Monday, December 28, 2009

Arlen and Brett Go Jeans Shopping

(Here's a little story I wrote about a couple of honest-to-goodness American heroes - Brett Favre and Arlen Specter. It's purely speculation, but who knows? The two of them could some day be best friends.)


Arlen needed new jeans. His wife was a real pain in the ass to shop with. Who else was there? Maybe Joe? He did live nearby. But a sudden wave of exhaustion washed over him like hot bus exhaust - the mere thought of spending an afternoon with Joe. The constant effort on Arlen's part to appear even slightly interested. The endless, rambling, inane monologues. The incessant nose picking. The butt slaps. The unnecessary high-fives. No, it couldn't be Joe.


Arlen flipped through his Rolodex, now almost as thin as the fine wisps of hair that still lived on his head. After Biden there was Clinton. He immediately flipped to the next card. The Rolodex went right from C to F, without stopping for a Durbin or an Edwards. Upon seeing the next name, Arlen cracked his first smile of the day. This could work, he thought. This could be fun. It was almost two in the afternoon.


And so it was that Arlen's people spoke to Brett's people, and arranged a little play date between two real American heroes.


It made a heck of a lot of sense, thought Arlen. After all, they had so much in common: a singularly understated fashion sense (comfortable, good value, American-made), legions of adoring fans, and - from first glance - they had maintained virtually the same waistline since college. Brett probably just thought it would be cool to hang out with a "real-life, living, honest-to-real Washington senator."


Arlen was especially proud of his figure. His jowls had always betrayed his rock-hard abs and coconut-cracking thighs. It was frustrating to admit, but one of his life's great lessons was that no amount of time on the Stairmaster could get rid of those jowls. He repeatedly mentioned this to his grandkids - not to scare them, but rather, to teach them the importance of using facial-firming creams from a young age.


It was no secret that Arlen had been through a recent rough spell - an identity crisis of sorts - and desperately needed a pick-me-up. It had been nearly 16 years since he had purchased a new pair of blue jeans, and apparently, that’s what Democrats wear on the weekends. And what better way to soothe the soul of a lifelong politician than a trip to the mall, to bear witness to the engine of America's economy in action - the middle-class, credit-card-wielding consumer. It would afford him the chance to mingle with these commoners for a short time. To allow their rough hands to press against his soft, politico palms for a fleeting moment. To let their eyes linger on his famous jowls - his center of strength, his rock, his redeemer. Think Samson's hair, except instead of hair, they were made of loose skin.


Also, there was a big denim sale at J.C. Penney, and Arlen had a coupon for an additional 15% off.


Brett, on the other hand, had plenty of jeans. He had received a lifetime supply of Wranglers as the majority portion of his endorsement deal. In exchange for his proclaiming them the "Official Jeans of Brett Favre," the former NFL MVP had literally received an 18-wheeler full of his favorite styles. For many, many years, he exclusively wore the straight leg boot-cut, but had since moved on to a slim fit – the better to accentuate his “Mississippi Dumptruck,” as he liked to call it.


Arlen had no dumptruck to speak of – Pennsylvania, or otherwise. And, at least in his own mind, he was not the kind of guy to show off that kind of thing anyway. He was more concerned with healthcare reform and the war in Afghanistan. A five-term Senator has greater things to worry about than the seat of his pants, even though he spent much of the last year and a half trying to protect it.


As Arlen's limo pulled into the mall's passenger drop-off zone, he saw an interracial couple eating ice cream. He suddenly remembered it was time to send his daily text message to Obama. Give him a little reminder whose side he was on now.


“Barry, just a little shout out to remind you I still like abortion. Give Bo a kiss and a belly rub for me. Catch ya later – Specs.”


Arlen let out an audible sigh as he hit the send button. You gotta do what you gotta do, he thought.


The schedule was simple. They would meet at J.C. Penney at 4pm to check out the denim super sale. After that, who knows? Arlen planned to try on ten pairs of jeans, and purchase five - regardless of whether they fit. That was his game plan, and he was sticking to it. No one would accuse him of waffling on this day.


When Arlen arrived, Brett was already signing autographs. He approached the world-class athlete with outstretched hand, slightly damp, and a genuine smile on his face. Brett looked up, just as he was about to gingerly sign an infant's forehead. The grin was now mutual. He returned the baby and the pen to the starstruck parents, and grasped Arlen's hand warmly. Brett's handshake said "how's it goin'," "good to see you," and "I won three consecutive MVP awards," all at once. Arlen swooned as much as his 79 year-old knees would let him. He didn't expect to feel this way. Why did he now sense such a powerful connection to this man? This Minnesota Viking who had once been a Packer. It was all so mysterious and wonderful.


Brett led the way to the men's denim section, and quickly yet confidently picked out an armful of slim fits and bootcuts - without even asking for a size. He handed them to Arlen and went back to the racks to continue his search. For a spokesman and celebrity, Brett was remarkably quiet. Truly a man of action if there ever was one. Without words, the All-Pro quarterback conveyed the message, "I'm an expert when it comes to men's jeans."


Arlen knew he had stopped on the right Rolodex card. Furthermore, Brett would probably get incredible friends and family discounts on any Wrangler products. These jeans will be virtually free, thought Arlen. And it's all thanks to Brett.


Arlen smiled again. It was the third time that day. He couldn't remember the last time that had happened.


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Monday, December 21, 2009

Don't Worry, I'm Still Alive Dear Readers

Yeah, so maybe I haven't written in quite a while. Well, let me tell you something - I didn't get one goddamn complaint about my lack of motivation. Not a single word, uttered or typed, from any of my fan and/or fans.

This proves one thing, and one thing only. You were too upset, too distraught to say anything at all. Visiting this blog every day, and not seeing any new posts must wear on a human - much like expecting a treat only to realize that there's nothing in your master's hand must wear on a dog.

That's the kind of thing that can drive a dog to madness. And the same must be true of blog readers. Especially my reader and/or readers.

So please don't go totally mental. I'm still around. Still alive. Still rocking and rolling like a teenager who just found his parents huge secret stash of cocaine and heroin.

In other words, I'm ready to take that proverbial stash and alert the authorities. Even though they're my parents, they shouldn't have anything to do with illegal drugs. Drugs can kill. Especially if someone hits you over the head with a big bag of drugs and then runs you over with their car. That shit will kill you.

I have lots of cool stuff to write about in the near future. I'm getting married in less than 2 weeks for God's sake!! That's worth at least acouple of posts. I need to tell you all about the ceremony, and the flower arrangements, and the bridesmaid dresses. You need to hear about the passed hors' douvres, and the hot and cold appetizers. You must learn about the tablecloths - they will be ivory, not simply white!

Anyway, I'll try to be better about writing. Sorry for the lengthy radio silence.



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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pigs Allegedly Smarter Than They Look

A recent article in the New York Times describes some recent experiments that show pig intelligence may be greater than we had ever imagined. According to the article, pigs may be as smart as monkeys and dolphins.

The only problem for pigs – and it’s a very serious one – is that they are FAR more delicious than monkeys or dolphins.

Now, to be fair, I’ve never eaten monkey or dolphin, and I’m not interested in trying. Monkeys look a little too much like people. Dolphins are basically swimming dogs. I would feel pretty bad about eating either of them.

But pigs make bacon, and bacon is awesome. So my question is:

How could something so smart make itself so goddamn delicious?

Bacon, ham, pork shoulder, pork rinds, shredded BBQ pork, sweet ‘n sour pork, moo shu pork, pork sausages. The list goes on and on. And on.

