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A Møøse once bit my sister ...
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from the past few days.

There was no Church Council meeting tonight, and thus no progress on my effort to drag a sanctuary of Methodists into the 21st century, kicking and screaming. I met with our minister this afternoon over a few different things, and this was one of them. It's fairly common for this congregation's activities to slow to a crawl in the summertime, and there weren't enough of the Usual Gang who were likely to show, so it was put off to some unspecified, hopefully August date. They are aware of my concern- that this ministry of inclusiveness, instead of risking the nasty publicity of rejection, is rather being subjected to a slow death by attrition.

They underestimate me, these stupid attrits;)

----

I also learned, finally, the fate of the Binghamton minister who was facing the Inquisition for daring to solemnize his own son's perfectly legal-in-New-York same-sex wedding, which was actually announced three months ago to the day:

He retired.

"I decided to retire. There's no smoking gun, there's nobody that's upset or angry inside our church or outside, the bishop didn't tell me to retire. He actually can't do that. But there comes a point in your life when you need to do something else and I'm fortunate enough to do that," said Pastor Stephen Heiss of the Tabernacle United Methodist Church.

It's been almost ten months since Pastor Stephen Heiss wrote a letter to the Bishop Mark Webb admitting to performing several same-sex marriages. Heiss was told he would face a church trial and could possibly lose his job. But since then, Heiss says there's no been no word on the trial.

"I think possibly the reason might be because we live in New York State and our church is fairly liberal-minded and progressive on the issue, and it might not be the best thing for our church or the best thing for our bishop to have a trial," Heiss said.

Maybe not. Yet there remains a need for closure on this issue, which someone is going to have to force, either by doing the deed again and risking the wrath, or by beginning a mobilization of a movement, sooner than 2016 (the next window for it to be changed denominationally), to change either the offensive words in our doctrine or at least adopt a bottom-up form of democracy that would allow congregations or even conferences (as some bishops already have done) to opt for the way THEY believe the Gospel really reads.

Stay tuned on at least the very local end of things.

----

We solved one mystery yesterday: for a few weeks, we were getting robocalls from Mercedes Benz Financial about Iggy's lease coming to an end in the next 90 days, and giving us an 800 number to call to begin the process of preparing for it.  It came as a surprise, since we've had him for just over 13 months of a 36-month lease.  We called and emailed our salesperson, who thought at first it was just a one-digit error in a lease number or VIN.  Yesterday, though, we got the scoop: amazingly, someone who previously had our current landline phone number (it's been ours for more than a decade) also had a Mercedes product on lease, and Herr Roboto was trying to reach them, not us.

Just as well. Because if they'd come for him a day before his lease-end, they'd have needed to pry his charging cord out of our cold dead electrical outlet.

----

Finally, news from the land of Masterpiece Mystery:  in reading some plot summaries of the final Endeavour episode of Series 2, there were references to some things that happened between him and his neighbour/girlfriend of the previous several shows. Things we didn't remember a thing about: including him
shopping for what looked to be an engagement ring for her
. Turns out PBS has been snipping the scripts to meet their 90-minute runtime. I'm glad I found this out before ordering the DVDs, since now I know to give ITV the business.

Of nicer note, we received and watched the Netflix DVD of Becoming Julia, a 2004 film starring Annette Bening as an English actress and Young Morse portrayer Shaun Evans as an American who falls madly in love with her before she returns the favour. Good performances all around, including Michael Gambon as a very funny ghost from her past, and a revenge scene toward the end which might have been one of the best and funniest we've ever seen.

----

No other loose ends I can think of. We're both up and out of here early tomorrow, so toodleses to all:)
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The end of this month marks, more or less, the one-year anniversary of two events in the life of my supposedly Christian church.  Both are stalled in stupidity, and are making me feel more and more like I need to channel my faith in another direction.

Our local congregation is run by a Lay Leaders Council, aka The Usual Gang of Idiots.  For two years, I was on it, ex officio, as chair of a personnel committee I was utterly unsuited to chair. (One good hire, one fire, and one replacement for the latter who- no shit- lasted less than an hour in the job.) This group was well-peopled and well meaning, but their Scripture was not the 66-volume set in the front of the room but a mix of Roberts Rules of Order and The Peter Principle. I started playing buzzword bingo at meetings with tickies for "mission statement" and "survey results" and similar sounding horsehockey.

By this time last year, I had rotated out of the job, thank gods, but I attended the last-Tuesday-in-July meeting anyway, as Just Plain Me. After some recent sad events at the denomination level which confirmed a continued determination to oppress and repress LGBT people within our faith, I became aware (through the good efforts of my one good hire, now moved on to a parish of her own) of a movement within United Methodism called the Reconciling Ministries Network. It challenges churches and their clergy to speak out against the anti-Christlike dictates of our Discipline by, for a start, developing Welcome Statements making LGBT people explicitly welcome within the church's doors. (The logical next step would be for RMN clergy to commit to breaking with capital-D Discipline and performing same-sex marriages, but like Jesus, we tend to report on only one miracle at a time.)

At the July 2013 Council meeting, I presented my idea- that we should, if not come out, at least STAND out as a body of Christ that really walks the walk and welcomes all. I got a mix of nods and stares and was asked to reduce it to a written proposal. This I did, adding a simple line of welcoming into our existing published-every-week Vision Statement:

As a village church, Williamsville United Methodist
faithfully continues the vision and tradition of our
founders by welcoming all people, including people
of all sexual orientations and gender identities,

to encounter Jesus Christ. We will nurture active fellowship
and participation through a variety of ministries that
encourage people of all ages to grow in a spiritual
journey with Christ.

I then told them: "It doesn’t even have to be bold in the bulletin. But it would be."

It's now a year later. The language has been sifted, circulated, revised, copied in triplicate, given two months of- what else?- a congregational survey, voted on again, and SOME version of it, allegedly adopted at a meeting in the winter, was to be promulgated. Except it hasn't- and my last two gentle prods of the Pastor about its status (he has otherwise been very supportive of the effort) have gone unanswered.

