Thursday, October 31, 2013

Scared Are You?

I totally get that part of this post could be tasteless. I'm not 100% clueless.

In years past I have alluded to not dressing up for Halloween. It's just not my night. I'm not clever enough to come up with a great / original costume and I have no desire to go out dressed up either.

It seems like a lot of work....and for very little pay-off.

Yes, the last time I played "dress-up", I went all dress. My one and only time in drag - and then, and only then, it was as a favour to my friend, Mitchell.

It was never the plan, as I was just helping him shop for his night out - birdseed and bras. Before I knew it, I was purchasing an over the shoulder boulder holder myself - and Morty's roommates and hangers-on all of the sudden took an interest in make-up, wigs and shoes.  Thank g-d Morty's periphery knew were to get a size 13 in a medium heel.

EEEEK. I'm hoping those pictures never surface. Last time I even saw them was the weekend of Rebecca's wedding back in 2000, because we all brought like 20 pics each to sit around the hotel room, drink and embarrass each other.

....much like this "dude" (in the title image) who worked at PetPeople but was a plus-sized Dorothy. No wonder Judy Garland did amphetamines by the fistful. I think he caught me taking the pic.

In the past I have also spoken of the one time I thought I was clever - and yes, tasteless.

Anyone can dress up as a physician during the spooky days. I wasn't clever enough to come up with the name Dr. Howie Feltersnatch. But give any schlub a pair of scrubs and they can "play doctor".

That wasn't good enough for me. I had to stand out.

The year was 1982. It was my fraternity Halloween party. I'm not sure if it was with a sorority, or just random girls showing up. Our house wasn't well respected enough (usually) to have a sorority wanting to join forces with us, so usually it was just random girls.  Random, sure, but they were known females, just not associated with the Greek system.

So how do you mix it up a doctor's costume?  Easy........and cheap.

Get one plastic bag. A dozen eggs, cracked and put into said bag - minus the shells, of course. A few squirts of ketchup. Swirl around.

Oh and a hanger. You need a hanger. And a sign. One that says:  Abortions - 25¢

Most of the guys thought it was funny.  The women.....eehhhhhhh.....not so much. But let's face it - unlike many of my fraternity brothers, I wasn't trying to impress a female to come back to my room with me. I mean, maybe if they brought their brother along...........

As you can see in the pic, I hadn't lost my hair. However, I had lost that sign I'd been wearing which was advertising my services.

I do remember a number of girls asking me, "what's in the bag", so naturally I would show them. Invariably, the follow up question is "what is that?".

They did not like my answer.

This 1983 night and my 1993 drag night are only two of the three times I remember dressing up in the last three decades. The third was with my friends Jon and FG - as we went as Julie Ivory and Snapshot - who were a sad sack band from Columbus back in the day. Ms. Ivory was a horrible host of some video show before most people had MTV in their homes - so I'm guessing 1986 or so.

My partner in crime and physician practice in the above image was a friend named Chris. He went home to Chicago shortly after this picture was taken, when he found one of his suite-mates had hung himself in their dorm room. While apparently, that myth of the university giving those folks straight As for the quarter was true, he wasn't able to bounce back from that event and transferred schools.

I am racking my brain, that somewhere in the last year someone I know (and I cannot remember who), said he ran into Chris at a meeting in Chicago - they got to talking about Ohio State, my name came up (how?  why???) and Chris told his person he knew me.  How random.

I guess this picture also qualifies at a #throwbackthursday, in which I don't normally participate. So bonus for me.......and you.

Song by: Better than Ezra

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

the One

Sure, you probably see a freshly cut lawn.

All I can see the one leaf that is left behind.

I somehow blame my father, though you could substitute 'snow flake' or 'blade of grass' for 'leaf'.


Oddly enough, my father really wasn't the perfectionist he just liked what he liked and thought that doing the job right was the way to go.

Now, the joke is, neither he, nor I, can control the snow or when a leaf drops, or how many. But 710 will tell you that I feel the need not only to cut the lawn regularly, but to bag the clippings as well.

Now and again, I will use the mulching part of the lawn mower, but I don't want clumps drying if the grass is a tad too long and I don't want to see mulched leaves either.

If leaf volume is heavy, I have been known to mulch them and then bag them with a second pass over. This does nothing to reduce my carbon footprint - of which I am aware.  But 710 will also possibly agree that the lawn looks better when it is pristine.....though this time a year, that lasts about 6-7 hours.

It is the end of October. I don't know how many lawn mows I have left for 2013. Basically, I'm not cutting any grass, it just seems to be leaf pick-up.  As we inch closer and closer to (more) snow, I worry - as 70% of the leafage are still attached to the trees.  The only thing worse than leaves on the lawn are leaves on top of the snow.

Speaking of snow and keeping things neat and tidy, and lack of a carbon footprint - it is time to get the snow blower out and make sure it's ready.

Forecasts call for a normal snow fall this upcoming season, but colder than normal - which sucks because last Winter was super cold, I thought.

Song by:  Garbage

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monty Got a Raw Deal

Just this one last car post and then I swear I'm done.  ...and it's not even really about the car I got.

As I was auto-shopping, I found a few things I did not know regarding the art of the deal. I'm sure there are quite a few more I know zero about and I'm sure I probably could have gotten a better deal. Possibly.

The problem with a first year model that has just been released (I couldn't even test drive one more than two weeks before ordering mine), is that the car is in demand, it is near the end of year and all allotments are spoken for, might not get much of a deal.

First off, after initial contact with the salesman, I did all contact via email.  A lot less stress....and you get everything in writing.

