Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Real Time With Bill Maher

I watch Bill Maher every week.

He's smart and funny and I like both of those things. His show makes you think.

In case you don't watch he starts with a monologue (this past week was very funny), then Bill does a sit down interview (Columnist Bret Stephens, very good) and then he walks over to sit with and talk to the panel for that week.

This week it was Fran Lebowitz from Vanity Fair and author Salmon Rushdie.

I gotta tell you it was divine.

It reminded me of dinner parties I went to in New York. Special ones. People would stand up around the table and give toasts to the person of the night and those toasts turned into interesting speeches. I'd never seen anything like that before.

Here the witty repartee was worth the price of admission.

Such great conversation, such great insight, it was like eating chocolate for me. And I love chocolate.
They bantered about everything--politics (don't forget it is a political show), Russia, the Midwest, Facebook, America's future. Those are just some of the things they talked about.

But wait, it gets even better.

Bill always has a special guest and this week it was designer Tim Gunn.

Project Runway anyone?

Love me some Mr. Gunn and he did not disappoint. One of the things that Bill brought up was the weight of everyday women vs. the size of models and how designers didn't make clothes for these women. He mentioned that retailers were missing out on billions of dollars.

Tim Gunn agreed.

And Tim went a step further. He said this season on his show he worked with plus size women for the first time and loved every second of it. He also said that we need to show more diversity in the size and shape of the women we show and said, "For want of a better term, Big is Beautiful."

I sat up when I heard all this and I'll tell you why.

For years I couldn't find designer suits in my size, it seemed they were always made for someone thinner than me. I wasn't obese obese but I was always bigger than most. I knew too well the words 'Sears Husky.'

Then a good friend named Michael Klenfner told me about a store called Rochester Big and Tall. He said they were in San Francisco but were opening one in Manhattan.

I went there and all of a sudden I could find designer suits in my size. Designer shirts, jackets, sweaters, wind breakers. I was in heaven and also a snappy dresser on TV. I was part of an untapped market that was untapped no more.

Thank you Michael and thank you Rochester Big and Tall.

I spent bazillions of dollars there and was happy to do so.

That's what Tim Gunn was alluding to for bigger women, who can't find what smaller women find everywhere. How does that saying go, "If you build it they will come?"

You build it they'll come all right.

In droves.

It's like that on this show all the time. How did Arsenio Hall put it? Things that make you go hmmm.

And the panel and guests are top notch. One week it's Ice Cube. One week Al Gore. One week someone from The Right. One week someone from The Left. Many times those last two are on at the same time.

Differing views great conversation.

Real Time with Bill Maher is on Friday nights at ten on HBO.

For me it's must see TV.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Irma Part Three-The Aftermath And The Cleanup

Where I live looked like a war zone after Hurricane Irma. Trees down. Branches down. You could barely navigate the sidewalks and streets for all the debris.

Plus it seemed that everywhere you looked the power was out.

Let's talk about that last thing for a minute.

There are people with their power still not on. Believe you me an hour without air conditioning in steamy, hot, Florida is one thing. Days without it in your house is a whole new ball game. Imagine folks sitting around in their underwear in the searing heat, now imagine if it was you.

When Arby's reopened, when McDonald's reopened, they were packed. A/C and hot food? Where do I sign up?

My wife casually mentioned that the power grid would be up on Sunday. Then she also casually mentioned it would be a week without it for most people.

Our power never went out. Can you say lucky? I think you can.

Heck with my town have you seen the images of Floridians on the news and in the paper?

It'll make you cry.

This was a bad one. Irma was a bad one.

Listening to the conversation at the (barely stocked) grocery store was what I call 'hurricane talk.' Where were you when it hit? Are you okay now? Did you lose power? Be safe.

My twins have not been to school at all this week. They thought it was fun at first, now one says at least he could see his friends and have the day pass quicker. Their school was hit by a tree in the storm and also lost (there's that word again) power.
My sons' Middle School

One of their friends spent the night on Tuesday to escape what his mom said was the "sweltering heat."

They had no power.

He left the following morning with a bag of ice that one of my sons gave him.

Glad to help out.

Clean up on aisle five, actually clean up at the McEwen hacienda.

In our backyard there are two trees, one has hanging moss and a tire swing.

That one was fine.

It was the other one.

After the wind and rain died down, we thought we were pretty lucky (the L word again) that there was no major damage. Turns out we were right and we were wrong. The tree actually didn't fall down but its branches came down. And they were big branches.
We were lucky that it didn't hit our house.

You know Monday was Monday in just about the whole rest of the country.

It was 9-11 for Pete's sake.  I lived in New York then.