There's another meeting of that Council tomorrow night. Lord and Schedule willing, I will attend it again, and give it my final shot. Failing that, I will commit my local church membership and lay speaking credentials to the first UMC in this District-be it eventually us, or across the 290, or in East Otto- to get its head out of its sacristry and adopt the RMN language.

Eleanor, who tired of this old lot close to a year ago, referred to my efforts as reminding her of guys she knew wasting their time on a bad girlfriend, who isn't going to change no matter how much the guy wants her to. That's one conclusion of hers I find completely healthy.

----

It's no better, or faster, at the level of our conference (the Methodist equivalent of a diocese encompassing, now, almost all of Upstate New York). This week brings another anniversary of a good effort wasted.

Bigots within our denomination want nothing to do with debate, or live-and-let-live, or the "pluralism" that I remember from my own confirmation class as being the Big Tent of our faith. When homophobes in sacred robes find out about pastors being gay, or about their marrying Adam and Steve, they don't pray- they prey. They file formal complaints, which our Bishop, at least, feels compelled to act on. A year ago this coming weekend, a brave pastor from the Binghamton area (who had dared to solemnize the marriage of his own gay son) had his initial session with our Bishop at his Syracuse offices- which happen to be upstairs from one of the largest and boldest RMN congregations in all of upstate. (The conference has since announced that the bishop will be moving.) The church downstairs held a vigil for Pastor Heiss while the meeting was going on above them- and I attended. It was an outpouring of support for, not only the man, but the idea of obeying something more than doctrinal misguidedness.

To his credit, the pastor and bishop (and his inquisitors) were civil, and agreed to think about each others' positions before final action was taken. Nobody backed down, though, and this Pastor's case, and sacred status, remain uncertain and undecided a full year later- unlike other similar witch trials that were brewing nearby at the time (one downstate resulting in THAT bishop calling off the dogs on any such future complaints, another in Pennsylvania resulting in a trial, conviction and defrocking, since reversed on initial appeal but still subject to further appeal by the bigots).

I am reminded of these events, in part, because my visit to Syracuse was the beginning of a road trip that took me to see friends in and near Baltimore, surrounding the long-standing Shore Leave sci-fi convention there. I am again booked to attend that event this coming Friday and Saturday, and this time will be swinging back with an old friend from elementary school (he now lives in Maryland) to see a Mets game next Sunday; the trip will then end with me doing some family history checking before heading home Monday. There will be no vigil to stop at in Syracuse this time- and maybe, for me, no church I feel welcome in within this place and faith by the time I finally do come home.
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We weren't the only ones who had a less than thrilling experience with an Artpark event this month.

A week after our rain-soaked, tablet-deprived voyage there, Aretha Franklin took the stage.

No, we were not there. Also, no issue with the show itself, by published accounts. But then the Queen of Soul crossed the border into the Land of Polite- the country that accused her of phoning it in to a concert earlier in the month- and things turned rather unpleasant:

Aretha Franklin said she was denied seating at the Johnny Rockets in the food court area of Fallsview Casino Resort after ordering takeout food.

“You can’t sit here because you ordered for takeout,” said the Johnny Rockets server, according to a statement the singer sent to The News through her agent, David Brokaw. “You can only stand in the perimeter.”

“The woman was very rude, unprofessional and nasty – certainly not the appropriate face for Johnny Rockets,” Franklin said in the statement. “No one should be addressed this way, whether a celebrity or not. I told her she can eat and pay for my meal, and left.”

A company spokeswoman said the franchise owner was sorry for the actions of “a new and very young employee.” She said the owner spoke with the employee and clarified the takeout policies.

But Franklin felt the apology should have gone to her, and not the media, Brokaw said.


Then a guy came out from the kitchen, and things really got ugly:



It's a good thing she didn't mention the dirty knife.
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Murder rate: higher than Detroit, or even Crabapple Cove.

Yes, we finished Series 2 of Endeavour tonight- no thanks to Channel 17, which insisted on playing the Stop The Film game from Blackmail several times in the proceedings to hit us up for money (including a $1,000 set of Every Morse DVD Ever Recorded). In the end, though, such as it was....

Spoilers, sweetie....Collapse )

At this point, I'm going to try avoiding anything that might spoil where this goes from here. I have my suspicions, but then so did Morse, and look where that got him.
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I write from Rochester, in between appointments (the office is closed, with everyone else out at a local amusement park- I had court:P). A neighboring suburb has become the battleground for the Religious Freedom rights of the religion that's in the least need of having its freedoms protected:

Mine.

Particularly, the offended consist of the Fundiest of the Fundies, who believe they are divinely ordained to shout the loudest while repressing any and every other voice that might offer an even slightly wavering viewpoint.  Last Friday, I witnessed (see what I did there?) this practice in action in a slightly schadenfreudy way: as waves of nattily dressed Jehovah's Witnesses filed into Rochester's downtown arena for their annual regional convention, a bunch of sign-waving, bullhorn-blaring Fundies were harassing the heretics on their way in with vivid pictures of the hell they're destined for.  I wonder if they were followed home and had brimstone-breathers knocking on their doors for once.

That was an oddity, though. This next part is actually making the national news.

----

The Town of Greece has been opening its public board meetings with religious invocations for years.  Almost inevitably, they were offered in the 31 flavors of Jesus and nobody else's.  Finally, an atheist protest against the practice reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the practice, but in the opinion written by swing vote Justice Kennedy, it did so on the explicit understanding that "a minister or layperson of any persuasion, including an atheist," must be allowed to give the invocation from time to time.

Those pesky infidels were quick to respond to the Court's invitation. One of the first to try to get on the docket was the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which was apparently rejected for trying to "make a mockery" of religion.  (Come, come. From sacrificing innocents on altars and behind doorposts in just the first two books of the Bible, to making a sacrament out of a form of the death penalty? There's plenty to be mocked in all of these groups.)  But ultimately, the town fathers allowed a proclaimed atheist to give the invocation at a meeting last week- and as a local blogger in attendance reported, it made Jesus sad:

I got to the town hall early, in anticipation of a large crowd. Many secular humanists had turned out for the event, including Linda Stephens, the atheist plaintiff in the case (whom I’d also met and been impressed with at the AU meeting), and a large contingent from the Center for Inquiry. We only had to pass one Jesus nut on our way in, and he later made his point by loudly repeating the “under God” phrase of the Pledge of Allegiance. Almost all of the 110 seats in the meeting room were filled, and people stood along the walls, as well. The podium was cluttered with TV microphones, and camera crews, which I suspect were unusual for a routine town meeting....