But at the beginning of this process there were a few things of which I did not know in terms of getting a better deal:

United Airlines
If you're a Platinum member you get a $500 credit.  I'm a Platinum member. Other airlines might have similar programs.

You can get unspecified discounts (though about the same $500).  I"m a AAA member.

They have a car buying service. If you're a member, they can do the deal for you. I'm a Costco member.  Sam's Club or BJs (hehehe...I said BJ) might have a similar program as well.

There are also certain employers who strike deals with certain dealerships - always ask. Two of my former employers did and they weren't chump change - $1000 off a car.  It pays to ask.

There is also the website called TrueCar.  You can build your car on-line through them (not the auto website) and they will give you the MSRP and the discounted rate.

Here's the confusing part (in case you're not already confused).  AAA and United both use the TrueCar site to compare costs as well.  BUT...........yes, there is a big but...........the discounts are different they're just using the same platform so you still have to build your cars accordingly.

Of course, the Costco one sounded the best to me. Before I engaged them too much, I built the car on-line from the printout the dealer had already given me so I knew their MSRP and every detail / add-on with the corresponding car.

BONUS:  the difference in Costco's prices was almost $2500 in my favour.  It seemed almost too good to be true..........because...............

I did call Costco to get the paperwork going and was laid out with some sad facts:  not ever dealer participates.  there were no Ohio Mercedes dealerships participating.  the closest one was in Illinois.

But for $2500, I could take a $169 Southwest ride and drive it back - right???

Well yes.  And no.  It turns out that the Costco price difference is "an average"for that certain car, but not necessarily a locked-in price. The IL dealer gave me - get this - $160 off the MSRP.  One-hundred and sixty fucking dollars.

So, if going by "average" for that car, and this dealer is only giving $160, shouldn't another dealer be giving like $4900 off so it would make up the "average"?   ...and we all know that no one was giving almost $5000 off of any car price.

Fuck it.  It was a nice try and it probably works with other cars and certain dealers, but just not for me this time.

Still - none of these deals are anything most dealers will tell you. I have no other idea what organizations I belong to that could have aided me in a purchase.  And it turns out I couldn't use the AAA and the United.  Damn.

Still, $500 isn't chump change. I took it and I still made other deals, which were readily accepted.  Too readily actually.  I wonder how farther  I could have gone before they said 'no'.  I mean, they took my offer, plus the $500, plus my last two lease payments on the G37x.   ....and no push back at all.

710 says, 'hey, they want to sell you the car', but they had waiting lists until December - they didn't have to sell this to me.

I think I got a good deal, but is there anyway to really know?

Song by:  REM

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Music Monday

It's a two-fer today.  I thought of breaking it up over the next two weeks, but why bother?

These selections stem from a dream I had last week.  In said dream, I was explaining to Rebecca's sister-in-law the difference and connection between Kirsty MacColl and Tracey Ullman.

Clearly, they are not the same person, though Ullman's one "hit" record, "They Don't Know" was written by MacColl.

I put hit in quotes thinking she never had an actual success with her song, only to find out it actually did make it to #8 on the US Hot 100.  Who knew?  I only saw it on VH1, though I owned her album, You Broke My Heart in 17 Places.  It's fun, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it is good disk.

Oh, and to add another layer to the music / dream, in it, the song playing was actually MacColl singing a cover of the Smiths' "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby".

MacColl was a great writer and a fun recording artist - and totally under appreciated.  I say 'was', because she had a most untimely and tragic death years back.  Yet, I own and routinely play, all her albums - though her debut, Kite, is still my favourite.

Ullman's cover of "You Don't Know" becomes more of a visual representation because that is Ullman's primary medium, but in a way you get some of MacColl's whimsy.

Paul McCartney did Ullman a favour by appearing in the video, since Ullman had just "starred" in his film Give My Regards to Broadstreet.  (Yeah, no one else saw it either, so don't scratch your head over this one.)

MacColl is more of an aural artist and really doesn't have that many "official" videos. She got by on her songwriting and singing and her first four albums or so were produced by her then husband, Steve Lillywhite (U2, Talking Heads, etc).

I kept going over which song to use, but I went with "In These Shoes", from her last album, Tropical Brainstorm.

The song has a Latin influence, which many of her songs from her second album on, would tend to have. It's one of my favourite songs, but there is not true corresponding video that isn't a poorly made fan one, or a less than standard live performance.  ...and Soundcloud wouldn't let me embed it here due to some kind of copywrite infringement.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mercedes Benz

Well - I did it.  I got my new car:  the Mercedes CLA.

Yes, it's the new one, the "entry" level model for the brand, but I'm ok with that.  More than ok.

It's smaller than my Infinit, both in length and height, but I'll live.

There are so few times there is anyone in my car other than 710 and Petey - neither of which needs extended leg room.

I was going back and forth between the Kia Cadenza and the Volkswagen Passat - both of which had excellent leg room for passengers, even if my seat was all the way back. Not so much with the CLA, but for those short trips, I can move up.

Gadgets galore. Maybe too much so. There is lots of toggling to get from one thing to the next - it will surely be the death of me if I need to do something while I drive.

But even with the screen between the two front seats, almost everything can be displayed on the dash right in front of my eyes - from radio / iPod stuff to the turn-by-turn directions of the navigation system.

To be honest, I didn't really need the nav system - the iPhone does just fine, but it came with. It turns out, I didn't need the frickin' iPod hook-up either, as the vehicle comes with bluetooth audio.  Yup, wirelessly playing your iPhone music through the stereo.  Granted, you can't charge it without the hook-up, but you can get that adapter at Apple for $39.....which is a LOT cheaper.

I'm guessing more and more new cars will have bluetooth audio. But fewer car companies are charging for iPod hook up (though VW you have to get a higher level model to even have it as an option!).