And on.

Piggies are tasty.


Whose idea was it to have bacon as part of your body? Not a smart move Mr. Piggy.


On one hand, it’s a brilliant move. They have made themselves a highly desirable species of livestock. We feed and raise millions and millions of pigs a year. But on the other hand, it’s incredibly, indescribably, hopelessly stupid.

We eat millions and millions of them every month of every year.

Now as far as intelligent animals are concerned, monkeys and dolphins are not quite so lovable as to be very popular pets. And so they’re forced to struggle for survival out in the wild – with no manmade coats to wear during the winter, and no manmade treats to eat when they behave well or do something cute. Dogs, have the manmade coats and the crunchy treats, but they’re still widely considered a delicacy in some parts of the world – apparently, they’re not lovable enough not to eat.

Sorry doggies. Apparently you need to evolve to be just a little less delicious.

And so I’d argue that cats are the smartest animals around. We keep them as pets, and nobody - I mean nobody - wants to eat them. Although they probably taste like chicken.


Very cute. Not at all tasty.


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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Live Blogging 2009 World Series Game 6 - Phillies are (Probably) Toast

11:15pm: Shit. Mariano Rivera is coming in to the game. I believe that if we, as a species, put a man on the moon, then we can also will the Phillies to score some runs against Rivera. It's a long shot, but no longer than the odds of winning Powerball.

11:17pm: I am afraid. I am very afraid. Rivera looks good, with that silky-smooth delivery and wicked cut fastball. The man can flat out pitch, and the Phillies are quickly running out of at-bats. I will quickly fashion a Mariano Rivera voodoo doll and see if it does anything. We'll know soon enough.


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Live Blogging 2009 World Series Game 6 cont'd. - Matsui is the Phillies Daddy

10:02pm: My Matsui voodoo doll has had both arms amputated, and has safety pins jammed into where the real Matsui's eyes would be. And yet, he still smoked a 2-run double for his 5th and 6th RBI's of the night. I'm beginning to think that voodoo is bullshit.

10:10pm: Well, finally something good happened for the Phils. Ryan Howard's bat awoke with a mighty, muscly mash to left field. It barely cleared the fence, but a home run is a home run, as I always say. Phillies now trail 7-3. Anything's possible. This one is far from over. Although I would kinda like to go to bed soon. I'm getting sleepy.


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Live Blogging the 2009 World Series - Game 6 - Phils Face Elimination

9:05pm: Pedro looks like shit. I'm very angry. He's given up 4 runs so far, and he's throwing like Betty White - i.e., an 85 mph fastball. Ms. White throws hard for her age.

9:10pm: Phillies get out of the inning after only giving up those 2 runs. Matsui is his new nemesis. I'm preparing a Hideki Matsui voodoo doll with my right hand as I type with my left hand.


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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sports Day!!

Today is Sports Day.

Sports Day is celebrated when Jupiter aligns with Pluto, the Gulf Stream reverses course for 24 hours, and/or a whole bunch of important sporting events occur on the same day. Generally, it happens once every 76 years, much like the arrival of Halley’s Comet.

Check out this crazy line up:

8:20am until whenever the slowest guy finishes: The New York City Marathon, sponsored by Goldman Sachs and your tax dollars. Or something like that. My money is on the Kenyans.

1pm: Eagles vs. Giants in Philly. It’s a battle for the NFC East between two bitter rivals. These teams hate each other so much, they spit on one another’s pets’ graves.

4:15pm: Brett Favre returns to Green Bay for the first time – as a member of the archrival Vikings. The Packers had to muster up extra security, presumably in the event that the fans try to murder Favre. Treason is still a capital crime, after all.

7:57pm and 33 seconds: World Series Game 4. The Phightin’ Phils battle the Bronx Assholes, er, I mean Douchebags. Oops…That’s not right either. Okay, I just checked on the internet, and they’re known as the Bronx Bombers. Anyway, if the Phillies can grab a victory, they’ll even the series 2-2. If not, they’re in deep shit. My prediction? A-Rod strikes out 4 times – twice with the bases loaded and 2 out. Sabathia looks tired by the 3rd inning, giving up back-to-back-to-back homers to the murderer’s row of Utley, Howard, and Werth. Also, Joe Blanton steals 3 bases – the first 3 of his career. Fat pitchers don’t steal too many bases, and that’s why he’ll catch the Yankees completely off guard.


Joe Blanton: Used to throwing a baseball hard with his arm. Not used to running fast with his legs.


So with all these sports going on, how do I find time to write? Halftime, and commercial breaks mostly. But in adishun to that, I save tyme by skipin the spull checker and gramer looker at thing


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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Live Blogging World Series 2009 - I'm Going to Bed

10:59pm: Chase Utley just grounded into a double play to end the inning. Phils still down by 2. I was up super late last night waiting for Delta to deliver our delayed luggage from Germany. The son of a bitch delivery guy didn't get here until 1am, but I was still high from watching Cliff Lee's shining gem of a game. Tonight, I'm tired, and the Phillies are currently losing. So it's time for bed. I will dream of a victory, and wake to the reality of a loss. Series tied 1-1, and we're headed to Philly.

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Live Blogging Game 2 of the 2009 World Series - Expressed Written Consent of Major League Baseball?

10:28pm: Does Major League Baseball approve of my live blogging? If I criticize the league, do I risk a lawsuit? Why are the Phillies losing? Who lies in Grant's tomb? Many questions remain.

10:43pm: It looks like the Phillies just caught a break with a bad call by the ump. Ryan Howard short-hopped a ball, but it was called an out, as if he caught it in the air. He clearly did not, upon slow-motion replay. Thank God the game is not played in slow motion.

10:48pm: Uh oh. Mariano Rivera is in the game. Pitching. For the Yankees. To the Phillies. This gentleman athlete is practically unhittable. I may go to bed soon and cry myself to sleep.

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Live Blogging 2009 World Series - Nothing Really INteresting is Happening

9:28pm: Mark Teixeira hits a solo shot to center. But I didn't really want to write about it because I'm a Phillies fan. I decided to stay true to the live blogging credo - which is, blog what happens in actual reality, during or soon after it actually happens. So as much as it pains me to write about it, Teixeira did, in fact, hit a home run. I shed a tear.

9:42pm: Phils don't look great against Burnett this inning, although Ruiz just ripped a double to center. He is a short, stocky man. He's babyfaced, but I bet he can drink and curse just like a sailor. I would like to be friends with him.

9:50pm: Pedro about to face Jeter after getting Jose Molina to ground out. Let's see if Jeter can take a break from being the coolest guy in New York, and play some ball.

9:50pm and 12 seconds: Jeter crushes a double to left, proving that he can look good and play ball at the same time.

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Live Blogging Game 2 2009 World Series - Pedro is my Daddy

8:17pm: Just kidding. My daddy is Michael Rathmill.

8:19pm: Pedro looked pretty good in the first inning, striking out 2 of the 3 batters he faced. He is throwing an 86 mph fastball, which is sort of Grandma-like. But it seems to be working for him.

8:21pm: Phils score a run. Matt Stairs is the slowest and oldest guy in the league. He's on first base. He will only make it to second if Pedro Feliz hits a home run.

8:42pm: Raul Ibanez, the second oldest and second slowest guy on the team, just made a wicked-awesome diving catch for the 2nd out of the 2nd inning. He is, no doubt, somebody's daddy.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Live Blogging 2009 World Series - Phillies Win!...Game 1, That Is

11:19pm: Jimmy Rollins throws the ball away on a pretty standard double play ball. Taffy legs Mark Teixeira is safe at first. Jimmy really didn't have to hurry that throw. Oh, and some Yankee dude scored on the error, ruining the Phils' shutout. But Cliff Lee is still without an earned run on the evening. He is a superstar. Cliff Lee for Philadelphia City Council President in 2012.