The "Jesus nut" in question-


was quoted in another article, preferring to be nameless:

"Our country has a rich history in the public arena for calling on the help and guidance from God, the almighty, the supreme, the maker. It's only recently that rich history has come under attack by the atheist," he said.

That seems to be the talking point of the month for this Lot (pass the salt).  In a letter in Rochester's alt-weekly out today, another True Believer put it this way: 

The US Senate and House start their sessions with prayer every day. The president of the United States has participated in the National Prayer Breakfast for the last 61 years. There are chaplains in every branch of the armed forces to tend to the spiritual needs of its members. Law enforcement, fire departments, and hospitals have chaplains, as do public universities.

Eighty-six percent of the people in Greece, according to the Census, are Christian. An overwhelming 65 percent are Roman Catholic. Majority rules in this country. That a small handful of shrill atheists want to ram their opinion of a Godless world down everyone else's throat doesn't mean they should be allowed to run roughshod.

Hell, no. That's OUR right as Christians, because, John 14:6.  But if "majority rules" in a way that deprives corporations of their own corporate religious freedoms (you ever try to fit a Hobby Lobby into a confessional?), then we're going to ask the Supremes to protect our Christian minority rights.  Ours, mind you; not those of your belief, or unbelief.

Think we're inconsistent? Just read the wildly conflicting creation stories in the first two chapters of Genesis. We were made this way.

Happily, wingnuts aside, the atheist's invocation generally obtained much applause from the audience and a polite reception from the CINO town board members. Maybe, eventually, wounds will heal and we'll all be able to get along.

Nahhhhhhhh.



This entry was originally posted at http://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/207724.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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The past few days have brought several nice things into our home- not without a couple of twerp attacks, but even those are ending nicely:)

On Monday, the Orphan Black Series 2 box set arrived. Two of the three disks have special features: one, a preview of the season that apparently aired on BBCA, hosted by Wil Wheaton and with much of the cast and special guest clone lovers Patton Oswalt and Orlando Jones offering their insights and fanboying. Even better, though, was the suite of specials on the final disk: Emily will eat up the features about blocking, and technodollying, and how to make four clones dance all at once when they're played by the same actress.

Late this morning, while Eleanor was out, the new printer arrived, which will work with both of our computers and will allow her to print actual pictures again. It's being a little grumpy with her photo software, but we should be able to work through that.

Before the printer was even out of the box, I saw another delivery dude on the sidewalk, with these:

Katie

At first, I thought they might be for the soon-to-be bride next door, but no- he was heading here. They were- are- a simply lovely act of thoughtfulness for Eleanor from our friend audacian. What a nice surprise for her to return home to:)

----

The final two surprises were more annoying, but redeemable.

First, right after dinner I headed to a workout with my near-dead phone in hand. When I went to connect it to its car-based charging cord, I discovered.... no cord. The little-shit kids who'd rifled my glovebox, and stolen all of five bucks from elsewhere in my car, had also made off with it (and, stupidly, with a set of earbuds that had only one functioning earpiece). Fortunately, my trainer and her husband have upgraded to iPhone 5's and had a ton of leftover 4-and-under charging cords they don't even need anymore, so they just outright gave me one.

Those are the outside twerps in our neighborhood. We also have an inside one: Zoey, we're pretty sure, carved a heart-shape dent of more than half the cheesecake filling of a peach pie Eleanor had made while I was out and had left cooling, pre-peach, on the stovetop. This, too, is not a disaster of epic proportions: the crust survived, and the peaches will be, well, just as peachy when they're finally put in.

Plus the filling, such as the cat left, was plenty yummy with a glass of milk ::hic::

----

Long day tomorrow. Off to be sure the cars are locked; I'm still thinking about the idea from Sally's husband about leaving mine open again and sticking a spring-loaded mousetrap in the glovebox, but I'd hate to see one of these poor little darlings actually learning a lesson or anything ::evillaff::
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I have to admit, I'm a generally trusting soul. Gullible, some would say. I tend to take people at both their face value and their word until proven wrong, and even then forgive more often than subsequent experience sometimes proves wise. Of greatest relevance at the moment, I usually assume that Bad Things- be they medical, legal, emotional or just about anything else- won't happen to me until they do- and then I'll try to more than make up for it by obsessing about them never happening again.

Eleanor's brother tends, at times, to the other extreme- almost to distraction. Of greatest relevance at the moment: Charlie bought a Club (the steering wheel variety, not the caveman type) for his most recent new car purchase, and he locks that sucker down everywhere- including in our driveway when he visits here. It almost seemed a slap at our bucolic existence back here. Hell, I usually don't even lock my car for the roughly half-year I leave it outside- and as often as not, I leave my wallet in the car- relatively out of sight, but available to anyone who could both dare to do it and see what they were daring.

That is, until today.

----

I worked from home almost the entire day today, not leaving until close to 4. When I went out to my car, I saw most of the contents of my glove compartment on the passenger seat. Now, I have it pretty stuffed (it's my traveling office for making bank deposits, so there are endorsement stamps, plus my notary stamp and some other shit that always needs to travel), and it might have popped open, but not down to the manuals getting both separated and elevated to the top of the passenger-seat pile.

Instantly, I checked the hidey-hole, and my wallet was still there- but the midweek stash of Very Little Cash (five bucks in singles is what I remember) was gone. Credit cards, license, the hard-to-replace stuff was still there. I thus began my new routine- every time the doors close, the fob goes beep-beep-beep.

