Sunday, June 11, 2006

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

I'm kind of a skeptical consumer and seven years under a vow of poverty have kept me very frugal (but in a good way). So when I find a product or service that works really well, I'll twirl like Julie Andrews singing its praises. So, here are a few things that have made my hills come alive. . .

Kaboom Shower Tub & Tile Cleaner I realize that Billy Mays' voice is so annoying that it gives you that "pre-diarrhea" feeling (you know, when you have that 30-second window before things get alarming). But Kaboom is pretty amazing stuff. It's the one product I've found that will actually clean a bathtub without scrubbing. Even that gummy film that tons of muscle with Comet and green scratchies requires to remove. Not with Kaboom. Just spray in on, wait 30 minutes and wipe it away. (Or swish it away with your feet during next morning's shower). Your bathtub will then go squeak-squeak. Spray it on a shower curtain every fortnight and you'll always have an impeccably clean shower. And I swear that if you use it on stove or counter tops, they'll remain cleaner longer. It smells really good too. If there was cologne that smelled like Kaboom, I'd wear it. is a bill-paying service that I've used for the past two years. It's amazing. It's really, really free, and I've never had a problem with it. You just set up all your accounts that you normally pay and it notifies you when a bill is due and how much. It also features a really cute doggy that runs around and hunts for your utility and credit card companies as you're setting up your accounts. It's really nice to see on one page all your bills at one time, click the ones you want to pay and their paid from your checking account. You can also view the actual bill and it keeps permanent records of everything you've paid. VERY cool. (If you're wondering how it's free, believe me, I called them and asked. The corporations with which they're connected give them lots of money so that we don't have to). is that music-download site from Russia that costs, literally, just pennies. For example, I downloaded the entire Waldstein piano sonata for thirteen cents; A Bach Prelude & Fugue for seven cents. Entire albums are about $1.20. It's been the number-one music download site in Britain for over a year. Big selection, it really works, great recordings, and it's legal. Not many things you can say that about. Besides, it's nice to support Russia as opposed to capitalist American i-Tunes.

Frozen grapes - Hands down, my favorite snack. Just wash off big bunches of grapes and freeze them. Then when you're ready to eat them, just soften them a little (nuke 'em for ten seconds or so) and it's like eating little popsicles. Addictive. Very addictive. Make sure you buy seedless grapes, sin semilla, if you're getting good produce in Spanish.

Watermelon Sorbet - Seedless watermelons taste like crap, but buy one anyway. (Use regular watermelon if you feel like de-seeding it). Cube the flesh and freeze it. Toss the frozen watermelon in your Cuisinart with the juice of a lime or two, some sugar, and blitz it. It comes out like ice cream and the most tasteless melon tastes more watermelon-y than you'd ever believe. Addictive. Brain-freezes ensue.
Better yet - while you're blitzing the frozen watermelon, lime juice and sugar, pour in enough white rum to make it really slushy. Viola! Frozen watermelon daiquiris; the best drink from the 60's you've ever had. Put on some Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass, serve up in a martini glass and enjoy.
Hint: Dried, pureed watermelon is a bitch to remove from your kitchen counters the next day. But Kaboom will do the job!
See? is part of eBay where one can buy used books and CD's. I replaced all of my old LP's with CD's for about two bucks each. I also search for books on Amazon, read the reviews, (sshhh!) then hop over to and get them for a couple of bucks. I also got many of my college textbooks there and saved a bundle thus thwarting the college bookstore. I'm awfully happy when I can thwart something.

Knorr's Chicken Flavored Bullion. Sooo tasty and versatile. Just about any soup can benefit from its addition. Even pea. Even puttanesca sauce. Want to make some simple steamed or frozen veggies irresistable? Toss them in melted butter or margerine, add a sprinkle of Knorr's and a dash of sugar. As my grandmother used to say, "It's so good it'll make you fall on the floor and just holler." I buy it in Latino groceries where it's cheap. (One kilo for six bucks, can you believe?) You can also get it online at

Rockport Shoes I have really wierd feet. Size 10 ½ are pretty small feet for a guy who’s 6’3". However, my feet are actually size 10 ½ EEEE, like a platypus. I suffered from ingrown toenails until I was 30 years old when I found that special-ordered Rockport shoes can accomadate my unusual peds. They're expensive, not always pretty, but last forever and have saved me a bundle on podiatrist's fees. I have a dress pair, a casual pair, some hiking boots and some really cool sneakers. I'm a guy. It's all I need.