11:29pm: Cliff Lee. What else is there to say? He just struck out A-Rod and Posada back-to-back to close out the game. He is an officer and a gentleman. He is a scientist and a philosopher. He is a lover and a fighter. Cliff Lee for Pennsylvania Attorney General in 2014. The sky's the limit for this barely human manimal.

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Live Blogging 2009 World Series - Phillies Keep Rolling

10:41pm: Raul Ibanez laces a two out single with the bases loaded, driving in Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino. I drink a glass of water, and do a little dance to celebrate.

10:57pm: Cliff Lee strikes out another Yankee - it doesn't really matter who - and gets Melky Cabrera to pop out to end the 8th inning. This is ridiculous. Lee is not human. He is something else entirely. He has the speed of a cheetah, the agility of a puma, and the strength of a gorilla. He is a cheemarilla.

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Live Blogging 2009 World Series - Cliff Lee is a God

9:41pm: A couple great things just happened. One, my Chinese food finally arrived. Second, and perhaps slightly more importantly, Chase Utley crushed a Sabathia slider for his second home run of the game. Phillies lead 2-0. My shrimp dumplings are delicious - if a little bit cold. Everything's good.

10:02pm: Cliff Lee continues to dominate. He is probably a cyborg, or some sort of superhero. I'm not sure which. There's also a chance that he's 100% robot, which could lead to some sort of suspension or fine. I'm pretty sure fielding any machines or computers is against the rules. In any case, Lee is super-awesome.


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Live Blogging 2009 World Series Game 1 - Continued

8:51pm: Chase Utley is a certified genius with the bat. He just launched a solo homer off of Sabathia. If I were a woman - or a gay man living in one of several states including Vermont and Massachusetts - I would marry him.

8:53pm: Where the hell is my Chinese food? I'm getting worried that the delivery boy is injured, or worse - he delivered my food to someone else.

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Live Blogging the World Series - Game 1

7:58pm: I got home from work just in time to see Sabathia's first pitch to Rollins. It was totally uneventful. Then Rollins chipped a weak-ass bunt right down the first base line. But then again, isn't every bunt "weak-ass" by definition?

8:09pm: Phillies have the bases loaded. And....and...and Raul Ibanez grounded weak-assly to the second baseman.

8:25pm: I'm super hungry. Where is my Chinese food?


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Our Trip to Paris – Part 1 of However Many Parts I Feel Like Writing

The iconic Eiffel Tower (as seen through the lens of my iPhone): a giant-ass Erector set.


Jaimi and I went to Paris for 4 days. We just got back yesterday, after a grueling 17 hour trip – which included 1.5 hours at baggage claim. Long story short, I believe our luggage is still in Frankfurt, Germany, enjoying a stein of lager at the airport bar. But that’s a story for another day.

All in all, we had a great time in the City of Light. Yes, I was referring to Paris, France and not Paris, Texas. The food was excellent. The public transportation was efficient and relatively well labeled. The people were far less obnoxious than I had expected. And the croissants were way, way better than those at Dunkin Donuts.

I think there are a few observations worth mentioning, and then I’ll move on the details of our trip. I’m sure you’ll find it all very thrilling.

First of all, and perhaps most importantly, the French butter everything. The sandwiches are slathered with the stuff. The pastries are 80% butter by weight. The meat and fish are cooked in it. The ladies use it as a facial moisturizer. And the museums use it to preserve their precious works of Renaissance art. I’m pretty sure some of the buildings are held together with a mixture of butter, sand, and gravel.

In any case, it makes for a very delicious experience. Which brings me to my next observation. Croissants are perhaps the most crumb-producing of all pastries. The feathery layers of buttery, crisp dough simply fall apart in a melt-in-your-mouth avalanche of fine, lightly browned flakes. The shit gets all over the place. And Parisians eat these things all the time. So my question is, how do they clean up all the crumbs?

My sweater was covered with crumbs after just a few bites. It’s impossible to avoid. So what about a French office or home where numerous people are consuming croissants on a daily basis? Do dogs clean up the mess? Do they vacuum twice a day? Are the sexy French maids busy sweeping up crumbs with their feather dusters?

This remains a mystery to me.

A few other things:

- Many small dogs, but very few large ones. And yet, plenty of dog crap on the sidewalks. I’m no scientist, but I believe it is a physical impossibility for those little dogs to have produced solid waste of such length and width.

- Starbucks has the best coffee in the city – although not quite as bold as in the US - even if it costs 6 bucks for a grande.

- Cell phones seem to work in the subway. Either that, or Parisians love to talk to themselves while holding their phones up to their ears. I’m not sure which is more plausible.

- We bought a 1.5 liter bottle of water for 30 cents at Carrefour. I don’t know what was wrong with the stuff, because every other bottle of water was 2 euros for 0.5 liters. Were we drinking toilet water? It was hard to tell from the label.


I have many more details to relate about our trip, but it’s getting late. Again, it was a great time, and we really enjoyed the French hospitality. Paris is a marvelous city, and the French should be awful doggone proud of their capital



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Monday, October 19, 2009

The Case of the Mysterious Exploding Beer Bucket

It could be the title of a Hardy Boys Mystery, or perhaps an Encyclopedia Brown story, if any of them were old enough to drink. Scooby Doo could be involved too, if a beer-colored ghost was somehow implicated.

Or maybe an episode of CSI Miami. I can picture it now. An intricate pattern of beer splatter covering the walls and ceiling. Detectives take photos, collect evidence, and interview neighbors. Ballistics experts are called in to determine the velocity of the beer spray, thus determining the force required to propel the beer skyward.

Also, there’s a dead body found in the dishwasher. This is network TV, after all.

But no, the real story of the exploding beer bucket is not any kind of mystery. It happened to me this past weekend. The cause was less a mystery, and more me being an idiot.

Allow me to explain - if I can unstick my sock from the beer-crusted floor in order to make it back to the computer.

Okay, I’m back. So as you may know, I consider myself an amateur beer brewer – a homebrewer, if you will. I’ve made beer several times, and it’s always turned out better than I’ve expected. It was as if I couldn’t ruin a batch, even if I tried.

That streak of not ruining beer ended on Saturday.

First things first. I took my package of Wyeast liquid yeast out of the fridge before mixing together the grains, malt, hops, etc., per usual. I smacked the inner nutrient pouch in order to give the little yeasties a little something to snack on. The idea is, the yeast start to eat the nutrients, producing some carbon dioxide and causing the yeast packet to swell. That way, you know the yeast is good to go – ready to get all up in that barley soup and start a party.

So the packet didn’t swell. I left it out for hours. Nuthin. But I had already begun to boil grains and the malt and the hops and the brown sugar – which I had previously caramelized. This was going to be the Cadillac of homebrews. But the yeast decided to stay asleep. Or to die. It’s sort of hard to know.

So instead of wasting an entire 5 gallon batch of barley malt, hops, sweat, caramelized brown sugar, blood, chocolate malt, and tears, I decided to grab the only other yeast I could find – Fleischman’s baker’s yeast. Yeah that’s right. The dry-powdered crap you use to make dinner rolls. Or rye bread, or pumpernickel, or whatever.