We have a pretty good idea whodunit. There's a small pack of Funny Lookin Kids from down the street, tweenish in age, who often hang out on the street corner nearest our home when they're not riding bikes and segways with no helmets or hanging from tree branches. They seem just the right age and disposition to be trying little tricks like this- and like keying neighborhood cars. Both mine, and Ellen's across the street, have gotten little love bites in the past few months. I doubt I'll try to get them in trouble- no doubt their helicopter parents would swoop in to rescue the little special snowflakes if I tried to sic the po-po's on them- but I am going to start taking greater precautions and watching the little galoots like a hawk from now on.
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You really need the audio, at least, to go with that:



You also really need to wonder how someone who's been using interactive computers since the 1970s (PLATO and Cornell's primordial VM370 with DECwriter printing terminals and optional CRT monitors) has somehow managed to have a near-invisible Internet presence.

Used to be, lawyers relied on a set of bound volumes still known in a more virtual existence as Martindale-Hubbell. It is- at least was- a blend of an advertising section that you bought and paid for entries in, and straight bio listings with ratings of ability (a, b or c) and ethics (v for very high being the only grade), peer-reviewed in your communities.  By the end of my larger-firm experiences around 2005, I'd achieved a bv rating- and then lost all traces of myself when I left all firms and went solo. Meanwhile, services like Avvo, Linkedin and even straight Googling became available for one and all who didn't have the insider knowledge of how Martindale worked.

I'm now past eight years on my own, and I've never needed to do much to get myself found: I'm in the attorneys directory for my local community, advertise in several specialty "law lists" for out-of-town attorneys or agencies needing local counsel, and work mostly by word-of-mouth.  Just in the past week, though, the system seems to be failing me.  People are Googling me! The horror! Worse, they're finding me, not at my own email address or on my office or mobile phone number, but through the main switchboard of one of the two offices I see clients at- leading to delays in getting their messages and, hopefully not yet, losses of business on that account.  This has happened at least five times in the past month- twice today:(

So it's time.  Several years ago, I reserved myname-dot-com through Network Solutions, with which I have done absolutely nothing- it's mainly to prevent other guys with the same name (I know of at least one train enthusiast and an odd musician or two who also share the moniker) from getting there first.  Every August, I pony up about 55 bucks to re-register the domain for another year and to use their private registration service so I don't get spammed through email and snailmail for parking this site.  (They, of course, would much prefer that I drop many times that amount for multi-year renewal, web development assistance, search optimization, and valet parking for when the NSA comes to my house to check out all my traffic. F that.)

But now that I seem to have acquired an alternative and slightly annoying Web presence, it's probably time to implement it. It's also timely because, in all probability, my roadrunner.com email address for work will be changing to comcast-dot-somethingorother once that deal goes through (or, even worse, to fox.com if Rupert Murdoch winds up buying Time Warner instead), and I may as well be proactive about it.

I still envision a split personality for the site: an ENTER screen with blogging, sports, general-lifey things to one side, and the law practice door (which, in New York, requires multiple bells and whistles of disclosures and registrations with bar authorities) to the other.  Only reason I might NOT do that? I've known for some years that captainsblog.com is a largely dormant name; a guy still has it active, but it points to blog entries under another brand. I won't spend thousands, or even hundreds, to buy it, but I may email the dude to see if he'd just let me start paying for it in exchange for linking any misdirected traffic back to him.

Stay tuned. Possibly to a new frequency.


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As if the past few days weren't busy enough, I was quickly foiled in my early efforts today to get back to a regular schedule of producing work. Up early enough? Check.  Calendar clear of appointments until 3? Booya.  Eleanor getting to the things she needed to? Right. It was advertised as hot and humid outside, but AC was cranking nicely in here. I got my morning mail ready (reflecting work largely done over the weekend), updated a few spreadsheets, and pulled out the Hairy Bear bankruptcy files in need of work....

and Tobor, the barely 3-month-old Windows machine, slowed, slowed some more, and finally, like most hairy bears, went into Hibernation and wouldn't come out.

I did a (not recommended) hard reboot and then couldn't even get to a login- although I'd set the puter to autologin, I gorked that when I changed the computer's name to Tobor- and thus, after every restart, it was always requiring a split-second entry of email address and password or else it would go into a :-( screen, the Windows 8 version of the Blue Screen of Death:

Bluescreen8

Nope. Never got a restart off this screen, this time or any previous. Previous fails got me back to login by just repeating the entire restart routine and catching the login box in the right nanosecond, but this time, I opted for sterner stuff. Not a complete disk recovery (which, as with prior PCs, I knew would wipe everything off the hard drive), but something called REFRESH COMPUTER. It gives you the following warning:

Warning


  • Apps you installed from websites and DVDs will be removed. Apps that came with your PC and apps you installed from the Windows Store will be reinstalled. Windows puts a list of removed apps on your desktop after refreshing your PC.


As my mother used to say, "That's nice."  Also, I thought, not a problem. I'd only added a couple of apps to the computer from the Store, anyway, and none from any other source. So I hit OK and worked elsewhere....

Returning, within the hour, to a nearly nekkid desktop- and to a list of the "apps" the utility had killed:

All of Office, including my entire collection of email. All browsers except IE.  My time and billing software.  Everything Adobe, Apple and AVG.  Oddly, it spared my specialty bankruptcy software and the 8 years of data entered in it.  Yes, kids, "apps" means "programs."

I could have cried. Screamed. Worse.  But didn't.  We've been through worse. Hours later, I'm almost entirely back, or have "back" well in sight, and Tobor is running better than ever for the effort.

----

Here are the blessed-be's:

- I've been way more religious in recent months about backing up essential data. Time and billing data was backed up Saturday, as it is every weekend. Firefox needed to be re-installed, but I had an almost-pristine profile folder on the previous Vista machine that got back into Tobor's innards within the first hour. When my default .html icons all switched from blue-e to fox-y, I instantly felt better.  (I still need to re-install Chrome, but that, I know, saves all bookmarks and whatnots in the cloud.)

- Some of what I lost, I didn't mind losing. One such thing was the app I did know might be axed from the palate, that being the aftermarket replacement for the XP/Vista/7 start menu. The absence of this feature has generated some of the biggest hate for 8, and the one I picked had been incomplete (no "recent items" selection) and painfully slow.  I replaced it with something called Classic Shell, which so far is better and faster.  I'm also considering not reinstalling billing on here, since I rarely do that on the fly anyway and have it backed up on two other computers in da house.

