Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Want This Cat!

Here's a story about a very fat pussycat who was found wandering around, homeless, and with no name tags.

The kitty weighs 44 pounds and has been named Princess Chunk.

I would love to have a cat like this. She needs a good home. And ya gotta love that yellow tail on such a big white cat. . .


The Employee Refrigerator

I just received the following “All Staff” email at work. It's in huge, bold, capital letters:


There’s probably no other place that produces more contention in the workplace than the refrigerator in the office break room.

There are about fifty employees where I work and we have a rather nice break room complete with the ubiquitous water-cooler, a decent coffee service, herbal teas, an ice machine, a dishwasher and a big refrigerator.

I did not accidentally take the Lean Cuisine that caused the Major Lunch Theft Alert.

I, on the other hand, will frequently obtain lunch from the Overpriced Food Court in the lobby, eat half of it, put the other half in the fridge for later and never think about it again.

I’m not the only one, either. That fridge is always crammed full of leftovers. Fifty employees can’t possibly squirrel away that much food. There are probably Pterodactyl Lean Cuisines left by a previous employee named “Ogg” in there.

Occasionally, the receptionist will send out an “All Staff” email saying that the fridge will be cleaned out at 3 pm and if we have anything in there to take it out. Otherwise, it will be thrown away.

By that time, the fridge has begun to smell like Gary Indiana on a summer day.

Many years ago when I worked at a bank, I’d often bring my lunch and eat it in the TV room with 30 women watching All My Children. This was back in the day when Devon McFaddin thought she was an alcoholic, then she thought she was a lesbian, then she thought she was insane. God, she was a mess. I loved it. Then Jenny of Jenny-and-Greg got blown up on the lake. Those were the good-'ol days of All My Children.

Anyway, someone stole my lunch about three days in a row. Maybe this person really liked my lunches, but to steal someone’s lunch was unconscionable.

I was mad. I wanted to get even.

I thought about making a ham salad sandwich and mix dog poo in it, but I just couldn’t go that far. I wanted to make a point, not send someone to the emergency room.

So, I made a ham salad sandwich and mixed in tons of cayenne pepper. I think I put an entire can of it in there.

Sure enough, my lunch was taken. Sadly, I was never able to find out who took it, but it did put an end to the mysterious pilfering.

I just received another “All Staff” email from the same employee. Apparently, we can call off the Major Lunch Theft Alert. The Lean Cuisine was located after all.

And no, I was not the employee that misplaced the Lean Cuisine.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Massage

As I may have mentioned before, my workplace is going through a health kick phase. Each week, we get to meet with a personal health consultant who is, basically, a very enthusiastic, muscle-bound dude named Mace.

In order for me to become healthy, according to Mace, I must eat no more than 23 calories a day and run to Oshkosh Wisconsin and back every morning before work.

This morning, I had to drive to the far west suburb of Aurora and back. (For those of you who don’t know, Aurora is where Wayne’s World takes place. Remember?)

I made it back in time to have a healthy salad of greens and grilled chicken because today is my “Mace day” and I wanted to be all healthy for our consultation.

But today is just not any old Mace day. Today, he’s bringing a massage chair and we each get a 15-minute neck-and-shoulder massage; the kind you see them do at Whole Foods Market.

I hate massages. I really do.

It’s not so much the massage that I don’t like, but it’s that I’m super-ticklish on my ribs. As a matter of fact, I have written documentation of it.

About ten years ago, I was doing a summer internship at a substance abuse treatment center. Each of us was encouraged to participate in all the activities that were inflicted upon the patients as part of our internship.

I had a session of individual counseling and the counselor made me cry within five minutes. (She was good!) I did a couple of hours of the ubiquitous “basket-weaving.”

I even played a game of volleyball which was about the saddest thing you’d ever want to see. Every time I moved forward to hit the ball, I would fall, face down, really hard. Bam! It was so pathetic.

But, I was also subjected to one session of massage therapy; a real massage with your shirt off and massage oil and everything.

I told the therapist that I was really ticklish on my ribs. “Don’t go near the ribs!” was her dire warning.

Of course, every time her hands went anywhere remotely near my "ribular area", I’d leap a couple of feet off the table.

“Boy, you are ticklish,” she said.

I TOLD her I was ticklish. Obviously, she thought I was just making it all up, for her hands kept going where no hands should ever go.

By the end of the session, I was like a cat hanging off the ceiling by its claws.

At the end of my internship, there it was in writing. My evaluation read, “He does not benefit from massage therapy.”

So, I’m going to warn Mace, again, not to go near the ribs. At least if he does, I can throw him out of my office.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What Our Grandmothers Would Have Done

It's Saturday. The glorious weekend.

I arose at the crack of noon.

I had five wonderful friends over for dinner the night before. The day before, I had worked way overtime but still had to procure groceries for the Friday dinner thing.

I'm a staunch, firm believer in the "clean-as-you-go-method" of entertaining. It works.

The dishwasher was empty, dishes were put away, the Cuisinart had no gloppy gloops of watermelon from the previous night's watermelon daiquiries, and the kitchen floor was even shiny.


But I had no food for the weekend. I had only shopped for the dinner thingy and I SO didn't want to go out for more groceries on a Saturday. The cupboards were bare.

This was my weekend to be a total sofa-'moeba. I didn't want to do anything aside from using the Tivo remote.

I was looking forward to complete immobility. Only a glacier would move me.

If only I could get the Tivo to lower the a/c temperature. . .

I took stock of the provisions on hand and made a move that my grandmothers would have done.

You see, our grandmothers who raised families during The Depression were incredibly resourceful. They were continually faced with hungry tummies, empty pantries, little support, but could somehow emerge with a nutritious supper for six every night.

Now that our everyday living expenses, not to mention food prices, have poised upward, shot skyward, and rocketed out of sight, I think it's time we think back and grasp again onto the intuitive ways that our foremothers so insouciantly displayed with regard to feeding their loved ones.

For example, my usual weekend outing to the market (Trader Joe's) would return with the following:

Heads of Romaine lettuce for salad
Firm Tofu for a stir-fry
Frozen veggies for a stir-fry
Frozen Chinese dinners instead of a stir-fry
Frozen mango chunks
Pasta of some sort
Canned crushed tomatoes
Frozen Indian dinners instead of a stir-fry
Frozen Thai dinners instead of a stir-fry
Heads of Romaine lettuce that would turn to goop in the bottom of the vegetable "crisper".

I didn't have any of these things. Of course, I could have the Thai restaurant across the street just deliver a half-dozen entrees in one felled swoop. That's always fun, and don't think I've not done that pretty often, but I feel guilty at such an indulgence.