Apparently, and according to the internet so it must be true, baker’s yeast is bred to produce a lot of carbon dioxide, but not a lot of alcohol. So that’s pretty goddamn terrible for beer. Also, it supposedly imparts so odd flavors to the brew. Furthermore, you don’t use it to make beer because it makes the shit explode. Keep in mind I added two packets. Not one. But two.

And explode it did.

I had sealed the fermentation bucket as usual, and left for a casual dinner soiree in Fort Greene. That was around 8pm. By 1:30 pm, I received a call from Jaimi who had returned to our apartment earlier after seeing a movie with her friends. I was then informed that the lid of the bucket had exploded. And worse yet, it had woken her up. There was no way she was going to help clean up the mess now.

Thank God she hadn’t been sleeping on the fermenting bucket.

When I got home about 45 minutes later, the devastation I encountered was complete. A thick layer of beer foam, or “krausen” lay on the floor surrounding the bucket. The lid of the fermenter was thrown to the ground, coated on both sides with the sticky brew. Splatters and splashes ran up the wall to a height of 6 or 7 feet, and ran along the floor in a radius of several meters. Charred helicopter wreckage smoldered in the distance, near the TV. Half of a burned-out Humvee lay upended just past the sofa.

Anyway, it was a pretty big mess. And I was pretty pissed at myself for trying to freestyle homebrew with bread yeast.

All of that being said, I did reseal the bucket, and will wait to see if this stuff actually becomes some sort of drinkable beer in a week or two.

Moral of the story: don’t use baker’s yeast to make beer. Unless you want to construct a WMD



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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Myth of the Groom Shower

So Jaimi had her bridal shower this past weekend in Philly. It was a smashing success. Apparently, we really made out like criminals considering the number of nice gifts she received. They were technically bought off of OUR wedding registry, but from the looks of it, the gifts were really for her – except, perhaps for the ice cream maker. I’m gonna use the shit out of that thing.

And that’s the point. It’s her bridal shower. I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. I got to hang out with my dad, brother, and nephew for a couple hours while the girls sipped mimosas, played pin-the-tail-on-the-unicorn, and gossiped about how cute the Jonas Brothers are. Or whatever it is girls do at bridal showers.

But still, I can’t help but feel I’m missing out. I mean, we’re both getting married. To each other. At the same time. So why can’t I also get some kind of shower. Sure, there’s the bachelor party – and it’s going to rock, by the way. (Vegas, baby!) But she gets her bachelorette party too, so we’re even on that front.

I want a Groom Shower.

Instead of a cute, little brunch place, or some type of highfalutin sculpture garden, it would have to be held in a sweltering, bat-infested cave. Or on a rocky outcrop overlooking a lava floe. Or maybe in a Cold War era fallout shelter, hidden deep within the Great Smoky Mountains. Or maybe at ESPNZone.

In any case, the locale would be all man. All the time.

There wouldn’t be any mini quiche, mini cheesecakes, or champagne. Rather, the code of the Groom Shower would allow for beef/wild boar/rattlesnake jerky and whiskey to be the only sustenance on the menu. The only sustenance, that is, besides the heavy, wholesome, nourishing vapor of testosterone that would hang in the air, and repel all herbivorous creatures like deer, and chipmunks – but attract predators such as grizzly bear, jaguars, and mountain lions.

We would wrestle these predators into submission as part of the entertainment. There would be no charades. No truth or dare.

And even if there was truth or dare, it would be only dares, and those dares would be incredibly dangerous. For example, I dare you to drive that jeep at 80 miles per hour toward that cliff, and jump out right before the vehicle plummets over the edge. And also, you’re blindfolded. And unconscious.

Finally, the gifts wouldn’t be flatware, salad bowls, cake slicers, or salad spinners. Groom Shower gift-giving would feature a literal shower of heavy and dangerous objects, including samurai swords, suits of armor, flat-screen TV’s, kegs of beer, and trained, drug-sniffing German Shepherds - all released from a platform 30 feet in the air, directly above the groom's head. Whatever gifts the groom catches without injury to himself - or to the gift - are his to keep.

And that’s my idea of a perfect Groom Shower.



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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ardipithecus Ramidus – Really, Really Old Bones, or Another Hoax?

So these scientist guys found a bunch of old bones in Ethiopia. (It was reported in the New York Times, so it must be pretty important.) And these guys claim that these bones are way, way older than the previously discovered bones from some crazy ape lady named Lucy. I’m still not sure how they knew her name was Lucy. It’s not intuitive that Lucy would have been such a popular name 3.2 million years ago. I’d imagine names that sounded a lot more like grunts, chirps, barks, or growls would have been commonplace. Like, for instance, Barbara, or Geraldo.

In any case, these new super-old bones are supposedly about 4.4 million years old. That would make them younger than the dinosaurs, but older than the automobile. So what in the hell did these ape-like people drive and/or ride to work?

And that’s just an example of where I have a big problem with this so-called “scientific discovery.” Things just don’t add up. Sure, I think evolution is pretty sweet. We were amoeba, then we were fish, then dogs, then people. I totally get it. Survival of the fittest, and all that. God got things rolling, then took a breather right before the first platypus was born, or hatched, or whatever. And then took another break just before the 4th Die Hard film was produced. That one sucked compared to the first three.

But you show me a pile of dirty, smashed-up, old-as-balls bones and tell me it’s the skeleton of our oldest known ancestor, and I’m just supposed to accept it? You become a superstar of paleoanthropology by digging up a bunch of brittle bones, and expect me to sit idly by while you collect your endless riches through paleological endorsement deals AND anthropological record contracts?

Well, I may not know the name of whoever made the discovery of these really old bones, but if I ever learn your name or names, I’m going to…well. I’ll probably ask you where I can go dig up some really old bones and become a superstar of paleoanthropology.

Okay fine. The truth is…I’m jealous. The oldest thing I’ve ever found was a penny from 1909. I received no accolades for that discovery.



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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Mill's New Clothes

I’m not really one to pray at the satiny, slim-fit altar of high fashion. I likes me some Old Navy shirts and some blue jeans from Target. But at the same time, I can’t help but occasionally splurge on a high-fashion, well-tailored, perfectly proportional suit of clothes. – so long as it’s a bargain of epic proportions.

And so it’s been that I’ve recently frequented the Gilt Groupe’s website, looking for a new fancy dress suit. They offer brand name European and American designer clothes, at Bangladeshi garbage dump prices. The only problem is, you can’t get your cash back. So if you order something, and you don’t like it, you’re stuck with store credit.

Not a problem if you spend 30 bucks on a pair of Ralph Lauren pants or, 50 bucks on a Vera Wang cummerbund. But if you drop a few hundred on a new suit – well, you’re stuck with a buttload of store credit if you don’t like the fit or finish of the garment.

And it’s taken a few tries for me – of ever more expensive suits – to finally find one that not only fits, but doesn’t look like something Deion Sanders would wear to church.

It was getting to the point where if I didn’t find a suit I liked, the Gilt credit would have lasted for 5 years worth of Calvin Klein underwear, and Marc Jacobs dental floss. And I was beginning to think that Gilt’s great prices are mostly due to the fact that every goddamn garment they sell is irregular to the point of being comical.

I swear one of the suits I ordered was about 3 inches shorter in one arm versus the other. And at the same time, the tightness of the armpits and the suffocating, intestine-strangling cut of the pants made me feel like I was stepping into my Bar Mitzvah suit – which, after 20 years, may have actually fit me better than the piece of crap I was trying on from Gilt.

