Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Billy Mays

Needless to say, I was pretty shocked to hear of Billy Mays' passing recently. Yes, those commercials were extremely irritating – so much so, that I had to write the following satire piece a few years ago.

I know it’s really bad taste to make fun of someone who recently passed, but please keep in mind that the shrill, irritating voice we hear on the Oxy-Clean and KaBoom commercials is not his normal speaking voice. I don’t know why those producers had him speak that way, because it really does make me hit the fast-forward button every time those commercials come on.

BTW – KaBoom is fantastic stuff and I’m never without it in my apartment. It smells really good too.

So, since that’s not his normal speaking voice, please know I’m poking fun of the commercials and not the man. I commend the man for marketing products that keep our messy lives so clean and tidy.

Christian Peace Activists Rescued by Billy Mays
By Buckner Wheat
Mar 25, 2006

BAGHDAD – The dramatic rescue of three Christian peace activists by U.S. and British forces on Thursday was made possible by the deployment of psychological weaponry that promises to end the rash of kidnappings impeding the spread of democracy in Iraq.

The activists—James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden of Canada and Norman Kember of England—were kidnapped on November 26, 2005, while driving to meet with Sunni Arab leaders. The men were held hostage at a compound on the outskirts of Baghdad.

"We were at the end of our rope," reported Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch. "We really did fear that each one would be killed eventually—until we discovered a new secret weapon. ”

Maj. Gen. Lynch smiled and opened a sound file on a nearby laptop. "Hi! Billy Mays here for Oxy-Clean!" screamed a grating, high-pitched voice.

"Every time one of that guy's commercials comes on, my immediate response is to hit the fast-forward on my TIVO as quickly as I can," said Maj. Gen. Lynch.

"Whether he's selling OxiClean, OrangeGlo, or Kaboom, his voice literally makes me want to thrust a serrated knife through my eye socket to end the torture. That's how I got the idea to utilize his commercials as an effective weapon."

Maj. Gen. Lynch explained how the new weapon was used to thwart an attack by sixty gunmen on a police station near Baghdad two weeks ago.

"After a three-hour gun battle, we saw that we weren't making any progress. So we tried broadcasting the Oxy-Clean commercial at mega-watt volume from our command center."

Immediately, all sixty insurgents began running around in circles, bewildered and terrorized, pleading for the painful tirade to cease. "We ended up catching fifty of 'em in the crossfire," said Maj. Gen. Lynch. "It was pretty cool."

Apparently, continued exposure to Mays' shrill, piercing voice results in nausea, vomiting, acute diarrhea, convulsions, and death among certain non-native speakers of English.

According to British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, Thursday’s military rescue followed "weeks and weeks of very careful work by military and coalition personnel in Iraq, and many civilians as well."

"We had been working on this rescue for four months to no avail," added Maj. Gen. Lynch. "But after five minutes of blaring Billy Mays' voice into the compound, we could hear blood-curdling screams of 'Shi-Kabbalah, Shi-Kabbalah' coming from inside."

Fortunately, Sergeant Dan Henderson, a member of the rescue team, is fluent in colloquial Arabic.

"Basically, 'Shi-Kabbalah' is a local slang term for diarrhea," said Sergeant Henderson. "It's tough to translate, but, roughly, it means 'shish kebabs-on-tap.' Once I heard that, it was pretty clear that the kidnappers would be occupied for a while, and I told Maj. Gen. Lynch we should make our move."

"As expected, the captives were found unguarded, their kidnappers having vanished," reported Maj. Gen. Lynch.

"Billy Mays’ voice could be the key to turning this war on terrorism completely around. Its applications are boundless. This is the kind of good news from Iraq the press ought to be reporting."


Sunday, June 28, 2009

We Actually Went to the Cat Circus

Oh my goodness -- how can I begin to explain how fun it was to attend a performance of the Circus Cats??

Words cannot begin to explain. Really.

I’ve attended a lot of entertaining theatrical performances in my time. A lot.