- It also helped that, hell, I just did this two months ago. So just as it was easier to reinstall everything after Eleanor broked HER first Windows 8 machine (named Hortense) when the replacement (Hortoons) came along, I knew where the installation disks were for Outlook, the download files for the printer, and the passwords for everything.

- Finally, my name is Ray, and I am a geek. I was the most mortally offended to learn that "refresh" had not only removed my Outlook "app" but the .pst file containing the 2 gigs of actual messages. In the end, it wasn't that big a loss, since all inbox items were on the previous Vista machine (as were many sent items I'd cc'd or bcc'd to myself), and calendar and contacts were on my phone, so I was really only down a couple months worth of outbox.  Still. When stupidass "search" functions in Windows 8 failed to find an archived version of the whole-shebang .pst file, I went old-school: found the "command prompt" command, got to a c:\ prompt, and entered dir *.pst /s like I did before at least a dozen of you were born. Minutes later, it found the 2-gig file in a newly-created folder called "windows.old" that Refresh apparently created right before whacking everything. It got copied, imported back, and, other than my having to re-set 50 different viewing and other preferences, my email is as good as new. (Better, if the goddam thing stops a nasty habit it had developed of truncating my outgoing messages if I paused for more than a minute or so whilst composing them.)

I still have to reinstall the rest of Office, along with a couple of other oddities, and replace this goddam Norton trial version with AVG before I go sledgehammer on it, but I am in a much better place than I felt I was about ten hours ago.
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When I first heard about, and immediately suggested seeing, today's in-cinema stream of the final Monty Python (Almost) Live show from London's O2 Arena, I knew it would fall on Eleanor's birthday. I was honest with her that I was offering to see something that was more within my wheelhouse than hers.

(The title reference is a homage to that. In college, one roommate's little brother- now in his 40s, grrr- tended to give his parents presents that he really wanted for himself. Most famed among these was, one Christmas, gracing Mom and Dad with the latest Partridge Family album.)

Not that Eleanor is unfamiliar with, or disliking of, Python humour. Our first date film was Terry Gilliam's Brazil, and Holy Grail was one of the first DVDs we ever purchased.  Still, before and certainly after the events of the past few days, I was conscious of being sure this was something she, too, would enjoy.

KnowwhaImean, knowwhaImean, wink wink, nudge nudge?

No worries with that. We both sang along, both laughed along and were both touched by the majesty of these longtime friends' final moments together with their most famed of material.

The almost three hours, split an hour in by a 30-minute intermission (no ALBATROSS! was on offer in the aisles, although Cleese did do that bit in Act 2), mixed mostly tv-series bits and quite a few songs from both those shows and the later 70s, Idle-music-heavy, Contractual Obligation recording. A small but talented live pit orchestra accompanied (and it was nice that the camera people focused on all of them playing and conducting during the second half overture), and full choruses of singers and dancers accompanied the songs we knew and didn't.

The live bits, mostly best-of's with a few I didn't remember as well, were interspersed with primarily Gilliam animations lifted from the original series. For a bunch of septuagenarians, they were remarkably spry in getting their costume and set changes in as the show moved on.  There were some updates- David Attenborough replaced Doctor Bloody Bernofsky as the know-it-all referenced in the Penguin sketch, and Graham Chapman is briefly and lovingly deified toward the end of the proceedings.  Also, some lovely flubs: Idle's fake 'stache was half-off from the beginning of "Wink Wink" and he ripped it off to thunderous applause halfway through; the gay Mister Justices made fun of the "Cleese Divorce" (primarily by riffing on "which one?"); and John  lost his lines and/or his composure in at least two bits, recovering nicely both times.

Spoilers, such as they are, are fair game paragraph after next.

Carol Cleveland was prominent in many of the bits, and has held up in voice and appearance at least as well as the boys.  The musical numbers from the original episodes (Spam, Philosophers' Song, Lumberjack) all came off well- Idleolatries  from the records, like "I Like Chinese" and "Sit on My Face," were cute but, like the Michael Ellis episode, maybe weren't the highest and best use of everyones' time.

But the guests were.  Eddie Izard shoed up as a Bruce. That is not a typo- he was in heels. Not sure about whether the makeup was beyond that of the stage.  During "Blackmail," Mike Myers made a surprise appearance as a mystery guest, and basically did a Wayne's World "WE'RE NOT WORTHY" in utter destruction of any fourth wall that was ever, actually, there. (And there was one uniquely filmed-offstage joke which I will not spoil, except to share the joy of seeing the punch-liner of the sketch live in the O2 audience for the final performance.)

By the end, with Inquisition, Argument, Parrot, Cheese Shop and Spam all coming in succession, and with an overdone Christmassy musical number as the alleged finale, we both knew what one bit was left- for what they plainly counted down to as the "scheduled spontaneous encore." Eric came out with a guitar, his mates surrounded him, he acknowledged the worldwide audience and asked us to join all 15-20,000 of them in the house, in the song that had much unintended irony for Eleanor and me after the past few days (the singing starts about a minute in):



Forty-five years to the year this comic genius began, and 45 years to the day after the world shared a walk on the moon, we witnessed them end their unique partnership with something just as shared and wonderful: One silly walk for five men, one flying circus of a leap for us all.
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The past 48 hours have been intense, scary but ultimately optimistic for all three of us. We're all okay, but there's a lot to tell- just not out in the all-open internet just yet.  Eleanor has already written about it, and I'm about to. If you're friends of either of us on LJ, you have (or will) read the essentials. If not (or if not of both and want to read both), comment and we'll fix you up.

In three hours, Eleanor's 58th birthday begins. In the grocery line in Wegmans today, a guy ahead of me was bemoaning the fact that his kid, tasked with buying a bunch of birthday cards, sprung for the top-of-the-line $9.00 jobs with LED lights and sound.  I told him the tale of my niece who, in her hardcore Material Girl days, always opened her cards from the back to be sure they were Hallmarks.

This birthday, for Eleanor, promises to be a hallmark of love and hope.  Please join me in sharing those thoughts. LEDs optional.
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Through today, the big story at golf's annual British Open (or, as ESPN now insists on calling it now that they're carrying the thing, The Open Championship) was Rory McIlroy tearing up the course with two straight lights-out 66 scores.