I actually need few options on my car:  seat heaters is a must.  It's Cleveland and most of our year is Winter.  The iPod adapter, I thought I needed.  But for this car, I did want the lane assist.  It tells you if you're clear or not to change lanes, as it gauges how close other autos are to you. Normally I'd say 'no' to this, but the line of sight in this car isn't all it could be.

My model came with that warning if you're too close to a car in front of you and keeps you at a distance.  That's never been an issue for me.  There is no rear camera, which is ok, as I never trusted that in the first place, but I will miss the back up sensors that would give me a warning if I got to close to running over Timmy.

It has voice activated navigation, which is good, though if like Infiniti it could never understand a word I said.  But unlike the G37x, it does not have voice command for the phone - which is ok, since it never understood a thing I said.  This issue is able to be worked around with the help of Siri.  She'll dial my numbers through voice activation (and she gets me!) and the phone will play through bluetooth.

I get six months of XM radio, which if history repeats itself, I will continue. I also get six months of MB's version of On-Star, though this one will not just send out emergency vehicles or basic roadside assistance if need be, but they will make hotel and restaurant reservations as you drive.

Does Panera take reservations?  If not, I see no reason to keep that feature after six months.

But the sound on the stereo is superb. I can't say that about the Bose audio system on the Infiniti. I always felt I was losing my hearing (more so than normal) when trying to listen to anything. The G37x was fun to drive, but more often than not, I saw 60-75 year old men driving it, and that's exactly what I felt like when I was behind the wheel.

While entry level, the CLA has some power.  I like that.  Don't get me wrong, so did the Kia and Passast, but the MB was actually cheaper than the base model of the Kia at which I was looking. And in the big scheme of things, it wasn't that much more than the VW.

Honestly, I was leaning towards the VW until I had dinner with the cousins a few weeks back. They (mostly the females) highly encouraged me towards the Mercedes.  By the end of the meal, they had even picked out the colour of which they thought I should get.

They might be disappointed once I send the picture of the car.  I didn't go for the standard Mercedes colouring:  black, white, silver or grey.  710's car is black, so can't have two of those. I just got rid of a silver liquid platinum car.  White looked good, but they were back-ordered until December, which meant either waiting, or there'd be a bunch of them on the road.  I opted for one in stock:  Arctic Blue.

Here's the joke.  The car has been in the garage for a week, but I finally drove it yesterday for the first time (other than home from the dealer).   Hey!  My lease wasn't up on the Infiniti and why put wear and tear on my new automobile (say that last word like Long Duck Dong!) until I had to.

While I had another two weeks on the lease, I didn't want to carry insurance on both, so I got it inspected - zero damage, thank you! - and turned it back in yesterday.  Of course there was damage, but the inspector came out in that storm and some scratches and dings were hidden by melting snow and the 30 minute scheduled inspection took all of eight minutes. He wasn't invested, and I got off the hook. BONUS!

So now it comes down to naming the car.

Traditionally, there is alliteration that is involved.  Pteri Toyota.  Viggo Volvo.  and so on.  I broke tradition with the Infiniti, as Rebecca aptly named him Buzz (think about it!).

My first thought was to name this one Ruehl, but 710 doesn't like that much.  I know I'm not naming it Pebbles (THINK about it you 80's-going-to-gay-bars-boys).  710 liked the German Jew name of Morry...though the car was actually built in Budapest.

I'm willing to take suggestions.

Oh and just for the record, Peter has already been in the car.

He was out in the garage as we programmed the garage door openers and did some radio pre-sets.

Song by: Janis Joplin

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Diamond Dogs

I will say, as Petey Porn goes, this isn't the bestest of weeks for the cuteness quotient.  Sure, he's always going to be handsome, but sometimes he just strikes a pose better than other times.

It's a weaker selection this week, but don't tell him that  I don't need him coming down with a severe case of Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

 in my / his office - I think he was begging for food, as I was probably eating lunch at my desk. 

 I put his bed closer to my desk (not that he didn't move it later), just because I like him to be near me. 

bad dog!!  When 710's sister was here last week, Petey would sneak upstairs and into her room for company. Now that she's gone, I found him upstairs - which is like the one no-no we have with him. Though I was all smiles and sent the pic to 710, who was still at work. 

Song by:  David Bowie

Friday, October 25, 2013

Locked Out

What a weird 24 hours.  Or 12, I guess.

And by weird, I mean "shitty".

We went to bed to lightening and thunder. If you remember me mentioning yesterday, we had a 50% chance of snow.  That stuff came during the night.

Per my norm, I woke up sometime during the night (ok, 04:30) and checked the clock, only to see darkness.  No LED numbers.  Crap.  No power.  I would have figured that out a minute or two later, when I got up to pee only to encounter no radiant heat in the bathroom.

Damn, marble is cold when it gets below freezing outside and no heat on the in.

So, I get back in bed, get on my phone, check the news - nothing. Check First Energy and they report 190 people without power. I only think this because everyone is asleep and don't know they are without.  So I ping them to tell that we have none.  Estimated time of repair:  08:00.  Fine.

But at 06:00, since I can't sleep, I check again and now all repair times are deleted and we're up to 400 without power.  Now the news organizations are saying 23,000 without power.....then 39,000......then 50,000.

Yes, we got snow over night, but not a lot - though it was extremely wet and heavy. Even at 04:30 I could see our bushes unable to hold themselves up.

So, no electricity and no heat.  FUDGE.  But I didn't say 'fudge'.

710 got dressed and went to the office, after letting Peter out while I stayed in bed. No reason for me to get up and sit in the dark.  I finished reading an book on the iPad before it lost its charge.