I saw Leonard Nimoy play the psychiatrist in the original cast of Equus and George C. Scott play Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman when I was only sixteen. I saw Bette Midler perform in 1975 when I was (waaay) underage.

I've seen dreadful Dada performances, horrible modern dance interpretations of Kandinsky paintings, and just about every incarnation of unadulterated nudie-bits onstage. (And even one or two backstage.)
I even lived in New York City when “experimental theatre” meant that the cast kept their clothes on.

Bottom line -- I’ve seen it all. . .

But, I must say that it’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed going to the theatre more than I did on Saturday afternoon when I had the pleasure of seeing The Circus Cats (Yes, the “Cat Circus”) here in Chicago.

I don’t know why I enjoyed it so much, but I did.

The performance began, not with cats at all, but with all sorts of other trained critters: -- we began with several huge tightrope-walking rats, processed to a chicken with obvious many years of stage experience, then a creepy meerkat-sort-of-thing, and segued to a very talented woodchuck that could raise a flag on command -- all these were just the overture for the feline headliners.

Really -- a woodchuck that could. . . . I'm not making this up!

The performances of the 13 pussycats were truly impressive; that goes without saying. Miss Healthypants, our friend, Diane, and I scored some really excellent seats (second row, left). I laughed and was amazed during the entire thing.

Fortunately, my little video camera worked pretty well and I was able to document the following performances . . .

Here is a feline performer balancing a ball on a tightrope.

Then, here is a new kitten stealing the show.

And, then, the Grand Finale -- The RockCats! Yes! Four cats who actually play in a musical group! You’ve got to see it to believe it. You've got to see this. It's too cute:

Well, as you can see, it was all about the food for these guys. But still, we were able to get our photos taken with the lead guitarist afterward!

How often does that happen? Really! Especially when the crowd was, like, close to a hundred people (I will admit that we wedged a number of parents and little children out of the way to obtain these photos) - - but still . . . photos with the lead guitarist . . .

Here is a close-up of the fine feline. . .
Here she is with Diane . . . (It's an all-female cast. Apparently, male cats cannot be trained.)
And with Miss Healthypants . . .
Yes, I’ve seen a lot of theatre in my time. Like I said, I think I’ve seen it all.

But with the Circus Cats, I had the unexpected pleasure and unalloyed joy of feeling, once again, like I was an amazed little kid at the circus .

After all, how often in this life do we have the opportunity to have this much fun with our fellow creatures?

Footnote - all the cats in the circus were "rescue cats" and the producer brought plenty of other housebroken cats with her to be adopted, so there's that.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson

Yesterday afternoon, I got a pop-up from CNN alerting us that Michael Jackson had suddenly died of a heart attack.

I then went to join a small staff meeting and said, "Did you guys hear that Michael Jackson just died?"

None of them had heard it yet so I was the one to receive all the reactions:


Oh my god!!

Where did you hear this??

Sigh . . .

. . . I love attention.

Because, after all, it really is all about me, isn't it?


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Cat Circus??

Miss Healthypants and our friend, Diane, have talked me into doing something I never thought I’d ever be doing.

On Saturday, we’re attending a Cat Circus.

You read that correctly - - a Cat Circus.

(Iwanski isn’t going. I am)

We tried to attend a few months ago, but are you ready for this? - -

. . . It was sold out!

When I told my dad about it, he said, “You mean like lions and tigers?”

“No, Dad. Like pussycats . . . . House cats,” I replied.

Diane and Miss Healthypants are awfully excited over it, especially since we missed out the last time the Cat Circus came to town.

I’m sure you’re wondering what takes place at a Cat Circus.

Well, so am I!

Will there be a couple of trapeze artists tossing a cat between them, somersaulting it through the air with the greatest of ease?

Will there be cat clowns or feline acrobats?

Will they shoot a tabby cat out of a cannon?

These are all questions I’m willing to get to the bottom of. So, I'm going to the Cat Circus on Saturday.

At least I will be with good friends. That’s the main thing.

I will keep you all posted.

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Dvorak Update

I realize that no one is really interested in my conversion to the Dvorak keyboard. I've been told this by concerned friends and relatives who love me -- thank you very much.