But again, you can return whatever you order, no questions asked, for store credit. So I kept my head up and soldiered on, ordering any suit that looked halfway decent on the website. But the pictures and sizing of the models can be very misleading. No normal human is 6 foot 2 inches tall, with a 30-inch waist, and wears a size 40 jacket.

If they do, then there’s something wrong with the jacket – and/or they probably have some genetic disease like Klinefelter’s syndrome, or some other type of hypogonadism. That’s what I’ve learned through this whole ordeal. I feel sorry for these models, because they can only get their clothes from the limited assortment of irregular leftovers sold by websites like Gilt.

That being said, I’m happy with the final result of my Gilt Groupe adventure. According to the label, it’s a size or two larger than what I’d normally wear, and yet it fits just fine. I look like a million bucks in my new suit, and I got a screaming bargain to boot. Gilt is a great site, if you have a lot of patience, and are willing to gamble like you’re at the MGM Grand.



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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Oktoberfest – The Best German Idea Since the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

The Uncertainty Principle is a pillar of modern physics, just as Oktoberfest is a pillar of modern beer drinking.

In quantum mechanics, the Uncertainty Principle states that one cannot simultaneously ascertain the precise location and precise speed of an electron. The more precisely one quantity is known, the less precisely the other quantity can be calculated. Likewise, during Oktoberfest, the more beer one drinks the less precisely one can know their own location.


Controversial East German waitresses use performance enhancers to allow for incredible feats of beer lifting strength.


I know that Werner Heisenberg – the famed Nazi sympathizer and Nazi physicist – first proposed the Uncertainty Principle back in 1929. I do not know who first came up with the idea for Oktoberfest – a 16-day festival revolving around beer and sausage – but whoever it was, their intellect rivaled that of the world’s greatest scientists, including Heisenberg. In fact, I’d argue that the dude who first proposed Oktoberfest was smarter than Heisenberg, or Niels Bohr, or Shaquille O’Neal.

I mean, it seems intuitive that it would be really tough to know the exact speed and location of some tiny-ass, super-fast little thing like an electron. But then again, the concept of Oktoberfest seems rather intuitive as well.



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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Perfect Pushup Update - A Perfect Injury

I've mentioned my Perfect Pushup workouts before: Here and here. The goal was to get super-ripped. Ripped to shreds. Torn to flecks. And all cut up like a samurai sword to a watermelon.

That plan was born back in December, and after about 8 weeks - when I slipped and fell in my apartment, injuring my ass and my wrist - the plan went into a deep, deep slumber. But the plan to get all ripped woke up again, about 7 weeks ago. I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. It was groggy at first, like a big, sleepy, lazy old bear. And soon enough it was alert - feeling well-rested, if not a little thirsty.

Anyway, I'm the bear and I'm trying to get in shape after hibernation. Get it? So I dusted off the Perfect Pushup thingies, strapped on my running shoes and - wait, or did I dust off the shoes and strap on the Perfect Pushup thingies? No matter. I was off and Perfect Pushupping before long, even starting close to where I had left off several months before.

Things were going well. Very well. I could sense the transformation was about to occur. My muscles were about to burst forth, tendons and all, through the skin. Not literally, of course, because that would result in terrible, horrific injury.

Then one day, a couple of weeks ago, I felt a sharp pain in my left palm while I did my Perfect Pushups. I ignored it, and powered through another set. I changed the grip width, put my feet on a chair, and started some advanced Perfect Pushup maneuvers. The pain got worse. I could feel some swelling in the meatiest part of my meaty palm. It was like a small meatball floating in a sea of meat. And that little meatball hurt like shit when I did Perfect Pushups.

So I took a week off. Maybe I'd heal quickly and be able to continue my strict Perfect Pushup regimen. But after giving it another go, the pain was still there, and I think I actually re-injured the hand a little bit. That popping sound, coupled with sharp pain, was not encouraging.

The whole thing's so strange because it didn't bother me for weeks. And the right hand doesn't hurt at all. Furthermore, the Perfect Pushup is designed to lessen stress on joints etc. It's supposed to be all ergonomic and shit. It just feels like all of my weight is focused on one part of my palm - the hurting part - when I do the Perfect Pushups now. I fear that the injury is a result of some small anatomical oddity within my hand - and I won't be able to blame Perfect Pushup Inc. and get my money back.

I guess I'll lay off the Perfect Pushups for another week or two, and see if the situation rectifies itself. If not, then I'll troll the internet for more miracle fitness products and hope the next one doesn't hurt me to use.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Spend Way Too Much Time Watching Football

And it’s this time of year during which my addiction is painfully apparent.

Saturday, no NFL games on TV. I went to the library, dropped of a package at UPS (an internet clothing return that fit like my Bar Mitzvah suit – more on that later), went food shopping at the crazy crowded Fairway in Redhook, met up with my colleague Dennis in Flushing, Queens for some authentic and delicious Dim Sum, and even squeezed in some exercise – a jog and some pushups and situps if you must know.

But wait. I wasn’t done. That’s right there’s more.

Jaimi and I also did laundry.

So it was a productvie Saturday, to say the least.

But then again, there wasn’t any NFL football on TV. Now let’s take a quick look at today’s accomplishments.

I woke up, had some coffee, went for a quick jog – which was shorter than normal due to rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and sweaty palms due to NFL opening weekend fever – made some scrambled eggs, and headed to Jersey to watch the Eagles game at my friend’s place. He has DirecTV and the NFL Sunday Ticket package. That’s not the only reason we’re still friends, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt.

I watched the Eagles deconstruct the Panthers like so many Tinker Toys, under the force of their relentless pass rush. Sure, McNabb broke a rib or two while scoring a touchdown, but the defense looked so good, they shouldn’t even need to field a quarterback for most of the season. Let the ball throw itself.

Then I came home, watched the Giants dismantle the Redskins, ate some snacks, had some dinner, and started to watch the Packers and the Bears.

After eight hours of football, I had to shut it down. It was much too late to salvage the remains of the day, but at least I showed a tiny smidge of restraint. Maybe next week I’ll turn off the TV fifteen minutes earlier than today.

Baby steps. That’s enough for one day.

But it's a very long season. And just as a heroin addict steps down to methadone, I too must find a lesser addiction to occupy my time. That is, of course, if I were actually serious about trying to not watch so much football on Sundays. Which I'm not. Not serious at all. Big joke. Hahahahahahaha!

Football is awesome. It's way better than heroin, with no needles involved.

Go Eagles!!


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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Binder Clips – ¾ inch Size, 40 Pack – A Product Review


Binder clips are more useful than computers. Or medicine.


Sometimes you have too many pages to staple together, and a paper clip just isn’t strong enough to hold it all together. Sure, glue might work, or duct tape. But if you want to be able to read any of the pages that you’re fastening together, you’ll need a better option.

That’s where binder clips come in real handy. They’re sort of like the superheroes of paper fasteners, in this reviewer’s humble opinion. They’re lightweight, strong, sleek, and easy to use. You don’t need to have a PhD to use one. Just squeeze, insert paper into the open end, and release. The binder clip takes care of the rest.

I guess there’s some kind of spring in there. Or an invisible elf holding the ends of the clip together. Either way, every binder clip I’ve ever used has served it’s intended purpose to a tee. Whether that purpose be to grip together 100 pages of fantasy sports draft prep materials, or to clip an orange pylon to the dog’s tail and watch him chase it until he collapses.

Any way you slice it, the binder clip is one of the handiest tools around – when it comes to reversibly clipping things to other things while doing minimal physical damage to either of the things that are clipped together.