Grandmotherly influence kicked in.

I had the following:

One bag of rigatoni pasta
Sixteen cans of Albacore tuna
Some frozen mixed vegetables
8 oz of milk
Half stick of butter
Six green onions
Half a red bell pepper
One wedge of Parmesan cheese
Lots of powdered chicken stock

I sauteed the onion and veggies in the butter. Boiled water for rigatoni. Shredded the Parmesan cheese in the food processor. Added a handful of flour to the veggies. Added two cups of chicken stock, the milk, along with the frozen veggies which made a thick sauce, then added two big cans of albacore tuna.
Dumped the rigatoni into a buttered baking pan. Added the thick veggie-tuna sauce. Topped with a couple of handfuls of Parmesan. Baked at 425.

And there you go. Comfy sustenance for the weekend.

Heyyy! I Think I Love You. . .

Yes, five of us had a tasty Hungarian meal at my place. And yes, we did go to a karaoke bar afterward.

We arrived there at about 9:00 pm just before the actual karaoke activities began. I signed up to sing the Partridge Family's 1970's hit I Think I Love You.

Guess who was the first one called to sing?

Yes, I sang it. I had fun doing it.

But here's a word of advice:

If you're going to sing a retro hit, and if you know you're going to sing it in a downtown bar in Chicago on a Friday night, be sure to sing it at least after 11 pm when there's a crowd that has consumed lots of alcohol.

We had a wonderful time. I accidentally deleted all the photographic evidence of my Hungarian meal, but it was awfully tasty.

I remember eating paprikas csirke (chicken paprikash) at an elderly woman's house who had immigrated to the States in 1954. Sure, hers was authentic, but sort of in a bland Post-WWII-Pre-Communist type of paprikash mode.

Mine was still authentic in that it didn't use any tomatoes nor any over-use of sour cream; but rather a nice way of highlighting chicken and Hungarian paprika. (Hint: you MUST stir the Hungarian paprika just right in the hot oil - - not overcook it or under-cook it, but just right.) The Hungarians are awfully particular about their paprika (ground, dried red pepper). It seems that they have a remarkable sense in that they can instantly spot the difference in paprikas.

At any rate, I think that my friends got to experience a pretty appealing taste of Hungarian cuisine. It's got lots of flavors, it's got that "heavy Eastern European" thing going on, but with something very unique. And I'm glad I got to show it off to my friends.


And just for fun, check out this video of me singing I Think I Love You. (By the way, David Cassidy never sang that bass line "I don't know what I'm up against. . ." - - that was a "stunt singer" that did that in the recording and in all his concerts.)

I finally managed to upload a video from my little camera onto the You-Tube Thingy.

If you'd like to see a middled-aged guy having an awfully good time singing a cheesy song, then
click here.

Frankly, I think if all of our political leaders did this sort of thing, this world might be a much better place.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

The Pedway

Downtown Chicago has this really neat system of pedestrian tunnels called “Pedways” that cover forty square blocks and connects lots of buildings with lots of other Pedways.

It’s a maze down there and can often be confusing. Above ground, it’s pretty easy to negotiate your way around the city. You just look for the Sears Tower, point to it, and then ask someone for directions.

You can’t do that in the Pedways. The landmarks like the Sears Tower aren’t visible and everyone down there walks really fast, trying to catch a commuter train or a subway. But it’s easy to get lost. I think there are probably folks down there that have been trying to find their way out since the early 70s.

Tourist brochures say that the Pedways are very useful during inclement weather.

To me, “inclement weather” means “any temperature above 75 degrees” so I often use the Pedway to go from my apartment to work and back. I only have to be outside just to walk across the river. From there, I can dart into a subway, pay $1.75 and walk down a tunnel to the next subway station where I can dart into the air-conditioned Pedways. I feel sort of like a hamster in a Habitrail, but at least I’m out of the heat.

There are lots and lots of shops down in the Pedways. All kinds of shops. Strangely enough, there are shoe-shine places about every fifty feet down there. Do people need their shoes that shiny all the time?

I would never have my shoes shined by a shoe-shiner. First of all, everyone walking by me in the Pedway would (God forbid) look at me as I was perched on the shoe-shine pedestal. And also, it would feel really weird to have some poor shoe-shine guy being all subservient at my feet. Also, what do you tip the shoe-shine guy? What if it was a woman?
I'd hate that.

If I were blind, I could easy find my way around just by the smells alone. On my way to work, there are at least two tunnels that smell like Italian roast coffee (Starbucks). Then as I near the underground train station, there’s the unmistakable odor of diesel fumes. However, all that is soon blasted away by the Cinnabon place (I don’t know how they make something smell THAT good).

As I get close to work, there's the Au Bon Pain that stinks. I think it might be their Asiago cheese bagels that make that tunnel smell like really bad foot odor. . . .
. . . No. I'm being kind. . .
the morning smell of Au Bon Pain smells like someone doesn't know how to clean their butt. The moment I hit that "nasty butt-smell", I know I'm about to arrive in the lobby of the Aon Center in downtown Chicago.

I see that the temperature outside is nearing 80 degrees. That means I’ll be in the Pedway.

Here's a Pedway map if you're ever in Chicago

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Here's How It All Came About. . .

Tomorrow night, I’m having a dinner party at my place. Here’s how it all came about. . . .

Miss Healthypant’s friend from college, Diane, is coming down from Wisconsin. (We like it when Diane comes down from Wisconsin). For some reason, she wanted to know if we could find a Hungarian restaurant in Chicago because, for some reason, she wanted to try Hungarian food.

Of course, there are Hungarian restaurants in Chicago, but they're kind of in the suburbs. Being downtown-dwellers, we tend to shun anything that’s not within a five-block radius.

The thing is, I can actually make pretty decent authentic Hungarian cuisine Here’s how it all came about. . . .

I learned to make Hungarian food when I was a monk in a monastery many years ago. Here’s how it all came about. . . .

Two-thirds of the monks in that monastery were from Hungary. Here’s how it all came about. . . .

A bunch of monks fled Hungary before and after the Communist takeover of 1956 and founded the monastery here in the states. So, that’s how two-thirds of the members were Hungarian.

I liked to cook, so I bought a couple of Hungarian cook books and used to make Hungarian meals for our Sunday evening suppers. They liked it and were pretty impressed with my Hungarian food skills. Of course, my food never quite tasted like their mother’s, but there you go.

So, since Diane wanted Hungarian food and since we don’t like to travel outside of the downtown borders, I said I would have everyone over for a Hungarian meal.

Basically, all Hungarian menu items are like this: Heat lots of bacon fat, add paprika and sour cream. Vary the meat and vegetables a little bit, serve it with dumplings the size of volleyballs and voila, you’ve got Hungarian food.