Starbuck's Italian Roast Coffee (Lorraine, you'll appreciate this . . .) I love my strong coffee at work and I've tried myriads of them from lots of coffee houses; from Ethiopian Harrar to French Double Roast. But my Starbuck's Italian Roast is What I Need. There are times that I need to back off and do some decaf. (I can NEVER drink a cup of completely decaf coffee - - I require my coffee to have at least some narcotics in it or it's just not coffee) I wish Starbuck's made Italian Roast in decaf but they don't. So, I'll occasionally alloy it with decaf Espresso Roast when I'm counseling a client and wanting to scream, "Baby, you need your anti-psychotic meds in suppository form! . . Now! . . . NOW!!!"
I imagine that parents might often think of that same phrase.

My "Juiceman II" I got turned on to fresh veggie juice when I was with the Franciscans in New York. Our house was in the West Village just two blocks off Christopher Street and Seventh Ave. Can you believe? My biggest indulgence was a daily trip to a juice bar on the corner of Christopher and Bleeker. I was abstinent and celibate in the absolute epicenter of non-abstinence and delicious fornication. My daily 12 oz. hit of carrot-beet-parsley-apple juice was all I had! Okay, sometimes I'd substitute Brussels sprouts for the parsely, but it'd never go farther than that. Well, except for that one time I ordered a carrot and ginger, straight up.

Anyway, the fresh juice really is appealing and does provide quite a rush. I'm not abstinent or celebate anymore, but I'm still amazed how well it quells a craving for a Chicago-style pizza with pepperoni. Most of the time, anyway. Really, get yourself a Juiceman II. It works the best and cleans in a snap. Keep plenty of carrots, apples and green veggies ready to go.

Vonage Phone Service I've always hunted for the best and least expensive phone service. I've had some pretty hefty phone bills back when long-distance cost a lot.
If you have reliable broadband internet service, then I highly recommend getting Vonage broadband phone service. It really does cost only $24.95 a month for unlimited long distance at any time of the day and no more. You also get to by-pass having to obtain local phone service with all their fees since Vonage works totally through broadband. It comes with every feature you can think of and then more. For example, I can go online and listen to my voice mails while at work. (Well, that was just a tad embarassing the other day). You can go online and forward your calls. You can also view all your calls for the past several months. (Always handy for that date that really wan't that bad) Like I said, if you have reliable broadband, I've never had one complaint and my bill is always $24.95. (Which I always pay through - - see above)

Those are a few of my favorite things. . .As I said before, I'm a pretty savvy consumer and happy to find good deals that will save us from any Capitalist Pigs. I can wholeheartedly recommend my suggestions because they've made my life more pleasureable, less cumbersome, and a much tastier.

I'd love to hear if any of you have similar suggestions or if mine have worked for you.


At 12:20 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

I'm totally going to try Kaboom (partial though I am to Mrs. Meyer's cleaning products, she's got nothing to deal with our grungy tub). I'm also going to check out the music download site and the check paying one. Thank you for these customer service announcements.

Coffee snaps.

Any good sorbet recipes for people who despise the very thought of watermelon?

At 12:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an awesome post. I feel like I've found a kindred spirit as I am a patron of many of the same services.

I think I need to geta juicer too. It would be a good way for me to get more vegtables in my diet. is great, I've linked to it on my site, -- which lists all the alternative places to buy, rent and exchange used books.

While I think is an interesting loophole service, I'm not sure why you feel more honor is supporting Russian capitalists over Americans, especially when there business is only tenable on the weak Russian copyright laws, but the site so obviously caters to American customers. So, buy your Mp3 from allthemp3 because you are a cheap, unscrupulous type -- like I sometimes am -- not because you want to support mother Russian capitalists over American capitalists. Because, for the most part, Steve Jobs is doing it legally and paying the artisits whose work he distributes.

At 3:14 PM , Blogger Br. Jonathan said...

Quite the contrary, my friend. I am a happy member of the Illinois Socialst Party. I also studied Russian for several years simply because I love the people and way of life. After studying theology and philosophy in grad school, I could never view capitalism as a moral way of life.
Thanks for your post!
Я изучил русский язык в течение двух лет. Я никогда не поддерживал капитализм.

At 3:28 PM , Blogger Br. Jonathan said...

Lorraine - - try the sorbet with a combo of frozen strawberries and raspberries. Add plenty of lime and sugar. It's not as inexpensive as watermelon, but makes good daiqeries. I've also pureed the frozen grapes. Watch out for brain freezes.

At 7:37 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

BTW, I got some Kaboom and damn if my tub doesn't look practically new. That is scary awesome stuff.


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