Borrrrringgggg.

What's far more important is what happened when reporters, looking for an angle about the match being played on a course near Liverpool, asked McIlroy to name all four members of the Beatles. He whiffed on the Quiet One, referring to him as George....

Lucas.

It wasn't long before various wags turned this into a setlist:

Please, Please Mind Trick Me

I Want to Hold Your Han Solo

Leia in the Sky With Death Stars

We All Live In a Yellow X-Wing Fighter

Yoda's Day, Far Away All My Troubles So Seemed

I Get By With A Little Help from My Friends R2D2 and C3PO

Twist and Shout (covering the original version by the Mos Isley Brothers)

Hey Luke

A Hard Day's Jedi Knight

Eight Days a Wookiee

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Darth

Palpatine Writer

This could go on for days. Nine episodes, even.
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Had to go to my second pre-funeral calling hours of the week earlier today: the wife of a lovely couple we've known from church for years, Eleanor independently of that.  Both fought back cancer, but Jeri had the worse of it and she passed two days ago.  Her husband (of more than 50 years) was too distraught to be with people today; his family hopes he will make the funeral proper at church tomorrow.

One final reflection of last night's experience: Eleanor and I never saw the double rainbow, and I didn't stop to photograph the one we saw from the road, but someone in Sara Bareilles's entourage did:



Good thing someone was allowed to have a camera in there, huh.

Em's been home all day- doing a ton of wash, fiddling around with video proggies on her computer (she and I were just troubleshooting some Mad Skillz tools on the sofa, leading Eleanor to comment on how geeky-cute we look together) and maybe going out with friends tonight. She even cleaned out her car while here.

Tomorrow's my only court appearance of the whole week- and it looks like it's close to settled, as was one I had for today and didn't appear on in person.  After that, I'm hoping to meet up with a longtime blog/Facebook friend who's been visiting from Philly all week. And then, Sunday, we have tickets for the live stream of the final Monty Python (Mostly) Live show from London. In its honour, somebody planted one of these in Potters Field Park:



So if you need us Sunday, come to the Regal on Transit. We'll be jus' restin'!
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Tonight was a rare Night Out for the three of us (down from four because Cameron couldn't get off work): Sara Bareilles scheduled a gig at Artpark, a mostly-outdoor venue half an hour to our north, and I got tickets a while back.

Seats would be our own, and would be outside, so I'd checked the weather forecast, which looked good. I also checked to be sure we could carry in our lawn chairs.  Em got home in the afternoon, and went off to pick up friends to take Cam's ticket and an extra I'd ordered (they were all of 11 bucks apiece). I checked the directions and double-checked the yes-no list on their website, which is consistent with what the sign at the gate said:



So we were good with our chairs, a couple of pillows, maybe our water bottles (these posed no problem), and of course I had my phone and tablet with me, the latter mainly for reading if the main event went on late.  We got to the parking lot about halfway through the opening act, only to find it full-up. Very little guidance on what to do from there; we parked on a neighbor's lawn for twice the state park price (but still quite reasonable), and looked up at a bunch of people climbing a very steep hill at the end of the block. Nope, not us; we walked the three blocks back to the real lot entrance, through it, and up to the ticket takers...

where I was denied entry on account of having a tablet.

I got a bit testy about it:

 It's not on the list!

But you can take pictures and audio with it.

So can every one of the people on these grounds with a smartphone!

That's different.

Clearly, I was losing this battle, so I volunteered to walk it back to the car- it was still 10 minutes before Sara was scheduled to go on, twice that in my concert experience- and Eleanor stayed put outside the gate. (She spoke with the security people, who shared our frustration about them not making it clear enough until you were literally at the gate, and suggested that we take it up with management. Oh, which I will.)

I saved a lot of steps because Emily and her entourage weren't even parked yet, so I met up with them and parked my weapon of mass destruction in her car, then headed back just as the first notes of "Little Black Dress" were coming through the air. Unfortunately, they weren't alone: the rain, not due per forecast until well past 11, arrived just in time for the gig to start, and continued at a steady pace through her first three songs. From the moment I saw Eleanor at the gate, I could feel her misery, and we quickly turned tail and left- just as Em and her friends were coming in.

----

In all, we heard close to a third of her set from afar by the time we got back to the car- and then the final indignity turned into the most amazing moment.

Despite this being a major event, there was very little guidance on how to get back to our neck of the woods- two orange signs advised us that the ramp leading, eventually, to the 190 was closed, and that we should "follow 104."

In these parts, "104" is a once important east-west passage through the state's counties on Lake Ontario's south shore.  In Rochester, it's a suburban strip road to the west and a full-blown expressway to the east, but in Lewiston and points east it's just straight, tree-lined, and, as we were just beginning to dry off, the host of one of the biggest and most beautiful rainbows we'd seen in years. We drove straight at it for a good ten minutes, something we would have totally missed in magnitude if we'd followed the usual route south.

We also saw plenty of hawks, and passed a buck on the off-ramp to our neighborhood.

So, not the night we expected, and one we're not likely to repeat in the not-so-great outdoors, but one where we did okay, not because of The Rules, but in spite of them.

Current Mood: better
Current Music: Sara, Let the Rain (duh)

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It was supposed to be a catch-up day of paperwork and otherwork today. Not.

Various Things got me out on the road again close to 8 this morning. Spent most of the morning waiting for return calls/emails about said Various Things, which trickled in, mostly, between 11:15 and 1:30- and left me with a Mostly Dead hour from 2 until 3 before I could begin the end of the journey.

I spent it doing cardio in a remote World Gym location, so that, um, worked out- but, by then, I'd also learned the more recent of the two Bad Things that had happened during the day: Eleanor had seriously bruised her left thumb not long after I left, leading to her making, solo, the latest of our seemingly obligatory annual ER visits. (Nothing broken, but it still hurts. And I'm talking about me.)