Not only that, but these things are pretty cheap!! You can get 40 of them for a couple of bucks at Staples. Have I died and gone to paper fastening heaven? If not, then please God, take me there now!

In summary, I highly recommend binder clips. They work great. They’re affordable. And they’re big enough to not be much of a choking hazard to humans. If you need to stick some pages together but you’re out of staples and/or paper clips, then binder clips should be one of your next 5 or 6 paper-fastening choices.



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Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day - The Opposite of Labor

I guess my idea of a good Labor Day weekend is doing as little as possible. Relaxing one final time before the summer turns to fall. Grab a good book, kick back on a private balcony with a mountain view, and fall asleep in the sunshine.

In retrospect, perhaps that’s why Jaimi and I decided to head up to the Catskills for the long weekend. Because that’s basically all there is to do up there. Which is fine for me, and totally appropriate for a holiday known as Labor Day.

We found a nice B & B online (The Rosehaven Inn) and booked one of their four well-appointed rooms. We weren’t sure what was in store for us up in the Hunter Mountain area, but we figured it would involve some hiking, some eating of food, some drinking of wine, maybe some touring of quaint historic towns, some tubing down a river of some sort, some art viewing, some antiquing, and some playing with the resident dog at Rosehaven – Gandalf the golden retriever.

As it turned out, we really only did about 60% of the items listed above – and all within the first 4 hours of the trip. The Hunter Mountain area is very scenic, in both summer and winter. But for city slickers such as ourselves, it was a bit lacking in activities. Plenty of hiking, for sure. And Gandalf the dog was very nice, but rather old – much like the silver-haired wizard of the same name.

Coincidence? Both wizard and dog are old and nice. Hmm. Why, Gandalf, you are such a nice doggie, but how did you just make that tennis ball transmogrify into a piece of beef? How is it that your bark causes squirrels to fall from the branches above you? And I swear you just entered the house through a solid door -one in which no doggie-door has been crafted.

Anyway, great dog costume old man. You probably have most of the guests fooled, but not I.

We did enjoy a few decent meals in the town of Haines Falls. A special shout out is in order for The Last Chance restaurant, featuring 300 beers and a decent roast beef sandwich. I certainly didn’t try all 300 beers, but it’s nice to know they’re available.

For our final dinner in the area, we ventured forth to the ski town of Windham, and tried a place called The Mill Rock. We mostly tried it because I’m the Mill, and the name of the restaurant is one letter away from “The Mill Rocks” – which is not really a good restaurant name, but is more a statement of immutable certitude, and had me giggling all night. Because I do totally rock, and it would make sense that this restaurant would be awesome.


Awesome name for a restaurant, but only if it was my restaurant, and my face was basically the entire sign.


It was not awesome, but was perfectly adequate in many ways, and almost totally inoffensive in terms of flavor and odor – which is another great way to describe me.

All in all, we had a nice, relaxing Labor Day weekend in the mountains. The location was convenient to Brooklyn (only 2 hours by car), the accommodations were very comfortable, and there was an old man dressed in a dog costume.

Hope your Labor Day was just as nice.



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Monday, August 31, 2009

Ready for Some Football 2009

I can’t hardly believe it. The 2009 NFL season is upon us.

It seems like just the other month when I was spending every Sunday watching football, drinking beer, and tracking the stats of my favorite fantasy players – it feels like just yesterday that I was wasting a colossal amount of time on the pointless pursuit of fantasy football fame and glory.

I finished the season in 6th place, out of 12 teams. That’s nothing to email home about.

So I waste some time every Sunday during football season. It’s the truth, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But what do I do the rest of the year – during non-football Sundays?

Well, let’s take a recent Sunday for example. I did laundry yesterday. That’s some useful work. And I went for a 6 mile run, which is also useful for maintaining my girlish figure. I didn’t drink beer, which is a nice respite for my liver and kidneys. I prepared a batch of pickles, which is a delicious diversion from an otherwise mundane weekend evening. I also went silverware shopping with Jaimi. Which is…..fun.

Maybe it was a useful Sunday, chock-full of completed tasks and successful errands. That’s all about to come to a screeching, crashing, whiplash-inducing halt.

Our 2009 fantasy football draft is this coming Friday. It marks the beginning of some things – like staring at the TV, beer in hand, blankly watching football games for hours on end. And the end of certain other things – such as doing anything useful or interesting or healthy or valuable to the planet on a Sunday.

But Sunday is the Lord’s day. And He is telling me to watch football. He is also telling me to place a bet on Peyton Manning’s Colts right now, and that Arizona rookie Beanie Wells is way overrated and injury-prone. Finally, He welcomes Michael Vick back to the league, although He doesn’t plan to welcome him to Heaven in 56 years unless Vick stays true to his promise and saves a bunch of abandoned dogs.

The Lord loves dogs.

And I love football season. But also I love dogs. So the Lord and I have something in common. I would also agree that Beanie Wells is injury-prone, although not sure about him being overrated. On that point, my Lord almighty, we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

And so on Sunday, the Lord’s day, we shall watch the Lord’s game – NFL football. And we shall praise He that hath wrought thy game of blessed pigskin. For thou shalt not dismiss thy favorite team for not making the playoffs last year. And thou shalt not boo thy starting quarterback because he hath just thrown four interceptions.

Thou, as a fan of the Lord and His holy Game, shalt remember last year’s story of the Cardinals of Arizona. For it was then that thy holy servant Kurt Warner, led thy team of holiest of holy Cardinals to the highest Bowl in the land. And he threw a touchdown. And it was good.

But the Steelers ended up kicking the Cardinals asses, so I guess the Lord is more of a Pittsburgh fan.


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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Writer's Block

Often times it’s tough to come up with blog post topics, especially for me. Some blogs focus on something specific. For example: cooking, U.S. politics, submarines, Battlestar Galactica, The Jonas Brothers, the iPhone, old school hip hop, infomercial products, Legos, Quentin Tarantino movies, fashion, Scandinavia, Shetland ponies, single-malt scotch, black and white photography, muscle cars, your mom, artificial plants, artificial limbs, artificial flavors, and so on and so forth.

But for me, on this blog, I can write about whatever the hell I want. And that’s the point. I don’t want to limit myself. No one puts the Mill in a corner. Or in a cage. Or on a leash. I am as free as a bird, when it comes to blog topics.

So how do I choose what to write about? Well, first I look at current events. Then, if nothing interesting happens in the news, I write about my own life. And if that’s painfully boring as well, then I’ll just write about dogs or fantasy sports.

There’s really no art or science involved in the choice. And rarely any thought. But sometimes I write poems that rhyme, which must be fun for you to read.

And that’s really the point. Fun for you is fun for me. I write about whatever I want to write about. But somewhere in the back of my mind – the way back – I consider what others might enjoy reading. Occasionally though, I’ll completely ignore the part of my brain that considers such things as other people’s thoughts and feelings.

One might call this sociopathic. I call it blogging.

You’ll notice there aren’t any ads on this site. That’s because I was kicked out of Google Adsense for cruel and unusual click activity. I didn’t even bother pleading my case. Because I don’t want any ads defiling the unadulterated fun we’re having over here at I Am the Mill. Those ads are for people who want to make money. And I’m too well grounded to think that I could ever make any money from advertising on this website.

In conclusion, it’s clear that I couldn’t think of anything good to write about tonight. Ted Kennedy’s passing is not particularly funny. Healthcare reform is getting old. North Korea has quieted down recently. And I haven’t done shit all week. So this is all that’s left.

If you have any ideas for blog topics, please let me know.