Here will be tomorrow night’s menu: (I wish Lorraine was here)

Kőrőzőtt – is a cheese spread made from feta cheese, cream cheese, butter, paprika, caraway seeds and chives. Hungarians like to stuff it in banana peppers.

Paprikas Csirke (Chicken Paprikash). Heat lots of bacon fat, brown chunks of chicken in it, add lots of Hungarian sweet paprika, chicken stock, a touch of tomato paste and thicken it with sour cream. Serve it with:

Zsemlyegomboc – (bread dumplings). Sauté chunks of bread in butter until crispy, (basically, make croutons) then mix the crispy bread chunks in a dumpling batter containing lots of pepper. Cook them in boiling water.

Uborkasálata – (Cucumber Salad) made from sliced cucumbers, vinegar, sugar and sour cream.

Dessert will probably be frozen watermelon daiquiris on the Balcony of Terror.

There will be five of us for dinner. Then we’re all going out to a karaoke bar where I fully intend on singing I Think I Love You. I think Miss Healthypants will be singing Close to You. Iwanski will probably sing anything except I Think I Love You or Close to You.

It ought to be a really fun evening.


Obama in Germany


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Diosa on the River

Yesterday, soon after I got home from work and had changed into my play clothes, the phone rang. It was my friends, Jack and Steve, who were downtown after having seen a movie.

They wanted me to join them for dinner, but not at just any old place. Awhile back, I had blogged about a new sidewalk sushi place that had opened up on the Chicago River Walk. I was sort of making fun of it because it’s right up next to Lower Wacker Drive and surrounded by concrete walls. Even though I'd never been there, I had written a nasty little review of the place:

Chicago's newest eatery, Diosa on the River!

Come try our delicious sushi, prepared fresh daily in a trailer while experiencing our unique al fresco dining. You'll be sure to enjoy exhaust fumes emanating from Lower Wacker Drive on one side along with the fetid, garbage-festooned Chicago River on the other.

(Here is a much kinder review)

Anyway, Jack and Steve wanted to eat there.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” I said.

They were laughing, but seriously wanted to eat there just because I had made fun of the place.

They were within two blocks of it, so after making sure repeatedly that it wasn’t a joke, I headed out to meet up with them.

Sure enough, as I headed across the bridge, there they were, waving at me from below. There were only two other people there.

I have to hand it to this place, Diosa on the River. They are really trying hard. They’ve recently installed one of those giant blowing-balloon things on the street-level to make it known that they are, indeed, down there. (Those things always give me the creeps).

The food was really very good if you don’t mind using plastic plates, forks, and cups. One good puff of wind and, I suppose, your entire meal could be blown into the Chicago River.

And, just as I expected, there was constant traffic noise emanating from Lower Wacker Drive just a few feet away.

Of course, I took photos.
Things began with a lovely little salad:

And moved on to fried calamari with grilled pineapple

Followed by some really pretty sushi

We have the lovely Chicago River by our side:

With Marina Towers looming up above (that's where I live)

With the Trump Tower looming way above:

And the marina of Marina Towers directly across.

And, best of all, the happy faces of my friends.

All in all, it's a lovely way to end one's work day.

So, if you're in Chicago, have a nice little meal at Diosa on the River. They've really worked hard and deserve a chance.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

At the Dentist

I was in the dentist’s chair this morning for about two hours. Doesn’t that sound like a ton of fun?

I’m having a bridge put in which I thought would be a relatively easy process. I thought he would just mould a tooth, plop it in and sort of super-glue it to the adjoining teeth.

No. Apparently, the adjoining teeth had to have foundations drilled in resembling those in the Brooklyn Bridge. Caissons had to be lowered in, brick and mortar had to set up, and steel trusses had to be bolted into place. . .

Actually, I don’t really mind the dentist that much. You just basically lay there with your mouth open for two hours which is a pretty good way of getting out of work.

The dentist tries to make everything taste nice and minty. The rinse-n-spit water is spearmint flavored. Then, the goop they use to make the impressions even had a pleasant minty taste.

Then, Oh My God! He put something in my mouth that tasted like a bitter, dead weasel. I wanted to strike him, saying, “Ewww, What IS that? Get it out! Get it out!”

Then, the bitter-weasel flavor just trickled down the back of my throat for the next half hour. It was horrible.

He had to drill and drill and drill. I don’t mind the drilling itself, but I hate that smell. It’s sort of like burnt hair. That can’t be good.

Fortunately, my dentist is only four blocks from work, so I was a trooper and made it in.

The Novocain has worn off, so I’m going home and have Ibuprofen for dinner.

Here's Looking At You

The Gang and I went to Lao Sze Chuan on Sunday evening.

Besides the usual items, we tried a new one. It was a whole, steamed tilapia with shredded ginger served on a big leaf of some kind.

Head and all.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Spa at Trump

As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, the Crunch Fitness in my building is closing down at the end of the month. I’ll now have to walk five whole blocks to another facility in order to use a treadmill.

But wait! There’s another option.

There was a notice in the lobby of my building. Apparently, all of us at Marina Towers get to have a free visit at “The Spa at Trump” which is at the new Trump International Hotel and Tower just a block away.

Isn’t that nice of Donald?

The building isn't even completed (see pic) but the Hotel and Spa are up and running.

Then, if you want to join, the member ship is a paltry two-thousand dollars and $190 a month.

But before you gasp at that price, look at what you get. . .

. . . For one thing, they offer these “Trump Signature Gemstone Treatments” which are massages with oils infused with diamonds, rubies, emeralds or sapphires. Apparently each of these precious gems balance a different “chakra”.

I think the Lebanese place around the corner serves chakras in pita breads. I don’t know why one would need them balanced by rubbing them with sapphires, but Donald is a pretty unique guy.

If your “root chakra” is out of whack or if your inner self needs uplifting, then be sure to request the Revitalizing Rubies Massage. Heaven forbid you request the ruby massage when your crown chakra is out of balance which, of course everybody knows, requires the Purifying Diamond Massage.

Better yet, you can have a pre-treatment consultation in which your specific “Dosha” will be identified. Specific oils will create a harmonious relationship between your three “Doshas”.

Or, (for men only) you can be massaged with white truffle oil. (I'll bet it's just Wesson)

Actually, this sounds like it's approaching “happy ending” territory . . .

Frankly, I don’t think I’d like anyone messing with my root chakra, thank you very much. And if anyone rubbed any kind of oil on me, (Eeeww!) I'd be running for the showers with a big bottle of Dawn.

As I was reading all this, I was thinking, “Oh my god. Who actually GOES for this . . . this. . . . bullshit???”