But I crossed a little milestone today -- 60 wpm with no errers.


Friday, June 19, 2009

I Ate a Pony Shoe

I just love it when you come across a food item that is indigenous to a particular area. That’s what happened when I was having lunch with some staff members in a small town near Effingham.

On the menu was a “Horse Shoe” and I was pretty intrigued. My co-workers, both of whom lived in the area, said that it was a common item on menus in Central Illinois.

Apparently, the Horseshoe sandwich originated in Springfield in 1928 and is pretty much located only in the surrounding areas. It is an open-faced sandwich that consists of thick-cut toast, topped with a hamburger patty or ham, topped with fries and all that is topped with cheese sauce.

It gets its name because it was originally served with ham that resembled the shape of a horseshoe.

I wasn’t that hungry, but fortunately, there’s a smaller version called a Pony Shoe. Isn’t that cute?

There was no way I could leave Central Illinois without sampling a Pony Shoe. No way.

So, I had a Pony Shoe and a salad for lunch.

After all . . .

. . . When in Effingham, do as the Effinghaminians.

You have a Pony Shoe for lunch

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I'm in Effingham!

You have to admit, that is a funny name for a town.

Anyway, the most notorious sight in Effingham is this HUGE cross that was constructed on the side of the interstate highway as you drive into town. The cross stands 198 feet tall and it really does take you by surprise as you enter the city.

Apparently, some guy with a lot of money decided to construct this cross here to signify Effingham's Christian heritage.

I've driven by this cross many times whenever I travel through Effingham, but this is the first time I've ever actually stayed overnight in Effingham. So, after checking into my hotel, I took a drive out to the famous Effingham Cross.

See? It really is an effing BIG cross.

Around the cross are ten smaller monuments, each with one of the Ten Commandments written on them. Visitors can press a button on each of them and here a recorded sermon-ette correlated to each of the commandments.

The Cross in Effingham isn't the only monstrosity here. Oh no!

Just a couple of miles south of the cross is The Giant Nasty Porno Emporium. Both of these sights are very well lit up at night. (I took these photos on a previous trip)

I have an idea that the rich guy who built the cross wanted to somehow offset The Giant Nasty Porno Emporium. Perhaps he thought that if any Effinghamidian driving out to the Nasty Place would see his cross and be deterred by the sight of that gargantuan Christian symbol as they drove out of town.

My guess is that there are just a lot of Effinghamidians driving back in to town with car-fulls of adult-type purchases.

Sometimes, you just gotta laugh at life's juxtapositions.

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Business Travel

I’m still traveling for work and will be for most of this week. I don’t mind it, really, but I will be glad to get home to my familiar surroundings. Today, I have two meetings in Springfield and then I’ll drive to the exciting city of Effingham for another meeting. So far, I've had meetings in Jacksonville and Kankakee, Illinois.

“Effingham” is a funny name.

Why can’t all TVs in hotel rooms keep CNN on the same channel? It would be so nice if I could just come in and, boom, turn to the same channel whether I was in Springfield or Jacksonville or Effingham.

Why can’t all showers in every hotel work the same way? Every morning, I have to figure out the intricacies of that particular shower. Airline pilots probably have as much trouble with these controls as I do.

I like the fact that exit signs on the interstate highways now indicate what restaurant, gas station, or hotel is located there. However, they’re sometimes misleading. I’ll make an exit, thinking that I’m heading to a Denny’s only to find that the Denny’s is actually several miles down the road, tucked away somewhere in downtown Effingham.

What is it with the sausage-gravy & biscuits at hotel breakfasts? Most hotels have a breakfast included these days but the sausage-gravy & biscuits seem to appear at ever hotel - - and little else. Is the hotel industry trying to kill us?
(and no, it is NOT a “free” breakfast - - it’s “included”)

What is it with the “Adult Entertainment” that seems to be available on every Hotel TV these days? Not that any of it would remotely appeal to me in any way. But for those who do want to purchase it, I would imagine it would be pretty embarrassing to have an “adult” title appear on their business travel receipt.