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Monday, August 24, 2009

What the Hell Happened to the Summer?

I was looking at a calendar today – in order to help me organize my busy life – and it struck me down like a taser to the temple. The summer is basically over. And what do I have to show for it?

During summers past, I’ve gone on vacation and come back with a decent tan. I’ve worked odd jobs and saved up some cash. I’ve exercised like mad and gotten myself into halfway respectable shape. Why, there used to be a time when my pectorals didn’t droop, and my triceps weren’t mono-ceps.

In other words, I used to make something of my summers. But this summer has come and gone with nary a whisper of improvement or progress. I’ve spent most of my time doing what I do the rest of the year – going to work, eating, sleeping, drinking beer, and managing fantasy sports teams.

Also, I write something on this blog from time to time.

So what have I done to make this summer stand out from the rest of the year? When my grandkids ask me, “Hey Granddad Mill, what were you doing during the summer of ought nine? During the first 50-year reign of King Barack I. The famous summer that brought the loss of Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, AND Jared from Subway (sorry in advance, Jared). The summer that witnessed an embryonic phenomenon known as the iPhone, begin its rapid ascent to direct cerebral implantation, and Apple Computer’s subsequent overthrow of organized society via mind control and free wireless music downloads directly into the cerebellum.”

I’ll be left speechless – because I won’t have any stories to tell about this summer, and also because we will all be living on the moon by that time, and sound doesn’t travel well in the super-thin lunar atmosphere.

In any event, the summer is officially over in less than 2 weeks. What could I possibly accomplish between now and then that would make this summer worth remembering?

I’ve been working on a swine flu vaccine, sure. But it’s not ready yet.

I’m in touch with Kim Jong-Il about giving up the nukes. But we don’t have another playdate until October.

I’ve cured AIDS in a test tube, but accidentally dropped it in the laundry room – where I do most of my infectious disease research.

And I unified the theories of quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theories of general and special relativity in my sleep. But promptly forgot the salient points of my unified theory as soon as I woke up and realized that I had failed to record Top Chef on the DVR.

So it could have been a pretty great summer. And now time is running out. I’m afraid this may be a summer to forget.



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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Michael Vick and the Eagles – An Epic Conundrum

Dress me in an ironic Vick jersey.


Since the announcement, I’ve racked my conscience. I’ve spent countless hours watching Michael Vick highlight reels AND visiting DailyPuppy.com. I’ve pored over documentation regarding the United States penal system and its limited success in rehabilitating criminals. I’ve cried myself to sleep thinking about those poor, poor fighting doggies, and what Vick and his co-conspirators did to them.


But I’ve also found myself in a cold sweat, awakened in a sudden fit – paralyzed with excitement. The only taste in my mouth a faint tingle of Super Bowl glory. My only vision - emerging from the inky blackness of our New York night - Vick lined up left of center, with McNabb to his right. Brian Westbrook in the backfield, and DeSean Jackson on the outside.


The defense doesn’t know what the fuck to do.


The center fakes the snap to McNabb, who goes left, while Vick crosses his path and receives the ball. Westbrook fakes a handoff and Vick keeps the ball. He fakes a pass to Jackson, and then fakes another pass to McNabb. He jukes right, stutter steps, and spins just out of reach of a flailing linebacker.


He’s toying with them - for lack of a better analogy – like a squeaky hot dog chew toy.


Then, it’s off to the races, as Vick sprints down the sideline - as if he’s chasing a mechanical bunny – and scores the touchdown.


Eagles win. Again.



Mike Vick will do this all day long. He also makes a mean cheesesteak.


But at the same time, I really like dogs. And I can’t really forgive Mike Vick for doing what he did. And then again, he’s an incredible athlete. If he’s even in semi-game shape, he could provide an incredible offensive spark for my beloved Eagles.


Love of Eagles vs. love of dogs. Michael Vick vs. Cesar Millan.


I guess everyone does deserve a second chance – especially if they can help the Eagles win a Super Bowl. I might have very well been singing a different tune if Vick had signed with the Giants or the Cowboys. But he’s an Eagle now. And until he’s pulled over by the cops in his SUV, and an unregistered handgun is found in his glovebox – along with 2 ounces of marijuana and some child pornography - I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.


Although I would recommend you keep him away from your dog(s) for the time being.




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Monday, August 17, 2009

The Ikea Workout

I can barely lift my arms above my head. My legs are as stiff as an old NFL lineman’s.

I’m totally exhausted this morning, and I think I know why.

It’s called the Ikea workout. And it’s one of the best workouts on the planet. Forget about spin classes or pilates. Don’t bother with cross training or weightlifting. The only thing you need is a nearby Ikea and a gallon of Gatorade.

It didn’t start out as a planned workout, but rather, a trip to Ikea to buy some sorely needed storage furniture. We needed some shelving in a bad way. We were jonesing for some cabinets. We were like meth-heads - but instead of meth, it was a filing cabinet and a bookshelf we absolutely had to have.

While we were at it, we also grabbed some Swedish meatballs at the cafeteria.

Yum.

Anyway, after loading up our cart with about 12 flat-pack boxes stuffed with Swedish-engineered fake veneer and particle board, it was time for an attempt to stuff it all into the car. The heaviest box was 71 pounds, and about 6 feet tall. On a side note, that’s about the size I need to get down for my wedding in order to fit into my tux - my Bar Mitzvah tux.

After figuring out how to operate the fold-down rear seats in my new Ford Fusion (took 10 minutes to figure it out, even though you just need to pull a couple levers in the trunk – totally not Ford’s fault) we started to load the boxes.

In all fairness to myself, I did most of the heavy lifting – and pretty much all of the sweating. Jaimi was a good project manager, and she did help with some of the more unwieldy items, but I didn’t see her break a sweat. Whereas, I was drenched after 15 minutes of packing the car in 90 degree heat and 110% humidity.

This part of the workout really worked my biceps, lats, glutes, and quads.

But that’s just the beginning of the workout. The next step was disembarkation of all the boxes at our place of residence. The drop-off. And it needs to be quick because I was double-parked. It would suck to get a $110 parking ticket after saving $100 on delivery charges by bringing it home ourselves.

So in an effort to get everything into the building before Five-O noticed my illegal park job, I worked up another sweat. And hit my calves, triceps, and forearms with some serious burn. No pain no gain, I always say.

And still, this was just the beginning of the workout.

The real hard part, as many a frustrated Ikea customer knows, is the assembly. It mostly works the hands, lower back, and neck muscles. This is the 10 hour segment of the Ikea workout, and not only does it work your physical muscles, but it also challenges the mental muscles that controls the desire to throw that partly-assembled cabinet out the window or through the wall. Not only that, but it thoroughly works the emotional muscles that keep you from crying during times of intense stress and fatigue.

What makes the Ikea workout such a great way to exercise is that you can really see the results right after you’re done. No, you may not look any stronger or more ripped. And you may be the same weight as before – minus a gallon of sweat. But when you look around the room and see four or five new pieces of Swedish-designed furniture – hand assembled in the good ol’ U.S. of A – your chest swells with pride just a little bit more than after doing a set of Perfect Pushups.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

The Mill's General Store

This recession won’t end. The economy keeps shrinking, and jobs continue to disappear. Fuel and food prices fluctuate, wages shrink. The flowers for our wedding are going to cost thousands.

In this economic environment, one needs to prepare for any eventuality. That’s why I’m making my own pickles.