Are there actual people who think, "Hmmm. I think I need to go for the Revitalizing Ruby Massage rather than the Purifying Diamond Massage today."

Apparently, there are.
And that scares me.

I think I'll just keep my chakras with Crunch Fitness.

And, by the way, my Old Spice Body Wash from Walgreens actually smells pretty nifty, thank you very much.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Harbor Bridge

When I was a little bitty kid growing up in my little bitty home town in south Texas, my grandparents would often take me and my little bittier brother to spend weekends in the Big City.

Usually, a weekend in the Big City meant San Antonio which had been my grandparents’ home town. However, during fishing season, my grandfather’s concept of the Big City meant “Corpus”.

Corpus Christi, Texas, that is.

My little bitty home town of Goliad was equidistant between Corpus Christi and San Antonio, about eighty miles from each. But to my little mind, San Antonio seemed more like The City than Corpus.

To this day, whenever I hear Petula Clark’s 1965 hit Downtown, I picture the tall, brown buildings lining the inner city streets of San Antonio.

But ever so often, my grandfather would take us to spend a weekend in “Corpus.” Rather than heading north, we’d head southwest along the Gulf Coast plains of south Texas.

The flat roads would be endlessly lined with this grain crop called “maize”. I know that “maize” is somewhat related to the Native American word for “corn” but this was an entirely different grain.

To this day, I still have absolutely no idea what the South Texas grain crop of “maize” really is. I think it might be fed to cows or turkeys or oysters.
I don't know.

I just know that, as a kid, we’d just watch endless rows of it pass by the car window on the way to Corpus. Ever so often, there would be one stalk of it sticking above all the rest.

Boom. There’d be one stalk shooting above the rest among miles of evenly-grown heads of “maize.”

I asked my grandfather how that happened. He laughed and explained to me and my brother that when those seeds were planted, a seagull happened to fly by and shit on that spot, thus fertilizing that seed more than the rest. And that’s why those stalks were higher than the rest.

Sounded plausible to me. He was a good grandfather.

He also said that if my brother and I didn’t quiet down, he’d pull over at the next mailbox and just mail us home. Of course, when he’d see the next mailbox along the two-lane highway, he’d dramatically pull the car over and we’d both squeal with laughter.

He was a good grandfather.

He also said that if we were really good, he’d stop at the next town and buy us an ice cream cone. He’d give me the road map and have me look for the next sizable town that would have ice cream.

Okay, take a look at a map. There’s absolutely nothing between Goliad and Corpus Christi, Texas, but he had me honing some good cartography skills the entire way. I was almost seven years old.

He was a really good grandfather.

Anyway, the highlight of the trip was crossing the Harbor Bridge into Corpus Christi. My gosh, how I loved crossing that bridge.

Apparently, the only way to drive into Corpus prior to 1960 was over a drawbridge. As we came within 30 miles of the city, my grandfather would start telling us how traffic used to be backed up because of the drawbridge; how he’d practically have to wait for days to get into the city prior to this incredible, huge, colossal, Harbor Bridge being built.

Then, as we would begin the ascent to the bridge, he’d explain to me how the construction crews began building the bridge on both sides and

(we’d begin climbing the ascent higher and higher)

and the bridge construction reached across the water

(we would be among the steel trusses way above the bay)

And finally! Both sides met!

(And we’d reach the apex and begin our descent into downtown Corpus Christi)

God! How I loved that bridge! My grandfather made it so exciting.

We’d check into a nice hotel by the waterfront and my grandmother would continually slather my brother and me with Sea-n-Ski so that we wouldn’t get sunburned.

We'd go to a really nice seafood restaurant and I'd get to order a half-dozen fried oysters. The salad was a huge wedge of iceberg lettuce with this really strange dressing slathered over it (I think it was "Thousand Island")

I was only six years old, but I remember so well just wanting to stay in the air-conditioned hotel room where I could peer out the bay windows in the hotel room and watch the cars traverse the Harbor Bridge. . . .

. . . Are you ready for this?

Progress moves on . . . Ships are being built bigger and taller. . . . And apparently the Harbor Bridge isn’t tall enough anymore.

A new, taller bridge has been planned to replace the Harbor Bridge into Corpus. Can you believe it?

It seems just like yesterday that my grandfather was getting me to marvel at the big, new bridge. But "yesterday" has somehow slipped into four decades.

If I had kids, I’d love to show them the new bridge into Corpus. I’d tell them how the old bridge only came up so far, then crossed the channel and went back down. And how it had only six lanes of traffic. And how the old bridge was so incredible for its time and how my grandfather loved this bridge . . .

. . . But, of course, my kids would be in the back seat, ignoring the bridge and playing with their game-pods.

But on the way out of Corpus, I'd point out the fields of "maize". And I’d be sure to tell them how the seagulls pooped on that one maize seed to make it taller than all the rest. . .

. . then a quick pullover to a mailbox with an anecdote about their great-grandfather,

And, I'll just bet that a few squeals of laughter might be heard after all.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Good Night, Sweet Pups

Okay, this is so cute it will make you throw up.

Click here

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Spingfield and Back

I’ve been in Springfield on business-related hoo-ha. I thought about taking the train down there because I really like trains. You just get on and they do all the driving. The seats are much roomier than on an airplane, you can talk on your cell phone, play on the internet, and get things to eat and drink in the snack car whenever you want.

If there’s a screaming baby or a smelly person next to you, you can usually just move to another car. The trains are seldom full.

The fares are soooo reasonable. For example, it’s only $24 from Chicago to Springfield which is 200 miles away. For some strange reason, it’s $33 to come back.

Also, there’s no security to go through in order to ride on a train. I could have four whole ounces of deadly shampoo in my carry-on and they wouldn’t say boo.

But, I didn’t taking the train. I spoke at a conference yesterday morning and the train doesn’t leave Springfield until 5:30 pm. There was no way I was going to
a) Actually attend the conference after my part was done or
b) Find something to do in Springfield for five hours.

Besides, my Zip Car has an iPod attachment which enables me to sing I Think I Love You over and over all the way to Springfield. I don’t think they’d let me do that on the train. I’d get kicked off in Joliet.

Also, having the Zip Car is my chance to shop and load it up with all the things I can’t get on foot. Sure, I could rent a Zip Car for a couple of hours here in Chicago, but this way I’m killing two birds with one stone.

Especially since my workplace reimburses me 58.5 cents per mile.