The day ended heavier than it began: three bank runs between 3:45 and almost 5 in three different places, with a wake in between, held not far south of the Lake Ontario shoreline in Albion, NY. The memorialized, husband of a long-time online friend of ours from Rochester-Orleans County who I'd not managed to meet IRL until today.  Following those calling hours, and past 5 p.m.,  all hell broke loose on my cell about court appearances I had scheduled between July 1st and July 17th. Most of those fires are now out, but it amazes me sometimes how people can put shit off so far beyond bounds of the working day. (I even got a call from somebody else past 7 tonight about an appointment we've already got scheduled for this Friday. HUH?!?)

In the end, though, we had dinner in the back gardens on a pleasant evening; Em will be home tomorrow to join us for Sara Bareilles at Artpark; and all of these nonsenses will make more senses come the dawn:)
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Strange doings in local politics over the weekend. A long-tenured, relatively powerful (and, naturally, not my) State Senator announced his retirement- in part, as usual, to spend more time with his family.

Uh huh.  It surely had nothing to do with the sudden resignation last week of two of his top aides, or with reports that a crimefighting US Attorney was looking into his campaign expenditures.  Especially galling was the timing. Putting it out on a Sunday summer night, burying it as deep in the news cycle as you can get? I get that. But as one prominent local political blogger noted this morning:

People just finished collecting petition signatures to get Maziarz’s name on the ballot. He could have easily announced a planned resignation earlier this year. You don’t just drop out of your career politicianship because you’re bored and you need more time for your kids. You don’t simply bow out from the “greatest job in the world” suddenly on a Sunday night.

So, clearly, there's more Albany BS going on here.

----

I should mention, btw, that I will not be a contributor to that BS this year.



My quixotic campaign to get inside the state's sausage factory of judicial nominations ended with not even a whimper last week, when I failed to turn in, or for that matter circulate, any petitions to become a convention delegate.  I did get my letter published, and got a few nice emails and a snailmail encouraging me. One local pundit even offered to join me in putting together a professionally done independent slate, but when push came to shove, there wasn't the groundswell to make either of us relevant.

I do hear rumblings about actual primaries for the delegate slots this year, which are rare, so at least I'll get to choose between groups of entrenched idiots. Maybe I can even encourage a last-minute write-in campaign and still get to crash the party.

Nahhhhhh.

----

In the end, though, the essence of politics is local. Fix and plow the roads, buy books for the libraries, and pick up the trash- that's pretty much all most people care about. Barring massive fails in those duties, people will also keep re-electing the same entrenched incumbents to do it, over and over again, until they die.

Yet there are potential candidates out there who can do even better. I know it, and within the past couple of hours I have witnessed it. I just don't know who they are.

When yesterday dawned humid and rainy, Eleanor turned her attention to the garage, and picked out several candidates for disposal on garbage day, three days from now. Two of Emily's outgrown bikes (plus her own much-needing-repairs bike), our original WALL-E reel mower, and the metal wheel from Em's now-car that got near destroyed at the end of my 2012 August road trip.

She left for work a bit before 10 this morning, and I suggested that we put them out early. Because scavengers in this neighborhood are incredibly efficient, courteous, and FAST.   I dragged them all out, and after maybe 15 minutes, lest anyone mistake them for a parking lot for teens, I attached a sign with the word "FREE" on the pile.

Within an hour, they were all gone.  Not even Mussolini could make the trains run on time THIS well.

And so, next time, just leave a palm card. I'd gladly give you my vote, assuming you don't cart off the voting machine for scrap metal before I get there.
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Certainly it's nothing I experienced around here today. 

At least I didn't get awakened by an alarm this morning- I needed to get going by 8:30 or so, and did, despite two cats hogging the bed for much of the night and the dreams being as weird as they get.

The 8:30 time was to enable kitchen-cleaning (mostly done by 9) and then a drive to a 9:30 workout, where I was the only trainee present and thus got my butt well and truly kicked.  On returning home, I had some vacuuming to do, followed by an almost-week's worth of time to enter (for the "marathon" of court appearances, which, thanks to essential downtime, was actually less in total than the previous week).

By then, nappage called, but because I'd done time entry right before it, the 45 minutes or so of nap consisted mostly of dreams about work.  Remind me to do that the other way around next time;)

From there, not much else to do outside; it was horridly humid from the wee-smalls on, and the heavens opened with a massive downpour when leaving my class round 10:30 and continued in Muggyland through and including, well, now.  But I got going  around 3, with an hour of cardio (serenaded by the Bottle Rockets on NPR's Mountain Stage) and a trip to our favorite pet store to test out another new dog food for Ebony that won't cause allergic reactions on her muzzle.

On my return home, at least the ground had dried enough to clean up the yard from yesterday where I'd whacked a bunch of wisteria and grape vines along our eastern lot line. By the end of that, I was as sweaty as after the 9:30 workout, and needed a good hosing-down to be respectable for the rest of the night....

which ended with watching Ordinary Decent Criminal, a 2000 piece starring Kevin Spacey (five years after his knockout role as Keyser Soze but obviously before his current House of Cards role), and with Colin Farrell in a role so early he's billed as "Colin Farrel").  One of many films we now wonder how we managed to miss all these years.

As I write, the third episode of S2 of Endeavour is recording off of PBS. We watched the season premiere last night, and are finding the stories, the music, the cinematography to be Oxonially amazing. More about that after we watch it, which will be after I say....

Goodnight:)
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After yesterday's wrestling with nature outside, doing the laundry first thing this morning would, you'd think, be a relatively simple chore.

Ha.

In addition to a week's worth of work shirts and the usual assortment of workout gear and unmentionables (sorry to mention those), I tossed in a fitted sheet, which had come straight from the linen closet. It had gotten garden dirt all over it when I went in there to retrieve a towel at the end of my ordeal yesterday, so it seemed fitting ::koff:: to wash it as well.

Ha ha.

Within the hour, I headed down to switch everything to the dryer, and found a perfect example of what had, until recently, been entropy in motion. The entire load was entangled in itself. One pair of briefs had had hot steamy washer sex with the fitted sheet, wrapping each of its leg holes under one of the bases of the agitator and stretching its elastic as far as Messrs. Froot or Loom had ever envisioned.  Then all three dress shirts got in the act, forming knots with the fitted sheet, and each other, that would qualify for a merit badge.