A terrible day.

This was terrible too.

Don't get me wrong I'm not equating it to the horror of the Twin Towers coming down but Irma sure got and held your attention.

That she sure did.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Irma Part Two

In the words of Tom Petty, "The waiting is the hardest part."

We've been waiting for Hurricane Irma for like forever and finally here she comes.

Our house looks like a hoarder's house, there is outside stuff everywhere. From pool furniture, to big umbrellas to chimes to plants.  There's even a cricket in one of the plants who is now indoors chirping happily.

We've gone through our check list.

Ice, check. Water, check. Lanterns, check. Batteries, check. Every check you can think of. I drove around earlier and it's a ghost town. Everything is closed including 7-11 and I'll be honest, I've never seen them not open.

We filled up trash bags with dirt to make our own sand bags to help with possible flooding and under the sliding doors they went. Imagine this scene: me and my wife in our yard, in the spitting rain, me with a shovel, her holding the Glad Bags. Not a pretty sight. Not a neighborly sight.

The rain began as a drizzle at first then got heavier and heavier. And let's not forget the gusts of wind. As the day wore on they got harder and louder.

Evening turned to night and it began to sound like a freight train was outside and overhead. As the dad you're supposed to be this Rock of Gibraltar for your kids. So there was this very concerned father acting like he was not concerned at all.

I found myself up on a ladder making a small hole in the family room ceiling to allow overflow water from the roof to drip in a bucket. Yes, I did. Thinking the whole time that I'm too old to be on a ladder making a hole in the ceiling.

But you do what you gotta do.

Also, have you ever tried to let your dog out to tinkle in a hurricane? It's much harder than you think. Her looking up at you like, "But it's rainy and windy out there." You imagine her thinking, "I'll hold it thank you."

Cut ahead to five ayem.

Woke to the sound of the A/C kicking on. That meant we had power. What I didn't hear was the sound of heavy rain falling. Don't get me wrong the wind was still gusting but it seems Irma, the worst part of Irma, was gone. With a song in my heart I went back to bed planning to deal with the rest of it when the sun came up.

And Lola The Dog finally went out.

If you're playing at home, score it: McEwens 1 Irma 0.

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Hurricane Irma

This was printed in The Orlando Sentinel September 8, 2017.

I have to admit to something. Something awful.

When you live in the land of hurricanes when one hits somewhere else I breath a sigh of relief.

That's awful but true.

Before we go any further the pictures out of Houston tear your heart apart. What I've seen I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Did you see the mother, in a shelter, on CNN? Talk about real. She was so shaken up by the ordeal, so shaken up about having her world turned upside down by Harvey, so shaken up by having to save her kids, her kids, that she cursed on live TV. It was the first time I'd seen that since the tragedy of 9-11.

They cut away and went to commercial, fast, but I'll bet I wasn't alone in not being outraged by it. I imagined heads everywhere solemnly nodding up and down.  

The storm there was so bad that if I just say Harvey you know exactly what I'm talking about. Well, I've got another name for you.


While we were busy breathing a sigh of relief, here comes the mother of all hurricanes, barreling down on Florida. They say God has a sense of humor. Well, this isn't funny but it might be someone's idea of a hee-hee, just not mine.

Irma is a category 5 hurricane, which is deadly and dangerous. When I lived up north in my youth you didn't know categories from rice pudding. Here you learn and you know.

And thus the preparations began.

Water, batteries, canned goods, flashlights, there's more but you know the drill.

All the water shelves were bare.

I found myself at a Publix at 6:45 in the morning trying to get some. Me and about a hundred other people. At seven, in we went, and we all got water, not a lot, until it was all gone. Someone did mention the old hurricane trick of filling up pitchers and your bathtub with tap water.

Just in case.

My wife reminded me the day before to fill up my car.

Just in case.

And my 89 year old mother in law had me drive her to the bank to get cash.

Just in case.

Even though we're hardy folk and used to this it still gets kinda scary. Looking into the eyes of fellow Central Floridians I could see that fear along with the self assurance and the it's going to be okay.

Now the major decisions.

Do we put the lawn furniture in the pool? Another hurricane trick that I didn't know up north. Also last year during Matthew my wife's sister, her husband, their daughter and two more dogs came from Palm Bay to our house for shelter from the storm. This year we anticipate the same.

And if you think it wears me out just writing that, you would be right.

But it's the loving thing, the right thing to do.

Hurricanes are funny. You can see them coming unlike, say, earthquakes. So, we watch the updates, the latest on it's projected path. And wait.

Hunker down my friends.

Oh yeah, got another name for you.


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