I’ve got to get to a meeting now. I’ll be sure to give you, dear puppies, an update from Effingham.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I'm on a business trip in Springfield for a couple of days.

Strangely enough, there's this fantastic seafood restaurant here. We always eat here during these trips and I always order the Angler's Platter: Shrimp, oysters, scallops, clams, cod -- all batter-fried.
One wouldn't expect to find delicious seafood right smack dab in the absolute middle of the country, about as far away as one could get from either seashore, but it's here.

All the walls of this restaurant are festooned with Abraham Lincoln memorabelia. I think they over-did it just a bit, but after all, this is Springfield.

Mary Todd would have been pleased.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cowboy Chow-Chow

About a month ago, I made three little jars of homemade bread-n-butter jalapeno pickles that were met with pretty fantastic reviews. Not wanting to pass up more praises, I decided to take on some serious “canning.” I wanted to churn out dozens of jars of my sweet jalapeno pickles.

I ordered a case of pint-sized Ball jars online -- if you’re from the South, no doubt you’ve seen hundreds of these lining the shelves of your grandmothers’ store rooms, cupboards, and garages. As a kid, I saw them packed with pickled-everything but pickles - - okra, green tomatoes, green peppers, and even sweet watermelon rinds (my favorite.)

Having seen some actual canning & pickling done as a kid, I knew I needed a big, speckled, enameled pot in which to “can” my products. Thank god The Internet directed me to Ace Hardware that had all the canning supplies I needed, including the big, speckled, enameled pot. (Ace Hardware also had cases of the Ball jars at half the price I paid online without the ten-dollar shipping fee.)
Who knew?

I headed down to the Latino section of town where I knew I could obtain various varieties of jalapeno peppers at 49 cents a pound.

The display was out of red jalapenos, but like a good Texan, I was able to ask for them in really embarrassing Spanish.
They appeared.

Then, having scored tres libras de jalapenos verdes y dos libras de jalapenos rojos, I headed home and got to work.

They say you should always wear gloves when working with hot peppers. Having grown up working with hot peppers, I did away with this warning. That was not a good idea for I had never sliced a full five pounds of jalapenos. Soon, my knuckles were burning and the burning still hasn’t stopped. I donned latex gloves, but that still didn’t help.

Oh, by the way, if you want to clean a whole bunch of fresh produce, here’s a helpful hint I learned in the restaurant industry; something you’ll never see on The Food Network:

Plunge all your fresh produce into a clean sink of water, apply one or two drops of any detergent and swish around. It will quickly send all insects, microscopic or otherwise, to the bottom of the sink. Dead.I spent a huge amount of time slicing all the various peppers and red onions very neatly then cooked the pickling liquid in another big pot. Jars were sterilized in a boiling water bath (with two or three drops of bleach thrown in for good measure)

Then, when I was ready to stuff the jars, I saw that there was no way I could get all those sliced peppers into a dozen jars.

It was time to put on my grandmother hat and get frugal. I got out the Cuisinart and changed from pickles to relish.
All the nicely sliced peppers were quickly ground, packed into the jars and topped with pickling liquid.
They got “processed” for the proper amount of time.

Retrieved from the big, speckled enamel pot.
And here is the final product.

I was wondering what to call it.

When Southern grandmothers ended up with a bounty of green tomatoes and bell peppers, they ground them up, canned them with a sweet pickling juice and called it “chow-chow”.

Maybe I should call this “Texas Chow-Chow”.

No, better yet . . .

I think "Cowboy Chow-Chow" is a better name;
It's cute and it's also got a bit of alliteration going on there. If I made a milder version, I can call it "Cowgirl Chow-Chow".

Anyway, I have firmly come to believe that the process of “pickling” can only be effectively accomplished if one has a surplus of aunts, great aunts, and grandmothers on hand. A huge amount of labor-intensive fresh produce is involved

I can clearly see that pickling was a means by which our frugal foremothers could preserve a sudden over-abundance of produce from large gardens. It clearly wasn’t done simply to produce tasty condiments, for our great-grandmothers, I’m sure, had many more pressing matters at hand.