Undershirts seemed surprisingly unaffected by the whole business.  Socks simply paired off and kept score.

Somehow, neither washer nor load suffered any breakage or rippage as I slowly undid everything, and tossed the lot into the dryer- minus the fitted sheet.  Eleanor didn't notice it just now when she tossed a load in the washer, so one can only imagine what trouble it will now cause.
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*Mine.

Somewhere before 2 today, my marathon of the week for clients essentially ended, with the last bank statement received, the last BS opposition processed.  Other than the 4th at the end of last week, yesterday was only the second workday all month that I didn't have court (and I'd been scheduled to), and I got through all of it with relative Keeping Calm and Lawyering On.

----

* LeBron's.

The Interwebs have been all a-titter (and a-Twitter) all week about whether the NBA's best player would re-up with his fashionable finalists in South Beach, or return to his Rust Belt roots. Early this afternoon, he decided to go home, and did so far more thoughtfully and humbly than his Decision had been four years ago.

Now I can go back to mostly not caring about the sport. Cleveland just had too much Buffalo-like bad karma not to pay attention to the soap opera. I hope he brings them a title; hell, if the Republicans steal his arena in the summer of 2016, there's a remote chance he'll be displaced to our downtown to win it.

----

* Somebody's.

For the past three days, I knew somebody in one of my offices was going to be fired today. I had major agitas about just the knowing, never mind the doing: I've never had the Master Of The Universe personality to dispatch fellow co-workers, no matter the merits of the decision. I've participated in a few sacking choices over the years, but only once did I ever get tasked with delivering the bad news myself, and it was one of the worst days of my life.

I spent the ensuing 72 hours largely avoiding the person in question, lest I say or not say anything that would tip the process. Happily, the colleague who delivered the news did it well, and got a largely accepting response from the person in question- who will still be a Friend of the Show, as it were, welcome at office parties and such on account of knowing, as well as the other side did, that it was not a good fit.

----

* Emily's.

Late in the day, I meant to call Eleanor with a grocery request, but accidentally called Em instead. (Their mobiles are two digits off.)  She then called me back at the end of the day to return the "call," but it was good to check in with how her new job is going:

Well, apparently. So much so that, in discussing tax-withholding and pay-rate official forms, which she'll have to do again when her formal training period ends in 30 days, her boss told her, don't worry, we'll raise your pay before the end of that; you're catching on so well.

She was also able to get off two whole days next week, before and after the Artpark performance by Sara Bareilles on the 16th; her boss found it funny, and a little endearing, that Em would need the day after to recover from being up that late the night before.

Finally, for this job, and possibly future ones, she got a nice affirmation in our mail today: RIT sent her degree. Her name properly spelled, her achievement properly recognized. (They didn't round her up  the couple hundredths of a GPA point for honors on the degree itself as we thought they might, but she did also just get notification of making the Dean's List for her final semester. She seemed blindsided by that accomplishment, even though she knew she'd mostly aced the final term's courses, so her final memories of the place will be good ones:)

----

* Lastly, mine- of the homegrown variety.

Once the day ended at 2-ish, and the court streak ended at 7 out of 9 straight workdays, I chilled... for about an hour. Then I heard the Call of the Bush.

Eleanor began digging out a major nasty from the front gardens the other day: a juniper bush that wasn't thriving and was in a space more suited to something else she had in mind. Last night, and again by phone this morning, she asked for my help in uprooting the sucka.

She was scheduled to finish work at 4. Sometime round 4:15, she called home, and I answered, "Call me Ishmael." For I had just ended combat with the great not-so-white whale of the front bed:



That's the beastie, just upended after cutting off the last of the red-hot roots underneath it. I had filthy and slightly bloodied fingers by the time it was done, and got a bow saw blade stuck in one of the thicker ones (amazingly losing only the wingnut at the end of the blade rather than wrecking the blade itself), but it's DONE.

Which, after all, is the point of most jobs:)
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Our morning went better than expected. After meeting a client and getting a BK finalized for her, I did the necessary banking to cover the filing fee for the case, then headed over to deal with another fee, mere blocks from my office. Eleanor got a $60 bill from her eye surgeon supposedly not covered by her insurance, despite it being quite clear (to us, anyway) that she had already paid slightly more than her full $750 annual maximum out-of-pocket for non-prescription items, between his office, the surgery center, and her pre-op clearance from her GP practice.  Sixty bucks wasn't enough to raise a ruckus over, but I went in person just to make clear that this was it- that we had no intention of paying any further nickelly-dimey timey-wimey bills they might gin up in the coming months.

The office manager came out, looked on her screen, then headed to the dreaded Back Room. On her return, the number was up to $100....

but now, amazingly, it was a refund. So we're pretty damn close to the $750 that it should have been all along.

The refund is nice- it will cover most of the  Urgent Care bill that I just got today for my first ear infection appointment- but the closure is even nicer.  Twice already this year, we've gotten "oops" refunds from prior payments- I got one on an overpayment on a January prescription, but the weird one came earlier, when the local public hospital refunded all of $24.90 to her in connection with her emergency burn procedures in 2009. Along with that refund, they also helpfully included a page-long spreadsheet of all the "web transfer" errors that had been made in this particular audit, highlighting Eleanor's name and the date of the posting, but also the names and account numbers of dozens of other patients who were also getting refunds ranging from eight to seventy bucks.

HIPAA, Schmippa.

----

That was the good news. The annoying news of the day was that Orphan Black, and in particular its amazing star Tatiana Maslany, once again got snubbed in the Emmy nominations.  This time, last year's winner Robin Wright again got one for House of Cards (she's good, don't get me wrong, but she's not clone good); others included Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Kerry Washington (Scandal),  Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Claire Danes (Homeland) and Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey). So, all either broadcast or premium cable outlets; BBCA is apparently Not Veddy British Enough to get the cachet that comes with a PBS airing:P

The show itself offered a healthy sense of humor over the snub, including the clip you can see in full motion here:



Maybe if Tatiana's lucky, in five years or so the Academy will refund her the Emmy she should've gotten this time (if not last).

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