Thursday, November 30, 2006

The search for Mattie goes on


The Michigan couple whose car and 12-year-old dog, Mattie, were stolen from the U City Loop on Nov. 7 continue their North St. Louis search for their little dog. The latest, from a Nov. 29 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article by Norm Parish:

Just as they have done many times over the last three weeks, Alice and Thomas Matthews of Grand Rapids, Mich., on Tuesday worked the streets and alleys of north St. Louis in search of their missing dog, Mattie.

And the results were same as they have been since Nov. 7, when the Matthewses' car, with Mattie inside, was stolen: No sightings, despite a $3,000 reward.

On Tuesday afternoon in a dusty St. Louis alley, Alice Matthews approached a teenaged male with a flier of Mattie, while her husband stapled a flier to a telephone pole.

"I haven't seen him today," the youth said. "But I saw him two weeks ago."

The Matthewses continued looking.

Their 2001 Buick LeSabre and Mattie were taken Nov. 7 while the Matthewses, on vacation, were window-shopping in the University City Loop.

The car turned up Nov. 9 in Cape Girardeau, Mo., after a police chase. But there was no sign of a dog.

Two St. Louis men, James Butler Jr., 21, and Donnell Riley, 22, have been charged in the case.

Both men deny taking the car and deny knowing anything about a 14-inch-tall, white, fluffy, mixed-breed dog, Cape Girardeau police said.

The couple was tipped to look for their dog on Harney Avenue, just west of Calvary Cemetery in north St. Louis. On Nov. 10, they found their dog's crate near an alley behind a vacant house in the 5900 block of Harney.

The couple left the crate, filled with the dog's towels, at the site, hoping it will return. They say they have received dozens of sightings of the Mattie — mostly in the Jennings and nearby St. Louis area.

The couple looked for their pet for a few days after it went missing and returned to St. Louis area on Thanksgiving to continue the search. The couple will be here until Sunday.

They are getting help from Stray Rescue, the Missouri Humane Society and about a dozen other volunteers.

"I feel for them," said Yvonne Belosi, 41, a nurse who travels nearly an hour from Hillsboro to help with the search. "They lost their car. They lost their dog. I just wanted to help them."

The Matthewses said they will continue looking for Mattie as long as they keep getting leads.

Thomas, 53, is an accountant, and his wife, Alice, 52, is a surgical technician.

"We were absolutely devastated," said Alice Matthews about the loss of their dog of about 12 years. "We just feel helpless. We first got Mattie for our daughter but he is now part of our family. But as long as there is hope we will keep looking with the help of volunteers."

Anyone with information about Mattie can call 314-369-2784.

Willie


I like to say things to my 6-year-old nephew Willie to get him to look at me funny and say "What????????????"

On the day after Thanksgiving, I asked him, "Hey Willie, do you know who my sister is?"

He looked at me clueless, as if to be wondering, "You have a sister, Uncle Tom?!?"

"Your mom is my sister," I told him.

The look on his face was priceless.

So I added, "And Uncle John is my brother."

He looked at me like I was speaking complete and utter nonsense.

By the way, he still believes that I am good friends with Santa Claus.

School closings

As we get our first winter storm of the season here in St. Louis, I happened to notice that you can view school closings online. It's probably been this way for a number of years and I just had never noticed. Makes complete sense, of course.

But... it brought back memories of what it was like growing up and listening to the radio for school closings. We'd wait patiently -- or impatiently! -- for the list to be read aloud.

"And we'll be having school closings at the top of the hour... stay tuned."

Once we'd would hear our school listed, we'd turn the radio off immediately -- because nothing else mattered! -- and my sister and I would relish the gifts of freedom and snow.

Ah, the memories!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Will you please read my blog now???

My monthly dinner club friends hadn't read my blog yet. As punishment, each of them will be having their photo published on my blog. First up is Brian, from dinner tonight at the Scottish Arms restaurant.

Side-note: I found this to be a particularly neat photo. Taken in widescreen mode on my new Canon SD600, a wonderful compact digital camera that takes great 30 frames-per-second video, too.

Kathryn and Steve, one of you is next. :)

"But you need a Mac to transfer music to it, right?"

I was showing off my new iPod shuffle to a co-worker today. She was so impressed by its size and sleekness. By its clip that allows you to wear it. By the amount of songs it holds (240). By its low price of $79.

She said that she expects her young kids, sooner-or-later, to start asking for an iPod. But then, in a bit of sudden disappointment, she asked, "But you need a Mac to transfer music to it, right?"

Now, I wonder how this kind of misunderstanding triggers buying decisions. A couple of years ago, it may have lead to avoiding buying an iPod. Now, though, it may lead to buying a Mac over a PC. Interesting how things change...

Fall color

Of course we are way past the fall color peak, but there is still some very nice color to be found. The following photo came from a dog walk to the U City Loop on Thanksgiving morning:

Fall color

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wacky Packages are back???

I was obsessed with Wacky Packages in the mid-70s, around the age of 10. I couldn't get enough of them. The obsession to collect an entire "Wacky Packs" series meant getting a TON of duplicates. But there was always my dad's lunch box to stick the extras on. (He didn't seem to mind me doing that... what a nice dad he was!)

Well, anyway, looks like there have already been four new series of Wacky Packages. Where did the marketing fail? How was I not informed of this? I want answers!!

Okay, get this: The first two new series did not include the stick of gum! BIG mistake, as the chalky slice of bubble gum was an integral part of memories of the 1970s Wacky Packs. But mid-way through the 3rd new series, the gum was returned. See this Wacky Packs News Page for more details.