I’m sure that one grandmother was suddenly presented with bushels of immature cucumbers that were about to rot. Her keen ingenuity went to work with some runaway dill weed in the garden. Many little helping hands were put to work, and now billions of McDonald’s burgers contain dill pickles whether you want them or not.

Maybe, someday, some culinary anthropologists will be investigating the mysterious origins of “Cowboy Chow-Chow”. They’ll come across remnants of my blog and discover that I had intended to make bread-n-butter pickles but simply had too many peppers and not enough jars.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Was A Kindergarten Dropout

Back in 1964 in Texas, kindergarten wasn’t mandatory like it is nowadays and I took advantage of that fact.

I was attending a kindergarten class of about ten kidlets at our local Baptist church and my educational career was progressing as it should. We were learning your basics such as finger painting, the fact that yellow and blue made green, and the importance of not peeing on the wall in the boys’ restroom.

We attended school from 8:30 to noon everyday and although I was a shy kid, everything was going along pretty well.

I had my little group of friends whose names I still remember: Judy Speak, Lyndal Long, Johnny Gustafson, and my best friend, Kyle Kiolbassa.

Then, after a few months, my little world got turned upside down.

I arrived one morning to find all these additional kids there. Apparently, we were having a “mixer” with another kindergarten class -- probably from the local Methodist church and they were definitely not part of my kith. What was worse was that we had been shifted to another (larger) classroom that was totally unfamiliar to me.

I was scared to death.

I remember that the teacher had us play a new game called, “In and Out the Window” where half the kids stood in a circle and the other half had to walk around, weaving in and out among them. Since we had never had enough kids to play this game before, it was totally not part of my skills set.

Then, we were all taken to a local park and I was expected to initiate playtime with all these unfamiliar Methodist kids. I had been supplied with a pack lunch for the day (again, something new) and I just knew that all these strange Methodists were scrutinizing the contents of my little lunch bag. It was just horrible.

So, the next morning there was no way I was going to be subjected to all that unfamiliarity again.

Absolutely. No. Way!

My whining was followed by tears which progressed to uncontrollable shrieking.

Cajoling, threats, and eventual punishment were meted out by the Supreme Court (mom and dad) but I wouldn’t budge. There was no way they were going to get me into that '63 Chevy for another round of Methodists playing "In and Out the Window."

And that’s how I became a kindergarten dropout.

Monday, June 08, 2009


In my lifelong quest to find The Meaning of Life, I have been attending a Christian Science church near my apartment in downtown Chicago.

I have very fond memories of this faith. Since the age of ten, I was raised by my mom and grandmother who was a staunch Southern Baptist. However, her closest friends were all women of the Christian Science faith and were also dear, grandmothery figures to me.

In case you don’t know, the followers of Christian Science are those that are known for not believing in taking medication. (That's why it was ironic that taking a Vicodin on Sunday morning enabled me to attend) Since my grandmother’s friends lived to be, like, 117 years old, there must be something going for it.

One of them was also my piano teacher and the organist at the Christian Science church in my little-bitty home town in Texas. Whenever she needed a Sunday off, I would fill in for her ever since I was about thirteen years old. So, the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy are not unfamiliar to me - - as a matter of fact, they supply quite a bit of comforting nostalgia.

Having worked as an organist ever since college, if I could get a better-paying job at another church, be it Presbyterian or Episcopalian or non-denominational, I’d jump ship and get on their payroll. Subsequently, I think I’ve played for just about every Christian denomination that exists.

In hindsight, I think the reason I spent seven years in a monastery was for the peace, the solitude, and the fact that I’d receive a free education along with great medical benefits.

Anyway, here are some of the denominations where I’ve been employed as a church musician and a quick synopsis of their belief systems.

Southern Baptist: Every kid being raised in the SBC has heard the following a hundred times: “If you don’t get saved right now and leave church and get hit by a car, you’re going straight to Hell.” Then you sing seventeen verses of Just As I Am.