Here’s what I returned with:

5 cans of albacore tuna
4 half-gallons of tomato juice
1 new belt
3 pairs of black socks
1 ice pick (I’ve needed an ice pick for years)
1 roasting pan
1 roasting rack
8 boxes of peach flavored tea (I love peach flavored iced tea)
1 big bottle of Ibuprofen
1 big bottle of vitamins
1 duffel bag

As I was tuning the radio for something to listen to (I forgot to bring the aforementioned iPod) I came across this nice sounding song. It sounded folksy with a nice guitar accompaniment. The lyrics were something about finding the love of one’s life, etc. A nice bass line entered in, some cool-sounding percussion, dum, dum, de-dum, it was a really catchy tune.

Then, all of a sudden, it’s all about Jesus Christ this, and Jesus Christ that.

Goddamnit! These Christian radio stations are pretty insidious that way. They rope you in and then, wham!, hit you with the love of Jesus Christ, for crying out loud.

Christian “rock” has to be the worst. You can tell that those are just rock bands that couldn’t make it on the regular circuit.

I’m definitely bringing my iPod next time.

Today, I have to attend a job fair for people with disabilities at Navy Pier. Last year, there was a petting zoo there for the kids and they even had a sloth you could pet.

I am SO hitting that petting zoo today. I don't care if it is for kids; I'm going in.

I hope the sloth is back.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Portia and the Treats

Portia loves baby carrots.

When it's time for her carrot treat, we always begin with the following dialogue:

Are you a good dog?

What do good dogs get?

Do good dogs get TREATS?

She's awfully good at catching carrots in her mouth.

Click here for the video.

Now, isn't she just about the best dog in the whole wide world?

Life in the City

Yesterday, I was heading out of the subway station and just as I exited the turnstile, I felt something brush across my backside. Instinctively, I reach back to make sure my wallet was still there.

And it wasn’t.

A cold flash shot through me. I thought of the credit cards and ATM card in my wallet. Fortunately, I think I only had a ten dollar bill in there.

I immediately looked back to see this young punk skittering down the steps with my wallet as he stuffed it in his front pocket. I bolted through the turnstile after him.

He was running down the subway platform and headed for a southbound train that had just arrived. I was yelling, “That kid’s got my wallet! He’s got my wallet!

Sure, I might only have a few bucks in the wallet, but this kid had no consideration for me and how much trouble stealing a wallet causes people.

I was SO enraged! The adrenaline was pumping.

Just as he bolted into the subway car, I grabbed him from behind with an arm around his neck and flung him to the platform.

“You little shit! I yelled at him.

Quick as a flash, I grabbed the wallet out of his front pocket. By that time, a crowd had gathered along with a police officer.

I was about to show the police officer the identification in my wallet . . .

. . . and then I woke up.

I can’t remember when I’ve had a more realistic dream. I was still seething.

I’ve always been very careful with my wallet when I’m on public transportation. I keep it either in my front pocket or buttoned in the back pocket.

Only once has someone tried to steal it on the subway. Just as I was exiting the train, some guy seated behind me made a feeble attempt to paw at my pocket. However, he was so drunk he could hardly see straight. I just glared at him as I exited the train.

But this dream was so vivid.

As I walked to work this morning, I was extra-careful with my wallet. I imagine I always will be from now on.

THIS is what I should be doing

I had a very productive weekend.

Besides doggie-sitting for Portia, which is always wonderful in itself, I had my first session of private instruction on this super-duper music production software on Saturday.

What was even better, is that the private instruction took place in a real, live, super-cool music studio. I liked that. It felt right. I kept thinking, “THIS is what I should be doing.”

What was even better, was that I was actually able to make a sound on this incredibly complex software (Sonar 7 Producer Edition - - doesn’t that sound cool?). After an hour or so of asking, “What does that button do?” I was able to make a sound that resembled a yak in heat.

It had been about ten years since I had used any music production software. The last software that I had used was almost twenty years old and I was afraid that my abilities would be left in the dust. What I was really afraid of is that the super-cool, music industry instructor would think that the last music I had produced involved rocks and a stick.

Certainly, things have advanced in the past ten or fifteen years. A lot. But this old dog (me) has been around for a while and what knowledge I did have came in pretty handy.

It was really pretty groovy.

I kept thinking, “THIS is what I should be doing.”

Music production has certainly changed in the past twenty years. A studio used to looks so cool with multiple keyboards, patch cords, sound modules, racks, huge mixing boards and the like. Now, all those components are contained within the software.

Here’s a photo of Wendy Carlos and her Moog synthesizer.
Who is Wendy Carlos you might ask?

Wendy Carlos produced the first album of synthesized music back 1968 called Switch-On Bach. It blew the music world wide open. I remember listening to it back in the early 70s. She used that incredible Moog synthesizer you see there with all those complex gizmos and thing-a-ma-jiggies.

I remember messing around on one of those in a music store in Dallas back in 1972. I was only thirteen, but it was so cool. Oh, and the price tag was sixteen thousand dollars. I really wanted one but my whopping salary of thirteen dollars a week that I was making at my grandparent’s dry-cleaning store would hardly finance it.

And lookie here. In the music studio that I was in was a Moog synthesizer. It’s certainly been modernized to the 21st century, but it’s still a good-old Moog like God and Wendy intended.

On the first session, I learned how to lay tracks using MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and actually make sounds, record them and play them back.

Oh, and that big Moog synthesizer that Wendy Carlos used? My software has that built in. You just click a few buttons and the actual panel pops up. You click-and-drag the patch cords and turn the knobs with the mouse and produce the same sounds. For all intents and purposes, I now have that sixteen-thousand dollar synthesizer at my fingertips.

In the next session, I’ll earn to lay tracks using digital audio recording and make MP3 files.

The last session, I’ll learn to sync music to video.

After that, I’ll download my first composition to iTunes, it will be a huge hit and then the only work I’ll ever have to do is to have things delivered to my apartment.

Won’t that be groovy?

And then I’ll kick myself after realizing that THIS is what I should have been doing all along.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

A Weekend with Portia

I’m doggy-sitting this weekend.

Portia’s daddies are going to Las Vegas for the weekend to see Bette Midler along with our friends Karen and Richard (whose last name is not Carpenter unlike my friends, Dan and Karen whose last name is Carpenter).

I’ll be going to Las Vegas later in the year to see Bette Midler with a friend of mine whose name is neither Karen or Carpenter.

Anyway, Portia and I shall have a grand time together. She will watch me play Speed Scrabble with myself. Unlike Lorraine, Portia lets me cheat.

She now has to have arthritis/pain medicine squirted down the throat each morning, so I’ll get to do the open-the-dog’s-mouth thing. At least it’s not in suppository form.

Since she’s now on pain medication, her nightly Miller Lite has been done away with. Even with dogs, one shouldn’t mix narcotics with alcohol.