But I was up by 07:00, no power.....then 10:00, then 12:00.  Fuck.  The house was dropping temps and soon was at 55 degrees. I got a fire going and moved Petey's bed into the living room, but he wasn't sure what that was all about.  He was all discomb(l)obulated.

Finally, he had to GO out for a walk (i.e #2).

I ran into the electric company guys (no, not Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno), and before asking when we'd be fixed, I thanked them for their efforts.  Two of the three were quite hunky - the third was an effeminate male or a masculine unattractive female. I could not tell.

But the hunkiest guy told me it would 'be a while' before anything was fixed.  I don't care as much abut the dark as the no heat.  You know how I freeze.

The guy told me trees with leaves were breaking everywhere due to weight.  I passed one such house on the walk.

They'd already repaired these lines, but wouldn't you think they'd pick up the old, so people didn't think they were downed power lines?   Hell, it was freezing and they were killing themselves, and it wasn't my yard, so why should I care?

Petey and I did a shorter walk, due to the cold. ....but trouble was on the horizon.

As I normally do, when heading out for our walks, I locked the door and then shut it behind me.  I can get into the house via a keypad...................IF there's electricity.  But I didn't think of the extenuating circumstances and did my normal activity.  I didn't even think about it until the walk was over and I was coming up the drive.

FUDGE!   And this time, I really didn't say 'fudge'.   Completely locked out.

The irony?  710 couldn't get his garage to secure from the outside after he left, so he called me to do it from the inside.  Had I not, I would have been golden.

No hidden key.  No neighbors with a key.  Not even a family member I think has a key - and if they did, they're 40-45 minutes away.  710 was my only option.

He was a superstar, coming home to save his pooch.........and to a lesser extent, me.  While waiting the 30 minutes in the cold, I called a few neighbors, no one was home - no doubt escaping to places with lights and heat.  So Petey and I did another loop of walking, as it would keep him warmer than just standing at the door shivering - which I was doing as well.

710 thought he'd work at home the rest of the day until I reminded him, no heat, no power, no wifi.  He had no choice but to turn around and go back to the office.

We finally got electricity back at hour 14:30 - 10 hours after it started.

Even then, it's snowing heavily on and off and we still have the issues of the trees with all the leaves on them, which isn't helping with weight of the branches and hitting power lines.  And all the while, we're still getting close lightening strikes and huge roaring, rolling thunder.

So weird.

And by weird, I mean 'shitty'.

Song by:  Crowded House

Thursday, October 24, 2013

You Have Placed a Chill in My Heart

Yesterday we woke up to brisk weather....then it promptly started to pour for five hours.  And we had a forecast of 50% chance of snow.

I mean, I know it's coming, but I am not ready for it in October.  It's bad enough we have already turned on the head and have thrown the electric blanket onto the bed.

So when I was thinking about dinner - and avoiding the idea of taking Petey for a walk in that gloom - I wanted something warm.  And what is better than chili?

The only problem is, I've never really made chili before, but how hard could it be?

Oh - and it had to be beanless chili because I don't like beans.  It's more of a tactile thing than taste. And according to Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory, real chili doesn't have beans - and you know those nerd writers did their research, so I feel I am doing part of this the right way.

Turns out there a ton of recipes out there for beanless chili, and none of them quite fit the I took the best parts from several and hoped for the best.

2.5lbs of beef chuck roast (cut to 1/4" cubes)
2 T of canola or vegetable oil
2 medium yellow onions - chopped
2 stalks of celery - chopped
1 large carrot - chopped
1 green pepper - chopped
1 T of chili powder
1/2 t of red pepper flakes
1/2 t of cinnamon
1/4 t of cumin
1/4 t of dry mustard
1 jalapeño - chopped (take seeds out if you want it less spicy)
2 cloves of garlic - chopped
1 cup of beef broth
28oz can of diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheese for topping

Cube the meat and place into oil heating in a dutch oven. Brown completely then remove with slotted spoon.  Drain off any fat from pan.  Place 1/2 cup of beef broth in pan to deglaze.  Poor contents into slow cooker.

Place onions, carrots, celery, green pepper in slow cooker; add meat on top of the vegetables.  Add spices and jalapeño on top of meat, then the other 1/2 cup of beef broth and tomatoes and juice are poured on it.

Cover and place slow cooker on 'low' and cook for 4-6 hours.

I also made a spiced sour cream mixture:

1/2 cup - sour cream
2 scallions - chopped
1 t chili powder
1 t lime juice
1 t hot sauce

You would think that 28 ounces of tomatoes would make the dish more tomato-based like the chili most of us know - yet it doesn't.  The chili ends up being kind of like a stew, but only kind of.

I would say half-way through my first bowl (yes, I might have had more than one!), it was packing some heat. I think it was more the jalapeño than the red pepper flakes.  Or perhaps the combo.  By the end, my lips were feeling the heat - but not painfully so.

For me, I think two onions might have been at least one-half too many.  710 assumed I put the carrots in later in the cooking process because they were still fairly crisp. He likes them softer, I do not - but either way, they cooked at the same rate as everything else.

I liked it (so did 710, or so he claims) but it wasn't what I was normally used to. The flavourings were good and the dish hearty - especially on the chilliest of Autumn evenings.

Song by: the Eurythmics

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Record of the Month - Classic

Another installment of a disk I have enjoyed over the years. I'm trying to keep the Record of the Month posts to be fairly new releases. Classics are going to be ones that are at least 10 years old.

I've been focusing on debut disks - just to make it more challenging for me. I don't think you'll care one way or the other, and I'm running out of decent debut disks. 