Presbyterian: Predestination used to be the identifying factor of the Presbyterians but now that’s been watered down so much that it really doesn’t exist anymore. It’s basically your garden-variety, white-bread Protestant church service.

Methodists: Methodists used to believe that your salvation occurred through a series of steps or by a “method”. Now, it’s basically your garden-variety, white-bread Protestant church service.

Disciples of Christ: I never really knew what they believed. So much so, that it really, really was your garden-variety, white-bread Protestant church service.

(One can attend a Presbyterian, Methodist, or Disciples of Christ church service and never ever know the difference - - really)

Episcopalian: The epitome of “High Church”. Very complex music. I worked very hard there.

Unity Church: Basically, your feel-good, Up-With-People, warm-fuzzy church, although anything religious is basically swept under the carpet. I swear, the opening song was often Zippa-Dee-Doo-Dah. And I’m not making this up. The greeting was never a handshake - - it was a full hug – sometimes even a kiss - - sometimes with tongue.

Church of Canada – Many of their hymns sound like Gaelic folk melodies. The Church of Canada is the basic equivalent to the Church of England only more middle-of-the-road.
Just like Canada.

So, aside from Roman Catholicism (which is a whole different story) those are some of the denominations where I’ve played.

Now, I’m back to attending the Christian Science church, at least for a while.

At least they don’t have any part in the service where I have to greet anyone. They have a good thing going there.

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On Friday and Saturday, I put together one of those computer desks that comes in a thousand pieces, installed shelves, moved a bunch of boxes into my storage facility, and re-arranged my furniture and put it all back.

The old muscles and back were incredibly sore on Sunday morning.

So, don’t you think it was ironic that taking a leftover Vicodin enabled me to attend services at a Christian Science church on Sunday?

Friday, June 05, 2009

At Home Depot

Yesterday, I had to go to one of my most un-favorite establishments:

Home Depot

That place is huge, loud, and I never can find what I’m looking for. Mainly that’s because I know zilch about home repairs so I never really know what it is I should be looking for.

Also, I don’t like the color orange and there seems to be a prevalence of that.

At least the Home Depot employees are helpful – I will give them that.

So, I had to go there because my pantry is missing three shelves. The thing is, my pantry is sort of wedge shaped which meant that I needed three wedge-shaped pieces of plywood cut. Even though I wrote down the measurements, I brought along a shelf as a template, just so the Depot person could see what I was talking about.

The moment I showed it to him, he scrunched his face and said, “Our machine can’t cut that.”

Apparently, Home Depot only deals with equilateral pieces of wood that have 90 degree angles.

But like I said, the Home Depot staff is very helpful so he offered the following alternative.

“You could rent a circular saw and cut it yourself,” he chirped.

The moment he said that, I scrunched my face. Apparently, he wasn’t too keen on me retaining any of my fingers. I wanted to smother the guy with his orange apron.

(My dad, who happens to be an excellent carpenter, is probably laughing as he reads this and the idea of me renting a circular saw.)

I just asked the guy to cut the wood to the shortest side – it’s only an inch difference. I nailed the shelf in and it worked fine.

Renting a circular saw . . . .

. . . rub a lamp, buddy.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Banana Lady

Yesterday evening, I was at Trader Joe’s with Miss Healthypants and our dear friend, Liane. We had just finished having dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant and since Trader Joe’s was close by, we had to go there.

As we were in the produce section, Liane noticed this elderly woman who was spending an inordinate amount of time going through the bananas. There were three boxes of bananas and this woman would pick up a small bunch, examine them, and then place them very neatly in another box.

We stood there for a good while watching her do this. After she had examined all the bananas and neatly arranged them, we thought she’d walk away, but no – she started over again.

Liane wanted to make a banana purchase but this woman was keeping them all very occupied.

Frankly, I wanted to know what would happen if this woman’s banana-routine would be upset.

“I’m going in!” I said to Liane.

So, I stood next to the woman and began tossing bananas from one box to another, clearly upsetting her routine. She would then arrange my tossed-about fruits ever so neatly in another box and I would plop some more bananas directly athwart hers.