I’ve been brewing my own beer for several months now – and it’s becoming rather drinkable after several tries. But humans cannot live on beer alone. I mean, you could probably survive for a month or two, but scurvy would inevitably set in – you’d lose your teeth, your hair, your fingernails. And although you might think it would be cool to tell girls that you’ve been living off of nothing but beer for the last two months, your lack of teeth, hair and fingernails, and the yellow pallor of your skin – from liver damage - would be a serious turn-off.

So you’ll also need to eat something else. And what else can you make at home that lasts a long long time? Besides beef jerky, which will probably be my next challenge? Of course, the answer is pickles.

Pickles are salty, delicious, preserved vegetables. I feel almost naughty eating them, because they’re delicious AND vegetables. Vegetables are supposed to taste like crap. Also, pickles are fat free, trans fat free, cholesterol free, and hormone free. They last forever in the fridge. They are a crowd pleaser. You can pickle nearly anything. Anything.

Pickles are magic.

And beer is also magic, for similar reasons. Plus beer makes you drunk. That’s why I now make my own pickles and my own beer – my own magic, if you will.

I am a wizard.



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Monday, August 03, 2009

Momofuku Ko: A Restaurant Review With Photos and Rhymes

Since opening well over a year ago, David Chang’s Momofuku Ko is still one of the toughest tickets in town. The computerized reservation system requires that you not only have a super-fast clicking finger, but a dedicated T1 line as well. I thought about laying fiber optic cable directly between our apartment and Ko’s server – located somewhere in central Virginia – but decided instead to use my work computer in order to snag a reservation.

You see, at precisely 10AM the reservation system opens. Reservations for the week ahead are shown, including the current day’s - but only reservations 6 days hence are likely to be available, because those are the ones that are new to the system. Anyway, I’ve been trying on and off for the last 16 months or so. It’s common knowledge that you have about 3 seconds before all the spots are gone for the new day’s rezzies.

Somehow, through deftness and agility, intelligence and charisma, strength and will and matching socks, I was able to get a reservation for two this past Sunday – at 9:50PM. But hey, it was a dream come true, even if it was a bit late for dinner. I’d read a number of reviews about how great the food is. A 10-course tasting menu featuring some of the most imaginative dishes imaginable by anyone’s imagination. Imagine that.

All in a cozy setting, in which you’re actually served by the guys making the food. Sounds pretty cool.

And the food was indeed excellent. I really liked the grilled trout. And the deep-fried short rib. And the Cold dashi broth with crawfish, sea urchin and some fresh peas and leafy greens. And who could forget the scallop sashimi, or the poached blueberries with olive oil and cr̬me fraiche ice cream Рand a schmear of pepper ganache on the side.

It was all wonderful. I only wish I had some pics to show you of all the dishes. You see, unbeknownst to me, Ko had instituted a ban on photography – over a year ago. I’m not sure how I missed that. I guess I only read the reviews written before the place was overrun by critics and bloggers, with their flashes blazin’ and their shutters clickin’.


Forbidden photo #1 - Homemade biscuit with pork rind.


Forbidden photo #2 - I think it was tomato tempura.


Sure, I could see how that could be real annoying. But I had an iPhone. A sleek, silent, unobtrusive iPhone. Like the USS Nautilus, slipping beneath the waves on its maiden voyage. Plus, I was sitting at the end of the counter right near the bathroom. I’m sure I wasn’t bothering anyone.

And when the cook first told me no photos were allowed, I really, truly thought he was joking. So I said, “Seriously?” And he said, “Yes (asshole).” The “asshole” being implied by his unflinching stare, and the switchblade he used to pick a bit of swiss chard from between his razor-sharp incisors. I wasn’t the first asshole to try to snap a photo of the amuse bouche. And I’m sure I won’t be the last.

Also, there was no switchblade. The guy actually seemed pretty nice after our little no photo encounter.

Anyway, I did get a few photos. And I have conveniently pasted them throughout this post. In addition, I will summarize my review of Ko - in rhyme - as follows:

We went to Ko on Sunday - my buddy Dan and I.
I took the F train subway. It's easier to fly.
Brooklyn to Manhattan - Jetblue doesn't fly this route.
If I were to take a taxi, "Hey cabbie!" I would shout.

I urinated once, towards the end of the dinner.
From previous expansion, my bladder's now thinner.
I gave the handle a touch, and the flush was quite sudden.
I'm glad they didn't serve a roast leg of mutton.

I wish I had pics, to remember the meal.
For 100 bucks, it's not quite a steal.
The bathroom was nice, the shots are below.
The toilet was new: a Kohler Low-Flow.

I've focused too much on the restroom at Ko.
The food is the highlight. The flavors. The show.
Please excuse my tangent, it's sophomoric at best.
I'm feeling regret bubbling up through my chest.

The food was great, I liked the grilled trout.
The staff seemed tired, like an old man with gout.
I was reprimanded once, it won't happen again.
The scale goes to eleven, but I give Ko a ten.



Aforementioned toilet with sensitive flush mechanism.


Me grinning like an idiot. "Oh boy, I'm so naughty for taking a photo in the bathroom!"


My CIA training prepared me well. This is a classic under-counter spy shot. If the counter wasn't in the way, we'd have photos of the food. But also, then the food would be on the floor.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

If You Can Imagine It, Then It Can Be Returned to Costco

A friend of mine - who will remain anonymous in case the Costco Gestapo is monitoring this blog – recently tested Costco’s famous return policy. According to their website:

Merchandise: We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell with a full refund. The following must be returned within 90 days of purchase for a refund: televisions, projectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, iPOD / MP3 players and cellular phones.

How to Return: For an immediate refund (including shipping and handling), simply return your purchase at any one of our Costco warehouses worldwide. If you are unable to return your order at one of our warehouses, please email customer service or call our customer service center….

If you request an item be picked up for return, the item must be packaged and available for pick up in the same manner as it was delivered.
If your order was delivered “curb side,” it will need to be available for curb side pick up.
If the item arrived to you in a box, it will need to be in a box at the time of pick up.

Not only can you return anything at any time – except for certain electronics – but they’ll even pick it up from your house!! It sounds too good to be true. But is it?

So our good unnamed friend – let’s call him Diego Montoya Villa Lobos – decided to give it a try. Diego had purchased a set of golf clubs at Costco – 4 years ago – and was looking to buy a new set. He was no longer satisfied with the old clubs because they were, well, old I guess – and no longer shiny. And who wants 2 sets lying around the house anyway? Why not return the old, used set for a full refund, and use that money towards a brand new set?

But hadn’t Mr. Montoya Villa Lobos used the clubs in the interim? Wouldn’t Costco be crazy to accept these old, used, scuffed up clubs as a return? Hadn’t he used the five-iron to clean out his gutters, and the sand wedge to probe for….well, never mind.

Yes, yes, yes and you don’t want to know.

Furthermore, he didn’t have the receipt and may have bought the clubs using someone else’s membership card. He really couldn’t remember. It had been 4 years, for God’s sake.

And as crazy as it sounded, and with enough egging on, our good friend Diego gave it a shot. What did he have to lose, after all? The return policy is right there in black and white.

So without subjecting you to any further suspense, Mr. D.M.V. Lobos was indeed able to return the clubs for a full refund. They didn’t even check the condition of the sand wedge or the five-iron. They just counted the clubs to make sure they were all present and accounted for.

The moral of this story is most definitely that you can pretty much return anything you ever bought at Costco at any point in the future, no matter what. Receipt or not. Half-eaten or not. Burned by fire, damaged by the wind, covered in molten rock. It makes no difference. Costco will take it back.

And that is why, my friends, we should all shop at Costco.


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