I really don't think I've done one of the Classics since July.  My bad. But I'll make this one short and sweet.

...and this month's selection is not a debut album either.  Steve Winwood had one or two solo disks before Arc of a Diver, and of course, before that he was in the group Traffic.

Save for what I consider his best song in Traffic, "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys", I don't think Winwood has ever surpassed this album in greatness.  There is literally not a bad song on Diver.

Granted, I might hit the 'next' button when "While You See a Chance" comes on, but that's just due to decades of overplay.  I love love love the title cut,  and "Second Hand Woman", "Spanish Dancer" and "Night Train".

There are only seven songs disk, so six playable songs is still pretty good. Even "While You See a Chance" is playable, given the right mood.

The disk came out at the beginning of my senior year of high school (ugh!), 1980, and while I purchased a few of his other solo disks, none of them measured up to Arc of a Diver.

I think this selection came up because Winwood is actually touring and will be in Akron next week, so they've played a few songs on the radio - but he rotates through my iPhone fairly regularly.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sister of Mercy

How do I say this nicely....

I can't imagine ever going on a family vacation with my parents and sisters.

I'm not entirely sure we ever have.  Honestly.

Maybe a day trip to Cedar Point, but that's it.  I think the closest we ever got was going to Florida in 1975, and even then, my oldest sister was on a high school trip to Russia, so it wasn't everyone.

AND it was New Port Ritchey, Florida. Not Metropolis, FL. New Port Ritchie is only the hotbed of excitement if you're the 70 year old moving into the complex where everyone is 80 and up - since you're the young whippersnapper.

Oh yes, our parents took us to Disneyworld....on Easter, where my mother promptly left us, she was so upset with the four of us - the reason being unknown, though I somehow blame my little sister.  How she ever found us again is beyond me - except that we were dressed in matching striped rugby shirts.

Oh, the horror!!!!

So it is beyond me that David Sedaris took a trip to the beach with his sisters, brother and father - as full grown adults.  But it is an excellent essay. 

I don't say that lightly.

His book, Me Talk Pretty One Day, almost had me peeing my pants as I flew from Atlanta to Cleveland 10+ years ago.  Srsly, the people sitting near me must have thought I was insane the way I was laughing.

Dress Yourself Family in Corduroy and Denim was good too (as was Naked and Barrel Fever).  But Sedaris started to lose me on When You are Engulfed in Flames.  I smiled once (once!!) during that reading, and never laughed at all.

To be fair, maybe his last two books were better, but I admittedly didn't run out to buy them and they've just kind of gone by the wayside. I've forgotten about them.

But a few months ago Sedaris wrote another great New Yorker piece on his sisters visiting Hugh (his partner) and him for the holidays.  So, maybe the man is back on track.

This essay that is highlighted above has humour (I'm still laughing at the name choices for a purchased property), but it goes way beyond that, which is partly due to the subject matter.

If you have a few minutes, take a read.

Song by:  Thompson Twins

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Music Monday

Believe it or don't, but I was contemplating which Peter Gabriel song to highlight in today's post.

Pushing 30 years later, I'm still not in a mood to see "Sledgehammer" or "Big Time".  MTV just about killed my liking for Gabriel, no matter how inventive his videos were at the time.   What - they showed each one at least twice an hour for 7-8 months.....only at the times they weren't playing John Waite's "Missing You".  UGH.

But Gabriel, for me, years before started to define music video with his "Shock the Monkey" clip.  That was going to be my choice  - but the version done in German.

I remember going to 'ten cent wing night' at BW3, well, because wings were a dime and they had cable tv and music videos.  For you youngsters, cable didn't always exist and us college kids couldn't afford it, so we saw it where we could.  But that is where I saw "Shock the Monkey".

But my other choice was going to be "Solsbury Hill" - which is a song I still adore to this day.

Gabriel actually solidified his cred with me with two collaborations:  "Excellent Birds" with Laurie Anderson (the version on her Mister Heartbreak is better than the one on his album, So), and "Don't Give Up" with Kate Bush.

As you may remember, Anderson and Bush were the first two artists I purchased on compact disk. They hold a special place in my heart. know, if I had one.

Yet, yesterday while in yoga, the instructor (great class btw), put on "Mercy Street", which I possibly had not heard for 20 years.  I just don't play So that much anymore - clearly.

There are stronger similarities to "Don't Give Up" in some of the music than I think I realized.  Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, since they were recorded for the same album and possibly written around the same time.

It was an enjoyable six minutes or so as we attempted a variation of pigeon (I still don't believe it is, but I'm not a certified instructor).  Both David and I commented on what a great song it was after the class was over (and a good selection for class) - so I changed my mind on which Peter Gabriel song I would select.

Now you have it - "Mercy Street".

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Another week, another themed yoga class:  Glow in the Flow.

Yes, yoga under the blacklight.

Let's forget that it could have turned out to be a huge Wham! "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" disaster (as if the song wasn't horrific enough!).

David and I discussed whether to go or not, mostly for two reasons.  As much as we like Bree, her last two classes were a little two low key for our liking.  Yes, now and again we need a good stretch, but not for 60 minutes where you don't break a sweat.

The other one was, this Glow class threatened to have a 'dance' component.  Ick.

I won't dance....don't ask me.

I have been to other classes where the instructor tells us to dance. Chances are you'd see standing still with my arms crossed.  Dancing, drunk, in a bar is one thing - and even then I'm self conscious.

Yet, we opted to go, though truth be told, I forgot about the dance element. Selective reasoning, I suspect.

Since it was Glow - white or neon clothes were encouraged.  Since I'm not a Disney 'tween "star", I own no neon. A white sleeveless shirt would have to do.  I own no white shorts and even if I did, it is after Labor Day.