So, now she gets a baked sweet potato at night. One night, they put her bowl of beer next to a bowl containing a baked sweet potato and she preferred the sweet potato.

On Saturday, I have my first session of private instruction on the super-duper music production software, so Portia will be alone for a few hours. She always knows when I’m about to leave and gets the saddest look on her face.

It’s heart-wrenching and ever-so dramatic. I guess it’s nice to have someone be that sad that you’re about to leave. We should all be so lucky.

Anyway, here’s my favorite photo of dear Portia. We were at a Thai restaurant called the Blue Elephant that has outdoor seating. She loves going to the Blue Elephant.

Isn’t it obvious?


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Getting Lao'd

Our little group hadn’t been to our favorite restaurant, Lao Sze Chuan, in quite some time. That situation was remedied last night. Of course, we had a great time. Lots of laughter and lots of good food should be had in abundance and frequently as possible.

Here’s the rundown on the food that the five of us ate: (I forgot to take pictures!)

Crab Rangoon (Photo not included)

Pot stickers (Photo not included)

Tea-Smoked Szechuan Duck (Photo not included)

Kung Pao Scallops (Photo not included)

Sole Fish Fillet with Black Bean Sauce (Photo not included)

Mayonnaise Shrimp (Photo not included)

Eggplant in Garlic Sauce (Photo not included)

Pea Pod Leafs with Garlic (Photo not included)

Trust me, it was a gorgeous feast.

During the day, I had been out in the suburbs in my Zip Car most of the day on work-related hoo-ha. I still had the Zip Car so I offered to drop the guests by their respective train stations, subway stations and home for Miss Healthypants.

I took two of our friends to the train station then proceeded to take Liane to her subway station.

I’ve entered this subway station hundreds of times, but this time I was in a car and absolutely couldn’t find it. Miss Healthypants and Liane were both hollering, “There it is! Stop! You passed it! Stop!”

And I was all, “Where? I don’t know where it is! I don’t see it! Where?”

Finally, I wedged the Zip Car behind an EL trestle, partially out of traffic. I’ve never heard MHP laugh so hard. You know that kind of laughter were you don’t make much sound because you can’t catch your breath? That’s what she was doing in the back seat.

Meanwhile, Liane needed to hop out of the passenger seat, but I was only partially out of the traffic. I saw that none was coming behind us and yelled at her, “Okay, NOW! You better get out NOW!” which made MHP only gasp and laugh harder.

Liane scurried into the subway station and I rounded the corner to MHP’s building, who by this time, was just a puddle of giggles.

And I might add that not a drop of alcohol was involved. We’re just that silly.

I want to go back really soon.

Like tonight.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Watermelon Communion

Summer is here.

I’m sure you know by now that summer is definitely my least favorite time of the year. I really don’t do well in hot weather and it’s one of the main reasons I’ve remained far north of my home state of Texas.

However, the “Texan” in me still adores one thing that summer brings:


Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve gone nuts over watermelon. To me, there are fewer things as exciting as hearing that big, heavy fruit split open. . . crraaack!. . . and seeing it’s juicy, coral-red flesh laid before you in twin ovals.

My grandmother, “Budgie”, probably had a lot to do with my love of the Southern delicacy. She would let out a squeal of delight every time a watermelon was laid open. Also, Budgie and I could polish off an amazing amount of our favorite fruit. We would hack open a 30 pound melon, laugh, and ask the rest of the family, “Now, what are y’all going to have?”

Eating a watermelon with my Budgie became a sacrament in which we’d partake for over forty years.

We shared our last earthly watermelon together in 2001 when she was 91 years old. Since then, she’s always with me whenever I crack one open.

I’ve recently discovered the most incredible way of eating watermelon and that is to make watermelon sorbet.

Last week, I bought my first melon of the season. Now, with the marvels of genetic engineering, seedless watermelons are about the best way to go. The watermelon scientists have figured out how to make them incredibly sweet now.

Every time I cut one up, I think, “If only Budgie could see this now.” I even got a little misty-eyed over it the other night.

Anyway, I know Budgie would love my watermelon sorbet (She loved sherbet and I can still remember her having a big bowl of it while we all watched Mary Tyler Moore.)

Here’s how you make watermelon sorbet:

Dice up a seedless watermelon into 1-inch chunks and freeze them.

Fill the bowl of a food processor about one-third full of frozen watermelon (any more than that and it’ll have a difficult time of it).

Squeeze in the juice of one lime

Add three packets of Equal

And let ‘er rip.

Warning: Frozen headaches are easy to come by. And this stuff is addictive.

I cannot think of a better way to beat the heat of summer.

And to commune with my Budgie.

You Just Never Know

Being a blogger, it’s a little mind-boggling to realize that everything we post becomes a permanent part of the vast cosmos of the Internet. Future employers will be able to retrieve it as well as future spouses, children, grandchildren, in-laws and outlaws.

One never knows who will be reading it someday. I really try to keep that in mind when I click that “Publish Post” button. I’m not always as prudent as I should be, but I try.

Yesterday, I posted a story about a woman and her kids who were recently booted off an airline because the airline claimed the kids were being unruly during the flight. I was making some witty and some semi-nasty remarks about the situation but ended up deleting my post.

I realized that these kids might possibly find my post and it would certainly wouldn’t have benefited them to see what I had written. So I deleted it.

Now, the kids probably wouldn't have come across my post, but you just never know.

Here’s a great illustration to make my point.

Recently, I was upset that the Crunch Fitness center was closing down the location I use which is conveniently located in the lobby of my apartment building. I blogged about how upset I was, mainly because the location was so convenient and about how I’d gone straight to the front desk and cancelled my membership.

A couple of days later, I decided to keep my membership. After all, there’s another Crunch just five blocks away. I blogged about that as well.

It turned out that those of us “dislocated” by the closure are getting all sorts of nice benefits.

Here’s the point I want to make: Last week, I received an email from the head of Crunch’s P.R. department in New York, saying that she had read my blog and was glad I had decided to keep my membership.

She said she’d like to send some Crunch attire to me along with some free guest passes.

I recalled that Miss Healthypants had wanted to attend a Kangoo class at Crunch, but those are for members only and not available to guests. So, I responded to the nice Crunch P.R. person, asking if a friend could attend a Kangoo class with me.

I received the box of Crunch goodies yesterday along with the four passes. Miss Healthypants and I will be attending a Kangoo class soon. (That should definitely make for a hilarious blog).

Isn't that nice?

See? You just never know who will be reading your blog.

You just never know.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Making Memories

Yesterday, I was walking home from work, totally exhausted from the work week.

Grrr. . . Grrrr. . . .

