten to, and the inevitable sunburn I endure along the part in my hair from wearing a ponytail. I don't like it one bit.

In all the trips I have made to Florida, however, it wasn't until this past summer when I touched a Floridian beach. I generally park myself at the pool and swim and tan. I'll read in the pool if I can. Give me a raft and I'll sleep in the pool. But the Ft. Lauderdale beach I liked no better than a Jersey beach, except the water was calmer, bluer, and free from floating garbage. But there was sand. And I hate sand. And the summer Florida heat and humidity did not improve my outlook at all.

Now, in Pennsylvania we don't have an ocean or beaches, unless you count lakes. But, my state does have beautiful and diverse scenery- mountains, farms, lakes and amazing foliage in autumn. We have Philadelphia for culture-vultures and the Pocono mountains for those who want to relax and soak up nature. We have an Amish community in Lancaster County where people can marvel at how simple life can be. The scenery behind my house is amazing-in the spring and summer the mountains are green and picturesque. In the fall the colors are breathraking. In the winter I have a perfect view of the ski slopes and the ski lift, which at night is quite a sight to see all lit up.

But now that I am older, I find myself cursing just about every day when I go outside from about December through March. Sure, when the snow falls it's gorgeous. And late at night when I go outside with the dogs and it's snowing or it has just snowed, it's so perfectly silent and serene and white that I forget where I am for a second and I just stand there and relish the silence. Ahhhhhh.

Then I snap out of it, pull my eskimo-style coat around me, stomp the snow off my boots on the doormat and hurry back inside to the heat. For as much as I hate the humidity, the 90 degree weather in Florida, the sand in my eyes and my teeth, for as much as I hate finding seaweed in my bathing suit when I shower and as much as I want to throw things at seagulls, there is something I hate so much more that I would take a sandy, seaweedy bathing suit, sand in my eyes, a burnt scalp and a windy day at the beach where stupid people don't know to put their umbrellas down and they fly all over. And that is THE COLD.

It's 17 degrees right now and going down to 8. EIGHT. ONE DIGIT. Humans were not meant to live in SINGLE DIGITS. At least, not THIS human. I mean, you know it's cold when the hair in your nose freezes. And I won't even talk about how much fun it is as an adult to shovel the snow. Let's just stick to the COLD. In 1994, right around this time, PA had a major freeze. It was so bad that the Delaware River froze and the boats transporting fuel got stuck. I was staying with my parents because my apartment was freezing cold. It was so bad that their heater just couldn't crank high enough to keep the house warm. It was so bad that I slept in thermal underwear, two pairs of sweat pants, three pairs of socks, 2 t-shirts and a sweatshirt plus a hat and gloves on one of those nights. And my nose, which was not covered, was frozen when I woke up.

It is this time of year when I start dreaming of Florida. My husband, who hates the winters more than I do and would live in a hut on the beach if he could, calls his boss and says he wants a transfer. I start looking at real estate in Florida. I begin pleading with my parents to please move with us to the Sunshine State because I can't leave them here. They tell me I'm crazy, why would I want to leave Pennsylvania? And I say: BECAUSE IT'S FREAKIN' COLD!! FA FREDDO! FA FREDDO! Hello?? COLD!!!

As I am typing this I'm doing a search in the Palm Bay area of Florida for houses. Sure. I'd miss PA, but I'll bring pictures of the PA landscapes and look at them on my raft in the pool in February. I'd visit in the summer. Ma, I know you're reading this, and you're going to be responsible for me turning into a human popsicle. Remember my knees, the cold isn't good for my arthritis. It will be all your fault if my teeth chatter so hard they fall out. Is that what you want? A toothless gimp for a daughter? For now, I'll just pray I make it to March without hypothermia.

Where I could be right now:

Where I am:

To be fair, this is the view in the spring from my bedroom window:

Sunday, January 13

The Web Bites the Mob in the Coolie

First of all, if you're an Italian-American you no doubt have heard the word "coolie" before. It comes from the word "culo" which means butt. But it's crude. So, by tweaking it a little, it became acceptable for little kids to say, and that's the word we used for butt growing up and the word my kids use now.

Anyway, I just came across an article that says that Sicilian businesses, tired of being strong-armed for protection by the mob, created a website where they can find strength in numbers. The Information Superhighway is sending the mob packin'! A few young men started with clever slogans, plastering Palmero with stickers reading ("Un Intero Popolo Che Paga Il Pizzo E Un Popolo Senza Dignita" ("PEOPLE WHO PAY THE PIZZO ARE PEOPLE WITHOUT DIGNITY.") Pizzo is the money they must pay the mob. The word spread and the common feeling was if your baker pays the pizzo, and you buy from the baker, you are giving the mafia your money, adn who wants to do that? Good old Italian guilt worked and lassoed clientele into the circle with the business owners, forming a united front. Emboldened, Sicilians took a stand and formed Comittee Addiopizzo (The Goodbye Pizzo committee). According to the AddioPizzo website,
"The campaign “Against pizzo change your shopping habits” wants to create a group of consumers in Palermo and in the region, ready to support businesses who stand up against racket and, overcoming fear, denounce their extorters."

When I read this I realized how little I know about how the mob operates to this day in Italy and Sicily. I am proud of the Sicilian business owners who have joined forces and finally stood up to thugs and thieves who think that they own Sicily. How dare someone demand another person's hard-earned money just so they won't bully them? Maybe now the mob can get a job- or go to jail. The AddioPizzo campaign could effectively wipe out this extortion for good- finally!

Good for you siciliani!

Sicilian business owners and supporters gather in Sicily.