Bree was providing the glow bracelets.  I took three and opted not to connect them to make a necklace.

But on the other hand, I didn't wear so much white that I looked too odd:

This pic I took reminds me of something out of Laurie Anderson's Home of the Brave.  The guy on the right had his Ted hose like things on and that band over his neck looks like it might have covered a thoracotomy.

The take-away was that no one seemed to be hitting the teeth whitening solution too hard, but you could see every dirty bit of one's yoga mat.

The class was good though - and it was more 'free movement' while in Chair or Warrior poses - but it got just a little to close to 'dance' if you axe me.  And while it probably wasn't technically hot yoga, the classroom was warm.

Naturally, David had the best picture of the evening - even if I took the snap.

But if I had to end the evening on a bad note - and I do - don't ever let your cat play with those glow things.

Sophie bit through one as soon as I let her play and she went nuts - but not in a good way.  I immediately jumped on-line, and found out the things are non-toxic but leave a horrid taste in their mouths.

First I had to catch her, and she was foaming at the mouth, and drooling everywhere.  The intertubes told me to get her water, milk or anything she might enjoy eating to get that taste gone.  But what also happened was that the liquid from those glow bracelets also got on her fur, so we had to give her a bath - which as you might suspect, was no fun, for any of us.

I will give it up to our little trooper.  After we dried her off, she was back next to one or both of us and then slept with me all night long.  Whereas she didn't have any hard feelings, I was flooded with guilt all night long.

Live and learn, I guess.

Song by:  Nelly Furtado

Saturday, October 19, 2013

How'm I Gonna Sleep

While the animals are cute as the dickens (certainly not as cute as Dickens!), they spend an inordinate amount of time with their eyes shut, or lying in their beds.  I mean, I know Petey is pushing 12 and Sophie is well, a cat, so...........

This week you get bed time pictures.  Or waking up ones.

Morning yawn. Just getting up to start his busy, busy day. 

710's sister was in town and stayed with us and it was her first time meeting Petey.  He loved much so, that he just jumped up onto the couch and snuggled with her.  We didn't discourage it.  Later he'd steal her blankets and make a nest down on the floor in which he could nap. 

Gooooooood Morning.  

Many cold mornings, I'll find Sophie here, on top of the mat outside the shower, but being heated from the radiant heat from the floor below. 

Is it the most photogenic of poses?  No.  No it is not. Such is the life of Petey as he sleeps in my office. 

Song by:  Tim Finn

Friday, October 18, 2013

Site of the Month

I'm totally lifting this from Tornwordo's Facebook post two days ago.

Why?  Because it is a fun one and I also don't care yet to write anymore about Congress and their massive fuck-up because they had a little hissy fit, which they lost - and will be a bigger loss a year from now at the next election.

So onto the SotM, courtesy of Torn and the friendly folks at gamquistu (what a stupid name).

It is a Hearing Evaluator.  Click here to play along.

Gamquistu - My Hearing Age is 43! How well can can you still hear?
Gamquistu - Games, Quizzes and Stuff.

Is my hearing really that of a 43 year old? It's so hard to say with me.

I've abused my ears with Apple earbuds and Walkman headphones and Koss headphones back in the '70s, when my mother just didn't want to hear that shit I was listening to.

Granted, anymore, I only use earbuds on planes, but I still use them, just not at the decibel at which I used to crank the music.  And you've seen / heard the My Music Monday selections I pick - I was never listening to speed or thrash metal.  Oh sure, Karen Carpenter's drumming could be off. the. charts., but I tried to limit the time I'd listen to that hard rock and / or roll that she played.

But you also know that last year I lost hearing in one ear for a few days, only to regain it, but have on-going tinnitus in both ears. Yes, it's still there.  I've given up hope that it will ever go away.

For this exercise, I could hear the sound at 14 kHz.  I thought I heard it at 16 kHz, but then I started to question if I was hearing the actual frequency at that one, or whether is was just that on-going tinnitus playing in my head.  I opted for the conservative approach and went with 14 so you all didn't think I was Jamie Sommers after her tragic tragic skydiving accident.

I'm not 35, but I'm not the next level up from where I placed either - 55. In truth, I'm probably a 50 - because that is what I am.

They just don't have that as a level in which to place.

Hey baby, what's your frequency?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Won't Give In

Hats off to the Democrats for acting like Republicans.

I mean that in the best of ways:  they played off the same book, they held their ground and they didn't play dirty.

Ok, that last part wasn't like a Republican.

But let's face it, Republicans win more often than not because they play in unison and play dirty. Neither is a strong suit of the Dems - and while I wish no one would play in the mud, sometimes the Dems need to.

This time, they really didn't.  They held the high ground, and it seems everyone knows it - the general public and even the mainstream GOPers.

Yes, the Tea Party faction of Congress and their equally disturbed constituents are claiming "foul", but they really can't discern from reality.   ...and I don't say that to cast stones.

Honestly, there is a logic gene that just seems to be missing - from those folks who voted to shut down the government and then would yell that the National Parks and Monuments were closed and they need to be reopened.  A+B=C.   But apparently they failed that portion of school - but only because the NEA was in cahoots with the liberals to teach things like evolution and science.

Of course, we have to go through this all again in January and February, so we'll see if the GOP has learned anything.  For that, I'm not hopeful.

I also hope they have not - let's keep this fresh in everyone's mind for November 2014. We, as a nation, have short attention spans. It will be a distant memory come election time - and the GOP can spin yarn around any ad from an opponent that tries to tag them with this disaster.