I was standing across the street from my apartment building, waiting for the light to change. Then, I overhead a dad enthusiastically explaining to his two kids about MY apartment building. He was pointing up to my apartment building and I overheard him explaining that it was designed in 1959, that two movies were filmed here in which a car was shot out of the parking garage and into the river, etc.

I heard the two boys say, "Wwwooowww!!""
They were about ten and twelve years old.

I piped up and said that I lived on the 49 th floor and that I witnessed the filming the Allstate Insurance commercial that Sunday morning last October.

It turned out that the dad was a science teacher from a small town in Ohio and he and his wife and kids were in town for the weekend. The dad was an architecture buff and he knew more about my building than I did.

Seeing that he was with his wife and kids, I said, "Say. I live here in this building. We've got a great observation deck on the sixty-first floor that most tourists don't get to see. Would you guys like to come up and see it?"

The dad readily took me up on my offer. The boys seemed enthusiastic about it too.

We got into the express elevator; I told the younger guy to hit the RF button in the elevator and warned them that the elevator was really fast and that their ears might pop. (they did).

We all tumbled out onto the roof deck and, of course, the kids went, "WWWoooowww!" as they circled around being surrounded by the Sears Tower, the John Hancock Tower and Navy Pier.

It was a very clear day and I was so glad to give this family a sight of Chicago that so few people see.

They didn't have a camera, but of course, the older kid knew how to work the camera on his dad's cell phone. Lots of photos were taken.

I left them on the observation deck, telling them that they could spend as much time as they wanted.

What was really nice, is that both boys gave repeated "Thank You's" for letting them up there. It's so good to hear kids actually being polite these days.

As I was leaving, the dad told me that he really appreciated my gesture and that whenever they see Chicago on TV, they'll always remember getting to go up on the roof at Marina Towers and having this special trip.

I gave him and his wife a warm handshake and showed them where the toilet was on the 61st floor. (As a tourist, I know it's awfully hard to find clean public toilets! - - especially for the women)

The boys gave me another "Thank you!" as I left. . . .

Now, isn't that a nice story?

My glum day turned out to be one of my best days in Chicago.

I've always been proud of this city and especially the goofy building in which I live. I finally got to show it off and help a small-town family have a great time.

I know that whenever this family sees Chicago on TV, (and inevitably they'll see Marina Towers), they'll holler out, "Hey! We went up there!"

I may not have a family, but it's really good to know I helped a family make some memories.

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Slammin' Some Hair

I have to admit to a quirky endeavor that Miss Healthypants and Iwanski and I engage in whenever we sometimes get together - - -MHP lets me "do" her hair.

First of all, I have absolutely no background in hair styling. However, I can do pretty well as long as three things are involved.

1) The hair is straight
2) The hair is medium length
3) The hair is attached to an attractive corpse who died in the 70's.

Other than that, I'm pretty good at styling some hair and making someone look decent.

As far as "styling" some hair, I can only do one style and it's basically the way I wanted my hair in the late 70's:

The Larry Wilcox from CHPS:
And here is my sad attempt when I was 19 years old:
And if you're a female, then I can do the Farrah Fawcett which is basically the Larry Wilcox only with lots more feathers and the addition of Aqua Net:

Okay, so Miss Healthypants and I get out the vent-brushes, Suave hair spray from Wal-Mart, and I go to town, slammin' some big hair.

I have to tell you that Miss Healthypants does have some awfully gorgeous, luxurious, blonde hair on her head. She does have that going on.

Here is a recent photo of Miss Healthypants and moi, last year on my balcony.Okay, there's the hair.

Just a few semi-painful strokes of my vent-brush and she's got feathering hair down the sides for days. . . If you are over forty, wouldn't you have KILLED for hair like this??

When you see her looking like this, can you really refrain from saying "Nancy Wilson?"

...And, I'm sorry, but look at that whispy front that sweeps back on both sides? Can you sit there and NOT say four words? A-DO-RA-BLE?

Okay, maybe you wouldn't have wanted your hair to look like this, but maybe you DID have it styled the same way twenty. . . okay, thirty years ago when you were toolin' around in that blue AMC Pacer or olive green Gremlin.

At any rate, it's nice to have friends who will let you re-create the hair from our youth.

And it's really good to have friends like Iwanski who've kept us from bringing out the scissors when it wouldn't have been prudent to do so.

3rd of July

Chicago has NEVER celebrated Independence Day on the 4th day of July.

As my Southern Baptist grandmother in Texas always told me, there are way too many Catholics who need to need every extra holiday to recuperate from all their celebrating. . .

. . . So, the fireworks-and-mayhem has always been done-and-over-with on the night-of-the-last work-day, being July 3rd.

Most of the main streets into downtown have always been blocked off the night of July Third in Chicago. This is a hopeful endeavor to encourage everyone in the suburbs to use mass transit which consists of the EL, buses, commuter trains, taxis, or assaulting homeless persons for cash like God intended.

Iwanski, Miss Healthypants, and I were able to look down from my 49th floor balcony tonight at all the revelers.

I gotta admit that it was lots of fun to watch from five hundred feet up, everyone in SUVs from the suburbs be instantly snaggled and inundated with trying to have a good time in downtown Chicago.

Meanwhile, we're peering down, feeling all superior. We're thinking, "Yes, we pay a gazillion dollars a month for an apartment the size of an Ex-lax wafer, but you know what? We're home!"

Here's a photo from my balcony of the downtown traffic

Can you see all the bumper-to-bumper traffic down there on Wacker Drive trying to head into downtown?

Can you imagine how much parking attendants are making? (Hint: It's twenty dollars for the first hour and three dollars for each additional hour, just so you know)

And are not all of us downtown-dwellers just the most superior things? (Gas was $4.89 for regular at the BP yesterday)

Yes? Take a look. That traffic isn't moving. I could have taken this same photo two hours later and it would remain unchanged.

Doesn't that look like fun?

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

On the Way to Work

I had to be at work early this morning to prepare for a staff meeting.

I knew my pigeons would want breakfast so I brought a baggie of bird food with me.

Sure enough, they were all there waiting for me. The moment I brought out the baggie of food, they began flying at me and quite aggressively I might add. I flung the food on the sidewalk and they went nuts.
Don’t they look happy?

Yesterday, instead of a farmer’s market in the plaza, there were all these establishments selling. . . well. . . . . . crap.

It was sort of like really ugly knick-knacks; plastic dragons, tacky oriental vases, sarongs and the like - - sort of the Asian equivalent of those black velvet paintings you see in Mexican border towns.

Today, it looks like they’re just trying to give the stuff away:

Inside my workplace, which is an 80-story building that looks quite a bit like one of the World Trade Centers in New York, there are these huge gongs and gong mallets hanging from the wall. There must be about twenty of them hanging there.