It was fun.

Finally, I gave up and Liane got her bananas. As we walked to the registers, the woman was still very occupied with the three boxes of bananas.

I mentioned to the cashier that there was this strange woman who seemed obsessed with the bananas.

“Oh, that’s the banana-lady!” she replied.

It turns out that this banana-lady comes in quite frequently, spends a great deal of time selecting just the “right” bananas, and then sells them on a street corner nearby.

Don’t you just love it?

If I had had my camera with me, I would have taken a video of The Banana Lady in action for you to see.

Now, I’m determined to get a video of her. I plan on going to Trader Joe’s a lot more often just so I can get that video.

The cashiers at Trader Joe’s will probably start referring to me as “The Banana Lady-Obsessed Guy.”

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Goading My Dad

Last night, I had to attend an annual fundraising event which is held each year at the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. This is the third year that I’ve attended it and, aside from the requisite ‘networking,’ I usually have a pretty good time.

This fundraiser is for a large agency that serves people with disabilities and there is usually a very inspiring keynote speaker for the evening. Waiters amble around with trays of stuffed mushrooms during the dreaded ‘networking’ portion. However, I encountered one waiter who had a tray of little toasts topped with liver patè, popped one in my mouth and almost leaped out the door to spit it into Lake Michigan.

Last year, the keynote speaker and award recipient was Anne Roosevelt, granddaughter of THE Roosevelts and looked exactly like her wonderful grandmother. I got to meet her afterward (and blogged about it).

Last night’s speaker and award recipient was Senator Edward Kennedy. He couldn’t make it due to health concerns (my guess is that he probably mistakenly ate some liver patè) so his son, Edward Kennedy Jr. filled in.

Of course, he gave a very inspiring keynote address, lots of money was raised from the 800 or so attendees, and aside from the horrible patè encounter, it was a fine evening.

As the crowd was thinning, I noticed that he and his entourage were moving sort of close to where I was standing while waiting for one of my co-workers. Soon, he was even closer.

Next thing I knew, he had his back to me, turned around, and so I introduced myself, gave him a very warm handshake and thanked him for his work.

Edward Kennedy got to meet me! Don’t you know that just made his trip to Chicago worthwhile?

(Governor Quinn was there as well, but he didn’t have the pleasure of making my acquaintance that evening. Maybe next time.)

Anyway, as I was walking home last night, I phoned my dad up to tell him that I’d met Edward Kennedy. I did the same thing last year when the granddaughter of Eleanor Roosevelt got to meet me as well.

Keep in mind that my dad is a staunch Republican in Texas. He has personally met Newt Gingrich and has a framed photograph of himself shaking hands with President George W. Bush. I often hear Fox News in the background when I call. (Dad knows I love and respect him anyway despite his lifestyle choices.)

So, we often have some good-natured fun, goading each other on this way. He wanted to make sure that I hadn’t let on to Edward Kennedy who my father was.

I pointed out to my dad that his eldest son has now shaken hands with a Roosevelt AND a Kennedy.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Unpacking Nightmare

Since I was only moving from one building to the next, my worldly belongings didn’t exactly have to be packed neatly and orderly. Things just sort of got thrown together willy-nilly as I came across them.

As I began to unpack everything, I was just a little bit surprised at what was contained in various containers. . .

I was going to make some pasta but couldn’t locate my pasta cooking pot. I finally gave up and had food delivered instead – always a fall-back option.

Finally, I found the pasta cooking pot in a laundry basket along with a pair of hockey skates, a salad spinner, and a small Kandinsky painting.

I couldn’t find my black belt to wear this morning. It had been packed in a book bag. Naturally.

A bicycle pump was in another laundry basket along with some stacking files, two power strips and a huge bag of ground cumin.

Sigh . . .

I should have everything unpacked by Christmas.

My Festivus Pole is around here somewhere . . .

Morning Scene - The Hancock

If I stand on the edge of my balcony, I have a nice little view of the John Hancock Building.

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