As for John "Crybaby" Boehner, it must be hard to know that this 2013 disaster, will be his obituary. No doubt he has a few more decades to live (ok, 1 or 2, maybe 2.5) and he can think about that every fucking day, but it will be in the first paragraph of his obituary.  

Ditto with Ted Cruz.  I mean, how embarrassing, for him, that Houston's newspaper basically apologized for their endorsement of him a year ago.

I'm sorry for those who think Obama as weak, but he pulled the Dem team together and he was not shaken or stirred - at least publicly.  And that is what pissed the GOP off more than anything.

I would like to think this is a whole new playing field for the Democrats. I hope they remember these last three weeks as well - but do it for good, not for evil.   Don't be the next GOP.

Song by:  the Finn Brothers

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Italian Guy

In another attempt at cooking two nights ago, I did an ok job, though I think my lips are still burning a little.

I was messing with the chicken-broccoli-pasta dish I made about a month ago, only this time I left out the protein, and the broccoli.

I made Spaghetti Aglio Olio (or Spaghetti Aglio e Olio).

There are a ton of recipes out there for this, all a little different. I read a few and made a combination attempt - one that needs tweaking, but is a keeper.

I also forgot to take pictures, as I was trying to throw everything together before 710 came home, bringing his sister with him.

The dish is super simple and takes more time to chop the garlic than it does to put together.  Ok - maybe that is a little stretch, but it's not bad.  Most of the recipes out there are for a serving of 4, but I was making it for 2.  710's sister wasn't eating with us, as it turns out.

If you're making for more than 2, double up most things.  I will note where I deviate from the amounts.

1/2 lb of spaghetti
1/4 cup of olive oil (most will say this amount for a full pound of spaghetti, but you'll need it for the half amount)
5 cloves of garlic - coarsely chopped, not a fine minced
1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (I used a heaping teaspoon and it was a little too much).
3 teaspoons of anchovy paste (or 6 anchovy fillets) *
1 cup pasta water
1.5 teaspoons of butter
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
Salt *

Chop garlic as salted water boils for your pasta.  Spaghetti cooks for about 10 minutes after water is to a boil.

Over medium heat, in separate skillet (a deeper one, as you will add the cooked spaghetti into this later), heat the oil, add the red pepper flakes, garlic and anchovy paste and mix until the anchovy paste breaks down and incorporates into the oil / pepper / garlic mixture.

Though it shouldn't have to be said, turn off the heat if garlic is turning golden brown, it will continue to cook, but do not let it burn!  Add the butter (though butter is not called for in almost any of the recipes, it does provide a richness and silkiness to the sauce).

Right before pasta is done, reserve the 1 cup of pasta water and incorporate it into the pan of oil / pepper / garlic / butter.

Drain spaghetti and and add to the pan with the sauce. Mix the pasta and sauce together, letting the sauce absorb into the pasta for a few minutes.

Add parley and pepper (to taste).  Mix again.

Add Parmesan cheese after dishing up into plates or bowls.

*Salt is in all recipes to be added with the pepper, but with the salted pasta water and the anchovy, additional salt is not really required.  Tread carefully on this - but obviously add to taste.

Many recipes called for much more crushed red pepper, and while I like that, even the heaping 1/4 teaspoon I used burned my lips and caused my nose to run.  It was wicked hot even the next day with leftovers I had for lunch.

I thought I would miss the protein or veggies I usually put into my non-marinara pasta dishes, but it was not missed in the slightest.

Prep time is minimal.  Cook time is maybe 15 minutes.  MAYBE.  I even had plenty of time to make a salad during this - and clean up time was a breeze.

This will definitely be back.

And while the title image is not mine, I can guarantee you (honestly) mine ended up looking just like this.

Song by:  Cake

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Anyway You Want It

While I call Greg "my cousin", in actuality, he is married to my cousin.

Greg was an imposing man when I was growing up.  Since Marilyn is about 18 years older than I am, I was but a wee lad when she married Greg, a cop who towered at 6'3".  Sure, that I'm 6'2" now he doesn't seem like a tower, but when I was 7-8, he was huge. 

He was and is a solid man who, while a retried cop now, heads up safety for a local town while heading up safety for two of the three major sports venues in town. 

But as I was growing up, he scared the shit out of me, since A. he was a cop.  B. he physically represented as a big brute (he's a very nice man though).  C.  he always had two guns on him at all times.  Still does. 

Like I said, he's a nice guy, great sense of humour and tolerates my cousin, his wife. Sainthood shouldn't be far behind. He's also the one I went to when getting police guidance on taking my father's car keys away from him. 

But Saturday, he was one of the people over my parent's house.  Sure they came over to see my sister, who is rarely in town (I'd just seen these folks a month ago), but Greg dragged a few of us out to show us the new horn on his car.  Mostly just the guys......because we can appreciate this. 

Yes, he had Rodney Dangerfield's character's horn from Caddyshack installed in his SUV.  His neighbors must love him.

Of course, I had to ask / make sure he had a normal horn too.  I mean, you can't use that one to get someone to step on the gas at a red light or if they pull out in front of you.

He has a normal horn too.  But I love he bothered to get the .mp3 (or whatever) onto a chip and have it electronically installed in his car. 

Song by:  Journey  
(bc they played that in Caddyshack and I refuse to reference or own Kenny Loggins)

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Music Monday

I know enough, when it comes to My Music Monday posts to go with my gut.

I was driving somewhere last week when this week's selection popped up through my iPhone, which is often used as my car musical device - more so than the radio.

The song is "Woody and Dutch on a Slow Train to Perking" by Rickie Lee Jones.  This is from her second - and in my opinion - and best release of her career, Pirates.