Every day when I walk by them, I have this insatiable urge to take one of the mallets and give it a good bash. I bet it would sound incredible in the lobby area. It would probably alert all sorts of security personnel, who by the way, immediately told me to stop taking photos.

Wouldn't you want to give this thing a good whack or is it just me?

So, that was my walk to work this morning.

Pigeons, Asian tchotchkies, and a big gong.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

On Sunday afternoon, I was attending an orientation class at a music trade school. I’ll be taking eight hours of private instruction on this super-cool (super expensive) music production software that I recently bought.

I have no idea how to work it and I'm tutorially-challenged, so I’m just going to pay someone to show me which buttons to press to make it work.

Anyway, I had to attend the orientation class in order to obtain the private instruction. Basically, the orientation class was a high-pressure sales job to get people to sign up for a lot of other classes. I was attending the class with about twenty 20-year olds, all of whom had aspirations of producing rap and hip-hop music.

Of course, we all had to “tell us a little something” about ourselves. I mentioned that I had once played a Moog synthesizer when they were new, mainly to illustrate that I was a dork.

But each time one of these kids mentioned that he wanted to produce rap music, I gritted my teeth and tried my best not to blurt out, “It’s not music!”

I behaved myself. I didn’t blurt anything out. However, I really came close to asking where I could buy some sheet music by Ice Cube just to prove my point that Rap is not music.

I'll admit that I'm a music snob and I'm prejudiced against rap "music".

Anyway, I left there about 5 pm and started home. I could have taken a southbound bus to the Green Line train or I could have taken an eastbound bus to the Red Line train. The eastbound bus came first, so I hopped on.

Soon, I saw empty floats go by and realized that the Pride Parade was just ending. I also realized that the Red Line train would be totally inundated with Pride revelers.

Sure enough, the train pulled up and “sardine-packed” doesn’t begin to describe it. One nice young woman with lip rings made room for me so I wedged myself in.

Then, the nice young woman with the lip rings began to throw up.

And throw up.

And throw up.

She just stayed there for the longest time with her head against the door, merrily horking away.

She must have eaten everything there was to offer, both at Taste of Chicago and at the Pride celebration, because she would NOT stop throwing up.

I think her digestive tract must have traveled into the future and was getting rid of food she hadn’t actually eaten yet.

At the next stop, the doors opened and there was no way you could have wedged another person onto our train. Besides, they were greeted with a cascading wall of puke and probably a few recently-detached lip rings.

I was grumbling to myself, thinking, “If she was going to throw up, why didn’t she get off the train and go to a trash can or something?”

Instead, she had motioned for me to get on the train and even made room for me.
Which was very nice of her.
Until she began impaling my shoes with her regurgitated repast.

It’s not like I haven’t done something similar. Yes, there were times when I was young and drank until I got sick. As far as I can recall, though, I didn’t do it ON anyone. I did it with my head against a porcelain bowl like God intended.

My mama raised me with manners, after all.

See why I don't attend the Pride Parade?

I got off at the next stop and took a secret way home:

A nice, air conditioned taxi.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Healthy Trends

I’m drinking a big mug of green tea with my lunch. I’m sure you all know about green tea and the fact that it has these wonderful things called “antioxidants” that we’re all supposed to be consuming by the truck full.

Aren’t health fads the funniest things ever? Right now, we’re in the antioxidant craze and frantically gulping down pomegranate juice, green tea and the like. Just about every infomercial raves that their product contains "healthy antioxidants" which, unless we consume them, we will surely die within the next two hours or end up looking like Cher.

The health-and-wellness industry could peddle hemorrhoid cream and we’d snatch it up if it contained antioxidants.

Remember the oat bran craze of the nineties? Oh my goodness, everything was all “Now, with OAT BRAN!!!” We couldn’t get enough oat bran to save us:

“Here honey, I got this new cereal called Gruel Oatie-Toasties.”

“But I don’t think I like gruel.”

“Yeah, but each serving contains five zillion milligrams of oat bran. You’ll die if you don’t eat enough oat bran!”

“Oat bran? Well why didn’t you say so!!!”

Then, a few years ago, carbs were the big no-no. Oh my goodness, we avoided carbs like the plague.
Everything was all “Contains Zero Carbs!”

“Honey, don’t eat that cereal! It’s loaded with carbs!!!”

CARBS!!?? Oh my gosh! I think I ate a bite of it. I’m going to the emergency room!”

It turned out that fat didn’t contain carbs, so bacon cheese steaks were given the green light. We were all eating ten pounds of lard a day, probably to cut the levels of oat bran that had built up in our bodies from the previous decade.

But wait! Steak and lard contained trans fats. We hurled all our mayonnaise in the garbage and loaded our grocery carts with these giant tubs of Extra Low Fat Ultra Light Don’t-Tell-Me-It’s-Butter because it didn’t have any trans fats. . .

. . . . Sigh. . . .

Then Katie Couric got a colonoscopy on live television.

Apparently, if you didn’t undergo a colonoscopy by the time you were nineteen-and-a-half, you could be sure that a giant man-eating polyp would burst out of your chest during your sleep and devour you. We became crazy for colonoscopies. All of a sudden, we were lined up like cars on an assembly line, all following Katie’s example.

Well, I’d better finish my green tea now. My health-and-wellness consultant named Mace will be here soon to measure my body fat index.

I’m sure you all know by now about body fat indexes. If I don’t get mine below twenty, I might not be around to blog tomorrow.

Crunch Update

Okay, I can quit banging on my high chair about Crunch Fitness.

I'm sure all the major news networks have reported this, but Crunch will be closing down the facility that I use on July 31st. That means that I’ll have the inconvenience of actually walking five whole blocks in order to walk on a treadmill at another facility.

The mind reels.

As I began to relate to the Katrina victims, I had been thinking that the horrible, inconsiderate Crunch people should give us some sort of compensation for this colossal upheaval in our lives.

It turns out, they did.

I found out last night that we will all receive the following compensation:

1. Three free months of membership.

2. Our monthly memberships will be reduced by ten dollars, permanently.

3. All our memberships will be changed to “universal” ones at no cost. In other words, we’ll be able to use any Crunch nationwide.

Actually, this is pretty good compensation for being displaced.

My workplace actually pays us $50 per month toward a gym membership. Since my Crunch membership will now be $56 per month, I'll be out-of-pocket six whole dollars per month to have a universal Crunch membership.

A situation like that is the ultimate dream of My People.

I should put away the high chair. Really.

Since I know you all were incredibly concerned about my happiness and welfare, I’m sure you're all breathing a huge sigh of relief over this news.