I evidently have a LOT of catching up to do.

But... what if collecting them isn't as much fun as it was in the 70s? Will I spoil my fond memories?

The hell with those worries. You only live once. See you all in a few months when I catch up with this obsession.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

It's crack-a-lackin'!!

From Nov. 15: The Late Late Show's Craig Ferguson describes Bill Gates' attempt to "loosen iPod's stranglehold on the iPod market":

The Office

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, from my cousin Walt:
"I am thankful to be alive... but most of all, I am thankful for The Office."

I'm still not interested

This morning, I found the following note in my amazon cart:
Click for larger view

Friday, November 24, 2006

Fun with focus

Here are a couple of fun pics looking into a deserted Blueberry Hill on Thanksgiving morning. The first shot focuses on a Christmas light in the window. The only thing different in the second shot is the focus -- instead of being on the Christmas light, it was on the reflection in the window.

Fun with focus (1 of 2) Fun with focus (2 of 2)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Reward for missing Mattie is now $3,000

From the St. Louis Post-Distpatch:
This is no way to treat our visitors. Earlier this month, while Tom and Alice Matthews were visiting from Michigan, their car was stolen from the University City Loop area. Their 12-year-old dog, Mattie, was inside.

When the thieves were caught a few days later in Cape Girardeau, they said that they had left Mattie and his crate in Jennings. The crate was found, with Mattie's blankets, but there was no sign of Mattie.

The Matthewses had to return to Michigan last weekend, but they asked a family friend to continue the search. The friend contacted Stray Rescue, which is circulating fliers with a $500 reward which will be updated this weekend to a $3,000 reward of which Stray Rescue contributed $2,000.

Anyone who may have seen Mattie or who is willing to print out and distribute flyers is asked to call Stray Rescue at 314-771-6121.

snewman@post-dispatch.com

No thanks, I'll just get an inexpensive iPod



And even after this further enticement, I'm still not interested:

(Note: These were real screen captures from amazon.com from Thanksgiving morning. Maybe they were jacking up the prices to make their Black Friday deals look really good by comparison?)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Urinetown, if urine for it

My freelance review:
"Urinetown: The Musical" -- being performed by the St. Louis Repertory Theatre at the Grandel Theatre -- is generally entertaining, but -- at the risk of sounding pissy, there were a few small things that bothered me.

Urinetown is a farcical look at a future society where a long-lasting, severe drought makes water such a precious commodity that a greedy corporate tycoon pays off corrupt politicians and officials to make it illegal for people to urinate but in designated public toilets -- and at a fee that breaks the backs of the poorer members of the community.

For those old enough to remember, this may sound like the kind of goofy premise we could have seen played out in a zany 20-minute skit on "The Carol Burnett Show." And that leads me to pissy-point #1: At 2 hours and twenty minutes (including a pee break, er, I mean intermission), the play came across as a bit too long.

And, pissy-point #2: The lighthearted tone of the play shifts from Act 1 to Act 2. Some of characters go way over-the-top in Act 2, it seems.

These pissy points aside, some of the songs are catchy and clever, if not just a little bit gross. Take "It's a Pleasure to Pee," for example! And there are some good laughs to be had with the caricatures and zingers.

This is a play that strives hard not to take itself -- or the art of musical theatre -- too seriously, evident in the recurring, light-hearted narrative delivered directly to the audience by Officer Lockstock, played to laughs by Steve Isom.

Another stand-out performance comes from Joneal Joplin in the role of Caldwell B. Cladwell, the "bad guy" executive. Joplin, a seasoned actor with range, seems to have a lot of fun in his role.

So, if urine the mood for an absurd comedy and can be patient with the running time and the zany characters, check out Urinetown. (Sorry, I couldn't hold it in.)

Urinetown, the last show of the season for the Rep's "Off-Ramp Series," plays at the Grandel Theatre through Dec. 10.

Monday, November 06, 2006

"Ordinary" new play is far from ordinary

My freelance review:
"Ordinary Nation," a brand-new play being performed at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, offers a rich story of a small family and the complex choices they make. And the play succeeds wonderfully on so many levels!

Playwright Carter Lewis, of St. Louis, describes his story as an attempt to explore "how the larger politics of the country impact the smaller politics of a family--and more importantly, vice-versa."

And indeed, politics are front-and-center as the play opens with Allison Jones (Angela Reed) setting her family aside to focus on the political campaign of Gibb Aston (Curt Hostetter), much to the distress of her husband Nation Jones (Gregory Northrop), an economics professor, and wisecracking teen-age daughter Frankie Jones (Dana Acheson).

These rich characters, as well as the character of G.J. Jones (George Bartenieff), the grandfather/bookie, complete the small cast and offer interesting perspectives throughout the story -- and entertaining human eccentricities, too.

Lewis' writing is razor-sharp but, at the same time, feels "real" and not contrived. The top-notch acting, especially from Norththrop and Acheson, is also to credit for this.

There is a lot to savor from this intimate play, presented in the downstairs Studio Theatre at the Rep. Aside from the enjoyment of watching this entertaining play, there's the thinking that the play triggers -- both during and afterwards -- about what motivates each of us to make the choices we make in life.

I am already envisioning a future film version of this play, by the way. William Hurt and Meryl Streep would make a wonderful Nation and Allison Jones! But, then again, Hollywood might be motivated to dumb-down the story for wider appeal...

"Ordinary Nation" plays through November 12 at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.