After I mentally made my selection, I started to doubt it, but thinking I'd keep with Ms. Jones as the artist.  I went through all her albums to see what would be more palatable to you, the reader.

...and it's not that I don't care about you, the reader, but then I figured, well, it is MY blog and then I figured that no matter what RLJ song I pick, someone is bound to like it or not, so it really didn't matter if I picked "Danny's All-Star Joint" or "Coolsville" or her excellent cover of  Traffic's "the Low Spark of High Heeled Boys".  You almost got the title track of Pirates or a much more radio-friendly, accessible "The Real End".

I would venture to guess many don't know Rickie Lee Jones past her one 1979 hit, "Chuck E's in Love", which is still a great song (though for years I could not stand to listen to it for it being overplayed), but she is so much more than that.  Jones has rarely, if ever, attempted the same type of album twice, and never twice in a row.

Pirates, her follow up to her debut, consisted of fewer songs, but longer ones, some pushing the eight and nine minute range - which is death for artists trying to get on the radio, but more so for record executives trying to sell an artist who already had one huge pop hit.

"Woody and Dutch" have pop elements, but it has a strong line of jazz running through it as well.  Cool, beatnik jazz - not Dixieland, not Dizzy Gillespie or Thelonius Monk jazz either.  It has more of an underlying Tom Waits feel to it, but without all the gruffness.

Coming in at a little over five minutes in length, it seems longer, but sometimes not long enough (that's what she said!), but it really encapsulates, for me, what I believe to be the essences of Rickie Lee Jones, though my perception could be way way off.

So even though I went back and forth on which RLJ song to choose, I kept coming back to my original selection and I think it's the wise one. Some of the others you might have heard, but I'd venture to say this is one you have not - and what's life without a little adventure.....even if it's a musical one.

(FYI - it takes about 10 seconds before there is any noise on the song and about 45 seconds before the music actually starts, but hang with it.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

12 of 12

So I'm doing my 44th 12 of 12

Normally it is 12 pictures taken on the 12
th of the month. Since I only post once per day, you get my images the following day. All pictures taken with my iPhone. Click images to enlarge, if you choose.

Created by Chad Darnell and picked up from, what I can tell, a number of random bloggers who then link back to him and vice versa. Janet Hughes is now hosting the link that puts many 12 of 12'ers together (sometimes she keeps current, mostly she does not, so I might have to drop this link / reference).  The number of people linking don't seem to be as robust as they once were, but that stands to reason.  

I still continue to do this, because of all my consistent post topics, I actually like this one the most.

06:08.  Someone is yelling at me. 6:08!

Sophie is telling me her food bowl is empty. Fair enough, it was. She's tolerating her diet fairly well, though she's only lost a half pound in a little over a month.

08:55. Right before yoga. 

Mats facing each other, which doesn't bother me. Instructor was decent - not great, but decent. 

  10:10. Post-yoga smoothies with David and others from the practice.  Mine is a Raspberry Blast.  Raspberries and Cranberries and other stuff.  The seeds get in my teeth. 

10:40.  The Lego Store.  I was buying a birthday present for a nephew. 

Yes, they have pre-packaged Legos - the most expensive being the Death Star at $399.95!!!!.  I maybe inadvertently blurted out 'fuck' when I saw the sticker price on that. But they also have a wall of individual pieces in various colours. 

12:45.  Sitting on my parent's deck with assorted nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers-in-law, cousins, parents, aunts and uncles. 

13:00.  Blue sky and fall leaves. 

14:00.  14th birthday wish for my nephew, Max.  Technically he is 14 on October 18th, but he was in town this week, so we celebrated. 

14:30.  Red Velvet cupcake time for yours truly.  It is possible it was red velvet cupcake time on three separate occasions. 

17:00.  Time for my annual flu shot.   Get yours.  Don't do it for you - do it for someone to whom you might expose to the virus, as you might be a carrier even though you might never get ill. 

17:30.   Burned down Blakes Jekyll's Kitchen.  I love how the website says:  "Temporarily Closed for Remodeling".  It's not like they're swapping out the curtains. 

18:15.  Sophie and me playing with a toy mouse.  She became uninterested in about 18 seconds. 

20:00.  ...because you didn't get enough of your Highness he is while we prepared dinner. 

.....and your Baker's Dozen......

21:30.  Since multiple cupcakes during the day weren't enough sweets, I had a pudding cup topped with fresh dairy topping. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Out in the Streets

'Tis Saturday, and this is quickly becoming Petey Porn Day.

I mean, it has been, but it did not start off consistently that way, but 710 sure seems to think I take a lot of pictures of him, and they are almost all so photogenic.  He's once handsome dude.

I always like a good sleepy-time photo of the man.  It's really the paw and the pads that make this picture. 

Squirrel Stand Off.  

Mr. Squirrel is on the other side of the tree. It's a stare down.  The squirrel won. 

But Petey found the entrance to the tree for all the varmints and now he'll spend quite a bit of time staring staring staring at it - keeping close track of who is coming and going and how he might be able to eat them. 

Hound of Hounds.  

Even if food happens to be wiped hand onto a napkin, he is ALL over it.  What a mooch. 

...and then there are the walks.

This is Honey.  She lives with her mom at the nursing home down the street.  The owner (I should get her name one of these days) refused to move up here and into the "home" without Honey.  They go on short walks, but Petey is always happy to see Honey and vice versa. 

Another nursing home resident and her new rescue dog, Enzo.  

I love that name.  Enzo.  He's a two and one half year old terrier mix. A little mouthy until he can actually play with Petey. He's adorable and Joan, his owner, just loves having him at the nursing home. 

Song by: Blondie